Don’t Settle Down

Settle down!” might be good advice for an over excited child; it is very bad advice for a child of God living in this world! Too many Christians have settled down in this world’s routine, comforts and pleasures. It seems that we have largely lost sight of our status on this earth. We are not permanent residents; we are only passing through on our way home! Albert E. Brumley understood this journey that true Christians are on and put it this way in his song, “This World Is Not My Home:”  “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue; the angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.” Paul explained our eternal perspective in II Corinthians 5:1-9: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from Heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, Who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him.” What would we think of an ambassador of the United States who was given a mission to represent his country in a foreign land and who went and settled down in that country and lost sight of his mission? Selah! We, who know Jesus as Savior and Lord are on a mission. It is to be carried out on our way home! Have you, have I, “settled down” or are we truly carrying out our mission?   Ron

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Strength to Endure

If we are human, there will be trials! This is inevitable. For those who know Jesus as their Savior and Lord, if they live long enough, after they are saved, their trials are also tests. Job was tested, the three Hebrew young men were tested, Daniel was tested, Paul was tested, etc. How does one endure? Paul, in II Corinthians 4:13-14, gives us important insight: “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.” When tested, trust unconditionally! The Holy Spirit, using Scripture will strengthen our faith. (See Romans 10:17). God will raise us up from the test or raise us up in Heaven. Then, in Verse 15, he gives the reason for our tests: “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.”  By His grace, we give example and encouragement to others to trust. In Verses 16-18, He expresses the source and outcome of our faith. Verse 16 speaks of God’s renewal for us day by day: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” Verses 17-18 speak of God’s promised reward and remind us that present circumstances are temporary and the promised reward is eternal: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” As Thomas O. Chisholm so aptly put it in: “Great is Thy Faithfulness:” “Thine own dear Presence to cheer and to guide, strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow—-blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed Thy hand hath provided — great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!” Selah! He is with us every moment. However, if we focus on the trial, we’ll not see Him in the furnace; look at Him and the trial will fade!    Ron

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Confidence While Crushed

Life can be difficult, disabling, discouraging and dangerous. We can feel the weight crushing us. The normal human reaction to these circumstances might be to wonder why God allows such misery and heartache. We need to trust that God has a purpose in whatever He allows or causes. Another way of putting it is that, while God cares about our suffering. He cares even more about what our response will be. For perfume to be released, the source for that perfume has to be crushed. In II Corinthians 4:8-12, Paul shares his own experience of suffering that he and others endured: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.” As long as sin remains a part of life on this present earth, there will be suffering! When we respond in confidence, we give other Christians confidence that God can bring blessings out of buffetings. Unsaved people, seeing How God sustains us, and our supernatural confidence that He has a purpose and that we don’t “fold” when we are in the midst of trials, are sometimes drawn to saving faith. Think with me on the thoughts in Reginald Heber’s hymn: “The Son of God Goes Forth to War:” “The Son of God goes forth to war a kingly crown to gain. His blood-red banner streams afar; who follows in His train? Who best can drink His cup of woe, triumphant over pain, who patient bears his cross below–he follows in His train.The martyr first, whose eagle eye could pierce beyond the grave, who saw his Master in the sky and called on Him to save. Like Him, with pardon on His tongue, In midst of mortal pain, He prayed for them that did the wrong– who follows in his train? A glorious band, the chosen few, on whom the Spirit came, twelve valiant saints–their hope they knew and mocked the cross and flame. They met the tyrant’s brandished steel, the lion’s gory mane; they bowed their necks their death to feel– who follows in their train?” Selah! “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”     Ron

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Agents of Light

This world in which we live is in spiritual darkness. The thing that is most amazing is that until someone brings some light into this darkness, human beings do not know they are in spiritual darkness. This is because seeing physical light, the lack of spiritual light goes unnoticed. In fact, mankind loves this darkness even though they aren’t consciously aware of the darkness. This is because we have an inbred guilt that we don’t want to admit to ourselves or others. We also do not want to admit it to God. (See John 3:19-20). God appoints light bearers: ministers, teachers, evangelists, missionaries and all true believers. God equips us with the only means of shining light into this darkness: His Word! Paul, in II Corinthians 4:1-2, reminds us that we receive this ministry of light bearing from God. In Verse 1, he points out that we received mercy because God sent agents to give us, we who are born again, His light. Therefore, we faint not. In Verse 2, we see the need for a holy life and our charge is to be using God’s Word correctly. When we do, a person’s conscience is awakened. All the while this is going on, God is watching! In Verses 3-7, Paul explains the process of light entering spiritual darkness: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” Some will come to the light and leave the darkness; others will move further into the dark corners. God uses our human body to carry the “Light” and He gives the “Light” (His Word) the power to shine. In the hymn, “The Light of the World is Jesus,” by P.P. Bliss, he musically describes this process: “The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin, the Light of the world is Jesus! Like sunshine at noonday, His glory shone in; the Light of the world is Jesus! Ye dwellers in darkness with sin-blinded eyes, the Light of the world is Jesus! Go, wash at His bidding, and light will arise; the Light of the world is Jesus! Come to the light, ’tis shining for thee; sweetly the light has dawned upon me; once I was blind, but now I can see: the Light of the world is Jesus!” Selah! There are flashlights, candles, lanterns, etc. There are Bibles (above all) plus tracts, books, tapes, etc. If we have received the “Light,” let’s shine “the Light,” using these means as His agents.   Ron

