Wednesday, December 30, 2015

God's Calendar Year

This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you...Remember this day, in which ye came out from... bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out.”


Though they may differ in many respects, both Jewish or Gentile calendars have at least one simple common connection: each has a beginning of months and a first day. The practical and spiritual truths of the former can most certainly be applied to the latter without desecrating that blessed and memorial day of the first. A day in which, for God’s people, old things had passed away; and from henceforth all things will become new. It marks the beginning of Israel's life as a nation. What a way to start a new year!


This pivotal day commemorated a day for which they had longed, for oh, so long a time. A day of liberation from bondage and servitude; a day of freedom to worship and serve their God, without the strings of the world's puppeteer controlling them (Pharaoh, a type of Satan). A day in which God begins to guide and direct them and their families’ lives. All made possible by the death of a lamb and its blood being applied to their individual lives. Each lamb a prototype of THE LAMB OF GOD who was to, and has, come!

Brethren, know assuredly that the Blood of Christ makes it possible for you also, as God’s people of old, to begin anew, leaving all the hurts, shame, sins, and failures behind you; along with any and all the unpleasantries you may have experienced in Egypt. This day can be the beginning for you! A day of which you can call to memory in years to come. A day much to be remembered. Christ's powerful sacrificial Blood was shed over two thousand years ago. All that remains is, “WILL YOU COME OUT OF EGYPT?”

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Can You Help?

Beloved,

It was said of George Mueller that he never made his needs known to man, only to God. This is certainly commendable, if one is so led, but it does not seem the Apostle Paul followed this pattern. However, one could find scripture to justify such a life.

My plan, following the example of Dr. M.R. De Haan, well-known radio preacher of past years, has always been to make my needs known to the people of God and then leave it between them and their Lord.

Some years back, when we still paid income taxes, I asked my tax consultant which category I fit into financially. He smiled and said, "You're poor." Salle and I now live on our Social Security checks that together total less than a $1,000.00 a month. My son, Andrew, helps with our rent. A dear brother in Missouri has for years  taken care of the large pressing needs that come upon one from time to time. Others, ten in number (three of these churches) keep us going with day to day needs, such as  food, gas, clothes, etc.

Because of the economy or circumstances beyond their control, we have lost over $400.00 a month in support. This is beginning to take its toll. At the age of eighty-two, and with my health condition, there is not much I can do. We live in a mobile home park for senior citizens, where our rent over the years has gone up astronomically, with little increase in Social Security, if any. We also traded our old car of six years with well over 100,000 miles for another small compact. We owe for this, of course.

I've said all this to let you know our situation. Please ask God if there is anything He would want you to do. There are many worthy works, and I know you cannot support them all. If you could help, as some do, at $25.00 a month, it would be received with much thanksgiving. Some mistakenly believe that because they can't give a lot, they shouldn't give any. NOT TRUE!

If you can help this "Old Disciple," on a regular monthly basis, let me know. I'll send my mailing address.

A Thankful Servant,

Richard

"If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?"    

Thursday, December 24, 2015

He Saves the Best For the Last

I wonder if your family is like ours was at Christmas time. Everyone’s best gifts were put at the bottom of the heap, under the tree, so they could receive them last. Whether we realize it or not, this is God’s way also. The scripture says, “Last of all He sent His Son.”

Then too, we have the story of Jesus at the wedding in Cana, where, toward the end of the feast, He turned the water into wine.  When the ruler found out, he said to the bridegroom, in essence, “You saved the best to last.”  

Reader, I do not know your situation today, but I hope you keep in mind that He is saving His best for the last in your life. James tells us Job is to be our example. And of that old patriarch we are told, “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.”  Can you believe it? If you can, you will find He saves His best to those who wait!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

That One Thing

“And when he [Jesus] was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do (at this point Jesus told him)...And he answered and said unto him...Master, all these have I observed from my youth...Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest (and here Jesus told him what was missing in his commitment)”

Taking the three Gospel accounts of this one recorded incident, we see this young man seeking spiritual truth came to the right person, the right way, and received the right answer. Yet this individual, who seemed to have it all together, was found wanting. Jesus told him, “Yet lackest thou one thing.”

Only one thing stood between him and His God. Just one thing keeping him from a life abundant, both here and hereafter. The tragedy of all tragedies, not unlike ourselves, was that he deemed his one thing to be more important and above God’s “one thing.”

I wonder, what is our one thing that is keeping us from God’s best in our lives? No matter how much Christ loved this young man, He could not make him the recipient of of this great blessing of life, for the one thing between them, that one singular thing he was holding in his bosom so tightly.

God is not interested so much in what we have given Him; He has that. His concern is that one thing we’re holding back. It is not the outstretched arm with all the things in an open hand He desires, but that one thing in a tightly clenched fist, behind our backs, He wants!

