Thursday, October 30, 2008
(Part 2 of 3)
We can “fake out” others, but the honest person can’t go on lying to himself! Not facing this reality is the source of our criticism, condemnation, hatred and despair over other people. Secretly, our own lack of discipline, unfulfilled dreams, hidden failures, repressed guilt, future anxieties, broken relationship and “floating anger,” etc., etc., destroy our optimism about the potential of our life.
Thirty, forty, fifty or sixty years on this earth have a way of slapping reality into you! You are driven to ask yourself basic questions you thought you had answered long ago! What’s really happening? Where am I going? Who am I in all this mess? Not to seriously seek answers to these questions is to commit emotional suicide!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
(Part 1 of 3)
I have hope for myself! That may appear to be an egocentric statement, but there is more truth to it than error! Even though I am keenly disappointed in some of the things I do and think … or in good things I’ve failed to do … I will not give up on myself! After all, I’m all I’ve got to work with! It’s the same with all of us!
I have concluded that the major reason folks are disillusioned about other people is the personal disillusionment they grope with about themselves! It’s impossible to have confidence and hope in others when you don’t have it in yourself.
Oh, we play a good game and act out our parts! We pretend that things are as they should be “under the circumstances.” Yet deep down there is that growing empty feeling that something is missing and life doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
As we look at the story of the sower and the seed in Luke 8:4-18 we find four soils or responses to the Lord’s Truth. The first two are unproductive. Let us look now at the remaining two.
Third, there are those who do receive Christ’s message, sink down roots and firmly believe. However, they never really make a decisive decision about who they will really serve … the teaching of God or the teaching of the world. They become “spiritual schizophrenics” … too Christian to really enjoy sin and too sinful to really know the joyous greatness of God. The thorns of the world which choke out the life of the seed are everywhere. Pleasure, riches and worries can choke the true meaning of life from all who don’t keep their minds “weeded” of false ideas!
Fourth, the true hearers and doers are ones who are honest about themselves and life, set their hearts on obeying God’s voice and stick to the truth in patience. They produce spiritual fruit to thirty, sixty or one-hundred fold. These are the folks who discover “life at its best.” These are the folks who begin to “live like God on earth.” These are they who begin to understand peace, love, forgiveness, joy, meaning and triumph.
It all begins with your mind (soil)! What seed (truth) are you cultivating? Whatever ideas you plant in your mind will grow in your life!
I challenge anyone, anywhere and any time to offer me greater ideas than those offered by Jesus Christ! As He Himself so well put it, “He who has ears (capability) to hear (opportunity) let him hear (responsibility)!” Who are you really listening to for the truth of life?
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The Bullet of Truth: Soils of the Mind That Grow Nothing
One of our Lord’s most penetrating truths is found in Luke 8:4-18. It is called the story of the sower and the seed. The sower (Christ) sows His seed (Truth) on the soil (the mind of man). Our Lord says there will be four responses to His truth.
First, there are those who causally hear the teaching of Christ but never really take time to examine. They are distracted and over-impressed by the shallow goals and false realities of the world controlled by “the enemy” of God. No doubt our Lord had seen folks stop at the edge of the crowd while He was teaching, listen for a moment and then move on. These are the self-centered, flighty minds that never think beyond their own immediate desires.
Second, we find those who do stay to listen but their minds are poor ground for Christ’s truth because so many false and misleading ideas clutter their minds. The set of their mind is focused on the earthy, the physical, the world … on what they “hope” man can do rather than what God has promised to do. Their joy and interest in the truth of God lasts only until some greater pressure comes along and blows them in another direction. They take no time to put down roots in the soil of God’s truth and the wind of error blows them away from Christ.
These first two soils of the mind produce no plant much less a harvest. In our next post we will look at more productive soils.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The power of his great voice is lost to us today, yet his message is as clear and resonant as ever. The following is a brief excerpt from one of Spurgeon’s motivational sermons, “Joseph Attacked by the Archers.” In this sermon Spurgeon recounts the struggles of the great Old Testament hero who, though often attacked by circumstances he could not control, circumstances that put him in the pathway of shame, despair and even death, kept his heart and mind fixed on his Creator. Spurgeon shows us how God used Joseph’s devotion to purity and righteousness, even in the face of impending doom, to bring glory to Himself and bring blessing to many nations. Our hope is that this excerpt will encourage you to face the archers who attack you, and will challenge you to stand firm in the battle we wage daily against the enemies of our Almighty God.
Joseph’s enemies were archers. “The archers have sorely grieved him and shot at him, and hated him; but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.” (Genesis 49:23-24)
Ah! friends, some now present know this verse by heart, “the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him.” Expect it; do not think it a strange thing; all God’s people must have it. There are no royal roads to heaven – they are paths of trial and trouble; the archers will shoot at you as long as you are on this side of the flood.
