Doctrine, Devotion and Discernment

How easy it is to be “unbalanced,” Spiritually. Some tell us that what counts is devotion and experience; others tell us that what matters is doctrine. These two vital components of the Spiritual life are not in competition with each other. To think in terms of choosing one over the other betrays a serious lack of discernment. The importance of doctrine (down to and including the words) is stressed in many places in the Word of God. Yet doctrine alone leads to a dead orthodoxy. Consequently, it is reasoned that what we need is living experience and not dead doctrine. Such a false dichotomy opens the doors widely for all kinds of false teaching. Experience alone is like a house built on sand. It can collapse easily. On the other hand, doctrine alone is like a foundation that isn’t supporting anything. Who wants to live only in the basement? The problem is when sound teaching only reaches our minds and fails to connect with and change our hearts and lives. The highest experience of devotion is the inevitable result of doctrine accurately understood and applied. This can only happen when we refuse to allow doctrine to be stored in the “file cabinet” of our minds as interesting information. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:….” (II Timothy 3:16).” “Preach the Word…..reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (From II Timothy 4:2). Selah! Stored information, no matter how true, accomplishes nothing until it is applied! Action without accurate information ends in failure. Based upon sound doctrine, love, obey, apply, and you will be blessed and a blessing.   Ron

Treatment of Friends

You have a friend. He or she suggests doing something together. You explain that you can’t. Your friend tries again later. You put your friend off each time. Your friend phones or writes that he or she wants to talk with you. You excuse yourself because you are so busy. Eventually, you meet. Your friend starts to talk but you don’t really listen. Instead you start talking about what’s on your mind. There comes a time when you ask your friend for help and you receive that help. Later, your friend asks something of you and you just reply that you can’t; perhaps you might be able to some other time. As you consider this, you are probably thinking that that’s no way to treat a friend. You are so right! We, who are born again, have a Friend. Do we treat Him the way that we talked about the friend above? “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Selah! Jesus is a Friend and much more than a Friend. “Earthly friends may prove untrue, doubts and fears assail; One still loves and cares for you: One Who will not fail! Jesus never fails; Heaven and earth may pass away, but Jesus never fails!” (A.A. Luther). Let’s give Jesus our “all out” devotion! Ron

Jaded Appetite?

It’s sad when children are allowed to consume a lot of junk food. It compounds the problem when they have an inadequate diet. This takes its toll on children. We lament this kind of thing. Children should be fed properly! How is it, then, that the children of God will feed on the junk food of this corrupt world and neglect adequate Spiritual nourishment? Sweets to a child are more appealing than a good hearty meal. Is it possible that the world’s “sweets” are preferred over the meat of God’s Word? How much time do we spend on fun and entertainment versus time spent “digging in” to Scripture? John, under inspiration, confronts us with this sobering truth: “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). Certain things are wholesome fun and certain entertainment is legitimate. However, it is possible to love and enjoy these more than time with God. Let’s be frank! Putting the dainties of this world over the delights of God’s Word leaves us with one of two conclusions: either we don’t have a Spiritual appetite because we don’t have Spiritual life or we are seriously anemic, spiritually. Just how much do we love God’s Word? Are we digging deeply into its wonderful depths or do we kind of scan it quickly and move on to other things? Its time to “fish or cut bait.” You’ll be eternally grateful in proportion to how much you have feasted on God’s Truth! Selah! If we claim to be saved, Salvation has some serious claims on us.  Ron

Concept or Companion?

How do we respond to Jesus? Religion? Ritual? Routine? Does it ever get to be more than that with many who claim a relationship with Him? Is He background or “front and center” in our lives? Do we get around to Him when we are not too busy or is He the Supreme Person in our lives? Is He simply a concept or is He the greatest companion anyone could ever have? Of course, while He is a wonderful companion to all who are saved, He is far more than a companion. For all who have had a genuine conversion, He is the Son of God dwelling in our “humanity.” God gives us the Presence of His Son everyday of our lives as His children. Unsaved people know nothing of such a glorious relationship. The question is, do we fail to realize just what a wonder it is to have Him with us 24/7? Paul, in Colossians1:27, spoke of “….Christ in you….” Think of this, if you are born again; God dwells in you! He loves you! He wants to reveal His Son to you, in you and through you. It doesn’t get any better than that! Do we really know Him, love Him, trust Him and long to know Him better? Is He more than life itself? Does your heart echo Paul’s? He shared his driving desire, in Philippians 1:20-21, “….Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” We sometimes sing, “I love Him better every day.” Are we being honest? We can know Him like that! Selah!  We can “….know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that (we) might be filled with all the fullness of God.” (From Ephesians 3:19). Are you ready to develop this kind of relationship with Jesus? You’ll never regret it!   Ron

Exposed

Imagine every thought, motive, attitude, word, wrong thing that we have done being put on display for all eyes to see and all ears to hear. Could there be anything worse than that? Yes! We are told, in Hebrews 4:13 that, “Neither is there any creature that that is not manifest (exposed) in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.” Imagine a movie showing all you have ever done, failed to do, thought, felt, said, from day one of your life right up to your death. God sees all that and more. Further imagine a time when you stand before a judge with the very best attorney that money can buy. Before your lawyer can even begin your defense, the judge says, don’t waste your time. I know and can prove every charge against you. It will be like that with God! There won’t be a detail missed! You will stand guilty, ashamed and condemned. Unless….you have received the gift of salvation and Jesus has been received as Lord and Savior. He was condemned in your place and paid your penalty, in full, on that Roman cross. Your account, with all the charges against you, listed and proven, will be credited with His perfect righteousness and your slate will be wiped clean. You will have a spotless and perfect record before the Judge of all the earth. Psalm 32 speaks of this. Verse 1 begins the line of thought with this blessed truth: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Selah! Thank God, if you have taken Jesus as Lord and Savior. If you haven’t done this, the split-second in which you die will end any hope of escaping the full impact of all your sin. You will spend eternity with no hope of escaping your justly deserved destiny. I plead with you, receive Him while you can.    Ron

