Have We Followed the Directions?

We buy something that we have to put together or build and, too many times, we fail to read the directions. Sometimes, we come to regret our failure to follow directions. This is bad enough when we are talking about some material possession that we messed up; it is much more consequential when we are talking about lives. Consider Paul’s inspired directions in Ephesians 6:4 regarding children: “….bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Is there anything in these directions telling us that we should delegate part of that responsibility to the public schools? Could those teachers and administrators have any ability to do what Paul told fathers to do? Except for an occasional Christian teacher, the answer is obvious. In fact, the whole secular educational establishment is likely to teach the exact opposite of the admonition of the Lord. Tragically, too many Christian schools that used to be unabashedly committed to the fundamentals of the faith have defected to one degree or another. It is the responsibility of the home to keep children from these influences. Homeschooling or a very strong Christian school may be the only alternative to delivering our kids into “the den of the lions.” Could our current decline in spiritual and moral values be the result of people trusting their children to the Godless influences of men and women who hold a Godless worldview? In the hymn, “Shine Thou upon Us, Lord, ” John Ellerton wrote: “Shine Thou upon us, Lord, True Light of men today, and through the written Word Thy very Self display, that so, from hearts which burn with gazing on Thy face, Thy little ones may learn the wonders of Thy grace. 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 may know their own True Shepherd’s voice, where’er He leads them go, and in His love rejoice.” Selah! We may salvage something that we damaged by not following directions; but may not be able to reverse the damage done to lives that God has entrusted to us. He expects us to follow His directions!   Ron 

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

Such Wondrous Love!

Before the world was created, love existed. In I John 4:16 we are told that: “….God is love.” If you are born again, you were loved long before you came to this earth, back beyond the creation of Adam and Eve. Paul wrote of this in Ephesians 1:4: “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”  I John 2:17 tells us: “….the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” God loves you and long after this world is gone you will still be an object of God’s love! What God said to Jeremiah in Chapter 31, Verse 3 applies to all who are truly saved: “….Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” We were rebels, enemies, aliens, spiritually dead, without hope and without God. God sacrificed His only Son to pay the penalty due all our sin and rebellion. He won our hearts and drew us to Himself. He restored us to a wonderful relationship with Himself and will keep on loving us forever. George Matheson spoke of this love in these words: “O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee; I give thee back the life I owe, that in Thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be. O Light that foll’west all my way, I yield my flick’ring torch to Thee; my heart restores its borrowed ray, that in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day may brighter, fairer be.” (From the hymn, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go“). No matter how much love or lack of love that we have known in this life, the love of God far surpasses all other love. Selah! Consider Paul’s inspired words in Romans 8:38-39: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Ron

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

How Much Space?

There is an old saying that people find time for what is most important to them. There are some exceptions to that rule. However, as a general rule, it is very true! I’ve observed and I’m sure most of you have also observed that people interested in sports find time to follow their favorite team. Those with a hobby often devote a good slice of time to enjoying their hobby. Those trying to get ahead devote much energy to pursuing their dreams and goals. O.K., but what about God? Just how important is He? If we have come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord, how much of our daily space is given over to cultivating that blessed relationship? We usually have to fit much into our days, but how can we excuse neglecting the One Who loved us more and has done more for us, at infinite cost, than anyone on earth has ever done or will do? How lame our feeble excuses will sound when we stand before Him! Do we give Him any space? Do we give Him a little space? Do we tuck Him in, if we can find a minute, and too many times fail to do even that? “Bottom line,” is He important to us at all? Look with me at Romans 12:11: “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” We should give an honest day’s work to our job. We certainly should in some way(s) serve the Lord. The central phrase is: “fervent in spirit.” More than work, more than serving Him, we need to be fervent in being with Him, talking, listening, learning, enjoying, loving and doing what He tells us to do. Can we identify with Bernard of Clairvaux’s heart cry in his hymn, “Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts?” He wrote: “Jesus, Thou joy of loving hearts Thou Fount of life, Thou light of men, from the blest bliss that earth imparts, we turn unfilled to Thee again. Thy Truth unchanged hath ever stood, Thou savest those that on Thee call; to them that seek Thee, Thou art good, to them that find Thee, all in all. We taste Thee. O living Bread, and long to feast upon Thee still; we drink of Thee, the Fountain head, and thirst our souls from Thee to fill. Our restless spirits yearn for Thee, where’er our changeful lot is cast: glad when Thy gracious smile we see, blest when our faith can hold Thee fast.” Selah! He is far more important than anything that daily clamors for our attention. Let’s take time to truly interact with Him each day in an increasing and fervent devotion!   Ron  

