The Walking Dead

People who have not come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord, are somewhat like a zombie. They are walking around “dead!” They are corpses that function. They have physical life. They have mind, emotions and will, in a physical or material body. This body contains the things needed to function in this world. However, in this body there exists no Spiritual life! There is no connection to the life of God. Ephesians 4:18 explains the condition: “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated (disconnected from; strangers to, His life) from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” When we experience the new birth, the connection is restored and God’s life enters into our inner being. “And you (who are born again) hath He quickened (made alive, Spiritually) who were dead (spiritually) in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). As mentioned, we have mind, emotions and will, before we are born again. The problem is that they have no God “input,” until He imparts light (illumination, understanding) to their minds, until they begin to “feel” their need. Then, responding to that understanding, they will to receive or reject the offer of the restoration of God’s life. When we trust what God says, turn away from our sins and yield to His control, a wonderful miracle of Spiritual rebirth takes place. In the hymn, “New Life,” John W. Peterson puts it this way: “Come with your sin-burdened heart,  Christ will His cleansing impart; He will forgive — in Him you’ll live — O how the joy-bells will start. New life in Christ, abundant and free! What glories shine, what joys are mine, what wondrous blessings I see! My past with its sin, the searching and strife, forever gone — there’s a bright new dawn! For in Christ I have found new life!” Selah! The despot that exercised maximum influence on us before we were saved will resist losing that influence after we are saved. How that can be overcome will occupy our attention tomorrow, God willing. Ron

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A Spiritual Paradox

Paradox: “A statement that seems contradictory, etc. but may be true in fact.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary) In the life of a true Christian, a Spiritual paradox is exemplified. How could someone choose slavery in order to be free? There have been many times when a slave was offered freedom and refused to take it, choosing continued slavery because of love for his master. In the culture of the Apostle Paul’s day, the slave that refused freedom had his or her ear pierced as a mark of permanent ownership. This was a “love slavery.” Jesus bought and paid for those who were slaves to sin. The price He paid was His shed blood on that Roman cross! He paid the redemption price and frees all who receive Him. He, Himself, said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Here’s the paradox: One who is born again, and is now free, chooses to be a love slave to Jesus. He owns them forever! In I Corinthians 6:19-20, we are told that: “….ye are not our own….ye are bought with a price.” The One Who owns us has freed us from a terrible bondage to sin. Out of love and gratitude we choose permanent and loving bondage to our new Master. Then we discover that: “….where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (From II Corinthians 3:17).  Haldor Lillenas’ hymn, “Glorious Freedom,” gives voice to this amazing liberty: “Once I was bound by sin’s galling fetters; chained like a slave, I struggled in vain. But I received a glorious freedom when Jesus broke my fetters in twain. Freedom from all carnal affections; freedom from envy, hatred and strife; freedom from vain and worldly ambitions; freedom from all that saddened my life. Freedom from pride and all sinful follies; freedom from love and glitter of gold; freedom from evil temper and anger — glorious freedom, rapture untold! Freedom from fear with all of its torments; freedom from care with all of its pain; freedom in Christ, my blessed Redeemer, He Who has rent my fetters in twain. Glorious freedom! Wonderful freedom! No more in chains of sin I repine! Jesus, the glorious Emancipator! Now and forever He shall be mine.” Selah! We are free to be all that His great love has planned for us! It will take the rest of our time on earth and all eternity to enjoy the wonder of this experience.    Ron

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An Exclusive Attachment

Guest Article-By A. W. Tozer

I am not in the business of trying to downgrade any other believer’s efforts to win souls. I am just of the opinion that we are often too casual, and there are too many tricks that can be used to make soul-winning encounters completely “painless” and at “no cost” and without any “inconvenience.” Some of the unsaved with whom we deal on the “quick and easy” basis have such little preparation and are so ignorant of the plan of salvation that they would be willing to bow their heads and “accept” Buddha or Zoroaster if they thought they could get rid of us in that way. To “accept Christ” in anything like a saving relationship is to have an attachment to the Person of Christ that is revolutionary, complete, and exclusive! It is more than joining some group that you like. It is more than having enjoyable social fellowship with other nice people. You give your heart and life and soul to Jesus Christ, and He becomes the center of your transformed life!

