Sunday, June 30, 2013

Magnify The Word

Psalm 119:16 – “I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.”

Jan. 1 -- Read before my owner retired -- several chapters.
Jan. 15 -- Been resting quietly for a week. I suppose my owner has forgotten me.
Feb. 2 -- Clean up. I was dusted along with other things and put back in place.
Feb. 8 -- Owner used me for a few minutes to look up a reference before he went to Sunday school. Carried me.
March 7 -- Dusted and in my old place again. Have been down in the lower hall since my trip to Sunday school.
April 20 -- Busy day. Owner led the N.Y.P.S. and had to look up some references. Had an awful time finding one for it was in the book of Jude, and he was looking in the Minor Prophets for it.
May 5 -- In Grandma's lap all afternoon. She was here on a visit. She let a tear drop on Revelation 21:1-5. I am not used to that, but really enjoyed it.
May 6,7,8 -- In Grandma's lap these three days. Sometimes she reads me and sometimes she talks to me. I surely enjoy this. She had a pencil and marked several passages. She especially marked the 15th chapter of First Corinthians. Seems that she was interested there. She also marked Matthew 5, 6, and 7.
May 10 -- Grandma is gone. She kissed me when she left. Back into my old place again.
June 3 -- Had a couple of four-leaf clovers stuck in me today. Wonder why they did that?
June 25 -- They placed a large envelope in me today. Said it was the deeds to the new place with the insurance papers. They wanted to place them where they would never be bothered
July 1 -- One of the children found me and wanted to know what that black back Book was.
July 3 -- Taken from the shelf and placed in the trunk. Off for a vacation I suppose.
July 7 -- Still in the trunk.
July 20 -- Still in the trunk -- unmolested. Nearly everything else has been taken out.
July 25 -- Back home and in my old place. Quite a journey, but really I don't see why I was taken.
August 1 -- Very hot. Have the Sunday paper, two magazines, three novels, and some old clothes lying on me. Don't see why they don't take them off.
Sept. 1 -- Dusted and back in place.
Sept. 3 -- Used by William a few minutes. He was writing a letter to a friend, who had lost a loved one, and wanted a comforting verse.
Oct. 2 -- A neighbor dreamed a dream and having no Bible of her own, she came in and looked through me a few moments to see if she could find "And it came to pass."
Oct. 14 -- The pastor called, and wanted to read a chapter before prayer, but some way I was not in place and could not be found.
Oct. 30 -- Dusted and in my old place again.

This is how most of us treat the precious Word of God. We leave it sitting on the shelf or on the coffee table gathering dust until we may need it. We don’t magnify it. How can you magnify the Bible? Make it yours – apply it to your life – live it – breathe it – study it – memorize it – meditate on it.

First, you need to accept it as the Word of God. It is not just the words of some man – like those of Shakespeare or Milton – they are the very words of God. It is inerrant – “All thy commandments are faithful (Ps 119:86)”“I esteem all thy precepts … to be right; and I hate every false way (Ps 119:128).” It is pure – “Thy word is very pure (Ps 119:140).” It is righteous – “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether (Ps 19:9).” Second, acknowledge the purpose of the Word of God. It is a cleansing agent – meant to cleanse your way – “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word (Ps 119:9).” Then, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand it – “Open thou mine eyes,that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law (Ps 119:18).” We must magnify the Word in our lives for out of it flow the issues of life. Christ Himself, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, said in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” God’s words are important and must be treated so.

Quote – “The Bible is our “Him” book – It’s all about “Him.”Dr. Jimmy Robbins

"Lord, Your Word is sure - your Word is true - your Word is life.  Help us to delve into it with our whole being.  Help us to magnify your Word.  Amen."

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Live The Word

Genesis 17:1 – “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”

The founder of Kraft Foods was an outstanding Christian. Mr. Kraft spent the last few winters of his life in Miami. He had an invitation to address a convention in San Francisco, and the newspapers of Miami made note of it. The night before he left for San Francisco, the telephone rang. A woman's voice, filled with sadness, said, "Mr. Kraft, I see by the paper that you are going to San Francisco tomorrow. I want to ask a favor. My son is in Alcatraz for life. I write him and send him gifts, but he has never responded. Would you please go see him, and ask him just to write me a note? Kraft agreed to the lady's request. He went to the prison and was granted permission to visit the young man. He started down the corridor to where it turned right, to the visiting room. Just as he made the turn, a big hand shot out in front and clamped him by the chest, and a voice said, "Stand perfectly still, Mr. Kraft, don't move for a moment." Kraft said he heard a buzzing sound... then a voice said, "OK, Mr. Kraft, you're clean." Offended, he asked, "What do you mean, 'I'm clean?' Of course I am!" "I mean," said the guard, "that you don't have anything that you should not take to the visitor's room." The guard told Kraft what he had in his pocket. He went on down the hall thinking to himself, "Suppose Christ would stop me around the next corner and say, ‘Stand still, Kraft, let me see if your heart is clean inside.’" Said James Kraft, "I stopped where I was and asked God to examine me."

It’s not enough that we should read God’s Word – or that we should meditate on God’s Word – or that we should obey His Word – or that we should share His Word – but we should also live the Word of God.  All those things previously mentioned are fairly easy to accomplish, but when it comes to living it – or practicing what you preach – it becomes a little more difficult. It becomes a matter of not just obedience, but of personal holiness. You can obey the letter of the law, just as the Pharisees did, but as Christ said, they “omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith (Mt 23:23).” And He pronounced condemnation upon them for their hypocrisy.

