Think on This: “Honest”

Far too many people consider honesty to be relative. “I’m quite honest (most always).” “I’m more honest than most of the folks I know.” You get the point. Where is complete honesty to be found? It should be found among God’s people and often is, but (sadly) not always. Paul’s inspired command is to: “….Provide things honest in the sight of all men.” (From Romans 12:17). James was inspired to give this charge: “….let your yea be yea; and (your) nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” (From James 5:12). Thinking on “honest” is the second thing we are to think seriously on, in the Philippians 4:8 list. Why is it important to really focus on these things? Proverbs 23:7 suggests an answer: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so (is) he.”  What we constantly fill our minds with is what we become! The “flip side” is whatever is wrong that we do not let God’s Word purge from our thoughts, occupies space in our hearts that is intended for God to fill. Think on this stanza excerpted from Susan H. Peterson’s hymn, “Behold, These Words Are Trustworthy and True.” How fitting for today’s subject: “Behold, says Jesus, Quick I come again; most blest is he who keeps My Words made plain.  The time is near; reward is in sight, so holy stay and always seek the right.  The First, the Last, Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega e’er I am.” Selah! The mind and heart are very closely related. Those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior want Scripture to dominate their thinking; Satan wants to capture our hearts and minds. Let God’s Word block him!   Ron

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In Philippians 4:8, we find Paul’s comprehensive list of things upon which we are to focus our minds. The first is on what is “true.” This word “true” certainly includes the meaning that is commonly understood. True is the opposite of lies, falsehood, deceit, etc. It is sincere, reliable, genuine and honest. All who have received Jesus as Savior and Lord are to fill their minds with what is true. From the moment of Spiritual rebirth, giving serious thought to that which is true will gradually purge out the false. However, the child of God must go much further with this line of thought. Jesus told His disciples: “I am….the Truth.” (From John 14:6). In John 17:17, Jesus’ prayer included: “Sanctify them through Thy Truth: Thy Word is Truth.” We are to think deeply on Him and on His Word! This kind of constant and intense focus on Him and His Word will purify our hearts and minds. Pleasing Him and honoring Him will motivate us to be truthful and to speak truth and speak out God’s Truth! May our thinking be like that of Charles H. Gabriel in his hymn, “More like the Master.” Determine that: “More like the Master I would ever be, more of His meekness, more humility; more zeal to labor, more courage to be true, more consecration for work He bids me do. Take Thou my heart, I would be Thine alone; take Thou my heart and make it all Thine own. purge me from sin, O Lord, I now implore, wash me and keep me Thine forevermore.” Selah! Let “Truth” wrest lies and error out of our lives!   Ron

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Mind Clutter

We need to think about our minds. Do we exercise control over our thoughts? Or, are they allowed to run free, landing wherever they land? If so, our actions (or lack of action) can be manipulated. Advertising is well aware of this reality. They use emotions to stimulate desire. Desire often “trumps” common sense. How many times do you hear, “You deserve this,” in today’s advertising?  Music is often employed to create a mood that stirs emotions. This can be used to motivate us to impulsive actions. Being primarily emotionally driven is a reversal of God’s design. The Word of God has counsel, guidelines, principles, knowledge, wisdom and commands for our lives. For those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior, God intends that we allow Scripture to control our decisions. Our minds must be brought under the discipline of God’s Word. Our wills must determine that we will be guided and governed by the Holy Bible. Remember Paul’s inspired statement in Romans 12:2. It points out that we are to be transformed: ….by the renewing of y(our) mind(s).” Instead of our emotions “calling the shots,” we are to be: “….bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Those outside of Christ have sin-blinded minds. Much clutter invades their thinking. A child of God who neglects studying the Bible also has clutter in his or her mind. If you know Jesus as your Savior, pray this prayer that is found in, “May the Mind of Christ, My Savior, ” by Kate B. Wilkinson: “May the mind of Christ, my Savior, live in me from day to day, by His love and pow’r controlling all I do and say. May the Word of God dwell richly in my heart from hour to hour, so that all may see I triumph only through His pow’r.” Selah! “….brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things (are) honest, whatsoever things (are) just, whatsoever things (are) pure, whatsoever things (are) lovely, whatsoever things (are) of good report; if (there be) any virtue, and if (there be) any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8)!  Ron

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What Does It Mean to Worship?

