Mechanized or Vitalized?

“Do Not Disturb” seems to be the desire of too many who profess faith in Jesus Christ! Locked into a comfortable routine, have we become mechanized? A model train that mechanically runs in a circle, on a small charge of power, and actually gets nowhere, describes the lives of many who claim salvation. And a “bored” world looks on and says, “Not for me!” On the other hand, those with lives vitalized by the Gospel may be considered fanatics but will earn respect or evoke curiosity and even generate motivation in some to long for that kind of excitement. This is possible, especially when our lives are excited over forgiveness, cleansing, peace, joy, hope, meaning and purpose. Another way of putting it is that we have an abundant life that is attractive to many who have drifted along in Satan’s slavery, while inwardly longing for what we should be exhibiting. Are you excited about Jesus, about salvation, about the Bible, about the Presence of God in your life? If not, give yourself wholly to God, devote a good deal of time and energy to cultivating a relationship with Him. Throw yourself completely on His altar and the fire will fall and consume the offering. May the cry of your heart be that of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:20-21: “According to my earnest expectation and (my) hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but (that) with all boldness, as always, (so) now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether (it be) by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” The title of Elisha A. Hoffman’s hymn asked this question, “Is Your All On the Altar?” The lyrics tell how we can have a vital and exciting walk with God: “You have longed for sweet peace, and for faith to increase, and have earnestly, fervently prayed. But you cannot have rest, or be perfectly blest, until all on the altar is laid. Would you walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word, and have peace and contentment alway? You must do His sweet will to be free from all ill – on the altar your all you must lay. O we never can know what the Lord will bestow of the blessings for which we have prayed, ’till our body and soul  He doth fully control, and our all on the altar is laid. Who can tell all the love He will send from above, and how happy our hearts will be made, of the fellowship sweet we shall share at His feet when our all on the altar is laid. Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid? Your heart does the Spirit control?  You can only be blest, and have peace and sweet rest, as you yield Him your body and soul.” Selah! Vitality enters the lives of those who place “all” on the altar for God to sanctify and use.    Ron

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Conditional Commitment

Evangelism, in much of America and the western world, is often pretty much devoid of essential content. By that, I mean that it demands little to nothing of the interested seeker. Jesus called for a whole-hearted commitment of one’s life to Himself. How often is a potential convert given that challenge? Have we come to the place where the Gospel is treated as if it has to be sold to someone? Present all the good about the product, but downplay the price, seems to be the methodology for convincing a person to receive Jesus. How many people “buy into” the benefits of being “saved” with no intention of paying the price? Is this why many pews are partially populated with people who are content to “go with the flow?” Have we de-radicalized Christianity for fear that people might be “turned off?” When was the last time you heard an invitation to surrender our lives to Jesus and yield to His will for our lives? When an animal was placed on the altar, it wasn’t coming off! It was there to stay! With that in mind, think very carefully on Romans 12:1 where we are told: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, (which is) your reasonable service.” Frances Ridley Havergal’s hymn, “Take My Life, and Let It Be” called for this kind of full commitment: “Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee. Take my moments and my days; let them flow in endless praise, let them flow in endless praise. Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love. Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee, swift and beautiful for Thee. Take my voice and let me sing always, only, for my King. Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee, filled with messages from Thee. Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold. Take my intellect and use every power as Thou shalt choose, every power as Thou shalt choose. Take my will and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne, it shall be Thy royal throne.Take my love; my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store. Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee, ever, only, all for Thee.” Selah! Few, it appears have made this kind of complete commitment. However, if we really are born again, shouldn’t we be steadily making progress in this being our experience? I think we know the answer to this question!     Ron

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Being Completed-Part 2

As a helpful perspective, think of “time” as a speck within “forever” (eternity). But, what a “speck!” This “speck” that we call “time” is where eternal destinies are determined. God gives us limited freedom to decide to receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord and provides the enabling to do so, for all who will receive. That freedom also allows us to reject Him. Whichever we choose seals our eternal destiny. if we receive Him, He has chosen us, called us, converted us, changed us, and is changing us, and will complete us. We are trophies of His grace! In Ephesians 3:8-10, Paul speaks of grace being given to him, “….that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all (men) see what (is) the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly (places) might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” As transcendently wonderful as the “place,” the change in redeemed “persons” is a display and testimony for all creation to observe in wonder and worship! God takes fallen people, redeems, regenerates, restores, renews and completes them, making them replicas of His Son. They will be like Him, forever! Carl A. Blackmore, in the second stanza of his hymn, “Some Golden Daybreak,” describes it in these words: “Sad hearts will gladden, all shall be bright, Goodbye forever to earth’s dark night; Changed in a moment, like Him to be, Oh, glorious daybreak, Jesus I’ll see!” Selah! Fallen and foul sinners for a few years; glorified and perfected saints, forever! Amazing Grace!    Ron

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Being Completed-Part 1

It is easy to lose sight of the fact that salvation (from our perspective) is not the act of a brief moment of time. That brief moment is the starting point and issues in a life long experience. It also has a climax and a new beginning! When we receive Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord, He, by the Holy Spirit using the Word of God, works on, in, and through us for the rest of our time on earth. At the new birth, we are set apart to God. That is, we have dedicated ourselves to Him forever! He takes possession; He owns us! He trains, directs, guides, teaches and disciplines us. The objective? It is to make us like Jesus in our thinking, in our speaking and in our doing. It is developing His character in us. We are to be reflecting Him. As a jeweler uses a chisel to shape a diamond, so God uses many means to make His jewel just right. If He can use a small chisel, He ends up with a bigger diamond. Conversely, if He has to use a bigger chisel, he ends up with a smaller diamond. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform (it) until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). What is our response to be? Norman Clayton’s Gospel Song, “Every Moment of Every Day, ” gives the answer: “Only to be what He wants me to be, ev’ry moment of ev’ry day; yielded completely to Jesus alone, ev’ry step of this Pilgrim way. Just to be clay in the Potter’s hand; only to do what His will commands. Only to be what He wants me to be, ev’ry moment of ev’ry day.” Selah! All this leads to a transcendent moment and a glorious forever. More tomorrow, God willing.   Ron

