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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Road Of Life

I came across this some years back and then forgot about it.  I rediscovered it looking for something else.  I still think it has a great message.  I wish I knew who wrote it so I could give them credit, but I don't.


THE ROAD OF LIFE


At first, I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I really didn't know Him. But later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don't know just when it was that He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since.

When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable it was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places at breakneck speeds. It was all I could do to hang on!

Even though it looked like madness, He said, "Pedal!" I worried and was anxious and asked, "Where are you taking me?" He laughed and didn't answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure, and when I'd say, "I'm scared," He'd lean back and touch my hand. I gained love, peace, acceptance and joy; gifts to take on my journey, My Lord's and mine. And we were off again.

He said, "Give the gifts away. They're extra baggage, too much weight." So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He'd wreck it; but he knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten, scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I'm beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.

And when I'm sure I just can't do it anymore, He just smiles and says... "Pedal."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Complainer Or A Conqueror

In the last part of Joshua when the land is being divided among the tribes of Israel there is an interesting contrasts that comes into view.  Two tribes that have a similar issue but a different response.

Joshua 17:14,15 - And the children of Joseph spake unto Joshua, saying, Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, forasmuch as the LORD hath blessed me hitherto?  And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.


Joshua 19:47 - And the coast of the children of Dan went out too little for them: therefore the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem, and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and possessed it, and dwelt therein, and called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father.


Joseph said I am a great people, Dan saw that there coast was too little for them.
Joseph asked why, Dan went up to fight.
Those whose focus is on themselves ask why.  Those whose focus is on the task at hand go out and fight.
 
Joshua questioned the greatness of Joseph, Dan went out and gave evidence of their greatness.
 
Who are we like?  Do we, like Joseph, complain about our lot just knowing we deserve more because we are a great people.  Or, do we like Dan, take the initiative, fight the battle and gain the victory.

Monday, January 24, 2011

We Offend All

James 3:2 - For in many things we offend all.

This is a simple sentence at the beginning of a well-know discourse on the dangers of an uncontrolled tongue.  The whole discussion is introduced by seeking to discourage a critical spirit in the brethren and thus making a subtle argument for the maintenance of a charitable spirit.  This simple sentence should stir the embers of personal conscience.

Recognition and remembering of this one principle would do wonders for establishing, maintaining, and restoring peace.  It is very easy to see the human frailty in others while completely ignoring it in ourselves.  When we are offended it would do us well before we do or say anything to remember that in many things we offend all.

It is not in some things we offend some.

It is not in some things we offended all.

It is not in many things we offend some.

It is not in a few things we offend a few.

It is not in a few things we offend all.

It is not in many things we offend a few.

It is “in many things we offend all”

You say, “Well, they should tell me when I offend them.”  Does anyone really want to be in a community of people where every offence is raised and litigated?  Those who wish for such an environment do not realize how many things they would be confronted with by all!

This is not the right standard for a congregation of believers.

1Peter 4:8 - And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

Proverbs 10:12 - Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Proverbs 17:9 - He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

1Corinthians 13:7 - Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Were we to think more of our own mistakes and offenses, we should be less apt to judge other people. While we are severe against what we count offensive in others, we do not consider how much there is in us which is justly offensive to them. Self-justifiers are commonly self-deceivers. We are all guilty before God; and those who vaunt it over the frailties and infirmities of others little think how many things they offend in themselves. Nay, perhaps their magisterial deportment, and censorious tongues, may prove worse than any faults they condemn in others. Let us learn to be severe in judging ourselves, but charitable in our judgments of other people.  Matthew Henry

Saturday, January 22, 2011

That Chip On Your Shoulder

You'll learn when you're older that chip on you shoulder
Which you dare other boys to upset,
And stand up and fight for and struggle and smite for,
Has caused you much shame and regret.
When Time, life's adviser, has made you much wiser,
You won't be so quick with the blow;
You won't be so willing to fight for a shilling,
And change a good friend to a foe.

You won't be a stickler for trifles and bicker
And quarrel for nothing at all;
You'll grow to be kinder, more thoughtful and blinder
To faults which are petty and small.
You won't take the trouble your two fists to double
When somone your pride may offend;
When with rage now you bristle you'll smile our you'll whistle,
And keep the good will of a friend.

