Monday, August 29, 2016

Mercy

LEARNING THE MEANING

“But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice...But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.”
(Matt. 9:13; 12:9)

GETTING PAST THE EXTERNAL

The ritualistic, legalistic Pharisees of Jesus day could truly be called, “Hardshell Religionists.” His was a day that put great emphasis on the external works of the flesh and had little, or no, concern with the workings of the heart. Because of this, they had become exceedingly hard and harsh in dealing with the less fortunate, the unenlightened.

CORRECTION FROM THE SCRIPTURES

Jesus directs their attention to what God said in Hosea. He shows them God is much more interested in seeing mercy extended to the needy than a heartless show of sacrifice to Him.“ Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law...mercy...these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

REBUKED FOR WILLFUL IGNORANCE

Our Lord rebukes both them and us for not knowing something we should have, and could have, known. The moral standard of the Law, He teaches, takes precedent over its ceremonial requirements. The main focus to always  be on the former.

THE LETTER AND THE SPIRIT

It is not good enough to know the “letter” of the scripture; we must by the Spirit learn the meaning. And then, APPLY IT! Like our beloved Paul admonishes, “...shew[ing] mercy, with cheerfulness.”

“It’s difficult indeed, if not impossible, to live at the Mercy Seat and not be merciful to others who desire it.”
(rds)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Lost Art-Meditation

MY DEVOTIONAL MEDITATION

I’ve started reading through my Bible again in my devotional time. While meditating on Abel, I received such a blessing. It never occurred to me, he was the first sinner to go to heaven, the first one to enter, singing, if you please, “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it; redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.” He was first to worship and praise God for His salvation by grace, to behold the pre-incarnate Lamb who was the antitype, the foreshadowing, of his own animal sacrifice, standing next to His Father. You might say, in one sense, he had heaven all to himself.

THE COW’S CUD

The old saying, “Chewing the cud,” generally refers to a cow bringing back up partly digested food from their first stomach, to the mouth again, for further chewing. One could apply this to some extent to meditating on the Word. We need to take more time chewing (meditating) on the Word of God. We need more “Selahs” in our Bible time. David mentions this word over seventy times in the book of Psalms. We also need to pause and consider what we have just read. All deep thinking Christians are men and women who give time to meditating on the Word. We need to heed the words, “Dwell deep.”

THE BLESSED MAN

The sweet Psalmist tells us the man (or woman) God blesses meditates in God’s Word, night and day. That is, he or she is thinking about it “round-the-clock,” as they say. C.H. Spurgeon has a good note on this in his book, Treasury of David. “He delights, moreover, to meditate in it, to read it by day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it with him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids, he museth upon the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he sings Psalms out of the Word of God, and in the night of his affliction he comforts himself with promises out of the same book. "The Law of the Lord" is the daily bread of the true believer.”

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Brooms

Going to the Broom Closet

It’s a wise woman who grabs a broom when she has lost something of great value, and begins immediately sweeping the area where it disappeared. The woman in Luke’s gospel was such a person. She searched diligently till she found the cherished possession she lost. In fact, she swept the whole house before ultimately finding it.

I’ve been waiting some years now, watching to see when the Church will go to her broom closet. It has been most difficult for me to understand how she could lose her dearest and most treasured possession and not be concerned with her great loss. How like Samson the Church of today is. “And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.” Or as my dear old mentor, Dr, Joe Henry Hankins, used to preach, "Destitute, and unaware of it!"

Many once blessed churches now have indelibly written above their door, “Ichabod…The glory is departed…” The church then becomes a mortuary. They’re of no use to anyone but the mortician, grave digger, and the monument builder, who will inscribe on the tombstone what their church once was.

When Mary and Joseph lost Jesus, after three days of searching, they finally found Him where they left him. And so will any church that takes the time to do so. Revival is a re-discovery of Jesus.