If our story teaches us anything, it teaches us, it’s possible to do everything right and have them all undone because of one thing done wrong. This, as in the young man’s life, only leads to grief and sorrow.   

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Great Grace

“...and great grace was upon them all.”

Grace has many facets, but apart from salvation, I think possibly the greatest of all graces is the grace to continue on in life. That is, to endure. To keep on keeping on, if you please. Without this, all the other graces are held in time. They would be part of a stagnant history, telling them over and over, with no fresh grace to glory in. Accordingly, one would never be able to experience any of God’s abundant grace He has waiting for us up the road, in the future.

I think maybe Paul would have agreed with my opinion. I say this based on his testimony in Acts, where he says “Having therefore obtained help  of God (grace), I continue unto this day.” If you're the least familiar with this dear man’s life and ministry, you’re aware that it was not “guts” apart from grace, that got him through those oft tumultuous times. Intestinal fortitude may take one the first mile, but it takes grace to go that long, tedious second mile.

Those who go the distance credit GRACE and GRACE alone.  

Friday, December 18, 2015

Have You Thought About It?

I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.”

Brief statements such as: “I never thought of it that way”; “Think it through”; “Give it some thought,” are not just fluff, they have some real and meaningful substance connected to them. You’ll find them, sometimes hidden, throughout the scriptures.

I do not know if David would have, generally speaking, agreed with the little quip, “Don’t give it a second thought.” Many of us have gotten ourselves in hot water because we didn’t think twice. Impulsive thinkers, for the most part, regret their hasty decisions.

Peter was one such, like some of us, his mouth moved while his brain was idling. As a result it caused him grief of soul, “And when he thought thereon, he wept.” He would not have had to have this painful second thought, had he given some long thought at the beginning.

David was one who believed in using, as Hercule Poirot puts it, “the little grey cells.” David gave thought to his ways. The times when he neglected to, spelled out heartache, and at one interval in his life, real tragedy, both to him as well as others.
       
“What we do will follow us into another world when what we have must be left behind.” (Matthew Henry)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Two-Letter Word

One of my oldest sermon series, going back years, is one entitled, Character Traits in a Christian’s Life. One of the dozen virtues I list  is, “Learn to Say No!” I fully realize it is a negative. But life is made up of both positive and negative. You can’t get through life without the two of them.

There is power in negative thinking, as well as positive. We see this in the Ten Commandments. Much of the trouble we find ourselves in, both physically or spiritually, is because we will not say, “NO!” to unscriptural appetites, whether good or bad.

The first word a child learns as soon as he or she is able to understand is, No! Or at least it should be. Saying an emphatic no to the flesh’s desires and tastes is one of the main essentials if one is going to be an, “overcomer.” The flesh can never please God, no matter how tenderly it presents itself.

The flesh must be dealt with in an uncompromising and unmerciful way. The story of Samuel and Agag illustrates this. “Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag (type of flesh) the king of the Amalekites... And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past...And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.”

You kill the Amalekite or the Amalekite will ultimately kill you. Ask King Saul!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Why God Gave Brains

If we were created in the image of God, and He was the original, independent Thinker, and we are told to, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children”; then it goes without saying, each of us should be doing some thinking on our own. But I’m afraid today we have more corporate thinking, than individual thought. In the former you have one person doing the thinking for the group; in the latter, individuals are doing their own thinking, independently of anyone else. For a group of individuals to think for themselves, and then come to the same conclusion, this can be both healthy and safe. But for one to do this for the whole is dangerous indeed.

You can always spot independent thinkers; they surround themselves with writers and associates who do not necessarily hold all their views. Such reading and discussions are not threatening to them, but rather enlightening. Those who encompass themselves with like-minded people and literature, never grow, but continue to be intellectual pygmies till the day of their demise.

Without argument, most of us are 75% assimilations of the books we’ve read, people we have associated with, parental teachings, and schools we attended. But what of the other 25%? Are we to let it lie dormant all our lives? I for one do not want to spend the rest of what life I have left parroting others. That would be a strange bird indeed.

Bodies devoid of mind are as statues in the market place. ~Euripides

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Devils Doctrines

Paul wrote two letters to his preacher boy, Timothy, concerning professing saints in the Church in the “latter times.” He warns his protégé, Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”

God deals in the singular, Satan in pluralities. God has one Spirit, and never speaks of His doctrine as being multiple. On the other hand, Satan has many spirits and doctrines; which, like Jezebel in the church at Thyatira, spiritually seduce God’s people and teach devilish doctrines.

These teachings are all inclusive. That is, they deal with every part of an individual, the whole man. Lying hypocrisy speaks of the spiritual; a seared conscience of one’s mental condition; in rejecting marriage of the moral life; and of refusing meats, the physical aspect.

You see all these Satanic teachings today in the “New Age” doctrines. They include a little bit of many the world’s religions, such as: Oriental Mysticism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Spiritualism, New Thought, and of course, a tad of Christianity to convince ignorant saints of their authenticity.