We talk about worship but how do we do it? I suspect that many who know Jesus as Savior and Lord don’t really understand worship! Some might think of worship as an emotional encounter in prayer, or with other Christians, or when reading their Bibles. However, we must start with the mind. Our minds need to be well informed by Scripture. This is where God reveals vital Truth about Himself. Here we find how to discern between Truth and error. We need reliable Truth about God. We need to grasp, as much as possible, how great His love is. We need to understand His perfection and character. We need to see His working in our lives. We need to observe His creative accomplishments. In short, the more we learn about Him, the more likely we are to worship. Once we gain this kind of understanding, we must take our will into account. Will we or won’t we love, respect, honor, fear, reverence, enjoy, adore, praise and give thanks to Him? When our wills are committed to render true and Biblical worship, the natural outcome is spontaneous love, gratitude and fascination with the wonder of His Person and Presence. In John 4:24, Jesus explained: “God (is) a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship (Him) in spirit and in truth.” Only the working of the Holy Spirit, using the Living Word of God, can take our hearts’ worship and bring it to the Father’s ears, and leave us “lost in wonder, love and praise!” Meditate on the thoughts in Robert Grant’s, “O Worship the King.” He wrote: “O worship the King all-glorious above, O gratefully sing His power and His love: our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days, pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise. O tell of His might and sing of His grace, Whose robe is the light, Whose canopy space. His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form, and dark is His path on the wings of the storm.Your bountiful care, what tongue can recite? It breathes in the air, it shines in the light; it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain, and sweetly distills in the dew and the rain. Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail, in You do we trust, nor find You to fail. Your mercies, how tender, how firm to the end, our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend! O measureless Might, unchangeable Love, Whom angels delight to worship above!  Your ransomed creation, with glory ablaze, in true adoration shall sing to Your praise!” Selah! Let a child of God gaze intensely on God in His Word and watch worship rise to Him! Never settle for some religious exercise!   Ron

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Order of Worship

Church Bulletins are somewhat helpful, if used properly. However, they can and often do hinder worship. When that happens, it’s probably our fault. How so? We use them as a “check off” list to finish in a certain time-frame. Worship fades into the background of our habituation. For example: suppose you have a Sunday morning service from 11:00-!2:00 A. M. You visit for a few minutes before it begins. You settle in at the hour and go through the weekly routine. At 12 P. M. you prepare to leave, assuming that you have discharged your responsibility. But, have you? Very possibly not! It’s a foolish and costly mistake if you confine your worship to a set hour. Worship is intended to be a 24/7 experience for all who know Jesus as Lord and Savior. The hour on Sunday is just a sharing of worship that the “family of God,” engages in together). Worship should flow through that hour and continue to flow in our daily lives. Is there a steady current of worship going on in what we are, in what we think, in what motivates and moves us, in our speech and emotions? This should be our goal and purpose!  In Psalm 96:9, the psalmist’s inspired appeal is: “O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.  May Reginald Heber’s hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” move our hearts in worship: “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!  Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee. Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and mighty! God in three persons, blessed Trinity! Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore Thee, casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea; cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee, which wert and art and evermore shalt be. Holy, Holy, Holy! though the darkness hide Thee, though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see, only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee, perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity. Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!  All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea. Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and mighty! God in three persons, blessed Trinity.” Selah! Worshipping God in eternity will be a thrilling experience! Start worshipping now and find your walk with God to be far more fulfilling!   Ron

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No Friends!

Have you ever stopped to think how you would feel, if you realized that you had no friends? Do you take friends for granted? Have you thanked God for your good friends? Have you thanked your friends for their friendship? Are we true friends to others? What is a friend? A friend is one who truly cares for and values another person. Friends enjoy being with you and doing things together and that’s what you enjoy with them. Friends want to help each other. Friends share sorrows and joys. Friends pray for each other. If you have no friends or few friends, think on this verse from Proverbs 18:24a. It says: “A man (that hath) friends must shew himself friendly.“Proverbs 17:17 speaks of a genuine friendship: “A friend loveth at all times.” And, if we are born again, our best friend is Jesus! Proverbs 18:24 tells us: “….there is a friend (that) sticketh closer than a brother.” Joseph C. Ludgate, in his hymn, “Friendship with Jesus,” rejoices in our very best Friend: “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! The greatest act of friendship that can ever be done is to invite others to come to Jesus and receive Him as Savior, Lord and Friend!     Ron

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Detailing the “Everything”

Guest Article-by Dr. A. W. Tozer  

It is important that we trace our benefits back to their source and express our thanks to the One “from whom all blessings flow,” rather than merely to feel a vague stirring of gratefulness that results in nothing real. I once lived with a fine old couple, neither of whom was a Christian, and I was impressed with the profound sense of gratitude they felt for everything they possessed. When the winter winds moaned through the trees and made the old house tremble, the old man would smile and say, “Ah! How good it is to have a warm place to sleep on a night like this.” And the mother would often speak of her large family, now grown and scattered: “How grateful I am that they are all healthy and all mentally sound. I am so thankful.” Their gratitude was genuine. Of that there could be no trace of a doubt, but I often wondered who was the recipient of it. Whom were they thanking? They never said.