But we can live in such a way as to be set apart from that hypocrisy if we will first of all make sure of your own salvation. We read in 2 Peter 1:10, “Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” Of a certainty, you cannot live a life of commitment and consecration without first being saved and making sure that your salvation is based upon the principles of Scripture and not some emotional experience or the like. How often Satan deceives people with a counterfeit salvation – one based on feelings – or experience – or dogma – or some other such nonsense other than the clear teachings of the Word of God. So, examine yourself and make it sure.

Secondly, sell out to Him. Romans 12:1-2 tells us, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” You can never live the Word of God as He commands unless you first give yourself totally to Him – body, soul, and spirit.

Then, seek the filling of the Spirit of God. Ephesians 5:18 tells us, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Living a Spirit-filled life should be the goal of every child of God. Empty yourself of self and let the Spirit fill you. Give Him full control of your life and everything in it, and you will fulfill the admonition God made to Abraham, “Walk before me, and be thou perfect.”

Quote - "Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervours, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills." – John Brown, 19th-century Scottish theologian

"Lord, Help us to not only read the Word, not only meditate on the Word, not only share the Word, not only obey the Word, but also to live according to to every jot and tittle of the Word.  Amen."

Friday, June 28, 2013

Share The Word

2 Timothy 2:2 – “The same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”

Warren Wiersbe tells of a man who once testified in one of D.L. Moody's meetings that he had lived "on the Mount of Transfiguration" for five years. "How many souls did you lead to Christ last year?" Moody bluntly asked him. "Well," the man hesitated, "I don't know." "Have you saved any?" Moody persisted. "I don't know that I have," the man admitted. "Well," said Moody, "we don't want that kind of mountaintop experience. When a man gets up so high that he cannot reach down and save poor sinners, there is something wrong." 

How many of us get so busy reading God’s Word, living the Christian life, and sitting in our churches soaking in more and more listening to the preaching of the Word and never tell a single soul about God’s saving grace? We become just like the Dead Sea, taking in water rich in salt and minerals and other wondrous substances but never letting it out – there are no outlets from the Dead Sea.  By doing so, we become stagnant – stinking – trashy.  We cannot continue to take in – get more – receive God’s goodness and never give it out to others.  We must share the Word – share our faith – share the truth of God’s great gospel.  This is part of His Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Share with others what God has taught you through your experiences with Him.  He deals graciously with you – deal graciously with others.  He’s given you the precious gift of salvation – share that gift of salvation with others. He blesses you every day with His bounty – share that bounty with others. In Mark 5:19, Christ tells the former demoniac, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” It’s important to tell our friends and family of the salvation experience that we have had. Share the good news of salvation.

Share with others what God has taught you through the reading of His Word.  When you read His Word, He has nuggets of gold and silver for you – lessons to teach you – messages just for you. And as the Holy Spirit guides you in all holiness, He will teach you truths that are beyond imagination. And He expects you to pass these truths along to others. Share the treasures of the Scripture with those you meet in this life every day. Be a living testimony, as Matthew 5:16 teaches, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” You have heard it said that we may be the only Bible that some people ever read. Share the truths of His Word.

Share with others what God has taught you of His great love. God loves you with an undying love – He loves all his children with an undying love.  John 1:12 says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” If you receive Christ as Saviour, then you become a child of God – and He loves you like a child of His.  So it is crucial that we tell others of that great love. Tell others “God loves you” – or “Jesus loves you” – or better yet “Jesus saves.” Remember, Christ admonishes us in Acts 1:8, “Ye shall be witnesses.” Share His great love.

Quote – “What makes the Dead Sea dead? Because it is all the time receiving, never giving out anything. Why is it that many Christians are cold? Because they are all the time receiving, never giving out anything.” – D. L. Moody

"Lord, Thank you for the salvation we have through Christ.  Help us to share with others that precious gospel of saving faith.  Amen."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Obey The Word

Joshua 1:8 – “Observe to do according to all that is written therein.”

Roger Staubach who led the Dallas Cowboys to the World Championship in '71 admitted that his position as a quarterback who didn't call his own signals was a source of trial for him. Coach Landry sent in every play. He told Roger when to pass, when to run and only in emergency situations could he change the play (and he had better be right!). Even though Roger considered coach Landry to have a "genius mind" when it came to football strategy, pride said that he should be able to run his own team. Roger later said, "I faced up to the issue of obedience. Once I learned to obey there was harmony, fulfillment, and victory."

So it is with the child of God. In Matthew 28:20 Christ commands, “Observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” These commands to be obeyed are found in God’s Word. The Lord wants us to obey Him. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in Heaven." God blesses those who obey His Word. But so often, men rebel against the authority of God’s Word and choose to disobey, thinking the commands of the Bible as trivial. Andrew Bonar, a Scottish preacher of the nineteenth century, said, "It is not the importance of the thing, but the majesty of the Lawgiver, that is to be the standard of obedience...Some, indeed, might reckon such minute and arbitrary rules as these as trifling. But the principle involved in obedience or disobedience was none other than the same principle which was tried in Eden at the foot of the forbidden tree. It is really this: Is the Lord to be obeyed in all things whatsoever He commands? Is He a holy Lawgiver? Are His creatures bound to give implicit assent to His will?" 