"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”

Monday, December 7, 2015

Bittersweet

“...it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.” John’s “little book” was bittersweet. I, personally, have never cared for bittersweet chocolate; I like the creamy milk chocolate. That is also true of my life; but, I’m afraid, I’ve had to take the bitter with the sweet, whether I liked it or not.

Romans 8:28 is sweet to the taste, but to assimilate it and make it a part of life is another thing. Some of the “all things” can be bitter when digested. But both sorrow and joy are to be part of the diet of our lives. It is sweet to quote certain texts, but, when we have to swallow them, it can be difficult.

It is good to recall when Moses cast a "tree" into the bitter waters they became sweet. So it is with us, when we cast the "tree" upon which He was crucified (1Peter 2:24), the bitter is turned into sweetness. When the soul hungers for God, every bitter thing becomes sweet.

Shooting at the Sun

On more than one occasion in these articles I’ve used the story of the lad shooting his BB-Gun at the sun. When being asked by his neighbor what he was doing and then being told, his neighbor disparagingly said, “Son, you’ll never reach it,” to which the little urchin replied, “I know, Sir, but I’m getting closer than you.”

This is the attitude, I believe, one should have toward the scripture. After reading all that’s commanded and expected of us as believers, one feels overwhelmed. You feel, as the neighbor said, “You’ll never reach it.” But instead of throwing up our hands in utter dismay and defeat let us remember no one ever has, except the Son of God.

God’s requirements for the Christian life is something we should shoot for; while at the same time realizing we all come short. We will always miss the mark. No one ever has or will hit the bull's-eye (except the aforementioned). Each time I think I’m close to my desired goal of godliness, someone pulls me back. Paul refers to him as the “old man.”

Those professing saints who wear the large letter “S” across the front of them, denoting “Super-Saint,” are a myth, just as the man from Krypton. We’re all made from the same cloth, and there is a fault in every pattern. The defect shows more on some than others, but be assured, though hidden, it’s there. 

It’s good to know there is a perfect suit of clothing awaiting all true saints who continue to “shoot high.”   

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Courageous Christians

On the journey to my Celestial home, I’ve met some courageous Christians. They have not fought with lions in the arena, been tortured on the rack, or had to endure the painful fires as they were chained to a stake; nevertheless, they were no less brave souls.

The first of these bold brethren I met at the religious world’s masquerade ball. He dared to take off his false-face for all to see. Yes, there were blemishes, even some unsightly warts, but what a delight to meet someone in whom “what you saw was what you got.” He was not a “phantom of the opera,” thinking he needed to hide behind a mask all his life. I’ve always been impressed with the peace and contentment displayed on the countenance of such a person.

There was a second stout-hearted individual I encountered as I, along with a small remnant, was attempting to climb the mount of God. He had turned his back from the masses who thought other things were just as important as knowing God, to spend his life doing “this one thing.” He dared to be different. He was scorned, and looked down upon, but what a glow of God was upon his face as he ascended!

Last, but not least, was a student that I met in the classroom of life. As I entered, it seemed the entire student body had these silly hats on called “dunce caps.” But this one lone seeker of truth stuck out from the rest, for he had exchanged his hat for a “thinking cap.” All the class agreed that he must be dangerous, for he was an independent thinker.

Courageous Christians are not recruited from the ranks of the cowardly.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Christian's Devotional Life

In preparing this article, I went online and found one writer who came up with twenty- eight different ways to have devotions. After skimming them, I found that after fifty-eight years being a Christian myself, I had used many of them. It is good from time to time to change your Bible reading habit. Variety can be the spice of a saint’s devotional life. Don’t allow this blessed time to become ritualistic. It is too precious to become hum-drum.

Here is a brief list of some suggested ways you might choose to read your Bible: read straight through; read from both Testaments; divide your Bible up and read three to five different sections a day; listen to the Bible read through by Alexander Scourby; or read along as he is reading it (using any of the above methods); there are a score of ways to read and enjoy your Bible. Find some different ones you’re comfortable with and dig in.

The important thing is being in the Word. But you do not have to gather your daily Manna the same way year by year. Generally, it is good to go through the Bible once a year, keeping in mind it is not how many times you go through the Bible but how many times it has gone through you! One great old-time saint did not have a particular amount of pages or chapters he read daily; he read, said he, “till me heart burns within me.”

I have found my spiritual life is directly in line with my devotional life. The former comes no higher than the latter. Therefore, it behooves each of us to be devoted to our devotions. As I have mentioned in previous articles, I want my life to be saturated with the Bible, soaked in the Holy Scriptures, if you please. O, how love I to “wallow in the Word!” I long and thirst to have an encyclopedic knowledge of His blessed Book.

“This Book will keep me from sin; or sin will keep me from this Book.”
(D.L. Moody)