Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Putting Feet to the Truth

“It’s an amazing thing that all of us know much more than we do. For instance, most of us know what (and how!) we’re supposed to eat, but very few of us translate that knowledge into practice.

 

Unfortunately, the same is true in our Christian lives.  We hear the Word-sometimes to the point of being saturated with it-  but often go away unchanged by it.  We fail to live the Truth we know. I John 1:6 says, “If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness; we lie and do not [practice not] the truth.”  The necessity of truth affecting lifestyle is a frequent theme in John’s writings.  Despite our wishful thinking and protests to the contrary,  Scripture clearly teaches that truth held means nothing unless it is truth lived.

 

For several  months I’ve been praying about the theme for the 2008-2009 academic year at B.J.U.  At the same time the administration has been engaged in discussions about a more unified focus on developing student’s

spirituality in every campus encounter. The Lord worked to coalesce the two into a single, overriding burden (and theme) for this year: Putting Feet to Truth.

 

We’re passionate about inculcating this emphasis into the lives of students. It’s what B.J.U. has always been about.  In fact, it parallels our first Core Value as an institution- love for and faithfulness to God and His Word. But in out modern Christian culture that has a post-modern ability to compartmentalize Christianity into a Sunday and Wednesday routine that has very little impact upon the rest of the week, the message of I John 1:6 is more needed than ever.

 

God’s Word must be practically applied to everyday living.  It is meant to affect things like the way we think, the way we spend our money and the way we use our time.  God intends His Truth to govern each decision, sculpt each relationship and guide every desire, attitude and word.  It is “alive and powerful,” transforming oneself, one’s family, one’s worship and one’s workplace.

 

We want the Word of God on this campus to come alive to the students, faculty and staff- to capture our attention and to captivate our lives, becoming more than just a book of verses to memorize or sermons to hear. It must work its way from head to heart to life.  If a student leaves B.J.U. content with an impotent knowledge of Scripture, we’ve failed in one of our primary objectives: teaching them that God’s Word must be lived out in every facet of life if life is to be well-lived.

 

 

Truth held really does mean little until it is truth lived.   God intends for every Christian to “put feet to Truth.”  That is the emphasis that will shape the year ahead at B.J.U.”

 

This editorial appeared in the BJU Review – Fall of 2008 written by

 

Dr. Stephen Jones,

President of the University

 

(Stephen Jones is a great grandson of Dr. Bob Jones Sr.  the founder of Bob Jones University and the major chapel speaker when I was a student there from 1952-1956.  I am encouraged to see that faithfulness to God’s Word and an emphasis on practical Christianity remains the same.)

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October 20, 2008 Posted by | Stephen Jones | Comments Off on Putting Feet to the Truth

Liberty or Security

“They who would give up essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.”    Benjamin Franklin

October 17, 2008 Posted by | Gems | Comments Off on Liberty or Security

Meet Les Lofquist

 

 

I’d like you to meet a friend, Les Lofquist.  As Executive Director of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America, Dr. Lofquist  is a down-to-earth young man who has a heart for God and a passion for reaching America and the world for Christ. I.F.C.A., which started about eighty years ago in America, is now expanding throughout the world.

 

If you are a “Lone Ranger” type preacher or a church member concerned that your church has not grown and perhaps is moving in the wrong direction; or  if you are discouraged that you are not making an impact in your area as other churches seem to be doing; or you feel your church is more concerned with style than substance;  I encourage you to go to the IFCA web site http://www.ifca.org/ and check out  the Leadership page.  Read some of the articles Les has written for the VOICE, the organ of I.F.C.A.

 

If your heart is in agreement with what you read, I encourage you to explore the possibility of  yoking up with IFCA as a pastor or as a church, or both!

 

 

October 16, 2008 Posted by | Les Lofquist | Comments Off on Meet Les Lofquist

In the Midst of a Faltering Economy

Dr. Les Lofquist, Executive Director of I.F.C.A. (Independent Fundamental Churches of America), referring to  the Wall Street sell-off of October 2008, writes about the founding of the I.F.C.A. as follows.

 

“When these events began to boil, I thought about the founding of I.F.C.A.

 

“The stock market crashed in October 28 and 29, 1929.  America reeled economically. Yet the I.F.C.A. was founded a little over three months later on February 6,  1930. Our first convention was held June 24-26, 1930.  As America entered the Great Depression. the I.F.C.A. continued to grow. What fueled the I.F.C.A.’s growth during the Depression?  Is there a lesson for us today?

 

“The answer is found in a full page ad appearing in the February 1932 issue of  The Pioneer of a New Era, (the original name for today’s VOICE magazine, the organ of the I.F.C.A.. This ad had the following headline. “WITHOUT A VISION, THE PEOPLE PERISH.” Then this text followed. “The great need today in the I.F.C.A. and in our churches is not for better times, easier finances, BUT FOR A VISION.”

