Contrasting Responses

Two different messages that I listened to on Christian radio today prompted the following content. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock….and everyone that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand” (Matthew 7:24; 26). The first man heard and did. Jesus declared him wise. The second man heard and did not. Jesus declared him foolish. They both heard but only one did. In the second message, a person prayed, God, If You will tell me what you want, I’ll consider it and if I like it, I’ll do it. It got this person nowhere because it didn’t include faith (trust). True faith, as the Bible views faith, calls for unconditional trust. I will commit my life to Him, no matter what takes place in my life or what He asks of me. Sometimes, God’s working seems to go against how we think that He should do or is contrary to what we want Him to do. Faith says, “I will trust Him over my own ideas or desires regardless of how things seem. Selah! If we can’t trust Him with the things of this life, how can we trust Him with our eternal destiny?  Ron

The Reality of His Person

Because Jesus is not physically visible, it makes me wonder if we really see Him with the eyes of faith. Is His life more like a good story or perhaps just someone that we read about who lived long ago? Or do we see Him as a great religious figure? Another possibility is someone who is real but who lives far away in a place called Heaven. If we are truly born again, do we see Him as real, present, powerful, loving and as one to carry on conversation with and grow to love? This is only able to be experienced when we take the time to be with Him in the Word and really listen to Him and when we talk to Him in prayer. It is by doing this that your experience and mine reaches beyond the theoretical and grasps the reality of His actual Presence. As we follow His teaching and leading, our lives become increasingly and abundantly enriched. This brings home to us His Personal care and wisdom and enhances our wonderful interaction with Him. He’s ready to become real to us! Are we ready to open ourselves to His loving companionship? “Come unto Me….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.” (From Matthew 11:28-29). Selah! Seeing Him with the eyes of faith here on earth is the prelude to seeing Him face to face for all the endless ages of Heaven!   Ron

Tampering with Truth

There is much more tampering with God’s Truth than most Christians realize. All kinds of excuses or rationalizations do not justify being careless with God’s Word. Many changes may be sincerely motivated but that doesn’t make these changes true to Scripture. For example, the Bible’s teaching on Hell is often softened or explained in a way that may result in people thinking that it need not be very much feared or that we do not need to get “worked up” to try and warn unsaved people. Another example is using “young woman” in place of “virgin.” These are just two examples among many more that could be cited. A basic question to ask is: “Who would want to water down Scripture?” and the answer is obvious. A careful reading of many translations and paraphrases will reveal many places where a major doctrine has been compromised or portions of the text have been omitted. In not a few cases, footnotes have explained away what the Holy Spirit has actually revealed. I have grown in my conviction that our only fully reliable version is the King James’ Version. I have no quarrel with most other versions, if they are used like commentaries and provided that they are checked against God’s Word in order to catch error and not fall into it. However, I believe that they should not be identified as Bibles. I am aware that true born again Christians may disagree with me but I challenge them to an unbiased study of the mountain of evidence that Scripture has far too often been the victim of tampering. Consider this serious warning in Revelation 22:19, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Selah! Satan still whispers, Yea, hath God said? (From Genesis 3:1).  Ron

What Does God Get out of Our Relationship?

In thinking about salvation, most of the time our thoughts are on: “What will it do for me?” rather than on what should God receive from the relationship. What should be our response to such love and grace? Well the obvious ones are love, gratitude, praise and worship to mention a few. There are others such as obedience, telling others about Him, etc. Isn’t it time to give some serious thought to how to love, honor and appreciate Him? Do we need motivation? Who else has sacrificed His Son for us? God’s “Gift” to this world suffered rejection, hatred, verbal and physical abuse, slander, misrepresentation, beatings, was spit upon, slapped, mocked, suffered agony, bled and died. For whom? Great people? No, sinners deserving of being lost eternally. “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Let’s begin or renew our determination to lavish the love on Him of which He is so worthy. Selah! “….Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength.” (From Luke 10:27). That will bring joy to His heart!   Ron

Centering Affections

It’s likely that most people let their affections go wherever, with little or no thought of taking charge of their affections. We can control our affections and decide upon what they are going to be centered. Paul, writing under inspiration to the Church at Colosse, charged them to “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). Of course, this applies to all born again Christians. How can we discipline ourselves to do this? The first and most obvious way to do this is constant exposure to what is to become the Chief Object of our affections. In other words, our Lord Jesus Christ is the One on Whom we are to focus our love. Now, Satan brings all kinds of interesting and/or “important(?)” matters onto the screen of our minds. The real question is do we have adequate Spiritual discernment to determine if what we are mostly dwelling on, is of a Spiritual nature. We can get all wrapped up in things of earth and fail in our love for the things of God. Certainly, we have basic daily responsibilities. Nevertheless, let’s not major on earthly things but on the Heavenly ones. Selah! “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world….the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” (From I John 2:15;17).  Ron

Why Go Through Life Waiting For Someday?

