I came to love the girl who became my wife while we were dating. I found I loved her much more when we married. If you had told me then that 50 years later I would love her even more, my response would have been: "Impossible!" However…..that is just what has happened! This is a human illustration of a divine reality. I loved the Lord when I first learned about Him. As I learned more, my love deepened more. Now, about 70 years later, I love him still more. How can this be? Because someone/Someone is truly dear, the longer you know them, the sweeter they become to you. I think Lelia N. Morris echoes this well in her hymn: "Sweeter as the Years Go By" with these words:
" 'Twas wondrous love which led Him for us to suffer loss–
to bear without a murmer the anguish of the cross;
With saints redeemed in glory, let us our voices raise,
'till heaven and earth re-echo with our Redeemer's praise.
Richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus' love is sweeter, sweeter as the years go by."
Selah! "… that ye, …may…..know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge…" (From Epheshians 3:17-19). Ron
Many of us saw men land on the moon. What an achievement! Who could have imagined such a thing actually being done? It was an event! Without taking anything away from that great accomplishment, let me speak of a far greater event to come. The moon landing required elaborate planning, preparation, and protection. Reaching the goal was exhilarating! We, who know the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, will go on a "space journey" one day. It may be a trip up from our body, at death, or it may be that astonishing experience of being "caught up" alive to "…meet the Lord in the air…" (From I Thessalonians 4:17). This would be the thrill of all thrills! What a destiny! Can you even begin to grasp such freedom? No more pain, sorrow, evil, death, fear, weariness, illness, to mention only a few things in store for the redeemed! Stuart Hamblin in his hymn "Until Then" captures some of the wonder with these words:
"My heart can sing when I pause to remember, a heartache here is but a stepping stone
Along a trail that's winding always upward; this troubled world is not my final home.
The soul of man is like a waiting falcon, when it's released it's destined for the skies."
Selah! "…changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…" (From I Corinthians 15:51-52). Ron
There are at least two kinds of peace. There is the peace that fades as soon as it bumps into stress. It is conditional peace. If the conditions are favorable, peace remains. If conditions become adverse, peace flees. There is another kind of peace that relatively few people have. It has no basis in circumstances. It is grounded upon the confidence that God is in control. My security, safety, and salvation are in His hands. He will never let me down. Suppose that, in His care and love, He let me die. What, then? I'd only go Home! This true peace is only available to those who have been reconciled to God. The war between us is over and I am at peace with God. Issuing out of peace with God, is the peace of God. This peace passeth all understanding. It is beyond understanding (see Philippians 4:7). Jesus spoke of this kind of peace when He said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid " (John 14:27). He said this to His original hearers, even though He knew all that they would face. He knew that the peace He bequeathed to them (and to us who know Him) would hold under pressure. The hymnwriter expressed it this way:
"Stayed upon Jehovah, Hearts are fully blest;
Finding, as He promised, Perfect peace and rest." (Frances R. Havergal)
The Prophet Isaiah reminds us, writing under inspiration: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee..." (From Chapter 26, verse 3).
Selah! Peace like this is one of the blessings of a true disciple. Ron
The mind is the direct route to the heart. Satan knows that and employs every diabolical means at his disposal to "mess up" minds. The devil has a head start on influencing the minds of unsaved people. They are Spritually blind because they are Spiritually "…dead in trespasses and sins…" (From Ephesians 2:1). From that vantage point he moves to preoccupying them with sinful living, distracting them whenever Spiritual Truth is proclaimed, convincing them to believe Godless teaching, and getting them to concentrate on "fun" and subtly injecting corruption into most of the world's music and media. This is some of his strategy for the unsaved, but what about the true disciple? He uses some of the same tricks on us. For example, he uses distractions, our over involvement with entertainment, especially when it is wholesome, etc. He uses "busy"ness. One of his schemes is to get us "out of balance" (majoring on minors). Another plot may be to get us tired, so that we might neglect the Word and prayer. These are some of his "wiles" that we need to be on guard against and not get trapped. Selah! Our minds are easily infiltrated, if we are not consciously guarding our thoughts and letting God control our activities. Ron
"(…for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (fleshly, human), but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds), casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:4-5).
