What is a “Spiritual Sermon?”

I’m sure it is no surprise that not all sermons are Spiritual! A sermon that is not used by the Holy Spirit is not Spiritual. If He doesn’t activate the message, it is no more than a lecture. If the heart of the preacher is not prepared, God may not use the message. (Sometimes, He may bless His Word preached, regardless of the preacher’s shortcomings). When, however, the Scriptures are proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit, there will be impact. This is only the first part of the equation that constitutes a Spiritual sermon. The preacher has done his part; what about the listener? He or she can block a Spiritually effective sermon. While it is really impacting someone else, they have put a barrier up (or failed to take one down) and this has insulated them from being helped by the sermon. What is a listener to do to make sure God’s Word is at work in them? The first thing to be done is to become a disciplined listener, thinking thoroughly on what is being said. Listeners are to be intensely attentive to the voice of God speaking to their hearts. The second thing is what they do with what they hear. Ken Ramey, in his book, “Expository Listening,” quotes Joel Beeke, “A sermon is not over when the minister says ‘Amen. Rather that is when the true sermon begins. In an old Scottish story, a wife asked her husband if the sermon was done. “No,’ he replied. ‘it has been said, but it has yet to be done.'” Jesus speaks of good ground as necessary for His Word to be effective, “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the Word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit.” (From Matthew 13:23). In, “More About Jesus,” a hymn by Eliza E. Hewitt, she captures the right way of listening, “More about Jesus in His Word, holding communion with my Lord; Hearing His voice in every line, making each faithful saying mine.” Selah! To quote again from “Expository Listening,” “The Old testament word for “hear” is sama. This is the same Hebrew word used for “obey.” There is no separate word for “obey” in the Old Testament.” Think that through!   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

What Is “Being Spiritual?”

A person who is born again wants to be Spiritual. The problem is that there is a great deal of confusion as to what constitutes “being Spiritual.” Is it excitement; an ecstatic experience? Is it majoring on things that are not physical? (This can get one involved in the occult). Is it spending much time trying to avoid contact with the world? Is it having a superior knowledge of the Bible? Is it some kind of revelation or special knowledge? While we may have wonderful blessings when we get serious with God, I think “being Spiritual” is much simpler than many Christians believe. Simply stated, it is being in harmony with the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? It means that we are in line with all that He shows us in Scripture. Whatever He shows us, we apply and obey. We implement God’s will in our daily lives. We are attuned to His leading. We are sensitive to and responsive to His correction. We spend time in God’s Word to hear, be and do what the Holy Spirit says to us. We want to honor Jesus in our everyday lives. A “Spirituality” that is only active at church and doesn’t impact our daily living really doesn’t amount to much. Paul made it clear in Ephesians 5:17-18. God inspired him to write, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is and be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled (be being filled) with the Spirit.” Know God’s will and do it! Don’t be under the influence of that which is wrong but be under the influence of the Holy Spirit, letting Him fill you with all the things of God and conforming you to Christ’s image more and more.  Lillian Plankenhorn’s hymn, “My Desire,” is eloquent in its simplicity:My desire- to be like Jesus, my desire to be like Him! His Spirit fill me, His love o’erwhelm me: in deed and word to be like Him!” Selah! True Spirituality is the Word of God, being used by the Spirit of God, shaping our lives by the will of God, for the glory of God!  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

The Invisible Passenger

Christianity is both Spiritual and practical. One area that needs practical Christianity is in our commitment to obey the law. There are God’s laws, of course. However, at the moment, I’m thinking of man’s laws. For example, let’s think about traffic laws. I recall Redd Harper, years ago, saying, “If we can’t keep men’s laws, how can we ever hope to keep God’s laws?” He was lamenting how many Christians and some pastors drove over the speed limit. Some even joked about it. Anyone is apt to occasionally slip over the line. That doesn’t excuse those who drive as fast as they want to, even if it’s way over the limit. We should always strive to keep within the limit, short of a genuine emergency. If we are born again, we always drive with a supremely special Passenger aboard. What do we involve Him in, by our law-breaking? What does He see in our hearts when we allow the speedometer to shoot up beyond the legal limit? What is good for church is good for behind the wheel! Peter was inspired to write, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake….” (From I Peter 2:13). In the hymn, “Living for Jesus,” Thomas O. Chisholm gives us what should always be the Christian’s motive, “Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please Him in all that I do, yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free. This is the pathway of blessing for me.” Selah! Christianity that is Spiritually authentic is also very practical.   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

