Dried Up?

Think of walking in the desert. Your canteen has been drained and you are longing for water. You can practically feel the moisture leaving your body. You are growing faint. You trudge along, hoping. Off in what appears to be a considerable distance, you see what looks like a lake. You make for it, dragging one foot in front of the other. Nearly exhausted, you arrive at the edge of the water. On hands and knees you shove your canteen into it, only to realize that it’s a mirage. Nothing but sand. What a picture of someone walking through the desert of life, longing for something to satisfy, only to be deceived by one mirage after another. If he would open his eyes, spiritually speaking, and look at the One Who offers “rivers of living water” (John 7:38), he need never thirst again. But what of the person who has drawn from that Life-giving Source? He or she has enjoyed water from “the wells of salvation” (See Isaiah 12:3). This well is God’s Word! Nevertheless, he or she has stopped drinking, left the well and wandered into the wilderness of this world’s ways and has become “dried up” spiritually. To such, God calls them to remember, repent and return. Jesus sent this timeless message to the church at Ephesus, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works. (Return).” (From Revelation 2:5). Selah! How Christians stray from that which satisfies to that which never can, will occupy our attention tomorrow, God willing. Stop by, it may keep you from drying up. We are all vulnerable.  Ron

Imagine!

Picture a person who is of unquestionable character. His word is as binding as his signature on the dotted line. He is a good neighbor. He works hard and is valued by his employer. He is kind and helpful to those among whom he moves. He has high moral standards. He obeys the law (including laws of the road). He models good citizenship. He is generous. His conversation is free from questionable stories, profanity, swearing and other crude talk. He is regular at church and no one would accuse him of hypocrisy. He has a good appearance. He is an encourager. In short, this kind of person is rarely found today. When others see a person like this, some of them will desire that kind of life for themselves. Some will be moved to ask, “How come you are so different?” Then this person will explain that they have come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and try to follow His principles, found in His Word. Peter, in I Peter 2:9, describes this person. He or she wants to show “….forth the praises of Him Who hath called (him or her) out of darkness into His marvelous light.” His light (quality of life) so shines that others see his good works and glorify his Heavenly Father. (See Matthew 5:16). Selah! A person can live a moral life apart from God but when he does, he takes pride in it and God is not glorified.  Ron 

Danger Signals

“There’s something that I could really use.” “I need that!” “Won’t they be jealous, if they see me in this?” “I want that!” Wow, having this would really impress people!” Expressions like these are apt to be danger signals warning us of the possibility of falling into any of three very effective traps. John speaks of these in I John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” Why are we apt to be trapped? The simple answer is that our emotions are being worked on to move us to action. If we make decisions based on emotions, we’ve fallen into at least one of these traps. To keep from being trapped, a Christian must consider Scriptural principles to determine how to make a God-pleasing choice. Would God be O.K. with my choice? If not, turn from that choice. Emotions prompt impulsive decisions. We’ve all made these kinds of decisions only to regret them later on. Why should we allow ourselves to be enticed by our “feelings?” We are to operate on Godly principles and guidelines. These will keep us from spiritually damaging decisions and give us stability, discernment and deep satisfaction in knowing that God’s love and wisdom brings wonderful freedom from things that do not satisfy and that cause regret. Selah! We must learn discipline to enjoy God’s best in our lives. The will to discipline ourselves to go by God’s principles is indicative of Spiritual maturity.  Ron

Higher Cost; Lower Quality

Imagine you are a producer of a consumable product such as cereal, cookies, crackers, etc. You decide that you are going to lower the quality and quantity so that your business would be very successful. Would you immediately cut the quantity in half and not lower the cost?  Not likely! You would probably lose most of your customers. Instead, you would probably lower the quantity gradually so that the change wouldn’t be very noticeable. The same thing with quality. Perhaps you would lower the quality in one ingredient, followed by more, gradually. In the same way, going back to the “good old days,” there were nice songs and good stories. There was very little, sometimes nothing, offensive. Little by little, some good things were replaced with things not so good. A bit further on, some things were subtly added that were a bit more offensive. Gradually, over the years many of these stories and songs have become saturated with coarse, sinful content. However, it has happened so gradually that most people have accepted the change without consciously realizing that they have been conditioned to accept things that are cheap and tawdry. Now, who do you suppose could have devised a scheme like this and be so successful in pulling it off? How did he get away with it? How can we cease to be victims? First, we need a genuine conversion. Then, we need to mature as born again people; Spiritually move from milk to meat. This will result in what is spoken of in Hebrews 5:14. We are told, “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Selah! Victor or victim? The victors are those disciples that open their Bibles and absorb and apply its principles.   Ron

Holiness Doesn’t Just Happen!

