Taking Charge

For purposes of this post, I’m defining “heart” as the mind, emotions and will. Who and what really has the most impact on our hearts? Advertising accomplishes a lot in impacting our minds. Salesman are often able to persuade us. Friends and family motivate our minds in certain matters. Personal desires move us to certain decisions. So, let me ask: Are you in charge of your heart? We often value people who can “take charge” and get some things done well. I suggest that most people have not really taken charge of their hearts. For those who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior, He is the One Whom we want to control our hearts. This means that we must bring our minds and wills under the discipline of Scripture. We can no longer let outside influences manipulate our minds and wills; we can’t let emotions drive our lives. Depending on the Holy Spirit, “willing” to be guided by the Word of God, we “take charge” of our thinking. We align with God having inner rule in our hearts. Instead of letting others control and/or motivate us, we engage in “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 10:5). In the hymn, “Take Thou Our Minds, Dear Lord,” William H. Foulkes has provided us with a musical portrait  of disciplined hearts: “Take Thou our minds, dear Lord, we humbly pray, give us the mind of Christ each passing day; teach us to know the Truth that sets us free; grant us in all our thoughts to honor Thee. Take Thou our hearts, O Christ, they are Thine own; come Thou within our souls and claim Thy throne; help us to shed abroad Thy deathless love; use us to make the earth like heaven above. Take Thou our wills, Most High! Hold Thou full sway; have in our inmost souls Thy perfect way; guard Thou each sacred hour from selfish ease; guide Thou our ordered lives as Thou dost please. Take Thou ourselves, O Lord, heart, mind, and will; through our surrendered souls Thy plans fulfill.  We yield ourselves to Thee—time, talents, all; we hear, and henceforth heed, Thy Sovereign call.” Selah! The inevitable outcome of being a “living sacrifice” is the renewing of our minds. The discipline of God’s Word renews our minds!   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

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Spiritual Surgery

Ancient Israel was to circumcise male children eight days after their birth. This was a covenant sign. It also was to remove corruption or contamination. The Old Testament also speaks of uncircumcised hearts as does the New Testament. Let’s examine it in the New Testament sense. Colossians 2:11 speaks of a spiritual circumcision: “In Whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.” When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are removed from Adam’s body and placed in Christ’s body (the church). However, that transfer brings with it a lot of contamination. It is a vital part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry to do Spiritual surgery to remove all traces of the corruption and contamination inherited from our connection to Adam. We might think of God’s Word being the scalpel that He uses. As the Word of God exposes our sin(s) and sinfulness, the Spirit of God, using various methods, begins to “cut” and to remove the defilement. He cleanses and purifies us spiritually. This is ongoing surgery as there is a lot of corruption to be removed. However, as we progress throughout our lifetime, we become more healthy and clean spiritually. On our arrival “Home,” the last “bit’ of defilement is removed and we are then completely clean and undefiled.  Our response should be that in the chorus of “More Like the Master,” by Chas. H. Gabriel: “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! When we come to Jesus, we are given a “perfect standing.” Then, God works on our “state” (actual condition, experience) until by the Spirit’s successful surgery, our “state” conforms to our “standing.” That is called “glorification!”    Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

Renovating and Restoring

Ever see an old “run down,” dirty, damaged, leaning, abandoned, house? You might have said, “Why doesn’t someone tear that place down?” You consider the place to be hopeless! Then, someone buys it, takes down the “For Sale” sign and work begins. You watch as, day by day, the house is gradually renovated. You can’t believe the changes. Finally, it is fully restored. You are amazed and you exclaim, “It looks perfect! In fact, it looks better than when it was new! The owner has done a fantastic job on the place. It’s somewhat like that with God. He originally owned us (the human race). However, because of sin, the “property” was condemned. God, for a time, allowed Satan to occupy the property and the rest is history. The property became dirty, damaged, deteriorated and hopeless. God looked on what was His property and purchased much of it back. Then He began renovating and restoring it! Much of it is already fully restored; more of it is underway. When it’s all done, it will be seen as a work of pure grace that only God could accomplish! The completed work will be breathtaking! It’s tragic that the biggest part of what was once His is beyond hope of redemption. Thank God that the part of His property that could be salvaged has been salvaged and still more is being restored. How long this will go on, only He knows. Until He is through, any part of His “property” that wants to be restored can be for simply returning to His ownership.  II Corinthians 5:17 speaks of this: “Therefore if any man (be) in Christ, (he is) a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (Read carefully Romans 10:9-10). If you are already being restored, rejoice! Just wait until He’s done! Let this heart cry be yours: “Oh! to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer, this is my constant longing and prayer; gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,  Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. Oh! to be like Thee, full of compassion, loving, forgiving, tender and kind, helping the helpless, cheering the fainting, seeking the wand’ring sinner to find. Oh! to be like Thee, lowly in spirit, holy and harmless, patient and brave; meekly enduring cruel reproaches, willing to suffer, others to save. Oh! to be like Thee, Lord, I am coming, now to receive th’ anointing divine; all that I am and have I am bringing,  Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine. Oh! to be like Thee, while I am pleading, pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love, make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling, fit me for life and Heaven above. Oh! to be like Thee, oh! to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art; come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.” (“Oh, to Be Like Thee“-by Thomas O. Chisholm)  Selah! “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you (those who are born again) will perform (it) until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).      Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

