Saturday, April 30, 2016

Don't Get Ahead of Yourself

Not only is our Sovereign the God of eternity, but He is the Lord of time. He controls every aspect of it. He can make it stand still, go backward, or run it ahead. But He is distinctively the God of the present. And why is this? I think C.S. Lewis put it best when he said, “Where, except in the present, can the Eternal be met.” Therefore, as they say, “There is no time like the present.”

But we must be cautious that we do not mistake a seemingly right situation for the right time. Take Simon Peter’s case for example. The Lord had told him how he would die (John 21:18-19). And in Acts 12:3-6 the circumstances would lead one to think this was the time his Lord had spoken to him about. But though the situation was right, the timing was wrong, for this memorable event could not come to pass until, as Jesus had said, “…when thou shalt be old.”

It is not the circumstances, but timing, that counts. Let us keep our eyes on God’s clock and not on the conditions. If we do, we, like Peter, will sleep better.

Timing is Everything!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Unsavoury God

“...thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury.”

Job tells us something unsavory is tasteless. Have you ever wondered why some among us no longer have a taste for God? Men, women, and young people who once hungered for Him? The reason is they no longer possess their spiritual taste-buds. He is like the white of an egg to them. He has become bland (flavorless) in their lives.

Darling David challenges us, “O taste and see that the LORD is good.” Sample taste, if you please. But this is not so with those who have gone back and are now feeding upon the world's “leeks and garlic.” They could taste all day and never savor the sweetness of God. When God’s people of old were right with Him, the manna tasted like honey; but as oil to those of the mixed multitude.

Beloved, do you still hunger for God, and even more so, than you did in years past? When Jesus said, “He that cometh to me shall never hunger,” it only means after a different kind. A.W. Tozer sold peanuts on a train when a young man. He said he would start out giving away a few free ones to each passenger. Later as he went through the cars selling them, he said he’d sell out. They wanted more of the same sort.

Maybe the reason many professing Christians hunger after another kind is because they are members of the “mixed multitude,” who were never part of God’s elect. They always had the taste of Egypt in their mouths.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Asking Too Much

“Such as I have give I thee.” Would to God some of today’s Christians could get hold of this great truth. Peter may have lacked in some things, but common sense was not one of them. A person cannot give what they do not have. If they do, there is reason to suspect it was ill gotten. You can’t get a quart of milk out of a pint bottle.

I’ve been guilty in the past of saying, “God wants 110% of our lives.” Such little clichés may be inspirational, but they are not scriptural. Each of us can give 100%, but even with this statement it must be qualified. It needs to be realized, when I give my best, it may not be as good as another who excels me in capacity. But God accepts both as the same. It has been, and always will be, in His sight, “…according to our ability.”

Don’t let Satan or anyone else push you beyond your God given limitations. Let us not be guilty of asking, or expecting, of a person more than they have. Even the Lord doesn’t do that! As A.W. Tozer says, “God is easy to live with.” And so should we be.

Remember, along with our God given abilities, there is God given limitations.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

They're Not Just For Kids

Children’s stories in the Bible are for every child of God. To lightly pass over them is to take the Bible lightly. Some of the deepest and most profound truths are to be found in stories that have erroneously been designated, for the most part, to children only.

For example, in the account of David and Goliath, I personally have gleaned at least fifteen rare nuggets from that rich vein of truth. One of which was when David put off Saul’s armour. He had no use for artificial armour. Rather than be a little man in giant’s armour, he chose rather to be a giant of a man in God’s armour. It’s embarrassing to be clothed in an extra, extra large, when you are a regular. The thing I like most about walking in my own shoes is that they are so comfortable.

I think it would be a good idea for those who are constantly tripping over the supper-sized garments they wear, to become quick-change artists. You will be surprised at how nice fitting things are that come from your own closet. You will also discover that people will like you so much better in your own duds!

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. 
Dr. Seuss

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Love for "ALL" the Brethren

And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.”

Years ago an old preacher friend of mine who came into a large inheritance, held a Bible conference in the Ohio- Kentucky area. He rented out a large number of rooms at a motel, along with their conference hall. The purpose was to get Independent Baptists to love one another. A worthy cause.