Holiness doesn’t just happen, does it? Yes and no! Consider Hebrews 12:14. It seems to pose an impossibility. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” The word “follow” has the idea of pursuing; following hard after. If we are pursuing holiness and we die before we “catch” (attain to) holiness, do we not see the Lord? Or, consider Hebrews 10:14 which teaches that, “….by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified (made holy).” Why would we be told to pursue that which we have been told that we already have? The answer is simple. Speaking of “being perfected forever,” refers to the standing granted to us at the moment of our Spiritual rebirth. We are credited with Jesus” perfection. Our record before God is perfect because it is Jesus’ perfection that gives us that standing. However, this is not our actual condition or state. Our state is very unholy! That is why we are told to actively grow in holiness! In I Peter 1:16, Peter says, “….be ye holy.”  We are to be, becoming holy in our state (or actual lives). In II Corinthians 6:17, we are instructed to separate ourselves from all that is unholy. This is not only the obligation, it is the actual desire of anyone who is truly born again. We want to be holy and increasingly so as we grow in grace. Having the promises of 6:17-18,  “….let us cleanse ourselves (with the washing of the water by the Word [Ephesians 5:26]) from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (From II Corinthians 7:1). Selah! To be holy in our lives is the motivation of those who are truly saved.  Ron

Infiltration

Not so many years ago, Christians were considered odd. They separated from the things they felt were worldly, and instead pursued holiness of life. They stood out because they were different. They didn’t give themselves to sinful amusements and their quality of conduct, even when ridiculed, often earned respect. For those who were hungry for a better way of life, these Christians displayed a wholesome alternative to the empty lifestyle in which most were busily involved. These separated Christians had a burden for souls, a phrase rarely heard today and too seldom experienced. Now, it’s not unusual for an unsaved person to look at a Christian and find little difference from himself or herself. The lifestyle is similar, perhaps not as coarse, but otherwise offering little that particularly attracts. Thank God for exceptions to this similarity. However, the exceptions only go to show how many have fallen into a “religiously” coated, slightly better, lifestyle. Where is the concern for Godly separation in our churches today? Where is the concern for the lost? Where is the determination to honor the Lord in our choices? In this Laodicean mindset that guides the lives of many who claim to be saved, we have looked back at the Philadelphian excitement and weakly lamented the demise of the glory days and ask ourselves, “what has happened?” Are there any who will look to God to stir up their zeal for the Lord’s Honor?  Only if we are willing to give heed to passages in God’s Word like these: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15). “….present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God…..and be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed....” (From Romans 12:1-2). Selah! The world has infiltrated the church! Have we some serious disciples who have the gumption, and concern for God’s people, to open the door and evict the intruders?   Ron

The Necessity of Negative Emotions

Certain unpleasant emotions are necessary! In Acts 16:7, Paul and his team wanted to go into Bithynia, “…. but the Spirit suffered (allowed) them not.” Paul and his companions wanted to reach that area. The restraint likely troubled him, giving him “feelings” of sadness that he couldn’t go there. God had other plans. In II Corinthians 12:7-9, Paul mentions that he was given “….a thorn in the flesh.” He asked God three times for deliverance and was denied. God had a higher purpose! Paul still had the thorn and that couldn’t have “felt” very good. However, he trusted God’s choice and experienced God’s sufficiency. In Acts 26, Paul is examined by King Agrippa. The King ended up being witnessed to by Paul to the extent that in Verse 28, Agrippa says, “….Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” This suggests that Agrippa “felt ” a need for something Paul had, but he, himself, lacked. Scripture tells of those who were pricked in their hearts. That is, they “felt” guilt. Tragic that people “feel” needs and guilt but do not respond. Those very “feelings” were designed to point them to the Lord and His offer of salvation. Shame is a response to doing wrong. We ignore this “feeling” to our eternal peril. This ignoring has brought many to the point of being hardened in their sin(s) and they no longer have these “feelings” that were intended to move them to repentance. There is something of which we need to be aware. Satan will hitchhike on these negative feelings to discourage, distract and defeat people. Don’t let him hijack “feelings” that were meant for our good and twist them to his evil purposes. Selah! Think of these negative “feelings” as alarms to warn us of bad decisions or lights to point us to right decisions.  Ron 

