“All Devotional Posts are Presented in Weekly Format”
(Posted on Sunday for all Seven days of the Week)
MORNINGPastors and churches in our hectic times are harassed by the temptation to seek size at any cost and to secure by inflation what they cannot gain by legitimate growth. The mixed multitude cries for quantity and will not forgive a minister who insists upon solid values and permanence. Many a man of God is being subjected to cruel pressure by the ill-taught members of his flock who scorn his slow methods and demand quick results and a popular following regardless of quality.
These children play in the marketplaces and cannot overlook the affront we do them by our refusal to dance when they whistle or to weep when they out of caprice pipe a sad tune. They are greedy for thrills, and since they dare no longer seek them in the theater, they demand to have them brought into the church. We who follow Christ are men and women of eternity. We must put no confidence in the passing scenes of the disappearing world.
We must resist every attempt of Satan to palm off upon us the values that belong to mortality. Nothing less than forever is long enough for us. We view with amused sadness the frenetic scramble of the world to gain a brief moment in the sun. “The book of the month,” for instance, has a strange sound to one who has dwelt with God and taken his values from the Ancient of Days. “The man of the year” cannot impress those men and women who are making their plans for that long eternity when days and years have passed away and time is no more.
The church must claim again her ancient dowry of everlastingness. She must begin again to deal with ages and millenniums rather then with days and years. She must not count numbers but test foundations. She must work for permanence rather than for appearance. Her children must seek those enduring things that have been touched with immortality.
In the Christian life also we find this pattern repeated: a few important things and a world of burdensome but unimportant ones. The Spirit-taught Christian must look past the multiplicity of incidental things and find the few that really matter. And let it be repeated for our encouragement, they are few in number and surprisingly easy to identify. The Scriptures make perfectly clear what they are: the fact of God, the Person and work of Christ, faith and obedience, hope and love.
Dr. Samuel Johnson, the famous English sage, once said that one of the surest evidences of intellectual immaturity is the desire to startle people. Yet there are Christians who have been fed upon the odd, the strange and the curious so long and so exclusively that they have become wholly unfitted spiritually to receive or to appreciate sound doctrine.
They live to be startled by something new or thrilled by something wonderful. They will believe anything so long as it is just a little away from the time-honored beliefs of sober Christian men. A serious discourse calling for repentance, humbleness of mind and holiness of life is impatiently dismissed as old-fashioned, dull and lacking in “audience appeal.” Yet these things are just the ones that rank highest on the list of things we need to hear, and by them we shall all be judged in that great day of Christ.
A church fed on excitement is no New Testament church at all. The desire for surface stimulation is a sure mark of the fallen nature, the very thing Christ died to deliver us from. A curious crowd of baptized worldlings waiting each Sunday for the quasi-religious needle to give them a lift bears no relation whatsoever to a true assembly of Christian believers. And that its members protest their undying faith in the Bible does not change things any. “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
Every believer as well as every minister of Christ must decide whether he will put his emphasis upon the majors or the minors. He must decide whether he will stay by the sober truths which constitute the beating heart of the Scriptures or turn his attention to those marginal doctrines which always bring division and which, at their best, could not help us much on our way to the Celestial City.
No man has any moral right to propound any teaching about which there is not full agreement among Bible Christians until he has made himself familiar with church history and with the development of Christian doctrine through the centuries. The historic approach is best.
After we have discovered what holy men believed, what great reformers and saints taught, what the purest souls and mightiest workers held to be important for holy living and dying–then we are in a fair position to appraise our own teaching. Humility is the only state of mind in which to approach the Scriptures. The Spirit will teach the humble soul those things that make for his salvation and for a holy walk and fruitful service here below. And little else matters.
MORNINGAmong those sins most exquisitely fitted to injure the soul and destroy the testimony, few can equal the sin of complaining. Yet the habit is so widespread that we hardly notice it among us. The complaining heart never lacks for occasion. It can always find reason enough to be unhappy.
The object of its censure may be almost anything: the weather, the church, the difficulties of the way, other Christians or even God Himself. A complaining Christian puts himself in a position morally untenable. The simple logic of his professed discipleship is against him with an unanswerable argument. Its reasoning runs like this: First, he is a Christian because he chose to be. There are no conscripts in the army of God.
He is, therefore, in the awkward position of complaining against the very conditions he brought himself into by his own free choice. Secondly, he can quit any time he desires. No Christian wears a chain on his leg. Yet he still continues on, grumbling as he goes, and for such conduct he has no defense.
MORNINGThe complainer is further embarassed by the moral company in which he finds himself. His is a spiritual affinity with some pretty shady characters: Cain, Korah, the sulky elder brother, the petulant Jews of the Book of Malachi who answered every fatherly admonition of God with an ill-humored “Wherefore have we? Wherein have we?”
These are but a few faces that stand out in the picture of the disgruntled followers of the religious way. And the complaining Christian, if he but looks closely, will see his own face peering out at him from the background. Lastly, the believer who complains against the difficulties of the way proves that he has never felt or known the sorrows which broke over the head of Christ when He was here among men.
After one look at Gethsemane or Calvary, the Christian can never again believe that his own path is a hard one. We dare not compare our trifling pains with the sublime passion endured for our salvation. Any comparison would itself be the supreme argument against our complaints, for what sorrow is like unto His? After saying all this we are yet sure that no one can be reasoned out of the habit of complaining. That habit is more than a habit–it is a disease of the soul, and as such, it will never yield to mere logic. The only cure is cleansing in the blood of the Lamb.