You will find that obedience to God’s commands brings peace of mind. Christ in John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” The sweet psalmist of Israel tells us in Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”  Isaiah 26:3 promises, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

Obedience brings blessings from God. Deuteronomy 2:2 says, “And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.” In Luke 11:28, the Lord Jesus said, "Blessed are they that hear the Word of God, and keep it." The blessings of God are ours for the claiming – all He expects of us is obedience to His Word.

Obedience brings glory to God. Psalm 56:10 says, “In God will I praise his word: in the Lord will I praise his word.” Psalm 105:45 – “That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the Lord.” Psalm 119:7 – “I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.”

To return to the illustration of Roger Staubach, God has given us the playbook – He sends in our instructions through it – He expects us to obey them. When we bow to His Will we will have harmony, fulfillment, and victory in our Christian lives.

Quote – “The cost of obedience is nothing compared with the cost of disobedience.” – Richard Baxter 

"Lord, You have blessed us greatly with the gift of scripture.  Help us to glorify your name by obeying every precept of your precious, holy Word.  Amen."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Meditate on the Word

Joshua 1:8 – “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night.”

According to James Hamilton, there are two kinds of Bible readers--those who skim the surface and those who dig deep. He describes them by comparing them to two common insects. He writes, "One is remarkable for its imposing plumage, which shows in the sunbeams like the dust of gems; as you watch its jaunty gyrations over the fields and its minuet dance from flower to flower, you cannot help admiring its graceful activity, for it is plainly getting over a great deal of ground.  But in the same field there is another worker, whose brown vest and businesslike, straightforward flight may not have arrested your eye. His fluttering neighbor darts down here and there, and sips elegantly wherever he can find a drop of ready nectar; but this dingy plodder makes a point of alighting everywhere, and wherever he alights he either finds honey or makes it. If the flower-cup be deep, he goes down to the bottom; if its dragon- mouth be shut, he thrusts its lips asunder; and if the nectar be peculiar, he explores all about till he discovers it. . . His rival of the painted velvet wing has no patience for such dull and long-winded details. . . The one died last October. The other is warm in his hive, amidst the fragrant stores he has gathered." Which type of Bible reader are you? Butterfly or bee?

Which indeed? Are you one who flits about the task of Bible reading – skimming here and skimming there – touching the surface as you go?  Or are you one who digs deep as Alexander Pope suggests in his “Essay on Criticism?” He says, “A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing / Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring / There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain / And drinking largely sobers us again.”  Now Pope was speaking of intellectualism, but let’s apply it to our Bible reading habits.  “Drink deep,” he says.  The Word is often referred to in the Scriptures as water – so, friend, when you read, drink deep – mull it over – meditate on it.  Many times in the Psalms, a passage ends with the word Selah.  Scholars vary on the meaning of this little word, but the consensus is that it means “pause and reflect” or “meditate on this.”

There are many scriptures that teach us the importance of meditating on what you’re reading in God’s Word.  Oh, most of us agree that reading His Word is important to the Christian life, but meditating on it is just as important.  2 Timothy 2:7 says, “Consider (or think about) what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.”  Psalm 119, the great psalm in which every verse extols the precious Word of God, tells us several times to meditate on it – v. 15, “I will meditate in thy precepts;” v. 23, “Meditate in thy statutes;” v. 48, “I will meditate in thy statutes;” v. 97, “Oh how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day;” v. 99, “Thy testimonies are my meditation;” v. 148, “That I might meditate in thy word.”  It’s only through a consistent meditation on the Word of God, that the Christian can learn to eat the meat of God’s Word that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 3:2, “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat.”  Dig deep and pull out those gems and precious stones.  Ask yourself, “What is God saying to me in particular?”  He has a message just for you every time you open the pages of Scripture – so, dig deep to find out what it is. Selah – Meditate on this!

Quote – “God’s Word is a song to give me joy, gold to make me rich, food to make me strong, light to make me sure, God’s heritage to make me whole.” – Dr. Ed Nelson

"Lord, Help us to dig deep into your Word. Help us to memorize - to study - to show ourselves approved.  Help us to love it and meditate on it.  Amen."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Read the Word

1 Timothy 4:13 – “Till I come, give attendance to reading.”

I read once of a couple who tried to teach their children the importance of reading the Bible. When their oldest son left for his freshman year at college, his parents gave him a Bible, assuring him it would be a great help. He was, of course disappointed that they didn’t give him money.  Later, as he began sending them letters asking for money, they would write back telling him to read his Bible, citing chapter and verse. He became exasperated with their constant hounding, so he would reply that he was reading the Bible--but he still needed money. When he came home for a semester break, his parents told him they knew he had not been reading his Bible, for they had tucked $10 and $20 bills by the verses they had cited in their letters. 

Paul tells young Pastor Timothy to keep up his Bible reading, for it’s there that he would find answers to all the issues of life.  Let’s look at some of them: (from an e-mail I received)

You say: “It’s impossible.” God says: “All things are possible.” Lk 18:27 – “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

You say: “I’m too tired.” God says: “I will give you rest.”  Mt 11:28 – “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

You say: “Nobody really loves me.” God says: “I love you.”  Jn 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.”

You say: “I can’t go on.” God says: “My grace is sufficient.”  2 Co 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

You say: “I can’t figure things out.” God says: “I will direct your steps.”  Pr 3:6 – “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

You say: “I can’t do it.” God says: “You can do all things.”  Ph 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

You say: “I’m not able.” God says: “I am able.”  2 Co 9:8 – “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye … may abound to every good work.”