You'll learn when you're older that chip on your shoulder
Which proudly you battle to guard,
Has frequently shamed you and often defamed you
And left you a record that's marred!
When you've grown calm and steady, you won't be so ready
To fight for a difference that's small,
For you'll know, when you're older that chip on your shoulder
Is only a chip after all.

Edgar A. Guest

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Separation Of Seeking

Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.  Proverbs 18:1

One of the true tests of genuine desire is the willingness to separate ourselves.  The topic under consideration here is wisdom.  A man desires wisdom.  His desire causes him to seek wisdom.  Can we really claim to desire something we do not seek?

Intermeddleth seems to be a word that denotes the intensity level of the seeking.  The word is used two other times both in Proverbs.

Proverbs 17:14 The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.

Proverbs 20:3 It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.

Intermeddle: to meddle impertinently and officiously and usually so as to interfere. (Merriam/Webster Online Dictionary)

Clearly it is a word that implies persistence.  A persistent seeking of wisdom rooted in desire.

It is a level of seeking that compels one to separation.  Separation is not a one-dimensional concept.  Separation is always from something to something.  When we think about this reality in the context of wisdom it is easy enough to see what one is separated to, wisdom.  But being separated to wisdom necessitates being separated from other things.  A person who is separated unto wisdom will be separated from foolishness, fools, and folly.

When we are intensely seeking we will be separating ourselves.  It is a principle that is here applied directly to seeking wisdom but has application to practically every area of the believer's life.

If we desire, seek, and intermeddleth with all holiness from what will we be separated?

If we desire, seek, and intermeddleth with all truth from what will we be separated?

If we desire, seek, and intermeddleth with all charity from what will we be be separated?

If we desire, seek, and intermeddleth with all faith from what will we be separated?

If we desire, seek, and intermeddleth with all joy from what will we be separated?

If we desire, seek, and intermeddleth with all sincerity from what will we be separated?

Remember, the Scripture declares "Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all" _______________??

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tragedy In Arizonza

There were six people gunned down and killed this past Saturday in Arizona.  The loss of life was tragic.  Among the six who lost their lives was a nine year old girl and a Federal Judge.  The carnage apparently was the result of Jared Loughner's intent to assassinate a United States Congresswoman.  Thankfully she lives and hopefully she will be able to return to some kind of normalcy and the House of Representatives.

I have listened to and read some of the commentary related to this tragedy and it has caused me to realize just how far our nation is removed from a Biblical worldview.  There are two issues I would like to address, a lesser and a greater issue.

The lesser:  There are many, particularly on the "right", that bemoan the fact that others are seeking to assign blame.  This is not the proper issue to bemoan.  It is the willingness to rightly assign blame that ensures justice is done on behalf of the innocent victims of this violent crime.  Seeking to assign blame is the result of seeking answer the question, why?  Why did this happen?  This is a question that is naturally and rightly asked.  In the process of seeking the "why" blame is generally assigned.  Along with "why" we automatically ask "who".  Again this is an appropriate question.  Who is responsible for this mayhem and death of innocent people?

This leads me to the greater issue and it is answered quite simply.  Jared Loughner is presumably responsible.  (He is due his day in court before a jury of his peers).  Sara Palin is not responsible. (I'm not as big a fan of her as a lot of conservatives)  Rush Limbaugh is not responsible. (I hardly ever listen to Rush Limbaugh)  Fox News is not responsible.  Neither the "right" nor the "left" is responsible.  The political rhetoric is not responsible.  Campaign adds are not responsible.  President Obama is not responsible.  There is only one man responsible and that is Mr. Loughner.

His parents are not responsible.  The University he attended (nor any of the staff) is not responsible.  His friends/acquaintances are not responsible.  The store that sold him the ammunition that morning is not responsible.  I just saw an article indicating he had been stopped for running a red light three hours before the shooting. Why is this news?  Is the Officer responsible?  No the office is not responsible.  There is only one man responsible and that is Mr. Loghner himself.

Of course there is great energy being spent to show he is not responsible.  He was mentally unstable therefore not responsible, so then who is?  Thus, the search begins to find a responsible party when the guilty is right before your eyes.  Was he mentally retarded?  Did he have a verifiable organic problem that could be detected through a series of blood test, etc?  All behavioural problems have been reclassified as mental illness.  Now when people don't act right they are sick not sinners.   Since they are sick they are not responsible, but it leaves us longing to assign blame so the search is on for someone else to find guilty for the actions of a third party.

