Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Best News


Acts 11:18 KJV
When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

The best news for the world today is Acts 11:18.

That God has granted repentance unto life to Gentiles as well as Jews has indeed changed the course of human history. Yea, it has become the course of history. The influence of Christianity, both pure and corrupt is the one major factor of history, certainly in the Western world.

The conflict of pure faith against corrupted faith which began with Cain slaying Abel has continued on first in God's hand upon the Jews and now for just over two thousand years, among the Gentiles. And in the same tradition of Cain and Abel, true faith has won out not in the physical power to overwhelm the opponent but through the humble blood of the righteous speaking from the ground.

Faith wins not through carnal weapons of the flesh but through God.
  • We speak
  • We trust and
  • We wait upon the Lord
 And in waiting, we have victory.

Friday, March 30, 2012

It Takes Much More


1 Samuel 19:7 KJV
And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan shewed him all those things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence, as in times past.

When Jonathan heard of his father's anger toward David he rose to action to both protect David and to convince his father to be reconciled. Jonathan's words so moved Saul that he turned from his anger and vowed to his son that he would not do David any harm. David returned to the king's home and it looked like things were back to the way they had been in times past.

But Saul's reconciliation was shallow and short lived. Though his temper had been soothed for a time, no real change had taken place in his heart. Soon he was angry again and soon David's life was in danger again.

Real reconciliation requires more than a vow to change. Anger as deeply set as was Saul's is not vented by a mere word.

First, it does not appear that David and Saul ever communicated about the conflict. Before Saul could have ever really reconciled with David he would have needed to speak to him. He would have needed to confess and offer apology and come to grips with the target of his aggression.

Secondly, Saul could never have reconciled with David until he had made peace with the fact that God had removed the kingdom from him.
In God's sovereign authority he had pronounced that the kingdom would go to another. If Saul could have made peace with that he could have made peace with David.

Third, Saul had not made peace with the preacher, Samuel.
It was Samuel who had communicated God's message of judgment to Saul. Saul's response was to beg the preacher to make it look like he was still in the grace of God. Samuel and Saul never spoke again. There could have been no real reconciliation with David without also making reconciliation with Samuel.

Too many have the Saul sort of reconciliation with God. They have vowed to live differently in hopes of having peace with God but they have not dealt with the real issues that separate them from God.
  • They have never come to grips with God's righteous judgment against their sin
  • They have not submitted to the role God's word has in this world and
  • They have not surrendered to the only source of true reconciliation with God, which is the work of Jesus Christ of dying in their place
Without these, any reconciliation they have is only pretense on their part.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Turn Toward Another

1 Samuel 17:30 KJV
And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner.

David had only recently come to the camp of Israel. His duty was to deliver some food to the soldiers, to bring some goods to his brothers and to get a report to bring back to his father. His hap was to arrive in time to hear Goliath's taunts which had been going on forty days. David was not a soldier but he was not afraid of Goliath's size or of his threats. So David began to encourage soldiers to take up the challenge and dispatch this enemy of Israel. Whether or not David had met with his brothers yet, I do not know. I do know that his brothers eventually heard him stirring up the soldiers and they rebuked him. David's response is the subject of my meditation today.

• David did not get angry and argue with his brother
• David did not get discouraged and quit because of his brother
• David simply turned from him toward another man and continued in his work

And that is the way Christians must go about their business for the Lord. As we speak to stir souls for Christ numbers of them will chide and rebuke us. That must not cause us to either grow angry or discouraged. If we grow angry and argue with them, they have in their own eyes won. If we grow discouraged and quit they have in fact won. The cause is just too great to give any sort of victory. Remember that cause and just turn toward another man.
• Keep turning
• Keep speaking and
• Keep stirring up the souls of men
until we find those ready to turn themselves to the Lord.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Servant's Heart

1 Samuel 15:35 KJV
And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.

See in Samuel the heart of this man of God.