You say: “It’s not worth it.” God says: “It will be worth it.”  Ro 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”

You say: “I can’t forgive myself.” God says: “I forgive you.”  Ro 8:1 – “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”

You say: “I can’t manage.” God says: “I will supply all your needs.”  Ph 4:19 – “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

You say: “I’m afraid.” God says: “I have not given you a spirit of fear.”  2 Ti 1:7 – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

You say: “I’m always worried and frustrated.” God says: “Cast all your cares upon ME.”  1 Pe 5:7 – “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

You say: “I’m not smart enough.” God says: “I will give you wisdom.”  1 Co 1:30 – “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom.”

You say: “I feel all alone.” God says: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  He 13:5 – “For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Quote – “Within the covers of one single book, the Bible, are all the answers to all the problems that face us today--if only we would read and believe.” Ronald Reagan 

"Lord, Thank you for your precious Word. Help us to dive into it every day. Teach us through its pages.  Amen."

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Wonder of the Word

Psalm 119:29 – “Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore my soul doth keep them?”

Psalm 119 speaks much about the wonders of the Word of God.  Verse 97, “O how I love thy law!  it is my meditation all the day.”  Verse 152, “Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them forever.”  Verse 165, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”  But this verse, “Thy testimonies are wonderful” speaks volumes.  Dr. Harold Sightler once told exactly what the wonders of the Word of God are. 

First, the Word of God is like a fire to consume fears and heartaches.  In the Scriptures one can find everything needed to heal and comfort.  Verse 52 tells us, “I remember thy judgments of old, O Lord; and have comforted myself.”  And verse 50, “This is my comfort in my affliction.”  Isaiah 26:3 promises, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”  According to this, He promises peace of heart.

The Word of God is like a hammer to break the hardest heart.  In Ezekiel 11:19, the prophet speaking of the believing remnant says, “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh.”  Only God’s Word can take the hardest heart and break it into a million pieces.  David, in his psalm of repentance, Psalm 51, cries out, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”

The Word of God is like a light to illumine our pathway.  Psalm 119:105 instructs us, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  If we will use His Word to illumine our path, He will guide us in the way we should go.  The psalmist in verse 35 says, “Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.”  Of course, the greatest work of the light of the gospel is to shine on the darkness of man’s heart and point him to Calvary.

The Word of God is like a net to draw all men unto Him.  Verse 59 says, “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.”  If we will meditate on His Word, it will draw us unto Him.  In fact the dragnet of Matthew 13 was cast into the sea and drew all men to Him.  Christ Himself tells the Jews in John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”  The gospel of Christ will draw men unto Him for salvation.

The Word of God is like food to feed the hungry heart.  Verse 103 says, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea sweeter than honey to my mouth!”  Nothing sustains the heart of man more fully than to feast on the precious Word of God.  Once again, Christ told the disciples, when they questioned Him about meat, that He had meat to eat that they knew not of.  He then told them in John 4:34, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”

The Word of God is like a foundation to build a spiritual house upon.  Just as the wise man of Matthew 7:24, we need to build our spiritual house on the rock – the rock of God’s Word.  And according to Ephesians 2:20, “Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”  If we will build on the Word of God with Jesus Christ as the chief corner stone, our spiritual house will be able to stand against the storms of this life and the onslaughts of the devil.

The Word of God is like a knowledge to assurance of salvation.  1 John 5:13 tells us, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life.”  The Scriptures are chock full of promises of everlasting life.  The most well-known is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Quote – “The only sure rule is the sure Word of God.” Dr. Jimmy Robbins

"Lord, The wonders of your Word are above mortal description.  Help us to lose ourselves in the Word and find ourselves in your Grace.  Amen."

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Keep Me Near to the Heart of God

Psalm 73:28 – “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.”

In this day and age when sin and ungodliness run rampant throughout all levels of society, the need is great for us to get closer to God. But this is not new to our age – the psalmist faces the same problem in Psalm 73. He becomes envious of those who gain power and riches and seem to be immune to the judgment of God. This is a condition that we face even today. The songwriter says thus, “Then do we wonder why others prosper, / Living so wicked year after year.”

Asaph starts the psalm by declaring God’s goodness to men of clean heart – then he continues, declaring his own backslidden condition. He speaks of envy (v. 3), pride and violence (v. 6), corruption and wickedness (v. 8), rebellion against God (v. 9).  He even questions whether God even knows what is going on (v. 11). This thought culminates in verse 12 – “Behold these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.” This really plagued Asaph – he said, “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me (v. 16).”

Then he went to church – “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end (v. 17).” In the sanctuary of God his eyes were opened – his heart was cleansed – his understanding was awakened. What was the source of this awakening? Verse 24 – “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel.” Verse 26 – “God is the strength of my heart.” This new understanding came to him directly from God the Father.  And what was the truth that was imparted to him? Verse 27 – “For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish.” Isn’t this a wonderful incentive to draw near to Him? We have this promise in James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”

Keep Me Near to the Heart of God

Lord, have Thy way in my life today.
Teach me to seek Thy face in all I do.
Help me to live in Thy presence, Lord,
And to depend upon Thy Word so true.
Keep me tuned to Thy Will, My life O Spirit fill,
And keep me near to the heart of God.