Man, by nature, wants enjoyment, fun, and pleasure. God desires true pleasure for all. Man, in his Spiritual blindness, buys Satan's subtle deception and looks for pleasure in what can only turn out to be a dead end. The devil is very successful in his strategy because there is pleasure in sin. Hebrews 11:25 refers to: "…the pleasures of sin for a season." For some, it is a short season, for others it is longer but the end is death, eternally, in hell. "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12) There is an alternative! "Thou wilt show me the path of life. In Thy Presence is fullness of joy; at Thy Right Hand there are (true) pleasures for evermore" (Psalm 16:11). Sinful pleasures are attractive at the start but multitudes can testify that, once you are hooked, there follows suffering, and/or illness, and/or misery, and death. A true disciple will learn the sheer joy of all sin and sins forgiven, the love of God, the beauty of holiness, the freedom of purity, the passion of Godly purpose, the wonder of prayer, the assurance of Heaven, the power and faithfulness of God, the fellowship of the saints, peace of heart, meaning to life and much more. Selah! No sinner can ever truthfully say, at the end of life, sin was wonderful, I loved every moment of it, and I am excitedly looking forward to hell. Ron
Consider what the Apostle Paul said, "…the time of my departure (from this life) is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing" (II Timothy 4:6b-8). That's the way to go!
A mudslide, flooded land, soil eroding, can sweep away lives and years of work. I can not understand how someone who has barely escaped one of these natural disasters can return to the very place where they lost so much and rebuild on such an unsafe location. When a person has built his or her life on the sinking sand of humanistic reasoning, false (not truly) scientific assumptions, or on the acquisition of "things," or living wholly for pleasure, and they discover that these things have led to a collapse of their empty lifestyle, why do they start again on the same faulty premesis? This is astonishing! God stands ready to rescue them, place their feet on "a solid Rock" and enable them to build a stable life for time and eternity. Death is the final collapse of all "the unsaved" and they will be swept into hell, never to escape. If you have never entered into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, move away from the shifting sands of man's ways and let God place your life on solid footing, the Rock of Ages! Selah! Think on the words from this old hymn: "When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. On Christ the solid Rock, I stand." (Edward Mote) Is that where you stand? If not, move while you can. Ron
"He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a Rock, and established my goings..." (Psalm 40:2)
"It's the 'Irish' in me. That's why I love a good fight," or "I inherited my temper from my father," or "He/she really irritates me." It's as though the "Irish," my father, or some person caused me to act a certain way (i.e; fight, lose my temper, become irritated). The truth is that the problem is in me (or you). Where else does anger, irritation, and an urge to fight get started? Jesus said, "…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." (From Matthew 12:34). Actually, our speech, our conversation is a very good index of our character. However, there is another side to this "heart problem." When we come to the Lord Jesus Christ and receive His gift of salvation, a new "Presence" enters our heart (the center of our being). The Spirit of God has brought with Him a new nature, the nature of God Himself! The Holy Spirit then begins the work of evicting every facet of our old sinful nature. How does He do this? He does it as we "soak in" and respond in obedience to, the Scriptures. We obey, not out of fear but because we love Him and want to please Him. How long does this take? The rest of our lives! Some will see it happen faster than others but keep in mind that the old nature resists eviction and will "hang on" to the very end of life. The more we starve the "old" and yield to the "new" the more progress will be made. Your practical holiness will be experienced in proportion to your study of, application of, and obedience to the Holy Word of God. Selah! Co-operate with The Holy Spirit, heed His promptings, and render obedience to Him and you will be blessed! Ron
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking , be put away from you, with all malice" (Ephesians 4:31), "…fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, (crude) jesting, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints" (From Ephesians 5:3-4).
