How can such a thing be possible? If we are intelligent, we can’t be foolish; can we? That depends on what you mean by “foolish.” An intelligent person can, and sometimes does, do something stupid. However, they are not given to foolishness as a way of life. God has a different definition of a fool; “The fool hath said in his heart, (There is) no God.” (From Psalm 14:1). Only being dead spiritually can account for this kind of foolishness. If we really stop and think, it stands to “reason” that the way everything on earth harmonizes and combines to make survival possible on planet earth is no accident. Furthermore, it isn’t only a matter of function. What we have goes way beyond just functioning. Beauty, music, scents, sight, touch, sounds, love, morality, family combine to make available joy, pleasure, excitement, and purpose. Doesn’t it sound very foolish to think of all this in terms of it being there by chance, at just the right time to give meaning to our existence? What if it were too hot, too cold and/or if we had no light, no heat, no food, etc.? All creation carries the signature of God, the Creator! Frankly, denying the existence of God is a feeble attempt to convince a person that he or she is not accountable to God. For those who have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus as Savior and Lord, they can sing with wonder and confidence: “O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed! Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee: How great Thou art, How great Thou art!” (From the hymn: “How Great Thou Art!-By Stuart K. Hine). Selah! There are many evidences for God in addition to creation for the honest and objective searcher for truth. Ron
Memorial Day is an appropriate day and should remind us of those who paid with their lives for our freedom. We should be filled with gratitude and be challenged to do all that we can to protect the freedom that they left to us. Let this occasion never become just a patriotic holiday. Let deep gratitude often come to mind. There is another cause for remembering others who paid dearly for an even more important freedom. Thinking back to well before our country’s wars, there are countless people who suffered and died to leave us a Spiritual legacy of eternal freedom. There is One above all, “Who gave Himself a ransom for all….” (From I Timothy 2:6). This makes it possible for anyone to receive Him as Savior and Lord. Those who gave of themselves, and often gave their lives, to proclaim the offer of Spiritual freedom are seldom remembered. Even many of God’s own people neglect remembering. However, God remembers! In Hebrews, Chapter 11, God has His own Memorial of His faithful saints. He sums up the listing of them in these words: “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy….” Frederick William Faber gave us the hymn, “Faith of Our Fathers.” We sing it! Are we honest in our singing? “Faith of our fathers! living still in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword; oh, how our hearts beat high with joy whene’er we hear that glorious word! Faith of our fathers, holy faith! We will be true to thee till death!” Selah! “Enoch….before his translation….had this testimony, that he pleased God.” (From Hebrews 11:5). May our “memorial” be that we pleased Him! Ron
Guest Article-By Dr. A. W. Tozer
Juliana of Norwich at the beginning of her wonderful Christian life addressed a prayer to her Savior and then added the wise words, “And this I ask without any condition.”
It was that last sentence that gave power to the rest of her prayer and brought the answer in mighty poured-out floods as the years went by. God could answer her prayer because He did not need to mince matters with her. She did not hedge her prayers around with disclaimers and provisos. She wanted certain things from God at any cost. God, as it were, had only to send her the bill. She would pay any price to get what she conceived to be good for her soul and glorifying to her Heavenly Father. That is real praying.
Many of us spoil our prayers by being too “dainty” with the Lord (as some old writer called it). We ask with the tacit understanding that the cost must be reasonable. After all, there is a limit to everything, and we do not want to be fanatical! We want the answer to be something added, not something taken away. We want nothing radical or out of the ordinary, and we want God to accommodate us at our convenience. Thus we attach a rider to every prayer, making it impossible for God to answer it.
