When We Hit the Ditch

It appears that the narrow road is so narrow that we are likely to end in one or more ditches. That is, we are unless we are intensely focused and very careful. Satan is a master strategist. He uses various means to get us into ditches. However, there is Emergency Help always there at the scene. It is right there at the point of our going off the road. I John 1:9 explains how this help works to get us back on the road. It promises that, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness ." A disciple learns to avoid these devilish potholes. Nevertheless, in a moment of inattention or distraction, even disciples can end up in a small ditch or even a big one. Our arch-enemy is on the scene, pointing out the hopelessness and helplessness of our crash. This is our golden opportunity to outfox him by turning immediately to our Emergency Help. We must keep our eye on the road to escape more ditches. There is also something even more important. As we move on the narrow road, being very aware of our route and conditions at the time, we need to know that Someone has mapped out the road ahead of us. We can look to His GPS (The Word of God) to keep us on the main track. If we go by "feelings" and not by His technology, ditches are inevitable. Selah! "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths " (Proverbs 3:5-6). (Ron)

"Though I forget Him and wander away, still He doth love me wherever I stray' (into ditches); 'back to His dear loving arms would I flee, when I remember that Jesus loves me." (Philip P. Bliss).

Integrating A Split Mind

First of all, what do I mean by a split mind? In this case, I refer to a mind that we allow to run us, instead of us bringing our minds under the discipline needed to control them. It is a normal human trait to let our minds wander into multiple thoughts. Many people live by emotions and impulses and without careful forethought. They let life just happen. Perhaps our minds turn to accumulating things. Maybe they concentrate on fun and entertainment. (Nothing wrong with that in balance). Their thoughts may center on winning recognition for their accomplishments. In any event, it is too often like the cow pulling the plow where the cow wants to go instead of the farmer controlling the cow to get the plowing done. True disciples cannot afford to fall prey to this kind of irresponsibility. In James 1:8, we are warned that, "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." When our minds scatter in a number of directions, nothing will be done really well. If we haven't done so, it is time to let the Word of God center our thinking and motivation on thorough commitment to God's will for our lives. If we will focus our energy on obedience to His plans for us, we'll greatly increase our effectiveness and Spiritual fruitfulness. Paul, on the way to the goal to which he had commited himself, declares his purpose in these words, "….this one thing I do." (From Philippians 3:13). Elsewhere, he expressed his heartbeat this way, "For to me to live is Christ." (From Philippians 1:21) Does Jesus not deserve our complete devotion and availability? Can we give less of ourselves to His goals, than our unsaved counterparts give to their temporal goals? Selah! Paul's God-given strength came from doing what he reminded the Corinthians (and us) that we are expected to do. He told them, in II Corinthians 10:5, that we are to be "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." Ron

Whom Does God Seek?

I suggest that God knows all who would, given the opportunity, receive His gift of salvation. One by one, He goes after them. He does this in many ways. When we are the objects of His seeking, there is a strange urge within to open ourselves to Him. His love and concern for us moves us to give ourselves delightedly to Him. However, it is one of the mysteries of the new life, when we are born again, that we still wander from Him as the center and pre-occupation of our hearts and minds. It is an easy and spiritually costly trap into which to fall. Nevertheless, He is waiting for us to reach out to Him as He reaches out to us. "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23-24). He seeks our intimacy with Himself. Consider this from James 4:8: "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you." He promises that, "And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). Selah! Let Him restore our focus to seek Him with all of our heart each new day. Ron


Someone is Looking for You!