This is where departure from a Biblical framework introduces confusion into a society.  In the face of evil we grasp for answers "why" and "who".  A Biblical understanding answers the questions quite simply.  Why?  Because men are depraved sinners who have a desperately wicked heart that needs to be changed by the Holy Spirit of God through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Who?  The individual that committed the evil.  That's it, end of search, end of blaming.  Mr. Loughner does not need a diagnosis, the Bible has already done that he is a sinner.  He does not need a drug, he needs the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he still does, there is still hope!

Romans 14:12 - So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Four Hundred Years And Counting!

Psalms 138:2 - I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

If we could step back in time 400 years we would find ourselves in a world completely different than what we find today in every way imaginable.  To go back to the world of 1611 would almost be like visiting another completely different planet.  The religious landscape was a barren wilderness made so by a millennia of religious intolerance that had desecrated the concept of soul-liberty.  It was a world ruled by mostly ruthless, licentious potentates who until recently had trembled in the shadow of the church of Rome!


Religious persecution made the air heavy with fear and superstition.  Men were vassels in a world where cleric and king ruled supreme.  Unless you were fortunate enough to be born among the aristocracy you were likely to be resigned to a subsistent existence.  Although there was a burgeoning merchant class we were still years away from a true middle-class to which all could aspire.  It was a world where religious ceremony was most often conducted in Latin, a language that had long since vanished from popular use.  It was a world where, in most places, it was a crime to have a bible.  It was an ugly, harsh, and cruel world.

There were small groups of people who often assembled in secret dotted across the landscape from Turkey to England.  They often had very little bible if any at all and what they did have would have to be guarded and held secretly.  Consequently they memorized vast portions of Scripture. They were noted for having a verse of scripture on their tongue when called upon to give account of themselves.  They were called Paulicians, Albigenses, Waldenses, Petrobrusians, the Cathari, and they were all known as Anabaptist, re-baptizers.

The Bible that I hold in my hands comes to us from that world, the world of 1611 England and Europe.  It was not the first Bible in English.  Wycliffe had translated the New Testament into English from the Latin Vulgate 250 years earlier.  Tyndale translated from the original tongues some 80 years earlier.  There had been the Bishop’s Bible, the Great Bible, the Matthew's Bible and, in popular use at the time, the Geneva Bible.  Yet, in 1611 a Bible was published that had been authorized by the British Crown.  None of the other translations had been authorized and the earliest translations were unlawful.  The King James was translated out of the original tongues with the former translations diligently compared and revised.  It was a Bible that was appointed to be read in all the churches.

It is a Bible that has proven its merits time and time again.  It has been blessed with the visitation of the Spirit of God in its preaching and teaching for 400 years now.  It is not a “Johnny-come-lately”.  It is a tried and true standard.  It is a Bible that was received by the people of God within just a few decades of its publishing, displacing the Geneva Bible.  For over 200 years it alone stood as the Word of God in English.  It was preached and taught as such.  Even after 100 years of seeking to displace its time honored and God blessed text it remains the standard by which all others are judged and in whose light their blemishes are revealed!  It is the Word of God in English.  The King James Bible of 1611!

This is the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible so it seems appropriate to “magnify thy word” this year.  I do so unashamedly and without inhibition.  I am a King James Bible preacher and I pastor a King James Bible church!  I’m going to spend this year reminding our church why!

I am not one who believes that some issues are only good for the college classroom when it comes to theology and doctrine.  I am a firm believer that God’s people should not just be told what to believe but why! Just knowing the “what” our beliefs can dissipate under the blistering attack of unbelief and textual criticism.  Knowing the “why” our beliefs are tempered in the forge heated by the scoffing and doubt of those who oppose the truth.

Consequently our preaching/teaching will take us through a maze of personalities and papers, names such as Origen, Constantine, Pamphyllius, Erasmus, Wycliffe, Tyndale, Westcott, Hort, and Dean Burgeon.  We will consider manuscripts, papyri, uncials, and minscules.  Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, received text, textus receptus, and vulgate will become at least a point of recognition for all of us.

This year we are going to “magnify thy word”!  We are going to celebrate the history of the King James Bible and glory in its heritage.  We are going to promote its premminence among the translations, we are going to celebrate this 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

Little could the men that worked on translating the King James Bible realize that they had by God’s providence produced a translation in a language that would in a short time impact the world.  The King James Bible almost single-handedly elevated the English language, the English people and watered and fertilized the seed that resulted in the liberating of the human soul both religiously and politically.  This book has altered our language, our culture, our morals, our lives.  It has altered my life, and I thank God for the King James Bible!

