The Best Sermon Is…

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(Charles Naylor)

“He who says he abides in Him, ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” 1 John 2:6

We must pattern our lives after our Lord, and follow in the way which He trod.

God’s will for His people, is that they set before the world a worthy example of Christian character.

A blameless character is the best sermon!

In all our relations with others, we should manifest a sweet temper, kindness, meekness, gentleness, forbearance, patience, reasonableness, cheerfulness, magnanimity and all the other things that go to make up Christian character.

In our lives we should be examples of holiness, consistency and moderation. We should be free from worldliness, ostentation, and the vanities that are ruining the world. We should not be not of the world . . .
in the tenor of our lives,
in the motives that move us,
in the purposes that actuate us.

God’s will for His people regarding . . .
the vanities of this world,
the desires that have their root in worldliness,
and the sinful customs of the world,
is that we do not imbibe them.

Jesus said of His own, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” He has chosen us out of the world. Un-worldliness is a characteristic of true Christianity, and is found in all genuine believers.

The multitude of worldly professors who call themselves by Christ’s name, but who, in their lives, and in the worldliness of their hearts, deny Him–are not Christians at all. They are Christians in name only. Their religion is only a veneer that covers a heart of sin. They are actuated by the spirit of the world, and they love the things of the world.

To be a true Christian, means to be severed in spirit . . .
from the vanities of the world,
from the pride, fashion, display and pretense of the world,
from the world’s love of pomp and power, and its hypocritical pretensions.

We must strive to be separated from the spirit, desires, aspirations, and hopes of this world–as really and as truly as Jesus was.

We must desire to live out in the life, those things that definitely mark one as having his hopes set on something higher, his aspirations set on something nobler, and his interests aimed at something greater and more lasting than . . .
the perishable things of the world,
the popular opinions of the world,
the sinful customs of the world,
the fashions and frivolities of the world, and
the pleasures and amusements of the world.

“Just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. For it is written: Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

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Whittling Religious Toys

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(Charles Naylor)

Satan always works to make us think that humanly devised religious forms or customs are things of vital importance. In fact, some of these are much harder to break away from than we suppose them to be. They take a deeper hold upon us many times, than divine truth. People feel as though they would be giving up their religion, if they would surrender these forms. A particular mode of dressbecomes sacred; or a particular form of worship or service becomes exalted above all other forms. We must recognize these things as being merely human devices, and as having no vital connection with Biblical truth.

We should never become wedded to our religious forms and customs. Let us look away from these religious toys which we have whittled out for ourselves, and back to the fundamentals of Christian doctrine and life. If we have labeled our religious customs as ‘Christianity’–then let us tear off these labels, and see that henceforth we call nothing Christian but that which is clearly taught in Scripture itself.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” Psalm 19:7-10

When All Hell Breaks Loose

800px-Support_during_Hurricane_Harvey_(TX)_(50)(Charles Naylor)

“Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried” Daniel 12:10

All Christians desire to be purified and made white–but when it comes to being tried, that is a very different thing. They shrink from the very word. Their trials are to them as a nightmare from which they would gladly escape. But trials are a necessary part of God’s process of preparing us for Heaven.

The storms and obstacles in our lives, all work out for out good if we meet them as we should. Through them, our lives are enriched and ennobled and developed. They are blessings to us, though they may seem to be blessings very much disguised.

Life has both its bitter and its sweet. We should not always expect to have the sweet alone. Sometimes circumstances are in our favor, and work for our happiness, peace and contentment. Sometimes we have smooth sailing, and everything goes pleasantly. We are courageous and confident and rejoicing. The sun shines brightly out of a cloudless sky, and every prospect seems fair.

But this smooth sailing does not last forever. Sooner or later, the clouds must come and the storm-winds beat upon us. We must have the rough weather–as well as the pleasant weather; the storm–as well as the calm.

The sunshine and the calm are very needful in life–and they work out a definite purpose.

But the storms and the rain and the wind are likewise needed–and they also fulfill their purpose.

Trials will come–we cannot evade them. We may plan and build up hopes–only to have our air-castles come crashing down around our heads! If we have set our hearts upon these things, we are likely to be very disappointed upon their wreck, and to feel very gloomy over the result.

How greatly we are affected by our trials, depends on whether or not we sweetly submit to them. We should never fret on account of disappointments. If we do, they will only grow more rapidly, both in size and in intensity.

Losses may come to us–our property may be swept away or burned up. If we have our hearts set upon our possessions–then this may touch a tender spot, and it will darken our lives and make us morose and dissatisfied.

Poverty may come and the many difficulties incident thereto.

