Look at what and how are we to look at it? Well, tomorrow, God willing, we start a whole new year. A fresh start! New possibilities! An adventure with God! What might it be? That depends on how we look at it. Do we see it as just another part of our existence that we must get through, somehow? Do we just take it for granted that it is only one more year? If so, then we will probablynot get much out of it. On the other hand, if we have a growing awareness that God wants to give us the best year of our lives, we will find it to be exciting and filled with opportunities to enjoy a walk with God that can transcend any experience of Him that we have had since the day that we came to know Him. We can learn more about Him. We can explore more deeply the depths of His love for us. We can be instruments that He uses, channels for His overflow into other lives. We are that much closer to eternity. Will this be the year in which our Lord comes for His chosen bride? Will this be the year in which we look into the Face of Jesus? Will these be days when someone or quite a few will be introduced to Him and we be the ones to introduce them? Will it be a year that we look back on as the most effective year ever, Spiritually? Can you feel the refreshing breeze of the Holy Spirit's Presence and challenge? Selah! Do you feel an urge to commit yourself to seeking an intimacy with God deeper than you have ever known before? Oh! Please do it! Ron
"Submit yourselves, therefore, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you…" (From James 4:7-8).
It is very important to think ahead. If God grants us time, how do we plan to use that time? Waste it or invest it? The choice is ours! If we only wait for time to pass and do not make plans to redeem the time, we will waste precious time that can never be recovered. Even our recreational and relaxational time needs to be planned or it will pre-empt time that could have been wisely used. It is vital that we look back, as we approach a new year. How did we use 8,760 minutes? I'm not suggesting a minute examination of all those minutes. I am suggesting a need to discern patterns of time use. Where did we waste time? How can we profit from our analysis? How can we make good use of our time, starting now? What are our plans, God willing, for this coming year? Perhaps the hardest look needs to be taken in relation to our Spiritual priorities. Is God first? If not, we will squander time. We are furnished with an astonishing list of reasons why we can't take time for our devotional life, right now. A disciple must be on guard against this subtle danger. He or she must exercise cast-iron determination not to be deflected from the most important use of our God-granted time. When we are side-tracked from this (and we likely will be), we can't give up or be overcome by discouragement, but with God's help, we must renew our determination each time we fail, until we, with His help, master this discipline. Selah! What do you suppose 2009 might be like, if our Lord tarries, should you really make your quiet time an appointment that will be kept? What joy might it bring to our God and what blessings might issue out of that time alone with Him? Ron
"In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:6
Imagine that your assignment is to locate someone and tell them that they have won a million dollars. You find them and discover that they are in dire straits. Among other needs, life-saving surgery is needed. However, It will cost a fortune, and they have no money or insurance. What wonderful news you bring to them! What a thrill you feel, to know that you are the messenger of such marvelous news! Two thousand years ago, an Angel descended on a Judean pasture and proclaimed to humble shepherds these words: "….Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day…. a Savior.." (From Luke 1:10-11). This good news is of infinitely more wonderful value than a million dollars, and meets a need far greater than saving a life for a few years. This news is that our sin-debt has been paid-in-full and our soul can be saved for all of eternity! What if that seriously ill person had refused the million dollars? They would probably have died. What if someone refuses the Gift of the Savior and never changes his mind. He will experience living death for all of eternity. That Angel of long ago offered the greatest Gift ever offered to man. Now, it is our turn to bring that news to others. Many will refuse but some will receive: "the Gift." You will have the thrill of seeing a sin-sick soul cured and guaranteed eternal life in the Presence of God. Selah! Are we prepared to deliver the good news? Ron
"Now, then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we beseech you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." II Corinthians 5:20
The doctor says, "I'm so sorry but there is nothing I can do. Your cancer is incurable." You respond, "How long do I have?" His reply, "Possibly four to five years." You start to think. "I'll be dead in 2013 or 2014." What is it like to know, just about when you will die? After Jesus left Heaven and took on humanity, how far ahead was He aware of His impending death? Likely, as soon as he was old enough to comprehend and think. (He could have known all along). In any event, our imaginary cancer patient had the possibility of much pain relief. Jesus knew that at 32-33 years of age, He would have to endure an excruciatingly painful death. Added to that, He would have to bear in His Own Body, all the sin and degradation of all the world for all of time. He, Who was sinless, had to take upon Himself, everything wrong and evil and bear the punishment due for our share in mankind's sin and sins. Otherwise we would have to bear our own punishment and that would mean separation from God and righteousness forever! No words can describe what this cost Him and no words can adequately communicate what it would have meant for us, if He hadn't taken our place. Selah! If we could spend five minutes in hell, we would have some idea of the love that paid such a price to rescue us. Ron
"But God commendeth His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His Blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Romans 5:8-9 Are you His?
