Sunday, January 31, 2016

The High-Bar That's Too High

When teaching a novice athlete the high-jump, you dare not set the bar too low, making it an easy feat; nor ridiculously high, lest he or she be discouraged, not even attempting the jump. But it should be just beyond their reach, moving the bar higher after each successful clearance.

Some deeper-life preachers as well as Christian authors, especially biographers, set the horizontal bar for a godly life so high angels couldn’t clear it. I’ve read enough honest biographies, been behind closed doors with those who had a reputation for holiness, to know, “It just ain’t so!”

When a man or woman neglects his or her mate, takes little or no time with their children, and is incessantly alone in prayer and study, well, that man should have been a monk. Such should have never married. Their address should have been: 777 Monastery Road, Celestial City.

Godly men and women of the Bible all lived among men. They weren't hermits, but very much human! They walked amidst mankind, with all their idiosyncrasies, shortcomings, and yes, sins. Honest faults are forgivable; it is not so with facade.            

No one is impressed with a godliness that can’t be seen, a life lived under a basket, so to speak.

Friday, January 29, 2016

God's Been There and Back Again

“Declaring the end from the beginning…”

One of my grandsons, Joseph Habedank, is a gospel singer and songwriter. Joe, along with his mother, my daughter Leah, wrote a song entitled, “God’s Already There.” One of the lines in this blessed song says, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, God’s already there.”  

No child of God ever need worry what the future holds for him or her. God has gone ahead, so to speak, and arranged any and all events down to the smallest detail. He has been there and back again. We refer to it as “time travel.” Nothing has been left to chance. It is prepared providence!

When I was pastor in Florida many years ago, my oldest daughter had a little playmate who lived across the street from us. She was a talkative thing. One day, while I was working in the yard, she came over and began a conversation, during which time, I invited her to church. Her response was, “O, I been to your church!” I then asked when that was. She replied, “Hmmm, I was there...tomorrow.”

As the song says, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, God’s already there.”  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Main Ingredient

“…in all things [Christ] might have the preeminence.” Colossians is as relevant today as it was when first written. The false doctrines that had crept into this early Church have slithered into our contemporary assemblies. Eastern mysticism, Jewish legalism, and religious asceticism, along with the world’s philosophy and scientific astrology, had invaded that primitive band of believers, as they have our own.

And what was Paul’s answer to each of these heresies? The preeminence of Christ. Colossians is the answer to the so-called “New Age” movement. Christ is not one of many ingredients in God’s recipe for what ails us; He is the only ingredient. For we are 
“complete in him.” “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

The apostle teaches, the best way to confront error is to emphasize truth. Controversy has few converts. Paul did not waste his time in explaining each false doctrine, but in exalting Christ. He only refers to the errors of these false teachers in a general sense. He didn’t even take time to give us their origin, but simply made a passing reference to them, as he headed for the Head of the Church.

"The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or to spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick alongside it."

Monday, January 25, 2016

Common Sense vs. Nonsense

Commonsense is defined as “sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge or training; normal, native intelligence.” To some extent, everyone is born with a certain amount of commonsense. Why, then, is it not manifested in more people today? No doubt the answer is found in the old, proverbial country saying, “He ain’t usin’ the brains God gave him!” In other words, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

Since you can’t pull the wool over the eyes of a man or woman who thinks things through, the world, along with the religious con artists, must needs make light of such people. As a result of this intimidation, many no longer think for themselves, but cower in a corner, and let the pseudo-intellectuals do their mental gymnastics for them.

One area where Christians throw commonsense out the window has to do with the ascetic teaching and lifestyle of many groups today. The Bible teaches that self denial, and self mortification are individual things. It has to do with the person and his God. There are many legitimate things some saints cannot do, because, though not bad in themselves, they come between the individual and God. This type of self sacrifice is to be commended. But to want everyone else to give up something just because you can’t handle it is “phariseeism” at its worst. This is nonsense, not commonsense.

Abstinence from lawful things does not make one more spiritual than someone else; it only gives one the reputation for being so. But remember, God is not deceived by our religious externals.

“But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.”

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Delight in Drudgery

“The Lord working with them.” Daily duties can become daily drudgeries. But they can be transformed into delight when we put the Divine into them (1Cor.10:31). The test of spirituality is how we respond to those little, everyday, insignificant chores that are a necessary part of our lives.

Oswald Chambers says, “Drudgery is one of the finest touchstones of character there is.” He goes on to say, “Some people do a certain thing and the way in which they do it hallows that thing for ever afterwards.” It’s amazing how our Lord always transfigures the common and ordinary when He touches it through one He possesses. Remember Moses’ rod?