First, when instructed of God to pronounce judgment against Saul he wept all night.
There is no pleasure in pronouncing such judgment. The man of God loves the men whom God has created. Saul had already been judged and had demonstrated himself to be less than spiritual but that did not affect Samuel's care of him. We are to love the most unlovely of sinners.

Secondly, though Samuel loved him, his allegiance was to the Lord.
The ministry must be a ministry unto the Lord or our love for people will corrupt it. First and foremost under all circumstances, the Preacher's devotion must be toward the Lord. Loving people must appear as hatred for our great love of God. Otherwise our ministry is lost in compromise.

Thirdly, though Samuel never again met with Saul, yet he mourned for him the rest of his life.
This was rebuked of the Lord, but I think that rebuke should be considered before being applied. We must never grieve those who fall away so much that it haunts us from forward progression. Though Saul was lost, God had a king after His own heart waiting in the background. Though one is lost, God is not done. It is appropriate to mourn the fact that some are lost to God. Our hearts are rightly grieved that multitudes of men and women are bent to rebel from the grace of God. But that grief need not overtake us. Look up! Just ahead is another who is anxious to serve the Lord.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Somewhere...

Acts 8:8 KJV
And there was great joy in that city.

Poole remarks, "The despised Samaria rejoices while the formerly beloved Jerusalem repines at the Gospel; such strange alterations does the free grace of God make."

It serves us to remember when we are in any spiritual distress that there is another place where the grace of God is causing great joy. This is not to encourage us to run there because even in Samaria there was later persecution of their own, but it does demonstrate that God works as He will and where He will. The saints in Jerusalem were in no such straits through sin which they had done, but as a course of God's work in our world. We need not depress ourselves that our state is due to our somehow displeasing God; unless God has shown us sin we ought to repent of.

This also reminds me that, in those times when I am especially filled with joy, there is somewhere a believer who is suffering. In my time of blessing I would do very well to reach out to be a blessing to one who may not be so blessed right now.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Advancement

1 Samuel 12:6 KJV
And Samuel said unto the people, It is the LORD that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt.

Advancement is supposed to come of the Lord
• Not from the popularity of the candidate by the people.
• Not from the ambitions of the candidate
• Not even from the endorsement of religious leaders
It is the Lord's business to advance men as He will and not as many wills.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saul's Excuses, the Servant's Solutions

1 Samuel 9:6 KJV
And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he can shew us our way that we should go.

My oldest son, Bohannan, preached on the "structural flaws" of Saul in our last Wednesday night service. The next day both of my boys were at my home and we visited about that message; especially Saul's lack of spiritual desire. My youngest son, Caleb, remarked, "Saul kept making excuses and the servant kept giving solutions."

The work of the servant of the Lord is just that, to bring the things of the Lord to the minds of those they meet and, when those people offer excuses for not coming to the Lord, provide solutions to their excuses. In other words we clear the way between the lost and the Lord; we remove the excuses that prevent them from coming to Christ and from growing in the knowledge and the grace of the Lord.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Praise God for those Who Don't Join

Acts 5:13 KJV
And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.

I have read that in the old Anabaptist churches the policy was to make it difficult for a person join and easy for a person to leave. The policy was meant to preserve the purity of the congregation. While no church is perfectly pure while on this earth, after all the work being done is to present her chaste before the Lord, still part of that purifying process will include refusing to admit those whose motives and spiritual inclination is not for spiritual advancement and then to allow for the removal of those who choose not to advance in the graces of purity.

This policy seems to be supported by the baptism of John which became a clear gatekeeper, distinguishing between those who did or did not produce evidence of repentance. It is also supported by this passage that, though followed with a verse that says believers were the more added, tells us that many would not join with them because of the account of Ananias and Sapphira.

We want to see believers added.