 

“In the depths of the Depression, the leaders of the I.F.C.A. determined that despite the harsh economy they were facing, their task remained the same.  They called for vision. They called for renewed ministry.

 

“The ad ended with “I.F.C.A. PREACHERS, GET IN ACTION!  KEEP UP YOUR MISSONARY ACTIVITIES.  THERE IS NO DEPRESSION IN HEAVEN.  GOD STILL HEARS AND ANSWERS PRAYER.”

 

“We can learn the lesson from our I.F.C.A. founders.  Today we need vision and faith and missionary activities….  Where is your focus: on the faltering economy or on the task we face as Christians?”

 

October 15, 2008 Posted by | Les Lofquist | Comments Off on In the Midst of a Faltering Economy

Character

Your character is what God knows you to be. Your reputation is how others regard you, based on appearances.  See my article on reputation for more on this subject.

 

Our nation has lost its way. Television fare has become unspeakably vile, including TV sex ads. 

 

Foreclosures on homes and bankruptcies, though sometimes brought on by circumstances beyond the control of those involved,  are probably more often caused by people attempting to live beyond their means,  These symptoms of lack of character; are ruining lives and depressing the stock market.  

 

Financial corporations are crashing as leaders who thought they were above the law, embezzle funds. My mother and step-father, who retired from a lifetime as missionaries, lost their invested savings in one of those funds.

 

Pride of workmanship and quality are being replaced by shoddy workmanship as employees without character focus on wages and benefits rather than the quality of their workmanship..

 

Communities and homes  are declining in value as they are being overrun by people lacking character and moral values. Neighborhoods are blighted and homes are losing value because of  irresponsible owners and tenants lacking character who let the weeds grow in their yards and over the sidewalks, making it almost impossible to walk down the street and who allow beer cans and junk to clutter their yards and their garbage cans and dumpsters to overflow on to the streets.

 

 

America was founded by men and women of character.  They may not all have been Christians, but they held to moral values. They held the Bible in high esteem. 

 

 

The Mayflower Compact, the Constitution of the United States,  our Declaration of Independence and other founding documents all contain references to our dependence on Almighty God.  God’s name and Biblical references are carved into the stones of our national monuments. The first colleges and universities, including Harvard,  were founded to train young men for the ministry.  America was to be a land where people could be free to worship God without any coercion. Though a militant minority are trying to drive a wedge between church and state,  safeguards were written into our Bill of Rights to protect us from being controlled by a State Church  and to protect the State from prohibiting our free exercise of  religion.

 

 

 

Bob Jones University has had a profound influence on my life teaching me character.

 

 

Over fifty years ago Dr. Bob Jones Sr., founder of the school, often  spoke to us in our daily chapel service. His messages were usually Biblically-based conversations with us concerning character issues.  He is noted for some of his sayings.

 

“You are free to swing your arms wherever you please, but your freedom ends where my nose begins”.

 

 

“Do right ’til the stars fall.”

 

 

“It’s never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.”

 

 

“Good men are always reasonable.”

 

 

“You have to live somewhere forever, so you had better learn how to live.”

 

 

“If you learn how to live, you can learn how to make a living.”

 

 

 “Back of every tragedy in human character there is a process of wicked thinking.”

 

 

 “You can borrow brains, but you can’t borrow character.”

 

 

 “The door to the room of success swings on the hinges of opposition.”

 

 

 “When gratitude dies on the altar of a man’s heart, he is well-nigh hopeless.”

 

 

 ” It’s a sin to do less than your best.”

 

 

“Simplicity is truth’s most becoming garb.”

 

 

“Beware of unreasonable people. Good men are always reasonable.”

 

 

 “Don’t sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.” 

 

 

 

The importance of Christian character is one of the most important things I learned at B.J.U.  Later, our three children and some grandchildren had the privilege of being students there.  Each of our children found their spouse there. I thank God for Bob Jones University and its impact on my life and on the lives of our family. Though there have been changes that come with progress,  they  still stand for Biblical truth and for Christian character  just as they have through eighty years of existence.

 

 

I’m not asserting that every BJU grad is the perfect example of Christian character.  Many factors enter into our spiritual development;  but what I am saying is that a Christian student who receives his education at BJU is going to be surrounded with Godly influence and have every  opportunity to become a success in life and in the eyes of God.  

 

 

 

We need Christian character.

 

 

The struggle between good and evil is ongoing just as it was back in the time of the Judges when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”.  Judges 21:25  There were a few good leaders back then, but not many.

 

Lack of character produces mere politicians who look to the next election.

 

Character produces statesmen who look to the next generation.

 

Thank God for some Godly national, state and local  leaders today who have character in their backbones to do right.  God gives a nation the political leadership it deserves.   When God’s people get right with Him,  He promises to heal our land.  II Chronicles 7:14  With that healing will come a restoration of character and prosperity. May God continue to bless our families, our institutions, our nation and our world with charactered leadership.

