Friday, November 28, 2008

Receiving Good and "Evil" from God's Hand

"What! Shall we receive good at the hand of God--and shall we not receive evil?" Job 2:10

The consistent Christian speaks well of God, whatever "evil" he receives from God. To bless God for mercies is the way to increase them and to bless God for miseries is the way to remove them.

If the possession of riches will not draw away our hearts, then the loss of them would not break our hearts!

"The Lord gives--and the Lord takes away; blessed be the Name of the Lord." Job 1:21. God gives before He takes--and He takes only what He gives!

The hour-glass of outward happiness soon runs out! Today Job is the richest man in all the east; tomorrow Job is the poorest man in all the world. Yet his heart was like a fruitful paradise when his estate was like a barren wilderness! Though God burnt up his houses, yet his palace (his heart) was left standing.

Outward mercies are like the tide which ebbs as well as flows. They are like the sky which sometimes is clear and at another time clouded. They are like a budding flower which opens on a warm day, and shuts on a cold day. If God blesses us in taking as well as in giving, let us bless Him for taking as well as for giving.

That is a choice artist who can play well upon a broken instrument. To be impatient with our affliction and patient with our corruption is to be angry with the medicine which heals us and in love with the poison which kills us! Beloved, it is sometimes a mercy to us that God removes outward mercies from us! He never wounds a saint to kill him except to heal him! God does but take that out of your hands which would thrust Him out of your heart!

Too many think that God is cutting down the whole tree when He is but lopping off its wasteful branches. They imagine that He is demolishing the superstructure, when He is only laying a right foundation. Poor souls, He is not nipping the flowers, but plucking up the weeds! He is not laying your land fallow, but ploughing the field!

God's Providence has a beautiful face, but it often seems like it is under a black mask. God has the fairest ends in the foulest ways! The sheep may be dipped in water to wash it, when all along there is no design in the Good Shepherd to drown it!

Dear believer, you may read the marks of a kind Father in the severe stripes of His children. Every twig of His black rod of affliction is but to draw His lovely image upon you!

- William Secker

Monday, November 24, 2008

Eternal Punishment

There is one way to KEEP a man out of hell, but there is no way to GET a man out of hell.

"Then He will say to those on the left--Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!"
-- Matthew 25:41

"And they will go away into eternal punishment." -- Matthew 25:46

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Redeeming the Time

We will have all of eternity to celebrate our victories. But we have only a few hours before the final sunset to win them.

- Amy Carmichael

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Are You Dating Your Ex?

"Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God." (Rom. 7:4) "For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Rom. 6:14)

You can't be joined to Christ and still date your "ex"-- the law. Three signs that you're committing spiritual adultery with the law: First, you treat commands like they're promises. Promises are for the married, the covenanted; commands are for servants. Promises require faith (Rom. 4:14; Gal. 3:18) -- "evidence of things hoped for" (Heb. 11:1), which means they're futuristic; commands are present responsibilities and require immediate obedience. Promises wait for God to act; commands require us to act. Confuse the two and you'll give off the stale "perfume" (2 Cor. 2:16) of being with another lover.

Second, you relate to God more as a judge rather than a father. The pricked conscience of a judge's verdict far outweighs the joyful heart of a husband's affection. You relate to God's authority far more than to His intimacy. Chri stians are called to measure God's love (Eph. 3:17ff.), so saying "Abba! Judge!" doesn╩╝t make sense.

Third, you mistake the "mushrooms" of the oldness of the letter with the fruit of the newness of the Spirit. Not everything that grows is a sign of life. Zeal for God is no indicator of fidelity to Christ (Acts 21:20; Rom. 10:2).

Oldness speaks of the past--our failures; newness speaks of now--Christ's successes. Fruit is found on branches attached to vines; mushrooms on stumps of dead trees -- a poisonous fungus grown in the dark, similar to self-loathing and self-centered testimonies of only how great a sinner we are, instead of celebrating our joy in the Sun of Righteousness (Mal. 4:2).

