We sing: "This is my Father's World" (and ultimately it is), but right now it is occupied by enemy forces. Satan is referred to as "the god of this world" and this has been allowed by God, for a limited amount of time. It is, however, our mission, as "good soldiers of Jesus Christ" led by our Commander-in-Chief, to capture and hold enemy territory. The conflict rages world wide. Our part may be to secure the home front. to establish headquarters for the training, leadership and support of those who have gone deeper into heavily controlled enemy areas. God has equipped us to do our part, just as He has equipped His invading forces to do their part. World War II needed everyone to sacrifice and do his part to defeat the forces of evil. This is a far greater war than World War II! It was a crime to be AWOL from one's military duty. It is a far greater crime to be AWOL in the Lord's Army! America and her allies fought for freedom. We are fighting for freedom from the tyranny of sin! In World War II, people's lives were in bondage. In our war, people's souls are in bondage! On to victory! Selah! When our Captain comes, will He find us at our assigned mission? Ron
Remember the commission given us in II Timothy 2:3. "Thou, therefore, endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."
A cup of cold water! That's not very much to give someone. That is, it's not very much to give someone unless that someone is in the desert, dying of thirst! This world of ours is often likened to a desert or wilderness. It is too often empty of meaning, purpose, joy, peace, hope, and fulfillment. Many perish in this wilderness without their spiritual hunger and thirst being assuaged. This is tragic because water and nourishment are readily available. However, that water and nourishment has been given to us who know Jesus as Savior and Lord, to share with those who are dying. Are we hoarding it to ourselves? If we don't take it to them, who will? The offer may be refused but that is their responsibility, not ours. To begin with, this cup of water may be as simple as a kind word, at first. Then, it may be the opening of a friendship. It may involve helping another in a time of need. It just might reach a point where their heart will open and they are ready to drink of the water of Life. What a blessing to quench the thirsting of a Spiritually barren soul! We are in the desert with water that we have drawn "out of the wells of Salvation." (From Isaiah 12:3) Let's offer some to parched souls! Selah! We provide water for thirsty animals. Let's remember to do it for thirsty souls. Ron
"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come, and let him that heareth say, Come, and let him that is athirst come and whosoever will, let him take the water of Life freely." (Revelation 22:17).
It is a marvelous thing the way Jesus reached out to all kinds of people. Have you heard someone being referred to as "weird," "odd," "strange," etc. or have you done that yourself? It is true that some folk have mental challenges but most are just "different." They see things through a different lens than most of us. They march to the beat of a different drum! Do we look down on them? Do we patronize them? Do we have a condescending attitude? Because so many of us don't know how to relate or are uncomfortable to try, where does that leave someone who is lonely, hurting, rejected, and too often ridiculed? There are many today who desperately need respect, acceptance, friendship and time. What an opportunity for Christ's love to flow through us to touch them at the point of their deepest needs! Did not Christ die for them, as well as for those of us who know Him? Jesus wasn't too busy for us. Can we give of our time to befriend one of these "different" ones? Perhaps you are thinking in terms of reaching out to several people that you know and that seems impossible with all your responsibilities. Why not start with one or two? When you meet others, give respect and a listening ear. Treat them as you would want to be treated if you were "different!" You may give someone the desire to go on living! Selah! You may bring sunshine into the clouds of gloom in somebody's life. What a gift! Ron
Consider this from Hebrews 12:12-13. Although its use here is not the basic interpretation, it is, nevertheless, an appropriate application: "Wherefore, lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed."
It is true that we will work and sacrifice for something that we want intensely. We will almost always find time for what we really want to do. What is my greatest desire? Have you ever thought seriously about that question? For some the answer might be fame. For others it could be wealth, or entertainment, or education, or athletics, or popularity, etc. What is the most passionate desire of a true disciple? Should it not be God? Are we really longing to know Him in a deeply personal way? Does it bring joy, to be conscious of His approval? Are we longing to please Him? Do we hurt when we hurt Him? When we engage with the Bible, do we sense His voice speaking to us? Do we share His interests and concerns? What are we doing to enhance our relationship with Him? What amount of time and energy do we give to express our love for Him? Do we invest time and energy to enjoy His Presence? Do we long for others to love Him? Are we offended at the things that offend Him? Our responses to these questions give some clues as to how serious we are about our Christianity. Only through the Lord Jesus Christ is it even possible to be truly involved in an intimate way with the Father. What price have we paid or are we willing to pay to pursue that kind of a walk with God? Selah! Is any price too high? Ron
"And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13).