 

 

October 11, 2008 Posted by | Character | Comments Off on Character

The Way the Lord Led

We can share our testimonies in words in a church service or with others anywhere. and we ought to do that;  but ultimately, our testimonies are expressed by the way we live. In  I Thessalonians 1 we have an example of  “show and tell” Christianity.

 

Though I grew up in abnormal circumstances, by the grace of God, I had the privilege of growing up in a strong Christian environment and being surrounded by a warm, genuine, vibrant Christians as my role models.

 

I was born in Peru, South America in 1933.  My parents, Clifford and Ruth Bicker, had just begun their missionary work there, when in 1937 my father was instantly killed in a car accident as he was traveling in the AndesMountains to preach the Gospel.  He had started to feel sick and turned the driving over to a Peruvian brother in the Lord.  Both were instantly killed.  An elderly lady traveling with them survived the accident.  A police officer investigating the scene, seeing his dead body surrounded by his Bible and Gospel literature commented, “He died as a soldier dies, while engaged in the battle, with his weapons at his side.”

 

Mother was now a 27 year old widow left with myself and my one year old brother.  Since it was time for their first furlough, Mother returned with her two little boys to her home in Toronto. Canada.  Her oldest brother, Oswald Smith, had written her a poem when he heard of Dad’s death,  Later the poem, “God Understands”, was set to music and has been a comfort to many over the past seventy years.

 

God understands your sorrow,

 He sees the falling tear,

And whispers I am with thee;

Then falter not nor fear.

 

Chorus

He understands your longing,

Your deepest grief He shares;

Then let Him bear your burden,

He understands and cares.

 

God understands your heartache,

He knows the bitter pain;

O, trust Him in the darkness,

You cannot trust in vain.

 

God understands your weakness,

He knows the tempter’s power,

And He will walk beside you,

However dark the hour.  

 

Life in Toronto was spent living with uncles and aunts and with our Grandfather and Grandmother Smith as Mother traveled throughout America and Canada sharing her story and her burden for Peru.  On a few occasions, my brother and I went with her, singing choruses in Spanish.

 

My early education was in the Toronto public schools.  Yes, that was plural – schools.  Because we moved around, I was in a different school almost every year.  By fifth grade we moved several times and I was in at least three different schools in Toronto that year.

 

Life for me centered in my uncle’s church.  As a little boy I loved to go to church. The auditorium was crowded every Sunday morning and every Sunday night with about 2000 people. I loved to hear the wonderful music and listen to him preach the Gospel and watch people come down the aisle to receive Christ each week.  I didn’t understand it at first, but I knew it moved my heart.  

 

One day in a children’s meeting I heard the story of people in the wilderness being bitten by poisonous snakes and dying.  I heard how Moses was commanded by God to make a brass snake and put it up on a high pole.  All who looked at the serpent were healed of the snake bites.  Then I was told how Jesus died on a cross for our sins and all who would look to Jesus by faith and trust His blood sacrifice for sin, would be saved from their guilt of sin and could go to Heaven when they died.  I was nine at the time and was drawn to go forward at the invitation to be saved.   It was not a difficult decision.  I had been fearful and would  dream at night of falling into hell.  So that evening I went forward and was taken by a lady to the back of the room, where we knelt down together and she led me to trust Jesus as my Saviour.

 

From that hour, life was totally different for me.  All fear of dying and going to Hell was gone.  I was peaceful and joyful as I realized that Jesus was now my Saviour and best Friend.   Shortly after that salvation experience, I wrote my first song at the age of nine.

 

Jesus is my Saviour,

He keeps me every day.

Jesus is my Saviour,

At home, at school, at play.

He will never leave me

So I will follow on.

Jesus is my Saviour.

I’ll praise and sing His song.

 

Just before my eleventh birthday Mother was advised to place my brother and me in  Westervelt Home for Missionary Children located  in the country, just outside Batesburg, S.C.  This was during  World War II and many missionaries were leaving their children in this home, led by a retired missionary couple.  Though most Christians would judge it was a terrible decision for my mother to make, looking back on it I can see how it was the best decision Mother could have made for us.  There I completed my elementary education and began my freshman year of high school, all taught by loving, caring, Christian teachers.  I also had a piano teacher who instilled an appreciation and excitement for the piano.  Through the years I have had many opportunities to use that gift in service to the Lord.  

 

In 1946 God gave my Mother a second husband, Kenneth Harold, a bachelor missionary in Haiti.  Together they served the Lord in Haiti and later in Jamaica, training nationals for the ministry.  God gave them a daughter and then a son.  Although God had allowed tragedy in Mother’s life,  He gave them over fifty happy years together serving the Lord.  Now both of them are with the Lord.

 

My brother and I spent the summer of 1949 in Haiti with our parents.  There I saw missionaries up close and was impressed by their joy and dedication to the Lord and to the ministry to which God had called them. 

