Make Your Voice Heard!

I Corinthians 14:8 makes a very important point: “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” Could you possibly imagine troops getting ready to engage the enemy, while listening to the “Blues?” In Verse 10, we are told: “There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.” All voices competing for our attention have significance; some of them are negative, others are positive. My point is that, with the significance of our message of redemption, we can’t afford to let the competing voices drown out our voices. This doesn’t mean that we have to rudely raise our voices and try to “out shout” the opposition. It does mean that we speak with credibility, authority, compassion, patience and knowledge. We may have to use “ongoing” dialog. However, we are not limited to our physical voices alone. We can speak by example and by loving deeds. These often move people to ask questions and listen to answers. We can speak by literature, by CDs and DVDs, by invitations to a sound church or an evangelistic event, or even by a combination of these. The “bottom line” is that we continue in wise and various ways to be heard, and to pray: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). Eliza E. Hewitt’s hymn, “Blessed Old Story of Love,” speaks to this: “Tell the sweet story wherever you go, blessed old story of love! Tell it until all your heart is aglow, filled with the power from above. Tell it to comfort the weary and sad, tell it the wounded to heal; no other message can make us so glad, none will such glory reveal. Look to the cross where He died for our sin, look to the Lamb on the throne; then tell the story a brother to win,  Jesus your effort will own. Bright angels sweeping their harp-strings of gold, In holy rapture above, listen, while saints His salvation unfold—blessed old story of love! Blessed old story of love! Blessed old story of love! Christ came from Heaven to save you and me, blessed old story of love.” Selah! “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).    Ron

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Voices in the Desert

Spiritually speaking, this world we live in is a desert! A desert is a dry place, a wasteland, a barren wilderness. Most people trudge along, lost in the wilderness of sin(s), headed for death. There are search parties out trying to rescue as many as possible. These people have been rescued themselves from the barren waste of separation from God. They found “the springs of living water” and drank. Their ancient spiritual forbear, John the Baptist, cried out in the wilderness of his day urging people to receive deliverance in Jesus. His Spiritual descendants today are also voices crying out for people to drink the Water of Life. Paul was an inspired voice. In Romans 10:9-10, he explained how to assuage our spiritual thirst: “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 confession is made unto salvation.” All who have drawn water from the wells of salvation are to be voices in the world: preachers, teachers, evangelists, missionaries, as well as saved friends, relatives, neighbors. In other words, all true Christians are to be voices calling out to those wanting to be rescued. Paul Rader wrote the hymn, “Tell Out the Wonderful Story.” We are, in his words, to call out, and make our voices heard. This is how he put it: “Let all the lost hear of Jesus, out in the darkness astray, go tell the world of the Shepherd, carry the news today. Tell them that death has been vanquished, Life is the gift of His grace; tell them the supper is ready, bid them to take their place. Let all your fears be forsaken; throw yourself into the fray; look, they are bound for perdition, show them the blood bought way. Tell out the wonderful story, tell of the love of the Savior, tell how He came from the glory, tell out the wonderful story.” Selah! Speak up, speak out, speak clearly, speak in love, and remember that there are various ways to speak, in addition to your physical voice.   Ron

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Apportionment of Time

Do you have a plan for your use of time? Without a plan, much time will be wasted. Psalm 90:12 gives us wise counsel. We should ask: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” We need to learn about the limitations of time. Some of us will have a certain amount of years on this earth; some will have only a very small amount of time here. It’s mostly not about how long we have to live. It’s basically about what use we make of whatever amount of time we have. Only by planning and discipline can we do what Scripture exhorts in Ephesians 5:15-16: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” How can we exercise stewardship of time? A certain amount of time goes into work, eating, and sleeping. We need time to relate to family, time to enjoy rest and relaxation. These matters can easily use up all of our time unless we plan. How much time do we give to nurturing our relationship with Jesus, if He is our Savior and Lord? If we only try to work Him in, our time for and with Him will be little or none. Instead of trying to work Him in, if we build our daily and weekly schedules around time with Him, we will do far better at redeeming the time. We must give God first place in our planning! It can be done! In a simple traditional hymn: “To Talk with God,” we have a brief but meaningful challenge: “To talk with God, no breath is lost, talk on, talk on, talk on! To walk with God, no strength is lost, walk on, walk on, walk on! To wait on God, no time is lost, wait on, wait on, wait on!” Selah! Time wasted here can never be reclaimed; time with God will bless us forever!   Ron