We don't need to see just anybody added.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tenacity

1 Samuel 7:2 KJV
And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.

There are a number of questions that a person might ask concerning this moment in the history of Israel;
Where was Samuel for those twenty years?
I am imagining that Samuel may not have been ten years old when Eli died. If that is so, he would have had little influence in Israel until he was thirty years old. Perhaps that is why twenty years is mentioned. Who raised him, how he was nurtured in the things of the Lord is a mystery. However, having now a relationship with God it is not difficult to see the Lord raising him up Himself.

What happened to the priesthood after the death of Eliezer, Hophni and Phinehas?
There is no mention of the priesthood that I can recall until David re-establishes it in his reign it could be that nearly a whole generation of priests wasted their lives in worldly living.

Why didn't Israel return the ark to Shiloh when they got the ark back from the Philistines?
I can only assume that Shiloh had been abandoned if not destroyed.
It is amazing how easily men may be removed from the things of the Lord. As traumatic event as the taking of the ark was, still it was no cause for an abandonment of God. And yet even in this abandonment Israel had a clan of people who kept their eyes upon the Lord. It does not appear that the men of Kirjathjearim or Abinadab normal his son Eliazar were of the tribe of Levi, only that they cared for the ark and cared that it be cared for properly.

For me, one of the greatest testaments of the veracity of the Christian faith is that, as easily as men are removed from believing, after more than two thousand years there are still those who tenaciously hold to faith and there are still new souls latching on to this faith daily. Satan has attacked with vigor but still believers raise up.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dagon

1 Samuel 5:7 KJV
And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.

The Philistines had adequate and tangible proof that the God of Israel was greater than their false god, Dagon. But their response was not at all what we might expect. Instead of trusting living and true God, they rejected Him and drove Him out of their country.

This illustrates the fact that facts are not what make people believers. It also illustrates that knowing a biblical truth to be true is not the same as believing and trusting God. We will never make Christians of the lost simply by giving them evidence and proof of the reality of the Lord. Only as we give our faith away will we see people come to be true believers.

Believing God is not an exercise of the mind and intellect, it is a gift from God passed on from one believer to another. The soul winner needs more than a plan and a memorized script; He needs faith and a passion to share it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Knowing Things of Christ but Not Knowing Christ

1 Samuel 3:7 KJV
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him.

An interesting contrast is established in this chapter where Samuel is said to minister unto the Lord in verse one but here the Word declares he did not yet know the Lord. Woe to the world when its ministers do not know the Lord!

Of course Samuel was only a child. He was maturing and we who have read on in the book know that he will soon know the Lord. Gill says Samuel knew
• That Jehovah is the true God
• That he knew something of the Word of God and of the practice of worship
• That he had been instructed by Eli in the ordinances
But as yet he did not know the Lord in any personal way. He could not distinguish the difference between the voice of God and the voice of the priest.

Way too much of that kind of Christianity exists today, and I think most pastors would like to keep it so. It gives him control when the congregation only expects God to instruct them through the pastor and he never encourages them to listen for the voice of the Lord on their own.

Not that I dismiss the place of the preacher.
• God has called him to equip and to feed the saints
• God has charged him to have oversight of the house of God but
• God has not given him to block the line of vision between the Lord and His flock

We have to help people to both learn the ways and ordinances of God AND to know God in a personal way.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Grace at Work

1 Samuel 2:18 KJV
But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.

I am reminded if Genesis, "But Noah found grace..."

The circumstances could hardly have been worse in Israel. These were the days of the judges when every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
• There is no leadership
• There is little to no devotion to the Lord and the priests are a wreck
• Eli has lost control of his sons who are in the ministry with their father but have made the people to despise the offerings to God

But in the middle of this wretched description we find that word, "But Samuel ministered before the Lord..." God had a man, though only a child at this time, waiting in the wings for that day when God would raise him up to give spiritual restoration and to anoint the King, David.

Whatever time we might find ourselves in we may rest in the assurance that God has somebody prepared to bring His people back to Him. Who that might be, When that might be, Where that might be, I do not know. I do know God has not left us without a witness and a way to return to Him.

