Filtering What We Hear

Let’s think of this in terms of listening to (or reading material from) those who claim to speak from God. There are many false claims; therefore, we must be discerning. There is only one way to be sure our discernment is reliable. Scanning Scripture is O.K. at times, but is inadequate to develop discernment. Discernment (filtering out error) requires constant and consistent exposure to the Bible. It requires hard work, time and effort to do intensive study of God’s Word. The rewards are immense! Good commentaries by those whose ministries have the evident blessing of God on them are helpful. Sermons, printed, on CDs and DVds, TV, etc. have value, if they come from those whose lives back up their preaching and whom God has used. The “bottom line,” however, is that we have to learn to bring all input to His Word and see if it agrees with or contradicts what Scripture teaches. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). Paul commanded Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workmen.” (From  II Timothy 2:15). He charged the Thessalonians, “Prove (test) all things; hold fast that which is good (right; true)” (I Thessalonians 5:21). We are to become become skillful in discerning between Truth and error. God speaks to us in His Word; the more we listen carefully to His voice, the quicker we’ll recognize voices that are not His voice. Jesus, in John 10:27 said, “My sheep hear My voice….” In the context, in this 10th Chapter, Verse 5 we are told, “A stranger will they not follow….” We know His voice from the Scriptures so well, that voices other than His are not to be trusted. John Ellerton asked what we ought to ask, “Speak Thou for us, O Lord, in all we say of Thee: according to Thy Word let all our teaching be, that so Thy lambs might know their own true Shepherd’s voice, where’er He leads them go, and in His love rejoice.” (From the hymn, “Shine Thou upon Us, Lord“). Selah! If we listen intensely and carefully to His voice, we won’t fall for the siren voices of Satan’s emissaries.   Ron

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

Hearing Challenged?

Someone is talking. While they are talking, we listen some, as our thoughts are formulating our response to what they are saying. Their response may be, “Did you even hear a word I said?” We should train our minds (discipline ourselves) to really listen, then think and then respond. Failure to do this is rude and may offend. This is bad enough toward a fellow human being; it is serious, if we do this toward God. No wonder He said, in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted….” What causes us to be “hearing challenged?” First, being focused on our thinking. Secondly, not wanting to agree with what we do hear. Third, lack of courtesy toward the speaker. Fourth, not taking time to consider that the speaker could be right. Fifth, agreeing with the speaker might make demands on our time, energy and resources that we don’t want to give. If what he or she is saying points out faults in us, we go into defensive mode and make excuses. If the person is right, we should make changes; be corrected. On a Spiritual level, we need to be keenly attuned to what God is saying in His Word, which, by the way, is where He talks to us. We should “hang on His every Word!”    Sin in our lives is like putting our fingers in our ears, because we do not want to listen. Sin also blocks God’s listening. “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). Dealing with any sins in our lives will open God’s listening and our hearing from Him. Charles A. Tindley, in the chorus to “Nothing Between,” gives us wise counsel, “Nothing between my soul and the Savior, so that His blessed face may be seen; nothing preventing the least of His favor: keep the way clear-let nothing between.” Selah! Give God your full attention as you probe (not scan) His Word. He is speaking; really listen and, after that, respond!  Ron 

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

Gaining Our Attention

Have you had someone say to you, “I worship God in Nature?” Seems reasonable until we examine it more closely. First, if we could acceptably worship God in nature, we wouldn’t need the Bible. Secondly, to worship in nature would be like a guy admiring a girl that he liked by observing her from a great distance or by hearing someone’s description of her. They never get to know each other; to establish a loving and wonderful relationship. What is the real purpose behind God’s hand in nature? Nature is intended to get our attention. It shows some things about God. It shows His design, His power, His control, His love of beauty, His faithfulness, etc. However, it doesn’t show us His terms for a personal relationship with Himself. It simply is meant to whet our appetite. Once we sense God, the only place to hear from Him is in His Word. This is where we get His explanations, His revealing of Himself, His character, His principles, His commands, His love and much more. It is in the Scriptures that we find the answers to the most important questions of life and to our needs. We should approach the Bible with this truth in mind: God speaks, gives Truth to us by means of the text, as He imparts His life into the messages on the printed page. Scripture is indeed the Word of God speaking to the heart of man! It is a supernatural, divinely inspired and activated living Book where we can meet God and get to know Him. Psalm 19:7-11 provides an overview of the Bible’s role in our lives. “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD  are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is Thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” In the hymn, “Thy Word Have I Hid in My Heart,” Ernest O. Sellers gives us some insightful thoughts: “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path alway, to guide and to save me from sin and show me the heav’nly way. Forever, O Lord, is Thy Word established and fixed on high; Thy faithfulness unto all men abideth forever nigh. At morning, at noon and at night I ever will give Thee praise; for Thou art my portion, O Lord, and shall be thru all my days! Thru Him Whom Thy Word hath foretold, the Savior and Morning Star, Salvation and peace have been bro’t to those have strayed afar.” Selah! Nature is a pointer to create curiosity that can only be satisfied in God’s Holy Word!   Ron

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

“Not All That Glitters is Gold!”