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Being Changed

A mistake that is often made is that agreeing with Gospel Truth makes one born again. It usually goes like this: Recognize and confess that you are a sinner, trust Christ as your Savior and that His sacrifice paid the penalty due your sin(s). Presto, you are “saved,” (born again)! The problem is that this is true, except for our being saved. Any heart that is truly reaching out for salvation, God will bring to repentance. Here’s the catch: This repentance leads to life change. It is a gradual transformation from sinner to one who grows in Godliness. Gospel Truth is the means to bring us to repentance, not a substitute for it. No serious change in the life; no change in our status as a sinner. We don’t change to be saved; we change when we are truly saved. How does this work? In simple terms, when the miracle of rebirth is experienced, much follows. First, we are given a “standing” of “perfect” because His perfection is credited to us. That moment initiates a lifetime of being perfected. The Holy Spirit, using the Word of God, works tirelessly to bring our actual “state” (condition) into harmony with our “standing.” He uses many ways to bring Scripture to bear on our lives. Our lives are becoming more and more Godly. We are being disciplined (discipled) by the Bible. This is what Paul was calling for in Romans 12:1-2. One who is truly Christ’s wants this: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, (which is) your reasonable service. 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.” Jack P. Scholfield’s hymn, “Saved, Saved,” tells of the changes that salvation brings: “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 ev’ry 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. When poor and needy and all alone, in love He said to me, “Come unto Me and I’ll lead you home, to live with Me eternally.” 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! Being set apart to God, while being set apart from sin is powerful evidence of a genuine experience of salvation.    Ron

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Being Converted

Connecting the word “being” with “converted,” stresses a very important Truth. We cannot convert ourselves. No other human being can convert us. In fact, it’s not really a conversion as the word is commonly understood. Whatever really is done, God does it! We are “born from Above.” This is the miracle that Jesus spoke of in John 3:3. He told Nicodemus (and us): “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Let’s back up a little. As mentioned in previous articles, God foresaw who would receive Jesus as Savior and Lord; these He chose and called. Those chosen and called have come, are coming, or will come. (Many are called, but only the chosen come). Because we are spiritually dead, we can’t even come without God’s enablement. God’s Gospel Truth is shined into our spiritually dead state. All who will respond are “quickened” being given the means to receive His salvation. At the moment of receiving, God, the Holy Spirit, performs an astonishing miracle! We are “born from Above! We are made alive “Spiritually.” We become children of God! God’s nature is imparted to and implanted in us. The old way of death no longer has us in its grip. The old thoughts, desires, interests and behavior that are contrary to God are giving way to God’s new way. (See II Corinthians 5:17). We are gradually moving away from sinning and are becoming holy. The hymn, “At Calvary,” By William R. Newell gives us a musical overview of this “coming” and being “born from Above.” Reflect: “Years I spent in vanity and pride, caring not my Lord was crucified, knowing not it was for me He died on Calvary. 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. Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan! Oh, the grace that brought it down to man! Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary! Mercy there was great, and grace was free; pardon there was multiplied to me; there my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.” Selah! The years of “vanity and pride” were in his spiritually dead condition. God’s Word brought light to his dead soul; he was shaken and “imploring turned to Calvary.” At that moment, he was “born from Above,” and was made alive and filled with wonder .       Ron

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Guilt (conviction), emptiness, hopelessness, some other “felt” need motivates you to seek help. You hear the gospel preached, or someone shares it with you. You might pick up a tract; someone who cares might give you a book or booklet explaining salvation, maybe a Bible. Or, perhaps you accept an invitation to an evangelistic event. Understanding dawns on you. You begin to comprehend that you are lost, headed for Hell. Learning more, you begin to figure out that Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary’s Cross is God’s only way of effecting your rescue from your spiritually dead and lost condition. One way, or another, you surrender to Jesus, receiving Him as your Lord and Savior. If this has taken place in your life you have been chosen and called. If you have yielded your life to Him and trusted Him for your salvation, you have “come.” In John 6:37, Jesus tells us: “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” God gives to Jesus all whom He has foreseen will receive His salvation. They are chosen and called. They have come or will come! Has God foreseen in you “reception” or “rejection?” In his hymn, “Lord, I’m Coming Home,” William J. Kirkpatrick describes the realization by those who have come or will come: “I’ve wandered far away from God, now I’m coming home; the paths of sin too long I’ve trod, Lord, I’m coming home. I’ve wasted many precious years, now I’m coming home; I now repent with bitter tears, Lord, I’m coming home. I’ve tired of sin and straying, Lord, now I’m coming home; I’ll trust Thy love, believe Thy Word, Lord, I’m coming home. My soul is sick, my heart is sore, now I’m coming home; my strength renew, my hope restore, Lord, I’m coming home. Coming home, coming home, nevermore to roam, open wide Thine arms of love, Lord, I’m coming home.” Selah! There are only two places where human beings will live forever. One is Heaven; the other is Hell! If you are coming home, you have a glorious “forever” awaiting you; if you are moving in the other direction you are getting closer and closer to Hell-FOREVER! Turn around while you can and come home!    Ron

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