 

Dad took me on several conventions in different locations in the southern peninsula of Haiti  where hundreds of Haitians met together to sing and to hear the preaching of God’s Word.  Although everything was in the Creole language and I didn’t understand a word, yet I caught the joyful spirit of these people as they sang hymns of praise to God.  I watched as dozens of couples who had lived together unmarried, came forward and were married in one big ceremony.  I watched as they brought their little children to be dedicated to the Lord.  I observed the cleanliness and joy of the Christians in contrast with the filth and the fear and  superstitions of the unsaved. It was a wonderful summer of learning and growing in the Lord.

 

The fall of 1949 my brother and I were sent to Prairie Bible Institute in the prairies of Alberta Canada, where we were enrolled in the high school associated with the Institute. Again, this was a time of spiritual growth for me as I soaked up L.E. Maxwell’s preaching on the crucified life based on Galatians 2:20  and Romans 6.   The cold weather was awful up there and I was glad when Mother and Dad came home on furlough and we settled in Los Angeles for the year.  There my brother and I attended Culter Christian Academy where I was given more solid Christian training in God’s Word.

 

The following year my parents returned to Jamaica and my younger brother was enrolled in a Christian boarding school in Florida.  I continued my senior year at Culter and boarded with one of the school  families.   That year I paid my room and board and tuition at Culter by working in a cafeteria after school each day.

 

After graduating from Culter, at the suggestion of my mother who had been influenced by my uncle,  I set off for Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. There I spent the next four years gaining a wonderful Christian education and earning my Bachelor’s degree.   Dr. Bob Jones Sr. who preached in most of the daily chapel services, had a profound influence on my life as he chatted with the students each morning on how to live a practical Christian life and the importance of standing against apostasy.

 

 

I also had the opportunity to get over some of my stage fright by playing walk-on parts in some of the Shakespearean plays that are performed each year.  For several weeksI had the opportunity to sing in a mixed quartet for Dr. Bob Jones Sr.’s daily radio program, as well as in the Oratorio. I also had a small part in Wine of Morning, a feature length film about Jesus and Barabbas,  produced by BJU’s  film department.

 

The Christmas of  1953 I was invited by, Allen Thompson, the son of Rev. Elmer Thompson, the director of the mission where my parents ministered, to come down to Columbia Bible College and he would take me to his home in Pennsylvania to spend Christmas with them.  So I hitched-hiked down to the school and a day later found myself in his car with three C.B.C.  girls, all heading back to Pennsylvania for Christmas. One of them was Pat Gumm.  By the time we arrived in Pennsylvania, I determined to get to know her better.

 

I started writing her in January of 1954  and in May of that year I returned to Pittsburgh to play the piano in a rescue mission, work in a hospital scrubbing walls and start courting Pat.  By August of that year we were engaged.  A year later in August of 1955 we were married in her home church.

 

Graciously, God provided all the things we needed to set up housekeeping, plus the  money I needed for tuition for that year through wedding gifts.

 

We returned to BJU for my senior year and God wonderfully provided us with a little trailer home 8 feet wide by about 30 feet long. God had spoken  to a  dear lady who heard we were being married and felt led of God to loan us a trailer home rent free for my senior year at BJU. 

 

There we spent our first year together studying for classes and getting to know one another as husband and wife.  I worked after school at Belk’s Department Store in the ladies’ shoe department, earning $15.00 a week. That’s what we lived on. I think $20. a month went to ground rent and about $7.00 a week for groceries.  Pat was an excellent cook from the start and she learned to prepare good meals on whatever we could afford. 

 

In the spring of 1956 Pat was pregnant with our first baby.  We did not know what God had planned for us after graduation.  That spring a representative of Village Missions spoke in chapel and I heard of opportunities to pastor small churches that were being opened up in rural areas.   I talked with the representative after the service and let her know I was interested.   Within a few weeks we learned of an opportunity to go to the Sandhills of Western Nebraska to pastor a small church.  I accepted the call and by graduation time, we were ready to set out for our first church.

 

One small problem was that we had no car.  God solved that problem through Pat’s brother who had just joined the Air Force and did not need his 48 Dodge, so generously donated it to us.

 

So in July of 1956 we left Pat’s home in Pittsburgh and set out on our long journey to western Nebraska. Pat was seven months pregnant.  We were ready to conquer the world, though I was still wet behind the ears as a pastor.

 

Now over fifty-five years later we  look back on the way our gracious  God has led us and blessed us and met all our needs.  We can only rejoice in the wisdom He has given us to raise our children and pastor churches over the years.  But that’s another story.

 

We thank God for our three grown children who each love the Lord and for the godly mates He has given to each of them. We thank Him for eleven grandchildren who each love the Lord.  Now they  are married to godly mates and the great-grandchildren are coming! 

 

What does He have for us in the future?  We have no idea; but the God who has provided for us and met every need and filled our lives with joy and purpose, will continue to go with us to the end of this life and then take us to be with Himself in Heaven; not because of our works, but because of what Christ accomplished for us on Calvary.