When I submit to Thy Spirit, Lord,
The perfect peace of God will fill my heart.
Then He will give me my heart’s desire,
And to my life each day His grace impart.
If I will lean on Thine arm, Thou wilt shield me from alarm,
And keep me near to the heart of God.
© 2006 Paul Stultz

Quote – “The current of man's soul ran before towards evil; but the moment that he finds that Jesus Christ died for him, and that his sins are forgiven him for Christ's sake, the whole stream of his soul rushes in the other direction towards that which is right.” Charles H. Spurgeon

"Lord, You are truly wonderful - your grace is truly amazing - your love is truly boundless.  Help us to daily seek your face - help us to daily draw nearer to you.  Amen."

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Put That On My Account

Philemon 18 – “If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee aught, put that on mine account.”

The Apostle Paul finds himself in a position where he can perform a great deed of mercy in the life of a needy soul.  A poor slave, Onesimus, had escaped from his master, Philemon, and had apparently purloined some amount of money in his escape.  Now whether Onesimus was actually “owned” by Philemon is not known, but it is evident that he was legally in his employ and accountable to him.  And he had broken the chain of his accountability and escaped to Rome, where he ended up in the presence of the great apostle.  Then Paul, in God’s grace and mercy, led him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Now born again, Onesimus must right the terrible wrong he had done and is sent by Paul to return to his master and seek forgiveness, no longer as only a slave, but now as a brother.  Then Paul makes that gracious offer to Philemon – “If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee aught, put that on my account.”  “Charge it to me,” he says, “I’ll pay the debt.”

This is the same offer that Christ makes for each one of us – He looks to God, the Almighty God, and says of every one who has claimed the blood, “He’s under the blood now, O Father, if he has wronged thee (and we have – ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God’), or oweth thee aught (and we do – ‘For the wages of sin is death’), put that on my account.”  And all our sins have been imputed to his account – and all His righteousness is imputed to us.  This is the wondrous doctrine of imputation.

To illustrate this doctrine, I once heard of a missionary who was speaking to a group of fishermen in a little village on the coast of Labrador. He had told of Christ's death on the cross and was trying to get the message of salvation across. He wondered if he was getting anywhere, if the men understood him, so he asked a question: "Will you tell me in your own words what Christ did when He died upon the cross?"  "Yes," said a weatherbeaten fisherman, tears coursing down his face, "I just now saw what He did. He swapped places with me. He took my place on the cross and left me here in his place, a man without sin in God's sight. Oh praise His name!"

Martin Luther wrote, "All the prophets did foresee in Spirit that Christ should become the greatest transgressor, murderer, adulterer, thief, rebel, blasphemer, etc., that ever was or could be in all the world. For he, being made a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world is not now an innocent person and without sins...but a sinner." He was, of course, talking about the imputing of our wrongdoing to Christ as our substitute. He continues, “Our most merciful Father...sent his only Son into the world and laid upon him...the sins of all men saying: Be thou Peter that denier; Paul that persecutor, blasphemer and cruel oppressor; David that adulterer; that sinner which did eat the apple in Paradise; that thief which hanged upon the cross; and briefly be thou the person which hath committed the sins of all men; see therefore that thou pay and satisfy for them. Here now comes the law and saith: I find him a sinner...therefore let him die upon the cross. And so he setteth upon him and killeth him. By this means the whole world is purged and cleansed from all sins."

Put That On My Account

Yes, upon cruel cross, Christ looked across the ages
And, seeing every sinner that every lived
And that would ever live (including me and including you)
And all the awful sins of mankind,
Lovingly said, “O Father, put that on my account.”
Now, because I have trusted in Him,
When God looks at me,
He sees only the precious blood of Christ
And softly whispers, “Forgiven.”

Quote – “When we see Christ on the cross, we see what we are and what we ought to be.” - Unknown

"Lord, Thank you for taking upon yourself all my sins.  Thank you for giving me a clean ledger by the washing of regeneration.  Thank you for your great forgiveness.  Amen."

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summertime Spiritual Renewal

Luke 21:30 – “Summer is now nigh at hand.”

One morning in 1888, Alfred Nobel was quite surprised to read his own obituary in a French newspaper. Obviously, it was a journalistic mistake. One of his brothers had died, and a careless reporter had used a prewritten obituary of the wrong man. But as he read, Nobel was shocked and deeply disturbed to learn what the world really thought of him. He was seen simply as the dynamite king, the merchant of death, who had amassed a great fortune out of explosives. Nobel had hoped his inventions would be useful to people and to nations. At that moment, Alfred Nobel resolved to show the world the true purpose of his life. He revised his will so that his fortune would be dedicated to the recognition of great creative achievements with the highest award going to those who had done the most for world peace. Today, we all associate him with the Nobel Peace Prize.

Summer is a time of spiritual renewal. Alfred Nobel recognized the need for a renewed purpose for his life – in just such a way we need to recognize the need for spiritual renewal in our lives. In our younger days, we have memories of summer – memories of hot summer days – memories of hot summer nights. But in this new stage of our lives, we need to “put away childish things” and analyze our present lives and make a renewed effort to move forward for God. If we have truly left our old selves behind as Paul admonished in Romans 6:11, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord,” then spiritual renewal can be a reality in our lives. 

Lazy Summertime Blues

I can recall the hot lazy days of summer
As a child scampering barefoot through the fields
Clad only in cut-off blue jeans.
The hot sun glared above
Causing everything to move a little slower,
Making everyone a bit listless.
The dogs hunted the shade of trees –
The hogs rooted in their wallow –
We called it the lazy summertime blues.

