Room for the Impossible

It never ceases to amaze me how words written a hundred years ago can be so timely for us today!  Oswald Chambers died in 1917, at the age of forty-three, yet his words ring true in 2015!

Here is an excerpt from his Devotional Bible:

Jesus is not in the sitting by the tomb; He is not in the bitter tears; He is not in the sad communings.  The place where we will find Jesus is just where common sense says it is impossible to find Him.  It was no use for the disciples to imagine they were going to have a recurrence of those three years; it was impossible to recall the thrilling yesterdays; it was impossible for the two on the way to Emmaus to have a return of the fellowship they yearned for; but there was something infinitely better for them.  “For He is risen, as He said.” Impossibility had wedded itself to what Jesus had said.  The proclamation of the impossible springs from the supernatural, not from common sense.  The supernatural figures largely all through the life of our Lord.  At His birth the angels proclaimed that He should be called Jesus “for He will save His people from their sins.”  We shall not think of our Lord as a savior if we look at Him in the light of our own minds, because no natural man imagines he needs to be saved.  Do we make room in our faith for the impossible along the line of the supernatural?  Or have we reduced our religion to such common sense platitudes that there is no need for Jesus to have lived at all?

It’s deep, but it’s worth reading several times to get it!  Beyond Common Sense–this was one of the devotionals that prompted the new name.  Can we really live this way?  Can we expect God to do the impossible?  Jesus reminds his disciples in John 14:12 that their works would exceed His works in greatness: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

And Matthew Henry has this to say about the passage.  Again, it may be deep, but it’s worth the digging.!

That they should do greater works than these. In the kingdom of nature they should work greater miracles. No miracle is little, but some to our apprehension seem greater than others. Christ had healed with the hem of his garment, but Peter with his shadow (Acts 5:15), Paul by the handkerchief that had touched him, Acts 19:12. Christ wrought miracles for two or three years in one country, but his followers wrought miracles in his name for many ages in divers countries. You shall do greater works, if there be occasion, for the glory of God. Theprayer of faith, if at any time it had been necessary, would have removed mountains. [2.] In the kingdom of grace. They should obtain greater victories by the gospel than had been obtained while Christ was upon earth. The truth is, the captivating of so great a part of the world to Christ, under such outward disadvantages, was the miracle of all. I think this refers especially to the gift of tongues;this was the immediate effect of the pouring out of the Spirit, which was a constant miracle upon the mind, in which words are framed, and which was made to serve so glorious an intention as that of spreading the gospel to all nations in their own language. This was a greater sign to them that believed not (1 Co. 14:22), and more powerful for their conviction, than any other miracle whatever.

Show this world the impossible: a life totally committed to Jesus Christ!  You will shine brightly in this dark, sin-cursed world which seems to deny its Maker more and more every year!  And remember: God is just  as faithful in 2015 as He was in the 1600s and 1900s!

Lessons From the Frozen Fruit Trees

With our unseasonably warm weather in March and then four to eight inches of snow on April 23rd, the fruit farmers are not going to have a bumper crop this year.  As I look across my yard to the neighbor’s apple trees I see very little fruit!

Can the same scenario play over in our lives?  Have you had a season of fruitlessness in your Christian walk, or are you in one right now?  To answer the latter question, ask yourself this question: has there been a previous time in my life when I was walking closer to the Lord and my life was more fruitful? If so, it might be a good time to look at the facts surrounding the situation.

Fact for 2012 fruit trees:

  1. The warm weather came too soon forcing the blossoms to bloom early.
  2. The cold weather came after the buds were forming and killed them
  3. No fruit

Fact for the Christian “fruit tree”:

  1. There can be wonderful seasons of hot preaching and warm hearts that produce the early signs of possible fruit.
  2. Satan has a real knack of freezing out the buds when our hearts turn cold
  3. The same result: no fruit

However, there are some major differences between the tree and the Christian.  For the farmer, he has no control over the weather; for the Christian, a cold heart can be stopped by an act of the will.  Satan whispers in our ears that the preaching doesn’t really apply to our lives or that the preacher is meddling :), and we turn our backs to God’s gentle prodding.  What do you think happens when the sheep are gently prodded but choose to stay on the wrong path?  The shepherd prods harder – the same is true of our Great Shepherd.  Sometimes Satan’s whispers cause the fierce arctic winds of bitterness to blow in and freeze our hearts.  I’ve heard it said that “idle hands are the devil’s playground.”  The same is true of a bitter spirit.  No wonder  Heb 12:15 says “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”  There is nothing more deadly to the possible fruit bearing Christian than a bitter spirit.  Sad to say, it often becomes our blind spot. 

Another major difference is timing: the farmer must wait a full twelve months for another harvest; the Christian can stop the season of bitter cold whenever he or she chooses.  (I must add that there are times when the fight takes longer.  It may be because of our history of “coldness” and God needs to keep us in the trial longer to teach us.  However, there will be “sweet release” in God’s time if we stay on His path. See 2 Sam 24.)

