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

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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