Ending Estrangement; Overcoming Turbulence

We are born estranged. We have no claim on God’s favor. We are rebels against His reign in our lives. There will be consequences. However, when we come to see our condition as God sees it and discover the love that has provided salvation, there is an answer to our greatest need. If we see ourselves for the sinners that we are, believe what Jesus did for us on the Cross, surrender to Him as Savior and Lord, the rebellion and estrangement are over. We are at peace with God! “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). We are Spiritually reborn into God’s family. We become His children! When that happens, as we apply and obey His Word (acting on what He teaches us), He imparts His peace into our lives. It goes something like this: We place our trust in Him (unconditionally) and in His atonement, and yield our lives to His control. Joy and peace follow. Then comes testing. We experience suffering, problems, temptations, etc. Turbulence disturbs our peace. We learn to trust His wisdom, loving care, plan and purposes. We are confident that He is in control and we look to Him for guidance, comfort and strength. When we do, there is peace in the midst of the turbulence, a peace (because we trust) that passeth all understanding. (See Philippians 4:6). Haldor Lillenas, in his hymn, “Wonderful Peace, speaks of this peace that is ours, in the midst of the turbulence in our lives: “Coming to Jesus, my Savior, I found wonderful peace, wonderful peace; storms in their fury may rage all around, I have peace, sweet peace. Peace like a river, so deep and so broad, wonderful peace, wonderful peace; resting my soul on the bosom of God,  I have peace, sweet peace. Peace, peace, wonderful peace, peace, peace, glorious peace; since my Redeemer has ransomed my soul,  I have peace, sweet peace.” Selah! “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27a). Trust brings joy; trust and joy bring peace!  Ron

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

The Fountain-head of Joy

To be loved is wonderful. To be loved by God is wonderful and astonishing. His love is perfect and unconditional, if we know Jesus as our Savior and Lord. God is love and He lavishes it upon His own. If we trust Him and believe Him, we know He loves us and that brings joy. He is the fountain-head of joy. Joy flows into our lives and continues to flow through all circumstances. The more we discover of His love that He reveals in His Word, the more joy that we experience. A casual reading of His Word will bring little joy. The more we explore and learn of all His love for us, the more profound our joy. No matter what we experience, we have that powerful current of joy deep within our hearts. This is possible because we trust His promises and His plan for our lives. This joy flows through us all our way home to Heaven. The only thing that can obstruct the flow of joy is doubt and unbelief. Trust removes the obstruction. Peter, in I Peter 1, speaks of our eternal destiny, our security and our temporary suffering. He speaks of the purpose of that suffering. He tells us that our trust is being tested. He informs us that there will be great rejoicing when our faith stands the test. This will happen when Jesus appears. In Verse 8, he commends our trusting Jesus: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” If you truly trust Jesus and God’s Word, you can identify with this stanza from Barney Elliott Warren’s hymn, “Joy Unspeakable:” “I have found the joy no tongue can tell, how its waves of glory roll; it is like a great o’erflowing well, springing up within my soul.” Selah! This comes from much time with Jesus all down the pathway of time. It may start as a trickle, but can become a river.    Ron

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



What Do We Know About Love?

We talk about love. We “feel” something that we call love. We have certain things that we say we love. What do we really know about love? We read about and speak of God’s love. What do we really know about that love? If we know Him, isn’t it true that we usually take that love for granted? It has been granted to us. However, does it touch us at the deepest level of our hearts? Picture a wife dying to save her husband or a husband to save his wife. Think of the love that would generate in the survivor. Suppose a spouse was mean, cruel, hateful, abusive, selfish and spiteful. Would we love that spouse? Would we love a stranger enough to die that he or she might live? Would we sacrifice our lives for anyone, if we knew it would result in us being insulted, mocked, spit upon, beaten and tortured? If we are born again, we know Someone Who did! When we do stop and really think on that, we are moved. However that gratitude and response of love too often fades into the background of our busy daily lives. On the other hand, God’s love is constant, sacrificial, deeper than the reach of our complete comprehension, and unconditional! If we trust (believe) deeply, in our hearts, what God has revealed in His Word about His love for us, regardless of our rebellious and corrupt hearts and our sinful, selfish lives, we will be filled with love for Him and for others. This kind of love doesn’t come in a package, all at once. It comes alive in our hearts and grows and matures. In Romans 5:5, Paul was inspired to tell us that: “….the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”  In Revelation 1:5, John desires that glory be given: “….Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” Once the reality of these verses grips us, our response will intensify. If this is not happening, we need to do some heart-searching. In the hymn, “The Love of God,” Frederick M. Lehman has given us thought-provoking lyrics that speak of God’s love: “Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade; to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry; nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.” Selah! One blessed result of genuine belief and activated faith is being caught up in the wonder of His love and in the wonder of it being experienced in us and through us.   Ron

