Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good-bye Old, Hello New

HOLDING TO THE OLD

“Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” The people the writer is addressing had been brought up on an external system of traditional rules, religious regulations, and rigid restrictions. These were preferred before the “Altogether Lovely One.” External rites are always wrong when chosen over the Lover of our souls.

STEPPING INTO THE NEW ALONE

Many today are in the same situation as these early Christians. They are associated with a movement or group that started out right, but has now ended up wrong. To turn your back on it and walk away is no easy thing. The loss of lifetime friends, the misunderstanding by loved ones, and the reproach of one’s peers, is a price many are not willing to pay. If others would come along with them, they might be willing, but to go it alone is unthinkable.

THE NEW IS BETTER THAN THE OLD

The book of Hebrews is about Christ being better; and, believe me; identification with the lonely Christ is better than association with the popular crowd. God had rejected and abolished their old ceremonial ways and had offered them in its place “a new and living way.” But they refused the new in order to hold to the old. How about you my friend?

Who minds being outside the camp, if you’re inside the veil?

The Last Mile Of The Way-Part One

Dear Readers,

Please do not mistake our lack of recent updating here for a lack of appreciation for the multitude of loving e-mails, cards, text messages, generous monetary gifts and priceless prayers! We (Dad and those family members who are currently able) have simply been devoting our time to Mom's care and company.

The Lord allowed me to fly here again yesterday to, i believe, be privileged to assist my dad in providing the care that my precious mother needs as she travels her last mile here. We all agree that she is not far from her destination and goal, which is the presence of the One she has loved and served so beautifully these many years now. I can tell  you from eyewitness experience that that our Lord is more real to my mother today than He has ever been.

I'll give you a glimpse into one of today's sweet moments with her...

Her dear pastor and his wife stopped in for a short but memorable visit, and she was talking about her times alone with the Lord. She said in her now-feeble voice, "I was reading a passage the other day and was especially blessed by something so I asked my husband to bring me my red Bible-marking pencil. I started to mark the passage and suddenly thought, 'Now, why am i marking this? I don't need to worry about remembering these words; I'll most likely be with the Living Word very soon'!"

This is the kind of Christianity that we all desire, is it not?


~ Leah (Sandlin) Griffis

Thursday, December 29, 2016

An Appointment To Be Kept

MARK IT ON YOUR CALENDAR

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die.” This is an appointment we all must keep (unless cancelled by His Coming). It’s been said, “No man is really ready to live, until he is first ready to die.” I believe this was the secret of Paul’s full and vibrant life. “We had the sentence of death in ourselves,” said he. C.S. Lewis writes, “Die before you die; there is no chance after.”

THE SERVANT WHO OPENS THE DOOR

Death is no longer the master. Jesus made a servant out of him. Our enemy now is made to open the door to our eternal home of bliss, and to close the door of our earthly one of suffering. As someone has said, “Death is our underground pathway to Heaven.” As Christians, we can face the fact of death squarely, and not flinch. For Jesus took away its “fear,” “taste,” and “sting.”

GETTING READY TO TRAVEL HOME

Henry Francis Lyte (the author of “Abide with Me”) said at his home-going, “Oh, there is nothing terrible in death; Jesus Christ steps down into the grave before me.” It is because of this realization that you find many older saints devouring the Scriptures that pertain to their final home. Or, as the grandchildren said of their grandmother, “Grandma must be cramming for her finals!”

May John Wesley’s words of his followers apply to us also.

“Our people die well!”

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Looking At-Or Looking To...Jesus?

THERE IS A DIFFERENCE

Looking unto Jesus…” Not, looking at, but looking to. It’s a term denoting dependence. It is like saying to a friend who has promised to help you in some particular thing, “I’m looking to you.” That is, you’re counting on them to come through for you.

A GOOD ILLUSTRATION

In John’s Gospel, chapter four, speaking of the father whose son was at the point of death, it says, “And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.” He didn’t stand around looking at Jesus, but rather went on his way looking to Jesus.

AN OLD MAN’S ADMONITION

I have a sermon on Psalm 37:5, entitled, “The Psalm of the Old Man,” “Commit thy way unto the LORD, (a one time committal; trust also in him, (a daily trust, looking to Him); and He shall bring it to pass, (a future anticipation He will take care of things).”

THINGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME

Many, many years ago, my little hard-working mother was waiting for a bus, in a severe rain storm, after a tiring day. I pulled up in my car, smiled, and said, “Get in.” Closing the door she also smiled and said, “I knew you’d come for me.” To which I asked, “How did you know?” Her reply was, “I know I can always depend on you to take care of me.” How much truer that is when applied to Him and us. Why not tell Him right now what my Mom said to me. “I KNOW I CAN ALWAYS DEPEND ON YOU TO TAKE CARE OF ME!”

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Giving "HIM" Your Best Is The Best Gift You Can Give "HIM"

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice…unto God.”

So often at this time of year we Christians are encouraged to give something special to missions or to the poor; and this is a good thing, when kept in its proper place. But it’s far from God’s top priority! He doesn’t want yours; He wants you. He’s beseeching (imploring, begging) you for your body, not your bounty. Paul, speaking to the Corinthians concerning giving, commended them by saying that they “…first gave of their own selves to the Lord.”

The greatest gift we can ever give God, during this season or any other, is the gift of our bodies. The Lord wants our best! In my devotions in the book of Numbers, I noticed the following, concerning various offerings. “All the best…the best…they shall offer unto the Lord.” “Out of all your gifts ye shall offer…the Lord…all the best thereof.” “Therefore thou shalt say unto them…the best thereof from it.” “From it the best.”

I love the song, The Little Drummer Boy. (Do you think it may be because I myself played the drums?) In this heart-warming song, our little urchin says to the baby Jesus, “Little baby, I am a poor boy too. I have no gift to bring, that’s fit to give the King. Shall I play for you on my drum? I played my drum for Him, I played my best for Him. Then He smiled at me. Me and my drum.”

When you send a Hallmark greeting card, they say you show, “You cared enough to send the very best.” God showed He cared by giving us His very best! I wonder; do you care enough to give Him your very best

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Absence of the Opposite

TWO SIDES TO EVERYTHING


“...God also hath set the one against the other...” God’s scales have two sides; one balances out the other. He does not take away the one in favor of the other. Both are necessary for the right balance. You find the worth of the one by the presence of the other. “The day of prosperity” is only appreciated by “the day of adversity.” The two work together for good.


TAKING THE BITTER WITH THE SWEET


Whenever you find sweet, you’ll find bitter close by. They’re twins, though they are opposites. The one does not outlive the other. It’s “till death do us part.” Where there is faith, there is an element of doubt. Else, how would one know he has faith, if there is not something to compare it to?


AS THE OLD SONG SAY’S, “YOU CAN’T HAVE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER."

And so it is with peace: turmoil sits in the seat next to it. Contentment’s twin is discontent, and sadness is close kin to joy. There is no victory if the battle is missing. If there is an absence of the opposite, then we’ll never know our true worth as a Christian.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Perpetual Poor

FULL FREEZERS AND EMPTY STOMACHS

“For ye have the poor with you always.” Because of a “social gospel” preached by some, we have gone to the extreme opposite, leaving us with what I like to call a “stingy gospel.” We hear how much churches are giving to missions to reach the lost but very little, if any, of how much they give to the poor. Preaching the Gospel with a full refrigerator to those with empty stomachs will not suffice. It seems we have designated taking care of the poor to skid row missions. Evidently, we feel our churches are too affluent for this kind of degrading ministry. This kind is kin to the Laodiceans.

JESUS’ RELATIONSHIP WITH THE POOR

Jesus taught that we were to “give to the poor.” He had his treasurer “give something to the poor.” This is the reason the poor listened to Him. They knew He backed up His words with His deeds. We are told to “remember the poor.” The early Church sent aid “for the poor saints...at Jerusalem.”  By the way, God’s people in the Old Testament were commanded to care for the poor among them.

IDENTIFYING THE TRULY POOR

Some people try to pass themselves off as being poor, who, in reality, are only less fortunate than others. My personal definition of poor is as follows: any person, or people, in a particular society or culture who lack sufficient means to afford the necessities of life for themselves and their family, that being food, raiment, and shelter. I might add, who are willing to work if given the opportunity.

A TRUTH TO MY SHAME

For years I took pride in how much I gave to missions, while all the while, I had a precious aging mother in need. Charity begins at home!!! We need to cease trying to be spiritual and start being obedient. If you’re the latter, you’ll be the former.