It could be that the next one is Jesus Christ Himself. What a day that will be when Jesus we shall see!

Monday, March 19, 2012

He Won't Rest

Ruth 3:18 KJV
Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.

Although the portrait can be carried too far, it is still appropriate, I think to view Boaz as a biblical type of Christ and Ruth as a biblical type of the church and of the Christians within a church.

• Ruth had asked Boaz to be the redeemer
• Boaz had agreed to meet the legal demands of the redeemer and now
Naomi advised Ruth to rest herself and be still in the assurance that he would not rest until he had performed his promise.

That is exactly the picture of salvation found in the New Testament.

• Christ has shown us kindness
• We respond in asking for redemption
• He agreed to meet those legal demands in fulfilling the law during His thirty three years and in paying our sin debt on the cross
And now we wait for His return to claim us.

The Apostle said "I am persuaded that he is able" and that "He which began a good work in you will perform it." Ours is to rest in that promise and wait. We may and we should witness to others so that they may enter into this promise as well but we never need believe there's more we must do to make the promise come to pass.

We can trust Christ to never rest until those who have sought redemption from him find that redemption perfectly fulfilled.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

He Missed It

John 20:24 KJV
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

This is the first day of the week. And though it was not yet an established truth, Jesus was there but Thomas was not. One of the reasons we gather on Sunday is because it became the practice of the Lord to meet with the disciples on the first day of the week.

But on that first, first day of the week, Thomas was missing. I don't know why; the Bible doesn't say.
• He could have been discouraged and contemplating returning to his old life
• He could have been disillusioned having witnessed the crucifixion of Christ whom He believed to be the next king in Israel.
• He could have been in hiding, wondering if that would be his fate next
Whatever the reason, we are sure it wasn't a good one. His response to the disciples when they told him they had seen the Lord is evidence of that.

And whatever our reasons for missing the assembly of the saints will not make up for the fact that we missed the Lord. People who are doubters think little of those missed spiritual opportunities. Christ is not that great of a priority to them. They doubt whether we really were blessed of God anyway, probably because they have been in some of the services when others were ministered to of the Lord and they didn't sense His presence.

Being assembled with the saints means more than being there in the flesh. We need to be there in the spirit too.

I am thankful that Thomas had a later opportunity to meet with Christ. But I notice that happened on a first day of the week and at the gathering of the saints too.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Two Fer ... I wrote two today

Look for the second one below this...

Ruth 1:1 KJV
Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.

It is fascinating to me that no sooner have we finished the book of the Judges, where every man does that which is right in his own eyes, than God gives us the answer for that sin in the book of Ruth. Of course I am reading ahead some because the answer isn't found until the end of this little book. But even then I am reading ahead (as does the writer of Ruth) to King David and far beyond him to King Jesus.

This narrative takes us back in the time of the judges. God isolates one of those crazy events of the time into its own record. It begins with a family moving away from God and experiencing tragedy and heartache because of it. The boys marry outside of their faith. Then the three men all die leaving their wives to fend for themselves and leaving Naomi crushed emotionally and spiritually.

The devastation of backsliding is hardest on those who are the survivors of it.

But even in the midst of the backsliding the devastation and the heartache God was at work. God took what man meant for selfish purposes and turned it for good in bringing Ruth to Boaz and using them as the parents of that line that would deliver to our world, the Saviour.

I look at the world in which I live and see a terrible mess.
• The lost numbers are swelling
• The false religions are growing
• The Christian faith has lost its way, being much more about the business of the church than the ministry of the Lord.

But there is nothing to fret. God is alive and even now, I am confident, at work.
• It may be in some family we would never imagine
• It might be in some far off country
• It could be in some young person we would never dream of
God is working. And, in an hour that we think not, Jesus Christ will come again.

I want to be walking in the will of the Lord when He visits His people.
Ruth 1:6 KJV
Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.