 

 

October 10, 2008 Posted by | My Testimony, Personal | Comments Off on The Way the Lord Led

Protecting your most valuable asset

Next to the value of your eternal soul, your most valuable asset is your reputation, your good name.  “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.”  Proverbs 22:1

 

Let’s distinguish between character and reputation.  Character is moral vigor or firmness acquired by self-discipline. Some non Christians have character and some do not. Though all Christians ought to have character; shamefully,  some do not.  Christian character comes from spending much time in God’s Word learning to know God and walk with Him.  Though I learned academics at Bob Jones University, the most important thing I learned there was the importance of character. I learned not just how to make a living, but more importantly,  how to live. You can borrow brains, but you can’t borrow character.  Your character is what God knows you to be.  On the other hand, your reputation is how you are regarded by others.

 

Though character is foundational, our reputation is also important.

 

Many young people do not believe this and the reason they don’t is because they have not lived long enough to learn the value of it.  Most young people, as well as older people,  are far more concerned about being popular or being rich.   I’ll agree it is nice to be popular and it is great to be rich, but not at the expense of losing your name and your reputation. 

 

I don’t begrudge any one wealth or popularity.  I only warn that if you have to sacrifice your name and your reputation to attain it,  you have gained nothing and will end up being disappointed.

 

When you lose your wealth, you can recover if you still have your name and reputation.  If you lose your popularity because you stood for that which is right,  you can still be successful in life. If you lose your health, you still have a chance to fully recover.  On the other hand,  if you lose your good name, you’ve suffered a loss from which you may never recover.

 

It’s Your choice!

 

Proverbs 22:1  tells us that it is a matter of choice.  Every choice you make takes you in one direction or another.   Going deeply into debt by buying things you can’t afford is a matter of bad choices that can lead to stress and financial ruin.  Speeding and driving recklessly to impress your friends in order to gain  popularity is a choice you make that leads to accidents,  speeding tickets, law suits, jail time or even the morgue.  Ultimately it leads to a bad name. Drinking, gambling, getting involved with pornography or  taking drugs  also lead to disease, disaster and dishonor from which you may never fully recover.   Illicit  sex leads to the possibility of disease, pregnancy,  and the  loss of your good name.   All of these things are not only an offense to our holy God, but they are as foolish as playing Russian roulette.

 

What if you’ve already ruined it?

 

Perhaps you have already lost your good name.   What can you do about it?   One thing for sure, you can’t reverse the damage  that has already happened.  You may be healed, but you can’t get ride of the scars. They stay with you for life.  If you turn to God and ask Him to save you and take control of your life  He will hear and answer your prayer. God will take the chipped, damaged diamond of your life and will remake of you a new cut diamond; perhaps a little smaller, but still a diamond.  In Joel 2:25  God promises Israel,  “I will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten..” 

 

Remember in Luke 15 the story Jesus told of the prodigal son?  That son had wandered away from his father and had sacrificed his name and reputation for the things he thought would make him popular  Instead he ended up with his inheritance squandered and living  in a pig pen eating the pig’s slop; but in that pig pen he woke up and came to himself.  He returned to his father, hoping to at least get a minimum wage job as a servant.  Instead his father graciously and lovingly restored him to his status as his son.  His inheritance was gone, but at least he enjoyed the love, peace, joy and daily provision as his father’s son.

 

There is still hope.

 

If you’ve already lost your good name,  I encourage you to come to Jesus right now and confess your sin and failure.  God will forgive your sin and cleanse you and restore you to Himself.  He will give you another opportunity to live for Him and serve Him;  perhaps not in the capacity that you could have served, but He can still use you if you are humbled and willing to be used in whatever capacity He has for you.

 

But to you young people who are just starting out in life, I challenge you to surrender yourself to God.  He has a wonderful plan for your life.  Guard your good name and reputation.  Guard your relationship with God.  Don’t allow sin to break that fellowship. Ask God for wisdom concerning the decisions you make.  He will give you that wisdom if you seek for it from His Word with all your heart. 

 

Look who gave up His reputation for you!

 

Before I leave this topic of reputation, consider Jesus; the spotless, sinless Son of God.  When He walked this earth no one could convict  Him of sin.  He lived a pure, sinless life and then willingly went to the cross to die to pay the penalty for our sins.

 

Philippians 2:6-10  tells us that Jesus “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but  made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name that is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow.”  Thank God that Jesus was willing to leave the glories of Heaven and  be of no reputation  by coming to this earth and dying for our sins, “that we  may  be blameless and harmless sons and daughters of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom we shine as lights in the  world.” Philippians 2:15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 10, 2008 Posted by | Reputation | Comments Off on Protecting your most valuable asset

LOST!

Most of us can remember as a child being lost in a department store, or in the woods. Most of us when traveling have at times been lost in a big city.   Having a child lost or abducted or even reading or hearing about such things, strikes terror to our hearts.