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Sneaky Smuggler

Our adversary knows that he can never again own those who are born again. He also knows that he can sabotage us. He is constantly attempting to smuggle something damaging into our minds. He has help from the inside: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. These dying elements of our fallen nature still have some ability to aid and abet our enemy. It works something like this: we have a “state of the art” security system installed at the moment of genuine conversion. If we don’t keep it turned on, we are vulnerable. Some of you have probably guessed what it is. In case you haven’t, it’s the Word of God! If this alarm is on we are able to halt this sneaky smuggler at the gate to our minds. Knowing that, he works to divert our attention. He provides a mental picture of something our old nature would like. That’s the lust of the eyes! It may be looked at in our imagination and/or it may be seen with our physical eyes. Then, the lust of the flesh “kicks in.” Our desires are aroused and we are tempted; our emotions are stimulated. At this point, the pride of life convinces us that we have a right to “enjoy?” this experience, that we can handle it or control it, that there’s no harm in it, etc. If the alarm is “off,” the smuggler can and will activate the trap. If, however, the minute the image(s) touch the gate of our minds we immediately bring the Scriptures to bear, and with the Holy Spirit’s enabling, we discipline our minds to go by principles and not by emotional desires, we discover the truth of I Corinthians 10:13: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” That way of escape is a disciplined application of and obedience to God’s Holy Word and will!  In the hymn, “Rejoicing in God,” by Isaac watts, we find affirmation of God’s way of victory over temptation: “Just are Your ways, and true Your Word, great Rock of my secure abode: there are no gods beside You, Lord. There is no refuge like our God! It’s You that girds me with your might, gives me Your holy sword to wield; and when with sin and hell I fight, spreads Your salvation as my shield.” Selah! Don’t ever let the attack catch you off guard! Constant and increasing absorption of Scripture will trigger the alarm. Turn to God’s Word and purge the smuggler’s image(s) at the gate to your mind. Act on His principles and see the image(s) fade and disappear. Be on guard against future attempts!   Ron

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Stay in the Path!

Paths have become paths because people have usually find them reliable. A good guide will lead us on safe paths. We are warned not to get off the beaten path. When that warning is not heeded, there are very apt to be regrets. We walk a path from cradle to grave; it’s the path of life. On this path, we come to some forks in the road. To go off the path, we might never find our way back. We may be granted another opportunity to get back on the “straight and narrow” path. However, there is no guarantee. Jesus warned: ….broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.” (From Matthew 7:14). It pays to listen to our Guide! Many, many, years ago, Amos was inspired to ask: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Our Guide is Christ! His guidebook is God’s Holy Word! There is a phrase in I John 1:7 that informs us that: “….if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with Another.” In other words we are in harmony with our Guide. His “Giudebook” is 100%accurate and reliable. Psalm 119:101 speaks of the wisdom of following our Guide: “I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep Thy Word.” Psalm 119:105 explains why we need to follow the Guidebook: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Jesus will only go off the path to rescue us, and only if it’s not too late to rescue us. if we receive Him as our Guide (Savior and Lord) and follow in His steps, we’ll reach the right destination. If we don’t get on and stay on the right path, we can expect to end up lost forever! A wise person will pay attention to and follow His directions! In the hymn, “Follow, Gladly Follow,” Anna Richards reminds us: “Follow the steps of Jesus, follow ev’ry day; turn not aside nor falter, keep the narrow way. Jesus the meek and lowly walked thro’ life below, marking a beaten pathway, O in that pathway go. Oft on a lonely mountain; oft ‘neath olive’s (tree) shade, Jesus your great Example, King and Saviour prayed. Now in His footsteps follow, lead a life of pray’r, He is a home preparing, you shall His glory share. Helping the weak and weary, Christ your Saviour went, seek now to be His stewards on His work intent. Seek out the heavy hearted, seek the lost one too; follow the steps of Jesus, do what He’d have you do. O follow, follow gladly, in the path your Lord has trod, He is your light by day and night, He leadeth you to God; O follow, follow gladly, there are blessings on the way; turn not aside, but watch your Guide, Who leads you to endless day.” Selah! Following Jesus each step of the way leads to that perfect Home!   Ron