Naomi's husband had taken her and the family to a distant country because there was a famine in the Promised Land. I meet a lot of people who have done the same.
• They have looked at the Christian faith
• They have seen things they did not like there
• They have been disappointed because of some trial they faced as a believer
So they have gone to another land.

It's not like things were any better outside of the Promised Land. Sure, their sons found wives, but they were strangers to their faith. And all three men died outside of the Promised Land. They could just as well died at home. But then Naomi heard that the Lord had visited in Israel. While they were away from the Promised Land; God blessed in the Promised Land.

I take that as an ironic warning to stay with the Lord and in His church even if it seems like there is a famine there. When the Lord visits, He will visit His churches. In the letters to the seven churches of Asia, Jesus rebuked the sin in the churches but He did visit the churches. He had no word for those outside of those churches except tribulation.

Friday, March 16, 2012

No Kidding

Judges 21:25 KJV
In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

The last verse of the book of judges repeats a well worn phrase in the book, "…every man did that which was right in his own eyes." My thought this morning was, "No kidding!" The only possible way to explain the weird, worldly and wicked events recorded in here is, "every man did that which was right in his own eyes."

But an interesting thing is that they very frequently attempted to include God in what they were doing what was right in their own eyes, or in their attempts to clean up the mess they made doing what was right in their own eyes. (Most of the time those attempts were just them doing what was right in their own eyes again.)

I got to thinking; that is exactly where we are today. Very few people believe God has the right to lead our lives - to tell us what is right. Still fewer believe that there is a resource to know what God says is right and wrong. The Bible is denied by most and, even among those who in some way claim to respect the Bible few believe it is without error and an absolute in discerning right and wrong in our day. What we are left with is a crowd of people doing as they will, choosing their own right and wrong. In some cases they interject the name of God in their actions. But the plain truth is most people just do what they want and blame God for the trouble it causes.

There is only one solution. That is to have a king. No, not one who leads on the earth, but one who is of heaven; One who commands the heart. The Word of God has the answer man needs. But not until Jesus, who is the living Word, rules our hearts will His written word, the Bible have the force it is intended.

We need a king: King Jesus.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

They Wept When They Prayed

Judges 20:26 KJV
Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the LORD, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.

The children of Israel were called upon to do a difficult thing. There was wickedness in Benjamin and, even though the whole tribe (of Benjamin) stood together in defense of the offender, to confront the offense was the right thing to do. But doing right was expensive:

They lost in battle two days
When we stand for right we will see some who are innocent fall. It is heartbreaking and it sometimes causes us to question whether we are doing the right thing. But since must be confronted.

They wept in prayer
Their hearts were broken both for having to fight their brethren of Benjamin and because of those who had fallen of Israel in the fight. Every spiritual battle ought to be soaked in tears.

Eventually Benjamin was defeated
And though this might seem a victory they could not view it that way. These were their brethren. They had fought alongside them. How could they now rejoice in fighting and winning against them?

Even so must it be with us. When we must separate from another for any reason we must also remember that they are our brother and our heart is to see them restored.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Little While

John 16:18 KJV
They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.

The disciples that stood before Jesus that day just didn't understand His term, "a little while." They were confused about when Christ would depart and when He would return.

The disciples of today are no less confused. Christ's "little while" has turned into two thousand years. But that has not changed the thrust of the meaning of the Lord. Though God is longsuffering and patient, every Christian ought to live every day knowing that it is only "a little while" before Christ comes again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Bittersweet Victor

Judges 16:30 KJV
And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

The story of Samson is the story of all of Israel in a microcosm. We could say Samson's story is, "How Not To Be Used of God." God did use him but that doesn't mean Samson is in any way an example to follow.
• He was self willed
• He was fleshly
• He was arrogant
• He was disobedient to his parents
• He was rebellious with the Word of God
Yet through all of that he knew God had a plan for his life.

Too many Christians today are Samson like. They boast all of his umbilical qualities but insist that because they have liberty in Christ they are just fine.