When just a small boy I had an old worn baseball glove I longed to discard for a new one, and told my father so. I remember him saying, “Son, it’s not the glove, but the hand that is in it that makes the difference.” I think you get my meaning.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Other-Side of Belief

  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

This is a favorite text of those who believe in baptismal regeneration. Saints who act before they think run to the Greek to explain their embarrassing problem, in spite of the fact they are English speaking and not a Greek.

An illustration will help here. Someone may say, “If you’ll get on the bus and sit down, you will go to Cincinnati.” But what if I get on the bus, but don’t sit down? Do I still arrive at my destination? The damned has to do with the unbelief.

Unbelief, for the sinner, is the only sin he or she can commit that will damn them eternally. But it has its effect upon the ‘unbelieving believer’ also. For the latter it has more to do with here than hereafter. Their tormented daily, as Lot.

The other side of belief is unbelief. And if the child of God chooses to live in such a state of disbelief, there awaits them a life of frustration and fruitlessness. You will not see God work in your life, or on your behalf for loved ones.

“And he could there do no mighty work...because of their unbelief.”   

Monday, January 18, 2016

Satan is no Atheist

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”

Satan believes in one God (monotheism), not many gods (polytheism). And so do all his underlings. It goes without saying, the devil gets blamed for many things that should be laid at the door of depraved man. One such is Atheism. 

Atheism (no God) is a brain child of man. Satan is a lot of things, but when it comes to the existence of the one true God, he is no fool (Psa.14:1). Why would he teach a “No God” philosophy when he seeks worship as God? It caused his fall. 

Satan’s goal is not to get one to doubt God’s existence, but to doubt God’s Word. Our first parents were not tempted to  disbelieve in God, but to doubt the authority of His Word. To question a man’s word is to lose all confidence in the man.

Whether you hear it from the pulpit or a whisper in your ear, anytime you hear the words, “Yea, hath God said?” mark it down, Satan is the culprit.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

It's no Trouble to Jesus

And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him; and...there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.”

We, as those of Jairus's household, believe Jesus can help as long as it is within the realm of the possible. But once it moves into the impossible realm, we believe there is no reason to trouble Jesus any further. Like David’s sick child, we believe it’s humanly possible, but when the impossible enters, we cease to believe.

I love those two words Jesus uttered  after hearing their word of dismay and hopelessness: “Only believe.” Not, pray, fast, agonize, or claim. These may possibly have been done; but now, says He, you’re to simply keep on believing no matter how it looks, in spite of feeling, or what people might tell us.

Jesus is still saying to us today, I’m sure, “The only thing I want is for you to only believe! “ Believe till the end. Some of ours prayers, no doubt, will be answered after we’re gone.

Friday, January 15, 2016

It's All In How You Look At It

After returning from spying out the land, the negative report of ten of the spies was, “We are not able…” But there were two dissenting voices that expressed optimism, “We are more than able…” say courageous Caleb and Joshua. The marked difference between the two companies was whom each were looking at. The former saw “Giants,” whereas the latter saw “God.”

No child of God, in the will of God, needs ever to look at the dark side of life. That is, as long as Romans 8:28 is in the Bible. The worldling sees the cup half empty, but God’s elect sees it as half full. It’s all in how you look at it. As the little poem goes, “Two women behind prison bars, one saw mud, the other saw stars.”

I for one do not want to go through life associated with the Timorous Ten, but with the Trustful Two!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Those Sunshine Saints

Those Sunshine Saints

As a young convert, I remember a woman who sang in our church choir who smiled incessantly. It was pleasant to see, but it distracted me from the song service. Those who would defend such cheeriness need to be reminded, although the sun shines constantly, from time to time dark clouds hide it. That, my friend, whether we like it or not, is part of life.

We’re told to, Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” I’d be very suspicious of a saint who smiled while they were weeping with me.

A Bible illustration, I believe, will clarify my point. Just as in the tempestuous storm Paul experienced in Acts, when the sun didn’t appear for many days, so it is in a saint’s life. There will be periods, some longer than others, when there is no sunshine. All your days are cloudy ones. This is one reason I have never been a great advocate of the  ‘sunshine gang’ of saints. I’ve seen them unmasked! Their tan was cosmetic.

It’s a good thing to know, behind every dark stormy cloud, the sun is shining; and that He promised, after the storm, the beautiful, breathtaking rainbow will appear.

Richard D. Sandlin

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Paul's John 3:3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.”

