Fouling Rivers

There has been a lot of concern in recent years about fouling streams, rivers, ponds, even the oceans. There is good reason apparently for this concern. There are some rivers that we should be very concerned about the fouling of their waters. In contaminating bodies of water, people may be harmed by polluted water or deprived of safe drinking water. In the rivers we are thinking of in this article, polluting them could cause people to avoid drinking the most needed and most satisfying water that could be found anywhere. Jesus spoke of these rivers in John 7:38-39, “He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly (innermost being; heart) shall flow rivers of living water (but this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive…).” The Holy Spirit flows into and out through the saved person’s life. He channels the rivers of God’s Truths, the Word of God, into us and out through us. In Verse 37, Jesus explains the means for this to happen. He gives three key verbs that start the flow. Thirst, come and drink! Now the problem is that sin and inconsistency in our lives muddies the waters and as others look at what should be pure and desirable water, they see the pollution and it kills their appetites. What a tragedy it would be, if we should cause someone to not want to drink this water! How wonderful when it flows through us, crystal clear, cool, sparkling and offers its life-giving qualities completely uncontaminated! How well John W. Peterson, in the hymn “Springs of Living Water,” describes the blessings of this pure water, “I thirsted in the barren land of sin and shame, and nothing satisfying there I found; but to the blessed cross of Christ one day I came, where springs of living water did abound. Drinking at the springs of living water, happy now am I, my soul they satisfy; drinking at the springs of living water, O wonderful and bountiful supply!” Selah! Would we offer someone a drink of dirty water? Of course not! Why, then, would we offer someone polluted Spiritual water?   Ron

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I Can’t Hear!

I can’t hear! This is a hard problem to have. Thankfully, a lot of folks can be helped with a hearing aid. Spiritually, we all have a hearing problem. (If you want to undertake a truly fascinating study in the Bible, look up verses and passages with words like hear, hearing, listening, ears, etc. There is an amazing amount of God’s Word devoted to this matter). People cannot hear God if they are not Spiritually reborn! In fact, it is only as the Holy Spirit enables, that we can hear with understanding about our lack of and need for being born again. Once we have received Jesus as Savior and Lord, we can only grasp God’s Truth and know how to apply it by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. He alone can bring understanding of the Bible and cause its Truth to speak to our lives. There is one very important obstruction that we must eliminate. If a deaf person won’t use a hearing aid, they probably won’t hear much that they need to hear. If we don’t discipline ourselves to pay attention to what the Holy Spirit has to say to us in Scripture and in the public proclamation of the Word, we will obstruct communication between God and ourselves. We need to overcome laziness in listening and determine not to miss a word of what God is telling us. We also need to discipline ourselves to eliminate distractions and stay on focus. This discipline will pay handsome Spiritual dividends. The Psalmist, all through the 119th Psalm, tells of his love of God’s Word. We would do well to share his testimony given in Verse 72, “The Law of Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” Scripture is the voice of God speaking to us individually and corporately! Let us pray as did Clara H. Scott, in the second stanza of her Hymn, “Open My Eyes.” “Open my ears, that I may hear Voices of Truth Thou sendest clear; and while the wave-notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear. Silently now I wait for Thee, ready, my God, Thy will to see; open my ears – illumine me, Spirit divine!” Selah! God talks to us with the living Words of Scripture; We would commit a grievous wrong, not to listen carefully!  Ron

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A Unique Arrival

Zechariah, hundreds of years before it took place, was inspired to give a prophecy of a coming major event. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9).

The time came and Jesus, in Matthew 21:1-4, instructed His disciples to go to a nearby village where they would find an ass tied, along with a colt. Jesus told them to take the animals and if anyone objected, simply reply that the Lord hath need of them. That would end any objections. This was done to fulfill prophecy. (The verse above is given again in Matthew 21:5). Then followed a most remarkable event. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem in a most unique way, amidst a lot of excitement. This was for Him to be offered and rejected. (See Verses 6-11). Even with all the excitement, Jesus wasn’t recognized for Who He is. In Verse 10, people asked about Jesus and in Verse 11, they were told that He was a prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. That was true as far as it went, but He was much more! God had ridden in, in the Person of His Son. With some wonderful exceptions, people were not ready for Jesus to rule in their lives as Lord and Savior. Many, in the crowds that attended His arrival, would later call for Him to be crucified. What can we learn from this? A lot of people today will say good things about Jesus. However, when He is presented as the One and only way to know God and enter Heaven, most reject that and refuse to surrender themselves to Him as their Lord and Savior. There is a future time coming when He will come in power and glory as King of kings and Lord of lords. Those who know Him will rejoice; for those that don’t, there can only be eternal regret! Selah! We have only a very brief time-frame to get it right about Jesus. That opportunity could vanish in a second. The decision to believe and receive can be made this very moment; the decision to reject leads to eternal consequences and can be experienced sooner than we might want to believe will happen.   Ron

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God Not Dependent on Human Success

 Some thoughts from “Renewed Day By Day” by A.W. Tozer. Published by Christian Publications.