 

God’s Ownership

All who come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior need to remember that we are not our own anymore. We are bought and paid for with the precious blood of Jesus! “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:20). God has, as it were, made the “earnest” (the guarantee; the payment) on His purchase. (See II Corinthians 5:5). He has also sealed us (put His seal of ownership on us) as His property. No one can “mess” with what He owns! (See Ephesians 1:13). God’s “security system” is perfect! Nothing can breach it! We, who truly know Him; who have experienced genuine conversion, are eternally secure! Here’s “the kicker:” He has to “clean us up” before He takes us “Home!” Legally and judicially, Spiritually speaking, we are completely clean in His sight because we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. In actuality, He uses the rest of our lives to clean up us ourselves. Any remaining uncleanness He eliminates when we arrive “Home.” Nevertheless, we no longer own ourselves. The implications of that are far-reaching! He has the right to do with us as He chooses. However, our love for Him and our gratitude to Him, gives us a willingness and the desire to trust and please Him. (An unwillingness to trust and obey may indicate a lack of salvation; at the very least, it means that we have much to learn). The hearts in which He truly dwells can relate to the hymn, “Stepping in the Light,”-by Eliza. E. Hewitt: “Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior, trying to follow our Savior and King; shaping our lives by His blessed example, happy, how happy, the songs that we bring. Pressing more closely to Him who is leading, when we are tempted to turn from the way; trusting the arm that is strong to defend us, happy, how happy, our praises each day. Walking in footsteps of gentle forbearance, footsteps of faithfulness, mercy and love, looking to Him for the grace freely promised, happy, how happy, our journey above. Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior, upward, still upward, we’ll follow our Guide; when we shall see Him, “the King in His beauty,” happy, how happy, our place at His side. How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior, stepping in the light, stepping in the light; how beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior, led in paths of light.” Selah! What kind of “work” does God do to His property? The answer to that, God willing, will occupy our attention tomorrow. I look forward to thinking about this with you.   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

Conscious of His Presence!

I’m convinced that most of those who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior start out with limited awareness of His actual Presence within themselves. They understand their need, they believe in Him, they receive Him and believe that He enters their hearts (their inner self). However, their experience of Him is mostly trusting the facts and acting on that knowledge. What about a consciousness, an awareness, of His Personal Presence in their lives? When praying, are we talking with each other (we with Him and He with us) or are we just talking “at” Him? If we open our Bibles is it only God’s Word to read? No! It is God Himself speaking to us! When we sing words addressed to Him, are they just words or are we engaged with him? For example: If we were to sing “Thank you Lord for saving my soul,” are we truly thanking HIM or are we just shooting the words upward toward Him? One powerful indication of progress in Spiritual maturity is when we become very aware of Him living within and interacting with us daily. He isn’t somewhere around waiting for us to call on Him; He is in our life, at our side, revealing Himself, influencing us, guiding, directing, teaching, correcting, protecting, preparing, loving and providing. He is far more real than any human being you have known or heard of, and He has enveloped you into Himself! He is invisible to the eye; He is visible to the eyes of faith! Take time to let it dawn on you that He is Personally with and within you!  Acts 17:28 expressly declares: “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” Therefore: “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you...! (From James 4:8). Meditate on Isaac Watts’ hymn, “God, My Supporter and My Hope.” This is how he put it: “God, my supporter and my hope, my help forever near, Thine arm of mercy holds me up, and saves me from despair. Thy counsels, Lord, shall guide my feet, through this dark wilderness; Thy hand conduct me near Thy seat, to dwell before Thy face. Were I in Heaven without my God, ‘twould be no joy to me, and while this earth is my abode, I long for none but Thee. What if the springs of life were broke, and flesh and heart should faint? God is my soul’s eternal rock, the strength of every saint.” Selah! In the words of the “Spiritual” “My God is real for I can “feel” Him in my soul!” (Source unknown).  Can we honestly say that?    Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

Replacement??

