Implementing the Plan

Our plan will not succeed unless we rely on God to enable us to carry out the plan. Pray for His enabling and then put your nose to the grindstone! Psalm 37:5 tells us to, “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.” The working out of our faith hinges entirely on internalizing Scripture. We need to read it, think on it, apply it and obey it. Just reading will not cut it. Here are some ideas and tools that you can use to get the most out of God’s Word. First, pray for understanding. Next, use or get some tools. Our Daily Bread, Days of Praise are helpful. They are available in print and online free. A Bible dictionary and concordance are very helpful. Also, a good down-to-earth commentary. None of these replace the actual text but can help us understand the text. You need to be in a place where it is quiet and you can concentrate. Try for four chapters a day. That is a good goal. Try for 10, in books like the Psalms. This allows you to read the Bible through in a year and even allows a little latitude if you should be too ill to read. (Incidentally, you can listen to the Bible on tape or CDs, if you have reading limitations). Later, you may want to take longer for a more in-depth study. (If you need a check-off chart, let me know and I can E-Mail you one). It helps some of us to see a printed record of accomplishment. No matter what, keep at it! If you get off track, the devil will try to discourage you and suggest that you just can’t do it. Don’t let him make you his victim. Start right in again. Eventually you will master the discipline, with God’s enabling. Don’t forget, study of God’s Word is a command, not simply a good idea. “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). Selah! Eventually, your testimony will be: “O how I love Thy Law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).   Ron

A Plan For An Exciting Chapter‏

New Year’s resolutions are usually little more than good intentions. They may or may not last. If they last, few last the whole year. I want to encourage you to have some measurable goals. You might start by writing them down. Then glance at them day by day to see if you are making progress. Here they are: 1). Have and follow a good Bible reading plan. There are helps available.* 2). Record at least one thing that you learned and one thing that you learned and applied. (Try to develop what you learned, into a daily practice). Go back over your notes to remind yourself to keep at it. 3). Develop a workable prayer list.* 4). Attend regular services and put your heart into them.* 5). Develop relationships with Christians who are earnest about growing in grace. 6). Have a plan and a method for sharing your faith. Then, do it!* “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (II Peter 3:18). Selah! Christianity is not religion; it is a vital and blessed experience with God through His Son. It is not something to be casual about!   Ron
 
*Lord willing, over the next few days, I’ll give insights to help you reach your goals. You might want to print them out and refer to them from time to time to see how you are doing.  R. 

What About The Next Chapter?

If we don’t have a plan, then we plan to fail! These words are very true in the Spiritual realm. How many Christians simply float through life, letting it just happen? We who are born again believe the greatest Truths ever revealed to mankind. Nevertheless, have they truly made a definite difference in our lives? We believe the Bible is inspired and that through it, God speaks to us. Do we really take time to listen carefully to His voice as we read the sacred messages? How much effort do we devote to our spiritual development? Looking back over the years, how much have we deepened our involvement with our wonderful Lord? For some, is there any progress? Is the gathering of the saints Spiritually exciting and profitable? What have we done to help make it that way for our brothers and sisters in Christ? On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “very strong” and 1 being “somewhat weak,” how committed are we to growing spiritually? If these and other similar questions reveal flaws in our level of discipleship, what do we intend to do about it? It won’t just happen! In the Word of God, we read, “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service and be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). If each new year is like a new chapter in your life, do you have a plan to make your next chapter better than the last one? Selah! Tomorrow, God willing, I’d like to suggest a plan that will make the next chapter a very exciting chapter.   Ron

It Can’t Be, Can It?

Yesterday’s article is the background for today. How can God be unapproachable and yet be in us? It can’t be, can it? I see the answer in how He is in us. He dwells in us, in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Paul testified to the Corinthian Christians, in II Corinthians 4:7 that, “….we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” God accommodates Himself to work within our limitations. In Colossians 2:9, we learn that, “….in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” In 1:27, Paul gives this Truth: “….Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The fullness of the Godhead is in Christ and He is in us, in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Now, “ ….God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” (From I John 1:5). This amazing Light that radiates from Him shines through us! This is why Paul could tell the Philippians (and us) that we live, “….in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” (From 2:15). God reveals Himself through His Word to us, and through us, to others. The more the Word is absorbed and applied, the brighter the reflection of Him beams out to lost people (and to other Christians). If we are growing in understanding and applying Scripture, “….the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4:18). What a glorious privilege to reflect Him. Keep charging your light from the Source of power and keep the lens clean and free of defilement. Selah! “Deity expressed through humanity!” We who are born again are the channels through which Deity flows. Beyond amazing!   Ron