And I am afraid that too many Christians will find that their end is not much different than was Samson's; they end their lives with the victory of heaven, but then see the bittersweet reality that they were saved, yet so as by fire.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Though Shalt Know Hereafter

John 13:7 KJV
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.

Jesus told Peter that even though he did not know what He was doing at the moment, he would know hereafter. I have found that much of the Christian life is lived in this realm. We frequently do not know what the Lord is doing or why the Lord is doing those things He does. So many things that happen in our lives are beyond our understanding at the moment that they happen.

Some of them we come to understand fairly quickly after they happen.
One man who went through our addictions recovery ministry turned to me at his court sentencing and questioned why he had bothered doing all the work. But it was not long after that he realized God had equipped him to minister to others in the prison through his training at our ministry.

Sometimes we don't understand what God has done until years later.
The early days of the ministry were hard years in many ways. But I look back at them now and rejoice that the Lord proved Himself in my life through difficulty.

Some things we won't understand until we get to heaven.
But I have learned, or should I say I am learning, simply to rest in the Lord concerning them. He has proven Himself to be the very God He declares Himself to be in the Bible. In those times when I do not now know what He is doing, I want to move out of His way and let Him do it. It will all make good sense hereafter.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jesus Gave Me Life

John 12:10 KJV
But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;

Clarke says, "How blind were these men not to perceive that He who had raised him to life after he had been dead four days could raise Him again though they kill him a thousand times."

What an irony that they want to kill one who had already been dead. Their devotion to their religion refused to accept either that a miracle had happened or else that the miracle was of God. I do not know what became of Lazarus. But this man's testimony is that which any Christian can share again and again. "I was dead in trespasses and sins, but Jesus gave me life."

Friday, March 09, 2012

Where Did You Get That Honey?

Judges 14:8 KJV
And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.

There are several opinions proffered concerning Samson's eating of the honey from the lion's carcass.

• One says that it was perfectly fine to eat because by the time the bees would have made the hive and produced the honey (they suggest about a year) it would have been the dry skeleton and could be considered clean.
• Another suggests that the carcass would have been unclean but if Samson had not touched the carcass in retrieving the honey he would not have broken God's Word.
• Still another says that taking the honey would have been technically unlawful but, as in the case of David's taking the hallowed bread, was lawful for necessary reasons.

I can't help but believe that Samson's eating the honey was simply a demonstration of his already rebellious spirit toward both his parents and his God.

My oldest son, Bohannan, recently used this incident to describe receiving something good from a defiled source. Although the honey was a good food for the Jews the fact that it came from an unclean source defiles it. And so, to receive even good material, say interpretations of Scriptures, from defiled sources, like the pedobaptists; Protestants and Reformed Theologians, necessarily taints their interpretation.

Already Baptists have been so influenced by Protestant doctrines that we may have difficulty filtering what has been developed in the carcass of the flesh and what has been preserved by the Holy Spirit. We must learn to avoid the theology and teachings of those who have so obviously imbibed their message from churches whom the gates of he'll have prevailed against.

I am thankful for the fact that there are, in these many denominations, saved souls. I am thankful for their preaching of Jesus Christ. But
• Our calling is to be separated
• Our calling is to come out of the flesh
• Our calling is to receive with meekness the engraved Word

I want the honey God gives. But I will look for it in cleaner stores.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Some Other Way

John 10:1 KJV
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

It seems to me that these words could be the motto of the world. There is always, in the eyes of the world, "some other way. "

There is "some other way" to govern a nation
• A democracy
• A republic
• A monarchy, and
• A dictatorship


• Socialism
• Capitalism


• Conservative or
• Liberal

There is "some other way" to view philosophy
• Utilitarianism
• Egalitarianism
• Elitism

There is "some other way" of politics
• Democrat
• Republican or
• Independent

Politics is the epitome of the "some other way" way of doing things. The fact is, politics is so much about compromise that a person's political views are rendered nearly irrelevant.

