The Seeds of Decay

Businesses start out well and many, because of poor management, go by the wayside. Organizations dwindle and die from lack of interest and/or good leadership. Countries rise and fall because of corrupt government and leaders. Sport teams suffer from inadequate coaching and/or undisciplined players. Churches and Christian movements move away from and/or compromise the clear teachings of God’s Word! As one wisely said, “Every organization has within itself the seeds of its own decay.” Evangelicalism, with a number of notable exceptions, has floundered in the culture of today. A wonderful defense in its early days against encroaching liberalism, it has, for the most part, drifted into bypaths and become bogged down. Worldliness and separation are often downplayed. A firm stand on the verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture has given way to watered down views. The truth of a six day literal creation has been sacrificed on the altar of so called scholarship. Concern for lost souls has lost much ground. Prayer meetings have vanished or majored on our needs (not wrong in itself) and not on God’s work in our churches and around the world. Pulpits have offered more themes and less expository proclamation of God’s Word. Programs occupy space that used to be given to prayer and heart-searching. Missions are more often “tucked in” than being a major emphasis. Well, you get the idea! Ezekiel’s words in Ezekiel 22:30 are relevant to today’s situation in Evangelicalism: “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” We need leaders who will call us back to basics! Thank God, there are some but the numbers are declining. John Brownlie gives us appropriate pleas for today’s situation in his hymn, “O Light of lights! when other light is fading.” “O Light of lights! when other light is fading, then in my soul with heavenly brightness shine; let there be light! the night and fear upbraiding, speak Thou the word and send the Light divine. O Love of loves! When other love is dying, and hearts grow cold, and eyes that lured me frown, come to my heart, thou Love, all hate defying, full of all pity to our world come down.” Selah! “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein” (Jeremiah 6:16). Will we?  Ron

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What Have You Had Installed?

Have you ever had something installed in your car, your home, your computer which you wished you hadn’t had installed? Has something been installed, without your permission, in your computer that damaged it or put things on the screen that you didn’t want? Some computers have been damaged by a “virus” that has been installed. Has a teacher, or some person who impresses you, installed thoughts in your mind that you haven’t critically analyzed? What has been installed in our minds? Probably a lot more than you think! Books, magazines, newspapers, CDs, DVDs, TV, friends, fellow workers, family members, parents, learned people, even preachers, etc. install thoughts in our minds. Is there a filter available that can separate Truth from error? Absolutely! Jesus said of Scripture, in John 17:17: “….Thy Word is Truth.” Only God has absolute Truth! This is a perfect filter when installed properly. Paul instructed Timothy (in II Timothy 2:15) to “Study” to be “approved unto God, a qualified “workman that won’t harm the filter while “rightly dividing (Installing) the Word of Truth.” The proper method of installation is given in Psalm 119:11: “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” When all input is run through the filter of God’s Word, Satan’s “virus” will be prevented from being installed. J. N. Brun has given us the hymn, “How Blest Are They Who Hear.” It speaks of this filter that God offers: “How blest are they who hear God’s Word, and keep and heed what they have heard! They daily grow in wisdom. Their light shines brighter day by day, and while they tread life’s weary way, they have the oil of gladness to soothe their pain and sadness. God’s Word a treasure is to me, through sorrow’s night my sun shall be, the shield of faith in battle. The Father’s hand hath written there my title as His child and heir, “The kingdom’s thine forever.” That promise faileth never. Today I was my Savior’s guest; my soul was here so richly blest, the Bread of Life receiving. O may thereby my faith prevail so that its fruits shall never fail till my account is given before the throne in Heaven!” Selah! Man’s thoughts and teachings change constantly. God’s Truth is unchanging forever! Man’s reasoning is like quicksand; God’s Word a Rock!   Ron

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Unconditional Faith Vs. Blind Faith

