A perspective that should have a motivational impact on all Christians is the possibility of death at any moment. True, as one has put it, we are immortal until our work is done. However, it could be done at any point in time. We might be hit by a car (I was recently) and be injured or killed. We might be struck by lightning. We could have a heart attack. Almost anything could bring our lives to an end suddenly. We are constantly in the shadow of death. This perspective can depress us or it can motivate us to live with eternity's values in view. You see, after we pass through the shadow, we are face to face with our Lord. How do we want to meet Him, once we have come out of the shadow into His Presence? We need to learn 'living" grace to prepare us for "dying" grace. The moment we come out of the shadow, any opportunity to make changes that we should have made is gone forever. The changes need to be done while we are in the shadow. We might have a very small "window of opportunity" to make changes. Selah! Starting to make needed changes now will not only enrich our Spiritual experience but just might add years to our lives. Godly lives are in short supply. Why not let God use you to increase the supply? Ron
Start preparing now, so that later you can and will "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise." From Psalm 100::4).
If you can do it, reading four chapters a day of God's Word each day will get you through the whole Bible in a year. When you have shorter chapters such as Psalms, that is a good time to read extra chapters. This will put you ahead of schedule. This way you don't get behind if you miss a day or two for sickness. In any event, it is quality more than quantity that matters most. One or two chapters studied and applied is more valuable than many chapters skimmed through. For witnessing, have a supply of tracts in view to remind you to share them. Also have in mind some conversation openers for when you have an opportunity to talk with someone. Don't depend on the openers, just depend on the Holy Spirit. Use the openers to initiate conversation and pray for God to use what you share. Go to a Christian bookstore or book rack to make a list of twelve books for 2011. Purchase or borrow one a month and determine how much you need to read each day to finish each book in a month. If you don't know some good books, consider the list to the left of this article. When you pray, talk with God as you would your dearest friend. He is! Be conscious of His Presence and know that He is listening to what you are saying. If you don't attend a local church where the Bible is believed, preached, and taught, find a church that does. Become regular in attendance and find a way to help your church minister. Invite people, pick them up, if necessary. These habits will be life changing. Selah! This is a workable plan. Let me challenge you to use it faithfully, if you have don't a workable plan of your own. Ron
"Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you." (From James 4:8).
My apologies for the lateness of today's article. Ron
"Resolutions are made to be broken," so the saying goes. This is too often true. Hence, the idea of goals instead of resolutions. That won't help much unless, first of all, we write our goals down and refer to them each day. To help insure moving toward these goals, put your written goals where they will catch your attention every day. Make sure that you don't set impossible goals or you might get discouraged. Make them achievable but requiring some extra effort to accomplish. Have a means of checking off the ones you reach. Try to have an uninterrupted sequence of "checked off" items. Some worthy goals to consider might start with several chapters of Scripture read each day. Next, prayer time each day, not just "saying" prayers but conversing with God. Praising and thanking should be a vital part of this time, more than asking. Add to this faithful attendance and participation at your local "Bible believing" assembly Another goal to consider is to read at least one really good Christian book a month. Rounding the list off, witness in some way to no less than one person each week.These are for openers. Selah! If you will work at these, it will make a profound difference in your walk with our Lord and motivate you to do even better next year. Tomorrow, Lord willing some tips to help you meet your goals. Ron
"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men" (Colossians 3:23).
Bible study can be a "spinning your wheels" experience. It can be a waste of time. How could Bible study ever be a waste of time? It depends on how you study. We can find facts, good teaching, and interesting things in the Bible and never discover its Spiritual content. Unsaved people may even read the Bible that way. How can we appropriate the Spiritual Truth in Scripture? First and foremost, genuine salvation is the key that opens the door to this kind of understanding. However, many who are saved never get much further than in the door, even though they may read the Bible faithfully over time. Why? It's because they only let the Word of God touch their minds and emotions but not their will. How does "will" come into the picture? It is with the "will" that we choose to obey and apply God's Word in our daily lives. Our wills can be moved by our emotions but the bottom line is our applying and obeying God's Word by the act of our wills. Anything less is like "spinning our wheels" spiritually and can easily be a waste of time. Selah! If we looked in a mirror, walked away, and then forgot what we looked like and kept going back to remind ourselves, we would be considered foolish. Is it not much more foolish to invest hours and even years in Bible study and forget what we were supposed to do? It is life changing when we learn and do! Ron
"But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty (i.e; The Word of God), and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed" (James 1:25).
The week between Christmas and New Year's Day can be a catch up week. We "recover" from Christmas and start thinking about the new year, or it can be a week of resting after all the Christmas activity. It might be used more productively to focus on taking a "spiritual inventory" and planning ways to deepen our level of commitment to the Lord. However, far too often this amounts to little more than a few emotional resolutions that stand little chance of being followed through on for long. Why? May I suggest that it is because we rely on our feelings for motivation, and when emotions weaken, our resolve weakens too. How can we make real progress spiritually? Some components of a workable strategy include purpose, determination, and will. It can still not be done in our human strength. These components must be driven by love for the Lord and by depending upon Him. True gratitude for His astonishing grace will prompt us to priortize growing "in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (From II Peter 3:18). This purpose must be more important to us than all competing interests of our daily lives. Is it? Selah! The price tag for growth in Christ is a relentless determination to spend much quality time with Him, and entails subordinating all that interferes to a lower prority status. Nothing, repeat, nothing must be as important as He is! Ron
":….be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might." (From Ephesians 6:10).
