Cleverly Disguised Idols

In our western world, it’s hard to imagine many bowing down to some man made image or statue. Although, some may bow down assuming it is a visual aid of an angel or saint. Of course, Satan is aware of this and has come up with some cleverly disguised idols. As we pursue this line of thought, let me ask a question. Just what constitutes an idol (especially the disguised kind)? Whether it’s an idea, an affection or in some solid form (or even an addiction), if we are born again, it’s anything that becomes more important in our lives than Jesus. If we truly know Him as Lord and Savior, He is to be the supreme focus of our lives! Paul’s inspired words are meant to convey what our hearts’ focus must be: “For to me to live (is) Christ….” (From Philippians 1:21). Anything less is an idol, no matter how cleverly disguised. How these disguised idols are recognized will, God willing, occupy our attention for the next three days. To see them for what they are enables us to escape being victims. W. J. Sparrow-Simpson’s hymn, “All for Jesus” describes the love and worship experience due our wonderful Lord: “All for Jesus! all for Jesus! This our song shall ever be: You our only hope, our Savior, Yours the love that sets us free! All for Jesus: You will give us strength to serve you Hour by hour;  none can move us from Your Presence while we trust your grace and power. All for Jesus—You have loved us, all forJesus—You have died,  all for Jesus—You are with us, all for Jesus crucified. All for Jesus, all for Jesus, all our talents and our powers, all our thoughts and words and actions, all our passing days and hours. All for Jesus, all for Jesus! This the church’s song shall be till at last her children gather, one in Him eternally.” Selah! “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3) has not been rescinded!   Ron

 

Questions? E-mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

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If No Jesus, What?

Thank God for what we know about Jesus! But what if nothing could be known? Let me take this line of thought a little further. What if there were no Jesus? Have you ever thought on the implications of that? There would be no hope! There would be no life after the grave. These few years on earth would be a waste; the grave would end it all! Any good things that we do wouldn’t do any good after our death. We would be in bondage to sin and evil, some to more, some to less. There would be no permanent cure. Society is plenty bad now; what would it be like if there was no moral accountability? In spite of the doubts of many, there is eternal judgment. There would be no lasting peace. Mankind has always experienced war and terror. Only the Prince of Peace will bring a final end to war; otherwise strife and battle would always plague mankind. There is no deep, lasting joy except in Jesus. We have some instances in our lives, but that too would end at the grave. Without Jesus, life simply can’t be understood in any meaningful way. Much more could be added, but I trust you get the point. Life without Jesus as Lord and Savior ends in eternal banishment from His Presence! If you don’t think that’s true, I can only ask: “What if you are wrong?” He gives meaning, purpose, hope, peace, guidance, eternal love and a whole lot more. He said in John 10:10 that: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have (it) more abundantly.” Those who have experienced a saving relationship with Jesus can truly relate to Fanny Crosby’s hymn, “Take the World, but Give Me Jesus.” She wrote: “Take the world, but give me Jesus, all its joys are but a name; but His love abideth ever, through eternal years the same. Take the world, but give me Jesus, sweetest comfort of my soul; with my Savior watching o’er me, I can sing though billows roll. Take the world, but give me Jesus, let me view His constant smile; then throughout my pilgrim journey light will cheer me all the while. Take the world, but give me Jesus; in His cross my trust shall be, ‘till, with clearer, brighter vision, Face to Face my Lord I see. Oh, the height and depth of mercy! Oh, the length and breadth of love! Oh, the fullness of redemption, pledge of endless life above! Selah! Only Jesus can enable us to make sense of life!    Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

God Calls for Patience

We are the ones who worry, become stressed and anxious. We need such and such NOW! It is even possible that we think we can persuade God to act the way we want Him to act. That is very presumptuous! God is not our servant, nor should we think we know better what we need or must have than He does. Here is where faith (trust) comes in. We present our concerns (“…..let your requests be made known unto God.” From Philippians 4:6) and do what we can and then….wait in trusting patience. We should search our hearts to see if sin in our lives is causing God to wait for us to turn to Him for forgiveness, cleansing and victory over the sin. If sin is not blocking the channel, trust Him to know and do what He knows is right. If His answer is yes, no or wait, He knows best! And relax, trust, wait patiently and: “….the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (From Philippians 4:7). I’m ashamed at how many times I’ve looked back and had to thank Him for not doing what I wanted Him to do. He does know best and “….No good (thing) will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (From Psalm 84:11). If He withholds, then it wasn’t good! Georg Neumark has given us a hymn, “Leave God to Order All Thy Ways,” that includes this timely stanza: “Only thy restless heart keep still, and wait in cheerful hope, content to take whate’er His gracious will, His all-discerning love hath sent; nor doubt our inmost wants are known to Him Who chose us for His own.” Selah! He loves His own, those whose Lord and Savior is His Son! He knows what is good for us and what isn’t. Trust His wisdom and His love and rejoice in the “No,” just as much as you rejoice in the “Yes!”     Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

 

