Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Simple Prayer

What we do not know, teach us.
What we do not have, give us.
What we are not, cause us to be.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Our Rejection of Christ, His Acceptance of Us

For years Jesus had been working with His disciples to explain to them about Himself, the Father, salvation, and the coming kingdom. These men had given up their jobs and had left their families behind temporarily in order to follow Christ and be His disciples. The people of Israel had followed Him into the deserts, going days without eating so that he needed to perform a miracle in order to prevent them from fainting from hunger. The crowds were at times so thick and pressed so hard upon him that Jesus had to place himself into a ship off the shore or otherwise remove Himself just a little out of their reach so that He could talk to them. The people of Israel desired at one point to come and make him their King by force, and when He entered the city of Jerusalem they shouted Hosannas; yet at the cross all rejected and forsook Him.

We expected this reaction from the Pharisees and the Sadducees since they had been against Jesus from the beginning. That the huge crowds of people who were following Jesus throughout his ministry would turn against him is a little surprising, though we can minimize it because they didn't really know Jesus intimately. The disciples are a different story, though. They were with him daily, watching His every move, hearing His every word, taking part in miraculous events, and seeing Jesus perform great signs and wonders. They heard Him prophecy of His death and resurrection. Just a few hours before they had been eating and drinking with Jesus, reclining on His breast, and swearing they would never forsake Him and would fight to the death any that would try to harm Him. Yet they all fled. God the Father had to turn His back on His Son during this dark hour as well, though He was not motivated by fear and self-preservation like the others; the Father possesses holier eyes than to look upon iniquity, yet the end result was the same. Jesus was left completely alone on the Cross with the weight of the sin of the world bearing upon His soul.

Heb. 12.2 tells us that Jesus endured the cross and despised its shame for the joy that was set before Him. This joy was quite plainly the joy of redeeming sinful mankind to Himself, in order to enjoy fellowship with the sanctified redeemed for all of eternity. Christ was willing to go through unthinkable suffering and rejection because of the great love with which He loved us.

Less commonly thought about than Jesus' love for sinners, however, is his extreme patience with those who forsake Him. How many times in the Old Testament did the nation of Israel sin against God or reject Him outright in favor witchcraft, idolatry, or false Gods; and yet they were still His chosen people and He promised to revive and restore them at the slightest hint of repentance. Now in the New Testament Israel's God had put on human flesh, which they crucified. What was Jesus' reaction to His disciples betrayal? He greets them in a friendly manner as if nothing had happened. What about Thomas, who not only fled his master but also refused to believe the witness of the other disciples? Jesus treats him patiently and kindly. What was Jesus' command concerning the Jews who crucified Him? He told His disciples to continue to give the Jews preference and to go to them first with the good news of the gospel of peace.

These insights into the heart of God give me great courage to continue on in my Christian walk. Have I disgraced Jesus by fleeing from battle, denying that I am a Christian, persecuting His followers, or handing Jesus over to the authorities to be crucified? If Jesus forgave others these sins he can yet forgive my sin if I ask Him.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Old Paths Magazine

Years ago SermonIndex.net started publishing an excellent monthly magazine focused on revival which was entitled "The Old Paths".  I recently wanted to locate the PDFs again and had a great deal of trouble finding them, due in part to the fact that they had let the registration of the oldpathsmag.com domain lapse.  Here for posterity are the archived PDFs which I was able to locate only after much searching:

http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/viewcat.php?cid=429

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Of Trees and Revival

A tree springs forth from the ground
It is earthy, drawing its strength from that which is below
Its only hope lies in being cut off
Once cut down the natural elements cease to flow
If it remains in that state for years, even that which was previously absorbed will leave
Only a truly dead and dry tree is able to catch fire
The flame must be brought from another source which is already burning
When brought near, the heat causes the old dead wood to twist and groan
Yet, if the flame is not withdrawn, the tree can catch fire
Instantly it begins to be transformed and drawn heavenward
Smother it with dirt, cut off the oxygen, and the fire will go out
But put it next to other burning trees and the heat is intensified
until the flames spread to consume all which surrounds them.



