Developing Convictions

Aside

Our claimed convictions are often adopted from the views of others. Many times things that the Bible would make clear are wrong are ignored. The excuse is that “it’s a matter of personal conviction and I see nothing wrong with it.” Have you ever wondered if this is simply an attempt to justify what someone wants to do, say or be? How do we develop true Scriptural convictions? Here are some ways to determine if something is right or wrong. First, it’s only normal for an unsaved person to do that which is right in his own eyes. The Christian, however, has a standard by which to form convictions. That standard is the Word of God. We must be saved if we are to discern God’s Truth. Next, will it honor or dishonor our Savior? Another thing to consider is motivation. Is what I want to do, say or be based on a purpose to be holy or is it something I want for my own satisfaction? Still another aid to making the right decision leads to this question: Even if what I want is o.k. would it cause some Christian to stumble? Here’s another question: Would Jesus approve? We need to consider that carefully. I hope we would err on the side of being too careful instead of being careless about our choices. Selah! In the light of how many things that were accepted as wrong just a few short years ago and are now common in the lives of many who claim to be saved, shouldn’t we revisit the issue of what constitutes Christian separation? Ron. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart(II Timothy 2:19-22).

Subtle Spin?

Aside

Pro-Choice sounds better than pro-abortion. However, it doesn’t change the truth. Sanitation engineer sounds better than garbage man. Nevertheless, it doesn’t change the occupation (or the smell). Calling Biblical separation from the world legalism doesn’t eliminate God’s command to be holy. Granted, there is a legalism that the Bible warns against. It is to not add works to grace as a means of being saved. Satan has done a masterful job of equating separation with what is called legalism in far too many minds today. This has led to a carelessness in behavior in too many Christians and churches. About the only difference between many Christians and unbelievers is that the worldliness pursued by beguiled believers is a somewhat more sanitized version of behavior. We do the same things but we do a (usually) cleaner version. What is separation and how is it different from legalism? Legalism as it’s usually thought of these days is a lot of rules that we are expected to follow. The problem is that these are imposed on us externally by others. Separation is discovering Biblical commands and principles and willingly (out of love and gratitude and with a desire to honor our Savior and have a good testimony) make them our own personal convictions. One is demanded; the other is embraced! Selah! A holy life is an attractive alternative to the empty lifestyle of the unsaved. Many have responded to the gospel when they have seen it lived out in a full abundant life. Ron

 
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Corinthians 6:17-7:1).

Obstacles to Mind Renewal

Aside

There can be no mind renewal for the unsaved person. The obstacle is the faulty thinking inherited from Adam. “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:4). Paul cautions the Church at Rome: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded islife and peace” (Romans 8:6). The person who has received Jesus as Savior and Lord has been granted Spiritual-mindedness. “….we have the mind of Christ.” (From I Corinthians 2:16). The carnal or fleshly mind (i.e; our natural thinking and reasoning) is also an obstacle and has to go! The reason that it has to go is found in Romans 8:7. Paul continues, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” It is our new mind that can understand Spiritual Truth. Paul explains in I Corinthians 2:14: “But the natural man (the unsaved man) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” But know this: God’s way for us to use this new mind is to fill it with His Word. Saturating our new minds with Scripture (under the guidance and illumination of the Holy Spirit) is God’s way of purging out our natural way of reasoning. Keep in mind that our old way of reasoning strongly resists renewal. However, the more God’s principles takes root in our hearts, the more the old way loses its hold on us. Selah! Meditate on this portion of Romans 8:6: “to be Spiritually minded is life and peace.” Scriptural thinking has great rewards in our lives on earth and prepares us for Heaven. Ron