 

While living in Westervelt Home for missionary children as a child back in 1944, I roomed with a boy about my age, Robert Bell,  who had been adrift in the Atlantic Ocean for twenty days on a small 8X10 foot wooden raft with his mother and 17 others.  The ship on which they were sailing from Africa had been torpedoed by the Germans.    By God’s grace, they were found and saved from what could have been certain death.

 

We Christians are urged in Ephesians 2:11-12 to remember what it was like to be lost: Paul describes that condition as “without Christ, aliens, strangers, having no hope and without God in the world.”  One who has never been aware of his lost condition without Christ, has probably never truly been saved.  Salvation is more than simply giving mental assent to the Gospel or mouthing a “sinner’s prayer”.  Salvation comes to us when we sense our desperate lostness and hear the good news that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and rose again to save us.  As we sense our desperate need, we cry to God for His mercy.  Then and only then are we truly saved.

 

It would do every Christian a world of good to remember what it was like to be lost in our sins in order to fully appreciate what Jesus did for us on Calvary.

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE LOST IN SIN?

 

First, understand that we don’t have to do anything to be lost in sin.  We are passively lost in sin from the womb, Psalm 58:3 tells us.  Psalm 51:5 explains to us that we were conceived in sin.  The act of conception itself is not sin between a husband and wife, but the baby that is conceived is conceived as a sinner. We inherit our sinful nature from Adam, and, as fathers, we pass on our sinful nature to our children.  By the way, that’s why Jesus who was born of Mary, could not have a human father; otherwise, he would have been born a sinner like every other human being. That’s why Jesus was born of a virgin who conceived her baby by the Holy Spirit. 

 

Thank God, that although it is true, infants and little toddlers are not accountable for their sinful nature, nor for their sins; they cannot possibly be held accountable for anything they do.  When little ones die in infancy and early childhood, they go to Heaven.  David understood that about his little baby who died in infancy.  He said in II Samuel 12:23 ” I shall go to him.  He shall not return to me.”  What a comfort this truth is for parents who have lost an infant. What a comfort it is to know that all aborted babies are in Heaven.  Mother, you can see your little one in Heaven one day, if you have been saved by trusting in Christ for salvation.

 

But as we grow and develop, and observe God’s amazing creation, we become aware of our holy God and our utter sinfulness and at that point, whatever our age,  we consciously receive or reject Christ.  Those who reject Christ are spiritually dead according to Ephesians 2:5 and blind to spiritual truth according to  Ephesians 4:18.

 

Read the condition of a lost person in Ephesians 4:17-19. Paul writing to Christians says, “This I say therefore and testify in the Lord that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”

 

This describes every sinner, whether he is a transient on skid row or a very successful professional man or woman without Christ.

 

As lost sinners, we are lost to the glories of Heaven.  I  Corinthians 2:9.  We will one day face Christ as our Judge and be speechless. Romans 1:20-32,  Revelation 20:11-15. We face eternity in Hell Fire. Matthew 22:1-13,  Luke 15:19-23,  Revelation 14:9-11.

 

HAS THERE EVER BEEN A TIME IN YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU RECOGNIZED THAT YOU WERE LOST?

 

Test yourself to see whether you are saved or not.  If there is anything that separates Christians from non Christians, it is the attitude you have about yourself.   

 

The non-Christian feels good about himself.  He has never sensed his utter depravity and utter lostness.  To him, Christianity is just accepting intellectual knowledge about Christ.  There is no change whatsoever.   He is the same proud sinner,  perhaps worse than before, for now he thinks he is a Christian because of his knowledge of Jesus and his self-righteousness.

 

On the other hand, the genuine Christian is aware of his sins and is desperate to find forgiveness and cleansing.  When he heard the Gospel he was overwhelmed with relief and joy as he cast himself on the grace and mercy of God.  As a believer, he is a changed, humbled man, hungry to know more about God.

 

I fear for many baptized so-called Christians on church rolls who are still lost in their sins.  Some are active, baptized church members, teaching Sunday School classes and some are preachers and priests.  In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus describes the horror they will experience when they meet Him.

 

It’s not enough to simply believe facts about the Bible.  The devil believes those facts and he is damned for eternity in Hell.  When you quit thrashing around in the ocean of sin and self-righteousness, and simply grab hold of Christ as Robert and his mother and those 17 other shipwrecked people grabbed hold of the raft and were saved from drowning, you will be saved from your sins and made fit for Heaven.  Read my series on SALVATION for a clearer understanding of all of this.

 

CHRIST’S MISSION STATEMENT

 

Luke 19:10 gives us Jesus’ mission statement.  ” For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  That must also become the mission statement of every Christian.  It is our calling to seek sinners and develop a relationship with them and give them the Gospel as we have opportunity.   We cannot save anyone.  Only God can do that; but we can present the Gospel to them.

 

Yes, Jesus seeks after sinners. But in order for us to be saved, we must seek after Him.

