What goes into our hearts? Not into the physical organ (that's important too) but into the core or center of our being; into that within which is "us." Proverbs 4:23 warns: "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Because of the curse, "This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me" (Matthew 15:8). Jeremiah, under inspiration, reminds us that "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it" (Jeremiah 17:9)? Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart…." (From Matthew 5:8). How do we develop purity of heart?" The answer to that is wrapped up in three verses: 1). "A new heart also will I give you…." (From Ezekiel 36:26). 2). "And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9). 3). "So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). We might add to these, Psalm 119:11 which tells us, "Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee." He sees everything in our hearts; He misses nothing! "For the Word of God is quick (living) and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked (exposed) and opened unto the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:12-13). Therefore, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14). Selah! Reading, studying, applying, and obeying the Word of God is the key to a clean heart and to pleasing God. It will purge and purify. Don't neglect it, it is essential! Ron
I wonder if many who are deaf and learn to use sign language discern what is being said better than many whose hearing is not impaired. People speak to us, who are blessed with good hearing, and we often don't really get a lot of what is being said. We too often fail to pay attention, to carefully listen, to focus on what is being said to us. This is a shame on a physical level but when we are guilty of not hearing on a Spiritual level, it is tragic! Jesus said, quoting Isaiah, "….By hearing ye shall hear, and not understand…" (From Matthew 13:14). People question if God speaks today. The problem is not that God does not speak. He does! The problem is our dysfunctional Spiritual hearing. For instance, He speaks primarily in His Written Word. How many folk read to find out what He has to say? He speaks in creation and most human beings let the theory of evolution drown out what He has very clearly revealed. He speaks to our consciences and we sear or smother them, rather than being open to altering our lifestyle. He speaks in our circumstances and instead of listening, we complain or become depressed, or both. In short, we willingly ignore Him. We want no interference in how we run our lives. When someone truly receives Jesus, as Savior and Lord, and yields the control of his life to Him, he will find that God speaks loud and clear, most of all in the Bible. Selah! Dysfunctional Spiritual hearing is a consequence of the "fall of man" and is another indication that the Bible is truly the Word of God. Jesus cured physical deafness when he was here on earth and today He heals Spiritual hearing for those that are born again. To all who are His, He has also said, "….but blessed are your….ears, for they hear" (From Matthew 13:16). Go to His Word and listen carefully! Ron
If we took a brick and covered it with gold, we wouldn't really have a gold bar. The surface would look promising but the core would only be brick. We might convince some people that it is a gold bar but it's still just goldplated. Due to what I believe is a faulty evangelism, we may very well have people that are unsaved but are "coated" with Christianity. This is much more serious than the brick illustration, because such people may be convinced that they are the real thing. In a sincere effort to win souls, we may have "dumbed down" the call to receive Jesus. I have visited this subject before. However, I do it again because to assume that you are saved and then find out, right after death, that in fact you aren't would be eternally tragic. On the other hand, I have no wish to make a genuine Christian doubt his or her salvation. Where does this leave us? A person who is trying to lead someone to the Lord needs to make the issues clear to the one who is listening to him. Certainly, basic truths are essential. Things like His death, burial, and resurrection, faith, our sin and sins, etc. must be explained and reasons why they are essential must be given. All of these truths can be believed without salvation being experienced. A genuine conversion occurs when the one being worked with believes the Truth. He or she then repents, owns up to his sin(s) and turns away from them and yields his or her life to Jesus, as Savior and Lord. This "turning away" and "yielding" is not an overnight experience. It is a start in, and a continuing in, a new direction. His heart has turned to God, and even allowing for lapses, he continues in that direction and increases in his love for Him. Selah! This believing and turning is not "works" for salvation but a working of God drawing a person to Himself. His revelation of Himself and redemptive Truth wins the hearts of those who are open. They want Him to reign in their lives. Ron
"For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness…." (From Romans 10:10). "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let everyone that nameth the Name of Christ depart from iniquity" (II Timothy 2:19).
