There was a time that basements, attics, and closets had to be kept "ship-shape." A wife would be ashamed if someone found dust or cobwebs in any of these places. However, with the cares of life, how easily that cleaning these could be postponed. If there are cobwebs in the closet, maybe no one has opened the door and looked to see. In our houses, a duster, or a rag, or vacuum cleaner could quickly remove the offending matter. If our closets were checked daily, cobwebs wouldn't be allowed to accumulate. What about our Spiritual closet? Have cobwebs taken over because of being too busy to spend some time in our closets? A serious disciple thinks of prayer in terms of what it really is. He or she knows that it is the high and holy privilege of conversing with God! I suspect that few of us grasp the wonder of God wanting us to talk to Him! He is willing and able to give all of us unlimited time with Himself and give us His undivided attention. He is never too busy to listen. He loves us and waits for us to get alone with Him. It is here in "the secret place" that we are able to unburden ourselves. It is here, in His Presence, that we can experience being "lost in wonder, love and praise." Selah! "Sitting at the feet of Jesus, where can mortal be more blest?" (J.H.) Ron
"…when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to (converse with) thy Father…." (From Matthew 6:6).
In spite of movies, novels, plays, articles, etc. distorting what love really is, the Bible gives the true picture. As we have mentioned in previous articles, love is not, essentially, nice, fuzzy feelings (i.e; emotions). It may bring about some nice emotions but love, first and foremost, is a commitment. It is a commitment to highly prize, highly esteem, someone or something. The Biblical Word "agape" carries this meaning. Whom do we highly prize, esteem? A mate, friends, a noble person, a hero, a role model? Yes, but it doesn't stop there. What about drug dealers, prostitutes, killers, thieves, drunkards, etc.? Obviously, we are not to love or condone their behavior. We are to highly prize them! This is only possible by supernatural enabling. Do you recall that God loved (highly prized) us, His enemies? His love, His commitment, to rebels and enemies has won many to Himself. Who's to say how many "down and outers" our love might be instrumental in bringing to Christ? What about "oddballs", characters, etc.? Same thing, love them, highly prize them. Above all, even more highly prize Him Who loved us so! This is the greatest of all discipleship responsibilities and privileges. Selah! His love won many of us to Himself. It still works today, very often through us who know Him. Ron
"For if ye (only) love them who love you, what reward have ye….?" (From Matthew 5:46).
A Preacher recently asked, "Why is it so hard to read the Bible?" He went on to point out that there are numerous reasons that people give for not reading God's Word. "I've just been so busy!" "I was just too tired!" "It's so hard to understand!" These are just a few of many. What is the real reason? There are basically two reasons. One: Not being truly saved. Two: We have allowed other things to use up our time. We can spend several hours a day watching television or involvement in sports, etc. but why don't we spend time like that in the Word? If we were to invest that kind of time, alone with God, listening to Him speak via the Word, we just might escape experiencing the normally anemic substitute for true Christianity that is so tragically common today. Are we too lazy to work at it? Are we satisfied to enjoy other things more than we enjoy time with God? Assuming that we have truly been born again, then as disciples we will learn to not go by our feelings but will by cast-iron determination pay the price to grow Spiritually. Let's start with bite-sized pieces, if we have to, but let's not stop until He is more important than anything else in our lives. Selah! Are we saved? Are we increasing in discipline? If we are not, let's repent and get to work! Join me? 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).
We have been discussing some of the wonderful blessings that are left to those that are His. For the next few days, I hope to examine the subject of serious discipleship as compared to a surface type of "lip" allegiance to the necessity of being a good disciple. For today, I would like to ask a question. I ask you to ponder this carefully and be sure to come back tomorrow. If Jesus were here in His human form today and we were in a room with Him and someone asked Him to comment on our ideas of discipleship, what do you think He might say? I wonder if our concepts of "discipleship" lead us to settle for an inferior brand of commitment. If so, I want to challenge us to commit to letting God motivate us to discard the superficial experience and replace it with "the real thing." Selah! I suspect that only seeing an in-depth discipleship, lived out, will motivate most people to consider Christ's claims on their lives. Ron
"For to me to live is Christ…." (From Philippians1:21). Is that our passion?