Romans 3:11 teaches us that no sinner seeks after God.  God seeks after us.  We can come to Him only as He draws us, according to John 6:44.   We can seek after Him only as we sense Him seeking after us.  Isaiah 55:6-7 calls us to seek after Him while He may be found.  If you are ever going to be saved, it will only be when Christ is calling to you.  If you sense that call, receive Him now.  If you put it off, you will no longer hear the call and you are doomed to eternity in Hell.

 

Tossing diamonds on an ocean cruise

Picture, will you, a man on a cruise sheep leaning over the railing carelessly tossing a two carat diamond ring up into the air and than catching it.  He continues to show off his skill as a crowd gathers around him.  Suddenly he misses and the diamond ring falls to the ocean floor, lost forever.   You think to yourself,  What a stupid man!

 

Playing Chicken

 

Picture two teens in their cars roaring down the road towards each other at 80 to 100 miles per hour.  They’re playing the game of “Chicken”.  Whoever veers away first is a chicken. Eventually they crash and are both instantly killed.  Again, you think,  how stupid!

 

Playing Russian Roulette

 

Picture a man playing Russian roulette.  In the chamber of his revolver is one bullet.  The other chambers are empty.  He holds the revolver to his head and pulls the trigger.  Nothing happens.  He laughs and scorns the danger.  He can repeat his foolishness and pull the trigger again.  He may or may not die, but eventually, he will die if he continues his foolishness.  Again, you judge,  how stupid!

 

Rejecting Christ

 

But dear friend, their stupidness pales into insignificance compared to what you are doing by rejecting Christ in this age of grace. Whereas the ring tosser may or may not lose his ring, whereas the teens may or may not kill themselves, whereas the one playing Russians roulette may not kill himself;  you have a 100% chance of dying and going to hell if you reject Christ.

 

Today, if God’s Spirit has shown you your lost condition,  seek Him while He may be found.  Call on Him to save you now.  “Whosoever shall call upon the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13e mayHe

October 3, 2008 Posted by | LOST and FOUND | Comments Off on LOST!

In These Crucial Days

God’s people live in a world full of trouble.  Eliphaz warned Job about it in Job 5:7  and Job talked about it in Job 14:1  In fact the whole book of Job is the story of the troubles Job faced and how God ultimately delivered him.

 

In II Corinthians 4:7-10 Paul writes about the troubles that he experienced wherever he went.  Why did God allow Paul’s troubles and why does He allow it in our lives today?  That Christ be manifest in his life and our lives also so we can be a blessing to others.

 

Jesus, in His final hours with His disciples,  warned them in John 14 of the trouble they would face and encouraged them that through His Holy Spirit whom He would send them, they would experience His continual peace in the midst of troubling circumstances.

 

We are living in a time of extreme crises and fears. Though our economy was booming for most of the past eight years, it has been on the brink of collapse since 2006. Our stock markets have tanked and there’s been gridlock in Congress.  Our sworn enemies are gaining nuclear capabilities.  Crime, corruption and inflation are out of control.  Prices are skyrocketing as our dollar plummets in value.  We are facing one of the most sobering, crucial elections in our nation’s history and always we live under the threat of terrorist attacks. Humanly speaking, there is little to comfort us and give us a sense of security today.

 

We need to pray for our President as he completes his final days of office!  How he has aged these past eight years as he has dealt with world-shaking problems and  been viciously maligned and attacked by his enemies who attack his character as snarling, vicious dogs!  How we thank God for our Commander and Chief and his generals and the courageous troops who have gained victory in Iraq and are helping this struggling nation to its feet.

 

And now we wait to see the direction our nation will take in November. This is a time for Christians to sit still and rest and mediate on God’s Word. Most of you know Psalm 23.  I encourage you to turn off your television for awhile each day and sit down with David in green pastures as he plays his harp.  Listen to him, a man after God’s own heart, as he shares inspired truth in the Psalms.  In the light of the coming election, let’s look at Psalm 46 together.

 

The present, practical fulfillment of His will in our lives  Psalm 46:1-3

 

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.”

 

Did you hear what he said?  God is our refuge and strength right now when we need Him.  Psalm 118:24 reminds us that THIS is the day that the Lord has  made. For that, we have reason to rejoice. He is presently bringing His will for our nation to pass.  Whether we are about to be judged for our sins or to be blessed a little longer in order to be a blessing to the world; it’s all in His hands.

 

Therefore, we Christians need not fear nor be upset by the circumstances. “Our times are in His hands.”  Psalm 31:15  His will for our nation and for us as Christians is being worked out even now in these days of noise and confusion.  That word Selah in Psalm 46:3, 7 and 11 tell us to sit quietly and reflect on what He is telling us.

 

The future prophetic fulfillment of His will   Psalm 46:4-9

 

Though these words refer to Christ’s second coming and His Millennial reign,  they are just as practical and applicable to us now as the first three verses.  