Selah! Would our churches be stronger Spiritually if we were to come to grips with the implications of this article? One wonders! Ron

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Bodily Coordination

We sometimes speak of someone (usually a child) who lacks coordination. It limits those who lack it. What a blessing to have a body that is well coordinated. We can be sure that Jesus wants His body (the church) to be well coordinated. Jesus gives great love and care to His body. In I Corinthians 12:12-24, Paul elaborates on this and then sums it up in the first part of verse 25: “That there should be no schism in the body.” We are to be in harmony and unity. Nowhere is this more important than in relation to our mission. We have been commissioned by Jesus. In His last words at the end of His life here, He dedicated His body to reach the world: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and , lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Jesus’ body is all over the world because all who are born again are located all over the world. You may be one who is called to go to some distant and/or difficult place. Be ready and willing! Those who do not have this special calling still have a special calling. There isn’t anywhere on earth where our prayers won’t reach! We also live in a mission field that reaches as far as our sphere of influence extends. We can pass out tracts, books, booklets, CDs , DVDs, speak, give, encourage and help support a missionary or missionaries. We can pray for and support Bible Translation. We might do a short term mission trip. We might help someone do that. We might encourage mission involvement by our friends and at church. We might get needed items to those missionaries who need them. The “bottom line” is that the whole body needs to function in a coordinated way. No Christian is totally exempt from doing his or her part! “The Church of God is debtor — to all men far and near, to tell the name of Jesus till all the world shall hear: is debtor to the stranger, to alien, foe and kin, is debtor till forgiveness shall triumph over sin.” (“The Church of God Is DebtorBy E. Margaret Clarkson). Selah! Together, with Spiritual coordination, the mission will be accomplished, because He promised to be with us! Let no part of His body be dislocated!   Ron

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Individual Involvement

How could you or I, who are born again, possibly be witnesses all over the world? Isn’t that what Acts 1:8 tells us that we are going to be? Look closely at what it says: “But… shall be (we are going to be) witnesses (we are going to be witnesses-good ones or bad ones) unto Me (Jesus) both in Jerusalem (your city or town) and in all Judea (your state.) and in Samaria (Your country) and unto the uttermost part of the earth (the whole world).” How can we do this? Actually, there are a number of ways. We live in a certain place; we travel to other places; we have phones, computers, E-Mail, mail, tracts and other literature; we have some money; we have a voice; we can pray, etc. We can give a verbal witness. We can give a tract or a book. We can use tracts or other literature in gifts, letters, greeting cards, and we can leave them in various places (restaurants and other public places). We can give tapes, CDs, DVDs. We can conduct and/or participate in Bible Studies. There are other creative ways to witness. Wherever there is personal contact or our reputation is known, our lives are to back up our witnessing. In the hymn, “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” Charles E. Prior challenges us in these words: “There’s surely somewhere a lowly place in earth’s harvest fields so wide, where I may labor thru life’s short day for Jesus the crucified; so, trusting my all to His tender care — I know Thou lovest me — I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere, I’ll be what you want me to be.” Selah! We can do a lot of the above, more than we think! Nevertheless, there are people in many places in the world with whom we cannot connect. What about them? We’ll look at that tomorrow, God willing.   Ron

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A Missionary?

