Saturday, March 05, 2005

SANCTIFICATION - Our hand in His hand!

AIMING FOR THE CENTER OF HIS WILL! [Matthew 7:13,14; other topics - Walk, Way (The), Will (of God)]

In order to keep my car in the middle of the lane, I was taught (by a farmer) to “aim” the vehicle down the road.

The Christian walk is like that: God doesn’t want us veering to the right or the left; He wants us on the straight and narrow. Paul says we should focus on things above and in so doing we’ll keep right in the middle of His Way. For me the narrow gate figuratively represents “things above.”

Praise His holy name. (added 2/15/2006)

AIR SPEED! [James 4:4-10]

All winged aircraft have one thing in common, they must maintain air speed or they will go into a stall and nose-over. From time to time, our walk seems to nose-over, our forward progress being insufficient to sustain the "lift" needed. We must
1. be prepared for His presence
2. respond to his presence, and
3. experience His presence!

HEAVEN ON EARTH! [Various; Life (True), Heaven]

Heaven may be compared to the dining hall of a great king. Where, for now, we’re all outside his castle waiting to be let into the Great Hall. Everyone has received an invitation to come to the royal table and join in consuming his royal feast, only not all will accept his invitation. [Mark D. Roberts, After I Believe (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 19]

The interesting aspect is the Christian life this side of eternity future; its like the “Heavenly Cook [letting] us stick our fingers into the batter of heaven while it’s being prepared. The Christian Life happens not just in the future but right now.” (added 2/15/2006)

HUMAN BOOKCASES! [James 1:22-25; other topics - Knowledge; Word; Works]

When I was in elementary school I recall the big deal my mom and dad made over money, how tight it was. But then they bought a set of Collier’s Encyclopedias on an installment plan because they thought my sisters and I could use the knowledge.

The buyer received a complete set of books at the time of purchase, with updates coming every year. You also received a small doubled-shelved, wooden bookcase. It was designed specifically for the books.

I was about 22-years old when those books went for $10.00 at a yard sale. I don’t ever remember opening any of them; I don’t ever remember my sisters opening any of those books.

In fact, I don’t ever remember my mom or dad opening any of those books ... except the first couple of nights, to show us how they were full of facts and knowledge and other useless stuff.

Sadly, many Christians are like that little bookcase. They’re crammed full of information, facts and knowledge ... but it never gets applied.

Christianity is intended to be applied. Like those books filled with all that powerful knowledge, Christians whose heads are full of knowledge are useless, unless some of that learning seeps down into the heart, where knowledge gets applied.

MASTER BUILDER! [Romans 6:19]

A master shipbuilder steps out into his yard and looks around him. There are vast skeletons of ships in the process of completion; there are others nearing completion. But there is nothing in the scene to satisfy, nothing is as he envisions. The big hulls are at present good for nothing. A thousand hammers pounding a thousand rivets into place like a thousand woodpeckers from hell. The yard is strewn with scrap and jigs.

And a short distance is the public harbor, with its fancy and not so fancy boats, of every size and shape; and near it is the grave yard ... decaying, rotting, half-sunk craft ... abandoned and doomed to one day be taken away to a fiery pit.

Yet the owner stands content amid the imperfection. He never thinks of doubting the process he commands. In his mind he knows the ideal, the perfect ship, and he justifies these imperfect vessels by imputing to them that ideal.

God is like that master shipbuilder. The ideal servant exists in His mind. He has the Blueprint; man is jut the image of what is to be. When God looks at him He does not despair, because He knows what the Perfect Man is like and smiles at the thought of His Son.

Attribution: e-Sword Ministries' (2000+ Illustrations)

PARADOX OF CHRISTIAN GROWTH! [John 3:30; Discipleship, growth, humility]

Someone once said they knew when a believer was growing because:
  1. he more and more elevated his Lord
  2. he less and less spoke of himself and more and more spoke of his God, and
  3. he became smaller and smaller in his own eyes … “until, like the morning star, he fades away before the rising sun.” [Bonar]
John the Baptizer understood this timeless truth when he said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.

SPIRITUAL NAVIGATION SYSTEMS! [Romans 1:18-20; other topics - Attributes (of God), creation, discipleship, nature, revelation, witnessing]

“Get ready! You’re going to have fewer excuses for getting lost on the road.” This sure sounds like it might be from a tract on the Roman Road, doesn’t it?

No, it isn’t! Actually it’s ad copy from an Internet advertisement for “on-board navigation systems” from the automobile industry. These “NAVS,” as they are called, use GPS (Global Positioning Satellite technology) to locate a position precisely; the same technology used recently by scientists to determine the exact height of the Washington Monument.