These two kinds of faith are often thought to be the same thing. They are not! Unconditional faith means we trust God, no matter what! Blind faith requires the same thing. However, there is a  reason for unconditional faith. There is no reason to act on blind faith, when it has no basis for doing so. Even a child who is told not to put his or her hands on the stove has a reason. They have been learning that their parents know best. Blind faith just decides to believe it will all work out, given enough time. Occasionally it turns out O.K. More often, it doesn’t. Unconditional faith is based on Scripture. There are a number of solid reasons to trust the complete reliability of God’s Word. Once that is settled, we can go to the Bible to discover God’s perfect trustworthiness. If we have done any serious study, we have learned that even the worst circumstances will ultimately end in blessing. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). That doesn’t mean that we will not go through some overwhelming experiences. It does mean that He has reasons and we can trust Him to see us through. It is not trust when we expect God to do our will. He is not our servant; He is our God!Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). “When I am burdened, or weary and sad, Jesus is all I need. Never He fails to uplift and make glad. Jesus is all I need. When I am tempted and fear I may fall, Jesus is all I need. He never fails to respond to my call. Jesus is all I need. When I am swept by the tempests of life, Jesus is all I need. peace He imparts whatsoever the strife. Jesus is all I need. when through the valley He calls me to go, Jesus is all I need. He will be with me to cheer me, I know. Jesus is all I need. All that I need He will always be, all that I need till His face I see. All that I need thro’ eternity, Jesus is all I need. (So wrote James Rowe in his hymn, “Jesus Is All I Need).” What blessed assurance for a true child of God! Selah! When God causes or allows crushing, trust will release the perfume of His grace!   Ron
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Why Trials?

New Christians often ask why they have to go through trials. The question usually goes something like this: “I gave my heart to Jesus, why do I have these trials?” I Peter 4:12-13 speaks to this: “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.” God uses the fires of adversity to refine His “gold.” First, will we trust His love for us when we suffer? Second, will we trust Him to see us through? What if our only deliverance is Heaven? Will we trust Him for strength to endure? Third, it helps us grasp how much He suffered for us. Fourth, we can encourage and comfort others, when we have gone through some of the same sufferings that they have experienced. Fifth, it makes our promise of Heaven with Jesus even more wonderful, when we remember that all trials will be forever gone when we arrive home. The hymn, “How Firm a Foundation,” usually attributed to George Keith, contains two stanzas that bear on our sufferings and trials: “When through the deep waters I call you to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow, for I will be with you in trouble to bless, and sanctify to you your deepest distress. When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie, my grace all-sufficient shall be your supply; the flame shall not hurt you; I only design your dross to consume and your gold to refine.” Selah! Look at Daniel in the lion’s den, the three young men in the furnace, Paul with a long list of severe trials, etc. Did God get anything done through these people? He can do the same with you! God is not far away; He is right with you in the midst of your trials; take His hand and move forward.     Ron

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Peace or Denial?

Sometimes, when we have serious problems, we don’t want to accept the truth. We are “in denial.” No matter how much we try to convince ourselves, the problem remains. To approach the subject from a different angle, some just reassure themselves that they can handle it; they can deal with the problem. In both scenarios, however, the troubles and stress remain! How does one who is born again find real peace in the cares and concerns of life? If God made all our sorrows, suffering, pain, diseases, worries, etc. go away, people would flock to Him. The problem is that they would come for the wrong reason. God sometimes wonderfully takes care of what is troubling us. He does this for His own reasons. Most times it is His purpose to “walk us through” our problems. Will we trust Him when we are “hurting?” That’s a first step. He wants us to “sense” His Presence with us in trials. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee” (Isaiah 26:3). When we come to terms with the fact that He is really with us “in the furnace” of our trials, that He will strengthen, comfort, and bring us through, either here or hereafter, there will come the wonderful peace of knowing that He in control and will not fail us. John S. Brown speaks of this in his hymn, “Hidden Peace:” “I cannot tell thee whence it came, this peace within my breast; but this I know, there fills my soul a strange and tranquil rest. I cannot tell the half of love, unfeigned, supreme, divine, that caused my darkest inmost self with beams of hope to shine. I cannot tell thee why He chose to suffer and to die, but if I suffer here with Him  I’ll reign with Him on high. There’s a deep, settled peace in my soul, There’s a deep, settled peace in my soul, tho’ the billows of sin near me roll, He abides, Christ abides. The outcome? “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (II Corinthians 4:17). Selah! Instead of being overcome by our circumstances, take the hand of the One Who knows the path through.    Ron

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Are You Rejoicing?

