It’s A Matter of Control!

There is something innate in fallen human nature that resists external control. We have reluctance and resistance to relinquish control to another person, to a boss, to parents, etc. We want to run our own lives, do our own thing, and be the final authority over ourselves. In fact, all the trouble in the history of the human race stems from that determination. God had laid down His regulations for Adam and Eve and when tested, they acted on their own authority. This was rebellion: I’ll do what I want, not what You want! The problem went deeper than rebellion. It was pride! I know better than God was the implication. This is the dividing line in our alienation from God. The key to a genuine relationship with God is our willingness to yield the control of our lives to Him. Salvation comes by trusting Him and the merits of what He accomplished on Calvary’s cross. We own our sins, trust Him for forgiveness and surrender to His control. Yielding to His control is an ongoing learning experience. However, it is the direction in which we move beginning with our conversion. Learning to let Him control is not optional! It is the inevitable outworking of the new nature that we receive when we are born again. Jesus said, “And why call ye Me, Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?” We receive Him as Savior and Lord! Thinking that we can receive Him as Savior but not as Lord is just one more attempt to retain our control of our lives. Selah! If we can trust Him with our eternal destiny, we can and must trust Him to run our lives!  Ron

 

Do You Recognize the Voice?

The phone rings, the voice sounds familiar but you’re are not sure. You listen a bit longer. Once you’re sure that the voice belongs to someone you can trust, you know how to respond. If it turns out to be someone you don’t know and their voice is quite similar, you naturally want validation of whatever they say. It may be a “con.” Failure to be very cautious can be very costly. This is even more important in the Spiritual realm. There are voices out there that are convincing, clever and persuasive. However, there are subtle differences. There is a Voice that is absolutely reliable and that Voice, the Voice of Jesus, speaks to His own from the inspired Scriptures. The more we are attuned to that Voice, the more we are apt to discern the falseness of any voice that belongs to an untrustworthy source, no matter how similar. Jesus taught, “My sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” This presents a very important reality. If we are not listening to Him or learning to listen to Him, we may, in fact, not be sheep. It is in the nature of a sheep to recognize the voice of the shepherd. It is in the new nature of the genuine believer to listen to our Shepherd in His Word. Once again, this underscores the absolute indispensability of continuing and increasing absorption and applying of God’s Word. We may hear clever imitations of His Voice. However, faithful listening to Him will help us to recognize false teachers.  Selah! Are you listening carefully?    Ron

 

Petrified People

 

There are people who seem to be petrified. For example, consider the individual who has vast knowledge and who can spout information like a walking encyclopedia. However, when it comes to everyday living and relationships, he or she seems “out of touch,” kind of at a loss. This, of course, can characterize people in a number of fields. They are intelligent and accomplished in their chosen fields but lacking in down-to-earth living. This is especially distressing in those who may have mastered theology, have comprehensive understanding of the Bible, but little actual application of God’s Word in their lives, day by day! They have a sterile, intellectual possession of many facts stored in their minds in the same way books are placed in bookcases, but they do not put these facts into action in their lives. The Apostle Paul was a brilliant man but was far more concerned with a personal relationship with the Lord than he was with all the facts he knew about Him. Paul wrote, under inspiration, “yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:….” (From Philippians 3:8). He was speaking of an experiential knowledge; a practical application of intellectual knowledge. His understanding had gone from his head to his heart and became the driving fascination of his life. Paul was anything but petrified; He was enthralled with Jesus! He loved Him, served Him and shared Him with others and craved deep fellowship with Him. Paul was anything but petrified! He was fervent and passionate about his Savior. Selah! We can become petrified, unless we become electrified by experiential fellowship with our risen, living Lord. Let’s develop that kind of relationship.  Ron

