Scary Words

Presumption is dangerous, especially in relation to Spiritual matters. However, there is a basis for a very blessed assurance. It is presumption for a person to think that he or she is saved because they agreed with a set of Biblical facts and yet have not experienced a corresponding change in their lives. Jesus said, in Matthew 7:21, "Not every one that sayeth unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who doeth the will of My Father, Who is in Heaven." He is further quoted in Luke 6:46 as asking this sobering question, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" No wonder we are instructed to "…..give diligence to make our calling and election sure…."   (From II Peter 1:10). In the opening verses of this chapter, Peter, writing under inspiration, gives us what amounts to evidence that our calling and election is sure. When our lives are growing in the virtues listed in Verses 5-8, we have a basis for assurance. Spiritual fruit is inevitable when there has been a genuine conversion. It may be in varying amounts or in slower development but fruit there will be! Romans 10:10 informs us that "…with the heart man believeth unto righteousness."  Ephesians 2 reinforces this Truth, in verse 10, with this excerpt: "created…unto good works."  It is believed by too many people that you have to do good to be saved, when the reality is that when you are saved you will do good. Let's not get the cart before the horse! Selah! How scary is the possibility that you could go through a big part of your life assuming you are saved and end up lost because there is no evidence that you submitted to His Lordship?!   Ron

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Haunting Words

Imagine that you are the most powerful and popular person on the planet. Add to that that you are extremely brilliant. Next, add to the mix that you have more money than you could spend in ten lifetimes.You have lovely mansions in many countries. You are admired and respected by famous people all over the earth. You will leave a legacy that will enrich your world. People will study and read about you for years to come. Your life will be a role model for each new generation. Now, let's put it on a different level. You are a good parent, spouse, son, daughter, whatever. You are loved and respected by your family. You have a nice home, car, job, etc. You are moral and upright, a model citizen. You pay your bills. You have laid aside a good amount of money for your future. You attend church regularly and give generously, as well as serve. You are honored with prestigious degrees from big name schools. Your health is good. You are courteous and pleasant to others. In either scenario, what's missing? Suppose that either or both of these hypothetical individuals have not received the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They die! What then? Jesus asked a question, found in Matthew 16:26, that should haunt anyone who has never come to Him for salvation. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul…?" Indeed, how awful to be great and/or good all your life and end up lost forever! No matter how good or bad one is, imagine being lost forever! Selah! Are we doing anything to cause people to think seriously about this haunting question?     Ron

Challenging Words

Israel had times of favor from God and then times of moral and Spiritual failure. The Church has had times of great blessing because of revival and then times when it has lapsed into worldliness and/or Laodicean slumber. Individual Christians have had times of great closeness to God and times of what we call "backsliding" and/or lukewarmness. Why this pattern of "ups and downs?" I believe the answer is found in these challenging words from Hebrews 2:1. "Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." Picture a river flowing swiftly along. You are standing on the dock of your riverside home. Your boat has been tied to the dock but not very securely. A strong current breaks the rope and your boat has begun slipping away. Your boat was, some time ago, well tied but conditions have worn down the strength of the rope and you have been too busy, too preoccupied to notice. You have let it "slip away." We start out with excitement and give a good amount of time to the things of God. It seems as if we can't get enough of God, His Word, prayer, church attendance, witnessing, preaching, etc. However, over time, subtle distractions divert our minds and hearts from what really matters and little by little our hold on Spiritual realities weakens, and we lose our grip on them and they start to slip from our grasp. Could this be happening now in someone's life? Grab hold of the things that count. Reorder your priorities. If you move decisively, you may not suffer serious loss of God's richest blessings. Selah! Strengthen your hold and resist distractions. They don't come your way by accident.    Ron

 

Warning Words

"How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" (From Hebrews 2:3). Many Christians have assumed that this verse relates to failing to receive salvation. While that might be a possible application, the basic interpretation has to do with those who have been saved but are neglecting to grow spiritually. How can they escape? Escape what? I suggest that we can't escape great loss if we neglect so great salvation. We lose the joy of rich, intimate involvement with our Lord. We lose the comfort of the Scriptures. We lose God's power operating in and through us. We miss the discovery of precious gems of Truth. We lose peace that would sustain us under pressure. We will likely lose assurance of our salvation. (We won't lose salvation but we may not be sure we ever had it). These are a sampling of what we lose. Therefore, we need to consider what it means to neglect so great salvation. We can do this many ways. One way is not spending time talking with God (i.e; prayer). Another way is not listening to Him (i.e; reading His Word). Still another way is failing to count your blessings. Appreciating your blessings motivates praise and gratitude which, in turn, brings more blessing to you. A further way to lose out is the loss of rewards that God wants to give us. I think you get the idea. Selah! There is no experience on earth that compares with that of living with a consciousness of His approving Presence, during each day of our journey to Home!     Ron

Faulty Faith or Fierce Faithfulness?

I am more convinced than ever before that the typical experience of too many who claim to be Christians just doesn't "cut it" for themselves or for others. Why is it that many Christians generate little, if any, excitement and enthusiasm over their being saved? There are many possible answers to this question. Most would probably be helpful. I would like to give what I consider the "bottom line" answer to be.  Those who profess to be Christians have never had a genuine conversion, or they have had a true conversion but have not yet come to grips with the wonder of it. As I have pointed out in previous articles, it is easy to assume that agreement with certain basic salvation Truths means that anyone who believes these facts is saved. No, that might be a starting point but, if this faith is not acted on, it is a faulty faith. Biblical faith involves a surrender of our lives to the One we trust and a commitment to cultivate our relationship with Him. This can not be done by trying to "tuck Him in" to our busy days. A fierce faithfulness demands that He be the center of each day's activities and responsibilities. It means that we will relate to Him with an intensity of purpose to know Him better and better. We will take the time and make the effort to talk with Him, listen to Him, and obey Him! We will invest time and energy to understand the magnitude of what His grace and mercy have accomplished in our lives. The more we understand, the more excited and exciting we will become. Selah! An increasing and fervent faith is contagious!   Ron

"For to me to live is Christ"  "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection…." (From Ephesians 1:21; 3:10).

Sterile Christianity?

The two words "sterile" and "Christianity" do not go together! However, what some call Christianity may be very sterile indeed. If we consider ourselves to be Christians, is our lifestyle any different from the general population? Is it possible, is it acceptable, for someone who doesn't know the Lord to be more passionate about their purpose in life than we are about our relationship with Jesus? I realize temperament has a bearing on the way we respond to life. Nevertheless, a quiet, passive, matter of fact person would, I suspect, get excited if he or she became aware of a bomb coming toward them. Maybe we have never felt the impact of a dynamic consciousness of God's Person at work in and through us. If so, why not? How much priority have we given to the cultivation of an intimate relationship with Almighty God? Is there anything competing with God for our attention and time? Do we allow anything to do that? How can we interest anybody in a Christianity about which we are "ho hum?" Was it not the fervency of the disciples after the resurrection, and the burning heart of the Apostle Paul that ignited the flames of evangelism? Isn't it time to draw near to Him and let the white-hot heat of His holiness set our hearts on fire? Even as I compose these lines, I feel conviction for living below the standard of an "all out" commitment. My heart is challenged to renew and intensify my determination for Him to be the consuming passion of my remaining time on earth. Perhaps you feel the same. If so, let's follow our hearts! Selah! Hearts on fire will ignite fire in other hearts!     Ron

"….tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem (for us, in God's Presence) until ye be endued with power from on high." (From Luke 24:49). When He sets your heart on fire, spread the flame!