New brooms sweep cleanest-but old brooms know where all the dirt is hidden!
(Dr. B.R. Lakin)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Lifeless

One Thing Lacking

“Having a form…but denying the power…” What a tragedy to see one who has the form of a lifeguard, only to find he or she cannot swim. But, how much more tragic it is to behold Christians who pass themselves off as being Spirit-filled, yet who are powerless to help anyone. True, they may have form, but their deeds deny the fact that they have the power of God.

Ezekiel’s dry bones came together and had all the external characteristics we require to pass muster, but they needed the breath of God upon them, before they could really get on their feet and be greatly used.

I’m afraid many of us have lost our “axe-heads.” But rather than stop and find it again, we continue to go through the tiring motions of chopping, in spite of the revealing fact that chips are no longer flying nor trees falling.

A Christian without the breath of God is like a mannequin; they look good, but that’s as far as it goes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Test Time

The Professor and His Son
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?”

Charles Spurgeon says of this text, "If all the trials which come from heaven, all the temptations which ascend from hell, and all the crosses which arise from earth, could be mixed and pressed together, they would not make a trial so terrible as that which is contained in this verse. It is the most bitter of all afflictions to be led to fear that there is no help for us in God. And yet remember our most blessed Saviour had to endure this in the deepest degree."

What is one to do during those times, which St John of the Cross calls, The Dark Night of the Soul?” Are we to doubt our Lord’s promise, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Most certainly not!  A father who is his son’s English professor may leave him during test time, not being able to help him, but by no means has he deserted him. At Calvary, Jesus was taking His finals before graduation. It  was something He had to do on His own; no one could do it for Him; not even His loving Father.

Not only does our main text speak prophetically of our Lord, but was also true of David historically. Most certainly, not to the same extent and depth, nevertheless in a lesser form. David tells us he felt like a fatally wounded animal, all alone, roaring in the black of night. To me, this is the ultimate Christ-like experience, when, as in the Old Testament, one can testify to the fact that the darkness could be felt (Ex.10:21). As the song says, “THEN CAME THE MORNING!”

Monday, August 22, 2016

Those Mundane Things

Divinity and the Dull


Oswald Chambers wrote, “What we call crises, God ignores, and what God reveals as the great critical moments of a man’s life we look on as humdrum commonplaces. When we become spiritual we discern that God was in the humdrum commonplace and we never knew it.”

Jacob was such a person. Many of us have had to confess along with him, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” We have come to think God is not in anything unless it is spectacular and exciting. But God is not always in the “strong wind,” the “earthquake,” or the “fire.” Most of the time, He is in the “still small voice.”

Those things we consider mundane in life are the very things He is in. In our Lord’s life there was what Bible students call, “The eighteen silent years.” This covers the time from when He was twelve years of age, till He was thirty. During these years we know little, only that He worked as a common laborer, a carpenter, if you please.

It might be good for each of us to say to ourselves as we do house work, sit in the classroom, arrive at our workplace, go shopping, etc. “Surely the Lord is in this place.” When we recognize God to be in something, then it takes on a whole new meaning.

When the main ingredient is God, even the bitter becomes sweet. (Ex.15:25)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

David's Remedy

How to Stay Fresh

I shall be anointed with fresh oil.”

There is none like God’s anointing oil. It was pure and sweet, not rancid: it was always “fresh!”  Woe be to those who attempt to imitate anything like unto it (Ex.30:32). One of the things it depicted (power, discernment, etc) was joyfulness, exuberance, happiness. It is said of our Lord, “Thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”

There are times we all feel that our Christian life is becoming repetitious, ritualistic, and in danger of stagnation. How can this be cured? For us New Testament saints, by simply realizing that each day is a resurrection day. It’s a new beginning. There is no past. Yesterday’s grave clothes are to be left behind in the tomb as we come forth to walk in newness of life.

Each morning, our meeting with God should be, as it were, for the first time. Each day is a first for everything. All things are to become new with the rising of the sun. The excitement of sins forgiven, communion with a Holy God, and being able to pray like it was the first time, bring freshness into our Christian life.