"Sins" are things we do that are wrong, right? That idea is only partly right. Obviously, if we do something wrong, something that is contrary to God's standards, that would be sin. "…for sin is the transgression of the Law." (From I John 3:4) There are sins that we commit. There are "right" things that we should do and when we decide not to do them, that is sin (James 4:17). There are sins of word (conversation, speech [such as dirty talk, swearing, profanity, lies, deceit, slander, gossip, etc.]) and thought (such as impure thoughts, sinful desires and imaginations, and things like hate and anger). The Bible tells us that the sins of which we are guilty are the result of a sin nature in us that we inherited from Adam. How, then, are we to look at this problem. Are we hopelessly trapped in bondage to sin. No! If we have received the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, there is victory over and release from sin and sinning. This is not "instant" perfection! We are predestined "to be conformed to the image of His Son…" (From Romans 8:29). This is a lifelong process. But, how? Our hearts are to be "purified by faith" (Acts 15:9) "…faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" (From Romans 10:17). Study of the Bible, applying it to ourselves, and obedience to Him will bring more and more deliverance from sin's power and sway in our lives. But what if we die before we are completely freed from sin? Isn't it wonderful to know that at the moment of conversion, His perfection was legally credited to us. With that problem all taken care of, He then begins to make us righteous in our daily lives. He will finish that work when we see Him! Selah! "Being confident of this very thing, that He Who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). Ron
As a part of giving forth a "Certain Sound," what about naming sins? "Oh, but we can't do that!" someone might say, "We might offend them." Another might say, "I don't want to be legalistic." Could it be that these kinds of fears have led to a low level of holiness in many of our churches today? Granted, there is no justification for using the pulpit to condemn people or to try to force them to comply with our specific lists of sins. Instead of that, let's explain why certain things are sin. Let's challenge people to love our Lord Jesus Christ so much that they would not want to do anything that might hurt Him. After all, it is not how close to the "world" that we can live and still assume that we are saved. It is: "How close to the Lord can I draw?" Explain to believers in your sphere of influence the joy of a close walk with Him. Tell them of the blessings of physical and spiritual purity. Point out the likely consequences of various sins (but do not hit on several sins at one time). Exemplify Godly behavior, values, and attitudes in your own life. Be consistent! For example, don't watch on TV something that you wouldn't dream of going to a theater to see. Selah! Lukewarmness will never slow the growth of wickedness! Ron
Consider the implications of these thoughts from James: Verse 4 "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the "world" is enmity with God? Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the "world" is the enemy of God." Verse 8a. "Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you."
After yesterday's article, it seems appropriate to state where I stand. The following is a sampling. If there are any that I don't mention and you want to know where I stand, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com . I mentioned yesterday: The Virgin Birth, The Deity of Christ, and the Trinity. Here are some more: The Physical Resurrection of Jesus, The Rapture of the Church, The Physical Return of Christ to the earth, The Verbal, Plenary, Inspiration of Scripture, The absolute necessity of The New Birth, A literal Heaven and hell, Salvation by faith in The Blood-Shedding Sacrifice and Atonement of Jesus, in our behalf. The Ministry of God, The Holy Spirit, Justification by faith alone, apart from works, but genuine faith will prompt good works, separation from the world's lifestyles and philosophies, the Eternal Security of a genuine believer, not of one who only professes, The Autonomy of the Local Church, a Dispensational approach to Scripture, etc. Did I miss anything? I hope I have given a "Certain Sound!" Selah! What about anyone who varies from me on their understanding of Scripture? On the primary doctrines, I don't give an inch! On the secondary doctrines, let's all of us keep studying, praying, and learning. Meanwhile let's agree to disagree, agreeably. Ron
Note: I consider the primary doctrines to be the ones given in "The Fundamentals" (a book listing the non-negotiables of our faith). I hesitate to call the others "secondary" except only by comparison with the primary ones. To me personally, I consider most of them only a whisker apart.