Sickness may lay its heavy hand upon us or our loved ones, and try every fiber of our being. Sickness may play upon the chords of pain, a lamentation that incites with exquisite torture! Or it may fire our blood with fever until the sparkle has gone from the eye and the glow of health from the cheek. Or it may bind us helplessly captive in chains.

Death may come and take those dear by the ties of nature or friendship–and leave sorrow and grief to be our companions.

These things try the soul, but they must be borne. We cannot escape such things, for they are the common heritage of those who dwell in tabernacles of clay. They belong to mortality and to the mutable things of time. How greatly such things may affect us, will depend upon how much we rebel against the circumstances–or how easily we submit to and adapt ourselves to God’s will. God may chasten you sorely, but He will do it for your profit, not for your destruction.

Our trials are the root upon which our blessings grow. These roots may be bitter–but the fruitis sure to be sweet, if we patiently wait for its maturing. Many choice fruits grow on thorny trees, and he who will gather the fruit, may expect to be pricked now and then by the thorns.

We cannot escape trials. The only thing some Christians do by rebelling, is to increase their suffering in the trials and prevent themselves from getting the blessedness out of them.

We ought to be willing to suffer when it is God’s will for us to suffer, and when He sees it is necessary for us to suffer. Our Master drank the cup of suffering, even though it was bitter. Are we better than He? Shall we refuse to go by the path which led Him to glory?

Cow-Tailing To the World

800px-Cow_female_black_white(Charles Naylor)

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” John 17:16

“As Christ is, so are we in this world” 1 John 4:17

A Christian is one who is Christlike in character, in desire, and in deportment. No other has any right to bear Christ’s name. Yet there are a multitude of people who call themselves Christians, who bear no resemblance to Christ in their lives.

One of the most pitiable things that we can behold, is one who professes to be a citizen of the kingdom of God–and yet lives like a citizen of the kingdom of Satan. The worldly professor fills his days with folly–but his cup of joy is always bitter at the last. He gathers up the “fool’s gold” that glitters in earthly things. He lives after the flesh and after the world. He goes with the crowd. He misses all the blessedness of righteousness, and, worst of all, he misses Heaven at the last. “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4

Those who still love the pride and vanity of the world, those who are absorbed in its frivolities, those who covet its gold and its honors, those who love its applause–these are those who are of the world.

Those hypocritical professors who bear Christ’s name, but will not obey Him–dishonor Him, and by their example influence others to do the same, how shall they escape the damnation of Hell? If there is one thing that God hates above all else, it is a proud and worldly heart! Such a heart can never be a reverential heart. Its religion is but hypocrisy. It is only a sham. It has no reality. It is only a cloak of respectability, while the heart is full of corruption.

The Christian life is, and ever will be, a life of separation from sin and pride and worldliness. If you are not willing to be thus separated, then you should have common honesty enough not to profess to be what you very well know that you are not. If you are going to be a Christian in name, then be one in reality.

Your character, not your profession, will be what will matter in the final judgment. “God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality–He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil–there will be wrath and anger.” Romans 2:6-8

If all preachers had honesty enough and courage enough to preach the truth–then the tide of worldliness that is overwhelming such a multitude of souls and sweeping them into perdition, would be somewhat stayed. As long as preachers allow their sermons to be dictated by public sentiment or the worldly desires of their hearers–they will cater to fashions, and souls by the million will drift on into Hell. Oh, what a reaping such preachers will have at the judgment! The full measure of God’s wrath will fall on those preachers who fail to be true to souls and to God, in preaching those truths the Bible clearly teaches against sin and worldliness.

He Must Take Away Our Toys!

Doddi_í_leikfangalandi_II_(1947244587)(Charles Naylor, “Providences and Circumstances“)

Life is often an enigma. It brings to us many things that we cannot understand. How blessed it is at such times, to realize that there is One wiser than we, who has our lives in His care and who sees all and understands all! God is our Father, and we are the children of His love. He has our welfare at heart. He is interested in all that concerns us. He watches over all our lives, and nothing that comes to us can come without His wise appointment. Whatever comes, He knows full well its effect upon us, and His loving hand is ever ready to protect and help His children.

He could, if He chose, lead us in a pleasant and easy path through life–but He knows that a pleasant and easy path would not develop that strong and hardy Christian character which is so essential for us. Neither would it give Him an opportunity to reveal the riches of His grace, or His tender care.

He sometimes places a mountain of difficulty before us, that we may climb to higher altitudes–and that in the climbing, we may develop spiritual strength. Every difficulty that we conquer by God’s grace, raises us higher in the Christian life. This is the purpose of these difficulties.