Don’t bring yesterday into today. If it’s more than a day old, it’s not fresh.
(rds)

Monday, August 15, 2016

The "ONE" and Only

Christ’s Merit Badge

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

My wife sings a lovely song entitled, “The Answer.” In it there is a line that says, “I come in the merits of Jesus.” You would think that every child of God would realize this fact, but it seems “strutting saints” are the “in thing” in this age.

Christ alone is the only one who is worthy to wear a “merit badge.” But in spite of this truth, as proud peacocks, we continue to swagger down the church aisles trying to impress with our man-made plumes.

But all our good deeds apart from Christ, in God’s sight, are no more than “righteous rags.” As an old preacher used to crudely say, “The only thing any of us deserve is to be lying on the floor in Hell, with our backs broken.”

It’s difficult for self-righteous creatures as we to admit to our sad state without Christ. There is a great line in the newest remake of the movie, 3:10 to Yuma. The truth of the statement is a must if you want to know God. “Sometimes a man has to be big enough to admit how small he is.”

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Facts of Life

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” The wise writer is laying down for us the facts of life. He does this by a series of contrasts. He tells us there is a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and pluck up; to kill and heal; to break down and build up; to weep and to laugh; to mourn and dance; to cast away stones and gather them; to embrace and to refrain from it; to get and to lose; to keep and cast away; to rend and sew, to love and hate; and to go to war and to have peace.

Someone has said, “Consistency is the virtue of fools.” There are misguided Christians who actually believe that life can be lived on an even plain. What a rude awakening when they realize the truth that life is a series of ups and downs. Life cannot be lived in an incubator. God does not protect us from distasteful experiences, nor will He keep from us the exuberant, joyful times. They are both part of God’s mix.

Mature Christians take life as it comes; and they do it realizing, in the final end, everything will work out for their good and God’s glory.

When your cup is full of bitterness, God’s sugar bowl is close at hand.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Half a Shave

Don’t Let the Devil Shame You

“Wherefore, Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved off the half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away. When they told it unto David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed: and the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and then return.”

What a considerate king! What a loving concern he showed toward his blushing servants. We, too, have such a King. But ours, we are told, is greater than David. When the enemy of our souls takes from us, leaving us nothing but shame, it is then that our Compassionate Sovereign manifests His tender mercies toward our embarrassment and hurt.

Some things our adversary robs us of can be presently replaced (such as the garments). But there are other things we must patiently wait for their return (the growth of their beards). Remember, Samson’s hair began to “grow again” after he was shaved.

The devil may cause us shame for a season, but God knows how to shame him in the end. Consider Job. God gave back to him twice as much as Satan had taken. Losses do not mean we are less of a Christian. Do not give up the other things, when you’ve lost some things. “…hold that fast which thou hast.” God is excellent at math, especially addition.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Knowledge in the Dark

Paul...The Know-It-All

For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer...For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens...for I know whom I have believed...And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Taking just these few instances, the man of the world would peg Paul as a know-it-all. And after reading the latter, would add he no doubt had a screw loose. For the man under the sun believes one event happens to all the same. That it rains on the just and the unjust alike. While this is true, the the effect on each isn’t. The result is noticeably different. The same sun melts and hardens.

The wise of the world tell us we are all victims of chance, no more. But God’s enlightened elect reject the foolishness of this wisdom. We are not creatures of fate, but of faith. God rules in every area of our lives. He has a predestined plan for each of us. Some saints, I find, have a problem with the negative side of predestination, but none with the positive, as in Romans eight, twenty-eight.

Sometimes, during those seemingly senseless and unexplained trials, the head has no answer other than that there is simply no rhyme nor reason to it. But as Pascal says, “The heart has reason of which the mind knows nothing of.” May it suffice each suffering saint to know that on the flip-side of every dark and wearisome cloud, there is a silver lining. Darkness always gives way to light!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Intercessors

The Golden Rule of Intercessory Prayer
“I have prayed for thee.”

When Christ told Peter He would pray for him in his temptation, our Lord was more than familiar with Satan’s depth of deception. Our Saviour could truly say with the prophet of old, “I sat where they sat.” He knew the darkness awaiting his beloved follower. The writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus was tempted in all points of life, as we are. I think the sweetest words to come out of a saint’s mouth is a sincere, “I am praying for you.”