If ever a man lived  who knew and experienced the truth of John 3:16, it was Saul of Tarsus, later to become known in history as “Paul the Apostle.” We find his John 3:16 hidden in that great text in Galatians chapter two, verse twenty, “[God] loved me, and gave himself for me.”

For one reason or the other, many of the redeemed find it difficult to apply God’s love to themselves. With every ounce of emotion they can drum up, they still cannot enjoy basking in the Father’s love for them. Generally, the reason is lack of feeling; but it is not feeling, it is fact!

Feelings change in the body, but fact remains the same in the Bible. Emotion or no emotion, GOD LOVES YOU AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR YOU! Therefore, beloved, go on your merry way, believing and singing as you go, “ Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

And realize there is nothing you have ever done or can do, to stop God from loving you. WHAT A GOD!

Richard D. Sandlin

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Worm's Helper

"Fear not, thou worm...I will help thee.”

Many years ago, while preaching in Ireland, in my sermon I mentioned a habit I had formed while taking daily walks. If I happened to come upon a dead sparrow, I would bury it in some kind of make-shift grave, remembering our Lord’s mindfulness of them falling to the ground. After the service, an aged Irish friend told me he too had a little ritual while taking his strolls. His was to pick up any worm he might see in the middle of the road, placing it by the wayside.

As strange as my odd practice was, still one might possibly understand it. But for anyone to be concerned with a worm? It was not long after, in my devotional time, I found God also cared for the welfare of a worm. It settled any doubts I may have had. I read, “Thou worm Jacob,” and that, the Lord was “The God of Jacob,” THE GOD OF THE WORM!

I believe we can say it with confidence. In Psalms, speaking prophetically of Christ’s death on the cross, it is written, “I am a worm and no man.” What condescension, what love! He identifying with the likes of us “earthworms.”

Alas and did my Saviour bleed, and did my Sovereign die.
Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Stayed Upon Jehovah

Stay upon the LORD, the Holy One...let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.

The chorus of the song says, “Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest. Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.” I lament the fact I have not, and do not, always give heed to both this scripture and song. I must confess to you I get ‘stuck in the mud,’ rather than ‘staying upon my God.’

I am so guilty at times of observing my sinful surroundings rather than looking to our Great God! I’m overwhelmed by this world’s dominating influence, its alien, antagonistic religions, wicked customs, and traditions accepted by a great host of Christians; everything hostile to my beliefs.

What then are we who love the Lord to do, living in a world, for lack of a better phrase, baptized in sin? Paul teaches us, his fellow disciples, what to do. We are to put our feet upon the “sure” Word of of God. And point the devil to, “Where sin abounded grace did much more abound.”

Sin is great, grace is greater! Sin is strong, grace is stronger! Sin abounds, grace does much more abound! No matter the world’s condition, churches’ conditions, loved one's condition; and yes, your personal condition, GRACE IS GREATER THAN ANY AND ALL CONDITIONS! “There, devil, take that to the bank!

Richard D. Sandlin

Friday, January 8, 2016

Those Melancholy Moods

No matter your individual temperament, no one is excluded from his or her melancholy moments. These occasional dark moods will help you happy campers to pity us full-time melancholies. We who live on the dark side, that have to fight it every day of our existence.

I once heard a preacher in a camp meeting say he was never discouraged. It took all I could do to remain seated listening to that jargon. Personally, I have never enjoyed listening to self-deceived fools. Melancholy David had more than his share of discouraging times.

The songwriter of the old “spiritual” had it right when he penned, “Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down.” What is one to do when they’re down? Well, I’ll tell you what I do. I remember the promise God gave to Jacob, I will go down with thee...and I will also surely bring thee up again.”
Richard D. Sandlin

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Control the Mind-Control the Man

One of the many verses in the children's song Be Careful, says, “Be careful little mind what you think.” The wise man would agree; he tells us as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Therefore, it goes without saying, whoever or whatever controls the mind controls the man.

Satan worked on Eve’s mind. Once he had corrupted that, every part of her being was tainted with the Serpent's venom. “Get a man to think your way and you own the man,” is said to be a saying of the old Communist Party. Capture the mind and you’ve captured the man!

When Paul begs saints to present their bodies to God, he beseeches them through the means of the intellect. When God deals with His people concerning their sins, He does it by intellectually reasoning with him or her. The battleground between God and the devil is for man’s mind.

The mind decides to whom one belongs: God or Satan.

Cemented Doctrines

The great cardinal doctrines of the Bible are, we might say, cemented, both in time and eternity. They are as immovable and steadfast as the Rock of Gibraltar; although in contrast, these are few in number compared to other doctrines, which  might be characterized as being “fluid.” Unlike the former, they are not concrete. Substantive, yes; solid no.   