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

More Than “Rock-Solid” Faith

Is our faith in God “rock-solid?” I’m addressing those who have received Jesus as Savior and Lord. Or is our faith conditional? “God, as long as you don’t go against what I want or what I expect, I’ll trust You.” Will my faith be discarded when it clashes with my will?” In fact, we need a faith that is more than “rock-solid.” Rocks can be blasted in pieces. We need a faith that nothing can destroy! Let me give an example. Someone whom we dearly love dies. We prayed and prayed that he or she would be healed and/or spared, but they died. Let me add another consideration. What if they died unsaved (as far as we know). (We never know for sure what might have transpired between them and God at the edge of death). This one who died was loved with an intensity that is beyond our ability to express. It is in this kind of situation that our faith is given the acid test. Perhaps I am informed that I only have days or months to live. Am I going to abandon my professed faith? Consider Job’s response to his crushing experiences: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” (From Job 13:15). Real faith cannot be abandoned. It may be shaken but will not give way. If my loved one(s), my will, my deepest desires, my expectations, my plans, my ambitions, etc. lead me to give up my faith, they are idols! Well did William Cowper put it: “The dearest idol I have known, whate’er that idol be, help me to tear it from Thy throne and worship only Thee.” (From “O for a Closer Walk with God“). Selah! This kind of faith (more than rock-solid) comes from learning about, listening to and obeying Jesus. It is coming to really know Him and trust His love, His knowledge, His wisdom, His grace, etc. We can only do this by constant exposure to Him in the Word of God and prayer. We may not understand until Heaven but all that He causes or allows is “right!” Trust Him, no matter what! He’ll not fail you! He’s absolutely trustworthy!    Ron

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

Balancing Responsibility and Opportunity

Christians have a responsibility to resist evil. They also have an opportunity to show God’s answer to evil. In the process of standing against evil and promoting righteousness, there are often opportunities for conversation with non-Christians. If we are fighting for good laws and against bad laws, we are dealing with symptoms only. Trying to get unsaved people to do right and not do wrong is essential. We need to nip evil “in the bud.” Our opportunity is to bring those that we converse with to see their need of dealing with the roots of evil. In other words, sin! If there were no sin, there would be no evil to resist. There would be no need to promote righteousness. The true Christian wants and craves for righteousness. He or she, when they are born again, will see righteousness spring up in their lives and will see sin gradually overcome by the power of God’s Word being applied in their lives. Paul explains this change in Romans 10:9-10; 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved, for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth is confession made unto salvation…..for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Our primary responsibility is to tell people what God has to say to us about our deepest need, and that is to receive Christ as Savior and Lord. While we discharging that responsibility by resisting evil and contending for what is right, let’s take advantage of the opportunity to share God’s Word as the ultimate answer to the sin problem. If they turn to Jesus, they can give the same testimony that Jack P. Scholfield gave. It is found in His hymn, “Saved, Saved!” He wrote: “I’ve found a Friend Who is all to me, His love is ever true;  I love to tell how He lifted me and what His grace can do for you. He saves me from every sin and harm, secures my soul each day; I’m leaning strong on His mighty arm — I know He’ll guide me all the way. Saved by His power divine, saved to new life sublime! Life now is sweet and my joy is complete, for I’m saved, saved, saved!” Selah! While being a good citizen, be a good witness!    Ron

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

Unequal?