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If a salesman gave you a “canned” presentation and didn’t give you a chance to get a word in edgewise, would you be impressed? How often do we have a number of things to tell God about and do not wait for Him to respond? That may be because of prayers that we’ve heard others pray. It may be because we are accustomed to hearing prayers at church that seem to be (with notable exceptions) routine recitals. Do we really “get it” that prayer is discussing things with God and telling Him how much you appreciate Him and then listening to what He has to say? How can we know He is saying something to us? We don’t hear an audible voice. First and foremost, the more His Word (the Bible) is an integral part of our inner being (our hearts) the more we will be attuned to hear Him speaking to us. A receptive heart, coupled with a willingness to apply and obey, will increase our ability to hear Him. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). If we are His, and spend quality time in His Word, He will sometimes use “opened and closed doors” and Godly counsel to help us understand what He is telling us. In the hymn: “Speak, O Lord, Thy Voice Obeying,” Ida L. Reed gives us the kind of response that will sharpen our hearing: “Speak O Lord Thy voice obeying, I will Thy commandments keep, I will follow where Thou leadest, tho’ the path be dark and steep. Speak O Lord, behold I’m standing, waiting at Thy holy throne, Thou hast only to command me, henceforth I am all Thine own. Speak and I Thy voice obeying, gladly will Thy precepts keep, they will save my steps from straying, when temptations o’er me sweep. Speak O Lord, Thy servant heareth, and I wait to do Thy will, gladly I for Thee would labor, would my task of love fulfill.” Selah! Prayer is not a recitation where we talk “at” God; it is a time of shared conversation with our Heavenly Father. Ron
There is a very subtle trap that we are apt to fall into and not even know that we have fallen into it. Oddly, once we have been trapped, it is so comfortable that we have little inclination to be extricated. You and I could actually be in that trap right now! Where do we live? On Earth. How do we live? Quite a bit like the people we regularly interact with. We may be a “cut above” some and not quite measure up to others. We move on in a basic pattern, carried on in the current of habits. We need to stop and consider if we are out of harmony with what God’s wants us to be and to do in this world. Have we lost sight of the fact that we are on an assignment? I’m talking to those who know Jesus as Savior and Lord. We live here only long enough to complete our mission. God has given us all we need plus His authority to rescue people from this decaying world and lead them into His kingdom. Why, then, have we forgotten our responsibility and simply blended in to everyday living here? I Corinthians 7:31 reminds us “….they that use this world, as not abusing (it): for the fashion of this world passeth away.” We are to be in the world, but not of it. We need to plan and take time to reach out to those who are “dead in trespasses and sins.” (From Ephesians 2:1). We are not to be entangled with their chains of death. We are to radiate His life, explaining how they can be raised to new life in Him. God will open eyes and work through us if we use this world and don’t abuse it by being like it or neglecting to offer others a way of escape. Excerpts from Charles Wesley’s, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” offers motivation and prayer to shed light in this dying world: “Jesus! the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease, ’tis music in the sinner’s ears, ’tis life and health and peace. He breaks the power of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free; His blood can make the foulest clean; His blood availed for me. My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim, to spread thro’ all the earth abroad the honors of Your name.” Selah! If we are ensnared by this world’s values and resemble the enemy’s prisoners, how seriously will they take our offer of being able to escape? Ron
We have invented machines as effective, sometimes more effective, than human beings. They go through a regular process. However, they have no life!” They may function and even “talk.” For machines, that is acceptable. This raises a question: have you ever tried to have, or considered having, a relationship with a machine? I hope not! Where does that leave us with people who go on day after day in a regular routine with little or no thought about the meaning of life? Many lives lack peace, joy, excitement, purpose and hope. It is far worse, when one who claims Jesus as his or her Savior and Lord, operates mechanically, devoid of the abundant life that Jesus came to give (John !0:10). Jesus didn’t go to the cross to die for spiritual machines! We need to realize that Jesus lives in us! His very life should energize us, thrill us and impact others. Yet, if we view that life as only a true fact and fail to live in the reality of it, we will be much more mechanical than miraculous! Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians and for us is recorded in Ephesians 1:17-20a. He prayed: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:1he eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what (is) the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead….” Let us pray the prayer that Daniel Iverson gave us in, “Spirit of the Living God:” “Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me. Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me, Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.” Selah! God’s life in us is a fact; when we live that fact in our daily lives; when we draw upon His Presence, power, passion and purity, we will move beyond the mechanical and mundane, into the “miraculous.” Ron