Never forget that the power of sin is not the devil or the world, but something good and holy (Rom. 7:5; 1 Cor. 15:56). That power is only conquered by living under grace -- the mind set that Christ always loves us, not based on how we perform, but on what He promises. Keep that in your heart and you won't ever be found in the arms of a strange "lawyer."

- Mark Lacour

Sunday, November 16, 2008

True Repentance

Though repentance is the act of man, yet it is the gift of God. It requires the same power to melt the heart as to make it. As we are deeply fallen from a state of innocence, so we should rise to a state of penitence. Those sins shall never make a hell for us which are a hell to us. Some people have sin enough for all their sorrows, but not sorrow enough for all their sins. Their eyes are windows to let in lusts when they should be flood-gates to pour out tears!

When godly sorrow takes possession of the house, it will quickly shut sin out of doors. There must be a falling out with our lusts before there can be a genuine falling off from our lusts. There must be a sincere loathing of sin in our affections before a true leaving of sin in our actions. It is a hearty mourning for our transgressions, which makes way for a happy funeral of our corruptions!

Sinner, you have filled the book of God with your sins and will you not fill the bottle of God with your tears? Remember, that when Christ draws the likeness of the new creature, His first brush is dipped in water: "Unless you repent--you shall all likewise perish!" Is it not better to repent without perishing than to perish without repenting?

Godly sorrow is such a grace, that without it, not a soul shall be saved; and with it, not a soul shall be lost! Is it not therefore better to swim in the water-works of godly repentance than to burn in the fire-works of divine vengeance? Do not think that the tears which are shed in hell will in the least abate the torments which are suffered in hell!

He who lives in sin, without repentance shall die in sin, without forgiveness. There is no coming to the fair haven of glory without sailing through the narrow strait of repentance. We must mourn for sin on earth or burn for sin in hell! It is better traveling to heaven sadly than to hell merrily!

It is the coldness of our hearts which kindles the fire of God's anger. "They will look on Me whom they have pierced--and shall mourn!" Zechariah 12:10. Christians! The nails which pierced Christ's hands and feet should now pierce your hearts! You should now be deeply wounded with godly sorrow for having so deeply wounded Him with your ungodly sins!

- William Secker

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Handling Interruptions

There was a time in my life when interruptions really bothered me. I liked living according to a schedule (I still prefer that). I could get irritated when my schedule was interrupted, especially when a deadline loomed. It might be an unplanned visit, a phone call, or an emergency of some sort. But whatever the interruption was, I didn’t like having my plans disrupted.

am less that way now, not because my personality make-up has changed, but because I believe that interruptions are divinely ordained. Events don’t just=2 0occur by happenstance. Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man's heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” There is a divine purpose for everything that happens in our lives! God is orchestrating every so-called happenstance in our lives day-by-day and is making us more like Jesus in every one of them.

How do you react when your plans are disturbed? Do you get irritated? Do you throw up your hands in disgust?

There was a time when some children were brought to Jesus and the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Matthew 19:13 says, “Then little children were brought to him that he might put his hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them.”

Jesus didn’t say thanks to the disciples for protecting his time. No, on the contrary, he said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (14). The children didn’t bother Jesus! They didn’t throw his schedule off. It is on this basis of this passage of Scripture that we teach children to sing:

Jesus loves me this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world,
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

What a revelation of the character of Christ! He had tender love and affection for little ones and they were not a bother. In another story, Jesus told his disciples, “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones…” (Matt. 18:10).

2. Another incident is the time when Jesus was preaching in a crowded home in Capernaum (Mark 2:1-12). Four men, obviously friends of a paralyzed man, brought him to Jesus on a stretcher. But they ran into a problem; there were so many people present in and about the house, they couldn’t get near Jesus. Since there were no sympathetic people in the house that made room for them, they decided to take their friend on the roof of the house, remove a portion of the roof, and let him down.

