Testing Positive for Biblical Experience?

How Biblical is our experience of Jesus?  Paul, for example, wrote in Philippians 1:21 that for him, "…to live is Christ…." The first test is the extent to which we are truly centered on honoring Him and bringing Him pleasure. We want to do this because we love Him more than anyone on earth. The second test is willing and joyful obedience motivated by our love for Him. He, Himself said,"If ye love Me, keep My commandments." The third test is our longing for and enjoyment of basking in His Presence. John wrote "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ and these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full" (I John 1:3-4). The fourth test is implied in Paul's summary explanation of the Gospel: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received." (i.e; the Gospel) (From I Corinthians 15:3). Once we have responded to the Gospel, we want others to receive the same wonderful salvation that we received and we have the privilege and responsibility to deliver it to others, just as Paul did. You and I could probably mention some more tests. However, the point is this: Is He central to all we do, say, think, and decide? I'm not talking "perfection." I am thinking in terms of the direction in which our lives are headed. If our daily focus is on things other than Him, then we need to refocus on Him. He is the reason for discipleship!  Selah! Let's give Him more than lip service, let's give Him life service!   Ron

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Is There a Need for Personal Revival?

 A coal taken out of the fire soon loses its glow and heat. The more removed a genuine believer is from the Source of heat, the colder he or she becomes until the excitement and passion of discipleship is little more than ashes. What can be more tragic than to have lost the fervor and thrill of intimacy with our wonderful Lord, having once experienced it! Seldom, if ever, does this condition come about by a momentary decision to backslide. Satan's strategy is to promote a subtle and gradual slippage. Just as the coal, by itself alone, cools gradually, so does the believer "cool down" a little bit at a time. Is it time to seek God, prevailing upon Him to restore the joy of your salvation? Can you identify with the prayer of this hymn by Robert Robinson? "O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! Let Thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee: Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here's my heart, O take and seal it; seal it for Thy courts above!!! If we are never granted a revival like some of those great movings of God's Spirit in days gone by, we can be certain that God still revives the hearts of those who take the three steps highlighted in the following verse: "Remember, therefore, from where thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works" (i.e; return). (From Revelation 2:5). Selah! He is the God of second chances! Remember, repent, and return! He is waiting!  For you?    Ron

What Drives Discipleship?

What characterizes a disciple? What drives a disciple? What goes on inside? A person coming to Jesus for salvation recognizes his or her need for it. They are conscious of their sin and guilt. They need and strongly desire forgiveness. They understand a penalty is demanded for breaking God's Law. They believe that Jesus paid their penalty when He died on the cross to make atonement. They trust Him and His gracious offer of deliverance from sin's penalty. They trust Him with their eternal destiny. Something else is involved. A thinking person knows salvation isn't only escaping Hell. Being in charge of one's own life is no longer an acceptable option. We receive Him as Savior and Lord. We surrender! We surrender control of our lives. That surrender is the very heartbeat of discipleship. We begin to experience the exercise of His Lordship. Discipleship has begun. We are filled with love and gratitude. We worship Him. We crave righteousness in our lives. We long to please and honor Him. We want His will in our lives. What has taken place is not a mechanical surrender. It is a willing and wonderful yielding to the One Who loves us so much. Yes, this is a process. It is a process that begins at the moment we come to Jesus. For some the progress is more rapid than for others. Nevertheless, no matter how slow or how fast, the discipline is underway. The Holy Spirit, using the Word of God and certain other means, is working to conform us to His Likeness. Selah! What is required of a true disciple is required of a true Christian because they are one and the same.    Ron

"….If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." (From Luke 9:23).

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27).

Authentic Discipleship

Some argue that you can be a true believer without necessarily being a disciple. For the sake of discussion, what is required of a disciple that is not required of a Christian? Granted that not all Christians are well disciplined. However, disciples also start out with less discipline and go on to develop more as the Word takes root. Christians are not as disciplined at the beginning as they become later. Once again, it is the sanctitying Word that produces the results. To contend that Christians are not always disciples may betray a serious lack of understanding as to what constitutes a Christian. It may account for a low level of commitment on the part of many professing believers. When a person truly receives salvation, that person has, from the heart, received Jesus as Savior and Lord!  Lordship strongly implies discipline! God allows time for growth and lovingly guides the process. Some of us learn more slowly but all are moving in that direction, if we are His. Certainly God knows that some are capable of strong discipline, while some struggle to yield to His Lordship. The fact remains that all true born again believers are in process of becoming more disciplined. To suggest that some might be saved but not be disciples might be because of a failure to discern the difference between possession and profession. Selah! Neither works nor holiness provide salvation. On the other hand, salvation produces good works and holy lives. Discipline is God's way of insuring that we experience the fruits of conversion.   Ron

"And why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"  (Luke 6:46)

Timely Article from a Friend

Every once in awhile, I receive an article called "Verse for the Day." This is a very good one.

