Exercising Specific Disciplines

When it comes to the matter of disciplining ourselves, I wonder how committed we are to exercise discipline in specific ways. While unsaved people can develop discipline in many things, I’m thinking today of spiritual discipline. I hope we are disciplined, or are beginning to be, in ways that no non-Christian could possibly experience. Let me pose a couple of specific ways for us to exercise discipline. (There are a number of things regarding which we should be disciplined). First, and most obvious, is disciplining ourselves to spend quality time daily in God’s Word and prayer. It is here that we meet the most resistance, because it is the results of this discipline that Satan fears most. We too often allow ourselves to fall back on a variety of excuses instead of exercising the needed discipline. Excuses such as too busy, too tired, I’ll do it later must give way to a determined and relentless self-discipline. We can’t do this for any length of time without looking to God for help. The second example of something that requires a great deal of discipline is to trust God, no matter what comes into our experience. There probably has been, and most certainly will be, times when it looks like God is doing nothing about our concerns. We pray, but don’t seem to be heard. We observe tragic things that we think God should have prevented. Saved people struggle; unsaved people prosper. True, we’ll understand it better by and by. Meanwhile, exercising discipline in these kinds of things means we trust when everything seems wrong and/or doesn’t seem to make sense or to be right. We need the discipline of unconditional confidence in our God. Exercising discipline in these areas will spread to other areas and we will be maturing in discipleship. Selah! Without strong Biblical discipline, we will be unable to weather the storms of life and reach shore victoriously. Ron

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 20-21).

Deleting False Accusations

When we enter into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, if all of our sin(s) is/are forgiven only up to the moment of conversion, we have a serious problem. Let me explain. After the moment that I’m saved I become very angry. I know that I’ve sinned and need to be forgiven but before I confess (See I John 1:9) I have a heart attack and die. Perhaps, I sin and don’t realize yet that I have sinned and I die. In either case, where will I spend eternity? No sin can enter Heaven. Logically, I would not be allowed in, except for one thing. My sin(s) following conversion were also atoned for in Jesus’ death on Calvary. Now, if we don’t know that, Satan can do a job on us. He is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). He loves to accuse us before God and he loves to accuse us to ourselves. Why? He wants to discourage us by prompting false guilt in our hearts and minds. Remember, when you are a potential victim of his strategy, all of your sin(s), past, present and future have been forgiven! Delete false accusation, in your heart and mind, by reminding your enemy and yourself that Calvary covers it all! (Satan doesn’t want you to think on Calvary and on what Jesus has accomplished). Jesus’ sacrifice has deleted all charges against you. God, the Father, sees a clear record under your name. Wouldn’t believing this cause some Christians to become careless about sinning? No one who is truly saved really wants to get away with sinning! For those who are genuine, God has very effective corrective measures at His disposal. He will discipline those who are truly His children in order to develop holiness in their lives. Selah! God has an open account on those who are lost. For His children, He has a record, from which all sin(s) has/have been deleted! Praise His Name!       Ron

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us (Psalms 103:12).

Guilty On All Counts!

Imagine being in court and you hear the judge say, “Guilty on all counts. You have broken every law on the books!” Imagine the charges and the death sentence. Your situation couldn’t be worse. Oh, I forgot to mention that there is no lawyer who can get you off. To top it off, there is no way to escape. You are in dire circumstances. This scenario is hopeless. Nevertheles, there is a situation that is far worse. The one we are imagining is limited to “time.” We all have broken every law of God and the penalty is eternal. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). Human reasoning tells us that we haven’t broken all of God’s laws. However, we have broken the first one: “And He answering said, 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). Therefore, we are guilty of breaking all, because God’s law is a whole unit. There is no pardon ever, unless….”Someone” else takes our place and bears our penalty. That “Someone” would have to be sinless and infinite and that exactly describes Jesus. He met every penalty for the broken laws of God. Once we receive Him as our own personal Savior and Lord we are acquitted! We go scot free! However, He doesn’t only pay our penalty, He credits us with His own righteousness. He is able to do this for all who receive Him because He is infinite. In our place, He kept God’s law perfectly. It’s as if we kept it perfectly. This is freedom indeed! Selah! This is done for us, if we are born again and this is what we can offer to any and all who will receive His marvelous gift of salvation.   Ron

Free from the law, O happy condition, Jesus hath bled, and there is remission; Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Grace hath redeemed us once for all.” (Philip P. Bliss).