Years ago, I came across a sign in a store window that asked the question in today’s title. It was evidently intended to motivate an immediate purchase of whatever the advertiser wanted to sell. I’m thinking of this question in a different way. We sometimes say to ourselves, “I need to do better at witnessing.” or “I’m going to do more praying or studying my Bible;” or “I’m going to start tithing and be more regular in attending church.” How often do thoughts like these pass through a true Christian’s mind? We think that sometime soon we will get going on these things and do better. However, our clever adversary subtly distracts our minds away these kinds of thoughts and we, like puppets on his strings, fail to exercise the discipline needed to resist his attempts to manipulate us. Instead of waiting for someday, why not begin today to focus our thoughts on our Spiritual development and on resisting any distractions other than absolute necessities? Let’s be sure they are absolute necessities! We can’t change the past. We can learn from it. We can’t do tomorrow today. So, let’s zero in on what we can deal with. Namely, today! Let’s exercise the needed discipline now! “….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 (love).” “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.” (From II Peter 1:5-8). Selah! Who but God knows when we will have no more “todays?” Jesus said, “….the night cometh when no man can work.” (From John 9:4)  Ron

Lopsided Prayer

 A seven year old asks God for a new puppy. A man says to his wife, “Honey, God sure helped us by our being able to get that new car. The seven year old, we can understand and make allowance for, but what about the man or woman who makes this kind of thing constitute the major content of their prayers? What’s wrong with the man telling his wife how kind God was to them? The question is: did he tell God? (Incidentally, was God behind their getting the car or did the man just do it himself, debt and all)? My point is that what we discuss with God is often unbalanced, selfish and lopsided. First, prayer is to honor God. Psalm 100:4 instructs us to enter, “His courts with praise.” It also tells us to enter “His gates with thanksgiving and to bless His Name.” Paul charged the Philippians (and us) to not worry and to precede our requests with prayers and supplications and do it along with thanksgiving. (See Philippians 4:6). We are granted a holy privilege! We are allowed and encouraged to go into God’s Presence with freedom and confidence. Let’s use this privilege with gratitude, worship and with Spiritual balance.  Selah! God is not to be treated like a magical lamp!  Ron

What About Burdens?

Just what are we to do about burdens? I suspect that what the Scriptures tells us may be quite misunderstood. For example: In Psalm 55:22, we are told to, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee….” It doesn’t say that we will no longer have burdens. The implication seems to be that there is no longer a need to be weighed down by them. It means that the Lord now has charge of our burdens. While we are  to do whatever we can to deal with our burdens, He is there to sustain us and carry our weight. In fact, the Holy Spirit  is the Comforter, the Paraclete, the One called alongside to help. As we lift up on our side of the load, He lifts up on His side and He carries the weight. On the other hand, we are told in I Peter 5:7 to cast all our care upon Him. We should not worry, be stressed, fret, because He has the matter in hand. The outcome is His responsibility and He can be relied upon to see us through. Our view of the problems is limited, but He has the whole picture and we can wait upon Him and rest in Him. Selah! Even when we are told to bear one another’s burdens, He is there supplying the needed ability to cope, while carrying the weight upon Himself. Don’t shift the weight from His shoulders onto yours. Yours are not strong enough!   Ron

Blocked Calls

A parent cautions a child that if he or she continues to disobey there will be consequences. The disobedience may be serious enough to require discipline. Or it may be less serious and involve the loss of something that the child really wanted. One example might be: “Honey, if you want that ice cream you will eat what’s on your plate.” Refusing to eat, the child pleads for the ice cream. “Mom, Can I have my ice cream? Response: ” I don’t hear your request until you eat what’s on your plate. When God’s children disobey and still they call to Him, it might be like the recorded message that we sometimes receive when we call someone on the phone. “I’m sorry but this call is blocked!” God has promised to answer our prayers when they are in line with Scriptural principles. He hasn’t promised any answer, when our prayers are out of line. Sin clogs the lines of communication with our Heavenly Father. When we pray while disobeying, we may receive this “blocked call” message: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). Selah! Conversely, when we call, as obedient children, in harmony with God’s will, we are assured of the right answers. “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3).   Ron

Misplaced Assumptions

All too often, we fall prey to a hidden vein of pride. Namely, we assume that we know just how God should answer our prayers. We are sure that we know better than God what is the right answer. We assume that He should bow to our demands and requests, even if He knows that would be wrong for us. We want to talk God into doing what we want Him to do. We even get upset and sometimes even become bitter, resentful and angry, when He doesn’t yield to our desires, however wrong that they may be. God is not our servant, He is our Father, if we’re born again. He knows best regardless of our foolish assumptions. Some even turn their back on God. Sometimes we beg God to the point that, “….He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul” (Psalm 106:15). Just where does trust come into play? If we only trust Him until He doesn’t do exactly what we want, we have a pretty shabby trust. How many times have many of us looked back and come to realize how good and wise that He was to not answer the way we wanted our prayers to be answered. In spite of our anemic faith, “….no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (From Psalm 84:11). Much that we want are not good things, no matter how convinced we are that they are good things. Selah! God is a God of love and He loves us so much that He isn’t going to cave in to all of our unwise pleading.  Ron