“You can’t give to everybody who is poor, but you can give to somebody. Each of us has a Lazarus outside our gate.”
(rds)
     

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Craftsman

LEARNING FROM YOUR TRADE

Every man learns something from his trade. No one goes unaffected. Preachers I know have been farmers, fisherman, lawyers, draftsmen, maintenance men, etc. Each of these skills carried over into their ministries. So I believe it to be with Jesus. Jewish tradition tells us when a lad became twelve years old, his father was to teach him his trade. This is proven out by the scriptures.In Matt. 13:55, Christ is referred to as, “...the carpenter's son.” But in Mk. 6:3, He’s  called, “...the carpenter.” There is no reason to believe His trade did not leave it’s mark upon Him, as in the case of other men. As He went about His daily duties, for some eighteen years, His Father was teaching Him things He would carry into His ministry. Allow me to list three brief things.

HE LEARNED HOW MUCH COULD BE HIDDEN IN A THING

It is said of Michelangelo, when looking upon a huge stone, he commented, “I see an angel in that piece of rock, and I’m going to liberate him.” So it was with our Lord. Not only could He look at a raw piece of wood and see the potential of what it could become; He could look at a maniac and see a quiet, peaceable, loving father. Hallelujah!

HE LEARNED WHAT PAINS IT TOOK TO TRANSFORM A THING

To illustrate, a table and chairs. It took long,  tedious hours to make them into what they were to become. He healed a leper in an instant; He raised the dead in a second of time; but it took hundreds of pains-taking instances to transform Simon into Peter, the apostle. I can imagine one day, when Simon seemed to be so difficult, the Father saying, “Remember the table and chairs, Son.”

HE LEARNED THE FINEST THINGS ARE SOMETIMES MADE OUT OF THE HARDEST MATERIALS

For example, it was cedar wood that adorned the Temple and David’s palace. The wood was personally selected! And, so it was with that most hardened of men, Saul of Tarsus. He became the tender, loving Apostle Paul. God chose him personally to adorn the temple called, “The Church.”

A WORD TO THE DISCOURAGED

You who are dealing with family members, and loved ones, along with you pastors who are ministering to seemingly impossible cases, never forget what THE CARPENTER can make them into.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Willingness of God

THERE IS EXISTENCE AND THERE IS LIFE

Jesus said of His wayward, distraught people, “I would… ye would not.” Notice, it was not that they could not, but they would not. Jesus told His followers while here on earth the reason for them not having full, rich lives was for the fact, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” If we are not living “… abundant lives,” let us not blame God for our miserable existence. To find the true culprit we have only to take a peek in a mirror.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO PLEASE YOU?

The sad truth of the matter is, as one of my favorite writers, C.S. Lewis has stated, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

HE IS AS WILLING TO GIVE AS WE ARE TO RECEIVE-AND MORE SO

“And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Glory's Gone

IT REALLY HAPPENS IN OUR DAY ALSO

Many today, as an old friend wrote to me, are on the verge of giving up on the church. You may dismiss this Ichabod (departed glory)  theory, if you will, but I believe it will be to your own detriment. It is a fact that scores of believers are leaving churches, and not all of them can be written off, nonchalantly, as "backsliders." Some of them are spiritual people who, in good conscience, can no longer keep their families in a dead orthodox church that resembles a graveyard with lifeless corpses more than it does a lively body.

THE OLD TESTAMENT OUR EXAMPLE

Because of God’s people going apostate, the prophet Ezekiel tells us he saw the glory of the Lord depart from God’s House: it moved from the altar to the threshold; from the threshold to  outskirts of the city; and from the city to a mountain. This can, and does, happen to churches in the New Testament. Read the last book of the Bible, chapters two and three. I have a denim shirt whose brand name is, “Faded Glory.” This is sadly true of many assemblies today, I’m afraid.

LOOKING GOOD DOESN’T COUNT

Paul tells us, in the last days the apostate church will have, A form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” Like the man with the lost axe head in Elisha’s day, rather than stopping everything till we get God’s glory and power back, we keep up appearance by going through the motions. In spite of the fact, no longer do chips fly and trees fall.

“Without a spiritual inventory from time to time, your shelves will soon be bare.”
(rds)