The only solution for the fruit farmer is to plead with God over his crops.  As a Christian, we have two weapons in our defense against the deadly freeze: prayer and surrender.

  1. We must stay close to the heart of God in prayer.   “And He walks with me and He talks with me…” and I talk to Him.  Stay in touch with the Good Shepherd.  Talk to Him often and allow Him to speak to you through His Word.  No one likes a one-way conversation, including our Heavenly Father!
  2. Yield to His way.  This is the most difficult part of the Christian walk, but do know that a genuine walk with the Lord IS a walk of constant yielding.  When is it hardest to yield – ALWAYS!  We must yield because there is a difference of opinion between ourselves and God:  His path is not the path we want to take.  Unfortunately, we like our sins.  Notice I said WE!!  I see it all too clearly among my own branches!  Yielding requires us to be dead to self.  That’s tough, but if we could only see the blessed fruit hanging abundantly upon our branches because we HAVE yielded, we would never hesitate.  The other unfortunate factor is that we do walk by faith – the yielding of our heart’s will must come before the yield of abundant fruit!  Don’t take my word for it – look in the Book.  Just take a look at Psalm 119 and see all the blessings that are promised to the one who yields and follows.

 FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While Men Slept

Show me a mom who is serious about God, and I’ll show you a child who is serious about God.  Show me a dad who loves the Lord, and I’ll show you a child who loves the Lord.

Show me a parent who is faithful to church, and I’ll show you a child who is faithful to church.  Show me a parent who makes excuses for their lack of commitment and I’ll show you a child who does the same.

I’ve often had parents of young adults bemoan the fact that their children aren’t following God.  “We took them to church: I don’t know what happened.”  I have yet to see a child, whose parents CONSISTANTLY had family devotions with them, prayed with them, set a good uncompromising example before them, turn away and choose to go astray.

We put sports, shopping, working, family, vacation, and EVERYTHING else before God and then wonder why our children do the same!!!  Wanda, aren’t you getting a little legalistic?  Correction: legalism is anything that one does to work his way into heaven, so, no – I’m not being legalistic.  Wanda, you just aren’t in step with the world.  AMEN and HALLELUJAH!!!

I once told a Sunday school class of senior high students that if they were coming to church just because their parents made them, I would GUARANTEE that as soon as they graduated, they would not be in church.  One young man vehemently told me that he came of his own accord. (I’m not sure why he was so upset – I wasn’t accusing anyone of anything.)  Let me see: that was over ten years ago, and of the eight that I can remember: that young man is dead after a life of running from the Lord, two young men do not attend church, one girl is divorced.  Praise God, one of the young men is faithful and two couples came out of that group – one set serves the Lord in the pastorate!

The most difficult part of the ministry is watching kids fall away from the Lord and ruin their lives.  I see it in the elementary age students, and here’s the problem:

“Sow a thought – reap an action;

Sow an action – reap a habit;

Sow a habit – reap a character;

Sow a character – reap a destiny!”

Dear reader, this principle is true for negative actions/habits as well as positive ones.  Would you please look in the mirror of God’s Word and allow it to change you?  Your child’s destiny dramatically depends upon it.

“But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.”  Mt 13:25

This is a Toad

If I said, “This is a toad,” you would question my judgment, perhaps even my sanity! You may even argue, “That’s not a toad, it’s a cat.”  If I asked you how you knew it was a cat, you might stare at me in wonder; but to humor me, you might say, “It’s furry – toads do not have fur.  It’s cute – toads are not cute. (Opinion statement!)   “Look at it licking its fur.  Toads catch flies with their tongues.”

So you judge a creature by its looks and actions.

Are we wrong to do the same with Christians?  What does a Christian look like?  If we had a lineup like the police do and only one person was a professing Christian, how would you pick him out of the lineup?

  1. I would like to think that his countenance would speak loudly: a smile, a look in the eye that seems to say, “The Spirit of God dwells within.”
  2. His outward appearance.  Ours is the only century in which this is a difficulty.  Think back to Bible times.  Picture a Christian and picture a Roman.  Picture a Hebrew and picture an Egyptian. There were not just cultural differences, there were serious modesty differences as well.  Think to the 17th or 18th century.  Would you see a Christian dressed in a revealing, immodest garment? If so, she would have been called a harlot.
  3. Could we tell by his speech?  Would there be a difference?

Is it a toad or a cat?  Is a Christian just an inner change, or does having the Spirit of the True and Living God dwelling within make a difference on the outside as well?  Just something to think about; but remember, the world is dying to see something real in a Christian’s life!  “ If you want to make a difference, you gotta be different.”