God's Word informs us that we were born Spiritually lost. The amazing thing is that it takes a lot to make us realize that we are lost. We don't change direction without outside influences moving us to do so. However, there is Someone Who knows that we are lost and is looking to rescue us. "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). What about those who have been found and saved? Having been saved and made a child of God, we still often wander from home and become unable to get back there by ourselves. We resist admitting to ourselves that we have gone astray and wandered into places and things that have blocked our vision of the "narrow road." If that is your situation, Someone is looking for you. "How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray" (Matthew 18:12-13). The point I'm trying to make is that He loves us so much that He is always seeking us and is concerned about our welfare. Are you or someone else in God's family out in the wilderness, away from the Tender Shepherd's loving guidance? If so, look around, look up. He is at hand to lead you safely home. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). Selah! If you have wandered out into the paths of darkness, He is looking for you and He left the light on at home. Turn to the Light! You'll see Him.    Ron

Recovery from the “L” Virus

(Note: it is very important to scroll down to yesterday's article for background to today's piece). We will all come before God someday. How we will come is our choice to make. If a person is truly saved, how horrible to have to admit to being wrapped up in a lifetime of wasted time and behavior, missing opportunities to cultivate a deep and meaningful involvement with our loving Savior. Has Satan played us? Have we listened to his enticing voice, urging us to engage in anything and everything but what really counts? One of the enemy's strategies that has proven most effective is to keep us busy. He designs to center our minds and hearts both on pleasures and assumed responsibilities. Some are bad, some are good, but all can keep our hearts and minds from God and the things of God. Certainly, we must deal with legitimate responsibilities and enjoy wholesome pleasures. Nevertheless, we must always seek to keep God above all of them and truly give Him first place in our lives. This will require wresting our minds from Satan's distractions and centering them on God and His Word. It takes discipline to conquer a wandering mind. We have to keep recapturing mis-directed thoughts and priortizing time with and for learning about God. Remember, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good……for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh." (From Luke 6:45). What fills our minds and hearts will come out in our daily lives. Is it Him? Are we full of Him? Are our interests, His interests? Do we really love Him above all else? Selah! "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). Will we make the effort? Eternity will verify that the effort will pay off handsomely!      Ron

The “L” Virus

A virus can do untold damage to our bodies. It can cause suffering and pain. It can incapacitate us and keep us from meaniningful activities. It can even bring death to our bodies. Far worse and far more insidious is a spiritual virus that I have chosen to label as the "L" Virus. This virus infects our deepest inner being. It can greatly limit our usefulness or even destroy it altogether. It can bring a deadness into our spiritual vitality that is worse than physical death to our bodies. The infection is brought about by contact with spiritually unhealthy places, things and close relationships with ungodly carriers. The enemy of our souls has subtly introduced this virus into the human race via Adam and Eve's fall and it has been passed on ever since. It is a consequence of sin(s). What is it? In its unadulterated form, it is an indifference to, or lack of interest in, or willful ignorance of God and His love. It renders us majoring on self, what we want and how we are going to live our lives. Its strength lies in its ability to keep our minds on the things of earth and away from the only One who can cure us of this terrible malady. It produces apathy, boredom, laziness and lack of discipline. It eats at the soul, a spiritual cancer that is loathsome. It is Laodiceanism or the "L" Virus. Its chief effectiveness is the use of all means to keep our minds pre-occupied with anything and everything but what really matters eternally. The key-word is distraction. The method is mis-direction. Jesus was nauseated by it. He challenged it, condemned it, but offered a cure to us. Selah! In His own words, He warns, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." He offers the cure, " I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (Revelation 3:15-16;18-19). Will we take the cure?      Ron

Church Interaction

First, I have to point out that the typical understanding of "Church" is a building where a particular religious persuasion meets together. This, however, is far from the Biblical concept of "Church." Without going into a detailed discussion of the matter, let me confine these remarks to the "Church" as a whole. The "Church" is the sum total of all truly born again Christians. Usually, they do meet in a building. They worship, sing, praise, give thanks, learn from God's Word, pray, love, support and serve, etc. As wonderful and essential as these all are, there is an often unexperienced component in our interaction with fellow believers. How much do we care, love, help, encourage, appreciate, weep with, rejoice with and pray for each other, after we leave the place of assembling? Do we find that our commitment to these things fades, the further we go away from the meeting? How do we want our brothers and sisters to interact with us? Think on these Scriptures: "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works" (Hebrews 10;24). "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" (Romans 14:19). "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15). How are we implementing these things in our weekday lives? Selah! "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16). Interacting or ignoring? This most important choice is ours to make. Let's do so with eternity's values in view. Will it be said of us, "See how they love one another?"    Ron