That Which Dwells

A friend of mine got me thinking on this and hence this article. One of the greatest privileges available to mankind is to live and function “in the Presence of God;” the Shekinah. The word itself means “That which dwells.” Four verses that relate to this glorious experience are as follows: Ezekiel 8:4, Genesis 15:17, Isaiah 4:5 and Zechariah 2:8. God’s Presence to bless, guide and teach is an unprecedented pouring out of God’s grace. Because of Calvary, those who come to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior are indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit. Scripture makes clear that all who are born again are “in Christ” and Paul in Colossians 1:27 points out this Truth, “….Christ ‘in you‘ the hope of Glory.” If you are a Child of God, you are enveloped by Him (“In the Spirit“) (From Romans 8:9) and are “filled with the Spirit” (From Ephesians 5:18). How can any sinner, saved by grace, ever take such an astonishing privilege for granted? The Shekinah Glory that filled the Most Holy Place now abides in us who are His. But God is pure light! Paul tells us about this in I Timothy 6:16. Speaking of God, He wrote, “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the Light which no man can approach unto; Whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to Whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.” Yet, we are to walk in the Light! (See I John 1:7). How can we walk in light like this? Well, that will be our focus for tomorrow, God willing. Selah! John, in First John 1:5 tells us that, “….God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” Is this Light impossible for us; is there a contradiction here? Do come by tomorrow for an answer.   Ron

Christmas Is Never Over!

The decorations will soon be put away. The tree will come down and it will be stored or if real, it will be trashed. Christmas cards will be saved or thrown away. All the lights and activity will give way to our regular everyday life. It’s all over ’til next year when we will repeat the cycle. It was a nice holiday period; let’s put it behind us and move on. Should this be? Let me give a resounding, “No!” Certainly, it’s time to escape the commercialism and partying. (I hope they were wholesome parties). However, let’s stop and think. What is Christmas all about? “Christ!” Is He to be forgotten until next year? He was born! That’s not the ending of the story; that’s the beginning. His entire time on earth was lived to the glory of God, the Father. His life moved inexorably toward the cross. It was His sacrifice on that cross that saves all who receive Him as Savior and Lord. Once we do that, God’s Life reconnects in us. The Person of the Holy Spirit indwelling us enables us to live for the glory of God. Therefore, that same Jesus who was born to die for us, brings meaning and purpose to our lives everyday of the year. Under His sway, just as He was revealed to you and me, He will reveal Himself within our sphere of influence all year long, as He lives His Life through us. That’s the real meaning of Christmas,24/7! Peter, in I Peter 2:9, said that we “….should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you (us) out of darkness into His marvelous light:….” Those Judean Shepherds left darkness to see the Light of the world. All who have done the same must spread the light. Selah! The real Light of Christmas must not go out all through the years. When we keep it shining, Christmas never ends!   Ron

History-Pre-Written!

Hundreds of years before it actually happened, Isaiah records an amazing and content-rich prophecy. In Chapter 9, Verses 6-7, God reveals to us that there is going to be a Savior given. He could have just said that there is going to be a Savior and left it at that. However, He chose to give us a composite and revealing picture of this amazing Person that was to be the hope of mankind. Long dreary and misery ridden years of being locked in to the consequences of our first parents’ sad fall left their descendants in a helpless and hopeless state. All that would change in God’s set time. Think on the Truths that unfold in this wonderful prophecy. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:” Not a full grown Man arriving with great fanfare and publicity. “and the government shall be upon His shoulder:” He is one day going to reign upon the earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! “and His Name shall be called wonderful,” He is full of wonder; there is something about that Name! “Counsellor,” His Word abounds with guidance and principles for abundant living. “The mighty God,” Jesus is God! The Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New testament! “The everlasting Father,” This speaks of His eternality and tells us that He is both the Father and the Son. “The Prince of Peace.” All the years of human experience have not brought peace, nor will we see lasting peace until the Prince returns to usher in perfect peace. The following verse reveals that His government will increase and His peace will not end. He will reign on the throne of David, His reign will be orderly. Perfect justice will establish His government and His reign will be unending. “Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the Throne of David, and upon His Kingdom, to order it, and establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever.” The guarantee is included in the prophecy: “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” Selah! A great day is coming; the future is as bright as the promises of God. Are you ready?   Ron

Heaven Opened!

