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Friday, November 13, 2009

"For it was not an enemy that reproached me" Psalm 55

For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.  (Psalms 55:12-14) 

One cannot read these words without sensing the great sorrow and sadness of its author. For its heartbreaking truths had pierced his very heart and soul! Such treatment he could expect from his enemies, but from a friend? A man his equal, his guide, his acquaintance? He, who took sweet counsel together and with whom he walked unto the house of God in company? How devastating, how tragic and how sorrowful! 

And yet, countless believers have known and felt the burden of this great sorrow themselves, our Lord Himself not being spared. For though “many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34:19), few afflictions carry the weight of such sorrow and sadness as this burden spoken of by the Psalmist. A burden which he declares “he could not bear.”

Few there be today, amongst those who profess to truly know Christ, who understand and value the love and unity which Christ so emphasized throughout His earthly ministry, especially in those last hours before His crucifixion. Alone with His disciples in that upper chamber, on the very eve of His death, our Lord spent much time and effort in exhorting them in love, humility and unity amongst themselves.  (John 13-17)

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)

Where many would place the greatest emphasis on knowledge or doctrine (both of which have their proper place), the greatest evidence to the world of our truly being Christ’s disciples is the love we manifest and show towards one another as believers. And yet, with all the controversies, strives, schisms, divisions and partisanship amongst believers, I fear this testimony, this mark of true discipleship, has greatly been weakened and in many places even lost!

I speak not of an unscriptural unity, nor of a fellowship without doctrine; But I speak of those who hold the truth in righteousness and adhere to sound doctrine. Those, who profess to know so much about biblical doctrine and are dogmatic in their beliefs, yet, lack a true spirit of love and unity which defines the greatest mark of being Christ’s disciple!

I am a sound and firm believer in learning and knowing doctrine and know that without biblical doctrine one cannot live the Christian life practically. Yet, it is those, who profess to be so sound in doctrine that appear to have lost the ability to live out that same doctrine in their daily lives. 

This I believe is the Psalmist’s greatest sorrow! Not simply that he had good fellowship such people, but those who magnified themselves against him, were the same people who “took sweet counsel together with him and walked in the house of God in company!” They agreed in the truths of God and were united in their beliefs, yet, their hearts were divided!  

Nothing can cause a more devastating blow to the cause of Christ in this present world, than when the unity and love between believers is marred by schisms and divisions. And though many might be quick to disagree with me, Christianity and the cause of Christ in America has suffered greatly because of such sorrowful and unnecessary schisms and contentions.

Throughout our travels in America and even here in West Texas this divisive and contentious spirit has wrought great havoc amongst God’s children and has greatly weakened many churches. Yet, so many are quick to defend such a spirit by claiming themselves to be “defenders of the faith and contending for the truths of God!” Yet, one can contend for the faith without being contentious. And is it biblically correct to use such a “contentious spirit” against those who are of the like faith, yet possibly differ in a few opinions and convictions?

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. (Gal 6:1-5) 

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. (Romans 15:1-3 )

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.  (Romans 14:1-4)

Here are just a few scriptural exhortations for those who profess to be “strong or of full age” in Christ. May those who profess such spiritual strength begin to practice such divine truths before others, that we all might learn and value the great blessings which come from Christian unity, love and compassion. 

Otherwise, we shall yet see the churches even more weakened and the spiritual decay which abounds everywhere spread even more amongst the next generation of believers! Let this generation be not guilty of passing on to the next generation of believers such a contentious and divisive spirit! But let us be living examples of true humility, love, patience and compassion which defines us to truly be Christ’s disciples!

For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.  (Psalms 55:12-14) 

Monday, October 19, 2009

God is sufficient of Himself!

And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? (Dan 4:34-35)

We have recorded in these words one of the most glorious declarations of the glory, power and majesty of God which one can find within the Holy Scriptures! And yet, it cometh not from the lips of one who was born a Jew, or a descendent of Abraham, but from a heathen king; and that in the midst of an idolatrous nation.

This proclamation of God's Sovereignty by a heathen king and in the midst of such an idolatrous nation was to be a testimony to the world and a humiliation to the true people of God. For though the nations be ever so filled with idols and the true people of God be ever so rebellious and backslidden, God can of Himself proclaim His Sovereign power and glory! God never has been, nor ever will be, dependent upon human instruments to proclaim and declare His Sovereign power and majesty.