What has been left to you?
There is much confusion regarding the nature of true freedom. Freedom is not: "I'll do whatever I please!" That is the worst kind of slavery! (There are things that we want to do, which are O.K. to do, of course). What I have in mind are those things that lead to addictions. How many people today live for "things," or fame, or popularity, or education, or sports or pleasure, etc.? While some of these, in moderation, are legitimate pursuits, to live wholly given over to them is idolatry and bondage. Making these kinds of things our all consuming passion shifts our focus away from God. This leads to emptiness and destructive behavior. Far worse, it leads to our ultimate rejection by God, with all that that implies! "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." (Exodus 20:3). On the other hand, receiving Jesus, as Savior and Lord, places us in God's family and brings the freedom to realize our full potential and freedom from whatever would tear us down, as we apply His word and obey Him. The abundant living that Jesus mentioned, in John 10:10, is ours when we live by His principles. Surrendering control of our lives to Him brings genuine freedom and eternity in Heaven. Selah! Don't accept cheap substitutes for real freedom. To do that would leave you bound in spirit forever! Even if you are born again, freedom is contingent upon yielding to His Lordship. Ron
What has been left to you?
Have you ever thought seriously about God being merciful? Why should He be merciful? Even more to the point, why should He be merciful to you or to me? To begin with, He made a beautiful garden, in a world unspoiled by sin. He gave man a wonderful environment. He made ample provision for all needs. He surrounded man with breathtaking beauty. He exceeded all of this by engaging in personal fellowship with man. He tested man's loyalty with the withholding of one thing only. Man had been trusted with limited free will and chose to exercise that will in rebellion against an infinitely gracious God. Perhaps we think that if we were given what was given to Adam and Eve that we wouldn't have done what they did. That is only prideful thinking. Do we, for one minute, suppose that God in His wisdom and love would not have created the best specimens of all for His test? Looking back on all that, how long did it take for God to get our attention? Would we have ever given God the time of day, if He hadn't reached out to us? After He revealed Himself to us, how long did we resist responding to such wondrous love? He didn't owe us anything but eternal banishment but He offered a restoration to fellowship with Himself. Remember, He did that at the cost of His Son's death! Now, consider that after we come to Jesus and in simple faith receive Him as Savior and Lord, how many times do we sin and fail? When we do that, over and over, how many times does He forgive and cleanse? Are you beginning to see what a gift God's mercy is? Selah! Keep in mind that we have only slightly peeked at His mercy in this article, just a little glimpse of one part of the superabundant overflow of His amazing grace! Ron
"But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened" (us), (made us, who received Him, Spiritually alive). (From Ephesians 2:4-5).
What has been left to you?
The Ability to Develop Love
Here are some of the thoughts shared with us last evening by Doctor Delma O. Lowery:
We are commanded to love but how are we to we to develop the capacity to do so? The answer is found in II Peter 1:3-7. Verse 3 informs us that we have been given "….all things that pertain to life and Godliness…." How to experience love (to highly value others) is one of those things. It begins with faith. Faith (trust) is God's requirement for the gift of Salvation. If one is not born again, it is not possible to love as God intends us to. Once we are saved, we start to grow in virtue, in moral excellence. "…add to your faith virtue…." As we come to approve and practice moral excellence (i.e; virtue), we are to work at knowledge. This kind of knowledge is only found in God's Word. Next we are to build on faith, virtue, and knowledge. We are to add "…. to (your) knowledge, temperance…." (i.e; self control) This is discipline; discipleship. As your knowledge of God increases, you see the need for discipline and your desire for it grows. I'll group the next few for the sake of space. Developing discipline paves the way to increase patience. To patience, we add Godliness. This is the result of what has gone before. We begin to see, and respond to, life from God's point of view. We share His Life and principles. As all of these previous qualities are increasing, we go on to brotherly kindness (i.e; love in action), highly valuing others. Selah! Are you saved? Are you in this process of growth and development? If not, I urge you to start today. Ron