Oh, God! Give us a heart for you, a hunger, a thirst that must be satisfied!
Obviously, I can only scratch the surface of this subject. Yet, I hope to give some understanding of how serious sin is in God's eyes. First of all, it is rebellion against God's commands. Secondly, it furthers Satan's intention to corrupt God's world as much as he possibly can. Next, it puts doing our will above doing God's will. This is making an idol of self. After that, it offends God's Character. He desires holiness! We perpetuate wickedness and contaminate His world. Finally, (as far as today is concerned), sin made necessary the death of God's own Son! Now, lest someone underestimates the exceeding sinfulness of sin, may I point out how serious sin is? Sin is so serious that if one person, only, stole a penny, Jesus would have had to die to atone for that sin of stealing and to deal with the sin nature that prompted it. One sin, unatoned for, would shut the door to Heaven for us forever, leaving hell the only alternative. Even speech has so much potential for sin that we are warned that: "….every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account of it in the day of judgment." (From Matthew 12:36). Selah! Fail to take sin seriously and it will damage you and, without His Salvation, sin will destroy you! Ron
"Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God..." (From I Corinthians 15:34).
Some of us seem to have a gift of discernment. Others of us have to work at developing this faculty. I would like to share some ideas on how we can learn to be more discerning. Some of these ideas may surprise you. Consider these: 1). Don't spend a lot of time on TV. (Most of it is a waste of time). Hours of TV makes for lazy thinking. Why should we let a "boob tube" do our thinking for us? 2). Consider the grid for your thinking. (I doubt if there are many (any?) truly independent thinkers). Our reasoning is the product of our family and friends, our education, our life experiences, our reading, the media, etc. or we can reason based on God's eternal Truth in the Bible. What do you honestly think is the most reliable, your thoughts or what God has to say? 3). Filter all incoming data as if you are a skeptic. Ask questions in your mind: Is it true? Who says so? Why? How do they know? Is it logical? Is it factual? What reasons are given? Am I responding based on solid evidence or only emotion? 4). Read and learn on both sides of an issue. However, check all against Scripture. Avail yourself of well thought out material from men and women that God has equipped and used but again, let me say, check it against the Word of God. That is the only source of absolute Truth! Yes, that statement can be substantiated by a careful and intense study of what God has revealed. Selah! Keep in mind that the Bible has been severely attacked over centuries and yet the Bible remains unscathed and the critics come and go. Ron
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (Lit. God-breathed) 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." (II Timothy 3:16-17).
All too often, something someone says, something that we read, and what we are told via the media, influence our thinking and our choices. We, many times, accept something as factual without a second thought as to its' truthfulness. Sometimes, we are too trusting of our thoughts. We are influenced by our family, by our education, by our "feelings." This all contributes to the formation of our worldview. Yes, we all have a worldview. The problem is that our worldview may be absorbed from outside sources, rather than carefully developed. This may happen without our doing a critical analysis of incoming information. There are, basically, only three worldviews: man's, the Bible's, or a mixture of the first two. We have to make up our minds ourselves, or someone and/or something else will do it for us. Can we afford to be clones of a bankrupt mindset? How do we know who is right? The only source of absolute Truth is God, who is the Truth. It doesn't take much discernment to determine which view is the only trustworthy one. One need only look at the results of man's philosophies and then look at the results in the lives of those who are thoroughly guided by what God says. The results speak for themselves! (I'm mindful of those who claim that Christianity has caused wrong things to be done, but it wasn't Christianity that was the cause. Instead, it was a shallow understanding of what the Bible teaches that did the damage). Only a Spiritually enlightened mind can give purpose and fulfillment here and hereafter. Who will make up your mind, God or some unreliable input that will ultimately fail you? Selah! You are trusted with a mind. What are you going to let in to your mind? Ron
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (I Thessalonians 5:21)
