“In Time”

We live in time. We will live forever somewhere, after our brief sojourn on earth in time is over. We are allotted a period of time to accomplish, within that period, what God intends for us to accomplish. The sad truth is that the majority have no particular interest, while on earth, in what happens when we are taken out of time and find ourselves in eternity. What we do in time determines where we exist when we are removed from time. It will be in one of two places: Heaven or Hell! Some do not believe that there is a Hell; others do not think they will ever enter that place. If they are mistaken, there will be no opportunity after the grave to undo that mistake. This is one reason why time is given to us. We are not trusted with time as an end in itself. Time is to be used, not settled down in. The paramount use of time is to establish a personal relationship with Jesus as Savior and Lord. Taking care of this settles that you will live in His Presence forever. Once you have done this, your responsibility to use time wisely is even more important. We are to be filled with Him and yield the control of our lives to Him to use, to work through, to touch other lives and to share His love for them through us. Certainly, things like rest and recreation; things like work and wholesome pleasure have a place in our day to day living. Allowing for these, we are nevertheless on a mission. What happens in too many lives is that people live for time alone and the next thing they know, they have run out of time. Jim Elliot had it so right when he said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." We yield time to God for His use. In eternity, we will rejoice that we did. Selah! God help us to live each hour, each day, each month, each year with eternity's values in view.    Ron
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many…." (From Hebrews 9:27-28). Time can run out almost any minute!

Do You Have A Plan?

When I was in sales, we were told that if we didn't have a plan to succeed, we had a plan to fail. I see that as having some truth as a good guiding Spiritual principle. Yesterday, we spoke of Spiritual drifting and that is a dead end, as far as God using us the way He wants to use us. In the Spiritual context, this translates that if you have no plan to grow Spiritually, you plan to experience little or no Spiritual progress. Let me ask you this question: Do you have a plan to mature Spiritually? If you do have a plan, thank God, because many people don't even know that they need a plan. It doesn't just happen! If you don't have a plan, let me encourage and challenge you to develop one. Ask God to help you do it. What should a plan of this type look like? You need a framework within which to work. This is a schedule balancing discipline and flexibility. Discipline here means that you will keep at it, no matter what. Flexibility doesn't give up on the schedule but allows adjustments in unusual circumstances. You'll need tools. For a minimum, a good readable Bible, a Bible dictionary, a down to earth commentary written by someone that God has really used and a concordance. The Bible alone is more than just enough but the aids can be a great help. You'll need a place where distractions and interruptions are able to be kept at a minimum. Good lighting and no phones would be a real help. Then you need a plan. You must make time each day for prayer and Bible study! If you are having trouble working everything in to your daily schedule, let nothing but emergencies get in the way of prayer and Bible study. Getting going on this might require a small start that you can gradually build on. I got into daily Bible study by determining that if I didn't do any more than pray, read "Daily Bread" and the accompanying Scripture, I would do that much for sure. From there, I have gradually increased to where I do much more. (In emergencies, I have fallen back on what I started with). Good books, good quality music (with the old hymns), and serious Christian friends are also of great value. A plan like this will take dedication and determination but the rewards will be huge. Try it!  Selah! If you will carefully work the suggestions above diligently, you will see progress!  Ron
"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (From II Peter 3:18).

Spiritual Drifters

It is astonishing how anyone who is saved can live from day to day with no definite objectives in mind, no excitement to speak of and little thought given to Spiritual matters. In fact, we wonder if they are saved. I understand that they may not have the "bubbling over" kind of excitement (the outward show of emotion), but is there deep feeling and a keen interest in the Word of God and Spiritual Truths? How can these folk go to services where the Bible is expounded and be bored? Do they enjoy getting together with Christian friends, brothers and sisters, or are they more comfortable with worldly friends? Do they love the messages contained in the old hymns more than the music? What does their demeanor show? Is the joy of the Lord noticeable or do they look like they lost their best friend? (I know sorrow and discouragement can reflect on their faces at times but I'm talking about usually). I'm not opting for a pasted-on smile, like an actor might be able to produce. I'm thinking of the natural overflow of a deep work of the Holy Spirit within. Just drifting along, day after day, with no growing hunger and thirst for more of God is one of the greatest tragedies of life. If the gospel is only a story then it won't make much impact or at least for very long. However, if it's reality (and it most certainly is), then it must make dramatic changes in all of our living. Christ is claiming our love and worship and He is the focus of our hearts. Our lives are more and more centered on Him, and His grace in our lives motivates our determination to give ourselves to honoring and valuing Him, and serving Him with drive and purpose. Selah! Christianity cannot be taken lightly. If we truly know Him, we belong to the order of the burning hearts. (Luke 24:32).    Ron
"Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11).

When Truth Is Felt

It takes years for most of us to get out of the habit of Truth exposure, without applying it, and into the experiencing of the Bible's great Truths. We need to draw a sharp distinction between Truth imparted and Truth internalized. Many Christian's minds are loaded with good Truths but a much smaller percentage seem able to live it out experientially. Certainly, we need to take in Scriptural Truth regularly but we also need to live it out. Not a few, who are well taught in God's Truth, ever let it change their values, attitudes, passion or conduct. With the Truth that God has allowed us to grasp, we should be the most excited people on earth. For example, what person who has been saved for any amount of time doesn't know that the resurrection life of Christ lives in us. God in our being is a concept that is so amazing that we should be thrilled with the wonder of it. I haven't met many Christians who have even given serious thought to the implications of such a marvel of God's grace. This is just one Truth that is usually far more academic than actually lived in the glory and wonder of it. We need to take the time to let these great Truths fill us with love, worship and abundant living. We need to break down the invisible wall between head and heart. We need mentors and role models whose lives exude joy and peace in their strong gratitude for God's Presence filling their bodies (His temple) with His very own self. We need teachers who will inspire and motivate us to realize what a holy honor has been granted to us. We need to be examples of a true believer, as He enables, in word, thought and deed. Selah!  We need to be men and women and young people of the Pentecostal flame. Let's not allow ourselves to settle for less.   Ron
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