“Stunted-Growth” Saints

What a loss! Stop and consider! A relationship with our Creator is offered; a fellowship with God through His Son, Jesus. Resources of Heaven are available to God’s children. Guidance and counsel is given by God in the Bible. Purpose and a place of service is planned for those who are born again. We are given the Life of God; His nature, within our inner being. Scripture gives us answers to the most basic questions of life. If we know Jesus as Lord and Savior, we are guaranteed eternal blessings in Heaven; a place untainted by sin and wrong. Spiritual strength, comfort, peace and courage come from absorbing, applying and obeying the Word of God. These are just “the tip of the iceberg.” There is much more! How, then, can we rest content with Spiritual immaturity? How can one stand to be a baby-bottle Christian, when there are great portions of Spiritual mouth-watering meat just waiting to be eaten and digested? Isn’t it time to daily consume such a rich and nourishing feast set on God’s table for us? It’s a travesty of major proportions to simply dabble in the great wonders of salvation. Stunted-growth physically is difficult; Spiritually, it’s a special kind of tragic. We, who are His, are meant to have a vibrant, dynamic, thrilling, and fulfilling life, far transcending the empty lot of those outside of Christ. Walking daily with God in prayer and devotional Bible Study, yielding willingly to God’s direction and principles will cause this to be your experience, if you are born again. We are told in Ephesians 3:20, that He, “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Avis M. Burgeson gives us some timely thoughts in her hymn, “It Is Glory Just to Walk with Him,” “It is glory just to walk with Him Whose blood has ransomed me; it is rapture for my soul each day. It is joy divine to feel Him near wher-e’er my path may be. Bless the Lord, it’s glory all the way! ……He will guide my steps aright, thro the vale and o’er the height. It is glory just to walk with Him.” Selah! if you are on milk, have some good Spiritual steak and mature in your walk with God. Grow strong in Him. He waits to bless!  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

A “Service” or An Experience?

The very way that we are constituted ends up making us bored many times. We experience something and the first 2-3 times that it happens it may be interesting, exciting, scary, etc. However, when that experience becomes a habit; a routine and we do it over and over, we may become bored or just go through it mechanically. The thrill, or fascination, or fear, or discovery fades and we give what stimulated us very little thought. For the Christian to allow this to happen in his or her life is “beyond tragic.” One such experience, among many, is the communion service. When we first shared in a communion service, it was very interesting. The more we came to understand its significance, the more meaningful and thrilling it became. Nevertheless, done habitually countless times, its richness has ended up on “the back burner” of our cluttered lives; all its glory and splendor lost in the feverish activities that claim our attention. For the joy and wonder to be restored, it will require discipline, thought and prayer. It will involve studying what God has to say to us in His Word and obeying and applying what He tells us. This is revival! A rich, vibrant, Spirit prompted and directed life will know the return of the departed glory. John, in a few inspired words recorded in Revelation 2:4-5, quotes Jesus’ Words, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works….” Remember, repent and return! When we do, the joy is restored and we can experience afresh the wonder and the Presence. We need to go back to Calvary; then visit the empty tomb and enjoy wonderful fellowship with the One who loved us and Whom we love. Haldor Lillenas’ hymn, “The Garden of My Heart” gives voice to the blessing of His Presence. “There’s a sacred and hallowed retreat, where my soul finds a fellowship sweet, where the Lord of my life I may meet, in the garden of my heart. In the cool of the day, He walks with me; in the rose-bordered way He talks with me; in love’s holy union and sacred communion, in the garden of my heart.” Selah! Don’t accept less than your life being richly blessed by, and being lived with, the awareness of His glorious Presence!   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com  

Stoop-shouldered Saints

A man had a lot of problems that could be handled if he had enough money. The strange part of this man’s problems was that he had quite a few million dollars in the bank. He had the resources but wasn’t using them! Why in the world didn’t he use his money and get rid of the weight of all his troubles? That’s not nearly as strange as a child of God carrying all his or her burdens while having a loving Heavenly Father to help. God can help with problems in a way that money alone could never do. However, it is often here that foolish pride gets in the way. God, I want help but I want You to do it the way I want You to do it. We think we know best what we need and we are reluctant to trust that God has a better way and knows what He is doing. God may provide needed money. Sometimes He does; sometimes not. He may heal and He may not. He may save from trouble or allow it. Sometimes He does it one way; sometimes another. When necessary, He allows difficulties for good reasons. Here’s the kicker: We praise God when He takes the problem away and groan when He uses the problems for higher purposes. What a load can be removed from our stooped shoulders, if we can say to God that we trust Him to remove the problem or to enable us to cope. When we have to cope, it may be to correct us; to change our direction. It may be to test our faith. It may be a testimony to someone else and/or a means of bringing comfort to them. In Psalm 42:5, the Psalmist exclaims, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” And so should we be able to express, and rest in, that kind of confidence! In the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation,” we have encouraging insight. “When through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow; for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.” Selah! How deep does our trust in God go? “So then faith (trust) cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).    Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

Sanctified Labor

Why do you work? Most would answer that they work to earn a living. While this is true, it doesn’t give us the whole picture for a Christian. A born again Christian works to earn a living but if that is all, something is wrong. We, who are His, are His representatives in the workplace. Income, while very essential, is to be secondary to being a “light” on the job. Our profession, calling, position or job is our mission field! This gives us a whole new perspective on work. Instead of only being something that has to be done to support ourselves and our families, it is an opportunity for service. When it is time to leave for work, it no longer needs to be faced with regret. It should be viewed as God appointed ministry. Paul’s inspired charge to the Colossians and us was, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). In James M. Black’s well known hymn, “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder,” we, who know the Lord, are challenged, “Let  us labor for the Master from the dawn ’till setting sun, let us talk of all His wondrous love and care; then when all of life is over and our work on earth is done and the roll is called up yonder I’ll (we’ll) be there.” Selah! “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58). All labor is sanctified when done for His sake!  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

