So much of our minds are taken up by daily circumstances and responsibilities. If we, who are born again, are going to truly have our minds renewed, it will take strong discipline and determination. It's far easier to go with the flow. If we are not motivated to resist this temptation, we will miss out on wonderful blessings that God waits to give us. Our minds will never be renewed, except by the Word of God. Generous doses of Scripture and application of what we learn will reward us abundantly. We need to study good books, after we have spent time with God. I think especially of books on doctrine and apologetics. Contrary to popular assumptions that that kind of material is deep and/or boring, it actually is exciting, useful, and stimulating. We need to expose ourselves to devotional books and Christian Biographies. Next in line, helps to become a soul winner, the most important of these helps being the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Another area of concern for us is money. Are we willing to handle our money God's way? We should then pursue an understanding of our world, our country, etc. and God's role for us in it. We need to function in His church. Therefore, we need to gain an understanding of church and missions. Still another area of concern is fighting evil in our society, without forgetting our aforementioned priorities. We are to bring His light into a dark world and fight evil as "salt" in our towns, state, and country. This will cost us time, effort, and money. It will involve sacrifice and criticism. It will be well worth doing for we will know the joy of being obedient to the Heavenly vision. Selah! As we become engaged in these areas, we will notice that our minds are being renewed and we have purpose and fulfillment in our lives. Ron
"….always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (From I Corinthians 15:58).
"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season, we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:9).
From the time we were born, and possibly even before birth, our minds have been under assault. Satan began his campaign to get the control of our minds with Eve and Adam. He is in the process of blinding our minds. (See II Corinthians 4:4). The enemy of our souls has constantly fed into our minds all kinds of distortions, temptations, and distractions. His purpose is to crowd out any " Spiritual light" that we might have and increase our spiritual darkness. As the Spirit of God works, we begin to understand that we need salvation and if we refuse or procrastinate, the devil succeeds in increasing our spiritual blindness. God, on the other hand, is shining the light of His Word into our minds. God wants to dispel our darkness. It is our responsibility to decide who will have the upper hand and put the most input into our minds. Remember the truth "that light received brings light; light refused brings night." The most clever part of Satan's strategy is letting us think that we are in control of our minds, while he keeps manipulating our thinking. If it is our responsibility, how do we regain control of "enemy occupied territory" in our minds? First, we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. Then He shows us how to recapture our lost ground. (See II Corinthians 10:4-5). The devil occupies the biggest portion of our minds before we come to Jesus and struggles to hold on even after we are saved. There is only one way to evict him. Two passages of Scripture bear on this. The first is Psalm 119:130. "The entrance of Thy Word giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." The second passage is in Romans 12:2 "And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Filling our minds with Scripture, and applying what we learn, brings the light into our minds that will dispel the darkness. As this process continues, Satan loses more and more ground and God, the Holy Spirit, occupies more and more of our thoughts and lives. Light dispels darkness! Selah! Renewed minds or ruined minds, our choice! Ron
Picking up where we left off yesterday, let me pursue this matter of how we are so conditioned by outside influences that we have failed to develop keen discernment. This could be a matter of laziness for some or for others, it may be simply a failure to realize what we have let happen to us. Thankfully, there are those who do have and use analytical minds. However, they seem to be outnumbered by so many of us who emote much more than we think. Are we aware of how our President is shoving us down the road to socialism? Are we aware of the rapid advances being made by Islamists? Are we aware of how far from our roots that evangelicals have strayed? What about our national origins? Do we understand how we began and the guiding principles that formulated our type of government and how far we have been led down the "Primrose Path" away from those guiding principles? Do we really understand where our deficit spending is leading? Are we aware of where we stand in terms of prophecy? Do we discern what we have lost by downplaying doctrine in favor of experience(s)? We could give more examples, but these should be a good start in motivating us to take charge of our minds and think for ourselves with the guiding principles of Scripture. Nevertheless, let me ask the most important consideration. Have we really thought through the implications of God's rightful role in our lives and our responsibility in our relationship with Him? Selah! We should be growing in the use of our God-given minds in all these areas but most of all to learn to walk humbly and closely with our God. Ron
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…." (II Corinthians 10:5).
I've done a lot of thinking, praying, studying, and observing of this world in which we live. I've come to some conclusions. I'd like to share some of them. You may have come to the same conclusions that I have come to but many have not. This first item that I wish to share is in itself a conclusion. It is that the majority of people in most of our world today have been conditioned to emote rather than think. The reason for this is that the media has put its own spin out there for us and, of course, if the media says it, it must be true. This saves us from the effort of thinking. Coupled with that is our educational establishment. Strongly influenced by liberal/socialistic worldviews, what is fed to students is a regurgitation of what the establishment has bought into, probably having imbibed it from their professors. Daring to entertain the idea that conservative values are what made our country great will likely earn scorn, mockery, and loss of opportunity, if one doesn't agree with the liberals. Add to the mix, the entertainment and sports industry. They create images and provoke emotions, doubtless influenced by what they have been taught, that keep our minds occupied with their values. This too detours our minds from the arduous task of thinking for ourselves. Make one more addition to the mix. We are so tied up with "busy"ness that between, fun, work, responsibilities and recreation/relaxation, who has time to think or study? Besides, who has the discipline today to hunt for what really is true? Who will have the discipline to take a hard look at both sides of an issue? The next conclusion is that we are in for some things in the days ahead that we are ill prepared for spiritually, morally, physically, and mentally. The last conclusion, for now, is that we have mostly ignored God. The tragedy of this is that He alone can supply all we need to cope with world conditions as they intensify and unfold before our eyes, in ways that we haven't begun to realize. Selah! Because we have greatly ignored God, or relegated Him to a back corner of our lives, perhaps He has decided to let us be paralyzed by all that is fed to us by a lost world, until the reality of what's coming shocks us to our senses - when it's too late to do anything about it. Ron
"I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. then shall they call upon Me, but I will not answer; they shall seek Me early, but shall not find Me…" (Proverbs 1:26-28).