Power Applied-3

In the last part of Hebrews 4:12, we come face to face with a fascinating and startling reality. God’s voice, through Scripture, gets right down to our innermost thoughts and motives. I received an E-mail recently. (I have no idea of its validity). It spoke of a device that is near completion that can read our thinking, no matter what we say. Something like that in the wrong hands could be very dangerous and/or very embarrassing. God, however, can and does do that. Speaking of His Word, the writer of Hebrews tells us that it, “….is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Our reasoning is and our motives are searched by Scripture. One example among many might be why we do good things to or for others. Do we do it because we truly want to help someone or do we do it so that others will realize what kind and helpful people we are? The thrust of this portion of the verse seems to be mostly designed to move us to examine our thoughts and motives and make any needed changes. However, the next verse goes further. Tomorrow, we want to take a hard look at that, Lord willing. Selah! The Word of God breaks through any false face that we present to the world and reveals to us what we are really like. It will likely not be a very comfortable experience. Ron

Power Applied-2

When the Holy Spirit brings God’s Word to bear in a person’s life, it is powerful! Picking up from yesterday, we discover in Hebrews 4:12, that Scripture is “….sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow.” A sword is designed to penetrate. A two-edged sword would penetrate even more. The Word of God is even sharper than a two-edged sword. It divides soul and spirit. God’s Word to Adam and Eve was, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). They ate and died spiritually but their souls were left alive. These two parts of their existence were divided, one part alive and active in their minds, emotions and wills, the other part, their spirits, were dead to God. Scripture also penetrates and divides joints and marrow. Whatever else is meant by that, God’s Word affects the body. Applying His Word can bring health to the body; violating it can bring harm. I think there is something else here. Scripture cuts through our excuses, rationalizations, cover-ups, our self-deceptions, etc. Failure to apply its Truths damages us physically and spiritually. A sharp instrument can kill. It also can be used to cut into a body to bring healing. In Ephesians 6:17, we learn that, “…. the sword of the Spirit…is the Word of God.” We are to be skillful in its use (II Timothy 2:15). The Holy Spirit gives us the sword to use. When we use it properly, His power will be evident. Selah! Tomorrow we hope to look at a very startling use of the Sword of the Spirit, God willing. Do stop by!   Ron

Power Applied-1

I hope that we’ve understood the means that the Holy Spirit employs to activate His power in and through our lives. This power is for Spirit-led Christians. (There may be times when the Holy Spirit will work in and/or through non-Christians, but this is the exception, not the rule). The power is in the Word! We make a very serious mistake, if we think of the Bible only as a book. This is true even when we think of it as the Book above all books. It is how God uses the Book that we need to understand. Hebrews 4:12 begins by informing us that , “….the Word of God is quick (living) and powerful.” Inspiration, as it relates to Scripture, means God-breathed. God breathed His Own Life into the Words of the Bible. It is His Life that makes the message of His Word accomplish what He determines for it to accomplish. So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it(Isaiah 55:11). Jesus points out, in John 6:63, ….The Words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are Life.” What we need to grasp is that the Bible is the Voice of God speaking to the heart of man. The message, conveyed via print on paper or electronically or by Scripture that is spoken, is nothing less than the Voice of God! Hadn’t we better listen, respond and share? Selah! Another facet of this power will engage our attention tomorrow, God willing.   Ron

What Does Spiritual Power Look Like?

Acts 1:8 gives us some very important insights. Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” The first thing to note is that power and witnessing are linked here. Power (and/or authority) are basically for witnessing. The next thing to take note of is that this power is to be used to witness to Jesus. This leads to the third consideration: the Holy Spirit (Whose ministry is to glorify Jesus) is the One Who empowers. That power does not come from us but from Him! Now, this power/authority may be a gentle witness, softly shared, or a convicting Word that penetrates deeply. If we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, and use our Spirit-taught understanding of God’s Word to properly apply appropriate Scripture to the particular person or situation, lives will be impacted! One final thing to consider is that we can be a negative or positive witness. We can be positive in the way that we have been looking at, or we can operate in our own strength and have no power and undermine authority. That will be a very negative witness. Selah! Did you notice how that power is available to us? More on that tomorrow, God willing.   Ron

Spiritual Power in the Pew

Assuming that our preachers and teachers are Spiritually prepared and relying on the Scriptures as the only truly reliable source of God’s Truth, what part does the person in the pew have? The lethargy that enshrouds many in our pews today is a tragic shame. Do we really listen? Do we discipline ourselves to apply God’s Word in our lives? Do we study and pray on our own, daily? Is prayer meeting something that we don’t even bother with? Does entertainment, fun, responsibilities and interests mean more to us than a truly personal relationship with God? Could we answer someone who questions how we know that the Bible is God’s Word? Do our lives reflect Jesus or just inflate our egos? Is God just “tucked in” to our daily lives or is He the foundation and center of our living? The “bottom line” is this: do we take God seriously? Or is He merely an interesting sidelight to our usual routine? When we are ready for a vital involvement with our God; when He is submitted to, as Sovereign in our lives, when we love His Word and are increasingly saturated with His Truth so that we can fully trust it and speak it with authority, when the Word purifies our hearts and lives, then we may expect God’s power to touch others. Selah! “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded 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: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).    Ron