He sometimes sends sorrow to soften us and make us hungry for His comfort. We may become too satisfied with earthly things. We may draw too much of our joy from them. He delights to have us draw our joy and our comfort from Him; therefore He must take away our toys which have been occupying our time–that our souls may yearn for the comfort and blessedness which only He can give. He knows that nothing softens us like sorrow. So He gives us a cup of sorrow to drink to the dregs–and oh, what tenderness and blessedness come into our lives when we submissively drink of that cup, no matter how bitter it may be to our taste!

All these happenings may seem dark and mysterious to us; they may seem to be the very things that are the worst for us–but they are not. They are but the manifestations of His kindly wisdom and His fatherly tenderness. Sometimes behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face. We often see only the frown of the providence, and that frown looks very threatening; but if we will look away from that frowning providence to the smiling face of God, we shall see that which will uplift us and strengthen us and enable us to bear whatever stroke of providence may come.

He knows that we must taste the bitter, before we can appreciate the sweet.
He knows that we must feel life’s sorrows, before we can value its joys.

Suffering more than anything else, develops us in the Christian graces. It is for this purpose that He sometimes leads us along difficult paths. Though His providences are often dark and mysterious–His love will never fail us.

But throughout our lives, if we are His, then we know that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. When difficulties arise through which we can see no way, and He makes a way of which we had never thought–it is then that our hearts are made to wonder at His wisdom and are melted with gratitude.

His ways are not our ways. They are higher and better than our ways. If we were wise enough, we would always choose for ourselves, that which He chooses for us. But alas! How often when we choose for ourselves, we choose that which is least wise and most hurtful!

O soul, trust Him. He knows the way that you take. He knows just what is needful for you. So bear with patience, and endure with meekness, and do not question His wisdom or love. This will make the hard places easier, and the tiresome places less tiresome.

Acceptable Service?

JesusPharisees(Charles Naylor, “Acceptable Service“)

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” Matthew 6:1, 2

Our service to God must be an unostentatious. Service which springs from true love to God–never desires todisplay itself. Genuine service is not done for the eyes of men to behold; it is done as a loving tribute to God, the object of its love.

The principle here set forth is that what is done with the purpose of being seen by men, brings only the reward that men give; in other words, it is not accepted by the Lord as service to Him. Judged by this rule,much of the service of some so-called Christians is never, I fear, recognized in Heaven at all. Our good deeds are to be done–not that men may see them–but that God, who sees in secret, may see, and reward according to His own will, and that He may regard them as service done to Himself and not for the reward of men’s praise.

It is simple, single-hearted service which pleases the Lord.

The man who is truly godly, has no desire to put himself upon exhibition. He thinks, “Not I, but Christ!” and not only thinks it, but feels it in the depths of his heart.

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:3-4

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We have just published Charles Naylor’s short and insightful article, “Acceptable Service“, from which the above quote was gleaned.

Make-Believe Religion

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“Having a form of godliness but denying its power.” 2 Timothy 3:5

We read in Scripture of the form and the power of godliness. When we look around us in the church, we see more of the form than we do of the power. There seems to be so many people who are merely playing religion. They attend services and go through the form of worship. They are sometimes very strongly devoted to their creed and greatly attached to the church of which they are members; but when you look for the power of godliness in their lives–you do not find it. This make-believe religion may ease the conscience for a time. People may manage to get along with such a religion in this world, but it will not stand the test of eternity.

Nor will not stand the real test for this life. The soul which has the form without the power of religion, can never have that satisfaction and peace which true religion gives.

Religion that can be put on with the Sunday clothes and taken off as easily, never goes very deep into the heart or life. While they profess to worship God, their hearts are far from Him. The service of such people is always weak, because there is no heart in it. Yet such people are not usually weak, when it comes to serving self and theworld.

God hates the mere form of religion. It is an insult to him. He knows whether we are sincere or not–whether our service is just form or not. Modern ritualism is a curse to the church.

Ezekiel speaks of this class of people and says of them, “My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain!” Ezekiel 33:31

Isaiah, as quoted by Jesus, says of the same class, “This people honors Me with their lips–but their heart is far from Me!” Of what religion they have, Jesus says, “In vain do they worship Me!” Matthew 15:8,9

God’s Chisel!

Wood_chisel.JPG(Charles Naylor)

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” John 16:33

“Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” Job 5:7

Suffering is the common lot of all mankind, and of the animal creation. People who do not have much else from which to suffer–suffer from trifles or from imaginary ills–but all suffer. Sinners and saints alike, know the rankling of the sharp arrows of pain. Even those whose lives seem most prosperous and sheltered, cannot fully escape.

Suffering has a useful place in the economy of God. It is a severe schoolmaster, but a good one, whose lessons may be costly. But if they are properly learned, they become golden treasures that enrich life.