Let me attempt an up-to-date parable. (I'm not too good at this). You're on the night watch. You arrive at early evening. You and several others are keeping an eye on the livestock, taking care of them, protecting them from danger. There is a sudden astonishing sight. You see an angel and what an angel! You are suddenly immersed in the most dazzling light. A vision? A dream? No way! The others have seen it too! Mass hypnotism? The hard work you each do doesn't lend itself to being good subjects for hypnotism. You all are terror-stricken! Paralyzed with fear! While your emotions are at fever-pitch, you hear a voice. A compelling voice but a soothing voice, saying, "Fear not;" You relax, ever so litlle. The voice goes on, "for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." Then a startling announcement, a birth announcement. "for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." What you are hearing is something that people have waited for thousands of years to happen! "But why us?" you say. Why not the religious leaders? Because God blesses everyday people who are open to Him, whereas people who are steeped in religion have all too often been unable to dig out the Truth buried beneath the layers of traditions and presuppositions that they have imposed upon it. You are given directions to where this Baby can be found and then you are treated to a panoramic display of Angelic praise and worship. What a night! What a magnificent and splendid night! What a moment in history and your gaze is transfixed on the unfolding drama in the scene. O Holy Night! Selah! There will be another momentous event, which we might be alive to behold, and the voice of an archangel announcing the return of Jesus to claim His own. Are you ready for Him? Have you given yourself to Him and received Him as your Savior? Ron
I have to give a disclaimer. I fail sometimes, in what I am suggesting today. However, when I do what I want to share with you, it works! God is well aware of what we need for time. He also gives the same measure of 24 hours a day to all. How we use that 24 hours is another matter. Some things that normally subtract from available time include poor health, laziness, lack of responsible scheduling, excusing wasting time, failure to get adequate sleep, guilt, and discouragement. Some of these can't be helped but more can be done to reclaim time than most of us believe. Spending quiet time, alone with God, and applying the principles of His Word can remove guilt, deliver us from laziness, sometimes restore health, and cure discouragement. We need to find a schedule that works for us, get adequate sleep, eat right, and not excuse wasting time. These are exercises of discipline and the essence of discipleship is discipline. There are helps available on how to organize and plan sensibly our daily activities. I suspect, however, that failure to give time with God a priority in our lives is at the root of poor time habits. If we have the discipline to put God above all else, we will likely have the discipline to eliminate non-essentials, determine what is really important, take a reasonable amount of time for healthy rest, relaxation, and recreation, eat right and count our blessings. God's Presence, guidance, and comfort will be ours during emergencies and in a crisis. Selah! Carefully meditate on these Words from God: "See, then, that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16) "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." (Psalm 90:12) Ron
Satan must get frustrated, at times. He obviously wants to change the emphasis at Christmas away from Jesus to a holiday celebration. On the other hand, some people, at Christmas, begin to think about Jesus and won't be deterred from doing so. So here our arch enemy has to switch tactics and divert these folk to focusing on the cradle so that they won't consider the major reason that Jesus was born here on earth. That reason was to go to the cross, in our place, in order to save us. Should we then forget about His Birth. Absolutely not! We need to think on all aspects of His Coming. If these strategies fail, the devil's back-up plan is to get us so busy and tired that thoughts of Jesus are lost in the hustle and bustle of the Season's activities. How can we overcome these schemes? The answer is simple but difficult. A disciple has to get that time alone with the Lord, no matter what else is placed on hold. Nevertheless, if we are faithful, time spent with our Savior will enable us to get more done. This happens provided that we are "redeeming the time." Remember that Jesus said, "But seek ye first the Kingdom of God…" (From Matthew 6:33) Selah! Reflect on Mary and Martha. See Luke 10:38-42. Ron (Note: Tomorrow, Lord willing, we'll take a look at how giving time to Him can give time to us.)
