If actors started "doing their own thing," the production would be a disaster! Only a good producer (and director) can turn out a great drama. As they and the actors work together in harmony (with each actor seeing the "big picture" and internalizing his place in the unfolding story), a masterpiece can be accomplished. Each life on earth has the potential to be a great production but how many people submit to the Producer and Director? Many possibly great stories are scrapped because people mess with the script of their lives, instead of letting God direct. In our lives, it's not an act. It's real life! Time and again, one's life story is greater than any fiction and can have a profound effect, for good or for evil, on those who are watching. When a production is truly great, it leaves the audience deeply moved. A disciple wants the Divine Producer to be honored and appreciated. Those who are moved by what He has done with you will want Him to do the same with them. Selah! Your life can be great! How is your story coming along? Ron
The Grand Finale of one life was expressed in these words: "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the Faith…! (Paul, in II Timothy 4:6-7).
"Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Hold o'er my being absolute sway! Fill with Thy Spirit 'till all shall see Christ only, always , living in me! (Adelaide A. Pollard).
There is a basic reason why we do not keep resolutions that we make, if we still even bother to make them. We try to keep them in our own strength by our own human ability apart from Divine aid. We start out well enough but after a few failures, we give up. It doesn't "feel" good to fail! We listen to that subtle whisper in our mind's ears that says, "You can't do it!" We can't but God can, in and through us, if our resolutions are in harmony with the principles of His Word. However, we need a winning strategy. First, and foremost, how many times do we try to keep a resolution? The right answer is as many times as we fail plus one. Secondly, we don't allow "feelings" to discourage us. Thirdly, we keep before God for strength. Next, we write them down and refer to them daily. In addition, we don't make so many that achievement looks impossible. Having said all that, our first resolution must be quality time alone with God, in His Word and prayer. We need a goal. Ex. If I read the Bible (and study it carefully) all the way through this year, can I finish earlier next year and start over again so that the following year, granted we are still here, I can maybe read it through twice? Do the same with witnessing and giving. Have a goal and keep on keeping on. Mastering the art of discipline is the essence of discipleship. Selah! Plan your year and work your plan until it becomes a part of you. Ron
Jesus, in John 4:34, said, "My meat (i.e; that which fills and sustains Me) is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work." Make Jesus' Words yours and finish the work that he has entrusted to you.
One gospel song (a Gaither number, I believe) has as a part of its lyrics a descriptive phrase of life apart from Jesus. It's spoken of as "a life of aimless desperation." There is something disturbing about looking on a body of water and seeing a boat floating aimlessly along. As has been taught many times to salesmen: "He who aims at nothing will hit it with deadly accuracy!" Some drift through life, because of laziness. Others have no purpose in life but fun and play. The bottom line, no matter how we slice it, is that drifting is wasting a life that God wanted to bless and use. It leaves the person who is characterized a "drifter" empty and unfulfilled. Even worse, however, is facing God with a life that has been squandered. How do you, should God leave you here, plan to live in 2010? Are you just going to let it happen? Why not start planning ways that you can redeem the time in this soon coming new year? Should He tarry, there is "ground" to take, victories to win, lives to influence, hope to impart, comfort to give, love to share, salvation to offer, and God to honor. Selah! The words of a favorite hymn express well what attitude should define a disciple: "I want to scale the utmost height and catch a gleam of glory bright; but still I'll pray 'till Heav'n I've found, "Lord, lead me on to higher ground." (Johnson Oatman, Jr.). Ron
"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psalm 90:12).
We can't change the past but we can learn from it. We probably won't escape the consequences of our bad choices but they can serve as a warning not to make wrong choices in our lives right now. As each of us reflect on our past years, we may discern certain patterns. As an example, just this past year, did we simply squeeze "Devotions" in or were we more faithful than anytime before and was our time alone with God more meaningful than in previous years? If we just squeezed them in, we need to ask God to help us change that pattern. We need to discipline ourselves to give top priority to prayer and Bible study. What concrete steps can one take to accomplish this? First of all, give it all the time it takes for it to dawn upon you that you are in the Presence of Almighty God. Secondly, learn to distinguish between a "religious" duty and the unsurpassing wonder of friendship (as well as relationship) with your Creator/Savior. Thirdly, focus intensely on what He says to you, in His Word! God is speaking! Listen! If you consider the implications of this unique privilege and honor, you will be motivated to put it at the top of your "To Do List." Suppose that the Apostle Paul was enabled to leave Heaven for 24 hours and he contacted you and set a time to come to your home. Would you be sure to be there, no matter what? A greater than Paul desires an appointment with you. He is awaiting your arrival in the "prayer closet." Any bad pattern can be changed for good, if approached with thoughtful, determined, and prayerful dedication. Selah! Last year's failures can be steppingstones to this coming year's victories. Ron
"….I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. ….I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do…..I press toward the mark for the prize….." (From Philippians 3:12-13).