Far-reaching Freedom

We Americans place a huge value on freedom, as do many others. Ironically, the majority of people are not free. Most are not in chains of steel. They are, however, in bondage to many chains that are worse than metal chains. For example, consider these as chains: Boredom, fear, loneliness, worry, cares, bad habits, bad friends (who are not friends at all), family dysfunction, immorality, etc. God offers a freedom from these, when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior. This freedom comes with internalizing of, applying and obeying Scripture. Yet many Christians haven’t thrown off some of these chains. What is Christian freedom? 1). We should be realizing victory over some of the above mentioned bonds. As we grow in the Word of God, more and more of these chains break and let go. 2). Christians often harbor guilt over past and present sin(s). Are we prisoners of guilt? There is freedom! God, in eternity past (before the world was created), saw all of our sin(s). Jesus died to pay the penalty for all sin(s). When we are born again, we discover that, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalms 103:12). Based on that, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” (From Romans 8:1). How does this work? When we receive the gift of salvation, every charge against us is removed because Jesus suffered the sentence due our sin(s). The record is clear! We are free! But what if we sin after conversion? God will correct us (and that can be painful). Nevertheless, we remain His children. Furthermore, if we have become a child of God, we now want to be holy. When we are corrected, I John 1:9 comes into play: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We own up and admit to our sin(s) and are cleansed and forgiven and fellowship (not relationship-that was never lost) is restored. Selah! Condemnation is gone forever for the child of God. Chastisement (including consequences) is designed to move us on to holiness of life. No condemnation means freedom from guilt. Chastisement is used to bring freedom from sinning. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).        Ron

Our Role As Stones

Even if you are born again, you may not have given much thought to being a stone. In fact, it might not even appeal to you to picture yourself in the role of a stone. On second thought, what would such a role be? First, a stone is solid. Once it is properly placed, it can give support and create stability. Second, properly placed, it can be part of something that is good to the eye. Next, it has the capacity to endure. After that, joined with other stones, it can provide protection. In addition, joined with other stones, it can illustrate what functioning in harmony with other stones can produce. Finally, a cornerstone (Cornerstone) is the connecting of the other stones together and gives identity to the building. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:5). One might imagine that being a stone is to be cold and hard. However, a true Christian is a living stone (the actual idea of “lively” in the verse). Add to this picture, the Truth revealed in Verse 6. It says, “Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a Chief Corner Stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded.” Being fitted together with the Lord Jesus Christ, as living stones, we share in furnishing a place for all to assemble and be warm and to become stones, tooled to expand the structure and make it possible to add more stones for more expansion. Selah! Are we available to the Master Mason to fit us properly into His special place for us?     Ron

An Impossible Dream

Probably no church is without problems. Some may have very few. Others may have many. Finding a “perfect” church is an impossible dream! In looking around for a good church, for what do we look? Things you will never see include a perfect pastor, music that pleases all, faultless homiletical messages, complete agreement on just one version of Scripture to use, Christians that are always consistent, etc. So, I repeat, what do we look for in a church? Let’s start with understanding just exactly what we believe ourselves. Do we believe, without reservation, all of the major doctrines of Scripture (Virgin Birth, Deity of Christ, Trinity, Physical Resurrection, etc.)? What secondary issues are very important to us? What can we live with as to music? Is there only one reliable Bible version? (I personally believe that there is only one; I treat the others as commentaries). Once we’ve settled things like these, we can begin to look for a church that comes as close as possible to convictions that we’ve carefully developed and hold. We may find one that is right down the line with our own understanding. However, probably not. When we have found a church that we are comfortable with, the next things to look for include things like the following: Are Scripture and good doctrine central? Is apologetics taught? Does/do the man (men) in the pulpit love the Word and are they excited about it? Is holiness of life exhorted? Is the music doctrinally sound with the music supporting, not clashing with, the message? Is the church Christ-centered rather than entertainment driven? Once questions like these are settled, what do we bring to the church? If we are only looking for what we can receive in church, our approach is unbalanced. There must be giving, as well as receiving. Also giving to and receiving from the brethren, love and support, is very important. Quality, not size, is what matters most. Selah! Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21).          Ron