Conscience-A Two Way Gift

I wonder if we get the whole picture, as to our conscience. Most often we think of it as a bother when it is pricked by something that we have done wrong; some sin or sins. It gives us a feeling of guilt and condemnation. In fact, it’s doing us a great favor! Can you imagine the cost to the human race, if we did not have consciences? Having made that point, let’s move on. The same conscience that condemns wrong also commends us when we make the right choices. When you and I have done right (and especially if it was very hard to do) our conscience provokes good feelings. We “feel” good about doing right! We might well adopt the Apostle Paul’s stance. Luke, writing under inspiration, recorded a portion of the Apostle Paul’s testimony, when he was on trial. Paul testified about his purpose  “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16). A clear conscience gives us moral authority (but not to justify being self-righteous); an offended conscience obstructs the flow of God’s power and blessing. Let’s pray and live what Thomas O. Chisholm wrote in His hymn, “O to Be Like Thee!” He wrote, “O to be like thee! O to be like thee, Blessed Redeemer, pure as thou art! Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness – Stamp Thine Own image deep on my heart.” Selah! Heart purity is a wonderful part of our salvation. Our hearts are purified by faith; faith comes by applying and obeying God’s Word!   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

Who Says So!?

There are many Christians today who do more “emoting” than thinking. It’s far easier to respond to our “feelings” than to really engage our minds. “Feelings” require little effort; we are emotional without much effort! Someone we trust speaks enthusiastically of a preacher or writer and we “feel” that this individual must be well worth listening to or worth reading what he or she wrote. Another scenario: On the radio, TV, CD or DVD, there is a dynamic speaker and/or a lot of excitement. We see and/or hear about the crowds and assume that this is great. Who says so? We need to check it out! Do we ever make a conscientious investigation of the worker and his or her work? At what school did the person train? Is the school solid? What do we know about the one who endorsed this person? Far more important is if his or her work harmonizes with Scripture? We can’t do this unless we are deeply involved with God’s Word ourselves. Does this person who speaks and/or writes mix a subtle amount of error in with Truth? When a legitimate leader is maligned, do we do a critical evaluation of the critic? God gave us minds to use, aids to help us evaluate and the Bible to measure false teaching up against. The more intensely we are involved with the Word of God, the less opportunity error and deception will have to succeed. If you have any doubt as to how vulnerable we can be, just consider how clever advertising can generate emotional desire to buy something overpriced and/or harmful, or outlandish, and often a waste of time and money. In Hebrews 5:13-14, the inspired writer, in Verse  13, contrasts those who know little of Scripture with those in Verse 14 who know the Word of God. He wrote, “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.” As we are able to digest the meat of Scripture, we mature to the point of recognizing error quickly and being able to know God’s Truth. Haldor Lillenas wrote of the strength of God’s True Word in his hymn, “The Bible Stands:”  “The Bible stands like a rock undaunted ‘mid the raging storms of time; its pages burn with the Truth eternal, and they glow with a light sublime. The Bible stands tho’ the hills may tumble, It will firmly stand when the earth shall crumble; I will plant my feet on its firm foundation, for the Bible stands, the Bible stands.” Selah! One of the most drastic and dangerous problems today is being Biblically illiterate!  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

Filtering What We Hear

Let’s think of this in terms of listening to (or reading material from) those who claim to speak from God. There are many false claims; therefore, we must be discerning. There is only one way to be sure our discernment is reliable. Scanning Scripture is O.K. at times, but is inadequate to develop discernment. Discernment (filtering out error) requires constant and consistent exposure to the Bible. It requires hard work, time and effort to do intensive study of God’s Word. The rewards are immense! Good commentaries by those whose ministries have the evident blessing of God on them are helpful. Sermons, printed, on CDs and DVds, TV, etc. have value, if they come from those whose lives back up their preaching and whom God has used. The “bottom line,” however, is that we have to learn to bring all input to His Word and see if it agrees with or contradicts what Scripture teaches. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). Paul commanded Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workmen.” (From  II Timothy 2:15). He charged the Thessalonians, “Prove (test) all things; hold fast that which is good (right; true)” (I Thessalonians 5:21). We are to become become skillful in discerning between Truth and error. God speaks to us in His Word; the more we listen carefully to His voice, the quicker we’ll recognize voices that are not His voice. Jesus, in John 10:27 said, “My sheep hear My voice….” In the context, in this 10th Chapter, Verse 5 we are told, “A stranger will they not follow….” We know His voice from the Scriptures so well, that voices other than His are not to be trusted. John Ellerton asked what we ought to ask, “Speak Thou for us, O Lord, in all we say of Thee: according to Thy Word let all our teaching be, that so Thy lambs might know their own true Shepherd’s voice, where’er He leads them go, and in His love rejoice.” (From the hymn, “Shine Thou upon Us, Lord“). Selah! If we listen intensely and carefully to His voice, we won’t fall for the siren voices of Satan’s emissaries.   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com