It looks good. However, that’s the problem. A closer look reveals something lacking. There are within Evangelical and Fundamentalist circles those who are truly saved. That means that some others only appear to be born again. They talk the language, they help in the work, they are involved in what is going on. Probably most of these latter assume they are converted. They may “glitter,” but are they “Spiritual” gold? Here are some questions that might help someone to determine if they are genuine Christians. Have they experienced real repentance? Has their faith (the kind the Bible calls for) embraced Jesus as both Savior and Lord? Is there an appetite for the things of God? Is there a separating from the world-system and unto God? Is there a commitment to Scripture, prayer, witnessing and a local church? Is there love, joy, patience and all of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in their lives? Are they growing in grace (II Peter 3:18)? These are a few questions that can help one to distinguish between being “glitter” only or being real Spiritual gold? “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24). William D. Longstaff gives us the heartbeat of one who has been born again, “Take time to be holy, the world rushes on; spend much time in secret  with Jesus alone. By looking to Jesus, like Him you will be-your friends in your conduct His likeness will see. Take time to be holy, let Him be your guide, and rush not before Him, whatever betide. In joy or in sorrow still follow the Lord, and, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.” (From “Take Time to Be Holy“). Selah! Christ changing us in our inner being will be reflected outwardly where others can see the difference. The world is quick to spot those who appear to be saved and those that are real “Spiritual” gold!   Ron

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

Saint-Label Only?

Have you ever opened a package only to discover that the contents have been labeled incorrectly? Many times that can be corrected. However, what if a person allows a label to be put on him or her, or to even put the label on themselves, when the contents do not measure up to the label? Others, considering the label only, may wrongly assume that the contents are what the label falsely claims. Many are considered to be saints but give little, if any, evidence of saintliness. Matthew 7:21-23 warns, “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. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name? and in Thy Name have cast out devils? and in Thy Name done many wonderful works? and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” A.W. Tozer, speaking about our teaching and preaching, wisely wrote in “Renewed Day by Day,” “We must insist on New Testament sainthood for our converts, nothing less; and we must lead them into a state of heart purity, fiery love, separation from the world and poured-out devotion to the Person of Christ. Only in this way can the low level of spirituality be raised again to where it should be in the light of the Scriptures and of eternal values.” A true saint, as the Word of God teaches, is one who has experienced genuine conversion, has been and is being set apart to God, and is being set apart from this world-system, its values, interests, concerns, thinking, conduct, and purposes. Fanny Crosby wrote, “Take the world but give me Jesus, all its joys are but a name; but His love remaineth ever, through eternal years the same.” (From: “Give Me Jesus“).  Selah! When Jesus examines the contents of our lives, will He find that the contents match the label? or that they do not match?   Ron

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

Great Exchanges

We, who are born again, experience great exchanges. Consider some of these wonderful exchanges.  We exchange our spiritual death for His Spiritual Life; our old nature for the implanting of His nature; our sins for His righteousness; our guilt for His forgiveness; our troubles for His peace; our blindness, spiritually, for His opening of our eyes, Spiritually, our spiritual poverty for His eternal riches; Hell for Heaven; aimlessness for purpose; sorrow and sadness for joy, and the list goes on! “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation): old things are passed (passing) away; behold, all things are become (becoming) new” (II Corinthians 5:17). These exchanges and others are supernatural accomplishments, reversing our direction from death to life; changing our motives, our desires, our thinking, our conduct, our character, our interests, our outlook, our plans, our relationships and more. Stanton W. Gavitt summed this up in a Gospel song, “Things Are Different Now,” He wrote, “Things are different now, I was changed it must be when I gave my heart to Jesus; things I loved before have passed away; things I love far more have come to stay. Things are different now, I was changed, it must be, when I gave my heart to Him.” Selah! Countless hymns and Biblical accounts give testimony to the profound changes in the lives of those who come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord; changes for time and for eternity!  Ron

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

Unable to Please God, But…..

We are told that God loves us. He does, beyond human measure! However, we are unable to please Him unless we know what is required. Hebrews 11:6 gives us one of the requirements. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him.” The verse goes on to say, “….for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Thus, faith believes in the existence of God and if we give ourselves to seeking Him, He will reward us by revealing Himself to us. (He will do that by giving us understanding in and from His Word). Once we understand that Christ died for us and took the punishment due us for our sin(s), and receive Him as our Lord and Savior, faith becomes the channel through which His saving grace gives us new (Spiritual) birth. Then we begin a life-long journey of being weaned from sin(s) and becoming holy in experience. (Once again, it’s the Scriptures, energized by the Holy Spirit, that sets us apart from the world’s ways and to God’s ways). Our old sinful nature, what the Bible calls the “flesh” is displeasing to God. Romans 8:8 tells us, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Verse 9 adds, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” So let’s pull it together: We are taken out of the “flesh, placed in the Spirit and the Spirit is placed in us to purge out the remaining vestiges of the “flesh,” left over from when we were in the “flesh.”

Paul, after reminding Timothy that we are to be disciplined soldiers of Christ, admonishes Timothy (and us) that, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him Who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (II Timothy 2:4). In the hymn, “I Would Be Like Jesus,” James Rowe gives us insights into a life that pleases God. He wrote, “Earthly pleasures vainly call me-I would be like Jesus; nothing worldly shall enthrall me-I would be like Jesus: be like Jesus-this my song-in the home and in the throng; be like Jesus all day long! I would be like Jesus.” Selah! The more that we become like Jesus, the more pleasing we will be to God!   Ron

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