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Our title comes from words in one of Charles Wesley’s expressive hymns. There is a love that excels. It is a love that is unconditional. It is a love that lasts forever. This love sacrifices supremely, even for enemies. It is a love that will never let us down. It is a love that reaches for us even in our failures. It is love that waits to restore. It is a love that is with us in heartache and tragedy, comforting, sympathizing and sustaining during life’s darkest moments. It is a love that disciplines and shapes us for the glorious future that it has lovingly prepared for us. It is a love that pardons our treason (sin[s]) against God Himself and it is a love that paid an awful price to rescue us from the penalty due that treason. It is a love of which we are unworthy that God lavishly bestows upon us. In short, there are not enough words in anyone’s vocabulary to adequately do justice to the understanding of such love. When all human love is withdrawn, God’s love is still there. Paul prayed this prayer for God’s people: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God(Ephesians 3:17-19). That prayer is still being answered in our day. God is love! Selah! That love seeks to save sinners and sustain and strengthen saints! Let’s open ourselves to it.    Ron

Earthly friends may prove untrue, doubts and fears assail; One still loves and cares for you, One Who will not fail, Jesus never fails, Jesus never fails; Heav’n and earth may pass away, but Jesus never fails.” (Arthur A. Luther).

Your Best Potential-Now

Potential” What an interesting word! Something that we realize sometime in the future? Something that might be possible but is elusive? Ability that we have but are not aware that we have it? Do we need to try and discover it for future use? Can we look forward to developing it sometime so we don’t have to be discouraged that we don’t seem to recognize it in our lives right now? Not if the Apostle Paul got it right, and he did get it right. Writing to the church at Philippi, he told them (under inspiration) “….this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark.” (From Phillippians 3:13-14a). Here’s the situation: we can never live in the future because the split second that we enter what would have been the future it has just become “now.” We can’t return to the past and change anything. We can enjoy good memories, if we don’t let our minds linger overlong there. We can learn from the past. However, the only place that we can function is right now. The Apostle’s use of the two words “reaching forth” speaks of an activity of the present moment. God has placed potential in everyone of us. We can develop it for selfish purposes and it will be wasted. If we know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, our potential is to become mature disciples with all of the great implications of that kind of living. This way of life has value for now and for all of eternity. How do we develop this potential? “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15) An increasing understanding and application of Scripture will develop our potential and bless our lives and others, as well. Selah! We have potential. We must use it or stagnate. Ron

The Shaping of a Model Christian

It is a heavy responsibility and a holy privilege to become a model of what it means to be a Christian. However, that responsibility is not ours. Jesus, using the ministry of the Holy Spirit, is the Divine Artist. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). He is the one working on the masterpiece. Did I say, masterpiece? Yes! “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (I John 3:1). What about now? We are nothing like that now. Nevertheless, we are a work in progress. A subject may move when they shouldn’t. They might arrive to be painted but the way they look is no help to the artist. Yet, God patiently works, changes, removes imperfections, explains and instructs until that great moment when His crowning achievement is accomplished. We do have a responsibility to listen to the Artist and to follow His instructions. How can we do this? By listening to Him in His Word! As we follow His instructions, He will shape us and change us until that climactic moment when, with a final sweeping stroke of the brush, all imperfections are gone forever. Selah! Although He has little or nothing to work with, if we are yielded to His will and follow His leading, the finished product will be eternally astonishing!        Ron

The Long Reach of Grace

Yesterday’s article showed us the possibility of letting unsaved people think that they are off of the hook because we are not careful of our example before them. Today, I hope, God helping me, to drive home to our minds and hearts the tremendous, positive impact our lives can have on countless numbers of people. When we enter into a genuine experience of receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, He can and wants to let what He’s done for us touch lives all over the world and for generations to come. Let me explain: in Acts 1:8, we read that, “….ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Jerusalem speaks of our home area, Judea of our State or Province, Samaria speaks of witnessing to outcasts and the uttermost part of the earth has in mind our worldwide influence. I’d like to illustrate: I had a Pastor that God used to win many, train them in the Word of God and who exemplified a Godly life. In that one church alone, around forty young people dedicated their lives to full time Christian ministry, some still serving all over the earth. How many lives have they touched? How many of those that they won have lives that touched others? Most of those saved in those days had a family or came to have one. How many children were influenced and how many did they influence? It’s still going on fifty-five years or so later. One person was instrumental in encouraging these marvelous results. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others alsoSelah! If you are saved and walking with God, you are a channel through which God is extending His reach of grace. Keep the channel clean and clear.      Ron