Suffering is God’s chisel with which He carves His image in the heart!

Suffering gives understanding–it illuminates life’s dark places and solves riddles.

Suffering develops patience and endurance, and strengthens the fibers of the soul.

Suffering develops discipline and gives self-control. It reveals and develops latent virtues. It ripens and enriches the character.

To be sure, such results follow only when we meet our sufferings in the right way. If resist suffering and become resentful and pity ourselves or murmur against God–the fruits will be bitter indeed! 

Since we choose the attitude we hold toward our sufferings–we determine whether they shall . . .
make us, or mar us;
bring joy, or sorrow;
bring the sweetness of Christ’s fellowship and comfort, or the darkness of despair.

What God does with our adversities and our sufferings, is to transmute them into the gold of godly character. They prove to be blessings in disguise–but blessings nevertheless. Again and again in the Scriptures, we are told of the blessings that come through suffering and pain, disappointments and testings. Yes, sufferings, losses, adversities–all these things we so desire to shun–work “for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”–if we patiently endure them and submit to God’s sovereign and loving will.

Does God Hate the Sin Yet love the Sinner?

300px-Temptation_Adam_EvaIt has been said that God hates sin, but He loves the sinner. Is this true? 

(Charles Naylor)

What is God’s attitude toward unregenerate man?

It has been said that God hates sin, but He loves the sinner. Is this true? 

Let us hear the voice of inspiration:

“You hate all workers of iniquity . . . The Lord abhors murderers and deceitful men” (Psalm 5:5, 6).
Does that express an attitude of affection on God’s part?

Again, we read, “The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence, His soulhates. On the wicked He will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot!” (Psalm 11:5-6).

“Because they did all these things, I abhorred them!” (Leviticus 20:23).

“I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you.” (Leviticus 26:30).

“And when the LORD saw it, He abhorred them!” (Deuteronomy 32:19).

We read further, “God is angry with the wicked every day!” (Psalm 7:11).

“The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished!” Proverbs 16:5

God is not so meek and indulgent that nothing will arouse His indignation. He hates all that is sinful. He could not love righteousness, without hating iniquity. He could not love the righteous, without hating the wicked. To love both, would be to abolish all moral distinctions. Of the impenitent sinner it is said, “The wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). It is only sin that renders him hateful, but man is responsible for his state of sinfulness and chooses evil; therefore to deal with the sin, God must deal with the man.

Not only does God hate man’s sin, every sinful word, thought, and deed–but He also hates every evildesire.

The natural man loves evil. That love of evil, which is a part of his nature–God abhors. All desire that runs out after impurity or for that which is unholy–merits and excites God’s indignation and abhorrence. Every evil ambition that arises in his soul, repels God. Every evil disposition, every evil feeling, hatred, envy, malice, revenge, selfishness, pride, jealousy, deceit, hypocrisy, and all the long catalog of evil things, of which man’s heart is the source–are obnoxious to God. All tendency to oppose the will of God, all rebellion at His providences–can only excite hatred in God.

God can love only what is what is pure and holy. All else He hates, and must hate with all the strength of His righteous character!

For the record, it was Mahatma Gandhi who coined the quote: “God hates the sin, but loves the sinner”. Obviously if Ghandi read the Bible he would have understood the plight of the sinner and how he angered a holy God on a daily basis.

You Will Understand Later

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(Charles Naylor, “When Adversity Comes” 1944)

“You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:7

A few years ago a young preacher came to me and told me his troubles. He was passing through a time of darkness that he could not understand. Several months ago he called upon me again, and in the course of our conversation he referred to the time of trouble through which he had passed. He said, “Those things that I could not understand at that time, have taught me lessons which have prepared me to help many souls as I never could have, had I not had those severe trials.”

Yes, things look different now. He can now see God’s hand in it. He can see that those difficult things were a blessing to his own soul and to the souls of others. He can see that he had been in God’s school of adversity and knew it not. He thought these things were destructive to him, but when he looked back upon them with clear vision and a knowledge of God’s purpose–he saw real blessing in them. He saw them as manifestations of the wisdom and kindness of God, and he thanked God for those things which had been bitter and hard to bear.

Are you passing through difficult things which you cannot now understand?

Does it look as if these things are ruining you?

Just trust God and be patient. Out of your night of bitterness, out of your darkness and woe–will come strength of character, a blessed realization of God’s faithfulness, and a knowledge of Him and yourself which can come to you in no other way. You will look back in time to come, and thank God for His wise care and tender love for you which brought you to these things, and realize that it was His hand leading you to better and richer things beyond.