If you’re familiar with your New Testament you know this was the constant theme of its writers. But their emphasis was not on one small segment in the Body of Christ; it was all-encompassing. It included those who did not cross their t’s and dot their i’s the way they did. Their love ran over.

You do not have to agree with a person to love him or her. Insecure saints are fearful to show love toward those with whom they differ, afraid some might think they’re in agreement with them. This sort suffer from the fear of man. They are led by the flesh, certainly not by His Spirit.

We’re commanded to love our brethren, as well as God. A command has to do with the will. You “will” to love it doesn’t have anything to do with your feelings, that’s a by-product; they may or may not be involved. Reading the little book of 1 John, occasionally, would help us along these lines.

John Newton, in the book, “Letters of John Newton,” puts what I have been trying to get across better than anyone I have ever read, “In a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now.”  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

High on God's List

“Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus.” Where would all the evangelists, pastors, and missionaries, be without Godly couples such as these to help us on in our ministries? Every preacher knows the value of an Aquila and Priscilla—or should know.

Such people score high on God’s list of the laity. They labored together as husband and wife as tent makers, opened their home for church services, instructed ministerial students in the deeper things of God, and were willing to lay down their lives for God’s man. This humble couple was known and respected among all the churches. They were part of Paul’s team. They weren’t stars, just players.

I thank God for all the “Aquila’s and Priscilla’s” who have given their hands, hearts, and homes to help this unworthy servant along the way. It is such people, I’m sure, the writer of Hebrews addresses when he writes, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”

“Who they were, nobody knows; what they did, everybody knows.”
(inscription on tomb of unknown Confederate soldier)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Coming Out of Nowhere

After spending a number of years among a small group of preachers and churches, I was then introduced to a large number of pastors from across the country. After preaching to this particular fellowship of men, one of their wives asked me, “Where did you come from? When I explained, she said, “You seemed to have come out of nowhere.”

The truth is, no one comes from nowhere, everyone comes from somewhere. And while how you arrived there may be a providential mystery, you still need to be content wherever that “somewhere” is. For it is from “there” God will call you to that one all-important task for which He created you. John the Baptist’s wilderness experience is a good illustration.

The famous basketball coach, John Wooden used to say to his players, “No time spent in preparation is wasted.” Being is much more important than doing! For the former determines the quality of the latter. The Man Christ Jesus, spent the first thirty-years of His life in obscurity, in preparation for His final three.

Such eternal plans have no time limit. In some cases it is longer compared to others. But in many if not most lives, it’s just the opposite; “A flash in the pan,” as they say. You go off the scene as quickly as you came on. The Bible is full of such examples. But all these “passing shadows” had one magnificent characteristic, they did God’s bidding.

A little unnamed Jewish maiden, taken captive by the Syrians, never to see loved ones or land again, became a servant girl to a military man, a mighty man of valour, Naaman by name. But he was a leper. She was instrumental in his cleansing and new life. We never hear of her again. But she is recorded in God’s eternal record Book. She only did one great spiritual thing in her life, as far as we know, but it was for the Glory of God!  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Mechanical Christians

There is a marked difference between having good spiritual habits and allowing them to become mechanical. One of the definitions of the first word is: an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. As to the latter, its meaning is: acting or performing without
spontaneity, spirit, or individuality; that is, automated.

Things such as daily Bible reading, prayer, witnessing, etc., are good habits until they become mechanical; then routine turns to rot. When what we do is “same-o, same-o,” it ends up being boring, and so do we. Variety is the mark of a healthy Christian. Doing the same thing everyday doesn’t have to mean doing it the same way. Break out of your mold!

“I think sometimes robots have more versatility to them than many Christians.”  
(rds)   

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Passing of a Kind

“And it shall come to pass in that day,that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive” (Zach.13:4)

Zechariah says the old-time rugged prophets of his day, and those before, were characterized by their “rough garments.” It could be some of these rough, hairy garments were from the skins of the sacrifices from the altar. This may have been true of Elijah. And John the Baptist might have gotten his from a dead carcass in the wilderness. One way or the other, without doubt, they were among those who, “wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy).”