Intercessory prayer is no doubt the highest form of prayer. On the positive side, it is bringing another with you to the Mercy Seat, seeking their welfare. The first mention is Abraham praying for Abimelech. The Bible is replete with such cases as: Moses, Samuel, Elisha, Daniel, Stephen, Paul, Epaphras, etc; the greatest being our Lord. He’s been actively engaged in this type of ministry for over 2000 years now! This then is a Christ-like characteristic.

I was thinking, intercessory prayer is a sure cure-all for Christian narcissism. Could it be if we took more interest in others' needs God might just take more interest in ours? For years now, I've had what I call, “The Golden Rule of Prayer.” That is, as I would have others pray for me and mine, even so should I do . With what fervor, earnestness, agony, do we pray when all seems hopeless for us and ours? We need to return to travailing in prayer for others till we hear the cry of life.

“Ye also helping together by prayer for us.”  

Friday, August 5, 2016

Swords

Swords in the Saint's Life

“Who through faith…escaped the edge of the sword…And others…were slain with the sword.” The latter in our text had the same faith as the former, yet, while the one escapes the pain and unpleasantries of life, the “others” endure them.

David escaped Goliath’s sword, but eighty-five of God’s innocent priests were slain with Doeg’s sword. And what of James, who was slain by the sword at Herod’s command? Yet, his dear, long-time friend, Peter, escaped the same tyrant’s blade.

There is no answer to this dilemma, other than God’s individual plan for each life. I think Matthew Henry’s statement is pertinent here. He writes, “The swords of men are held in the hand of God.” We must learn to look past the human instrument to the Sovereign Hand that controls it. This way, we can always be assured that though they might have thought it for evil, God meant it for our good.

“God, be thou exalted, and, if need be, do it at my expense.” (A.W. Tozer)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Saved But Not Satisfied

A preacher friend of mine used to say, when asked how he was, “Saved, sanctified, and satisfied.” I’m afraid if many of us were asked this, we’d have to leave off the last word, if truthful. God’s people today appear to be insatiable—nothing seems to satisfy them, whether in the physical or spiritual realm.

Many of our churches put on a great show, but not to the satisfying of the soul. Preachers lay out decorative china, but nothing nutritious is on the plate. We have showy menus, but, as the old Westerners used to say, there is nothing that will “stick to your ribs.”

God tells us through Jeremiah, “My people shall be satisfied with my goodness.” We sing, “Thou, O Christ, art all I want”; but we sing a lie! It looks to me like there are few in number who finds real satisfaction in Him and in Him alone. They cannot honestly say, “Thou art my…portion in the land of the living.” “And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.”

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger”…If a Christian is not satisfied with Jesus, then nothing else can or will satisfy him or her.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Leaving the Party Early

Such-and-Such Things

“And he [the angel] said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he [Jacob] said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me...And he blessed him there.” The main problem with God’s children today is that we are too easily satisfied. Our contentment with having less of God than He intended is contemptible. It is always too soon to quit when seeking God’s fullness. But in this area we once again prove “all have…come short of the glory of God.”

There is more to be had than the initial appetizer and small salad that follows. Most do not hang around for the main course; and few there are who stay for the delicious dessert. God serves His courses in order and in perfect timing. I’m sure most of us would have left the party early had we been with Jacob that memorable night. But by hanging out till the breaking of the day, he found his Host to be more than gracious.

Had David not given-in so soon, God said, “I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.”

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Word to the Wise-Fools Never Get It

The Choice of Two Evils

When you have the choice of the lesser of two evils, you choose neither! Like David of old when Gad presented him with choices, none of which would profit him, he left it up to God to choose, trusting in His mercy.

Just because a good ornament is hung upon the lesser evil does not remove its bad root. It doesn’t make the second choice any more respectable. Putting cosmetic on an external cancer doesn’t make it less dangerous than that of an internal one.

This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.” I trust my readers are wise enough to understand what I’ve said. I believe it is called in our day, “tongue in cheek."