Sunday, March 4, 2012

Excerpts From "My Utmost for His Highest"

Years ago I received a copy of My Utmost for His Highest as a gift and read it regularly for about a year.  It sat on my shelf for quite some time after that - but a few days ago I picked it up, brushed it off, and started reading through it again.  There are some wonderful and challenging thoughts in here:

Feb 27th: The Impoverished Ministry of Jesus - "Where then do You get that living water?" (John 4:11)
Jesus doesn't bring anything up from the wells of human nature - He brings them down from above.  We limit the Holy One of Israel by remembering only what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past, and also by saying "Of course I cannot expect God to do this particular thing." ... We impoverish and weaken His ministry in us the moment we forget He is almighty.  The impoverishment is in us, not in Him.  We come to Jesus for Him to be our comforter or our sympathizer, but we refrain from approaching Him as our Almighty God.

March 1st: The Piercing Question - "Do you love Me?" (John 21:17)
... The true love within our inner spiritual self can be discovered only by experiencing the hurt of this question of Jesus Christ.  Emotional love ... may reach deeply into our natural self, but it never penetrates to the spirit of a person.  The Word of God inflicts hurt on us more than sin ever could, because sin dulls our senses.  But ... when the Lord speaks directly to us, it causes such a tremendous hurt that any part of our life which may be out of line with His will can feel the pain.  ...but the moment that pain is felt is the moment at which God reveals His truth to us.

March 3rd: His Commission to Us - "Feed My sheep." (John 21:17)
This is love in the making.  The love of God is not created - it is His nature.  When we receive the life of Christ through the Holy Spirit, He unites us with God so that His love is demonstrated in us. ... Jesus has some extraordinarily peculiar sheep ... but it is impossible to exhaust God's love, and it is impossible to exhaust my love if it flows from the Spirit of God within me.  The love of God pays no attention to my prejudices caused by my natural individuality.  If I love my Lord, I have no business being guided by natural emotions - I have to feed His sheep.  We will not be delivered or released from His commission to us.  Beware of counterfeiting the love of God by following your own natural human emotions, sympathies, or understandings.  That will only serve to revile and abuse the true love of God.

I could go on with more excerpts and examples, but you get the idea.  If you do not already own a copy of this book, I encourage you to buy one.  If you have a copy that's been sitting on the shelf, I encourage you to dust it off and begin to read it again.  This classic devotional contains wisdom from a man who had a deep relationship with God, and much of what it says cuts through the facade of plastic Christianity that is so prevalent in America.  Even if we are among those trying to live within the realm of authentic Christianity, it is so easy to have blind spots or to let what was once meaningful worship and fellowship deteriorate into an empty ritual.  My Utmost for His Highest will help to set your eyes and heart on things above.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go


Heard this song on the radio this morning on the way into work.  Even though I had heard it many times before, the words gripped my heart today:

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

To Live is Christ and to Die is Gain

In Philippians 1:20b-21 Paul says he wishes with all boldness to continue to magnify Christ in his body, whether in life or in death, "...for to me to live is Christ and to die is gain."

I've always admired the singular zeal with which the apostle Paul lived his life.  Even before he was converted when he was a dyed-in-the-wool Pharisee he held nothing back, launching an all out attack against those he thought were in the wrong based on his understanding of scripture.  Then, when Jesus Christ spoke to him directly and Paul believed on Him as the risen Son of God, he reversed course and lived entirely for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, and through Him, God the Father.

Now here is this great Christian man who wrote most of the New Testament saying that for him, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  For Paul, life consisted of using all his strength, energy, and resources in serving and glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ.  Christ was not "Lord" in name only, but sat on the throne of Paul's life.  Elsewhere Paul says he considered himself only a "bondslave" of the Lord, a man that in practical terms considered his own feelings and will as only a side note, but rather served the Lord with unquestioning obedience, as a faithful slave would.  Paul says that to die is gain, which is a financial term meaning that he would receive a return on his investment.

Have we placed the Lord on the throne of our lives?  Do we constantly seek for way to serve Him, love Him, and spend time with Him, or do we give Him the leftover pieces of our lives?  Do we put His will above our own as faithful bondslaves or do we elevate our will and ignore His prompting and commands?  When we die, will we be well rewarded for the lives that we have lived, or will our works burn before our eyes as wood, hay, and stubble?

May God help us to live 2012 for Him.  May we clear our days of wasteful selfish things and serve Him with all we have.  The time is short.