 

Verse 4 speaks of a river that flows from the city of God, Jerusalem, and brings prosperity and gladness to us now as it will to the world one day.  You can read in Zechariah 14;8-9  of the living water that will flow from Jerusalem to a world waiting for the refreshment and blessing of God. 

 

That chapter begins with the return of Christ and His feet once again touching the Mount of Olives.  Zechariah14:4    That will be a literal fulfillment of the angel’s message to the disciples at the ascension of Jesus back to Heaven, as it is recorded in Acts 1:11-12.  This coming of Christ takes place at the end of the Tribulation when Jesus returns to begin his Millennial reign from Jerusalem.

 

The secret rapture of His saints to Heaven takes place seven years earlier.  In that coming His feet do not touch the Mount of Olives.  Rather He meets us in the air in our raptured,  glorified bodies.  You can read much more on this in my series on Prophecy in this HIDDEN TREASURES web site.

 

Note also in Psalm 46:4-5 that it speaks of God being in the midst of the tabernacles of the Most High.  Who are the tabernacles of the Most High? We Christians are. Read about it in I Corinthians 6:19-20.  We Christians are His holy temples.  His Spirit lives in each of us and He desires to control and bless us.

 

Psalm 46:6 speaks of the heathen raging against Christ and those who belong to Him. Those of us who stand for Christ have felt that rage and hatred repeatedly through our lives.  Many Christian in the past and even now around the world are feeling the rage and persecution and facing martyrdom from the hands of those who hate Jesus.

 

The Psalm concludes with the encouraging truth that God is with us in these times of stress.  So don’t be upset and troubled over the world situation. In Psalm 46:10-11  God reminds us that He is in control and that He is going to be exalted.  May He be exalted right now in our lives as Christians.

October 3, 2008 Posted by | Today | Comments Off on In These Crucial Days

Thank God It’s Friday?

What is the most wonderful day of your life?  Was it a never-to-be-forgotten day in your past?  Was it your wedding day?  Was it when the children were small and still living at home?  Was it the day you put your trust in Christ as Saviour and Lord?  As we grow older; we relish our happy memories and tend to want to  live in the past.

 

Your Future

If you are still young, perhaps you look forward to a wonderful day in your future.  Perhaps your graduation from high school or the day you get your driver’s license or the day you get married or have a baby.  If you are a Christian, you look forward to the day you meet Christ. Of course, that will be a wonderful day; but when that happens, we will no longer be in the realm of time,  but in eternity.

 

Today

No, the most wonderul day of your life on this earth is not a day in your past nor a day  in your future.  The most wonderful day of your life is TODAY. When you grasp this, it will be a life-changing paradigm for you. Listen to the Psalmist  sing about it in Psalm 118:23  “This is the day that the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

 

One of a Kind

Long  before you were born, over a period of many years God began bringing billions of minute circumstances together to create this day for you.  No one ever designed any work of art more intricately and more beautifully than the life God designed for you.  Your family background, your families’ financial situation, your home and possessions, your genetic structure with your strengths and weaknesses, your skills and abilities, your IQ, your talents, your educational background, every teacher you ever had, the testings and trials you’ve been through,  your geographic location, the age in which you live,  your friends and acquaintances, even your enemies; the opportunity to own your own Bible and be able to read it,  your opportunity to hear the Gospel and be saved,  your opportunity to be in a church where the Bible is preached, your willingness and desire to come to this web site and read these articles; all these God has brought together for your good. to bring you to this day of your life, TODAY!  Romans 8:28

 

Thank God it’s Friday?

The key to how you regard the day is up to you.  You can be optimistic ands rejoice  or you cn be pessimistic and complain.  You can pine for the past and be miserable today because this day does not measure up to your memories of the past;  or you can go through life always wishing and waiting for wonderful things to happen to you in the future and you can go on wishing for tomorrow until you die.  Many people go through life just waiting for tomorrow, just waiting for their ship to come in, just waiting for happiness and success to come their way.  They are never satisifed with today. They suffer throught their week, working at a job they hate.  The one thing they live for is summed up in that popular phrase, “Thank God, it’s Friday!”  What a terrible way to live life; waiting for Friday, waiting for the weekend, waiting for vacation and ultimately waiting for retirement.  How vain and empty is such a life!

 

Why is today so wonderful?

Because Jesus rose from the dead.  If Jesus did not rise from the dead, we Christians are of all people most miserable.  I Corinthians 15:9  Thank God, Jesus did die and rise from the dead.  Because He rose, we who have put our trust in Jesus to save us,  have also been raised  with Him to walk a new life.  Romans 6:4  One day we will rise bodily and be changed into His very likeness.  Philippians 3:20-21 His resurrection guarantees all this. I Corinthians 15:20  Because of this blessed hope we can sing with great joy and  satisfaction,  “This is the day that the Lord hath made; we will rejoce and be glad in it.”

 

October 2, 2008 Posted by | Today | Comments Off on Thank God It’s Friday?