Sunday, September 28, 2008

Delighting and Condemning, Part One

"You are my Lord. My goodness does not extend to you
but to the saints who are in the earth,
and to the excellent in whom is all my delight."
Psalm 16:2-3

In Psalm 16, Christ spoke through David to reveal that all his delight is in the righteous. He used the word "all" because that is the truth about how he feels. He delights in the upright with all his heart; he has no joy left in his heart to feel toward the wicked. All of his delight is directed toward those who love God and keep His commandments.

What then does the Lord feel for the "vile" among men? The answer is found in Psalm 15. This Psalm begins with David, in spirit, asking God who will be allowed to live forever. This was God’s response:

"He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart. He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor. In whose eyes a vile person is condemned, but he honors those who fear the Lord. He who swears to his own hurt and does not change. He who does not lend his money on interest, nor take a reward against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved."

Notice that one of the things required of us, if we would live forever, is to condemn a vile person. In other words, in our hearts all our delight must be reserved for those who are righteous, just like Jesus.

Think of it. You must condemn the wicked of earth if you want to please the Lord. Taking any degree of pleasure in wickedness could cost you your soul. In 2Thessalonians 2, Paul refers to some saints who would suffer the wrath of God for just this reason:

"And for this cause, God shall send them strong delusions that they should believe a lie, so that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but took pleasure in unrighteousness."

Paul mentions this same group of believers who would lose their souls in Romans 2, when Paul describes the spiritual condition of backslidden saints who are cursed by God:

"Who, knowing the judgment of God that they who commit such [sins] are worthy of death, not only do the same, but take pleasure in them who do them."

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the eternal life you desire (Ps. 37:4), and take no pleasure in wickedness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will cause you to "ride upon the high places of the earth, and he will feed you the heritage of Jacob your father" (Isa. 58:14). Delight yourself in the law of the Lord, and be blessed (Ps. 1:1-2).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Our Value

What is man, that you are mindful of him?
Psalm 8:4

There is not a case of one of us having value, and then God finding it out. It is God’s thinking that we have value which creates whatever value there is in us. He is going to destroy heaven and earth because, to Him, heaven and earth have no value. But “Unto you, O man, do I call.” That call of God to us creates our value. Jesus dying for you meant that you are valuable to God.

When we mortals think God has value, it’s only because we have discovered something that was true, whether we were aware of it or not, but when God thinks we have value, that’s creating value in us. If He didn’t think it, you wouldn’t have it. God has no opinions. He thinks it; then it is. And He thinks you are of great value.

Never a Choice

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God,
and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God because God is love.
By this was the love of God made manifest among us,
that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world,
that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us
and sent His Son as the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God loved us like this, we also should love one another. . . .
And we have known and have trusted the love that God has for us.
God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him
1John 4:7-11, 16b

One choice you will never have to make is the choice between loving people and doing the will of God. They are always the same thing. You cannot choose one over the other.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Prayer

It is good to be back home after an absence of eleven days. Late tonight, in prayer in my office, my earnest prayer to God contained more than just my words. Sometimes God would finish my prayer for me, and at times, I knew God was giving me the prayer to pray at that moment. I want to share some portions that I can remember of my communion with God tonight, and I ask you to help me to pray these things. I want to see a move of God’s holy Spirit among His people!

Here are some of the thoughts, and some of the words the Lord and I said to one another tonight:

The happiest people on earth are those who have done the work they were given to do. They are the people who were prepared at the moment Jesus gave them a task to perform. The happiest people on earth are those who have not missed their opportunities.
The saddest people on earth are those who were unprepared when their moment came.
(The point the Lord was making in my heart when he said this to me was that this, and nothing else, is the real reason some of his people are happy and the real reason some of his people are discontent. So, if you are not happy in Jesus, prepared to be used. Stay ready. Jesus has something for you to do! And it will make you happy to do it!)
"Lord, deliver me from worldliness. Deliver me from the things that rob You of my time. Deliver me from the things that rob me of Your money. Deliver this body [of saints who meet in my home] from the things that rob You of their praise and that rob them of Your glory."

Let me serve those who are truly seeking you. Let me know them and love them, and let them love know and these precious sheep here with me.

At one point, I began to pray this prayer: "Lord, there are things we cannot change ..."
Then, the Lord finished the prayer for me. He said, ". . . but things WILL CHANGE with sufficient prayer."

Is there is something in your life that you wish would change? Then answer this question: Have you prayed enough about it?

"Lord, to serve You and Your people is the most precious thing in this world! The most valuable thing in life is to be of value to Your people! Lord, give us value! Dwell among us!"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Free Indeed

Those whom God sets free are “free indeed”. But being “free indeed” includes being free to return to bondage if you prefer that to the liberty you are given in Christ. Paul pleaded with the Galatians to “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (5:1).