 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (I Peter 5:6).

Why is it that the professed Christian church seems to have learned so little from our Lord’s plain teaching and example concerning human failure and success?

We are still seeing as men see and judging after the manner of man’s judgment. How much eager beaver….work is done out of a carnal desire to make good? How many hours of prayer are wasted beseeching God to bless projects that are geared to the glorification of little men? How much sacred money is poured out upon men who, in spite of their tear-in-the-voice appeals, nevertheless seek only to make a fair show in the flesh?……….

…….The man who is elated by success and cast down by failure is still a carnal man.

God will allow His servant to succeed when He has learned that success does not make him dearer to God or more valuable in the total scheme of things.

Our great honor lies in being just what Jesus was and is. To be accepted by those who accept Him, rejected by all who reject Him, loved by those who love Him. What greater glory could come to any man?”

Selah! “…..that in all things He might have the preeminence.” (From Colossians 1:18). Let’s seek that!    Ron

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Architecture and Preaching

A guest article from “Expository Listening” by Ken Ramey (Copyright 2010). Excerpted by permission of Kress Biblical Resources.

“….Church architecture throughout history visibly chronicles the devaluation of preaching. In past times, pulpits were erected high above the congregation, and the preacher literally had to climb a flight of stairs to stand behind the pulpit. The loftiness of the pulpit represented the authority of God’s Word ruling over His people. Overtime, the pulpit was brought down to stage level. Then it was moved off to the side in many cases…….. In more recent years, the historic sacred desk made of wood that symbolized the grandeur and gravity of preaching has been replaced with the more stylish, glitzy Plexiglas lectern…. The high and lofty place of preaching has all but vanished from the contemporary church.”

With increasing devaluation of solid preaching and sound doctrine, has come a decline in reverence and Godly standards of living. We have settled for “milk” instead of coming to enjoy “strong meat.” Paul saw this kind of thing coming. In II Timothy 4:3, he warned Timothy, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” Thus, there have been spawned groups that have watered down, downplayed, and marginalized Scripture and undermined the Bible’s authority and reliability in the minds of their followers. Selah! Thank God, there are still those that demand and thrive on authoritative, unapologetic, Spirit anointed, in-depth preaching and teaching of the Word of God!   Ron

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An Idol of the Bible?

“Bibliolatry” is a word that has been used as an accusation against those that love and honor the Scriptures. They are accused of worshipping the Bible itself. Because they believe it is Divinely inspired, they want to advance evidence to show that it is the very Word of God. They want to honor and proclaim its Truths. They resist those who would weaken or destroy its content. All of this is extremely important, worthwhile and essential. Nevertheless, there is a subtle danger here. We can worship the Book as an end in itself. In other words, the idea of the Bible becomes as important as, or more important than, the message itself and its revelation of Jesus and God’s plans, purposes, promises, etc. Can we come to worship the Bible itself more than the Author of the Bible? Can our devotion to the Book exceed our devotion to its central Person, Jesus? We need to be completely dedicated to honoring and communicating God’s Word. We must be even more dedicated to Jesus and proclaiming His Person and message. Jesus, in John 5:39-40, rebukes the devotees of religion. He told them, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me and ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” They were so involved with Scripture, as an end in itself, that they didn’t recognize that He, Whom the Scriptures reveal, was talking with them at that very time. They were so absorbed with information about Him, that they didn’t see Him! There is a timely excerpt in Mary Ann Lathbury’s Hymn, “Break Thou the Bread of Life,” that we need to pray,Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord; my spirit pants for Thee, O living Word.”  Selah! The Bible is God’s means to reveal Jesus. It is not intended to replace Him!   Ron

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Has the Local Church Eclipsed Jesus?

A  local church can be seen and heard. Members have interaction with each other and with the leadership. We can relate to that much more easily than we can relate to the invisible. The people, the services, the programs, the activities may eclipse our view of Jesus. He is in the background of our thoughts and “feelings.” What we can see, hear and interact with in our local church is in the foreground. If He, in a human body, came into our local church and spent a few months there, would we recognize Him? Are we more involved with what’s going on at our local church than we are with Him? The most important thing a local church can do is to help us focus on Him. Nevertheless, far too often, we focus on the church and its agenda. In an eclipse, while it’s interesting to watch, once it’s over, the sun is a wonderful sight. Let’s concentrate on shifting our gaze from the local church to the “Son.” We need the mindset of those ancient Greeks mentioned in John 12:20-21, “And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: the same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying Sir, we would see Jesus.” Andrew and Philip did not get in the way. In the succeeding context Jesus reveals much about Himself. If we don’t let anything get in the way of really seeing Jesus in the Scriptures with the eyes of faith, much will be revealed to us. Eliza E. Hewitt, in her hymn, “Sunshine in My Soul,” gives us some good thoughts on seeing Jesus, “There is sunshine in my soul today, more glorious and bright than glows in any earthly sky, for Jesus is my light. O there’s sunshine, blessed sunshine, when the peaceful happy moments roll; when Jesus shows His smiling face, there is sunshine in my soul.” Selah! Let us, like John, be able to say, “We beheld His Glory!” When we gaze upon Him in love and worship, in the Word, we will behold His glory!   Ron