Mind Replacement

Aside

I use the word “mind” here in the sense of our thinking, our reasoning. We mature in life, thinking wrongly. As yesterday’s article pointed out, our thinking was blinded by original sin. Only when we are born again is there any hope of change. Consider first this statement from I Corinthians 3:19: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God….” Next, look at Isaiah 55:8-9 where God, through the prophet, says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Thankfully, there is an alternative. James, under inspiration, explains, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). James even tells us how to get it. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Now how does God impart true wisdom to us? The answer is found in Proverbs 2:1-6: “My son, if thou wilt receive My words, and hide My commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” Selah! Only genuine Christians who fill their hearts and minds with God’s thoughts, principles and commands can see the old way of thinking purged, and replaced with God’s wisdom and knowledge. There is no shortcut! Constant exposure to Scripture, applying and obeying, is God’s method of mind renewal! Ron

Choosing Between Two Competing Views

Aside

We are born with a wrong way to view life. This is the result of the fall. Our wrong thinking is because of our inherited sin nature. Ephesians 4:18 pinpoints our problem. It describes our condition as “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” This is the way that we live and it will be the way that we die unless something changes. There is a way to change; to view Spiritual Truth. Light (Spiritual understanding) is available to scatter Spiritual blindness and darkness. Psalm 119:130 spells it out: “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Jesus said, “…. I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (From John 8:12). Here’s the way it works: If we receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord, He brings Spiritual understanding (light) into our hearts and minds and the way that He does this is by bringing His Word to bear on our lives. This is the way that He renews our minds. (See Romans 12:2). Our part is to read, study, think upon, apply and obey His teaching. Failure to receive Him means that we remain in darkness throughout our lives and will spend eternity Spiritually blind and lost, separated from Him forever. If we do receive Him, how are our minds renewed? We’ve considered the means in this article. Tomorrow, Lord willing, we’ll look at the method. Selah! Darkness or light; a distorted and damaged view or a Divine view, what will it be? The choice is ours! Ron

Embracing the Cross

Aside

Embracing the Cross can and has led to pain, suffering and death. It has opened many to ridicule and mockery. It has resulted in personal and financial loss for some. Most of us in the Western World will experience comparatively little of these kinds of things. We may endure things like misunderstanding, rejection and verbal attacks. We may experience none of these. We may even be respected or at least tolerated. No matter what happens (or doesn’t), embracing the Cross leads to death. This can be death to personal ambition. This means death to the right to choose our own path in life. It means death to things that are contrary to the Word of God. This will take a lifetime of dying. As we realize the things that are sin (some that we’ve enjoyed and rationalized as being O.K.), we must surrender them to death by the Cross. We must yield ownership of our lives and material means (including money and other forms of wealth) to His direction and control. We must allow Him to put our plans to death and replace them with His. These are a few examples of what is involved in being a disciple. Some will say that this is too hard; too much to expect. They will back away revealing a doubtful conversion. Others will submit to dying out to all that offends God and discover that the death the Cross demands is nothing less than the resurrection to glorious and abundant life. Selah! Jesus’ Cross cost Him an infinite price that He willingly paid for our salvation. A conversion that costs nothing is not a Spiritual conversion. It’s a shell empty of content. Ron

 
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). This is the way of the Cross!

When Testimony and Life Collide

Aside

We are being observed. If we have given testimony to being a Christian, we are watched much more than we might think. When our lips profess one thing and our lives demonstrate another, we have undermined our testimony. Our behavior, our values, our attitudes, actions and responses all should reflect our testimony not collide with it. No, we are not perfect. We do wrong things. Sometimes it may be hypocrisy. Other times it may be weakness or the result of Spiritual immaturity. Nevertheless, eyes that would delight to discount our profession are focused on us. If they can find fault, then they think of themselves as not being any worse than those “religious phonies.” Sometimes they consider themselves better. We need to walk closely with the Lord and be on guard against inconsistencies. We may do fairly well on not doing the obviously wrong and sinful things. However, as Song of Solomon 2:15 teaches, it’s “….the little foxes that spoil the vines.” When we worry, deceive or stretch the truth, use careless language, get angry, have less than out and out honesty and/or indulge in shady business deals we tarnish our testimony. When we go places or do things that are questionable, we sabotage our witness. Let me take this a little further. In our technological age, do we text inappropriate things, such as “OMG“, forward questionable e-mails, read or view things that we shouldn’t? Do we check what we forward for sinful content? Sometimes it’s buried in humor. With people looking for reasons to discount our Christian walk, we can’t be too careful. If we make a mistake or sin, let’s admit that we are wrong and turn from it and ask forgiveness. Selah! The more that we are in the Word and the Word is in us, the less that we will fall into these traps. Ron

 
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (I Peter 3:16).