If you are not free to return to sin, you are not really free at all. When you are freed by the blood of Christ from sin, you are free to return to it, and sadly, many have made that choice (2Pet. 2:22). When you are healed by the love of God of a broken heart, you are free to return to the pain. When you are healed by the power of God of a disease, you are free to be sick again if you choose to live the kind of life that takes you there. Jesus warned people of this (Jn. 5:14). When you are delivered by the wisdom of God from debt, you are free to fall back into it. The freedoms that Christ gives are perfect freedoms, and that means you are free not to have them if you prefer your former condition.

Many reasons are offered by those who choose not to remain free. But the truth always is that they do not love the “liberty of the sons of God” and they refuse to bear the responsibilities toward others that come with that liberty.

The freedom of Christ is the freedom to be like Christ. And that means the freedom to love people the way Jesus loves people. That is what those who return to darkness prefer not to do.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

God's Will and Loving People

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God,
and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. . . .
He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God because God is love. . . .
If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us
1John 4: 7-8, 12
You will never have to choose between doing the will of God and loving people. You will never have to choose between walking in the will of God and walking in the love of God. They are the same thing.

Your Testings

From a testimony by Uncle Joe, early 1960's.

"Your testings make you bitter or better."

What Looks Good to You?

"Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."
1Chronicles 16:29

"Then I heard something like the sound of a large multitude,
and like the sound of many waters, and like the sound of strong thunderings,
saying, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad! Let us give glory to Him because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready!
John, in Revelation 19:4-5
"And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
John, in Revelation 21:2
Some folk are put off by the children of God when the Spirit falls on them and they respond with joy and praise. But it looks pretty to me. The world is impressed with lovely buildings and somber religious ceremonies. But I would rather see the Spirit fill somebody and feel their relief, or hear their shout of victory than to see the glittering gold and "priceless" antiques of the Vatican any day. The power of God on one of His saints is beautiful, a real work of art; but lovely treasures of earth gained by making false claims and teaching false doctrines about God hold no attraction to anyone in love with Jesus.
What attracts your heart? What really interests you? What do you think is worth your time? We frail mortals attract the attention of God. Our welfare is what most holds His interest, and caring for us occupies all of His Son’s time, day and night. When we are faithful to God, we are happy, and when we are happy, we look very good to Him. (Paul even suggested that those who walk in the Spirit smell good to God!)
When the bride of Christ is prepared for him, she has adorned herself with the beauty of holiness, and she looks good to Jesus. I wonder if it is possible to attract him so much, to be so full of peace and joy, that he would desire to come for her early? I wonder if the bride could become so beautiful to the Lord that he could not bear to be away from her any longer, and he would ask the Father if he can come for her now? I know that Paul said God was ready to avenge all disobedience, when our obedience if fulfilled. And Peter said that we could hasten the coming of the day of the Lord. Could it be possible that Jesus is just waiting for his bride to make herself irresistible?

Emptying Yourself

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
who, existing in God’s form, did not consider equality with God
as a prize to be seized upon;
instead, he emptied himself, assuming the form of a slave,
made in the likeness of men
Paul, in Philippians 2:5-7

To save us from death, the Son of God in heaven emptied himself to come here and be like us. He divested himself of all that he had in glory with the Father and was "made in the likeness of men." In return, the gospel demands that we follow the Son’s example. We must repent, which means to empty ourselves to be made like him.
This emptying of oneself is a requirement, for we must be filled with the Spirit in order to be made like Jesus. But as Uncle Joe once said,"God doesn’t fill up anything but empty vessels."
Sister Donna also made a remark one time that says the same thing in others words. She said, "The only good you are to anybody is how alive you are in the Spirit." Isn’t that true? Isn’t our value to others really measured by our closeness to God, who loved the world so deeply that He gave up His only begotten Son for our sins?
May God help us live close to Him so that our lives will truly benefit others.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Altogether vanity

And when they heard these things, everybody in the synagogue was filled with rage, and they rose up and drove him out of the city, and they led him to the brow of the hill on which the city was built, to throw him off the cliff.
Luke 4:28-29

And when it was day, he departed and went to a deserted place, but the crowds looked for him, and they came to him, and they tried to keep him from leaving them.
Luke 4:42

"The sweet psalmist of Israel" once said, "Verily, every man at his best state is altogether vanity" (Ps. 39:5). This means that no man has anything to offer to God except his sin – and faith that God is indeed faithful to forgive our sins if we confess and forsake them (1Jn. 1:9).

When Jesus walked among us, he "knew what was in man" (Jn. 2:25); therefore, he was not moved by either their hatred of him or their love for him. The people of one city might want him to stay with them forever, while those of another city might want to kill him. If Jesus had given in to either of these two groups, he could not have accomplished his mission. If he had not made the effort to escape the hatred of mobs who wanted to kill him before the Father’s appointed time, he would have come short of fulfilling his mission. And if he had not made the effort to escape the love of disciples who wanted to save him from suffering, he would have also failed in his mission.