As model years pass, more new cars are being offered with onboard navigation systems, which help you map your route to important meetings, or to that favorite vacation spot near grandma’s, or to a restaurant whose address you’ve forgotten. NAVS can even help direct you to a local automated teller machine (ATM) or nearest hospital or your next job interview.

Now there’s no real excuse for getting lost, even if you’re one of those guys who refuses to ask for directions.

God has been far ahead of modern technology. In Romans 1:19 Paul says,
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
God’s plan has always been to provide man with a spiritual navigation system. In fact, Paul clearly says just that. God has given mankind all they need to know to know where they are in relationship to Him: general and special revelation - not to mention the conscience, which the Holy Spirit uses to convict us and guide us.

THE LORD’S LEASH! [Luke 15:17a; Discipleship, discipline, obedience, submission (surrender)]

Recently, I took my dog for a walk just as I do every morning. When I leave the entrance of our housing development, I always look both ways to see who else is out walking their dog. A few are pests: both owners and dogs.

Up the block, I saw the man with the golf cart and his little grey poodle; both are regulars. I noticed his dog was off the leash again, so I crossed the street and walked the other way. When I reached Foothill Boulevard, two blocks away, I crossed to the other side and headed home.

That’s when I heard an anxious voice calling a dog. I looked up and saw this vicious, bloodthirsty, 9½ lb. grey speck burning rubber in my direction, a block away, his owner in hot pursuit. I tried to scare the little speck away but he made an end-run, stood up, danced over, put his paws on my dog’s face, and bit him on the forehead. Well, my dog, Buck, doesn’t like to be bit, but he likes boy dogs even less.

I was able to pull the little dog from Buck’s mouth before he swallowed but not before the little fur ball twisted and tore the back of my hand up. As bad as my hand was, what the poodle got for his efforts was much worse.

The moral: don’t covet being off the Lord’s leash or even at the end of his leash (Parents, pay special attention: don’t let your kids off their leash until you’re certain they have the spirit God wants for them.).

Moving farther away from your Master than your Master gives you leash is not wise at all: not only might you get hurt, or killed, but you’ll certainly bring pain and suffering to others. This latter point is worthy of emphasis.

Too often, we are lulled into seeing the Leash of the Lord as “for our benefit alone,” we rarely give thought to the benefits others reap from our being tethered. Consider that my dog was on a leash and we were both minding our own business, yet we were both bitten and I’m out over $100.

Also, consider the consequences to the owner of that little beast; he’s out over $600. And my dog? He’s real upset that I interrupted his meal. And Shadow (that’s the perpetrator’s name)? Well, he is just now able to face the great outdoors.

Look back, beloved, at all the time off the Lord’s Leash and witness the devastation of that time.

[Romans 6:19-22]

George, let’s call him George, was a very busy and very successful younger man. In fact, he had done so well that he decided to surprise his wife with a trip to Tahiti over the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. On his lunch hour, he hurried to his agent’s office and picked up the tickets.

In early December George stopped at the dry cleaners on his way home to pick up his suits and was surprised when the manager handed him an envelop with two unused tickets to Tahiti. After he had purchased the tickets he had put them in his jacket pocket and immediately went back to his normal routine … he forgot the entire event.

Many people are just like George. They pray to God for forgiveness and promise to do better but immediately, they forget what they’ve done and return to their normal routine. Even some genuine believers accept a ticket to eternity, put it away, and never seem to experience the marvelous journey laid out before them.

The salvation event ought to be like the ideal marriage event, where two distinct and independent individuals agree to unite and journey through life together. Instead, far too many salvation experiences are like far too many marriages: the uniting occurs but the couple never experiences the journey’s joy, and often end in separation.

It is true that all we must do is “call upon the name of the Lord” [Romans 10:13], but God never intended the journey to end there, just as a marriage is not supposed to stop on the trip home from the honeymoon.


On the isle of São Miguel, in the Azores, a powerful and popular dish, cozido, is prepared in an interesting way: mix beef, chicken, pork, sausages, and vegetables together in an aluminum-cooking utensil, place this in a cloth bag, bury it all in the ground near Lake Furnas, and let it steam naturally for approximately six hours.

The volcano Furnas created Lake Furnas when it erupted thousands of years ago; soil surrounding the lake can reach a temperature of 208 degrees Fahrenheit, providing villagers with an unique natural oven. [Adapted from National Geographic; cited in Reader’s Digest, “Notes From All Over, p.204, nd.]

God could have chosen another way to deal with rebirth, perhaps taking us up to glory immediately. For reasons He and He alone knows He decided to leave us where we were to prepare us according to His receipe and His time. Perfect in the end!

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