Are you rejoicing? To rejoice is to be glad or to make glad. One answer to this question that many would give is that it depends. They would say that they are glad when things are going well. For many, when things are going badly, there is little or nothing about which to be glad. In other words, gladness depends on favorable conditions. True Bible Christianity gives gladness, no matter what our circumstances might be. Even in the midst of trouble, suffering, pain, dangers, lies, misunderstanding, false accusations, threats, etc. there can be rejoicing; there can be deep-seated gladness. This isn’t rejoicing for all the hard things that are happening; it is rejoicing for the One who is there to walk us through trials. We rejoice that God loves us. We rejoice that Jesus died for us. We rejoice that He is with us to guide and direct us through all the hard things of life. We rejoice in wonderful changes he brings to our lives. We rejoice in His wisdom and teaching. We rejoice in the strength He gives. We rejoice for a wonderful personal relationship with God. We rejoice in and for His forgiveness and cleansing. We rejoice for His protection. We rejoice in His peace, even in adversity. We rejoice in His promises. We rejoice in His provision. We rejoice in our service, as He uses us for His glory. We rejoice for how He has changed our destiny. We rejoice in what He has in store for us in Heaven. We rejoice because we will enjoy, and marvel in, His Presence forever in a sin-free environment. We rejoice in the security of all genuine Christians. All this is only a sampling! Are you rejoicing? II Thessalonians 5:16 gives us a brief, but essential, exhortation: “Rejoice evermore!” We can, should, and have every reason to do just that! Ada Blenkhorn  gives testimony to that in her hymn, “All the Way Along:” “There is One Who loves me, One Who is my friend, all the way along, all the way along. He is ever near me, ready to defend, all the way along it is Jesus. He doth still the tempest, bid its tumult cease, all the way along, all the way along, in the time of trouble keeps in perfect peace; all the way along it is Jesus. In my Lord and Savior I will joyful be, all the way along, all the way along, speaking words of comfort sweet and dear to me, all the way along it is Jesus. I will sing the praises of His wondrous love, all the way along, all the way along.  I will sing more sweetly in my home above, all the way along it is Jesus. All the way along it is Jesus; all the way along, blessèd Jesus. He’s my joy and song, all the way along. All the way along it is Jesus!” Selah! When we know and trust Him; when we feed on His Word; when we sing His praises and give thanks, we’ll look above our circumstances at Him and rejoice!   Ron

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Fanning the Flame

You’re in a house where the only source of heat is from the fireplace. The problem is that the fire has died way down. It is close to going out altogether. Someone calls your attention to the situation. You throw some more wood on and fan what little flame is left. It bursts into flame and the house is wonderfully warm again. It works somewhat the same in our Spiritual lives, if we are born again. At that wondrous moment of new birth, the Holy Spirit enters our inner being and sets our hearts on fire. We become ignited with wonder, love and praise. We burn with zeal. As long as we keep adding fuel to the fire, the flame burns brightly. It protects us from coldness of heart. How do we add fuel to our Spiritual fire? The Holy Spirit calls our attention to God’s fuel for our fire: “And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures” (Luke 24:32)? What these early disciples realized was that God’s Word, when it was “opened” to them, set their hearts on fire. God is still opening His Word to us, giving us fuel to “fan the flame.” How is it “opened” to us today? A preacher, a friend, a brother or sister, a book, DVD or CD, or even the Holy Spirit directly, alerts our attention to the need. Then we go to get a supply of fuel. There must be nothing in the way of our getting to the fuel (like sin in our lives). Once we reach the fuel, we pick it up, load our arms with it, and use it. We use it by understanding it, applying it, obeying it and internalizing it. There is always a supply of this, the only fuel that will keep our flame from going out. In the hymn, “Fire of God, Undying Flame, by Albert F. Bayly, we are given insights on the power of God’s Word to fan our flame and to keep the fire burning: “Fire of God, undying flame, Spirit Who in splendor came, let your heat my soul refine, till it glows with love divine. Breath of God, that swept in power in the Pentecostal hour, Holy Breath, be now in me source of vital energy. Strength of God, your might within conquers sorrow, pain, and sin.  Fortify from evil’s art all the gateways of my heart. Truth of God, your piercing rays penetrate my secret ways. May the light that shames my sin guide me holier paths to win. Love of God, your grace profound knows not either age or bound. Come, my heart’s own guest to be; dwell forevermore in me.” Selah! Let God’s Word set your heart on fire and fuel its continual burning.   Ron
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