 
 
 
 

One of our church's former Sunday School teachers used to say, "You might be the only Bible some people ever read." Her intended message was that non-believers will look at our actions as believers and determine whether we walk the walk or just talk the talk. And if we don't walk the walk, we'll simply be labeled hypocrites and our faith won't be taken seriously. In other words, if non-believers can't get past the messenger, they'll never get the message. As Christians, we are called to be examples. And let's face it, being an example is often about being different. But most of us don't want to be different. We want people to like us, and the safest way to do that is to blend in. But following Christ has never been about blending in. Following Him means to be like Him, to respond to life and relate to people as He did. It's a little risky and uncomfortable to be different. But that's what it means to be an "ambassador for Christ" (2 Cor. 5:20). We're called to bring the wonderful difference of our King to the territory we've been assigned: our home, our office, our friendships. But it's not just our calling, it's a great honor. This would be a great time to ask God to help us commit to being better representatives of His Kingdom. It's easy to be like the world. But it's hard to stand apart from it. And we certainly can't do it in our own strength. We need the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit! We can make a difference when we dare to be different. So let's dare to be different—for the Father's sake.

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

—2 Corinthians 5:20-21

 
 

Daniel and Discipleship-14

Highlighting Insights on Discipleship

In Chapters 11-12, Daniel is receiving more of the unfolding revelation of prophetic truth. In the middle of all this insight into the future working of God in the affairs of mankind, one important fact is brought to our attention. There is going to be suffering!  We, in fact, are probably experiencing in the world today, some early measure of that intense suffering to come. I have a hunch (premonition?) that suffering is beginning to lap at the shores of our western world, even as I write this. What is the purpose of this suffering for disciples? The answer is given in Chapter 12, Verse 10. "Many shall be purified and made white, and tried (tested),….." ( A reminder is included: The wicked will continue in their wickedness and none of them shall understand). Then the verse adds: "but the wise shall understand…." A disciple should be acquiring wisdom from the source of true wisdom. Jesus, by His Spirit, using His Word dispenses wisdom to his disciples. One truth is that a disciple is wise who prepares for that future time of persecution by developing discipline from the Scriptures today before the suffering intensifies. Granted, we who are disciples today, won't see the worst of it. However I expect that the prelude to the tribulation period will exceed any suffering we have known or known about in our day. If we fail to prepare, perhaps we should prepare to fail. Selah! Waiting until suffering gets much worse means that we will have waited too long to prepare. Let's begin to develop discipline now, as wise disciples. The wise will find help in time of need. The wicked will feel judgment fall.   Ron

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble  (Psalm 46:1).

Daniel and Discipleship-13

Highlighting Insights on Discipleship

During the third year of the Persian King Cyrus' reign, Daniel (Chapter 10) has another angelic encounter. Some significant insights emerge from this experience. After a vivid description of his Heavenly visitor, Daniel shares his reaction to this awesome being: "…there remained no strength in me…." (From Verse 8). Having been touched by a hand lifting him to his knees and hands, he was informed in Verse 11 that he was "a man greatly beloved..." and told to stand on his feet. His response? "I stood trembling." If Daniel was in awe of an angel, how much more should we be in awe of the Presence of God as we commune with and worship Him? As the narrative continues, a lesson on prayer is found in Verses 12-13. There are delays, at times, in the answers to prayer. Sometimes, there are long delays. There are reasons for delays. One reason is given here. The Heavenly messenger met spiritual resistance to his mission. It took three weeks, and a helper, to break through to Daniel. However, Daniel's prayer was heard at the time he prayed. Verse 12 further explains that Daniel set his heart to understand. Note is made that Daniel chastened (disciplined; humbled) himself. The results of this encounter: Daniel is to be given an understanding of God's plans way into the latter days. This was, indeed, a long way off from Daniel's lifetime. He was also given an insight into God's activities in the affairs of mankind. Selah! When those qualities that defined Daniel come to define God's disciples today, who knows how many wonderful answers will be ours and what precious insights from God's Word might be opened up to serious Christians?     Ron