The house had a flat roof as did most of the houses of that period. There were probably stairs leading to the roof. Up on this flat roof went these men with their friend on the stretcher. When they reached the top they began to make=2 0an opening in the roof. Whatever the roof was made of – reeds, branches, timbers, packed dirt and grass – they made a hole big enough to let their friend down through.

Did you ever wonder what Jesus did when all this was going on? Did he show signs of frustration because he had been interrupted while speaking? Was he irritated at the noise, the falling debris, the commotion? Not at all! Scripture says that he took note of the faith of the four who brought their friend to Jesus and did for him what they sought. In fact, he did more than just heal him; he also forgave him of his sins, which was a greater blessing.

Wherever you look in the Gospels, you will see that Jesus always handled interruptions from t hose in need with compassion and understanding. They didn’t bother him, as they might us. That’s because Jesus loved people; that’s why he responded graciously to them. It could be said of Jesus that “interruptions are the ministry.”

Some of the most beautiful words that fell from the lips of Jesus are these: “I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). The first part of this verse is a declaration of the sovereignty of God in salvation: “All that the Father gives me shall come to me.” But the second part expresses the responsibility of man: “and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out.” Sinners must come to Christ. Those whom the Father has given to the Son will certainly come, but they must come. No one should=2 0ever hesitate and say, “Perhaps I have not been given to the Son by the Father.” On the contrary, according to Jesus, whoever comes to him is welcomed heartily.

Let us remember this: Jesus turned no one away. He always took time to help and to bless. When people came at strange times (like Nicodemus at night) or at awkward moments (the sinful woman in Simon’s house) or even when he had withdrawn to rest (Mark 6:31-34), he received them.

We need to learn to handle interruptions like Jesus did. May God help us to be like Jesus and see interruptions as his will.

- Dean Olive

Monday, November 10, 2008

Despise not the Little Ones

I had an interesting event happen this weekend which was a genuine experience with God and, I hope, will be life long and life-changing.

Saturday morning I was having a lovely walk under the beautiful sunny skies in the beautiful piney woods of Louisiana, endeavoring to have a prepared heart to preach within the next 2 hours; I really had the desire to be alone, with no one around except the Lord; it was enjoyable and I was really just relishing the time alone, while praying as I walked, that the Lord would control all things within me that morning, in order that His Word would be unhindered.

As I kept walking and praying, suddenly someone ran up behind me to surprise me; it was a young person at the camp, probably 8-9 years old; they came innocently, and said, "What ya doing?", to which I replied, "O, just taking a walk."

Immediately, they thought this was a fun idea, and so, without my invitation or approval, just starting walking with me and talking to me. They wanted to come along too, and proceeded to chatter away about anything and everything that came to their mind. Rats! Why did they have to see me walking? I even had that old line cross my memory that, I believe, W. C. Fields used in one of his movies (you old people correct me on this if I am wrong) "Go away, kid-- you bother me!"

I didn't think it that way exactly, but I know I was feeling it; I felt irratated that my time was being interrupted by this little person who could be playing, being with their friends, or be anywhere else-- anywhere except with me.

After all, couldn't they see I wanted to be alone? Didn't they realize I was getting ready to preach to the entire conference? How clueless could they be concerning my private time; how dare they enter my own private holy of holies! What an interruption.

I almost said, "Well, you better get back to the building." But somehow I couldn't say it; the words stuck in my throat, as the thought came to me that they might be confused, puzzled, or even somehow feel rejected if I sent them away; after all, this young one was going to be listening to me in just a few minutes. So I kept my mouth shut (a good thing for a preacher to do at times). Actually, I know that God shut my mouth and kept me quiet.

But I still felt distracted and mildly irritated, though I noticed that the feeling of irritation was become milder the longer the child walked along, chattering away.