In much of our world today, many in the Church have succumbed to comfort, contentment, conformity to culture, and even contention. Add to these that the sense of the Divine Presence has all but vanished completely from many of our assemblies. Walk in the door of many local churches today and you may be confronted with noise, lots of activity, and an atmosphere that more closely resembles a playground (or even what a nightclub might look like) rather than a church. Or if a church is populated with folk who cause unScriptural divisions, you may feel that you have entered a battleground; a combat zone. In either case, conspicuous by its absence is a lack of awe; of reverence; of awareness of God's holiness. If you think I have overstated the situation, when have you recently observed an atmosphere of quiet waiting on God for Him to manifest His Presence? When have you last seen many, if not all, of the congregation singing the songs of Zion with a deep heart involvement with the lyrics, perhaps even with tears of gratitude? How recently have you seen sinners under conviction, overwhelmed with guilt for their sin(s)? Can you recall a sermon recently that riveted your attention on the majestic holiness of our God? Something is tragically wrong when old line churches that are characterized by boring tradition or liberal churches that have long ago become apostate show more respect for their concept of God, while many of us who know the true God, fail to match or exceed their reverence. Have we lost the wonder? Is it beyond recovery? Must we settle for entertainment instead of an encounter with the living God? It is past time for a revival of reverence, of holy expectancy that God will move in our midst, and for our prayers that His manifest Presence will trump methods and programs in our corporate worship. What is our hope? It is that the Holy Spirit will move our hearts and minds to repentance for neglect of proper preparation for entering His house and for not being thoroughly engaged in the development and nurture of serious Christian living and behavior. Selah! It is not a lost cause, if we will take responsibility to draw on the Holy Spirit's power to model authentic devotion in our participation in corporate time with God. If we do, the playground and battleground will give way to Holy Ground! Ron
Let's so lay hold on God and let Him lay hold on us that we will hear Him say in our churches, "….the place where thou standest is holy ground." (From Exodus 3:5).
Truths from I John-Contrasts and Conclusion
Lets look at Verses 18-21, in Chapter 5. This is the tying together of the content and implications that John has written about in his letter. In Verse 18, three truths emerge: A child of God doesn't live a life of habitual sinning. He keeps himself. That is, he is determined to obey God and grow in grace. He is learning to appropriate God's victory over sin, and is submissive to God's corrective measures. As he matures, the wicked one loses more and more ground in his life. Because of God's working, Verse 19 reminds us that "….we know that we are of God…." In contrast, this verse adds that "….the whole world lieth in wickedness." This world system and its adherents are in the swamp of evil, under the sway and domination of the wicked one. In Verse 20, John, probably speaking of himself and the other disciples, and doubtless assuming that his readers who are born again "….know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding…." What do we understand? We understand that we know Him and are in Him that is true. This One is none other than Jesus Christ. He is the true God, and is eternal life. Verse 21 provides a powerful conclusion. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols…." This would be anything and everything (including man made idols of wood and stone) that gets in the way of our total devotion to, and motivation from, God. We are to always be on guard against anything that might obstruct God's complete control of our lives and that could in any way cool our love for Him. "….Amen" and Amen!! So be it! Selah! God has given His beloved Son for us and He has, through Him, given us eternal life and a promised home in His Presence forever. Such love demands our love, our lives, our undivided loyalty, our gratitude and willing obedience. Let's not settle for less! Ron
Truths from I John-Defining Sin and Coping with It
Returning today to I John 5, we find, in Verse 17, a comprehensive definition of sin: "All unrighteousness is sin…." That is comprehensive! Anything and everything unrighteous is sin. It doesn't matter if we do it out of ignorance, or if we don't do it willfully, or if we do it in disobedience, it is sin. It is sin if we don't do something that is the right thing for us to do. No sin can be overlooked by God. His holiness and justice requires sin to be dealt with, one way or another. A person might say, "I didn't know or I didn't mean to do wrong. (If you are ever stopped for a driving violation, how far would that excuse get you?). Sin is a serious matter. The penalty has to be paid! We will pay or we can receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. When we receive Him, His sacrifice on the cross, that paid the penalty for all sin, cancels our sin debt. Because of that sacrifice, He can and does forgive and cleanse from all sin, those who become His. A person who has been truly converted will sin at times (less and less as he or she grows Spiritually). Their sin debt was paid fully for all time and eternity. While this doesn't change their relationship with God, it does have consequences. A child of God loses fellowship with God, when he or she sins. This is no light matter! God has made provision in I John 1:9 for confession, forgiveness, and complete cleansing. Failure to avail ourselves of that provision, guarantees disciplinary action by God to correct His child. It would likely be mild at first, intensify as we resist correction, and even lead to premature physical death in extreme cases. What an awful condition for anyone to be in, when he or she comes face to face with Jesus! However, "….There is a sin not unto death," as Verse 17 tells us. May I suggest that any sin that a Christian commits, if he or she will confess and turn from it, probably won't lead to physical death. There may be exceptions to this. It doesn't pay to fool around with sin! It may take time to gain victory over a besetting sin. God doesn't give up on His children when they are struggling with some sin(s). Nevertheless, persistence in sin(s) is bound to do us harm, physically, emotionally, mentally, finanancially, or spiritually and sometimes in most or all of these ways. Selah! While it is another subject than we are dealing with here, keep in mind that God can and does have victory over sinning, for His children. If you are fighting a battle with some sin(s), seek help from someone who has learned God's way of victory. Victory can be experienced! Ron