Most, if not all, start out at a young age wanting to be important, successful, admired, wealthy, famous or perhaps great. This often carries over into our lives as Christians. Of course, we think it has to be for God. “I want to be great for God.” Deep down in, there may be an undercurrent. We like to have other Christians speak of us as Spiritual, Godly, humble, etc. That isn’t how it works in our new life in Christ. In Matthew 20:26-27, Jesus said, ” But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” Jesus is the one to be exalted! We don’t do things for Him; He does things through us! That’s a huge matter. The first way, we get the “glory.” The second way, He gets the Glory! The fact that He graciously works through us, unworthy as we are, should humble us that He would use us. Thankfulness for His grace should overflow in praise, that He would engage us as channels through whom He eternally touches other lives. Paul reminds us of this in I Corinthians 1:27-29: “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence.” Timothy was young, had physical problems and minimal experience, yet Paul admonished him, saying, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (I Timothy 4:12). Timothy had limitations. So do we! But God doesn’t!! Selah! God, as Major Ian Thomas so aptly put it, expresses His deity through our humanity. Let’s keep the channel unclogged. Ron
There is much cheapening and/or corrupting of what was once good quality brands. One example is in our food supply. Much that was once wholesome and nutricious is now “watered down,” loaded with additives and contaminated with chemicals and other unhealthy ingredients. It’s bad when we are talking about food. It’s far worse when we are talking about the brand of Christianity that is often offered today. Bad food can be exposed for what it is and can be avoided. More and more people are doing that. When we are exposed to an inferior brand of Christianity, far too many swallow it whole. They are unaware that it is a weakened version of the original brand. It often is devoid of wholesome doctrine. Unscriptural ideas and principles have frequently been added. It seems like the real thing but fails to produce healthy Spiritual growth. As people are learning to abandon unwholesome food and junk food, God’s people need to chuck emasculated spiritual food. Processed spiritual food must be replaced with the sincere milk of the Word and the strong meat that produces Spiritual maturity. Only as we feed regularly on the original brand will we quickly recognize and refuse an inferior brand. Selah! People are studying food labeling more and more so as to reject the unwholesome food. We, like the Bereans, need to do that with the spiritually corrupted food that is commonly offered today. “….they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (From Acts17:11). Ron
Many people are basing their hope of Heaven on a faith that will not deliver. We might call this kind of faith “pre-faith.” There is nothing wrong with it but by itself it is inadequate. It is an embracing of what we read, view or hear as being true. We accept things as true or not true based on our confidence in, or lack of confidence in, the source of our information. When someone trusts the Bible as being infallible, they have taken the first step toward authentic Biblical faith. Accepting what Scripture tells us as being true paves the way for us to move on to saving faith. Biblical faith must be acted on. Pre-faith gives one confidence that a certain chair will hold them when they sit on it. Their faith becomes valid when they sit on the chair. It is only imtellectual faith until they do. We must believe in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection in our behalf. However, if we stop there we will still be lost. Our faith is valid when, based on those Truths, we trust Him as our Savior and Lord. To trust Him only as Savior (as in, from the penalty of sin) leaves us with a half way faith that will not take us all the way through to genuine conversion. When we yield to Him as Savior and Lord, we have exercised true saving faith. This kind of faith produces a comprehensive experience of salvation that begins at the moment of our receiving God’s forgiveness and our surrendering to His right to influence and control our lives, and to shape us in Christ’s image throughout our lives, and finally bring us to Heaven and complete deliverance from sin and its effects. Selah! Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that, “….without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Romans 10:10a gives the results of true faith: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness….” Our true faith then gives us rock-solid certainty of God’s Truth: “Nowfaith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Ron
I’d like to consider how church should be as opposed to how it often is in our day, especially in the Western world and particularly America. Jesus should be loved and praised. He should be honored and revered. He should be thanked from hearts filled with eternal gratitude. The pulpit should train, challenge, equip, confront and comfort the saints. Expository preaching is the best way to accomplish this. The Holy Spirit should be relied on, not our ability, programs and methods. These are only acceptable when they are under the Spirit’s control, in harmony with Scriptural principles and supportive of His purposes in the church. People should place a high premium on getting along with each other and the leaders. Leaders need to know the difference between ministry and entertainment, between performances and ministering, and between being a shepherd and being a CEO. Proper discipline should be done with love and concern and hopefully encouraging the offenders to repent and be healed. A church should be heavily involved in missions worldwide and their own mission. A sense of family (we are part of the family of God, if we are born again) should pervade our assemblies and our most special friends be found in the ranks of the redeemed. We should love, care about and help each other to the best of our ability. Spiritual joy and excitement should stimulate our looking forward to working and worshiping together. These are some ways for a church to be what it ought to be. Selah! Shepherds have the primary responsibility to lead the flock in these ways by wise and loving servant leadership and example. Ephesians 4:11-15 explains: “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” Ron