“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”  1Sa 16:7

Common Sense and Sneakers

This past week, Nike released to the public a new basketball sneaker which caused quite a sensation.  In New York, people slept on the street for seven days just to get a pair.  In Orlando, more than 100 deputies in riot gear had to break up an unruly crowd.  All for a sneaker?  Take a closer look.  This same $220 sneaker is now offered on eBay for over $2,000!  So there’s the catch – this is one highly valued sneaker!  What makes it so valuable? Nike will only make so many of the star-flecked purple and blue gem, keeping them “hot.”

            Sorry folks, but there is no common sense in this one!  It’s amazing to me in this economy that anyone would pay $220 for sneakers, much less $2,000!  I realize that some folks make a career of buying and selling, but sitting on the cold cement of New York City in February for seven days – there’s got to be a better way to make a living!

            Can we learn anything from this bizarre tale true-life situation?  Just one – how precious is the Word of God to you?  Another way to put that is: How precious is Jesus to you; because Jesus IS the Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”  (John 1:1).  This Sunday when you struggle to get out of bed and go to church, be glad that you don’t have to sit on hard cold pavement for seven days just to hear God’s Precious Word preached!  If you start to roll over and say, “It’s too cold, I have nothing to wear, my friends aren’t going, I stayed up too late…” ask yourself how precious is God’s Son to you?  If you made other plans, why not change them and spend a little time at God’s house with His people?

Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” (or footwear!) Job 23:12

Common Sense and Exposure

            While we’re in the doldrums of February’s winter season, think back or ahead with me to those wonderful summer days at the beach.  The sun is hot, but the ocean breeze combined with an occasional dip cools you and allows you to bake longer in the sun. That exposure tans the skin, which some seek in extreme and others avoid in extreme.  Exposure to the sun produces a tan; and we all know that too much exposure results in the pain and damage of a sunburn.  Common sense tells us to limit our time in the sun.

            And to what do you expose your soul?  “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1Co 15:33)  As I sit at a desk in a public school monitoring a tutorial (For those of you from the older set, a tutorial is what we used to call a study hall), I wonder at the constant exposure these students have to “evil communications.”  Several of the students are plugged into an iPod which is no doubt blasting their ears with rock music filled with foul language and unimaginable filth.  Another set is discussing the terrible injustices of domestic violence and the unfair treatment of men, police and any other authority.  Some of the couples are lounging on each other. One student is asleep.  Some have gone to the library and computer lab to do work lest you think the whole time is a waste!

            Is the constant exposure to sex and violence affecting our teens?  I don’t even have to answer that questions – the statistics are out there.  I’m not sure where it will all end; and without sounding too simplistic, what they need is exposure to the Gospel!

            And what about you, dear Christian?  Are you exposing yourself to gossip or the God’s Word; griping or thanking; negative or positive thoughts or statements?  Check it out.  Listen to your speech and thoughts and see if perhaps you need more exposure to God’s Word to flush out the affects of evil communications and build up “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Col.1:27)

            Compare these verses on the word  daily – they run the gamut, but make the case for daily exposure to God’s Word.

Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” Pr 8:34

After this manner ye shall offer daily, throughout the seven days, the meat of the sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD: it shall be offered beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.” Nu 28:24

And he taught daily in the temple.”  Lu 19:47

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Lu 9:23

Are you getting “burned” with the Bible? 🙂

Common Sense for Uncommon People

Common sense –  dictionary.com describes it as sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence.  (Normal native intelligence?  That’s scary!)

Yesterday, as I watched a man stand beside his car and blow his nose in the cold and snow instead of getting into the car and out of the weather before taking care of the task, I wondered where the common sense was in that.

Is common sense a dying art in America?  Are we teaching common sense in our schools?  If common sense is practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge or training, then how do we gain common sense?  Are we really calling common sense instinct?  Even in the act of finding a good definition of a word, we must use common sense!

As I started writing about common sense based on that definition, I didn’t really agree with it. Soooo, I looked it up under oxforddictionaries.com.  Wow!  Read on: common sense: good sense and sound judgement in practical matters. (No wonder I’m always misspelling judgment!  I must be English!)

Now I’m on a roll!  At dictionary.cambridge.org, common sense is defined as the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way.

The bottom line is this: where do we get common sense?  Are we born with it?  Does it hinge on the disciplines of our parent’s parenting?  Does it come with experience?  Is common sense the same thing as wisdom?

Take a look at dictionary.cambridge.org’s definition of wisdom: the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgments.

Oxforddictionary.com: the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement; the quality of being wise.

Put the two definitions for common sense and wisdom side by side, and we see that they are very similar. So, we throw out the first definition realizing that we must gain wisdom or common sense through knowledge as well as experience.  Is common sense in the Bible?  No, but wisdom certain is!  In fact, it is mentions 226 times.  Would it seem reasonable to say that the waning evidence of common sense in our society is directly related to the waning interest in the Bible?

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom:

 a good understanding have all they that do his commandments:

 his praise endureth for ever.  Psalm 111:10 

Perhaps the children’s song is for all of us:

Read your Bible pray every day

and you’ll grow, grow, grow! (in common sense!)