And then
There is "some other way" of religion and faith
• Some other way to describe the after life
• Some other way to attain that after life
• Some other way to practice our faith while we wait for the after life

But Jesus offers no other way. True Christianity is truly different and thus hated by this world because true Christianity insists in only one way, Christ's way. Even within the proclaiming Christian world a myriad of "ways" has emerged. But contrary to the popular opinion, only one way is the way to Go; Jesus. Every other way belongs to the thief and the robber. Jesus said that He alone is the door. Jesus said no man cometh unto the Father but by Him.

This world hates that. And they think that we must hate them because we preach it. Not so. Love for Jesus Christ insists that we love those for whom He died. There is no hatred in our position, only loyalty; loyalty to Christ and loyalty to His Word. True love for people demands that we tell them the truth of the Bible.

There is no other way
• No other way to be saved
• No other way to peace with God
• No other way to be forgiven of sin
• No other way into heaven

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

These Words; Not Loosely Spoken

John 9:38 KJV
And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

The most important words a man can say are these three; "Lord, I believe." But I notice that they were not loosely spoken by the man of our text.
• He had spent years in blindness.
• He faced testing by the religious elite.
• He experienced alienation and rejection from his parents.
Finally, after several conversations concerning Christ,
• He conversed with Christ again
and it was then that his own speculations turned into faith.

I rather expect that true believers all experience some situation similar to this man's. There's the initial meeting with Christ and accompanying joy. That is quickly followed by a period of trial.
• Doubters and mockers arrive on the scene to shake away that first but perhaps shallow pleasure that came from meeting Christ
• Religious zealots contend with our experience to keep us under their thumb and away from Jesus
• Even family may try to dissuade us fearing their own loss and repercussions
But those who pass these fires meet Chris afresh on the other side and find a faith that is confident and enduring.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Too Many

Judges 7:2 KJV
And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

The ways of God and of man could not be more different.
• Man says work; God says believe.
• Man says serve; God says yield
• Man says more; God says less

Before God would give Gideon victory he had to pare down his army to a number that provided only one explanation for victory; God. Twenty two thousand went home because they were fearful. But there were still too many. God divided the remainder by having Gideon observe how they took a drink from the brook. No explanation of why God chose those He did is given in the text, but I have heard the flesh creep up in the preaching of the passage. Those I refer to have preached that God selected the three hundred because they remained alert and on the ready even while drinking water. Sounds reasonable; if God needed alert and ready soldiers. The fact is, we don't know why God picked them. This one thing we do know, God would not let the army vaunt themselves in victory.

We don't need more to succeed in the work God has led us in to; we need God. In our weakness He is made strong. Most gladly then, let us rejoice in weakness. Let us not seek our own strength, but the strength of the Lord.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Pure Water

John 7:37 KJV
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

It seems to me that most men are thirsty but most attempt to quench their thirst in bad waters. Just as Americans have gotten to the place where we reach for a pop, or an alcoholic beverage or, if we are trying to be health conscious, some sort called "vitamin water" and avoid at about any cost drinking plain water, so we do with spiritual thirst. The need is there but the choice of wells is too broad and those wells flavored with the sweet syrup of worldliness or with the intoxicating spirits of religion draw our tastes away from the pure and refreshing taste of the Spirit of God.

I see little doubt that men thirst. My calling, and the calling of all true Christians, is to bring those we can to Jesus Christ who will give them to drink of the pure Holy Spirit.

Christianity is to frequently infused with flavors we believe make Christ and His church more appealing but render the drink harmful rather than holy and healthful. We must press people to pure Christianity. We must help them to have a taste for pure water and not the doctored kind.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Labor in Labor

John 6:27 KJV
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

And here is the great battle that every human being is engaged to fight.

There is that which stares us in the face each day
It beckons us to follow it, to claim it as our own. It is soft and comfortable and easy to attain. But
• It is of the earth
• It will never last and worse still
• It will lead us to perish just as it does

Then there is that which endures to eternal life
It seems so distant, so far away. At times we wonder if it is even real. Perhaps it is only a mirage, a dream a fancy painted by those artists who can't seem to accept reality.

