“CHURCH LIKE IT USED TO BE”
“Another Value Of The Word Of God”
“Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11
What a wonderfully simplistic formula for success in our lives and yet how utterly complex we choose to make it. Someone has stated, “This Book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this Book.” There are three parts to the verse that will assist us in keeping this in perspective if we will just follow them. First, we see the precious provision mentioned by the psalmist when he speaks of The Word. When we read from, hear about, or think of the Word of God we have a decision to make regarding its message. The psalmist helps us with this decision by teaching us what to do with the Word when he talks about his precious place, as he explains that his heart is where it must be hid. The reason he hides The Word in his heart is found in his final challenge as he speaks of the precious purpose for keeping it there and that is so he might not sin against God. It is not just a personal choice when we sin, it is a spiritual problem. It not only affects us, but also our relationship to our Heavenly Father, for He is the One that we sin against. It also affects those around us and those in our life who are most dear to us.
“Day By Day With Each Passing Moment”
“Give us day by day our daily bread.” Luke 11:3
“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27
This is a beautiful and comforting thought that the God of the universe, Creator of all, and The Great I Am, cares about us. When we are cast down by the sorrows and cares of life, His unfailing arms are ever beneath to support us in our time of weakness; shelter us in our time of trouble; succor us in our time of need, and sustain us in our time of wavering. There is an Eye that never sleeps, beneath the wings of night. There is an Ear that never shuts, when sink the beams of light. There is an Arm that never tires, when human strength gives way. There is a love that never fails, when earthly loves decay. Are we leaning all our weight upon the everlasting arms? Upon His Everlasting Arms? When life storms appear, lean on Him. When life shatters our hopes and dreams, lean on Him. When life’s searching takes us to roads that are rocky, steep, and unsettling, lean on Him. Cast all your care on Him for He careth for you.
“Sound The Battle Cry, See The Foe Is Nigh”
Throughout history, there have been battle cries that have motivated and rallied people for a cause or a purpose. Early in our nation’s history, before we had gained our independence, as the British troops advanced onto our soil, the cry, “The British are coming”, spread across the region. The citizens of this newly found and forming nation took up arms against those who would take away the freedom they desperately longed for and craved, and this phrase rallied them together for the common cause of freedom and independence. In the early fight for freedom for the Republic of Texas, a small Mission was fought for and defended by 183 freedom seekers who all lost their lives for their cause. The infamous cry, “Remember the Alamo”, carried them on to victory and independence from those that would try to not only crush their dream, but also destroy those that dared to dream that dream. As Christians, we also have a phrase that we repeat; however, it is more than a battle cry or a term that would motivate us to rally around a cause, it is, “Jesus is coming again!” We realize the resurrection of Christ gives confidence of His soon return. Bless His Name! Read Psalm 100.
“Is It A Talk Or A Walk”
“And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Luke 6:46
Paul exhorted the Ephesian believers to be followers of God as dear children, in Ephesians 5:1. The word means to be imitators of God, as dear children, and teaches us that there should be a family resemblance to our Lord. Our standard, as a Christian, is Christ, and He is the standard of righteousness and holiness. There is no variance in Him, for He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Our namesake, Christian, should be a testimony to this truth for we know that it means to be Christ like. It is not a question of whether others see Christ in us, but does God see Christ in us. It is a most proper thing to call Him Lord, but is it the confession merely of the lips and not really of the life? If His Lordship be a reality, it will disclose itself in a daily walk of complete obedience to His will. We use a number of words and phrases as a Christian such as ‘Lord and Master’, and ‘Thy will be done’. Have we become accustomed to such things, or are they a testimony of our inner most relationship with Him? ‘Father, may Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Amen’.
“Your Life’s Journey”
Over the years there have been some amazing journeys taken throughout our world. In 1773, Captain James Cook led an expedition to explore Antarctica. In 1803 Meriwether Lewis and William Clark journeyed to the Louisiana Purchase to survey the western territory of the United States. In 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary and his team of explorers made a journey up Mount Everest. These were all monumental and courageous journeys, yet they all pale in comparison to the journey that was taken nearly two thousand years ago, Christ’s journey to the Cross. While the end of the Lord’s journey, his glorious resurrection, was amazing and noteworthy, notice something about His actual journey, everything that Jesus did on His journey was to bring glory and honor to His Father. In the same way, our main reason for this journey called “life” should be to glorify God in all we do. We should not seek God’s glorification for our own personal gain, but we should reflect all the praise back to Him! Without God we would be lost sinners on our way to an eternity in Hell. What is our primary purpose for living on earth? Is it to attain a certain status at work or to gain a certain possession? Christ’s primary goal while on earth was to glorify His Father in all He did. Even so, our main goal in life should be to bring honor to your Heavenly Father. A preacher once said, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” Put God at the forefront of your mind today. Focus on glorifying God in all you do today and throughout your life’s journey. See John 17:4-5
“When There Are No Answers”
The African impala can jump to a height of over ten feet and cover a distance of greater than thirty feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a three foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Faith is leaping when you can’t see where you’re going to land. It is taking action based on the unseen fulfillment of God’s promises. Abraham was a man of faith. God called him out of his hometown of Ur to a land God would later reveal to him. The word called in Hebrews 11:8 means “to invite,” and the word obey means “to submit.” Abraham submitted to the invitation of God. Abraham believed God when he did not know where, when, how, or why. It was faith in God’s Word that made Abraham leave his home, live as a pilgrim, and follow God wherever He led. He was willing to sacrifice his hopes, dreams, and plans in order to follow God. Abraham had faith that God would lead him. God will sometimes ask you to follow Him down paths you do not understand. Do not be afraid of stepping out by faith. God won’t always show you the outcome before He requires you to trust Him. Are you living by faith today or are you living like the African impala, caged in by fear of the unknown? God desires that you would trust Him with each new step you take in your Christian life. He knows what’s best for you, so trust Him even when you can’t see the ending.