There are Christians who sincerely believe that the Church replaces Israel. If so, Paul was mistaken (mistaken in inspired words?) in Romans 11:1 where he asks and answers this question: “I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid.”  An important part of his argument is found in Verse 15: “For if the casting away of them (be) the reconciling of the world, what (shall) the receiving (of them be), but life from the dead?” I believe the Biblical picture that is given to us in God’s Word is that God, because of Israel’s unbelief and unfaithfulness, has interrupted His program for her. He has, as it were, put her “on hold” for a set period of time. That period of time is not Plan B! God knew that it would happen and His plan was to bring the Church into existence. He began this work on the Day of Pentecost and it will be completed at the Rapture! Then God will “pick up where He left off” with Israel. (Technically, He is working, in a manner of speaking, “behind the scenes,” with Israel right now). He will complete His work in, on, for and through Israel. This is how many prophecies come to fulfillment. In the hymn, “Shepherd of Israel, Keeping Thy Sheep,” Adelaide A. Pollard has given us a musical survey of Israel’s past and future: “Shepherd of Israel, keeping Thy sheep—never forgetting in slumber or sleep; folding them gently when night cometh on, going before them at break of the dawn! Shepherd of Israel, true to Thine own when the false hireling servant hath flown; laying Thy life down their pardon to win, shedding Thy blood to redeem them from sin! Shepherd of Israel, strong is Thine arm; shielding Thy flock from each threatening harm; gathering the lambs as they falter and fall, safe in Thy bosom enfolding them all!  Shepherd of Israel, soon to appear, soon to deliver Thy “little flock” here! Just to behold Thee their richest reward—Shepherd of Israel, Jesus, their Lord. Shepherd of Israel! Shepherd of love! watching Thy flock from the glory above! knowing how weary their wilderness way; praying for them—ever living to pray!” Selah! To say that God couldn’t complete His plan for Israel is to suggest that Israel blocked His plan.  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com   

Straddling the Border

As background for this article, let me point out that Egypt and Israel, as well as the Promised Land are historical realities. Nevertheless, there are Spiritual applications that teach us much and they should motivate us to make some very important decisions. Egypt typifies this world’s ways and values and how this world enslaves us. Israel typifies what it means to be God’s people. (We, who know Jesus as Savior and Lord, are God’s people today). The Promised Land speaks of our new life in Christ. (God’s Presence is the ultimate “Promised Land”). The picture for us today is this: First, Are we going to come out of Egypt (the world system)? Next, Are we going to try to settle down in the wilderness (not getting serious with God)? Finally, are we going to go into the Promised Land of peace and joy and of victory over the worlds ways, to live in His wonderful Presence? Israel left Egypt (but she took much of Egypt with her). God tried her in the wilderness. Would she really trust Him and move forward? She did but with a lot of holding back. Eventually she began to see the possibilities of her own land. However, fears and the likely difficulties caused her to resist “going all the way.” It was like being at the border, putting one foot over and keeping one foot in the wilderness. Some finally went in; others never did! How like us today! Many are willing to go part way. A few go all the way and completely commit to Jesus. These are those who experience genuine conversion. Hebrews 6:4-6 speaks of this: “For (it is) impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put (Him) to an open shame.” The picture here seems to be that there are those who understand salvation, agree with the Holy Spirit, enjoy a “taste” of God’s blessings and have some idea of the eternal future. If they go that far and finally turn back, there is no hope for them. They have straddled the border. Instead of moving into new life with both feet, they draw back the foot that was touching the edge of God’s offer and have planted both feet back in the wilderness. (The world). Those who cross over to stay can relate to C. Austin Miles’ hymn, “Dwelling in Beulah Land.” What a testimony: “Far away the noise of strife upon my ear is falling, then I know the sins of earth beset on every hand: doubt and fear and things of earth in vain to me are calling, none of these shall move me from Beulah Land. Far below the storm of doubt upon the world is beating, sons of men in battle long the enemy withstand: safe am I within the castle of God’s Word retreating, nothing then can reach me–’tis Beulah Land. Let the stormy breezes blow, their cry cannot alarm me; I am safely sheltered here, protected by God’s hand: here the sun is always shining, here there’s naught can harm me,  I am safe forever in Beulah Land. Viewing here the works of God, I sink in contemplation, hearing now His blessed voice, I see the way He planned: dwelling in the Spirit, here I learn of full salvation, gladly I will tarry in Beulah Land. I’m living on the mountain, underneath a cloudless sky, I’m drinking at the fountain that never shall run dry; O yes! I’m feasting on the manna from a bountiful supply, for I am dwelling in Beulah Land.” Selah! Coming to Christ is not just believing the facts; it is a full surrender to Jesus and His Life and work in us!   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com