Would it surprise you to know that the title: “Missionary” is nowhere found in Scripture? Now, before you get upset with me, let me point out that there is a likely reason for that. Before I explain, let me hasten to say that there are huge numbers of those people that we call “Missionaries” who have served faithfully in that role, often at great personal cost. They are to be valued highly! We can’t overestimate the importance of their ministry! However, I still suggest that there is a reason that no title of “Missionary” is given. Pastor, Teacher, Evangelist , etc. are given as titles. Why not “Missionary?” Could it be that we have assumed that the work of missions is the responsibility of a special group of people? Have we forgotten that we have a mission? Do we excuse ourselves from our duty to carry out our mission because we are not trained as missionaries? An Evangelist, in New Testament terms, is very much on mission. To those who would say: “I’m not an Evangelist,” Paul would remind us as he did Timothy: “….do the work of an evangelist.” (From II Timothy 4:5). In the same way, we are to be on mission, as well as those who serve with the designation: “Missionary.” All of us are to be on this mission, as Acts 1:8 makes clear: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me (That’s our mission)  both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” This is the responsibility of the church! No exceptions! The third stanza of “Living for Jesus,” by Thomas O. Chisholm explains our responsibility in simple verse: “Living for Jesus thru earth’s little while, my dearest treasure the light of His smile, seeking the lost ones He died to redeem, bringing the weary to find rest in Him. O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee, for Thou in Thy atonement didst give Thyself for me. I own no other Master — my heart shall be Thy throne: my life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.” SelahWe all can be and are commanded to be witnesses to Him. One way or another, God can and will use us to that end. Be “on mission!”   Ron

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Stifling Spontaneity?

Could we be stifling spontaneity in our gatherings? When those early Christians spoken of in Acts 2:46-47: “….continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people…,” did they have an “Order of Worship?” Was there a set time to start and finish? Did certain things need to be done each time they met? Was it formal or spontaneous? Now, I am not against these things unless they stifle authentic and spontaneous expressions from hearts full of love for and with the wonder of our Savior. Actually, I am wondering if we have a sort of spiritual technology going on today. For example, a computer sends E-mails without any personal involvement with the content in them. Do we mechanically go through our Sunday activities with little or no involvement with the substance of what we are doing? I say “little” because we may sing, pray and hear His Word with some enthusiasm, but is that confined to an hour or so? Does it fill our hearts with Him? Does it continue to flow throughout the week? Have we lapsed into a formal acknowledgement of Him, without that wonderful fellowship with Him? I wonder! Do you wonder? Can we seek to be re-ignited with the joy of personal interaction with Jesus? How much of ourselves are we willing to give in order to experience this? In her hymn, “More Love to Thee,” Elizabeth P. Prentiss gave us a plea we might want to make our own: “More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee! Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee; this is my earnest plea; more love, O Christ to Thee, more love to thee, more love to Thee! Once earthly  joy I craved, sought peace and rest; now Thee alone I seek, give what is best; this all my prayer shall be: more love, O Christ to Thee, more love to Thee, more love to Thee!” Selah! What would mean the most to Jesus? Would it be our faithful routine or just for us to have wonderful times with Him and also together with Him, as his family?  Ron

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The Scandal of Grace

This title came from a portion of a book written by my son-in-law. This book is called: “Grace upon Grace,” By Dan Sardinas. It’s well worth your time to read. (I believe it’s available on Amazon and no, I don’t get a commission). Grace is often a scandal to the unsaved person. A wicked sinner is turned into a child of God. That’s grace! However, a “good” person is rejected. On the surface, it doesn’t seem to make sense. The problem is that no one can be “good” enough! Not the outright sinner and not the one who thinks he’s “good” enough. The difference is that the “out and out” sinner throws himself on the mercy of God, while the supposedly righteous one thinks that he deserves God’s acceptance. The truth is that no one deserves the grace of God. Nevertheless, He delights to give it to those who admit their need of redemption, receive Him as Savior and Lord, repent (turn from their sin(s) and yield the control of their lives to Him. Consider for example, Cain and Abel. Cain’s pride disqualified him for grace; Abel’s commitment to God’s way was rewarded by his offering being accepted. Think of the publican and sinner, Jacob becoming Israel, Saul taking on the name of Paul, etc. Only Jesus’ righteousness is sufficient to gain acceptance with God. When we look to the cross and trust Christ and His sacrifice in our behalf, His righteousness is credited to us. That’s grace!! As Paul reminded those at Ephesus and reminds us: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10). In the hymn, “Sweeter as the Years Go By,” Lelia N. Morris gave us these wonderful words of grateful praise: “Of Jesus’ love that sought me when I was lost in sin — of wondrous grace that brought me back to His fold again — of heights and depths of mercy far deeper than the sea and higher than the heavens, my theme shall ever be. Sweeter as the years go by, sweeter as the years go by; richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus’ love is sweeter, sweeter as the years go by.” Selah! Pride denies that we have need of salvation and leaves us lost forever; owning our need and turning to Jesus for His grace and salvation meets our need and guarantees Heaven.   Ron