When we speak of the Blood of Christ, His bodily Resurrection, Inspiration of Scripture, the New Birth, and other tried and proved historic Church doctrines, one can be dogmatic. But on Biblical teachings that have been much discussed and debated these past two-thousand years, it is a wise person that does not become so adamant they become abhorrent.

Why is it God seemed to purposely leave some of these truths open for discussion? Could it be He wants us to keep studying, meditating, and seeking? Also, and possibly more important, to give us opportunity to show love and grace to those who hold opposing views? This is the reason I challenge all Blood-bought children of God to regularly give thought to Romans chapter fourteen. Have you read it lately?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

David's Journal

I am never long out of the Psalms. I love to read David’s daily journal—his ups and downs, fears and confidence, doubts and faith, along with his sins and godliness—they have all been a stabilizing factor in my Christian life.

The man after God’s own heart was, after all, just that—a man. He didn’t profess to be anything else. He never lost his wonder of God, or of His using him. How his words to the Lord always move me when I read them. As he sits before God, he says, “Who am I, O Lord God?” He was never a king in his own sight, but always the lowly shepherd boy that God had taken from following the sheep.

God knew something about David that he didn’t let the rest of us in on. And so it is with all of God’s chosen vessels; there is something between them and their Maker that this carnal world cannot figure out. It matters little what others say or think, if you’re a “man approved of God.”

“But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself.” (Psl. 4:3)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Resting With Paul

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.”

This most certainly does not sound like Paul believed Christ would return to some great utopian society brought about by man. It goes along more with Jesus’ prophetic question concerning His second Advent, during His earthly ministry. “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

These early believers at Thessalonica were suffering persecution from a world that had no knowledge of God, and furthermore didn’t want to know. This is evident by their refusal to obey the gospel. When he comes, Paul teaches, there will be no harmonious co-existence. As in every age, dispensation, period of time, or whatever name you give it, the Bible ended in apostasy. And so it will be with ours.

The old warhorses advice to all who are troubled about world conditions and religious persecution is to, “Rest with [him].” And how does one obtain this calm? By looking forward to the Second Coming of Christ, when He will set everything that is wrong, right! And what’s more important, He will have us enter into His eternal rest, when He shall be glorified and adored by all.

There will be no Peace on Earth until the return of the Prince of Peace.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Christianity is Alive and Well

An Archbishop from that ‘other’ church, said recently that Christianity was in great danger of being eliminated from the face of the earth. Well I think I can ease this fearful man’s concern. Had he gone to the final authority, in all matters of time and eternity, he would have seen how ludicrous such a statement is.

Jesus said His people are not headed for extinction but rather distinction. Our Master plainly told us we were going to inherit the earth, with both the New Jerusalem and Heaven thrown in, to boot. We are told in scripture our Lord is going to return to earth with ten-thousands of His saints. It is the children of this world who are going to be absent.

No amount of persecution, suffering, or martyrdom can snuff out the existence of God’s beloved children. Pharaoh found this out the hard way. He discovered that the more he attempted to decrease their number, the more they increased in number.

Christianity thrives on, “...trial[s] of cruel mockings and
scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;  (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth...God having provided some better thing for us.”

As my dear old friend, Mark Andrews, likes to say, “Ain’t it great being on the winning team!”

Richard. D. Sandlin

Friday, January 1, 2016

Life's Impossibilities

And [Jesus] said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

Life, as they say, is filled with possibilities; but equally so is its impossibilities. That is why it is so important, even essential, in religion to have a God which specializes in that sort of thing. Because sooner or later, all of us are going to face a brick wall; one we cannot get over, under, around, or go through. Can I say here, “Red Sea”?

Anyone the least bit familiar with the scriptures is aware of the insurmountable situations that lay in the pathway of Bible saints as they lived out the will of God in their lives. But each of them was confident that by treading the path of God’s choosing, their Lord would remove any and all obstacles hindering them from accomplishing their Sovereign's pleasure. He would do the impossible, when needed. Like God’s man of old, they could say, “Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain.”

There are among us those who like to sing about, preach about, talk about, and read about God doing the impossible. But that’s as far as it goes. For they realize to experience the impossible first-hand they must be present in the lion's den with Daniel; standing with feet wet in Jordan; walking around Jericho with God’s elect; and being placed in a furnace of fire, to mention only a few dreaded and embarrassing situations.

In doing God’s good pleasure, none should fear if placed in an impossible circumstance. For it is in such times our impossible working God will show up on the scene! And who among us would not like to see that heavenly, invisible hand work mighty wonders on our behalf, and for His glory?