Both the love and the hatred of fallen man are worthless to God, and if Jesus had been moved by either of them, he would have failed to accomplish the will of God. The gospel calls for us to acknowledge that everything that fallen man feels and thinks is worthless to God. Paul said it this way, "In me, that is in my flesh [i.e., nature], there is no good thing." If we have been delivered from sin and darkness, it is only because God has done it, and if God has done it, then He did it by Himself because we can do nothing to help God save us. We don’t know what to do to get ourselves out of sin, and we wouldn’t have the power to do it, even if we did know what to do.

Jesus had a disciple who betrayed him, which was evil, with evil intent, and he had a disciple who wanted to keep him from going to the cross, which also was evil, but with good intent. He had disciples who forsook him, feeling malice, because of his doctrine, and he had disciples who clung to him, feeling love for him, even when Jesus wanted to be alone with the Father’s love. But whether they were disciples who forsook Jesus and hated him or disciples who smothered Jesus and loved him, all men were lost, and if Jesus had been moved by either group, we all would have been lost. Thank God that Jesus saw how utterly blind and desperately needy we all are!

If the people of Nazareth had gotten their way, Jesus would have died after his first sermon – and nobody else would have ever heard the good news Jesus preached. But had the people in Capernaum had their way, Jesus would have stayed with them and built up a successful ministry for himself in that city – and nobody else would have ever heard the good news Jesus preached. The result of human hatred and human love is always then same; it is all contrary to the Spirit of God.

God help us, and save us from ourselves! Regardless of intentions, the only result of anything man does on his own is always the same – confusion and death.


"He who does these things will never be moved."
David, in Psalm 15:5

Jesus suffered and died in hope of gaining influence in our lives. He wants to influence us so that he can save us from heartache and, in the end, from eternal death. He loves us and desires nothing but eternal happiness for us – and he knows how to make it happen! If we trust him, and co-operate with him, he will lead us to the happiness we all want, both for ourselves and others. The word "trust" means simply to yield to the sweet influence of Jesus! The happiest people on earth, and the safest, are the ones who are most yielded to the influence of the Spirit of Christ.

In ancient times in heaven, the cherub called Lucifer began to envy God’s influence over His creatures, and he began to lie about God in order to steal some of that influence for himself (Isa. 14:12-14), and it worked, even among many of the angels! Another way to say this is, Lucifer wanted to move others, to share in God’s holy influence over their choices and feelings; he wanted God’s creatures to think of him as they had always only thought of God. And that is still his purpose.


Whoever influences you has power to move you or to prevent you from moving. The goal of every child of God should be to grow in grace to the point of being "led by the Spirit"; that is, to move only when the Spirit leads one to move. And when the Spirit is not leading you to move, then obedience to God means to "be steadfast, unmoveable," and "established in grace" (1Cor. 15:58; Heb. 13:9).
To remain unmoved by the spirits of this age, in spite of all they say and do, to remain unmoved in our decisions, our thoughts, and our feelings, requires great spiritual strength, but then, that is exactly why Jesus died for us, to give us strength. Paul said it this way, "When we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. . . . God commends His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:6;8).

Many people are moved by fear of death, but Jesus came "that through death he might . . . deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14-15). We see this fearlessness in Paul when he was being warned of the suffering that lay ahead for him by believers who loved him. In Acts 20:22-24, Paul told a group of saints "I am going, bound in the spirit, unto Jerusalem not knowing the things that will befall me there, except that the holy Spirit bares witness [to me] in every city [through which I travel], that bonds and afflictions await me. But none of these things move me; neither do I count my life dear to myself."
Being Moved

King David was moved by Satan once (1Chron. 21:1), and the result was tragic for all of Israel (1Chron. 21:14). David was crushed with grief over the suffering he caused his beloved nation by allowing himself to be moved from perfect trust in God. Over 70,000 of his fellow Israelites died as a direct result of David’s error. The grieving king pleaded with God to let him suffer instead of the people, and God soon forgave him, and Israel’s suffering ended.

Of course, there is more to the story than that. The whole nation had provoked God and brought this terrible disaster on themselves (2Sam. 24:1), and God had sent Satan to move David so that He could chasten Israel for its disobedience. But the point is that it was only by the king being moved by Satan that the suffering came about. Both the king and the nation were chastened by God because the whole nation, including the king, was already doing something (we are not told what) that displeased God.

We hurt ourselves and everyone around us when we are moved. I know that by experience. But I also know that the Lord is for us, not against us, and that he is listening for our cry, as he was listening for David’s, when we find that we have been moved by some strange spirit away from communion with God. He is able and very willing to help us in those times. If you ever find that you have been fooled by the adversary and have moved from your heavenly Father’s peace, don’t even try to cover it up. Confess it and let Him heal you. Don’t be afraid of losing your status among the saints; they are all "helpless pilgrims, just like you", and they will understand, and will respect you even more for being a good example of what to do when we find that we have been moved.