“Faith And Obedience”
As a young man preparing to go to China, Hudson Taylor resolved to learn before leaving England to move man through God by prayer alone. He worked for a doctor, and when his quarterly salary was due, Taylor was disturbed that his employer said nothing about it. He had only one half-crown piece, but he determined not to break his resolution and ask for his salary. While visiting a needy home on the Lord’s Day, Taylor felt led of God to give his last coin to the needy family. The next day he received an anonymous gift through the mail, four times what he had given to the poor! The following Saturday the doctor remembered Taylor’s salary. Taylor grew in faith, but he didn’t sit around waiting for God to provide money out of thin air. Taylor was hard at work, honoring God in his work and in his giving. If I told you I have faith that God would save my neighbor, yet I never witnessed to him, would you believe me? God could use someone else, but if I truly wanted to see him saved, I would be obedient in witnessing to him. Faith and obedience go hand in hand. A. W. Tozar put it this way: “The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are opposite sides of the same coin.” Do you have faith that God will save someone you know, provide for you, or heal a loved one? Then be obedient in witnessing to your friend, on the job and stewarding your money wisely, and surrendering your will to God’s sovereign plan. Believe that God will answer your prayer, but also obey His commands. James 2:15-17 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding, ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
“Signs Of A Humble Heart”
A humble heart is a necessity when approaching God. When you humble yourself and develop a correct view of yourself, you will also develop a correct view of God. God is the Creator of the world! He deserves all respect and honor, and we can only give Him the glory He deserves if we are humble before Him. What are the indicators of humility? First, a humble heart brings about confession of sin. A person with a humble heart acknowledges his sin and will readily confess it before God. He is hurt by sin and seeks to make things right as soon as he can. Psalm 32:5 “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hidden. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” David shows his humble heart by readily admitting his sin and confessing it to God. Second, a humble heart brings about appreciation for God’s mercy. Unless you realize the sinfulness of your human nature, you cannot fully appreciate God’s mercy and His provision of that mercy on Calvary. A true appreciation of God’s sacrifice comes from a correct view of your own heart. Last, a humble heart makes way for the forsaking of sin. When you humble your heart and lift God up in your life, it will be easier to turn away from temptation and resist sin. The famous preacher F. B. Meyer once said, “The only hope of a decreasing self is an increasing Christ.” As we lift Christ up and give Him the honor and glory He is due, we will be humbled before Him. Are you easily convicted of sin? Do you thank God for His mercy? Spend time in prayer, asking God to humble you and bring about a correct view of Him in your life. Lift God up in everything you do today. Matthew 23:12 “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
“Resisting The Snake”
An old Indian legend is told about a young boy who hiked a tall rugged mountain, capped with dazzling snow. When he reached the top, he stood on the rim of the world. He could see forever, and his heart swelled with pride. Then he heard a rustle at his feet, and looking down, he saw a snake. Before he could move the snake spoke. “I am about to die. It’s too cold up here for me and I’m freezing. There’s no food, and I’m starving. Put me under your shirt and take me down to the valley.” “No,” said the youth, “I am forewarned. I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you will bite, and your bite will kill me.” “Not so,” said the snake. “I will treat you differently. If you do this for me, you will be special. I will not harm you.” At last, the youth tucked the snake under his shirt and carried it down to the valley, there he laid it gently on the grass, when suddenly the snake coiled and leapt, biting him on the leg. “But you promised,” cried out the youth in pain. “You knew what I was when you picked me up,” said the snake as it slithered away. The boy knew the danger of touching the snake, yet he gave into the temptation. The devil is so subtle in his temptations that sometimes it can seem harmless, but the results are painful. Remember this “Nearness Is Likeness”. If we hang around the wrong crowd, our spiritual walk with God will be damaged. Have you given into temptation? Next time the devil comes around, resist him through God’s strength and claim the victory Christ offers you. I Peter 5:8-9 “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, like a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”
“Facing Your Critics”
George Whitfield was an English evangelist who was greatly used by God in both Britain and America. Like any preacher who is faithfully preaching God’s truth, Whitfield had many critics. Once when he received a particularly venomous letter of false accusation, he wrote a simple reply. “I thank you heartily for your letter. As for what you and my other enemies are saying against me I know worse things about myself than you will ever say about me. With love in Christ, George Whitfield.” When you decide to live for God, you will be challenged. When David prepared to fight Goliath, he was immediately criticized. His brother questioned his motives and accused him of pride. But he remained bold in the Lord’s strength and continued doing what was right. There may come a time in your life when you are simply trying to be faithful, witnessing to others, and following God’s will for your life when criticism and challenges will come your way. Even when everyone seems to be against you, remember how David stood in the midst of the scorners and God gave him the victory. Have you ever felt as if everyone was against you? Don’t allow criticism to discourage you. We’ve all had to deal with some kind of challenges. Keep your focus on God and pleasing Him. What you accomplished for Christ is all that will matter when you stand before Him in Heaven one day.