So many times, when we are confronted with the offer of salvation, we have certain reservations. For examples: “I’m willing to give it a try.” “I don’t think I can (or should be expected to) give up certain things that I really enjoy.” “I prayed earnestly for something and it didn’t happen, so I guess there’s nothing to it.” The point is that we are trying to persuade God to meet our terms. It simply doesn’t work that way! We deserve nothing, not one thing, from God. Before we come to Him, we are spiritually dead to God. We function in rebellion to God. Our wills come first. We choose what we want, even when it conflicts with what He wants. It is only His love for us and His desire for a relationship with us that moves Him to extend His offer of grace and mercy to us. Our only acceptable response to such love is a complete surrender to His Lordship. We commit unconditionally to His will initially, and then we learn to follow through from that point on. There will be “learning bumps” but no complete turning back. We may even get turned around temporarily, but as He works with us, we turn around and resume going His way. Total turning back indicates no genuine conversion has taken place (I John 1:19). In Matthew 16:24, Jesus explained to His disciples: “….If any (man) will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Charles W. L. Christien’s hymn, “Lord, I Make a Full Surrender,” expresses the response of the truly converted person: “Lord, I make a full surrender, all I have I yield to Thee, for Thy love, so great and tender, asks the gift of me. Lord, I bring my whole affection, claim it, take it for Thine own; safely kept by Thy protection, fixed on Thee alone. Lord, my will I here present Thee gladly, now no longer mine; let no evil thing prevent me blending it with Thine. Lord, my life I lay before Thee, hear this hour the sacred vow! All Thine own I now restore Thee, Thine forever now. Blessed Spirit, Thou hast brought me thus my will to Thee to give; for the blood of Christ has bought me, and by faith I live. Show Thyself, O God of power, my unchanging, loving Friend; keep me, till in death’s glad hour, faith in sight shall end.” Selah! Because of our failure to strongly press home the claims of Jesus, do the “tares” outnumber the “wheat” in our churches? Ron
One attitude that is very hard to change is the subject of today’s article. It’s extremely hard to change because of the cause for the attitude. Someone has wronged us, offended us, hurt us. Our normal response is to write them off; reject them and have nothing more to do with them. At the very least, until they come, express sincere apologies, make things right and demonstrate that they have changed. Even then, we may hesitate. After all, what they did was inexcusable. What if we wronged God, offended Him and hurt Him? What if His attitude was: “No, I won’t forgive you!?” The fact is that we have sinned against God far more than anyone has against us. Nevertheless, when we “own up,” He forgives! The amazing part is that we offend many times and He not only forgives but helps us change. Interestingly, when we release those who offend us, “we” experience release. When we don’t, the cancer of bitterness eats away at us, sabotaging our spiritual lives. God’s Word is clear: “….be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). “Help us forgive, forgiving Lord the wrong that others do, and, when our hearts are pierced by pain, to bring the hurt to You. For on the cross You bore for us the curse, the scorn, the hate and gave Your life to lift from us sin’s cruel and crushing weight.Let grace unlock each prisoned heart, uncoil each fisted hand until from hate our hearts are freed, our hands in love extend. And then, the broken circle closed, the broken friendships healed, Lord, hold us fast within the bonds by Your forgiveness sealed.” (From the hymn: “Help Us Forgive, Forgiving Lord,” by Herman G. Stuempfle). Selah! God’s grace and mercy has flowed into the lives of all who know Jesus as Lord and Savior; let us let it flow on into other lives, touching them as it has touched us. Ron
Have you and I really thought much about those that are “lost?” What does it mean to be “lost?” It’s an unending fate! One is lost to God, to hope, to peace, to joy, to righteousness, to Heaven! One is “lost” in sin, suffering, flames, in the company of evil people and “lost” in despair. When we think about the “lost,” do we think, “What can I do?” If we consider saying something to someone about his or her need of a Savior, do we fear rejection or hostility? Do we figure that they don’t want to hear it? So, what’s the use of offending them?” Isn’t this just the way that the god of this world wants us to think? Do we care about souls enough to risk offending people (which it may not always do)? Because very little is said about Hell these days, do we lose awareness of the horror of this place? “Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Have we become neutralized? Can we be stirred? Will H. Houghton’s hymn, “Lead Me to Some Soul Today,” expresses a deeply “felt” burden for the “lost” that should be mirrored in our hearts: “Lead me to some soul today, O teach me, Lord, just what to say; friends of mine are “lost” in sin, and cannot find their way. Few there are who seem to care, and few there are who pray; melt my heart and fill my life, give me one soul today.” Selah! There are ways to reach some and God can use you and me, if we care enough. Ron
What is our attitude toward the church? “It’s a good church.” “We like it.” “The people are nice.” “Good music.” Our church preaches the gospel.” These statements may be true of your church. However, I’m only talking about a local church as the visible expression of the invisible church (The sum total of all who are truly saved starting at the birth of the church and extending to the Rapture). This church has been identified as Jesus’ bride and as His Body. That’s truly personal! He loves us and cares for us. Do we thrill to be vitally related to Him? Do we love Him, like a bride would normally love her husband? Value Him, appreciate Him, desire to please Him, honor Him, submit to His leadership? Are we thankful to be objects of His love, His care, His provision? When we function in a local church, are we conscious of it, as if it were an organization, or a club, or a society? Shouldn’t we rather be conscious of a Spiritual union with all within its rank who are genuinely born again? We are one in Him! Ephesians 5:25-27 tells of His love for all who are His: “….Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” In the hymn, “Church of God, ” Frances R. Havergal and Daniel S. Warner have given us some timely thoughts on His church: “Church of God, thou spotless virgin, Church of Christ, for whom He died, thou hast known no human founder, Jesus bought thee for His bride. Sanctified by God the Father, built by Jesus Christ the Son, tempered by the Holy Spirit, like the Holy Three in One. God’s own holiness within thee, His own beauty on thy brow; glorified in His own image, this thy wondrous portion now. In thee dwells the triune fullness, blessing all thy pilgrim days; all around thee His salvation, and before thee gates of praise. Church of God, in heaven written, thine the risen life of Christ, and the treasures to thee given, never, never can be priced. Far above this world’s confusion, walking close by Jesus’ side, leaning on His loving bosom, is the church, His chosen bride.” Selah! Being a part of this amazing entity we know as His church, we are loved and blessed beyond measure. REJOICE! Ron