Even after coming to Christ for salvation, we still face the battle between that which is so easily in hand versus that which moth and rust can't corrupt. It is labor just to labor for better, the eternal thing.

That is why it is so important to attach ourselves not just to a church, but to the sort of church that urges us in the right work. Too many congregations have themselves succumbed to the temporal meat. If we are to keep our focus on the eternal we must be reminded daily where our focus ought to be. On that meat which endures to eternal life.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Jesus Brings the Solution

John 5:45 KJV
Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.

A preacher friend of mine pointed out to me that it is a misunderstanding to see Christ as angry with the wicked. The righteous role of God the Father is as a consuming fire. But the role of Christ, though equally God, is of compassion for the sinner.

There is, of course, the righteous indignation of Christ when He drove the money changers from the Temple. But even in that the purpose was to bring souls to salvation.

This passage is an indicator of the work of Jesus Christ. He said He did not accuse. The accuser in this case, is the Word of God. The Bible brings conviction. We also know that the Holy Spirit brings conviction. But Jesus; He brings the solution.

As witnesses then it is always wise to discern when conviction has happened and bring them the solution. We are to preach the Word of God concerning
• Sin
• Righteousness and
• Judgment
but when conviction happens, preach Jesus Christ
• Crucified
• Risen and
• Coming again
Preach Him as possessing life and liberty for all who believe. Preach Jesus Christ as He who, while we were yet sinners, died for us.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Far Better

Judges 2:10 KJV
And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.

Joshua's generation did not completely drive out the enemies. They became powerful enough that, instead, they put those enemies under tribute. They should have, even if they could not yet utterly defeat them, continue in their war against them.

I think I see a parallel in Christianity when we have grown to the place as Christians that, though still having besetting sins, we have them "under control."
• Our Christian life is, in our eyes, certainly better than our former life
• We have an acceptable degree of spiritual victory, and
• Those sins we still have some attachment to do not directly interfere with our worship and fellowship with the brethren
So, having some control, we relax.

The problem is that our concern should be not only for our own condition but that of those generations that come after us. In Israel's case it only took one generation before there was a generation who knew not God or the works He had done for them; one generation and their fellowship with God was gone. I have witnessed the same heartbreaking scenario in many families. Praise the Lord His grace spares many families, but I have witnessed the destruction of the spiritual family in just one generation. The children, having personal knowledge of their Christian parents' compromise with worldliness, just immerse themselves full on in worldliness.

Far better would be for our children to see us battle those besetting sins all of our lives than for them to see us settle for a deal with some sins because we are happy with our spiritual position now.

Far better for our children to see us as "prisoners of the Lord" than to ever see us as "compromisers with the world."

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Just Speak What We Know

John 3:11 KJV
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

This is such a famous passage of the Bible, and no wonder; it is packed with blessings easy to gather.

But some people have difficulty even with these things. Nicodemus, though a ruler of the Jews, couldn't grasp the difference between that which was of the flesh and that which is of the Spirit. And though his case might have been exceptional enough to warrant inclusion in the eternal Word of God, there are still plenty of things in the Word of God that baffle us today. What are we to do with them?

First, the Bible tells us to study the Word of God.
The benefits of time in the book are nearly too numerous to tell. Every Christian should not only try but insist upon their flesh to learn the Word.

Second, we must bring ourselves to the assembly of the saints in the church.
God's design in the church is that those who have been equipped equip the believers in the church.

Finally, even after all of that there will be much we do not know.
But don't let that stop you. Just speak what you do know. Whatever God has given you in your time alone with him and in your faithful time in the church is plenty to tell others. You don't have to make up things; you don't have to guess. If you haven't got the answer, that's all right. Just tell them what you do know. And as you do that, and continue in study and faithful church assembly, you'll know more and more to tell.