The adults would sit on the porch drinking iced tea,
Speckled strips of flypaper
Blowing in the hot breeze from an old oscillating fan.
We would sit and watch the heat rise –
Yes, heat so hot – so thick –
You could see it rise –
So hot, not even the birds chirped.
The only sound you could hear
Was the feverish buzzing of flies.
© 2006 Paul Stultz

Quote – “It would be a great miracle to raise a dead body to life. It would be a greater miracle to put new life in all of you."Peter Gomes

"Lord, As the summer begins, help us to see it as a time of spiritual renewal - help us to make your grace known to others - and help us to reflect your love to all.  Amen."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Grace To Help In Time Of Need

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

God’s grace is free to all – free for the asking.  God takes great pleasure in meeting every need that we may have.  For this reason, Paul tells us to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy.”  At one time Paul himself tells of how he cried out to God for deliverance from a physical problem, and God’s answer was, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9).”

Yes, His grace is indeed wondrous to those who name His name.  Such grace as He does impart to us the world has no understanding.  It’s a precious gift that He gives to those who turn to Him for salvation. When we call out to Him in repentance, He’s always there to impart that precious grace.  It’s a merciful gift that He gives to the bride of His dear Son.  When we need His mercy, He’s always there to impart that merciful grace.  It’s a special gift that He gives to His children.  And when we need Him most, He’s always there to impart that special grace.

In our times of greatest trouble, He’s there to help.  In our times of greatest heartbreak, He’s there to help.  In our times of greatest need, He’s there to help.  This is one of the most precious of all the promises God gives us in His Word.  In this promise He proves to us His great mercy and His great love.  And this verse assures us that no matter what the problem, no matter how deep the heartache, no matter how low the valley, His grace is always available – free for the asking.  His grace is always sufficient – enough to handle any problem.  His grace is always amazing – who can explain it?

 Grace To Help In Time Of Need

 Grace to help in time of need – God did promise such.
To the throne of grace He said To come with boldness much,
And there He’ll mete out mercy fine And such grace as we need.
When with assurance we come forth And in His Name do plead.

Grace to help in time of need – Daily seek His face.
Seek His Will in everything, And daily He gives grace.
Sufficient is the grace He gives To meet each need we see.
His wondrous help He sends our way – He hears our every plea.
© 2006 Paul Stultz

Someone once said, “Grace is a combination of all the noble attributes of God.

"Lord, Thank you for your amazing grace.  Thank you for your wondrous mercy.  And Lord, help us to seek your face each day and to daily depend on your grace.  Amen."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sharper Than Any Two-Edged Sword

Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

A minister in Illinois offered to give any impenitent sinner ten dollars if he would read a chapter a day from the Bible while on his knees every morning for three months, and would begin each day with this prayer: “O God, send thy Holy Spirit to convict me of sin, and to lead me in the way of truth.”  A boastful infidel accepted the offer.  After a few days he sent for the preacher to come and pray for him.  After a night of pleading, the infidel found peace with God.  Such is the power of God’s Holy Word. 

Quick means it’s alive.  God’s Word is a living, breathing entity.  And those who surround themselves with it – saturate themselves in it – soon partake of its life-giving richness.  Christ himself tells us in John 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.”  The living Word gives eternal life.

Powerful means it has all of God’s omnipotence backing it up.  Romans 1:16 reveals that “it is the power of God unto salvation.”  That word “power” comes from the Greek word dunamos, from which we get our word “dynamite.”   Can you grasp that concept?  God’s Word is the only power, the dynamite that can blast us apart from our sinful ways.  I heard one preacher say, “Even the initials for the New Testament, TNT, signify the explosive power of the gospel.”

Sharper than any two-edged sword means to us that the scriptures can plunge deep into our hearts and cut away the filth and worldliness that lurks there.  It’s through the “foolishness of preaching” the Word of God that the gospel of Christ is spread.  One preacher gave the following quote:  “After Paul was converted, he no longer had a sword in his hand to persecute the truth, but he was wielding the sword of truth to perpetuate the gospel.”  He simply traded one sword for another. 

To Overcome The Wicked One

To overcome the wicked one Should daily be our task.
There’s no greater goal at hand That we could think or ask.
The Lord above abides within Each one who claims His Name,
And there’s no other avenue His promises to claim.

He said that He’d be with us here In all we say and do.
As long as we do put Him first, He guards our souls so true.
That wicked one doth have no sway O’er souls that trust the Lord.
He must give way to everyone Who wields the Holy sword.

That Holy sword is God’s true Word, And with it we can win
O’er all that Satan throws at us And all our carnal sin.
So, to the Lord be grateful, now, For all His holy love,
To overcome the wicked one And tune our hearts above.
© 2006 Paul Stultz

The Word is the only offensive weapon we have in this spiritual warfare.  Ephesians 6:17 tells us to “take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:”  In Isaiah 55:11, God proclaims, “. . . My word . . . shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”  It cuts – it slices – it hacks its way through the muck and mire of this world – it pierces – through to the soul – it lays open the raw truth of God’s eternal purpose for each and every one of us.  It was through wielding the sword of God’s Word that Christ defeated Satan in the wilderness.  And it will always help us to overcome the wicked one.