Buried in the Details

Imagine this scenario: Let’s see, we need to teach Sunday School this Sunday. What can we do to increase attendance at church? Who do we have this week for Special Music? Do we have enough bulletins, etc.? Or imagine this scenario: The music was great. I enjoyed the worshipful atmosphere. Good message this morning! We had several visitors this morning. I thought they would never get done with the announcements. I hope the giving met budget. Did you notice so and so; they were whispering all through the service? I can’t make that “work day” this week! We could use some new hymnals. Are these the things that occupy our minds preparing for Sunday and when we attend on Sunday? As you were imagining, did Jesus once cross your mind? I suggest that our Lord may be given little thought (except, perhaps, during the message) during a typical week beginning Sunday. In other words, does Jesus get buried in the details?! is He not to be the center, the focus, the attraction in all our gatherings? It seems that I remember Paul saying to the Colossians in Chapter 1, Verse 18, we gather together that, “….in all things He might have the preeminence.” Do you recall our Lord saying, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” (John 8:32). Selah! Be alert, Sunday! See if you can see Him, “high and lifted up?”  Ron

The Subtle Infiltration of Sin

If our arch-enemy were to just promote out-and-out sin right in our face, he might not be as successful as he has been in the way he works. He, of course, is much more clever than that. Instead, he influences men and women to come up with good plots and characters for movies, books, plays, etc. and with lyrics for music. Then, little-by-little, he plants thoughts, scenes, lyrics, etc. that are just a little suggestive. As fallen people start to like that which is borderline and daring, those who produce this kind of fare feed on their depraved desires and insert a bit more into their offerings, and on it goes. Sin, instead of a head on assault on us, subtly infiltrates the “good stuff,”  slowly adding a little bit more over a long period of time, keeping off of our radar screen and thereby is not as likely to be rejected by our critical faculties. Consider the areas mentioned above 70+ years ago and then compare them with today’s fare and the contrast is sharp. This is true of news and commercials as well. We are not to be contaminated. By use of the Word of God, we need to be exercised “to discern both good and evil.” (See Hebrews 5:13-14). Our place, as born again Christians, is to refuse to support and to look at or listen to “trash.” We are to support and encourage that which is clean and wholesome. Remember what James was inspired to write, “….when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (From James 1:15). Selah! Neglect of the Word disables our critical discernment and lulls us into excusing sin. Let’s not aid and abet the enemy. We are to be victors; not victims!   Ron

Patriotism and Priorities

As citizens of our country, we have a firm duty and responsibility to be informed, to pray, to promote righteousness and to vote. Let’s be sure to discharge these obligations faithfully. Along with these obligations, we have an even greater priority. Our ultimate responsibility is to evangelize and disciple. Eternal souls are at stake! Being good citizens will help our nation to honor God and to be a place where we can carry out the responsibilities of our heavenly citizenship. Paul, writing under inspiration, admonishes the church in Philippians 2:15-16 to “….be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the Word of Life.” We, who are born again, are part of that church. Only as the church discharges its high and holy mission in both areas will there be light to dispel the darkness and salt to heal the wounds and preserve purity! Duty calls! Selah! If we will spread the light and apply the salt, we will be blessed and will be a blessing.  Ron 

Patriotic Hypocrisy?

On the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, at ball games, on a trip to the nation’s capitol and other patriotic moments, we are moved by our country’s heritage. Perhaps patriotic music or saluting the flag actually moves us to tears. When we reflect on our country’s past and its present situation, we may feel deep sorrow for how we have departed from our founding principles. How deep does all this go? Is it only emotional stimulation soon to fade in the press of activity? Do we pray for our country (except at church)? Do we do anything to help improve our country? Especially, do we vote or do we shrug off our responsibility with the weak excuse that our vote won’t change much? It is my contention that if all true and all professing Christians, along with all conservatives, actually informed themselves adequately and voted, bathing their votes with earnest prayer, we would have a major transformation in our nation. We might even see Divine intervention in our time. Simply being “worked up” emotionally won’t stem the bleeding wounds. Concrete action and fervent prayer are urgently needed! Anything less may be patriotic hypocrisy. “Righteousness exalteth a nation.” (From Proverbs 14:34). Who is going to move the nation toward righteousness, if not the church? When are we going to do it, if not now? Selah! The church is salt and light and the church is us, we who are born again. Let’s step up to the plate! “….it is time to seek the LORD, till He come and rain righteousness upon you (upon us).” (From Hosea 10:12)  Ron