Friday, January 07, 2011

The Exhibition Of His Grace

Amazing%20Grace Amazing Grace, How Sweet The Sound!


Ephesians 2:7 - That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.



Grace: A veritable staple in the Christian lexicon. It is a much used word and consequently it is undervalued.  It has, over the years, become the subject of simplification.


Getting what you don’t deserve
God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense
Unmerited favor

It is not that these are wrong ideas but they are inadequate expressions of the full range of grace.  The problem is that these attempts to simply grace to one statement allows people to memorize the definition and promptly turn their attention to other interest believing they now know what grace is.  Grace is a concept that if rightly appreciated and duly considered would cause us at times to be awe-struck at the magnitude of what we were trying to get our minds around.  We would shudder in amazement as we pondered the riches of His grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus!

The desire to have concepts of infinite breadth and depth reduced to a sound bite has taken its toll on the concept of grace.  Grace is a far-reaching idea that originates in the heart and soul of God.  This fact alone would cause us to acknowledge that it is infinite in its scope and reach.  It eludes pithy sayings put together in order to pacify a generation of believers who do not want to think deeply, and have lost the art of pondering, reflecting.  To fully appreciate grace demands that we abandon pursuit of the simple in favor of the profound; to not just know about grace, or be able to define it, or to even experience it, but to feel it.  To be like Moses of old when he cried out, “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory!”  While the glory of God glistens in an array of words and deed no manifestation of his glory outshines grace!

Grace is a word that is irresistibly connected to mercy and love! Although, mercy cannot do what grace does and grace is love in its most refined form!

It could be that grace is not a concept that should be defined as much as just presented!  I think having presented it we will find it somewhat difficult to find words to define it, at least produce a definition that would do it justice.  Rather than define it maybe we should just examine it, appreciate it, enjoy it, and practice it!

We should all desire to become better acquainted with the riches of his grace through Christ Jesus!

In the first part of Ephesians 2 is a breath-taking presentation of GRACE!


The first three verses speak with clarity to our natural condition and the extent of our depravity.

Vs: 1 - We were dead in trespasses and sin.  Can there be a more forlorn condition?

Vs: 2 - We were engaged in a wayward walk.  We were living according to the dictates of the world and the devil, and were content to have it so.  We were not children of God but rather children of disobedience!

Vs: 3 - We were possessed of a fatal flaw.  We were not free but were held captive by the lusts of the flesh, we were by nature the children of wrath, again not the children of God.

There is a clear digression here and it is ominous in its implications.  We were dead in trespasses and sins, consequently were were children of disobedience, which in turn qualified us as children of wrath!  Our condition was not bad, it was hopeless!  The only answer for our desperate condition is grace!


The first two words of verse four identifies the turning point, "But God"!

Vs: 4 - A God who interposes on our behalf.  Our need is beyond human help, divine intervention is required.  He is a God of mercy and love.  But even that is not enough to completely rectify our depraved and degraded condition.  The demand is for grace.  Love and mercy are great but not great enough.  They are good as far as they go but they don't go far enough.  Grace is the cry of my helpless and hopeless heart!


The next three verses extol the grace of God.
 
Vs: 5,6 - Here we are given an expression of grace.  "Even" as it is used at the beginning of verse five is a powerful word.  It is a word that denotes the extent of which something is being done.  It is right here where love and mercy are fused together and mutate into grace!  "Even when we were dead in sins"  In our most hopeless state God expresses his grace by quickening us in Christ Jesus.  He raises us up together with Christ.  He hath made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  There can be no greater expression of grace than taking us from where we were and making us to sit in heavenly places.
 
Vs: 7 - This is all about providing an exhibition of his grace.  There is too much theology today that has made it all about man.  It is about God and his glory.  It always has been and always will be.  Verse seven tells us why he gave us an expression of his grace.  It was to provide an exhibition of his grace.  That . . . he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace.  Salvation is not about exhibiting the glories of man, but the grace of God.  It is not about exalting man but about exalting God.  It is not about man's faith but God's grace.  It is about his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus, not our kindness toward him.  We love him because he first love us.
 
Vs: 8,9 - It is here where we have the expounding of grace.  The argument is laid to rest once for all.  Salvation is not of man but of the Lord!  It is by grace, through faith.  Grace is the movement of God toward man, faith is the human response to grace.
 