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…." (From Proverbs 1:7). It's more than time to go back to the beginning!
Let me get right to the point. Just as a paralyzed person can be cured or learn to cope, so can a local church, as a part of Christ's Body, do the same. We hear every now and then of a physical body being healed of some horrible condition. When we consider the need of Spiritual healing, there could be miracles of revival and restoration a lot more often. For true healing, Spiritually, this is the cure called for: prayer, faith, and following the "Great Physician's" instructions can bring about many miraculous cures. We cannot, however, not take the prescription and expect healing. What is the prescription? True faith, genuine conversions, obedience, holiness, Biblical evangelism, missions, separation, prayer, study of the Word of God and applying what we learn is how the prescription is compounded. This, taken in regular doses, would bring healing often. Nevertheless, there are local churches that will do all this and not be what some consider successful. Just as a person who is paralyzed can do all the right things and not be as able as others, the same is true for some churches. They can still enjoy a worthwhile and productive life. Let's consider one example. I'm sure you can think of others. Think of a church way off in the"boonies." Imagine only a dozen or so families that live anywhere near to the assembly. Think of some of those families that are poor who belong to that church. They can't give much and their tithes are small because their income is. They are paralyzed with limitations. Still, they do give. They pray. Maybe they support only one missionary. (How many are won to Christ by that missionary)? They edify and disciple their small group with the Scriptures. They bear one another's burdens. They love one another. They worship. They love and are excited about the Savior. Limited, yes, but productive. This is because they are taking the cure faithfully. Little is much when God is in it! Their success is quality, not numbers. Yet, who hasn't seen a faithful small group sometimes explode in the flame of God's igniting. Selah! Small group or large, if they are in God's will, they will be fruitful. Ron
"I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My Word, and hast not denied My Name" (Revelation 3:8).
Most of us have observed the sad condition of one who is paralyzed. Perhaps we have also seen some who, although paralyzed, have demonstrated a remarkable capacity to function and live a useful life, even though physically challenged. It should come as no surprise that paralysis also often afflicts the Church as it expresses itself in local assemblies. We have reached a point in time where a vibrant church, when one is found, captures our admiration and shows us in some measure what a normal church should be like. We want to know what their secret of success is. The irony of that curiosity is that the secret is in the Word of God. We think this unusual church has a method or program that we could use to pump new life into lots of local churches. This is clever strategy on the part of the enemy. He has deflected our attention away from the source of real help. Let's turn our thoughts in a different direction for a moment. Some churches that appear vibrant are in reality only a well planned social gathering, using "fleshly" ideas, and brought about by a charismatic leader. This kind flourishes for awhile, until some new one comes along and overtakes and supersedes it. Well, if a church is paralyzed, is there hope? Definitely, yes! It may require an assembly like that to rise to the occasion on a Spiritual level, as a paralyzed person might have to cope with his or her limitations. How could they go about that? Well, that subject is for tomorrow, God willing. Selah! If I remember "The Acres of Diamonds" story correctly, this person owned this property and sold or left it to seek diamonds in another part of the world. All the time, he had lots of diamonds on his property that were not noticed. Is it possible that we search for help in conferences, books, tapes, friends, Pastor's fellowships, etc. while all the time help is as near as taking our Bibles seriously? Ron
"Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Ephesians 5:14).
One of the biggest problems in today's local churches is that of "tares." (See Matthew 13:24-30). They look like the real thing until the harvest. By that time, the difference is obvious. We are told not to "uproot" them because what is real might be "uprooted" with them. In fact, God assigns angels to make a proper end of what is phony. What is to be done about them, until then? Our options are limited but here are some possibilities. First, If the Gospel is preached and/or shared in a proper way, then they won't find root so quickly or easily in soil like that. This means that certain truths are "brought home" in our presentation of the Gospel. This includes conviction for our sin(s), a real conscious awareness of our utter corruption and how we have offended the Holy God. It includes repentance, a willingness to turn from all sin(s). It is wise to warn of the danger of Hell (and why we deserve it). It is a willingness not only to trust Jesus' atonement for us by His death, but to also submit to His Lordship. "Tares" tend to wither in that kind of soil. Next, if some "tares" manage to survive these protective aids, their influence must be offset. Faithful preaching/teaching will cause true believers to show a marked contrast to that which is phony. This will lessen the impact of the "tares." If our "ground" is infested with "tares," we need to control them. Don't let them spread (i.e; don't let them into local membership or gain control by being allowed to vote). If they can't be stopped, the true wheat must be protected. (Seek His guidance as to how the true wheat is to be protected when the "tares" gain the upper hand). Fertilize the wheat with the refreshing showers of the Holy Spirit's blessing, applied by prayer. Hopefully, this will greatly reduce the growth of "tares." Selah! Constant vigilance is necessary. If we become careless, the "tares" can overrun us! Keep constantly resisting their growth. Ron
"For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you" (I Corinthians 11:19).