“A Message Of Forgiveness”
The famous Baptist Pastor R.G. Lee, once visited the site of Calvary in Israel. He wanted to go to the top, so he asked a guide to bring him. As they reached the top, the guide asked, “Have you ever been here before?” Dr. Lee said, “Yes, some two thousand years ago.” A piece of each of us was at Calvary that day as Christ bore each one of our sins. Our sins demanded death, and Christ paid the price as He shed his blood for us. Christ’s redemption provides a way to Heaven. While doing good things will not get us to Heaven, believing on Christ will. When we were in sin, we had no hope of everlasting life with Christ, but Christ changed that when He died on the Cross. Christ paid the price so that we might be saved. His sacrifice paid our sins and provided a way for us to go to Heaven. Thank God that he sent His son to die for us. Not only did Christ die for us, but he rose from the grave three days later. Death could not have power over Him. As you remember His sacrifice, rejoice in the fact that He is alive today. There are many who still have not received Christ’s forgiveness. Let them know that Christ paid for their sins and provided them a way to Heaven when He died on the Cross. Share this message of Christ today.
“Submit Or Suffer Loss”
“Submit yourselves, therefore, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” James 4:7-8
There are three words of action found in verse 7 and they are all contingent on the power of God. The first word is SUBMIT and the action is to literally be subject unto God. The second word is RESIST and it is the same word the Apostle Paul used in Ephesians 6:13 when he exhorted the Ephesian believers, wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to WITHSTAND in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. The third word is FLEE and we must realize that it is the power and presence of God in our lives that he is fleeing from, not anything in ourselves. The second action is reliant on the first action, and the third action is reliant on the first and second action. In other words, we cannot resist the devil until we first submit ourselves to God, and he will not flee until we submit to God and resist him. James is exhorting to stay as close to the Lord as possible and as far away from the danger as we can and we will not fall into any harm. It is when we rely completely on Him that we will be able to withstand in that evil day.
“What A Great Accusation”
“This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” Luke 15:2
What a wonderful statement of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Pharisees and the scribes meant this as a criticism about Him, but we can rejoice that He came as a friend to the sinner. We talked about this same parable before in which Luke records three lost things. The first is the lost sheep that was separated from the fold because it wandered away and tells how the shepherd left to search for it until he found it so he could bring it back home with him. The second is the lost silver that was separated within the confines of the house and tells how the woman searched diligently in her house until she found it so she could reunite it with the other pieces of silver. The third is the lost son that was separated from his father and tells how the son made his way back to the father to be reunited with him. Each picture shows how our Heavenly Father longs for us to be with Him. He has provided redemption for that one that is lost and needs to be saved, rededication for that one that is in the house, but is not where they should be, and reconciliation for that one that has wandered away and would like to come home.
“What Is Your Motive?”
Franklin Roosevelt’s closest adviser during much of his presidency was a man named Harry Hopkins. During World War II, Hopkins held no official cabinet position. Moreover, Hopkins’ closeness to Roosevelt caused many to regard him as a shadowy, sinister figure. As a result, he was a major political liability to the president. A political foe once asked Roosevelt, “Why do you keep Hopkins so close to you? You realize that people distrust him and resent his influence.” Roosevelt replied, “Someday you may well be sitting here where I am now as President. When you are, you will learn what a lonely job this is, and you will discover the need for someone like Harry Hopkins, who ask for nothing except to serve you.”
When religious leaders inquired of John the Baptist concerning his purpose and his nature, he told them John 1:23…”I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah.” He was not concerned that they knew his name, his lineage, or even his social status; he only wanted to point them to Christ. God has placed you in your wilderness, in your place of residence, that you might be a voice for Him. In your workplace and in your neighborhood, there is a great need for men and women who will abandon any preconceived idea of recognition and glory, and will stand up and be heard as simply a voice, speaking God’s glory. Have you been serving God out of a humble heart? As you go about your day, evaluate your service for God. Is there any thought of praise or recognition for yourself? If so, ask God to remove that prideful spirit and to replace it with humility. Do not seek to be valued, seek to be a voice, proclaiming God’s glory.