It was probably a very average evening. While others were busy in the villages and towns, an unprecedented event was impending. It was to occur in a very unlikely place. A field, of all places! Probably the sheep were bedded down for the night, Shepherds sat around, keeping an eye out for dangers to the sheep. They may have been talking with each other about things of interest. No anticipation of anything out of the ordinary. Just another typical night. Who could have guessed what was about to transpire? “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid” (Luke 2:9). Before you pass over this as the familiar Christmas story, stop and consider. This is not a story but a historical record of an event that actually took place. Now, put yourself in that scene: you’re minding your own business, talking with others that have the same occupation that you do. There is movement! You look up! What assaults your sight? An angel; and a dazzling light. It was in all likelihood, the Shekinah Glory of God. You wonder that they were scared to death? Maybe they would have died of cardiac arrest, if not for the angel’s next words. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not!” He set their minds at ease. However, they scarcely had a chance to relax and calm themselves before hearing a history-changing moment announced. The angel went on,….for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Verse 10). This timeless announcement fell on their ears, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Verses 11-12). Before they had time to think, there followed another astonishing sight: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Verses 13-14). That did it! A brief discussion and they headed to the location of the new-born Savior. I wonder if we would, if this happened to us in our time. Selah! Upon hearing the Word of God, they left the sheep and the darkness and headed for The Light. Should we do less?    Ron

Shocking News!

A good man discovers that his wife is pregnant and he had had nothing to do with it. Shocking news, indeed! However, he loved her. Feelings of betrayal left him deeply hurt. How does one deal with that? He could have her disgraced but he still loved her. His dreams and hopes were smashed. Notwithstanding, he couldn’t bring himself to hurt her. He would quietly put her away. Thinking on this, he turned in. He has an amazing dream. The central figure in this dream is an angel. Unlike most today, the man never questioned the fact that it was an angel. The angel delivers an even more shocking message: This thing is a miracle from God!  The Holy Spirit has created a body in this virgin’s womb. There was no human involvement! More shocking still, the Inhabitant of this infant body was none other than God, the Son! To his eternal credit, this man didn’t say, “Do you expect me to believe that?” This man of God was even told what the child was to be named. And he obeyed! Matthew, under inspiration, provides us with the prophecy that revealed this future event that unfolded dramatically in the lives of Joseph and Mary. This prophecy included another name: “Emmanuel.” Its meaning is astonishing. It means “God with us!” Charles Wesley gave a meaningful expression of this in his well known Christmas hymn. He wrote, “Veiled in flesh the God-head see; Hail the incarnate Deity, pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel.”

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:18-25)

Selah! Joseph demonstrated an unbeatable response to God: Faith and obedience! It is for us to do the same!     Ron

Two Absolutely Essential Components-2

I hope that you will review yesterday’s article. It is closely related to today’s article. We who are born again, may sit under anointed preaching that is delivered in an exciting, interesting and challenging way. It may be well illustrated and with strong application. It may be bathed in prayer for God to use it. And it may accomplish nothing unless…. the second absolutely essential component is functional. What might that be? Spirit-filled hearing! Many Christians, I suspect, do not really hear in the fullest meaning of the word. Jesus often addressed His listeners with this challenge, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Sitting under the Word, our minds may wander in various directions. We need to discipline ourselves to pay attention to and focus on what He is saying. God speaks in true Biblical preaching! We need to hang on every Word He says. Another problem is that we need to listen carefully. Not all preaching is Scripturally accurate. We must be sure that the content of the message is Biblically sound. Paul said, in I Thessalonians 5:21, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Still another problem is that we assume that the message is something that others need to heed. We need to seriously consider if the message is something that we ourselves need to deal with. Yet another problem is: undealt with sin in our lives. This will plug our ears and obstruct our hearing big time. Lack of hearing properly will result in a lack of faith. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Determined listening and obeying will definitely increase our faith. Selah! Spirit-filled preaching + disciplined listening + application=genuine Spiritual growth! Are you and I listening? Really listening?    Ron