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

The Two Facets of Faith

Faith is a word that we “skim over” too often. We might say to someone (or just to ourselves) that faith is trust and let it go at that. We would be partly right but miss a vital truth. We have things that we believe; we trust that these things are true. If God’s Word is properly understood, when its Truths are revealed, we believe these Truths. However, this is only half the picture. We can believe 100% and even defend what we believe. We need to realize that we can be firmly grounded in God’s Truths and still end up “lost, forever.” We need to go further than only trusting the Truth; we need to trust what that Truth requires of us and take whatever action that Truth obligates us to take, or to implement. Half trust leaves us with a sterile faith. Dynamic faith means that we make personal application of what we trust to be Truth. We start by accepting God’s Truths in our minds and then order our lives by these Truths. Doing this fills our lives with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. What this means to us will, God willing, occupy our thinking for the next few articles. There are many blessings that are often missed when we do not activate our faith. In Romans 10:10, Paul informed the church there, that: “….with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” Faith acted upon produces the “life more abundantly” which Jesus came to provide! (See John 10:10). “I care not today what the morrow may bring, if shadow or sunshine or rain, the Lord I know ruleth o’er everything, and all of my worries are vain. Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise, obscuring the brightness of life,  I’m never alarmed at the overcast skiesthe Master looks on at the strife. I know that He safely will carry me through, no matter what evils betide; why should I then care though the tempest may blow, if Jesus walks close to my side. Our Lord will return for His loved ones some day, our troubles will then all be o’er; the Master so gently will lead us away, beyond that blest heavenly shore. Living by faith in Jesus above, trusting, confiding in His great love; from all harm safe in His sheltering arm,  I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.” (“Living by Faith” By James Wells [4th Stanza by R. E. Winsett]) Selah! Faith in action will bring showers of blessing!      Ron

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


Disarming Distress

If we know Jesus as Savior and Lord, we need not succumb to distress. (See yesterday’s article for context). How can we know peace in trials, problems, and burdens? First and foremost, we must be constantly cultivating our relationship with Him. We need to know Him better and better. We need to learn unconditional trust, to love and trust Him, no matter what we experience. We need to look to Him, in His Word, for guidance and direction for all decisions. What does He want, not what do we want, should be the basis for our decisions. Friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ, will often try to involve us in their plans and projects. We should learn to say, “I can’t commit to that,” unless we have a definite leading from the Lord that we should do what is being asked of us. A good working principle is that the need is not the call! Another guideline is to recognize our God-given gifts and abilities and not sign on for things beyond how God has equipped us. (One exception might be to help with a short term emergency. However, be sure it is both an emergency and short term). When God wants us to serve Him in a particular way, there will be an urge, a compulsion, a concern, a desire, and a vision for that work. Watch for open doors and closed doors. If there is not peace in our hearts as to what we should do, wait for further guidance, seek Godly counsel. If we are truly in His will, there will be peace and contentment. The “bottom line” is: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). John E. Bode gives us a prayer in his hymn, “O Jesus, I Have Promised,” that we would be well advised to make our own prayer: “O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end; be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend;  I shall not fear the battle if Thou art by my side, nor wander from the pathway if Thou wilt be my Guide. Oh, let me hear Thee speaking in accents clear and still, I dare not trust my judgment: Thy way shall be my will; Oh, speak to reassure me, to hasten or control; Oh, speak, and help me listen, Thou Guardian of my soul. O Jesus, Thou hast promised to all who follow Thee that where Thou art in glory there shall Thy servant be; and Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end—Oh, give me grace to follow, my Master and my Friend. Oh, let me see Thy footprints, and in them plant mine own; my hope to follow duly is in Thy strength alone; Oh, guide me, call me, draw me, uphold me to the end; and then in Heav’n receive me, my Savior and my Friend.” Selah! Love Him, trust Him, listen to Him, follow His guidelines and rest in Him and disarm distress!   Ron

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


Stress or Distress?