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To Have Met Abe

Many of us think highly of Abe Lincoln. What would it have been like to live during his time on earth and to have met Mr. Lincoln? Obviously, however, that’s not possible. Abraham Lincoln is dead and gone. There are others from the past we would like to meet, talk with and develop a friendship with, if we could. There is One Person Who died many years ago that we can meet, talk with, and really get to know. We can have a rich, rewarding and surpassingly wonderful relationship with Him. Why is it that we read about Him, become interested in Him and then treat Him no differently than other great names of the past, as if He is dead and gone? He awaits all who would welcome an opportunity to really know Him in a deep, rich, personal relationship that never will end, but only keeps getting better forever and ever! “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, He was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” (From I Corinthians 15:3-8). These who saw Him were, to say the least, powerfully impacted! Where do we get off thinking that this can’t be personally experienced today? Is He only Someone Whom we read about or are we enjoying a truly fulfilling relationship with Him, daily? That Major Joseph C. Ludgate understood this relationship is clear from his hymn, “Friendship with Jesus:” “A friend of Jesus! Oh, what bliss that one so weak as I should ever have a Friend like this to lead me to the sky! A Friend when other friendships cease, a Friend when others fail, a Friend who gives me joy and peace, a Friend when foes assail! A Friend when sickness lays me low, a Friend when death draws near, a Friend as through the vale I go, a Friend to help and cheer! A Friend when life’s short race is o’er, a Friend when earth is past, a Friend to meet on Heaven’s shore,  A Friend when home at last! Friendship with Jesus!  Fellowship divine!  Oh, what blessed, sweet communion!  Jesus is a Friend of mine!” Selah! A Friend and much more! He is Savior, Lord, Master and God! Nothing life affords comes anywhere near the joy and blessing of personal involvement with Jesus in a saving relationship. Ron

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The “Flip” Side of Conversion

Why do we think that a one-sided explanation of conversion can be anything but detrimental to the church and to people? Intentional or not, stating or implying that justification can be enjoyed without sanctification may lead some people to assume they have been justified, and can leave them comfortable to maintain a lifestyle that is not Scriptural, or at least is only slightly improved. Obviously, receiving Jesus as Savior credits us with a perfect holiness. Jesus’ righteousness covers us. However, He doesn’t cover the “garbage” in our lives without the purpose of getting rid of the “garbage” under the covering. In a recent “Days of Praise” article, Henry Morris mentions how Paul commended the Thessalonian Christians. In I Thessalonians 1:9, he wrote: “For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” Morris pointed out that they not only turned to God; they also turned from idols. Once we are justified, the Holy Spirit starts the cleaning-up process. He uses the Word of God.  Applying the water and the blood, He flushes out the garbage and replaces it with practical holiness throughout the remainder of our lives. Mrs. C. H. Morris, in her hymn, “Called unto Holiness,” describes this process: “Called unto holiness, Church of our God, purchase of Jesus, redeemed by His blood; called from the world and its idols to flee, called from the bondage of sin to be free. Called unto holiness, children of light, walking with Jesus in garments of white; raiment unsullied, nor tarnished with sin;  God’s Holy Spirit abiding within. Called unto holiness, praise His dear name! This blessèd secret to faith now made plain: not our own righteousness, but Christ within, living, and reigning, and saving from sin.” Selah! Justification without sanctification would be something like a car without a motor. It would look, for all the world, like “the real thing” but no power! “Follow (pursue) peace with all men, and (pursue) holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).      Ron

