Let me say right here at the beginning that nothing just "happens" to the true child of God. God either causes or allows what takes place in our lives. It has been said that nothing can touch a child of God unless it first passes through the permissive will of God. If He allows it, He has a good reason. Trust Him! I want to give some examples of what He might allow (admittedly, these would not be pleasant), and then suggest an alternative perspective. Let's start with disease. It affords an opportunity to trust, when there seems to be no basis for doing so. It might be an open door to intercessory prayer for others. It might be God's means of getting our attention. Next, what about suffering? Does this help us understand how much more that Jesus suffered? Going on, what about being jailed for something of which we are not guilty? Is this a way that we could enjoy much quality time with our Lord? Another possibility: someone damages our reputation, unjustly? Didn't they do that to our Savior? Does this help us to appreciate more what He endured for us? Lastly, let's think about death. Usually, nothing is harder but we who know Him will be home in Heaven, forever! Don't think that I am suggesting "positive thinking." I'm simply saying that one day we will understand why these things were allowed and actually realize that God, in His love and in His infinite wisdom, had a purpose so grand that we will be grateful that He allowed it. Selah! God allowed awful things to occur in Jesus' Life on earth but look at what it accomplished! Ron
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His Purpose (Romans 8:29).
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).
A friend sends me "Verse of the Day" from time to time. This one has value anytime and especially at this time of year. I'd like to share it with you.
It's been said that real heroes never talk about what they've done. A report by the Chicago Tribune said: "Scores of Americans, from clergymen to lawyers to CEOs, are claiming medals of valor they never earned." People brag about great things they never did. Many high-profile celebrities have "foundations" set up to do good things in their name. Isn't it funny how a camera crew often seems to be nearby to record these "good works?" Pop artist Andy Warhol once said, "In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes." One look around at pop culture today will tell you that millions of people are willing to do anything to make sure that statement comes true for them. The truth is, there have always been people who seek the world's approval for the good things they do or worse, for good things they've never done! Then there are those who do their good deeds quietly in order to seek the approval of their heavenly Father. When scripture tells the story of the widow who gave two "mites,' which was the least valuable coin in circulation, this gift would amount to nothing in most people's eyes. But Jesus saw what others did not. She had given "all that she had" (Mark 12:44). The widow wasn't trying to draw attention to herself. She was simply doing what she was able to do. And Jesus noticed! As the holiday season is upon us, we will have ample opportunity to do good things. There are myriad charities, homeless shelters, food banks, angel trees, etc., that will be vying for our generosity. So do whatever you can and do it from your heart. But don't forget that our Lord sees all that we do, though it may seem very small. The size of the gift isn't what's important. It may be nothing more than showing a cheerful countenance in difficult times or an unnoticed act of love and kindness to someone who happens to pass by. It may be a brief, silent prayer for a neighbor in need. But whatever we do, may our gifts be sacrificial, from the heart and full of love. They should be secretive and never showy. The world may never know about our good deeds, but who cares? We will be pleasing our heavenly Father above. God looks at the heart, not the hand; the giver, not the gift. (Source Unknown).
"And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury; and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And He called unto Him His disciples, and said unto them,'Verily I say unto you, This poor widow hath cast more in than all they who have cast into the treasury, for all they did cast in of their abundance, but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.' " (Mark 12:41-44).
Selah! Only when time is past and eternity is upon us will we realize the full impact of our service for Him! Ron
Henry Morris, in ICR's excellent daily devotional "Days of Praise" (Free upon request from www.icr.org), points out some significant facts from Scripture. "The word "praise" and its derivatives occur over 330 times, and "thanks," with its derivatives, over 150 times." He suggests that "thanksgiving is important and praise-giving is twice as important!" What is the difference between thanks-giving and praise-giving? Morris explains it this way: "When applied to our relation to God, "thanks" are given to Him for what He has done for us, and "praise for Who He is and what He has done for the whole creation." Dr. Stephen Davey, on his radio program, "Wisdom for the Heart" on BBN, contributes this reminder: It is virtually impossible to be truly thankful and depressed at the same time (not a direct quote but the essence of what he said). What a vital thing it is for a disciple to be consistently thankful and quick to praise our Gracious God! Learning to give thanks to God and honoring God with our praise in everything, no matter what the circumstances, is not natural but is "super"natural! We may not enjoy the circumstances but keep in mind this thought from Bill Gothard, "God is not as concerned with our trials as He is with our response to them." Selah! Read Psalm 100 carefully and thoughtfully and remember that even here on earth we can enter into (enjoy) the joy of our Lord. That is indeed our strength! Ron
"Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His Presence with singing……..Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him, and Bless His Name for the LORD is good. (From Psalm 100).