In II Corinthians 6:14, there are two words that I have seldom heard explained: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” The key words here are “unequally yoked together.” What constitutes an unequal yoke? If I work at a job with someone who is an unbeliever, is that an unequal yoke? If I help someone of another faith protest against something that is wrong, is that an unequal yoke? If I fight moral evil being promoted by government and do it with religionists and cultists, is that an unequal yoke? If I buy my groceries at a store owned by someone who is an atheist, is that an unequal yoke? Marrying an unbeliever is clearly an unequal yoke. Amos affirms that with a question: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed” (Amos 3:3)? In marriage, two become one. If a child of God marries a child of the devil, he or she will have trouble with the father-in-law. What guidelines do we have to escape an unequal yoke? 1. If I have to compromise any truth from God’s Word, it is an unequal yoke. 2. If I give an implied endorsement to any false teaching, it’s unequal. 3. If unsaved people have a prevailing influence on me in regard to lifestyles or convictions, that’s unequal. In fact, if my Godly influence prevails over their wrong thinking, that’s as it should be. 4. If I am persuaded to involve myself in ungodly activities, that is a deadly and unequal yoke. Guided by God’s Word and God’s Spirit, we can interact and bring truth to bear on error. Separation and isolation are not synonymous. We can’t spread Truth in isolation! In her hymn, “Rescue the Perishing,” Fanny Crosby reminds us: “Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter, feelings lie buried that grace can restore; touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness, chords that are broken will vibrate once more. Rescue the perishing, care for the dying; Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save!” Selah! If we are not equipped to confront error, we can be overcome by it. In order to safely interact with unbelievers, we must be equipped to overcome lies with God’s Truth. If you are not equipped, become equipped!    Ron

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

A Sinking Ship?

Is the “Ship of State” sinking? It doesn’t take an astute observer to answer that question. America is awash in waves of immorality, sins, and confusion. We, the church, are not passengers on this ship, even if we act as if we are. We are an important part of the crew! In fact, if the ship is going to sink, we are the only ones that know a way that it might be prevented. God places a huge responsibility on the church. The promise that He gave to ancient Israel inextricably links the spiritual health of God’s people with the healing of a sick land. “If My People, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I Hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:14). While the primary interpretation spoke to Israel, a justifiable application can be made to the church. We are His People! Someone might think that America has gone beyond the possibility of being restored. I believe that revival is still possible and if God grants us revival, it will impact the nation. Suppose, however, that the ship cannot be salvaged. If that is so, we have the only kind of life preserver that is capable of saving anyone who will take it and trust themselves to it. It is Romans 10:9-10; 13. There is a wonderful patriotic hymn, a prayer for America, that we should pray: “God bless America, land that I love, stand beside her and guide her through the night with a light from above.  From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam,  God bless America, my home sweet home.  God bless America, my home sweet home.” (“God Bless America,” by Irving Berlin). Selah! It would be hypocritical to pray this prayer and then leave it to unsaved people to salvage the sinking ship or to offer a reliable life preserver.   Ron

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

Government or Gospel?

The number one priority of the church is to evangelize and disciple. That is a given! As to political matters, we should do our duty as citizens. If we get too involved in politics, we might get side-tracked and focus so much in that area that we neglect the gospel. Of course, that is a possibility. So leave politics to others, right? Wrong! If government is given free reign, how long will it be before they remove our freedom to evangelize and disciple? Do you doubt that this could happen? Have you really noticed that far too much of our freedom has already been eroded? If not, you are out of touch with reality in this matter. Left to themselves, can we expect most unsaved liberal leaders to go no further in their subtle and not so subtle efforts to undermine and marginalize our faith? One need only study the history of Hitler’s rise to power and how the German people were brought under Nazi control – slow, subtle and effective. The same process is underway here. With disciplined use of our time, we can major on our mission and still make a worthwhile effort to retard the advance of evil in our country. If not us, who? if not now, when? In time or too late? No amount of unsaved people can accomplish what an informed, praying, dedicated, determined and pure church can accomplish in God’s strength! In Matthew 5:14 Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world….” and in Matthew 5:13 He said, “Ye are the salt of the earth.” Notice the words world and earth. Bringing the light of God’s Truth to bear on the world and spreading God’s salt across the earth, at least our part of it, will help heal wrong and preserve what is right. Who is better equipped than, or nearly as responsible as, the church is to be salt and light? Think carefully on these words from Daniel C. Robert’s hymn, “God of Our Fathers:” “Thy love divine hath led us in the past, in this free land our lot is cast; Be Thou our ruler, guardian and stay, Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.” Selah! If we had stood up in the past against these attacks, things might not have come to this point. What will be our future, if we fail to stand up now and be counted?    Ron