Quote – “[The Word of God] is the best offense in service to God, for once it is proclaimed it does not return without accomplishing its purpose.” William Ellis

"Lord, Help us to love your Word more and more each day.  Help us to read it - to study it - to memorize it - to obey it.  And Lord, give us the wisdom to understand it.  Amen."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Hiding Place

Psalm 32:7 – “Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.”

Have you ever seen a small child who is scared by a dog or some other frightening thing?  He will run to his mother or father and hide behind their legs, knowing that it is a place of safety.  Or even better, he will run to Mom or Dad and cry to be picked up in their arms, the ultimate place of safety.  He knows that if he can reach that place of safety, everything will be all right.

Or have you ever seen the reaction of a child in the middle of the night when thunder begins to roll and lightning to flash?  Where do they run?  They will run straight to Mom and Dad’s bed and hide beneath the covers.  They recognize that as a hiding place from any frightening thing that might be around.

David recognizes that we have a hiding place from all the frightening things of this life.  We can run to our heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and there find a perfect safety from anything this world can throw at us.  We also find this in Psalm 119:114, “Thou art my hiding place and my shield:  I hope in thy word.”

My Hiding Place

I have found a hiding place in Jesus Christ my Lord.
To me He giveth comfort as I rest upon His Word.
Now I know the blessed peace that only He can give
As I trust in His dear Name and in His presence live.

When the burdens of this life seem, oh, so hard to bear,
My world comes crashing at my feet, and no one seems to care.
Then I look for Jesus’ face – I run to Him and hide.
There I lean upon His breast as in Him I abide.

The friendships that we have on earth are precious to be sure,
But there is none that can compare to Jesus’ love so pure.
He’s a Friend that stays so close, much more than earthly kin.
He teaches me His love when I His new life do begin.
© 2006 Paul Stultz

The songwriter in desperation cries, “Till the storm passes over, Till the thunder sounds no more, Till the clouds roll forever from the sky, Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand.  Keep me safe till the storm passes by.”  Oh yes, my friend, we run to Him and hide every chance we get.  And whenever we do, we find ourselves “Sheltered safe within the arms of God.”

And just as that parent takes pleasure in offering protections to his frightened child, so the Heavenly Father takes all the more pleasure in protecting all His children.  Christ said to a wayward Jerusalem, “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” 

He wants to, but so often we will not!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Self-Hood of the Believer

John 3:30 – "He must increase, but I must decrease.”

In this day and age, the church seems to have lost sight of its mission.  In Matthew 28:19-20, Christ commissioned the church to evangelize.  And in that same commission, he instructed the church to teach and train believers “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.

Yet today, the church takes this as their authority to psychoanalyze.  The other day while listening to a Christian radio station, I heard an announcement made inviting believers to a seminar for improving their self-esteem.  During the announcement, such other terms as self-worth and self-image were also used.  Within the same hour, I heard a radio preacher make the following statement:  “The prodigal son came to a real understanding of his self-hood saying, ‘I deserve better than this’.

What has happened to the modern day church, that it espouses self-hood and self-esteem and self-worth and self-image in believers?  What ever happened to the attitude of John the Baptist when he said, He must increase, and I must decrease.”?  What ever happened to the teaching that the only way up in God’s eyes is always down?  What ever happened to the teaching that in order to be filled with the Spirit we must empty ourselves of self?

This is not what I’m hearing today.  I’m hearing that the believer must build up his self-esteem, improve his self-image, assert his self-worth.  I’m hearing that the Christian must find himself in self.  But what do the Scriptures say on the matter?

With regards to self-esteem, in Philippians 2:3, Paul admonishes that believers “in lowliness of mind . . . esteem others better than themselves.”  Hebrews 11:26 reports that Moses forsook himself “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches” than the pleasures of the flesh (Egypt).  As to self-worth, the great apostle Paul, who had much in which to glory in the flesh, chose in Philippians 3 to count those things loss and dung for Christ.  But his true desire was to be “made conformable unto his death (v. 10).”  Such was the self-worth that Paul felt.  As for self-image, Christ himself chose to set aside the glory that was rightfully His “and was made in the likeness of men . . . (and) humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:7-8),” “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame . . . (Heb. 12:2),” “For it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree (Gal. 3:13).”  Christ set aside self for the greater good he could accomplish by dying to self.  And Paul in Philippians 2:5 commands us to “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,” one of humility and self-denial, not greater self-esteem or self-worth.

Remember, Self must be crucified, not glorified, that Christ may be edified.    

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Avoiding Life's Pitfalls

 1 Corinthians 10:33 – “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”

The Bible is very clear that we are to avoid certain things in our Christian life that the devil throws in our path as pitfalls.  These things can cause a lot of trouble if we allow them to exist in our lives.  The old children’s song is true: 

My mother told me something that everyone should know,
It’s all about the devil and I’ve learned to hate him so.
She said he causes trouble if you let him in the room –
He’ll never ever leave you if your heart is filled with gloom.
So let the sun shine in – face it with a grin –
Smilers never lose and frowners never win.
So let the sun shine in – face it with a grin –
Open up your heart and let the sun shine in.

There are three main pitfalls given in 1 Corinthians that we are to avoid.  There are many others throughout the Bible, but these three are found in 1 Corinthians 6 – 10. 

The first pitfall is becoming a slave to something besides Christ, found in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”  In this chapter Paul speaks much about Christian liberty, but he says our liberty must be tempered by expediency, or that which is to our advantage.  And above all, we must not allow ourselves to be brought under the power of something else.  We are not to become enslaved to anything else besides the Lord Jesus Christ.