Godly Emotions

God has given us a wonderful gift, Godly emotions. Our problem is that far too many of our emotions prompt our actions (and reactions). This is the reverse of God’s design. Our emotions should be the results of our interaction with God. For example, if I learn about, think on and am moved by Jesus’ sacrifice, I will be overwhelmingly grateful and love will be the result. When I express that love, I feel joy. Another example is that when I face trials, if my heart is right with God, I have great peace even in the midst of those trials. This frees me from worry and fear and this inspires more gratitude and love. The point in these examples is that they are the result of acting on God’s Truths. His principles and Truths, when acted on, generate wonderful emotions. On the other hand, when we begin with our emotions instead of God, we are wide open to, “….the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.” (See I John 2:16). Instead of being led by the Holy Spirit, we are under the sway of our emotions. This gives Satan leverage to manipulate us. An illustration of this would be Satan’s impressing our minds to expect certain wonderful “feelings” that a saved person should experience. When we don’t have those “feelings,” he creates doubt of our salvation. This leads to discouragement and frustration. How can we prevent this? Our salvation is based on the authority of God’s Word, not on our subjective “feelings.” If we’ve truly received Jesus, as Savior and Lord, the authority of God’s Word settles the issue, not fickle “feelings!” Godly emotions are the result of taking God at His Word, and do not provide the proof of our relationship with God or the lack of one. Selah! Romans 12:2 speaks of the renewing of our minds. Our minds, informed by Scripture, bring us under the control of the Holy Spirit. Right “feelings” follow!  Ron

Fueling Emotions

What fires up your emotions? Who or what stimulates your emotions? Do you act mostly based on reason or as a result of being moved emotionally? Advertisers motivate far more purchases by appealing to your emotions than they ever would by giving a list of true facts. Politicians, without much substance, are voted into office by impressing you with their charisma. How many times have you made a decision by seeing something that looked good and you decided you wanted or needed it, only to discover later that you had made a bad decision? How often have you over eaten, because it tasted delicious? Have you ever acquired things to impress people with your appearance and/or possessions? Has it really registered that many times you have been manipulated by someone stirring you up emotionally? Satan’s appeal to Eve was via her emotions. That approach was so successful that he has continued to use it ever since. How can we avoid falling for his clever strategy? If we are unsaved, we are going to succumb most of the time to his appeal to our emotions. If we are saved, there is a necessary alternative. First, we search out the facts carefully and thoroughly. Where do we get this kind of information?  By studying God’s Word, we discover true facts. Applying His Word means that we act or refrain from acting based on His principles instead of being brought under the sway of our “feelings.” II Corinthians 2:11 points out that when , “….we are not ignorant of his (Satan’s) devices” and act on God’s principles instead of our emotions, Satan is unable to “get an advantage of us.” Selah! Are we to be like machines, programmed to act on proper information devoid of any “feelings?” Tomorrow, God willing, we want to explore God’s purpose for, and use of, our emotions.  Ron

Technology-An Idol?

I enjoy my PC most of the time (sometimes, I could gladly take it to the dump). It is a useful tool and can provide some pleasure. However, anyone who has a PC and goes online would likely agree that you can become completely engrossed and waste a lot of time or even get into things that no one should. One has to be constantly on guard. With so many other gadgets: tablets, smartphones, etc. technology can become our whole life. If this happens, it has gone from serving us to controlling us. It has become an idol. This is something a true disciple must not give in to. One part of the fruit of the Spirit is self control. This kind of self control is the control of the “self” by the Holy Spirit. A Spirit-filled believer will strive to keep his or her affection centered on the things of God, not on technological toys or gadgets or on anything else. We are responsible for the use of our time and the focus of our affections. A good test might be that if we had to decide between keeping our gadgets or pleasing the Lord, what, honestly, would we decide? If you can control these things and keep them in their proper role, well and good. If not, perhaps serious soul-searching is called for so that we never fall prey to idolatry. “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:3). Selah! If the use of God’s blessings is under the direction of His Word and His Spirit, well and good. If not, we have to bring them under subjection or we will have allowed them to become an idol to us.   Ron