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

Whose Family?

I hope you have been blessed with a good family. I’m thankful for mine. Some have been born into a wealthy family. Some have old, well established and “well thought of ” families. A good family is something that gives wonderful satisfaction. Some have been born into a very dysfunctional family. That is heart-breaking! However, no matter what your family situation is, you are or can be, part of the most wonderful family of all. This is a huge family! Part of the family is found all over the earth. Some are from different races, cultures, nations, tribes, etc. It doesn’t stop there. While many of these family members are away from home and are on their way home, countless members have already arrived at home. Eventually, we’ll all be home and will be together forevermore. You’ve probably understood that I’m talking about the family of God. That is Whose family I’m discussing.  Paul wrote about this family in Ephesians 3:14-15: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom the whole family in Heaven and in Earth is named….” We, who have been Spiritually reborn, are the children of the King! Even more than that, we are children of the King over all kings. Our Family Name is the greatest of all family names! Let’s be diligent to avoid ever bringing discredit to that name. Scripture tells us that “we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” (From Romans 8:17). If you know Jesus as Savior and Lord, you will always be a part of God’s family. You’ll never be orphaned, thrown out, disinherited, or exiled. Harriet E. Buell was driven from home because of her faith in Jesus. Look at her testimony in her hymn, “A Child of the King:” “My Father is rich in houses and lands, He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands! Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold, His coffers are full, He has riches untold. I once was an outcast stranger on earth, a sinner by choice, and an alien by birth; but I’ve been adopted, my name’s written down, an heir to a mansion, a robe, and a crown. A tent or a cottage, why should I care? They’re building a palace for me over there; though exiled from home, yet still I may sing: all glory to God, I’m a child of the King.” Selah! If you’ve been adopted, thank God! If you haven’t, you can be! See Romans 10:9-10; 13. There’s always room for one more in this wonderful family! Ron

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

Talking About or To?

A.W. Tozer said that some (I wonder if maybe it’s many) act as if our God is an absentee God. Before you dismiss that thought, stop and think. At church, among Christian brothers and sisters, in Bible Study groups, and (hopefully) to others about their need of Him, we talk about God. Do we do that much talking to Him? These two things are not in competition with each other but it seems reasonable that we should talk to Him as much as about Him. When we talk with Him, is it like He is far away (such as in Heaven) and is it like talking to someone on the phone? Do we really grasp that He is right in the same room as we are in? We believe that He is in us, if we are born again. However, do we believe that intellectually without believing it experientially? If we relate to Him as if He is a distance away from us, how can we fully comprehend that He is right here, right now? Many reminders are found all through Scripture of His personal Presence right with us. Consider these excerpts from Scripture: “He is a very present help in trouble. He will never leave us nor forsake us. Lo, I am with you alway. In Him, we live and move and have our being. He is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother,” etc. As Johnny Lange and Harold L. Graham put it in, “He’s Only a Prayer Away:” “He has infinite power, and so many things He can do; He’ll always be ready to help you, just ask Him to come to you. He’s only a prayer away. When others forsake and desert you, and you’re in the depth of despair; let God share your burden and sorrow, just seek Him and He’ll be there. He’s only a prayer away.” If we can grasp it, He is present in our inner being. This is the heritage of all who know Him as Lord and Savior. Selah! How would you feel if you were right beside someone and they talked to you as if you were away somewhere? Be aware of His Presence and talk to Him face to face in prayer.   Ron

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