The second pitfall, being a stumblingblock to others, we find in 1 Corinthians 8:9, “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of your’s become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.”   Many Christians boldly proclaim their liberty to do as they please as long as they don’t transgress Scripture, but this verse tells us that if we cause a weaker brother to stumble, then we transgress Scripture.  We must constantly be aware of others.

This leads us to the third pitfall, not edifying other believers, found in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”  Once again speaking of Christian liberty, Paul instructs us to watch out for others.  We cannot let our Christian liberty become a detriment to the faith of younger or weaker Christians.  He says if eating meat offends a weaker brother then he will eat no meat.  We cannot wear our Christian liberty as a cloak of self-righteousness at the expense of others.

So we see here in 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us that our Christian liberty can become a negative in our lives if we allow it to bring these pitfalls in our way.  When we come upon potholes in the road, we go around them to keep from damaging the suspension in our vehicles.  So must we strive diligently to avoid these pitfalls in our Christian life. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Run the Race

Hebrews 12:1 – “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”

The writer of Hebrews, probably Paul, here alludes to the Greek games which were so popular throughout the world of his day.  Oh, Paul probably didn’t waste a lot of his time attending these games, but it is evident that he was very familiar with this form of athletic entertainment.  Very often in his epistles he compares the Christian to an athlete. 

In 1 Corinthians 9:24, he says, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?  So run, that ye may obtain.”  He likens the Christian life to a race that we are to run to obtain a prize.  So it is obvious that Paul is knowledgeable in this area, so he must have been a fan in that ancient day.  I can imagine Paul sitting in the great crowd overlooking a sports arena watching all the athletes warming up for their races.  As he watches, a light comes across his face as he imagines that each runner represents a Christian striving for an unseen prize.

As he peruses the crowd, his gaze falls on last year’s champion and then on the champion from the year before.  This causes him to reflect on the many champion Christians who have gone before now sitting on the sidelines cheering each of us on to victory.   There is Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Daniel and more all looking over the battlements of heaven rooting for us as we strain and strive.

He thinks to himself, “Seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run . . .”  Let us run!  How should we run as Christians?  He says we should run patiently, one step at a time, pacing ourselves, living each day before God doing his bidding.  He says we should run temperately, laying aside every weight and sin.  Notice he does not say just sins, but also every weight.  A weight is anything that might hold us back, anything that we might put before Him – every weight.  To a runner whether it be a jug of whiskey or a jug of water, it is a weight that holds him back.  All weights in the Christian’s life are not necessarily bad things, but all are weights nonetheless. “Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things (1 Cor. 9:25).”  

Paul set this goal for himself as well as for all of us.  He says, “I therefore so run (1 Cor. 9:26).”  Then at the end of his life he has this testimony, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith (2 Tim. 4:7).”  He then became one of that great cloud of witnesses spurring us on to obtain the prize.

Remember the prize – “Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible (1 Cor. 9:25b).”  What is our incorruptible crown?  The blessed favor of an Eternal Christ.  If we can come to the end of our lives and have the testimony that we pleased Christ, then we have lived a successful life.  But oh, the horror of that testimony of David in 2 Samuel 11: 27, “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.”

Let’s make it our personal goal to always please the Lord in all our Christian race. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sinner's Prayer

Luke 18:13 "And the publican standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner."

Jamie and Eddie had quarreled.  So, as Jamie had been most to blame, he was sent upstairs alone to think over his sins and repent.  When his mother called him down, she asked him what he had been doing.  He replied, “Praying.”  “Well, my boy, what did you pray for?”  His reply was, “I prayed to God to pardon Eddie and make him a good boy, and bless all my deeds.”

If you will read the portion of Luke 18 just prior to the above-mentioned passage, you will see that this aptly illustrates the self-righteous attitude of the Pharisee as opposed to that of the publican.  The Pharisee, like young Jamie, felt that he had done no wrong, and therefore had nothing from which to repent.  In fact, he looked at the publican as a sinful man, not in need of salvation, but rather one with which to compare his own righteousness.

The publican, on the other hand, could not look at those around him and compare himself to them.  He had no self-righteous Pharisaical attitude getting in the way of a correct view of himself.  He could only bow his head in humility and simply ask, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”   He rightly saw himself as a sinful creature, not worthy of even lifting his head before God.
Sinner’s Prayer

O Lord, I pray Thee, I need Thy hand of mercy.
Touch my sinful heart, Lord, and make me wholly Thine.
Lord God Almighty, cleanse this wretched soul.
Show forth Thy goodness through Thy power divine.

My sins alone, Lord, did cause Thy death at Calv'ry,
Thou hast died to save me, to wash my sins away.
Take now my heart, Lord, I give it o'er to Thee.
Forgive my sins, Lord, and wash me clean today.

I am not worthy to speak Thy Name so holy.
I am vile and wretched; my heart is filled with sin.
Thou alone art able – create my heart anew.
Through Thy grace and mercy come Thou abide within.
© 2006 Paul Stultz

The importance of a humble spirit is emphasized in Christ’s commendation of the publican’s humility when He said, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke 18:14.”

This humility of spirit gives credence to the saying, “Exalt yourself and you’ll never come nigh to God.  Humble yourself and He will descend to you.”

"He Knows My Name" - MVBC Young Ladies Trio

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