Holy Times for the Gatherings of the Redeemed-12

Getting Together-For A Good Time
Social times (and even work days at the local assembly) can be holy gatherings. A good dinner or banquet, perhaps a movie and/or a speaker, or maybe a musical time or hymnsing can be edifying. However, something is wrong if folk attend only when motivated by a desire for fun, entertainment or a good meal. Too often these times are planned to hopefully promote increased attendance. Another consideration is what goes on at these times. Are those attending concerned about Spiritual things? Is anyone excited about an answer to prayer? Does prayer arise that the activities might minister to some needy attendee? Are there any testimonies about someone being witnessed to and prayer requested that it might bear fruit? Has someone found a passage or verse of Scripture that really spoke to them? Does someone need some Bible based counseling? Certainly, there is nothing wrong with these social times when they are designed to minister, evangelize or just give people a chance to fellowship. Something is seriously wrong, if Christians present never have something of a Spiritual nature to share, giving encouragement, challenging a fellow believer, offering prayer if someone needs that or even a reaching out for help Spiritually. Can you imagine the impact at these gatherings, if all the believers present were excited about Jesus, burdened over the lost or concerned about each other's growth in grace? While the major emphasis might be a pleasant time, shouldn't Spiritual concerns spontaneously be a part of all such times of Christian fellowship? Selah! By all means enjoy these gatherings but look for ways to bless and be blessed, while you are there.   Ron
"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him" (Colossians 3:17).

Holy Times for the Gatherings of the Redeemed-11

Resurrection-An Event That Changes Everything
Yesterday, we talked about Christmas. Recently ("Communion"), we looked at Jesus' suffering and death. Today, let's give some serious thought to a measureless miracle. The greatest enemy of mankind is death! Death came by sin. Death is the end of our life on earth. Death is our introduction to "forever." "Forever" will be in one of two places, Heaven or Hell. Those are the only two options. Think deeply on what it would mean if the grave ended everything. We would be lost forever to all that counted during our time on earth. Life on earth would be a cruel hoax if the grave ended all. Actually, the grave is a transition to eternity. Where our eternity will be spent depends on our choice. If Jesus did not enter our history, there would be no choice to be made. We would all be lost eternally. God could not and would not allow any sin(s) to enter His Presence. Jesus did come, however! He came miraculously, He died on a Roman cross, paying in full the sin debt of the entire world. Nevertheless, He had to rise out of death thereby conquering it forever. If He hadn't arisen, death would be the victor. A dead Savior would have no life to give anyone. In His victory over death, He offers us the privilege of deciding for or against Him. Within His Sovereignty, He grants us the right to choose. His resurrection is just as essential as His coming and death. When we receive Him as Savior and Lord, our sin debt is justly cancelled and His life enters our being. His life active within us brings increasing holiness and decreasing sinfulness, until that moment when sin is all gone and holiness reigns supreme. If we refuse to receive Him, there is no hope of escaping judgment. Deciding nothing is just another way of rejecting Him. Life on earth is our narrow "window of opportunity." If you haven't availed yourself of that opportunity, seize it while you can! Selah! The Living God within the redeemed heart, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, is a miracle and a marvel of God's grace. Deity in humanity is beyond amazing! How can anyone refuse such a glorious Savior? We have every reason to celebrate Easter!   Ron
"So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" ( I Corinthians 15:54-57).

Holy Times for the Gatherings of the Redeemed-10

Christmas-A Subtle Danger
Christmas is a wonderful time of year - or is it? Depends! What is the "bottom line" of Christmas? The birth of Jesus! Yes, but….is that what registers most with us, with all its implications? Somewhere, hidden under a lot of wonderful things that we look forward to and enjoy at this time of year, is a wonder that surpasses all the Christmas delights together. Imagine Almighty Creator God, inhabiting the body of a baby in a mother's womb. God contracted to the size of a virgin's womb. As Wesley phrased it, "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see. Hail th' incarnate Deity."  Hopefully, not buried under an avalanche of distractions, we really take time to seriously reflect on the real wonder of this unprecedented event. Amidst the music, plays, parties, testimonies, church services, family times, cards, shopping, decorations, advertising, gift exchanges, tiredness and expenses, have we lost sight of Him and what His coming means to us? Oh, I know that we read the account, listen to the messages, sing the carols and could even explain it to others, but do we really come to grips with it? Think long and hard on this: what if He hadn't come?  There are more subtle dangers. One is that we are so familiar with the Christmas story that we forget that it is an actual historical event that far exceeds any other great moments in all of time. Another danger is majoring on the birth of Jesus to the neglect of His mission here on earth. All too often, Calvary and the resurrection are eclipsed by the manger. By all means enjoy the season and all the pleasant sights and sounds but make a disciplined effort to take the time to appreciate the miracle of God's redeeming entry into our world to rescue us from eternal separation from Himself. Selah! Don't let the Christmas tree block an intense view of Calvary's tree!  Ron
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night and, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid  and the angel said unto them, fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:8-11).  "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Galatians 4:4-5).