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

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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

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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

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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

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The Cross Divides-4

The Cross divides lifestyles. The way we live and behave, the values we uphold, are (or must be) in sharp contrast to those who are outside of Jesus. Motivation is very different for both. Unsaved people are motivated largely by self interests; true believers want to, and strive to, glorify God in their lives daily. Those still dead in sin are spoken of in I Peter 4:4. We are told that: “….they think it strange that ye run not with (them) to the same excess of riot.” They can’t understand why you are so different from themselves. You are often criticized and put down but sometimes questioned. When you are questioned, you may have an opportunity to witness to someone who might be open to the Gospel. The lives unsaved people live leaves them without the blessings that come to those who are committed to Jesus. They lack joy, peace, hope, guidance, true freedom, etc. We who have a saving relationship with Jesus as our Lord and Savior are spoken of in I Peter 2:9 as “….a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.” These thoughts from “He Abides”- By Herbert Buffum highlight  the differences between the Christian and the unsaved: “Once my heart was full of sin, once I had no peace within, ‘til I heard how Jesus died upon the tree; then I fell down at His feet, and there came a peace so sweet; now the Comforter abides with me. There’s no thirsting for the things of the world—they’ve taken wings; long ago I gave them up, and instantly all my night was turned to day, all my burdens rolled away; now the Comforter abides with me.” Selah! Mankind is divided into two groups: those whose lives are filled with Jesus and those whose lives are empty of peace with God. The offer of eternal joy is on the table for acceptance or refusal; the choice is left with us.   Ron

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The Cross Divides-3

One side of the division is turning away from or rejecting the Cross; the other side means to kneel at the Cross and trust the One Who suffered and died and rose again, so we could receive forgiveness of sin(s) and full pardon, and to hand over to Him the control of our lives. To reject the Cross leaves man lost and with a defective and fatal worldview. We were born with this view of life: “How can I get what I want, do what I want, and promote my reputation?” “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof (are) the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). To come to the Cross, and to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, gives us God’s worldview. This view (this way of looking at life) leads to Heaven and Jesus. In the words of the Westminster Catechism, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This view is that God loves us, has a purpose for our lives, wants to bless and use us, shape us, teach us, develop Christ’s character qualities in us, prepare us, and bring us home to eternal glory in His Presence. Proverbs 3:5-6 is the working out of God’s worldview in our lives: “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.” “It’s so Sweet to Trust in Jesus”- By Louisa M. R. Stead gives musical voice to the Christian’s worldview: “It’s so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word; just to rest upon His promise, just to know, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ O how sweet to trust in Jesus, just to trust His cleansing blood, just in simple faith to plunge me ‘neath the healing, cleansing flood! Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, just from sin and self to cease; just from Jesus simply taking life and rest, and joy and peace. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!” Selah! Man’s worldview is sinking sand; God’s worldview is a solid Rock on Whom to build!  Ron

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The Cross Divides-2

Scripture declares that those who have not been born again abide in the kingdom of darkness and have their minds blinded. This is a condition that can be cured before it’s eternally too late, if they will receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord while they can. Most will not take this seriously, but some will. This is one way that the Cross divides. If physical blindness is bad, and it is, spiritual blindness is far worse and lasts forever. That need not be! Those who surrender to Jesus in trusting faith are freed from spiritual darkness and blindness by “….Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.” (From I Peter 2:9). Understanding this reality prompted P. P. Bliss to write, “The Light of the World is Jesus.” “The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin, the Light of the world is Jesus! Like sunshine at noonday, His glory shone in, the Light of the world is Jesus! No darkness have we who in  Jesus abide; the Light of the world is Jesus! We walk in the light when we follow our Guide! The Light of the world is Jesus! Ye dwellers in darkness with sin-blinded eyes, the Light of the world is Jesus! Go, wash at His bidding, and light will arise; the Light of the world is Jesus! No need of the sunlight in Heaven we’re told; the Light of the world is Jesus!The Lamb is the Light in the city of gold, the Light of the world is Jesus! Come to the light, ’tis shining for thee; sweetly the light has dawned upon me; once I was blind, but now I can see: the Light of the world is Jesus! Selah! Most any blind person would rejoice to have physical sight restored; why would they refuse an even greater restoration of Spiritual sight? Refusing that, there is no Spiritual life and no escape from darkness forever.    Ron

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