Among the many strategies that the devil has found very effective is that of “what if” or “what can I do?” By his centering our thoughts (yes, he works on our minds) on problems and trials, we begin to stress over how we can deal with something this hard that needs to be resolved. Or, how can we bear up under this hurt and/or pain. We move from stress to distress. What’s the difference between these two experiences? Stress, rightly experienced, should alert us to responsibilities, not so we can be overwhelmed by them. It should motivate us to do what we can, seeking help and answers when needful, in order to take care of our responsibilities. When we become anxious, fearful, and worried, stress has “morphed” into distress. Allowing these emotions to take our eyes off of God’s promises, purposes, and Presence guarantees distress. As one wisely said: “worry is assuming responsibilities that God never intended for us to assume. ” There is a saying that God will never give us more than we can handle. That is not the case! Actually, He will not give us more than we and He can handle. When negative emotions get “the upper hand” in our lives, it usually signals a lack of trust or a failure to follow God’s guidance and to live by His principles.  Let me share two very important verses regarding this issue: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” and “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” (Isaiah 26:3; Psalm 56:3). “Let not your heart be troubled,” I hear my Saviour say, when weary with the burdens and trials of the day; So leaning on His promise, that near me He will be, the things that fret and worry seem beautiful to me. “Let not your heart be troubled,” the Saviour’s tender voice speaks when I feel discouraged, and bids my soul rejoice; So patiently I’m striving to live just day by day, the love that never faileth, with sunshine floods the way. I’m trusting in His goodness, tho’ shadows round me fall,  I’ll do my little duties,  He gives me strength for all;  I must not disappoint Him, but ever faithful be; a mansion bright in glory, He hath prepared for me.” (“Let not your heart be troubled,” By Lizzie DeArmond). Selah! Tomorrow, God willing, we will look at “Disarming Distress.”  Ron

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


An Alarming Condition!

In too many churches and Christian schools, there is a lack of solid doctrinal training, teaching, and preaching. A Christian program, that I listened to recently, mentioned a polling of Evangelicals. A high percentage (some as high as half or even more) of those polled didn’t see the need of Jesus being the firstborn. They believed being a good person would get one into Heaven. A high number “waffled” on “Hell.” Many didn’t believe that Jesus was the only way to God. A high number thought all religions lead to God. What is happening? We might expect this from those who make no claims of being born again. How do we explain it when those who claim salvation are this doctrinally illiterate? The above is only a sampling of  a disturbing lack of  “grounding” in the faith. Some of these respondents may even assume they are saved, when they might not be. At best, they are woefully lacking in knowledge of the Truth. It’s time for Godly teachers, pastors, and friends to step up to the challenge and provide real doctrinal training and teaching. Are we ready to stem the tide of increasing unbelief? Remember what Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Also, do what Jude exhorted in Jude 3: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” In the hymn, “The Bible Stands,” by Haldor Lillenas, we see why God’s Word must be “engrafted” in our minds and hearts: “The Bible stands like a rock undaunted ‘mid the raging storms of time; its pages burn with the truth eternal, and they glow with a light sublime. The Bible stands like a mountain tow’ring far above the works of men; its truth by none ever was refuted, and destroy it they never can. The Bible stands and it will forever, when the world has passed away; by inspiration it has been given, all its precepts I will obey. The Bible stands ev’ry test we give it, for its Author is divine; by grace alone I will expect to live it, and to prove it and make it mine.” Selah! The only basis for our faith is God’s Holy Word! Only in the absolutely trustworthy Scriptures, we find God’s plans, purposes, explanations, teachings, principles, and His revealing of how to be saved, and how we are to live.   Ron

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