Yet, to hear many believers today, even those who stand in the pulpit, one might begin to believe that God has been hindered or limited by the wickedness of the world and the spiritual indifference and apathy of His own children. Nothing could ever be so "untrue and erroneous"! For though we are truly living in "perilous times," and the wickedness of man appears to be more vile and abominable than ever before in the history of man, God is still sufficient of Himself to proclaim, declare and defend His Sovereign power and majesty without the aid of any human instrument!

What comfort! What joy! What assurance does this blessed truth offer to every true child of God who grieves over the wickedness of the world, the indifference of God's people and the countless infirmities within his own heart! That God is sufficient of Himself to proclaim, defend and declare His Sovereign power and majesty!

Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.
(Eze 38:23)

Such blessed truths should never lead the believer to remain indifferent and passive, but greatly motivate and inspire us, by the grace of God, to live more consecrated and devoted lives to the cause of Christ and His truths. To draw from the wells of this great truth in such a manner, that in spite of the wickedness of the world and the great indifference of many believers, we strive to live for His honor and glory alone! Not allowing ourselves to be influenced, disheartened or discouraged by such terrible things, we continue to persevere in godliness, faith, hope and love!

Oh beloved and weary pilgrim! "Look unto Him who is the Author and finisher of our faith;" to Him "who doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" Herein lies the true believer's confidence, faith and hope in the midst of a wicked world and a generation of believers who have become indifferent and cold towards the things of God. Herein lies a great refuge from his own weaknesses and infirmities! To God be all the glory, who is alone sufficient of Himself to proclaim, defend and declare His great Sovereign power and majesty!

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God!
He, whose Word cannot be broken,
Formed thee for His own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
Thou may’st smile at all thy foes.

See! the streams of living waters,
Springing from eternal love;
Well supply thy sons and daughters,
And all fear of want remove:
Who can faint while such a river
Ever flows their thirst t’assuage?
Grace, which like the Lord, the Giver,
Never fails from age to age.

Round each habitation hovering,
See the cloud and fire appear!
For a glory and a cov’ring
Showing that the Lord is near.
Thus deriving from our banner
Light by night and shade by day;
Safe they feed upon the manna
Which He gives them when they pray.

Blest inhabitants of Zion,
Washed in the Redeemer’s blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
Makes them kings and priests to God.
’Tis His love His people raises,
Over self to reign as kings,
And as priests, His solemn praises
Each for a thank offering brings.

Savior, if of Zion’s city,
I through grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in Thy Name.
Fading is the worldling’s pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure
None but Zion’s children know.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The great need of intercessory prayer!

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (Mat 9:36-38)

“Pray ye”…If sinners were reclaimed from darkness and ignorance by the instrumentality of the preacher, without the intervention of such an ordinance as prayer, the transformation would be attributed to the eloquence, pity, or skill of man, and God would be defrauded of His glory. (Alexander Cumming; The revival of religion)

While many concentrate on the "lack of true laborers," our Lord's greatest emphasis is on the need for us, the believers, to "Pray unto the Lord of the harvest to send forth such laborers into His fields." He, the Lord of the Harvest," must send the laborers forth, yet it is us, the believers, who are commanded to "pray," in a spirit of humble intercession, that He might Sovereignly and graciously send them forth.

Too much is done today "in the name of the Lord and for His work", in the power and understanding of the flesh. Many men, who once were greatly humbled by the unmerited mercy and grace of God in calling them into the ministry of the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, have now become prideful in the achievements and success which God's grace has freely granted them. Trusting now in their own abilities and God given success, they have all but forgotten, that "it is by the grace of God, that they are what they are" (1 Cor.15:10).

Where once their labor was driven by the "grace of God which was bestowed upon them" (1 Cor.15:10), now they are driven more by their pride and arrogance. The success and divine blessings granted in their ministry, not having deepened in them a spirit of greater humility and dependence on God, they now trust more in their preaching ability; This being evidenced by the arrogance and pride which now fills those messages, which were once adorned in humility, grace and love for the truth.

"Compassion, as fainting sheep having no shepherd, a truly plenteous harvest, yet few laborers," these things moved our Lord and Savior to compel us to "pray with great intercession," to the Lord of the harvest, that He might send forth laborers in His fields. And it is this same compassion and pity which must compel every preacher, as he stands and preaches the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Trusting not in himself, nor any vainly believed abilities, but as he once did when those first impressions of God's grace bestowed upon him to preach the glorious Gospel was strongly felt, let him continue to labor in these great fields of harvest.

Let us not, as ministers of such a glorious Gospel, ever forget our great need of intercessory prayer, if our labors are going to be successful and God glorified in saving sinners! "Pray Ye," must ever be our humble plea before God and our congregation. For without such humble intercession, our labors shall prove to be vain and fruitless!