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Vast Info

There is a source for all kinds of information that would explain more and do it better than all other sources have or could. (Due to the nature of this article, instead of including passages from the Bible, let it suffice to say that this information is all through the Word of God). We are told how the world and all creation came to be. We learn where we came from, why we are here and where we will spend eternity. We are told where and how sin and wrong came into human experience. We learn about our strongest adversary and how not to be a victim. We discover how and why God brought Israel into existence. God reveals all kinds of information about Himself; He reveals Jesus to us. We find out how the church came into existence and her role in the world. We gaze with wonder on the greatest demonstration of love the world has ever seen or ever will see. We learn how to live right and how to prepare for eternity. We see how God has planned for us, for the Jews and for the Gentiles. We learn how to serve and worship. God gives us insight into His program for the ages. We learn about Hell and Heaven; how to avoid the former and reach the latter. We learn about God placing His own life in us. We discover the joy of a personal relationship with Him by receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord. We gain understanding and wisdom; we find comfort and strength for life’s trials. We are given purpose in life. We could go on and on and on…. No other source is as comprehensive, as accurate, as reasonable and all coheres together in one profound complete picture, as does Scripture. In the hymn, “Holy Bible, Book Divine,” John Burton wrote,  “Holy Bible, Book divine, precious treasure, thou art mine; mine to tell me whence I came; mine to teach me what I am; mine to chide me when I rove; mine to show a Savior’s love; mine thou art to guide and guard; mine to punish or reward; mine to comfort in distress, suffering in this wilderness; mine to show by living faith, man can triumph over death; mine to tell of joys to come, and the rebel sinner’s doom; O thou holy Book divine, precious treasure, thou art mine.” Selah  Naturalistic speculations can never provide truly satisfactory insight into the human experience! Only God can give real meaning and purpose to life. He has done so in the Bible!   Ron

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Nibbling or Nourishment

Our eating habits range from dangerous to very good. This is also true in the Spiritual realm. Sometimes we are fed so called spiritual food that really has little Spiritually nutritious content. In fairness, there may be little appetite for a really wholesome Spiritual feast. Just like some folks response to physical food, we may have become so accustomed to “comfort food” that a really good meal seems very undesirable. Nevertheless, those who develop healthy eating habits usually enjoy better health. If we have Spiritually healthy eating habits, we are likely to enjoy better Spiritual health. A lot of our nourishment should come directly from the Bible. However, Spiritual meals from solid Scriptural sermons are able to give us a well balanced diet that can be of great value. Our personally prepared meals coupled with those from God’s “restaurant” are a good combination. When we hear a message rich in Spiritual content, nibbling is not the way to go! Put your fork to work and take in the whole meal. How do we do that? Proverbs 3:1-5 tells us, “My son, if thou wilt receive My words, and hide My commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” This is the difference between nibbling at a sermon and being nourished by it. Alexander Groves, in the third stanza of “Break Thou the Bread of Life, touches on this, “Thou art the bread of life, O Lord, now unto me; Thy Holy Word the Truth that saveth me: give me to eat and live with Thee above; teach me to love thy Truth, for Thou art love.” Selah! Healthy meals (solid Scriptural understanding), rest (prayer), sunshine (Spiritual fellowship), exercise (applying and sharing Spiritual Truth), combine to produce strong, healthy disciples.   Ron

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The Impact of Your Influence

We little realize how much influence we have on others. It can be positive, negative or both. People observe us much more than we think. Our concern, our compassion, our character, our attitudes, our values all come across to others. This happens often, even with casual contacts. If we are born again, God can use us to influence unsaved people and other Christians. Sometimes we influence unsaved people for God even when their responses seem negative. There is very often a typical way that those outside of Christ respond to life’s trials. Among these responses are irritation, anger, discouragement, depression, etc. When a child of God is observed responding calmly in trust and at peace, there is seen an alternative to the usual response of coming “unglued.” If we have an unqualified trust in God and His Word, we can live above life’s disturbing circumstances. When Jesus reveals Himself through us, it may convict, challenge, contrast with, and/or  change those watching. Paul, in Philippians 2:14-16, was inspired to admonish Christians to, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may 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.”  In the Gospel song, “You Can Have a Song in Your Heart,” Ira F. Stanphill and Edward L. Slavens share, in the chorus, ways for our influence to be effective. “You can have a song in your heart in the night, after every trial, after every mile; anyone can sing when the sun’s shining bright, but you need a song in your heart at night.” Selah! Supernatural responses that God enables us to make can impact people now and even after we are gone. Filled with God, we are audio/visuals of His power in human lives!    Ron

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