 
"Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me."  John Newton

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Worship In The Worst Of Times

Job, in chapter one of the book by the same name, stands out in my mind as an excellent example of the proper response in the face of overwhelming and unbelievable adversity.  While the story of Job and his adversity takes a number of twists and turns over the course of the next forty-two chapters the New Testament itself bears inspired testimony to the patience of Job when in James 5:11 we find these words, "Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."



The major points of the chapter are worth highlighting.

Vs: 1 - Job was a godly man.
Vs: 3 - Job was a very wealthy man.
Vs: 5 - Job was a family man.

Everything we learn of Job in the opening verses commend him to our consideration.  He is the kind of man we should all hope to be; faithful, fruitful, and familial.  Job was good and everything was good in his life.

Yet, unknown to Job, a storm was brewing.  According to verses 6-12 Job became a topic of conversation between God and Satan.

Vs: 8 - God bears testimony to the greatness of Job.

Vs: 9-11 - Satan questions Job's integrity.  He argues that Job is good because he has it so good.  Satan argues that Job only blesses God because God had blessed him.  Satan argued that should Job be made destitute he would come to despise the God whom it now appears he loves.  If God would crush Job; Job would curse God!

Vs: 12 - Permission is granted to severely try Job in order to see if he was a man of integrity.  This thought is both comforting and disconcerting  Comforting in that permission must be granted to Satan to afflict God's people.  Disconcerting in that the permission is at times granted.  Solace is to be had in accepting all things as having been permitted by God.  Where he allows trouble he provides grace!

The next seven verses reveal the intention of Satan to maximize the impact of what had befallen Job on this day.  In each catastrophe one servant had been allowed to survive in order to bring word to Job.  Three consecutive verses (16-18) begin with the same words.  "While he was yet speaking, there came also another."  Four bearers of bad new arrive within minutes of each other.  Before Job even has a chance to assimilate and assess one tragedy news of another is thrust upon him.  In a matter of minutes his entire world is altered.  He will go to bed that night a different man than when he got up that morning.  While the sun rose on a prosperous and honorable man it will set on a destitute and suffering man. The question is will he be as honorable in his suffering as he was in his prosperity?  Was Satan right when he said Job only feared God because God removed all the fear from his life?

Job's response is legendary, as it ought to be!

Vs: 20-22 - Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,  And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

He did mourn as signified by the renting of his mantle and shaving his head.  He was in the depths of sorrow.  He was brought low.  Yet, in his sorrow he did not curse God but he worshipped Him!  Job did not bless God only because God had blessed him.  He blessed God because he was God.  Therefore when his circumstances were made hard his heart was not!  He did not, as we may be tempted to do at times, charge God foolishly.

Let us stand in awe of a God that can produce this kind of integrity and godliness in a mortal man!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Perplexity

The following is from the message Perplexity, by James Smith preached in 1865.

"God will do just as He pleases with His own children. He has the right--and He will exercise it. He will often . . .

cross our wills,
hedge up our paths,
cut off our expectations, and
give us wormwood and gall to drink!

And why?  Because He loves to cause us pain--or takes pleasure in our sighs and sorrows?  No!  Oh, no! But because He consults our welfare.  Because He is wiser than we are!

Why am I poor--and my brother rich?
Why am I sick--and my sister healthy?
Why are my efforts crossed--and my neighbor's crowned with success?

How difficult to say sometimes, Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him!  How difficult to believe that this rough road is the right road, which leads to the celestial city.

Our Father wisely appoints the circumstances and lot of every one of His children.  He has mapped out the path in which they are to travel. He has appointed their bounds, which they cannot pass.  He does whatever He pleases.  He will certainly accomplish what He has decreed for me.

We must not murmur, we must not complain--but patiently follow wherever the Lord leads, and quietly bear whatever He lays on us.  Patience must calm the spirit, quiet the heart, and close the mouth.  Then shall we say with the Psalmist, I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it!

Had it been man--it might have been wrong.
Had it been chance--it might have been injurious.
But it was You--and, therefore, it must be wise, holy, and kind.

We are required quietly to persevere--though the way is rugged, though the thorns pierce our feet, though we cannot see one step before us!  We must walk by faith, not by sight, believing . . .

that we are safe--in the midst of danger;
that we are right--though everything is perplexing;
and that all will end well--for we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28"