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Nothing can compare with the experience of beholding Jesus as He is! Nevertheless, we who are His are also are being gradually transfigured. In fact, that’s the idea behind the word “transformed” in Romans 12:2: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” The key thought regarding this process is: “the renewing of your mind.” This is what Paul was explaining in II Corinthians 3:17-18: “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Once we come to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, we are freed from any idea that we can earn God’s favor by trying (and failing) to obey His rules. However, something new happens; God, the Holy Spirit, takes charge in our lives. He uses Scripture to renew our thinking. As God’s Word takes root in our lives and progressively transfigures us, righteousness begins to flourish. The blessings of His liberty replace our bondage to the Law! Spending time in His Word, we are in His Presence! The more time we spend listening to Him, learning from Him, being exposed to His influence, and implementing His principles in our lives, the more we become like Him! Our hearts’ desire becomes like that of Albert Orsborn in the hymn: “Let the Beauty of Jesus Be Seen in Me:” “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, all of His wonderful passion and purity; O my Savior divine, all my being refine, till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.”  Selah! John wrote about the completion of our transfiguration: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is and every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (I John 3:2-3).   Ron

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Ministries of Glory

The Law that God gave is glorious. It is God giving us standards and directions for righteous living. It came straight from God for us! It is a composite of what God demands, a reflection of His righteous character. If mankind would perfectly obey this Law, what a wonderful life this would be here on earth. There is one insurmountable problem. It is impossible to meet its demands perfectly! If we break one command just one time, we have broken the whole Law entirely. This is beyond the ability of fallen man to do; he can’t live up to such a glorious requirement. This leaves mankind in condemnation for failure to live perfectly; the Law is glorious; we are corrupt. When we recognize our sinfulness and own our total helplessness to earn God’s favor, we discover something even more glorious. God has the answer for our dilemma! When we admit that we are exceedingly and incurably sinners and throw ourselves on the mercy and grace of God, we learn that, at infinite cost to Himself, God’s Son bore our penalty for our breaking of God’s glorious Law. Then we are credited with Christ’s perfect righteousness because He fulfilled God’s Law perfectly and in our place. When we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, God’s glorious Holy Spirit comes to abide in us, in our hearts, our inner being. He begins a wonderful work of making us holy and doesn’t stop until we are made completely holy in Heaven. His indwelling Presence brings increasing desire to live Godly and enables us to grow in this wonderful grace and become more and more like Jesus. As we see that developing, it fills us with joy and blessing; it’s God’s glorious working in our lives! This was what Paul was talking about in II Corinthians 3:8-9: “How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.” Avis B. Christiansen wrote about this 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 where’er my path may be. Bless the Lord, it’s glory all the way! It is glory just to walk with Him. It is glory just to walk with Him. He will guide my steps aright, thro’ the vale and o’er the height. It is glory just to walk with Him!” Selah! Are you enjoying your salvation? If not, you can!   Ron

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The Letter Versus the Spirit

God’s Law has a purpose. It has a purpose for those who have not received Jesus as Savior and Lord. It reveals God’s perfect will for mankind. The problem is that no man is able to perfectly obey it. We all fall short and James makes it clear that if we offend in one point of the law, we have broken it all. There is no way that we can meet its demands perfectly. That leaves only judgment for failure, unless we come to Christ. If we do that, we discover that Jesus took the judgment due us, as our Substitute! He perfectly fulfilled the law in our place. What does this law have to say to those who have received salvation? It spells out the way God wants us to live and He provides the enabling for us to live out the “righteousness” of the law as we grow in grace and study and apply His word. The profound difference is in the motivation. Before we are born again, it is obey or else! After we are born again, we desire to keep the law because we love Him and are grateful to Him. As He leads us in obedience, we have a love for and appreciation of His Holy Law. A legal approach is the letter of the Law and compliance is an exercise in futility. When the Holy Spirit guides us into the Truth of God’s Word, He works in us is to fulfill the “righteousness” of the Law. That brings joy and blessing. In II Corinthians 3:6, Paul pointed out that His sufficiency for ministry was Christ and that his ministry was not of the “letter” but of the Spirit. This is how he put it: “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” William R. Newell discovered the difference between the letter and the Spirit. In his hymn; “At Calvary,” the second stanza speaks of the “letter,” while the third stanza emphasizes the work of the “Spirit.” “By God’s Word at last my sin I learned; then I trembled at the law I’d spurned, till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary. Now I’ve given to Jesus everything, now I gladly own Him as my King, now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary.” Selah! In our unsaved state, the Law makes impossible demands; once we are born again, God’s Spirit makes “the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus,” a great delight!    Ron

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