I had just been asking the Lord, only moments before, to control all things within me and about me. Suddenly, that seemed to happen all at once. I suddenly felt the presence of the Lord and He seem to say to my heart clearly, "Why are you bothered by this little one? They are not bothering Me; they are one of my little ones; I had them walk this way and sent them here to make you a blessing to them and also to bless you through them; so don't despise my little ones; I am walking with them-- why can't you?"

I did not hear a voice or see any letters written in the blue morning sky. But I immediately felt completely different-- the feeling was one of genuine freedom; I suddenly wasn't bothered but instead felt at peace, undistracted and undisturbed; The reality that God was literally controling the event invaded my thoughts and affections, and instantly I was at peace, enjoying communion with Him, as if I were alone, even though I wasn't.

I kept walking, praying silently while the divinely-sent tag-a-long kept walking too, until they said, "I'll race you back to the building!", to which I wisely said, "No, better not- you go ahead; I'm gonna finish my walk."

They took off and I stood still; God had done something for me which was as big as empowering a sermon-- He stopped me in my tracks and prevented me from despising (being irritated by) one of His little ones and made me actually feel in my heart and mind the attitude He had toward them. It was almost like Jesus suddenly erased my thoughts and feelings about the little friend and replaced it with His own mind toward them.

I was freshly reminded again that God is not in the big stuff all the time that we think He's in-- He's in the situations where kids interrupt us, distract us, and hinder our own plans-- He's there and He is not silent. He's in the times when those we dread being around are suddenly heading our way, in order for us to relate to them like Jesus would and does. I learned Saturday morning a lesson that I hope by His grace I can walk in-- "Do not despise my little ones; I've shown you how I feel toward them."

- Mack T.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God Reigns

Daniel 4:34-35

I awoke this morning, looked out my bedroom window, and saw the leaves of a tree gently moving in the breeze; The thought came to me: "God is controlling the movement of every leaf on every tree, in every town, on every mountain side, and in every valley, in the whole earth. Lord, You are the One who controls that breeze, and ordains and causes every movement of each leaf."

If that is true, how much more the nations, governments, and all the direction of the affairs of all men?

"I bless the Most High, and I praised and honored him who liveth forever, whose dominion and his kingdom is from generation to generation; And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing, and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest Thou?" - Daniel 4:34-35

In other words, God reigns! In eternity past, He was reigning; at creation, He was reigning; at the coming of Christ to earth, He was reigning; a thousand years ago, He was reigning; and yesterday and today-- He is reigning in all the affairs of men. He reigns. Rejoice-- the Lord is King.

- Mack Tomlinson

Saturday, November 1, 2008

When This Passing World is Done

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o’er life’s finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

When I hear the wicked call,
On the rocks and hills to fall,
When I see them start and shrink
On the fiery deluge brink,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

When I stand before the throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

When the praise of Heaven I hear,
Loud as thunders to the ear,
Loud as many waters’ noise,
Sweet as harp’s melodious voice,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

Even on earth, as through a glass
Darkly, let Thy glory pass,
Make forgiveness feel so sweet,
Make Thy Spirit’s help so meet,
Even on earth, Lord, make me know
Something of how much I owe.

Chosen not for good in me,
Wakened up from wrath to flee,
Hidden in the Savior’s side,
By the Spirit sanctified,
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show,
By my love, how much I owe.

Oft I walk beneath the cloud,
Dark, as midnight’s gloomy shroud;
But, when fear is at the height,
Jesus comes, and all is light;
Blessed Jesus! bid me show
Doubting saints how much I owe.

When in flowery paths I tread,
Oft by sin I’m captive led;
Oft I fall, but still arise,
The Spirit comes—the tempter flies;
Blessed Spirit! bid me show
Weary sinners all I owe.

Oft the nights of sorrow reign,
Weeping, sickness, sighing, pain;
But a night Thine anger burns,
Morning comes and joy returns;
God of comforts! bid me show
To Thy poor, how much I owe.

- Robert Murray M'Cheyne