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Damascus Road Encounter

Jesus is not simply someone we read about in a history book called “The Holy Bible.” In fact, while the Bible is historically 100% accurate, it is actually a revelation. It is designed to reveal Jesus and God’s explanation of the ages. Another way of putting it is that God reveals all we need to know from creation to consummation. He does all this to introduce us to Jesus. Only He can salvage us from the world’s dilemma, namely: “sin.” He offers us a relationship with Himself forever! This is only possible because He loves us and died on the cross, bearing our certain eternal punishment so that we would not have to bear it. All this can be understood as true and yet do us no good, until we receive His offer of a saving relationship. Paul knew of Jesus as a person. Actually, Paul was opposed to Him and His followers. He was on a mission of extermination of what he considered to be a false religion. Then, there came his Damascus Road experience:And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (Acts 9:3-6). Saul, now Paul, was never the same. He discovered that Jesus is God! A relationship was established; Paul came to know Jesus in Person! Never again would knowing about Him suffice! He must and did come to know Him, love Him, yield to Him and serve Him. He could never get enough of Jesus. An eternal relationship, exciting and life-changing had begun and would never stop maturing! In the hymn, “O the Joy of Knowing Jesus is My Friend,” Theodora A. Thomson expressed the wonder of such a relationship: “Oh, the joy of knowing Jesus is my Friend, in the stress of life my soul He will defend; from the pleasures of the world my heart is free, since the blessed Saviour came and walks with me. Oh, the joy of trusting in the Saviour’s love, which, like cooling showers, cometh from above, till in all His glory He shall come again, with His faithful servants ever to remain. Oh, the joy of knowing He is ever near, quick to give us courage when we pause in fear; shining in the darkness, that we may not stray from the blessed safety of the narrow way. Oh, the joy of keeping faith with such a Friend,  Who from Satan’s bondage ever will defend, and from out the records will my sins efface, pleading with His lifeblood at the throne of grace. Oh, the joy of knowing,—knowing ev’ry day, that my Saviour walks with me along the way; in the stress of life my soul He will defend, Oh, the joy of knowing such a precious Friend!” Selah! How about us? Do we have a “knowledge only” relationship or an actual personal relationship?  Ron

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Occupied Territory

Enemy territory abounds. It’s this present world! The enemy works to control all residents of his territory. Paul speaks about this cruel despot in Ephesians 2:2 as “…. the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” However, there are some who realize the need to escape his tyranny. God sends representatives (prophets, preachers, missionaries, teachers, evangelists) to tell these people how they can escape the enemy’s control. There is a catch to this; they must remain for a time in the occupied territory in order to demonstrate to other residents the blessings of rescue. How is this accomplished? God enters the inner being of all who open themselves to Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Paul explains in Ephesians 3:17-19: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” While they remain in this world, Christ enters their hearts in response to their placing their faith in Him. He begins setting them free (on the inside) from sin’s bondage. Eventually, their bodies will be liberated. Meanwhile, Christ is using them to show others that freedom can be experienced. God’s Presence is purging Satan’s power out of their lives. The battle rages but fades more and more as God’s Word is internalized. “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:4-5). Haldor Lillenas understood. He wrote about it in the hymn, “Glorious Freedom: ” “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 the 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! This is what gradually sets us free. It is the Living Word within us using the written Word to sanctify us!   Ron

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If you stand on a rock that you believe to be solid and it isn’t, what happens? If it gives way beneath your feet, you could have a really bad fall! Absolute truth is a solid rock that will never crumble under you. What is “Truth?” The way it is defined today proves that it’s not really the truth. We are told that truth is whatever the majority of people accept as truth. Or, what is truth for you might not be truth for me. In other words, human beings decide what is truth. How many times have human beings been wrong? Not a very solid rock is it? It is the most extreme folly to base our eternal destiny on men’s flawed ideas. Blessedly, we don’t have to do that. There is only one source of absolute truth and that is Jesus! He is God and only the all-knowing God can provide truth that is impossible to be untrue. This Rock is solid for time and eternity! He said of Himself in John 14:6: “….I am…the Truth.” He is Truth incarnate! Compare the track record of human beings being right, with God’s record of never being wrong. Sin-blinded eyes can’t fully grasp that only God is always right. Paul, writing under inspiration, got it right in Romans 3:4: “….let God be true, but every man a liar.” All who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior discover the truth of what Jesus said in John 8:32: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” When we come to know Him, Who is Himself the Truth, we are freed from the penalty of sin; we are being freed from its power, and we will be freed from its presence. He is a “Solid Rock” indeed!!! Edward Mote wrote the hymn: “The Solid Rock,” and points us to “the Truth:” “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood; when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.” Selah! The only absolutely reliable foundation for life here and hereafter is Jesus; all other ground is “sinking sand!”   Ron

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