There are many in our pulpits today, as in Zechariah’s, who try desperately, but with embarrassing failure, to emulate these one-of-a-kind stalwarts. Years ago I heard a feminine-like preacher say in his sermon, “We need more John the Baptist’s.” I whispered to my wife, “It’s one thing to say it and another to be it.” It was a sad thing, I’m sure, for the old western generation to see the rugged buffalo pass off the scene; but how much more devastating for us to see this breed of “rough and rugged” preachers to go into extinction!

True, there is a small remnant of them still clinging to the old-time ways, but as a whole, their voices have been silenced; replaced by teachers, tickling the ears of the play-acting Christians occupying the pews. No longer is preaching offensive; no longer are preachers’ lives threatened, no longer are tears shed in the pulpit, as well as the pew; no longer are young men called to preach and to the mission field; no longer is there preaching on sin, judgement, death and hell. And what is worst of all, no longer does anyone seem to care!

I thank God I cast my lot almost sixty years ago among this breed of manly men, and I’ve never been sorry a day in my life. And I am confident I will not blush upon meeting my Lord, nor before men such a Jeremiah, Paul, Peter, John the Baptist, and a host of others who were hated and despised by the religious apostates of their age. Like the king of Israel said of one such, “Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.”

A closing word to my preacher brethren: “KEEP ON PREACHING TILL THE PREACHER COMES!” It will be worth it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Sitting Before the Lord

And David the king came and sat (in his house) before the LORD, and said, Who am I, O LORD God?”

In one of his magnificent sermons on prayer, C.H. Spurgeon mentions the beauty of one sitting in an easy chair, with head bowed, lifting his or her heart to the Lord in prayer. I can attest to this fact. I cannot count the times, over these many years, I have walked in on my wife while she was communing with her God, head bowed, the Bible open in her lap, hands clasped, sitting in her favorite rocker, praying to her Sovereign God and Lover of her soul. With the glow of the Glory of God on her face.

Years ago, I listened on the radio regularly to a godly black pastor. I especially liked one particular term he used frequently. “Bow the knees of your heart,” he would say. Your physical posture is of no consequence if the heart is not humbled before Him. A bowed head and a bowed knee count for nothing if the heart is not bowed in reverence. We see darling David’s heart in the first words that came out of his mouth. The greatest king on earth, over the most powerful kingdom, says to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords,  “Who am I, O LORD God?”

If you want to lose that little extra something you have with the Lord that can’t be explained, then you just forget the dung-hill He dug you from. Every saint should read from time to time the story in Luke chapter eighteen of the Pharisee and Publican praying. Also of Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel chapter two. Especially dwell on her admonition, “Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth.”  Evidently the Pharisee had never read this; if he did, it wasn’t heeded.

“From the hole of the pit to heavenly places. Let us not forget either.”
(rds)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Christ Our Example in Temptation

(Please read Matt.4:1-11)
From early days, theologians have argued the point whether Christ could have sinned or not. Since I’ve never been in their league, I’ll let them burn the night oil debating the issue. Personally, I am 100% sold on the fact, He was there as a man. His own words attest to this,Man shall not live by bread alone.” He was our representative.

My answer to this may sound overly simplistic but I use the illustration of the railroad engineer. After building an expanded trestle over a two-thousand foot  precipice and laying the tracks, he, and his young son, rode across. When the reporters on the other side exclaimed, “You sure proved it couldn’t fall,” his reply was, “No, I proved it wouldn’t fall.”

It was Christ’s manhood that was solicited to sin. God cannot be tempted to do evil.  Notice His arch-enemy waylaid the Man Christ Jesus, as he does us, when He was at His weakest. He was tempted in body, “Command that these stones be made bread,” food. In soul, “Cast thyself down,” foolishness. And in spirit, “Worship me,” foulness. In “all points” as we are.

And what tool did our Lord use against the tantalizer? The same that is available to us, The Written Word of God, Three times He unsheathes His glittering sword with victorious results, each time with, “It is written,” It was His triumphant battle cry! Jesus submitted Himself to God and resisted the devil. And what the results?, “And the devil leaveth Him.”