Hannah wanted children with an intensity that not many can identify with in our day. Job had everything going for him, wealth, family, friends, etc. Saul was well advanced in Judaism, perhaps on the fast-track to a high, if not the highest, position in his religion. Hannah waited and waited. Job lost just about everything in a sudden string of disasters. Hannah, never became bitter toward God and eventually God gave her a Samuel. Job never blamed God and suffered beyond anything we can imagine. However, his trust during the most horrible circumstances has comforted and strengthened thousands in their trials down through the centuries. Need I add that when he emerged from his awful misery, God gave him more in the end than he had at the beginning. Saul had a crisis encounter with the resurrected Jesus on the Damascus Road. He lost his position in the Jewish Religion. He received a call from God. He was given a new name (Paul). To cap it off, he was mightily used of God, not the least of which was giving us, under inspiration, most of the New Testament. These are only three among many other examples of responding the right way to God. Hannah trusted. Job trusted. Saul surrendered, became Paul, and trusted through many soul-wrenching experiences. Suppose we never had a Hannah, a Job, a Paul, etc. How impoverished we would be! These illustrate a great principle that I have quoted in previous articles: "God is not as concerned with our problems as He is with our response to our problems." (From the Gothard Seminars) Selah! What immortality of influence might God grant us, if we determine to trust, no matter what? Ron
"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ…." (I Peter 1:5)
I believe that to become a disciple is inherent in coming to Jesus for salvation. However, I'm not convinced that every Christian has cooperated with the Holy Spirit in submitting to the process. If not, and if those who resist are truly saved, they are in for some rough days until they open themselves to this discipline. God is committed to conforming us to the image of His Son and may use strong measures to achieve His purpose. Well, what is a disciple to do? I have dealt with many basics in recent articles so I won't cover much of the same ground in this article. Instead, let me suggest a few questions to see if we can discern some indications of progress: 1. Do I really love Jesus, more and more as time goes by? Am I fascinated by and thrilled with Him? 2. Is my Bible Study exciting, creating an appetite for more? 3. Do I truly enjoy being in His Presence, when I am alone and when assembled with brothers and sisters? 4. Do I long for Him to return? 5.Do I honestly want others to know Him and the wonder of His Person? 6. Does my heart experience spontaneous expressions of gratitude and praise to Him? 7. Am I concerned that my life be pure and holy so that it will reflect on Him favorably and cause others to be attracted to Him? 8. Do I genuinely worship Him above all else? These questions should give us some idea of our level of discipleship at this stage in our pilgrimage. Selah! If you sense a lack of growth, use these questions as targets to aim for, then seek God in prayer for His aid on your journey of faith. Ron
"But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen!!" (II Peter 3:18)
Truly "Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before!"
A pastor, above all else, needs to make prayer and devotional Bible study his top priority. This can't be stressed enough! After that, comes his study of the Bible for his learning and for communicating Truth to his flock. (He needs to be sure that he is being understood). He needs to guard himself and the people from error. He must be careful not to become enamored with most (if not all) of the fads that keep coming along. If he is to do counseling, he needs to use Biblical counseling as contrasted with secular counseling methods that have been "baptized" with Christian terminology. He is responsible to promote holiness and separation, by Spirit led preaching and personal practice. He is to preach the Word! He is to train others. He needs to develop proficiency in doctrine and apologetics and ground his flock. He needs to encourage reading of books, using DVD's and CD's, that have been produced by those with a proven "track record" of having been used by God. He needs to keep a careful watch on the music and speakers that he allows in to the church. A pastor should determine to evaluate suggested materials to use, to see if they truly edify and not just make his people "feel" good. He needs to promote missions and train the believers in evangelism. In addition, he ought to take a hard look at how personal work with seekers is to be done. Good personal work should be phase one of an ongoing discipling process that new believers should be involved in. One more thing: book studies, with application, help insure that "the whole counsel of God is proclaimed." I'm sure that others can add insights to what I have written but these are, at least, starters. Selah! No higher honor nor more solemn responsibility has ever been granted to a man than to preach "the unsearchable riches of Christ!" Ron
"Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove,rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine." (II Timothy 4:2)