Fine-Tuning our Focus

In our day, there are so many distractions, some are worthwhile and some are subtle mis-directions, keeping us from our most important focus of all. It takes time, effort and discipline to be holy in practie and to keep the Magnificent Vision from becoming blurred. The sad truth, I suspect, is that far too often we are victims rather than victors. Only as we are on guard and love Him enough to make the effort can we expect to enjoy anything that resembles what has been called "the deeper life." Drawing on His strength, listening to Him in His Word, conversing with Him in prayer, worshiping, adoring, praising, thanking, serving and honoring Him are all components in the cultivation of a vital blessed intimacy and relationship. Paul summed it up in beautiful simplicity in Philippians 1:21 where he wrote, "For to me to live is Christ." In II Corinthians 10:5, Paul describes the effort that must be put forth to sharpen our focus and ignite our spiritual intensity. We are to be daily, "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." Selah! Are there those of us who will not settle for the average casual experience of today's often anemic dabbling in the sacred things of God? Are there some who are willing, in the words of Helen H. Lemmel's wonderful hymn, to "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face" and find that, "….the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace?"     Ron

Preaching and Personal Work

Preaching is an evangelistic opportunity. However, it is much more. Listeners should certainly understand their need of salvation. They should also understand what it means to receive salvation. Salvation is not simply a rescue from Hell! It is a whole new relationship and life. Communicating what that implies should be be one of the priorities of preaching. If our preaching focus is only on helping people escape judgment, that may account for much "easy believism." Go through the "formula" and "presto," you are guaranteed Heaven. In fact, the more expository preaching there is that covers the many facets of becoming a genuine Christian, the easier it is for the personal worker to explain to a potential convert what it means for them to come to Jesus. God, in His great mercy, seems to have worked around the too limited input of things like "The A. B. C's. of Salvation" or "The Romans Road." I suggest that that doesn't excuse our lack of "fleshing out," in our preaching and teaching, what those kinds of outlines lack. The early converts, especially Jewish ones, knew the likely cost of coming to Him. Family relationships lost, financial loss, rejection, persecution, danger and death were apt to be the cost of receiving Him. It is comparatively easy for many (particularly in the Western world) today to walk an aisle or make a decision. Hence, there is a greater need to have salvation adequately explained in our day. Could it be that a lack of Spirituality in many churches today can be traced to an emotional only conversion and not to a Spiritual one? Selah! What if we taught someone that they can have assurance of their salvation, when they just agreed with some facts but didn't truly experience a Spiritual conversion?      Ron

Full Disclosure is Our Responsibility

If we are talking with someone that indicates an interest in receiving Jesus, as his or her Savior, we must not settle for a simple formula that fails to acquaint the seeker with what it means to come to Christ. For example: it is commonly told an enquirer that one has to admit that he or she has sinned and is a sinner. That's true, as far as it goes. We must go further and find out if they realize the seriousness of their sin(s). Are they willing to turn from their sin? Do they truly want to be holy? The next thing seekers are asked is if they realize that Jesus died for them to provide salvation. Do they have any understanding of what our sin(s) cost Him? Is salvation explained? Have we explained how one man could atone for the entire sin debt of the whole world for all of time? The seeker is then asked this: is he or she willing to trust Him for salvation? Trust Him for salvation (deliverance) from what? Hell? Sin? Both? Some just want to escape Hell. While we may not be able to cover all the bases in what may be a brief encounter, we can at least make sure that these basics are understood. We have offended a Holy God. We receive Him as our Savior and Lord. We are yielding our lives to Him to direct. Sin is really bad. He died to save us from (not in) our sins. Prayer, the study of the Word, sharing our faith and involvement in a local Bible believing church must become part of our daily lives. Yes, God does give us time to grow but from the time we're saved, these things are now a part of our new direction.     Ron