There and Here

My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” In an article that I read yesterday, there was a fine point that I hadn’t caught before. The Psalmist asked: “When shall I come and appear before God?” His worship of God was at God’s appointed place. While, I’ve no doubt that He worshipped by himself, there is something very special that God has given to us that the Psalmist didn’t have; it is the high and holy privilege of God “in” us. His Presence within our inner being makes possible a deep and intimate worship of our Heavenly Father. No, the writer of Hebrews makes this very clear, we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We are to enjoy both blessings. This is the Spiritual birthright of all who have Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We have “special” private worship and “special” shared worship in the local church. This should prompt deeply “felt” thanksgiving for such a wonderful gift of love. Paul was inspired to remind the Galatians what they and we are able to experience: “Christ liveth in me” (From Galatians 2:20). In his hymn, “Christ Liveth in Me,” D. W. Whittle gives us some good thoughts on this wonder: “Once far from God and dead in sin, no light my heart could see but in God’s Word the light I found, now Christ liveth in me. As rays of light from yonder sun, the flow’rs of earth set free, so life and light and love came forth from Christ living in me. As lives the flow’r within the seed, as in the cone the tree, so, praise the God of truth and grace, His Spirit dwelleth in me. With longing all my heart is filled, that like Him I may be, as on the wondrous thought I dwell that Christ liveth in me. Christ liveth in me, Christ liveth in me. Oh! what a salvation this, that Christ liveth in me.” Selah! May the “window” of our lives be kept clean, so that His glory may be seen.   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

Just Singing Hymns?

We can just sing hymns for their musical value. We can sing them out of habit. We can sing them because that’s what we do when we go to a church gathering. This is understandable to a point. However, it is not enough! We need to think on the meaning of the lyrics. Are these thoughts Biblical? Do they musically express my heart’s worship? When special music is a part of our time together, is it entertainment or ministering? Does it honor God or the musician(s)? If and when we clap, is it only applause for the singer(s)? Or, do we clap in the sense of expressing agreement and/or is it applauding God and His great love and grace? I fear that many times singing hymns is just a routine thing without our being whole-heartedly involved. When we can identify with the message, when it gives voice to what is in our hearts, but that we can’t think of words to express, that is when hymns are rightly enjoyed. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). Let good theology when found in our hymnology rise in doxology! Consider these stanzas from Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.” These are his words: “Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heav’n, to earth come down, fix in us Thy humble dwelling; all Thy faithful mercies crown. Jesus, Thou art all compassion; pure, unbounded love Thou art; visit us with Thy salvation; enter ev’ry trembling heart. Come, Almighty, to deliver; let us all Thy life receive; suddenly return and never, nevermore Thy temples leave. Thee we would be always blessing, serve Thee as Thy hosts above, pray and praise Thee without ceasing, glory in Thy perfect love.” Are these thoughts and desires in our hearts? Selah! If we are born again, hymns are not an end in themselves; they are one of the ways we can offer God our praise, love and gratitude.  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

Talking Things Over

Another area too often has degenerated into a religious duty. Much too often prayer has become a recitation of what we want to mention to God. While there’s nothing wrong with sharing what’s on our hearts and minds, how aware are we of being personally involved with God? Are we conscious of being in His Presence? Do we really grasp that He is listening to what we say? With how much gratitude, love, worship, joy, etc. do we talk with Him? If a boy friend or girl friend was spoken to the way we pray, would the interest continue? Thank God that He is understanding but let’s talk to Him as loving Father and best friend. I’m not suggesting undue familiarity but I’m stressing that He loves us, enjoys listening, and is worthy of love, respect and appreciation for listening, caring, helping, etc. And He speaks to us! In His Word! The content in Scripture is His voice speaking to His own. Knowing God’s Word is how we know what He is telling us. Only those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior have this wonderful privilege and anyone who wants to become His child can enjoy this sacred relationship. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). W. W. Walford has given us the meaningful hymn, “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” It expresses the joy of talking things over with our loving God: “Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer! that calls me from a world of care, and bids me at my Father’s throne make all my wants and wishes known. In seasons of distress and grief, my soul has often found relief, and oft escaped the tempter’s snare by thy return, sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! the joys I feel, the bliss I share of those whose anxious spirits burn with strong desires for thy return! With such I hasten to the place where God my Savior shows His face, and gladly take my station there, and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! thy wings shall my petition bear to Him Whose truth and faithfulness engage the waiting soul to bless. And since He bids me seek His face, believe His Word, and trust His grace, I’ll cast on Him my every care, and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!” Selah! If He is your Heavenly Father, talk with Him, not “at” Him.   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

A Visual Illustration

When Satan beguiles us into treating the ordinances as duties for us to do, we lose sight of the reality. One example of this is water baptism. Far from being only a duty, it is a visual illustration of one of the greatest things that takes place in the lives of those who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior. When Christians are Biblically baptized (immersed in water) it pictures the death, burial and rising again of Jesus. But, that’s not all! It also illustrates what happens to those who come to a saving relationship with Him. Going down into the water illustrates our being immersed in HIm. Think with me on this portion of I Corinthians 12:13 which tells us: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether (we be) Jews or Gentiles, whether (we be) bond or free….” Don’t miss the significance of this! We are placed “in” Jesus! We are immersed in His body which is the church (the sum total of all genuine believers). We are filled within by the Holy Spirit. We are enveloped by Him; we are held in His hand, and underneath are the everlasting arms! Talk about security and assurance! Wow! How much more could we ask? “Jesus, mighty King in Sion! Thou alone our guide shalt be; Thy commission we rely on, we would follow none but Thee: as an emblem of thy passion, and Thy vict’ry o’er the grave; we who know Thy great salvation are baptiz’d beneath the wave. Fearless of the world’s despising, we the ancient path pursue; buried with our Lord and rising to a life divinely new.” (“Jesus, Mighty King in Zion”-By John Fellows). Selah! If we are truly His, we are immersed in Him, we rise and we are to walk in the newness of His Life in us!   Ron

Questions? E-mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com