Developing A Workable Spiritual Plan

Aside

In suggesting a plan, even the most basic things must be considered. Prayer, Bible Study, fellowship and witnessing are “musts!” If you read four chapters a day (more in books like Psalms and Proverbs) you’ll get through the Bible in less than a year. Start right over again. Every exposure will advance you Spiritually, if you read and heed. (If this is too difficult when you are first starting, take a smaller portion. The important thing is to keep reading through the Bible). Your study will be more effective if you use tools. Minimum: A good commentary, Bible dictionary and/or encyclopedia and concordance. Establish a regular period of time, in a quiet place, with good lighting and air and where you are not likely to be disturbed. Read up on the importance of the local church and assemble in one that gives God’s Word the central place. Read good books on witnessing, but never allow any method or script to render your testimony just a mechanical exercise. Books can help but never can do the work of the Holy Spirit. Read books or listen to messages by those whom God has used. Let no books take the place of Scripture! Plan times to read biographies, books on serious Christian living and books on missions. Develop a personal involvment with missions/missionaries. Now the usual reaction to these kinds of things is: where would I find the time. Careful planning can make it doable. Imagine you are offered the dream job of a lifetime with a huge salary and numerous fringe benefits. The conditions and location are just right. However, it will require some serious study to have the knowledge and skills the new job calls for. Selah! Planning for this life may bring temporal rewards; planning for Spiritual development will yield rewards for all eternity.     Ron

 
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).

Do You Have A Plan?

Aside

“If you don’t have a plan to succeed, you have a plan to fail” (Source unknown). This is most often true. Another has put it this way: “Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it with deadly accuracy!” (Source unknown). We plan for everything. It may be a conscious plan or one that we seem to evolve into. The “bottom line” is that we plan. We plan our day. We plan our work. We plan for careers or other employment. We plan for our families. We plan for the future. I think you get the idea. However, let me ask this question: Do we plan for Spiritual growth and development? How is it that we plan for practically everything else but not for our Spiritual progress? How could any true Christian put more time and effort into everything else than he does in meeting his responsibility as a disciple? Do you have a plan? When God uses someone to make a major Spiritual impact on others, that someone has spent quality time alone with God. They avail themselves of the means that God has provided for Spiritual maturity. Tomorrow, Lord willing, I hope to share some guidelines for developing a plan to become an effective disciple. Selah! Drifting in our Christian lives pretty much insures Spiritual ineffectiveness and will produce shame, when we face Him.        Ron

 
According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:3-11).

What A Local Church Could Be, If….

Aside

There must be churches out there that are doing things God’s way. I hope there are many. Tragically, a lot of today’s churches have long since abandoned the basics. I think of what a local church could be, if leadership and people were to pray with burdened hearts for God’s working in their midst. What might happen if our pulpits resounded with Spirit-filled, doctrinally rich, fervent Biblical preaching and teaching? Suppose a local church developed a new awareness of the holiness of God and a consciousness of the seriousness of sin. Imagine, if a baptism of concern for lost souls was to envelop the people. Consider the impact of a call to holy living coming regularly from our pastors. Think of a church with intense interest in and concern for world missions. These kinds of things could restore God’s blessings on far too many churches that have lapsed into a state of spiritual anemia. Churches that have fallen into the rut of a boring routine could, once again, become churches with renewed Spiritual vitality and excitement. There is a desperate need for pastors whose leadership will move us back to the old paths of God’s obvious Presence and working. Individual Christians need to be serious about the things of God. We need to look to God for enabling to be and do what God wants us to be and do in our own local church. Can this happen? “And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Selah! It only takes a spark to get a fire going. Let’s ask God to ignite revival in and through us. Ron