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Cleverly Disguised Deflections

Most of the time, Satan is far too smart than to use a frontal attack. He uses a very clever weapon. It’s called “deflection.” It works this way: a magician deflects your attention away from his trickery. “The hand is quicker than the eye.” While your attention is diverted, he works his magic. The devil, whenever you intend to get down to business with God, will draw your attention to things not as important. These deflections are cleverly disguised as responsibilities, needs, etc. They are very effective because they are usually legitimate concerns. I have to earn a living. I have to take care of my chores and errands. I have family responsibilities; I have church responsibilities. While there is much truth in these ordinarily, Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness.” He said “first!” First, in the order of importance. Just as with the tithe, when God is first in our giving, the other nine tenths goes further. (This is true as long as we trust and don’t give for the wrong reasons). Similarly, our time will go better when God is first. Nothing is as important as our time with Him! (We can pray, even during a legitimate emergency).  But the enemy cleverly inserts, “Take care of the things that you have to do, first! Then, spend time with God. He will understand! The usual result is that we don’t spend quality time with Him. We excuse this failure with something like, “I can’t this time, I’m too tired!” How clever is the enemy! In William D. Longstaff”s timeless hymn, “Take Time  to Be Holy,” we find wise counsel: “Take time to be holy, the world rushes on; spend much time in secret with Jesus alone. By looking to Jesus, like Him you will be — your friends in your conduct His likeness will see. Take time to be holy, let Him be your guide and run not before Him whatever betide. In joy or in sorrow still follow the Lord, and looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.” Selah! If we really give Him first place, some of our priorities will need to be reordered. What we consider to be a “must” is simply an excuse, many times, to do what we really want to do. Don’t let the devil “play” you!  Ron

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Has It Really “Struck” You?

If you know Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord, something monumental has been done for you! Let me explain. Suppose that you could somehow recall every wrong thing you’ve ever done or recall all the ways in which you’ve been sinfully wrong. For example. consider these: sinful attitudes, thoughts, desires, jealousy, temper, anger, hate, pride, selfishness, etc. Then think of all the sinful activities that you’ve pursued. Think of sinful behavior. That includes a multitude of sins. In these things, we have rebelled against and severely offended the holiness of God! God knows every wrong thing we’ve done, failed to do, or have been guilty of. It is well to keep in mind that if we are not born again, we will answer before the Judge of all the earth for all of that with which we are charged. However, as I mentioned for those who are saved, something monumental has happened! You have been forgiven and: “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Our whole sorry record has been so far removed as to make it impossible to be found. I’m unaware of the source, but an old hymn brings this home in a powerful way: “When Israel out of bondage came, a sea before them lay. The Lord reached down His mighty hand and rolled the sea away. Before me was a sea of sin so great I feared  to pray! The Lord reached down His mighty hand and rolled the sea away!” Selah! Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. If anyone reading this has never received the gift of eternal life, read carefully Romans 10:9-10;13. You will find there how to access this grace for yourself.   Ron

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