“The arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the might God of Jacob.” First, notice, concerning his strength, that it was real strength. It says, “the arms of his hands,” not his hands only. You know some people can do a great deal with their hands, but then it is other fictitious power; there is no might in the arm, there is no muscle; but of Joseph it is said “the arms of his hands were made strong.” It was real potency, true muscle, real sinew, real nerve. It was not simply sleight of hand – the power of moving strength; it is not a boasted valor, a fiction, a thing of which men talk, an airy dream, an unsubstantial unreality, but it is real strength. I should not like to have a combat with one of God’s Josephs. I should find their blows very heavy. I fear a Christian’s strokes more than any other man’s for he has bone and sinew, and smites hard. Let the foes of the church expect a hard struggle if they attack an heir of life. Mightier than giants are men of the race of heaven; should they once arouse themselves to battle they could laugh at the spear and habergeon. But they are a patient generation, enduring ills without resenting them, suffering scorn without reviling the scoffer. Their triumph is to come where their enemies shall receive the vengeance due; then shall it be seen by an assembled world that the “little flock” were men of high estate, and the “offscouring of all things” were verily men of real strength and dignity. Even though the world perceive it not, the favored Joseph has real strength, not in his hands only, but in his arms – real might, real power. O ye foes of God, ye think God’s people are despicable and powerless; but know that they have true strength from the omnipotence of their Father, a might substantial and divine. Your own shall melt away, and droop and die, like the snow upon the low mountain top, when the sun shines upon it, it melted into water; but our vigor shall abide like the snow on the summit of the Alps, undiminished for ages. It is real strength.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
“A burning and shining light has suddenly burst upon the moral world.’ Charles H. Spurgeon struck our atmosphere like a meteor – accepting Christ as his Savior at the age of 16, pastoring a significant church in London at 19, and preaching to audiences of 10,000 at the ager of 21; Spurgeon, after a mere 22 years on this earth, became the most popular preacher of his day.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born in Essex, England in 1834; 1 year after slavery in England had been abolished. His preaching and writing often reflected his fury against social injustice and prior to America’s civil war, his utter condemnation of slavery resulted in an almost total boycott of his works in the United States.
In England, however, thousands came to know Christ though his preaching. The richness of his voice rolled into his listener’s ears like the waves rolling on the shore. Yet his power never overshadowed his message of truth and crowds flocked to hear him preach for thirty years.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
The Bullet of Obedience: Obeying God is Always Smart
Jesus Christ didn’t “feel” like going to the cross, but He obeyed the Father and went anyway. The illustration for us is clear, obeying God whether you fell like it or not is not hypocrisy, but plain old obedience.
A woman told me recently that she couldn’t stand another woman in her office and wasn’t going to act like she lover her or even liked her. The Bible’s answer to this is that God commands love for everyone! To love when you don’t feel like loving has nothing to do with hypocrisy, but everything to do with believing God.
One of your biggest problems as finite human beings is obedience to our feelings, rather than obedience to the unfailing promises of God. Obeying God whether you feel like it or not is not hypocrisy, it’s just smart! And one more thing, it always brings gladness and peace!
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
My dictionary defines hypocrite as a person who affects virtues or qualities he does not have. In other words, he knowingly pretends to be what he is not …or to put it another way, he thinks he is what everyone else knows he’s not. Two or three exciting things emerge from these definitions. First, it is possible to genuinely believer you are batter than you are. The Pharisees really thought they were righteous, but Jesus called them hypocrites! Secondly, I’ve never met anyone who lives up to all they say they believe; have you? All of us, if we’re truthful, have to admit our good intentions far exceed our accomplishments. Thirdly, obedience to God should be observed whether we feel like hypocrites or not. A man is not a hypocrite who goes against his feelings to be obedient to God’s commands.
This last point has tremendous implications for Christian living. I’ve had people tell me that they’re not going to pray, because they don’t feel like it and don’t want to be hypocritical about it. Likewise, I’ve heard the old excuse, “I don’t feel like going to church so I’d rather stay home than go and be a hypocrite.” Both of these statements are arguments rooted in ignorance. Hypocrisy has nothing to do with how you feel and everything to do with what you believe.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
The guy who hits town and says his big value in life is to be the town drunk doesn’t leave much room for evaluating his hypocrisy other than the degree to which he has succeeded in becoming a good drunk (HA!). On the other hand, a man who says his big value is being like Jesus Christ is opening himself up as a tremendous target for hypocrisy. The higher one sets his goals, the more apparent is his failure if he doesn’t reach them.
This is why the church crowd’s failures loom so much larger than most other folks. Their publicly confessed target in life is to live like Jesus Christ and when they miss it, everyone knows it. It seems to me that anyone with any sense would rather aim for the moon and hit an eagle rather than aim for an eagle and hit a rock. I’d rather aim at being like Jesus and come short than try to be the town drunk and succeed. All of us need to remember this when we meet our next hypocrite, in or out of church. And by the way, there are a lot of churches in town that would love to have you join them next Sunday. There’s always room for one more hypocrite.