The irreligious world has its own way of reacting. When things “break” fortunately for a businessman, an athlete or a politician he will slap his hands together and shout, “Great! Wonderful!” He is thanking someone; but whom?

It could be that the old couple of whom I speak were actually meaning to express their thankfulness to God, and that the modern man who shouts his pleasure at his lot in life secretly feels his indebtedness to God; the trouble is that they were and are ashamed to direct their gratitude pointedly to One with whom they are not acquainted. They flee like Adam and hide among the trees of the garden rather than face up to the God they know they have offended. Fear of being thought queer sometimes leads people to express religious ideas in generalities instead of in concrete terms.

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A Good Perspective on Being Thankful

WE have a lot for which to be thankful. Today’s blog is different but gives us pause to think.

If your arteries have hardened and arthritis slows your gait,
If your tired blood is stubborn, not inclined to circulate;
If your aerobic days are over  and you cannot do the “twist,”
If your time is spent in brooding o’er the many things you’ve missed;
If you’re constantly complaining on your rocker or your couch;
If you’re ornery and cranky and becoming quite a grouch;
Well, if this is your condition and you get no sympathy,
Then it’s time you started trying a new kind of therapy.
Though you have your share of trouble, think of others with more pain,
Like that fellow in his wheelchair who will never walk again.
Take time to write a letter and while pen is in your palm,
Thank the good Lord up above you for the use of that right arm.
Try relaxing in the sunshine, note each flower, bird and tree,
Then appreciate your eyesight; there are many who can’t see.
When you tune in television and each sound is loud and clear
Just think of those who’d give a lot, if only they could hear.
Yes, I’ve practiced what I’m preaching and I’ve learned there’s joy to reap
If you stop and count your blessings and just “think before you weep.”

 “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us (with benefits, even) the God of our salvation. Selah” (Psalm 68:19).

Number One Focus!

We have so many things to give thanks for, it would take quite a long time to list them. However, if we decided to make a list like that, would we lose sight of that for which we should be most grateful? Let’s take a few moments to think on what should be the number one focus for our thankfulness. God loves us! Jesus died for us! God offers full and free (to us) forgiveness and cleansing for our sin(s)! God is constantly perfecting all whom He has forgiven! He gives to all who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior knowledge, wisdom, guidance and direction for all of life! He provides wonderful companionship and counsel to all His children! All who are truly born again will be with Him forever! One day, He will end all sin, evil, suffering and death! It will never be a part of our lives again. Paradise forever for all His own! How different it could and would be, if God didn’t love us! Oh that (men) would praise the LORD (for) His goodness, and (for) His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:8-9). In the hymn, “Thanks to God for My Redeemer,” August Ludvig Storm gives us many reasons to put our “thanks-giving” focus on God and His love: “Thanks to God for my Redeemer, thanks for all Thou dost provide!  Thanks for times now but a mem’ry, thanks for Jesus by my side!  Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime, thanks for dark and stormy fall! Thanks for tears by now forgotten, thanks for peace within my soul! Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered, thanks for what Thou dost deny!  Thanks for storms that I have weathered, thanks for all Thou dost supply!  Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure, thanks for comfort in despair! Thanks for grace that none can measure, thanks for love beyond compare! Thanks for roses by the wayside, thanks for thorns their stems contain! Thanks for home and thanks for fireside, thanks for hope, that sweet refrain! Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow, thanks for Heav’nly peace with Thee! Thanks for hope in the tomorrow, thanks through all eternity!” Selah! These things for which we should give thanks to God are but a sampling of all His blessings!    Ron

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Basic Human Desires

There are some basic desires that most, if not all, people have. Let me list some: 1) the desire for recognition;  2) the desire for security; 3) the desire for love; 4) the desire for purpose; 5) the desire for acceptance. It is a rare human being, indeed, who has all desires met! When someone does have all those desires met, it’s only for this life. However, for those who have entered into a saving relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior, the satisfying of those desires are available for time and eternity. The Psalmist gives us this inspired promise: “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4). For example: Recognition – God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love” (From Hebrews 6:10); – Security I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any (man) pluck them out of My hand” (From John 10:28); Love – For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life;” – Purpose present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, (which is) your reasonable service.” (From Romans 12:1);-  AcceptanceHe hath made us accepted in the beloved” (From Ephesians 1:6). Jesus grants these desires in proportion to the level of commitment we have to studying, applying and obeying His Word. Give careful thought to this stanza from “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” by Joachim Neander: “Praise to the LORD, Who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth, shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth! Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been granted in what He ordaineth?” Selah! Our self-centered desires, even when met, never begin to compare with the joy and fulfillment that comes from the granting of Godly desires!   Ron

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