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Leave Them!"

Then his disciples approached him and said,
"Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard that saying?"
But he answered and said,
"Every plant which my heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted.
Leave them! They are blind guides of blind people.
And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit."
Jesus, in Matthew 15:12-14

It seems difficult for God’s sheep to do as Jesus said for us to do when we perceive that a man is not speaking from God; that is, "Leave them!" Is it that the sheep have such tender hearts that they cannot bear to hurt a man’s feelings by leaving him? Is it that they fear gaining a bad reputation among men? Whatever reasons there may be, disobedience is still disobedience, and Jesus said for his sheep to "Leave them!"

Solomon gave the same wise counsel to his son: "Go from the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the words of knowledge" (Prov. 14:7). Leaving ministers who do not teach the truth, and joining oneself to a true servant of God, is a principal part of righteousness because "he who walks with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed." Our souls’ eternal destination is too important for us to be paralyzed by fear of hurting the feelings of fools who would teach us about God, or fear of their displeasure. That is why David encouraged young Solomon to "forsake the foolish, and live! Go in the way of understanding" (Prov. 9:6). There is nothing wrong, and everything right, about forsaking the foolish.

It serves as a good warning for us to be taught that one who refuses to depart from false teachers, refuses to depart because he has already gone astray. Solomon said it this way, "The man who wanders out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead" (Prov. 21:16). Solomon is warning his son that a person is already outside the will of God who stays with a minister whose teaching is not the truth.

What these wise words of Jesus and other servants of God boil down to is this: sometimes, the fastest way to go astray is to go nowhere at all, but just to sit still at the feet of a man who does not know God.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Over You in the Lord"

"Know them who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord,
and admonish you, and to esteem them very
highly in love for their work’s sake."
Paul, in 1Thessalonian 5:12-13

"Remember them who have the rule over you,
who have spoken to you the word of God, whose faith follow . . . .
Obey those who have the rule over you, and submit yourselves,
for they watch for your souls, as they who must give account . . . ."
Hebrews 13:7, 17

Sometimes, people are uncertain as to who really is "over them in the Lord". They are willing to do as Paul said to do toward elders in the faith, but they don’t know for sure whose faith to follow, whose admonishments they should receive (false teachers sometimes admonish saints for doing right), and whom "to esteem very highly in love for their work’s sake." God’s humble people want to know whose faith to follow and whose teaching to receive. It is easy to find out who is President of the country, or Governor of the state, or Mayor of the city, and so forth. Everyone in the world seems to know what the laws are, even if they break them. But God’s children want to know who is who in Christ, whose commandments to obey and whose authority to submit to, in the kingdom of God.

Here is one way you can always tell who is "over you in the Lord": Whoever is over you in the Lord is genuinely happier for you to be blessed than you are yourself.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Trees of the Lord

“The trees of the Lord are full of sap.”Ps. 104:16

“Every plant that my Father has not planted will be uprooted.”Jesus, in Matthew 15:13

Throughout history, men have quarreled fiercely, even fought wars, over who is serving God and who is not. The entire history of man can be learned, in general, by following the records of wars and false religion. But Jesus let us know the simple fact of the matter; namely, if God doesn’t make a person His, that person just does not belong to God and will be damned in the Final Judgment. That is what the Lord meant when he said, “Every plant that my Father has not planted will be plucked up.” In the end, only those God has chosen will be saved.

As simple a truth as that is, it has been an extraordinarily difficult truth for men to believe. The nature of man rebels against the notion that God is in absolute control of His kingdom. There are no unguarded borders and no illegal aliens in the kingdom of God. Every person who now shares in God’s kingdom first received a personal invitation from God to leave their own country and kin and come to Him. In other words, to use Jesus’ imagery, there are no trees anywhere in God’s kingdom except the trees He has personally chosen and planted there.

Let’s humble ourselves before God and confess this unchanging truth. Only those whom God cleanses from sin are cleansed from sin. Only those “born of God” are “born again”. Only those called by God can come to Jesus. Only those baptized by God are baptized; only those circumcised by God are circumcised; and the only people on earth who know God are those who have been taught by God.

Until God makes a man worthy of eternal life, that man is unworthy of it, no matter what anyone thinks of him or what he thinks of himself. Earthly titles and reputations count for nothing with God. His precious Son Jesus had a reputation among certain religious leaders for being demon-possessed. That reputation didn’t count with God, either. Men not only can be wrong; men are wrong, all the time, unless God makes them right. And the sooner we confess that truth to ourselves, the sooner we will understand that God is always right and that only those He makes right are right with Him.