Many of us struggle with trying to not talk too much. After all, we have such important things to say (tongue in cheek)! Here are some thoughts that can help:
Admonitions to not talk too much
" …study to be quiet…"(From I Thessalonians 4:11).
"…let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak…."(From James 1:19)
"…Let the words of my mouth,……..be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD,…"
Advantages of not talking too much
1). It is a great compliment to someone for us to truly listen to him or her. 2). We may learn something. 3). It may be a ministry if we give someone an opportunity to unburden his or her heart. 4). It affords time for us to think if what we were about to say would be better left unsaid. 5). It can even cause some folk to consider us wise. "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise, and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding" (Proverbs 17:28). 6). It is an act of discipline.
Selah! If we can't listen to people, how can we expect to listen to God? Ron
There are countless things to be thankful for today and every day. I have mentioned many of them in previous articles. Today, I would like to focus on just one. It is indeed the Top Priority! Let me highlight it with a question. What if Jesus decided not to go to the cross? No one ever argued that He wanted to be soiled with our sin(s). Nobody claims that He enjoyed the reproach. Try and find someone who would insist that He looked forward to the pain and suffering. He went there and went through that, in obedience to the Father, out of the love of the Godhead for us ruined and lost sinners "who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). It would be profitable to think through the consequences for us, if He hadn't endured the shame and misery. Have you thanked Him from the depths of your being for such wondrous love? "By Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name" (Hebrews 13:15). Selah! Are we so aware of the cost to Him that praise wells up in a baptism of tears for His amazing Grace lavished on us? Ron
Have a Christ-centered and blessed "Thanksgiving!"
From Knowing the Way
Too often there is a tepid involvement with Jesus on the part of many claiming to be Christians. Countless reasons (excuses?) are offered for this kind of shallow relationship. It could be weak faith, lack of true faith, fear of embarrassment, or preoccupation with anything that distracts us from giving ourselves wholeheartedly to knowing Him better and loving Him more and more. If we are true disciples, there is an inner craving for closeness to our Savior. He is the most important Person in our lives! This kind of intense focus on loving and pleasing Him may bring scorn, ridicule, unkind and untrue labels (i.e; "fanatic," "nut," etc.). There may be a cost factor such as lost friendships (were they really friends?), lost opportunities, rejection, etc. Experiencing any or all of these would be a small price to pay in order to enjoy the wonder of His Presence and approval! Jesus was rejected and excluded from the hearts of many people. He was even put to death on the "outside!" Are we willing to go to Him on the "outside," renouncing our "comfort zone?" "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with His own Blood, suffered without ("outside") the gate. Let us go forth, therefore, unto him without ("outside") the camp, bearing His reproach" (Hebrews 13:12-13). Selah! Would we "rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today? (Rhea F. Miller) Ron
An excerpt from one of our most beloved hymns says it well:
"To the old rugged cross, I will ever be true,
its shame and reproach gladly bear;..." (George Bennard)
People who truly know Christ live in an unusual time. There is perhaps more "parachurch" today than church (i.e; "church" in the traditional sense). We have Christian Media outlets. There are Christian Publishers. Consider also Christian Schools. Add to these, Christian Ministries. Christian Social Outreach work is still another part of the picture. What about Christian (and conservative) causes? Another one to add to the mix is Christian Counseling. Still another is Christian bookstores. Dare I include Christian entertainment? Christian World Missions is another component. You can probably think of more. Much of this is worthwhile unless………unless "The Guest of Honor" is not in the place of honor. What is my point? Simply this: Is His Person truly at the center of all this? Are all involved centered on Him? Is His Power the moving force for these endeavors? Is He the "center of attention?" Is His direction sought? Does He enjoy the love of all personnel? Is there a consciousness of His pleasure and blessing? (These kinds of questions can be asked of a local church, as well). One of Satan's most clever ploys is to have us focus on service rather than on the Savior, on ministry rather than on the Master. Revelation 3:20 portrays Jesus on the outside of His Church seeking an invitation to enter for fellowship. This is a tragic picture indeed! Have we fallen into this trap? Selah! Has the "Guest of Honor" arrived? With all of the bustle, have we stopped long enough to open the door and welcome Him in to the seat of honor? Ron
In I Kings 19:11-12, God approaches Elijah. First, however, there is wind, earthquake, and fire. After that, God speaks in "a still, small voice." Have we moved beyond the sights and sounds of feverish activities so that now we can hear the still, small voice of Jesus seeking our fellowship?