It worked for Him! And Peter and James tells us it will work for us also. Give it a try the next time Satan slithers your way.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Blessings of Good Books

It used to be that people with any intelligence at all would ask friends, “Have you read any good books lately?” It seems that, since the inception of TV, avid readers of good literature, both young and old, are becoming extinct. True, there’s a lot of books around today, but there is a vast difference between “trashy books,” that leave you empty and ignorant, and those that inform, and make you think. You can see what the world wants by looking at what the throng of people purchase in commercial and Christian bookstores; and by observing the small numbers in your local library.

It’s an interesting fact that one of the first things a dictator does when taking power is to destroy all good literature. Do we not realize that when you find readers of good literature, with a variety of different viewpoints, you will find individuals who think for themselves. People who will not be led around by the nose, so to speak.    

Paul loved to read, in spite of his poor eyesight. He told Timothy when he was to visit him in prison to “...bring...the books.” He also encouraged the young man to “give attendance to reading..” He went on to tell him to give himself wholly to it, for it would both profit him and those he spoke with. Good reading, Paul tells us, can keep one from the wrong doctrines that seduce the soul. That is, it can keep one’s spiritual head screwed on right.

A Christian is certainly permitted to have a wide selection of books on his or her shelves—poetry, histories, mysteries, biographies, novels, etc.—may be in one’s library. But make sure you do not neglect those that nourish and strengthen the soul. The secular may inform, stimulate, and enlighten the mind, but they will never reach the inner, Spiritual man. Above all, let us never neglect the Book of books, the Bible.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Territorial Animals

“I said, Not so Lord.” This is the wrong mix. These two ingredients will never blend together. It is either a “Not so,” or “Lord”; but not both. The little cliché is right that says, “If He’s not Lord of all, then He’s not Lord at all.”

Someone said to me once, about their pet, that he was very “territorial.” I looked up the definition. It means, “An assigned area, under the jurisdiction of a ruler.” God has a lot of children who are “territorial.” They like to say to the Lord about areas in their lives, what He said to the sea: “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further.”  I might add, we are also guilty of saying such to loved ones and friends.

When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, then God doesn’t own it. Like the loaves, Christ only blesses what is placed into His hands. Jesus did this with His Father all His earthly life. Even unto death, when He uttered with His last breath, “Into thy hands I commit…” From my hand to Thy hand, that’s the only safe deposit!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Getting Rid of Stuff

The word downsize essentially means: to reduce in number or size; to make in a smaller size; to simplify one's life. This is especially painful in the life of the aged, when heart-breaking choices must be made concerning things they’ve always held dear. Nevertheless, some things must go if they’re to move on. Getting rid of assets is a lifelong chore. It doesn’t get easier!

But this is not only true of the elderly, but also in the lives of children, teens, young adults, and those in mid-life. As I said, it’s lifelong. In these various stages of life, we are called upon to “let go” of the toys we cling to so desperately. The Bible refers to it as “stuff.” Many of us have far too much baggage on our journey home. Most of us like addition, in reference to the good in life; but not the subtraction. Ask Job.

Downsizing is a particularly important part of the Christian’s Spiritual life. Getting rid of “spiritual” things can be more agonizing than parting with the material. If we are to “finish our course with joy,” as Paul tells us, we must not even count our lives dear unto ourselves. In that great storm recorded in Acts twenty-seven, the experienced mariners knew what some would deem necessary, had to be cast out.

A lot of us would consider it a wonderful thing to have a money-belt full of gold coins around our waist, that is, until the ship wrecks; then an important decision has to be made.

Let's take time to smell the flowers; they’ll be on top of us soon enough.”
(rds)   

Monday, April 4, 2016

Both Are Great

How many today, both in the Christian and secular world, are striving for greatness, but are going about it in the wrong way.

You'll find the term "He shall be great" twice in Luke chapter one. It is spoken of John the Baptist and Jesus. The question of greatness has to do with whether we are looking through God's eyes or man's. Neither of the two mentioned above were great in the eyes of man, but were in God's eyes. Greatness in God's sight is a result of anyone fulfilling what He placed him upon earth to do.