The capacity of the human brain to store all kinds of input is staggering. Nevertheless, even the brain has limitations. To begin with, we only use a fairly small percentage of our brain, so they tell us. Scripture tells us that, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he….” (From Proverbs 23:7). What we absorb from all external sources comes in through the mind and becomes a part of our inner being. The junk that we assimilate consciously or unconsciously from the media, unsaved friends, what we read and what we look at corrupts our inner being and spews out like deadly lava, and others become victims of the flow. In Matthew 15:18-19, Jesus said, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” What can we do as born again Christians? How can we change things to be a blessing to others? The “bottom line” is to so internalize Scripture and Scriptural principles that things that shouldn’t be part of us are flushed out. They lose their impact by lack of use, as the water of the Word cleanses our minds. Instead of corruption, what God is working into us flows out, blessing the lives of others. Let God’s Word renew your mind and heart, Remember we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Studying, thinking on and applying God’s word is how we, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Philippians 4:8 admonishes, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Selah! Since it is “out of the abundance of the heart [that] the mouth speaketh.” (From Matthew 12:34); therefore, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Ron
Devotions do not just happen. We need a place, a plan and a purpose. Find a place that is private and away from distractions. Fresh air, work space, study tools and good lighting are important. Develop a plan. To start out, unless you are very disciplined, I suggest making “Our Daily Bread” and “Days of Praise” your absolute minimum commitment (including careful reading and thinking on the Scripture included with the articles).* Try to read a chapter a day from your (preferably) King James Bible. Pray for at least 15-30 minutes. Include in your prayer confessing any sins, thanking God for Who He is and for specific things He has done for you, and making your requests known to Him.Once this has become an established practice, develop and follow through on a plan to read the entire Bible in one year. (Four chapters a day works well). From there, add good books, especially on prayer and books that give understanding of God’s Word. These should be from authors who have really been used by God and have a love for His Word. (Expository messages on CD’s, DVD’s and cassettes can be a big help). Thinking on the meaning of tried and true hymns is valuable. A few minutes or a few pages spent this way will be rewarding. Finally, have a purpose. Expect Satan to try distracting you and/or discouraging you. Have a set time for devotions each day. Purpose to give God that time. Keep your appointment with Him. If you “mess up,” get back up and “have at it” again, as many times as you fail plus one. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17). Selah! A place, a plan and a purpose will provide essential spiritual nutrition and spiritually healthy growth. Eat well! Ron *(http://www.odb.org/&http://www.icr.org/ respectively).
Ever since God explained their punishment to Adam and Eve, mankind has had to work. Failure to do so brings its own consequences. When God instituted labor, He also incorporated some safeguards. Man was to have adequate times of rest, recreation and renewal. Although He needs no rest, God set the pattern by resting on the seventh day. He calls on us to rest one day a week. He also commanded, “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work” (Exodus 20:9). This did not mean that we are to work 24/7. It means to get our necessary work done in six days. In other words, don’t steal God’s special day to do our work. Time must be used wisely. We need adequate sleep. periodic times of rest and relaxation, recreational activities, etc. We most of all need spiritual rest and renewal. Scripture gives timely advice. Jesus in Matthew 11:28-29 says to us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” In Isaiah 40:31, we are reminded that, “….they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength….” In Isaiah 30:15, we find some more loving admonition, “….in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength….” The most important appointment that we have is one with God, alone in the “Secret Place.” Enjoying the Presence of God, praising and honoring Him, being listened to, listening to Him in His Word, bringing Him your concerns, thinking on His greatness and love and resting secure in His love, brings rest, refreshment, encouragement, joy and direction to our lives and fills our hearts with love for Him. These are the ways to know the peace of God that passes all understanding. (See Philippians 4:5-7). Selah! When we are first attempting to establish a regular quiet time and even if we have already established one, there are things that can enhance this wonderful experience. We hope to consider those tomorrow, God willing. I hope you will drop by then. Ron