CHRISTmas is a wonderful time of the year. At least some people give thought to Jesus' birthday. Do they give thought to the significance of that birth? It is all too possible that families getting together, decorations, lights, trees, shopping, and presents combine to divert our attention away from the significance of that birth. Returning presents, shopping for bargains, cleaning up, maybe traveling, getting ready for the new year on the day(s) after CHRISTmas can add to keeping our minds off of His birth and the reason for it. As special as CHRISTmas is, are all these things a planned strategy to occupy our minds so much that thoughts of Him are buried under the array of activities? Likely! Should we dispense with all these seasonal delights? Hardly! However, we need to have disciplined priorities. We must make a determined effort to keep Him "front and center." We can not really expect too much energy to be given to this by unsaved folk but what about those who truly know Him? Surely, those redeemed by His shed blood love Him enough to exercise this discipline, or do they? Do you, do I? Instead, is it like too many Sundays? We tip our hats to Him in passing and leave an awareness of Him behind after an hour or two? If He is not the "blissful center" of our lives, could this be an indication of our not really being saved or not growing in grace? Selah! Does He really mean everything to us? Then let's see to it that He has the number one place in our lives 365 days a year. Ron
Peter desired for others to be, "always in remembrance of these things." (From II Peter 1:12).
No birth, no life, no death has ever meant as much to the earth's people as that of Jesus'. It is beyond understanding how many ignore the implications of His life and/or question its reality. Unbelief is the most awful form of blindness! Think about His birth. God entered time! God entered into the world that He created, as one of us, in the Person of His Son. God, remember, exists in eternity. Time is a parenthesis within the context of eternity. God, contracted in a human body to the size of a virgin's womb. Think about His life. Read the gospels, carefully. No life but His has ever been lived without sin, since the fall. No life has been perfect, except His. No one has been so loved and so hated. No one has done more, or as much, for humanity Spiritually, physically, emotionally, or mentally, as has Jesus. Think about His death! He was born to die an excruciatingly painful death. This appointment was always in His consciousness. He knew that He must go through death, not for any wrong of His own but for all our sin and sins. It is the only way that we could be salvaged from everlasting Hell. Love for the Father and love for us brought Him to and through death on a Roman cross. Selah! The cradle was the way He entered our world, the cross was the way He had to end His life here, but He conquered death for us by His death and resurrection. Ron
"….God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself…." (From II Corinthians 5:19) This is for whosoever has received or will receive Him, as Savior and Lord.
"And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in, that on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin! Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee; How great Thou art!" (Carl Boberg)
*(Title taken from hymn of that name, written by C. Bishop).
Christmas minus the carols, lights, trees, decorations, and the Christmas story would be quite empty for many of us, perhaps even for some atheists. However, is that what Christmas is all about? In one very great and important way, yes. This is one time of the year when lots of people are reminded of the Savior's birth. Some even enter into a saving relationship with Him. As we mentioned yesterday, this birth had a singular and astonishing impact on human history. Therefore, we would make a a serious mistake if we in any way minimized the wonder of His birth. Without any intention of doing that, we hasten to add that Christmas is about that and much more. Could it be that so much attention to the cradle has misdirected us away from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus? It is difficult to focus on the cradle and still focus far more on the cross. Yes, His birth is wonderful. However, He was born to die. The shadow of an awful death hovered over his life all the way to that dreadful, marvelous hour when He died a horrible death, in our place, so that we need never suffer eternal death in Hell, if we have received His gift of salvation. It is not beyond Satan's scheming for him to use the cradle to divert attention from the cross and its significance. Selah! By all means, rejoice over His birth but never let the cross be eclipsed by the cradle. Ron
"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…." (From Galatians 6:14).
After the close of the Old Testament, for four hundred years there was silence! God had nothing to say to the nation of Israel or, apparently, to the rest of the world. This isn't to say that He was without witness on earth during this time or that He didn't exert any influence in the lives of Godly men and women. Nevertheless, for that long period of time, God had not given additional Revelation or spoken through prophets to the people. The closest thing that comes to mind for an illustration of what that meant is what it would be like for us who know Him if we had no more Bible teaching and preaching in the world for four hundred years. True, we would have our Bibles but only part of the Bible. Imagine too, no preachers, teachers, or other helps for more understanding. This would be an immeasurable loss. Into just such spiritual darkness, the Light shone! A birth in a humble family under difficult circumstances. It was a birth that few would have known about, except for Divine intervention. This was an astonishing event. This birth would make an infinite impact on human history. No other event in history could ever equal the significance of this birth or even come close. History's darkest hour is where the greatest light was given! Selah! That light is still penetrating the darkness of sin blinded minds today. If anyone reading this hasn't received Jesus, as Savior and Lord, open your heart and invite Him to reign in your life and a "great light" will illumine your life. Ron
"The people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up" (Matthew 4 16).
Why is it that more than a few Christians consider it perfectly reasonable for someone to spend hours of study and years of preparation and many thousands of dollars in pursuit of a career that ends at death and yet are content to dabble with Spiritual things that have eternal value? When a believer engages in serious, consistent, intense Bible study, reads much good Christian literature, spends much time in prayer, listens to quality Christian music, shares his or her faith, attends regularly and serves in a local church that is Bible and Christ-centered, they are thought to "have gone off the deep end." This is a matter of twisted priorities! It's all right to make a huge investment of time, energy, and assets for our life's work but a minimal investment in the things that count in God's sight? I think not! We need some born again Christians today that are not content with less than maximum absorption of all that God has for them. This is the whole idea of discipleship. God give us more of those who cannot be content with living on the fringe of serious Christianity! Jim Elliot well said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Selah! Let me paraphrase a little poem: "Only one life. 'twill soon be past. Only what's done for (and "by") Christ will last." Ron
"….Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind…." (From Luke 10:27).