Have a wonderful and blessed CHRISTmas and, if you haven't received the gift of salvation through Jesus, there is no better or wiser time than now. Surrender your heart and life to Him and He will do the rest!
From about the age of twelve to His early thirties, little, if anything, is known about Jesus' daily life and activities. Paul spent roughly two years out of the public eye, on or near the Arabian Desert. Moses lived in relative obscurity in the desert, tending flocks. Elijah had "Room Service" provided by God at the Brook Cherith. Jesus constantly got alone with His Father and He admonishes us, "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet [room; place], and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, Who is in secret…" (From Matthew 6:6). One way or another, a true disciple will cultivate a time alone, near to the heart of God. This is when our relationship with God is being nurtured and deepened. We must get alone with God in different ways, regularly! No depth of Spirituality is possible without this place of quiet rest. It is here that we converse (talk) with our God. It is here we listen to Him and learn. It is here that intimacy flourishes. It is here where we draw from the source, the power to minister to others and the strength to resist temptation to sin. This demands an unflagging determination to make the time and take the time each day, no matter what we have to leave undone, to enjoy communion with the One Who loved us so much that He died for us. Failure to make this a priority may indicate that we are not really saved or, at the very least, will guarantee that our experience of Him is very distant. That would be tragic! Selah! Isn't it only reasonable that if we love someone then we long to spend time with that Person? Ron
"…There was a man" – so begins a fascinating episode relating to the very early days of Jesus' life on earth. This man had a name. His name was Simeon. A very significant name meaning: "hearing with acceptance." He is described by the inspired writer as just and devout. He was doing something. What? Waiting. For what? For God to do something. To do what? To bring consolation to Israel! It is also noted that "the Holy Ghost was upon him." What happened? He was given a revelation, a revelation that he would see the Lord's Christ before he died. Many people had waited for that privilege for hundreds of years! Jesus' parents brought Him to the Temple "to do for Him after the custom of the Law." Simeon saw Him, held Him, and said, "Mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation." This account provides tremendous lessons for a disciple. Our name is important. It has meaning that relates to our life's work. Simeon accepted as Truth what he heard God say. So must we. He was a man who had pursued a Holy Life. So must we. God, through Luke, testified that Simeon was just and devout. Can God say that of us? Simeon waited with patience, for God to "come through." He waited a long time for this. He maintained his faith. Are we prepared to wait a long time, if need be, in patient trust, for God to answer? God's answers are wonderful and right! Simeon saw God in human flesh, in His Son. Who can tell what God's answer to us might be? The Holy Ghost was upon Simeon! What would he have thought, if he saw us "filled with the Holy Spirit?" Are we seeing the inworking and outworking of God's Salvation in our lives? Are we enjoying what God reveals to us out of His Word? Selah! Heart preparation is developed in our experience of a quality "Quiet Time." Don't settle for less! Ron
Most of us have heard this commercial for a lawyer. The tone of the speaker implies that people are to know how serious we are and they had better take us seriously. I wonder to what extent many of us are that serious in relation to being engaged in God's business. Mary and Joseph, returning from Passover, were astonished to discover that twelve year old Jesus had been left behind in Jerusalem. Going back to the City of Jerusalem, they found Him in the Temple discussing with the teachers. Expressing their upset, they asked Him why He was there instead of leaving with them. His answer, "Wist (Knew) ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" (From Luke 2:49). Even that young, He realized that He was on mission for God, the Father. Perhaps He was consciously aware of that even earlier. He was committed! Can we take a lesson from Him and take our responsibility to our Heavenly Father very seriously? Are we about our Father's business? He never lost sight of His mission! Are we focused on our mission. This is one of the characteristics of a disciple. Paul expressed it well when he dictated these words to the Philippian Church, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14). Let's move on! Selah! Think carefully: can we say, "Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death?" (From Philippians 1:20) Ron