If I were to ask average people to list for me all the bad things about 2009, most could rather quickly come up with a long list. On the other hand, if I were to ask most disciples to list all the blessings of 2009, many would take a longer time and likely wind up with a shorter list? Why would this be? One reason is that we are sensitive to what hurts, annoys, disgusts, and offends us. Another reason, all too often, is that we don't very often stop and think about all the ways that God has blessed us. In fact, we frequently take the good things for granted. What if, all of a sudden, God stopped blessing us? If we do not develop the discipline of thankfulness, God could justly withdraw His Gracious provisions. I think it's a wonder that He doesn't usually do this. If we don't appreciate them, why should He bother? If you have neglected to tell God how much His generosity has meant to you, wouldn't it be a very good idea to dedicate a block of time, in the closing moments of this year, to thinking back over all of His provisions this year and telling God how much you appreciate His goodness to you? It will mean something to God and you will be better for it. Selah! As you make a real effort to think about all of your blessings, you will probably be surprised how much that you have failed to appreciate His love and kindness toward you. Retroactive gratitude may right a serious wrong. It will get you off on the right foot to enter 2010. Ron
"Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah!" (Psalm 68:19).
The Bible calls us to be there for others who need us. (It also calls for some to be there for us). This works most effectively when we and they are indeed concerned enough to meet this responsibility. Scriptures' pages are full of this. Love one another, pray for one another, lift one another up, comfort one another, encourage one another, challenge one another, etc. are directly or indirectly taught in God's Word. We are not intended to be "lone" rangers! Having said that, and not in any way downplaying it, there are times when we do need to be alone. Jesus commanded His Disciples, and this also applies to us, ".…come apart (aside) and rest a while…." (From Mark 6:31). My own Pastor, years ago, admonished us: "Beware of the barrenness of a busy life." When we isolate ourselves from all but Him, we are better prepared to minister to others. There will also be times when we will be all alone. This kind of aloneness is not of our own choosing. It may be persecution, the loss of a loved one, some personal trial too difficult to share with any other human being, because they wouldn't understand. At times like this, we are not quite all alone. Look at Paul in prison facing execution. He said, "At my first answer (defense) no man stood with me, but all men forsook me……Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…." (From II Timothy 4:16-17). If we are His, we can rely on His Presence and sustaining Grace in every trial! Selah! If we learn to regularly come alone to Him, He will always come to us in our times of need. If our "quiet time" makes us aware of His Presence, we will sense His Presence when we need it more than any other time in our lives. Ron
Certainly an unsaved person can't grasp much of anything about what happened when Christ was born. He or she is pretty much limited to view it as the birth of someone remarkable. They may see Him as a great person, teacher, leader, etc. They may be aware that He made one of the greatest impacts ever made in the history of the human race, possibly even the greatest impact of all. They can't go much further than that. What is even more tragic is when a true child of God doesn't realize much more than that. One of the most exciting moments in a born again Christian's life is when the reality grips them that God was in Christ (and Christ was and is God) visiting our world. God had come to take a "hands-on" approach to meet the desperate need of mankind. He came to rescue those who would receive Jesus, as Savior and Lord, from the awful penalty for sin. What a miracle it was, when the Mighty Creator God, in the Person of His Son, was bodily contracted to the limits of the virgin's womb! At Calvary, this God was, "….in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself…." (From II Corinthians 5:19). Everyone's redemption price was paid-in-full. Those willing to receive the benefit for themselves, by exercising simple faith in that atoning Sacrifice, need only to invite Him to be their Lord and Savior . Saving faith trusts Him with ruling and reigning in their lives. (See Romans 10:9-10). If all this isn't wonder enough, consider this astonishing provision for the redeemed: "…Christ in you,the hope of Glory…." (From Colossians 1:27). Add to that, this further stunning realization: "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9). To quote Major Ian Thomas: "God wants to be what He is-everything, in what we are-nothing and that will really be something!" Selah! Let these Truths grip your mind, if you have received Him, not only at CHRISTmas but all year long. Be a channel for His Presence to flow through, to touch other lives redemptively. Ron