In Genesis one, referring to the sun, God said that it was, "the greater light". Of the moon, He says, it was "the lesser light." That's found in verse sixteen. But, if you'll notice, before He mentions "greater and lesser," it says, "And God made two great light." Here we find something strange and wonderful. There's a greater and lesser, but God calls them both great.

Dear friend, there are Christians greater in position and authority than us, who are fulfilling the will of God for their lives. Certainly, in comparison, we are lesser, but, if we're fulfilling God's eternal plan in the place where He has put us, though the one is greater, and we, the lesser, God calls both great.

Greatness is in the eyes of the "Beholder."

Sunday, April 3, 2016

New Agers Need to Come of Age

And God gave Solomon wisdom...And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.

Go into any large secular bookstore and you will find, generally, New Age literature far outnumbers the Christian. Largely filled with eastern oriental mysticism, it is the “in-thing,” among our younger generation of Christian elitists. These “doctrines of devils,” have influenced both the pulpit and pew. The “spiritual,” being mixed with the “SPIRITUAL.”

You can spot these spiritual showoffs by the cliches they use. They tack God’s name to their little diddies, hoping to legitimize them. Its basic teaching is that man himself is a god and has the potential of pulling himself up by his own boot-straps. The only thing wrong with this teaching is that fallen, depraved man doesn’t have any straps on his boots!

Solomon chose to put God’s interests and pleasure above his own, God gave him a wisdom that surpassed all the philosophers, mystics, and worldly wise around him. His was a wisdom superior to all the peoples to the east of him: Mesopotamia, Arabia, and Egypt, who were renowned for their wisdom, knowledge, arts, and science.

I have noticed in my long life and ministry, God’s gem of wisdom does not generally come in a rare setting of gold or silver. More times than not, you will find it glistening from tarnished material.

“ Now there was found in it (the city) a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.”  
(Ecc.(9)  

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Jesus and Bible Reading

“And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him?”
(Lk.6 cp. 1Sam.21)

From the above text we find our Lord is interested in Bible reading. And not only in the reading itself, but in how much of it has been read. We see this in His wise rebuke, “Have ye not read so much as this?” Haven’t you read as far as Samuel?, asks He.  

But this is not the only occasion He showed concern for reading the Bible, there are others: “Have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?” (Matt. 12 cp. Num. 28); again, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female.” (Matt. 19 cp. Gen. 1-2); and again, “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God.” (Mk. 12 cp. Ex. 3-4); and yet again, “And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner.” (Mk. 12 cp. Psl.118). His questions, “Have ye not read,” Genesis, Samuel, Exodus, Psalms, Numbers? Well?

I’m told that in Jesus’ earthly ministry He quoted no less than twenty-four different Old Testament Books. This is where His power lay, in the Written Word. Throughout Scripture we’re told of the power of the Word of God. Our Lord told those of His day, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.Like two wings of a bird, they go together.

One writer mentions something I thought interesting. I haven’t checked it out. But if true, as I said, interesting.  When God’s people of old tasted the Manna, and it tasted as “oil,” they were out of His Will. But when the taste was as “honey,” they were right with God.

What does His Word taste like to you?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Cease and Desist

Definition: A cease and desist letter, also known as "infringement letter" or "demand letter," is a document sent to an individual or business to halt purportedly unlawful activity ("cease") and not take it up again later ("desist"). To put it simply, “Stop what you’re doing now! And don’t start it up again.”

The Bible is full of such orders from God. The Lord told Moses to cease and desist. ”...the LORD said unto me...speak no more unto me of this matter.” This was also the case in the lives of Samuel and Paul. Not only is this true in our prayer life, but also touches every area of daily living; from sin to that which is not harmful in itself, but not good for us.

To be dogged in a thing is commendable, except when God tells us to STOP and discontinue its pursuance. One can know when God wants us to “cease and desist.” Like the merry-go-round, when we always end up where we started. In such cases, to be sure, God’s trying to tell us something. God’s way is always straight, not circular. 

Ask Israel! For forty-years they went in circles. Why? They refused to “cease and desist.”