Invisible and Disguised

A lot goes on around us of which we are unaware. There is activity that is invisible to us or beings who are disguised. We would be amazed if suddenly we knew all that is taking place around us. Perhaps the reason we are not allowed to know is because our focus would move from where it should be to where it should not be. Scripture does give casual mention of this reality. First, look at Hebrews 1:14 where we read: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” The writer was inspired to reveal this slight glimpse of angelic activity. Next, we are told of something about which angels want understanding. Speaking of the saving grace of God and the Gospel, we are told in I Peter 1:12 that these are: “….things the angels desire to look into.” Finally, On rare occasions, angels have apparently taken on human form and so we are admonished in Hebrews 13:2 to: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” While God can handle it all without any help, He has graciously allowed angels to have some involvement with those who know Jesus as Savior and Lord. Only God knows just how much they have helped and protected us. We will be involved with them in Heaven. God’s work in and through us will be a display of what His love can accomplish in undeserving sinners who surrender their lives to Him. Charles Wesley offers us some helpful thoughts in his hymn, “Angels Where’er We Go Attend.” “Angels, where’er we go, attend our steps, what’er betide, with watchful care their charge defend, and evil turn aside. Myriads of bright cherubic bands, sent by the King of kings, rejoice to bear us in their hands, and shade us with their wings. Jehovah’s charioteers surround; the ministerial choir encamp where’er his heirs are found, and form our wall of fire. Ten thousand offices unseen for us they gladly do, deliver in the furnace keen, and safe escort us through. But thronging round, with busiest love they guard the dying breast, the lurking fiend far off remove, and sing our souls to rest. And when our spirits we resign, on outstretched wings they bear, and lodge us in the arms of divine, and leave us ever there.” Selah! Angels are not to be worshiped or idolized. God’s Word is our authority; nothing else. It’s the Bible that tells us of angels’ ministries in our behalf. Appreciate them; God uses them to minister to us.   Ron

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Soul-satisfying Emotions

Yesterday, we spoke of the danger of run away horses and how run away emotions can be damaging also. However, God made us with the ability to experience emotions. God blesses us with wonderful soul-satisfying emotions when we are guided by His Word. When our lives align with Scripture, we have joy. We have peace because we are at peace with God. We have peace in trials because we know He is there for us. We experience gratitude for His faithfulness to us. When we walk closely, we have His approval and not His conviction. We have assurance of a glorious “forever!” We are thrilled by enjoying a personal relationship with Him. We experience excitement and fascination over the wonder of His Person. We are blessed with understanding of what life is all about and His purposes in the world and in our lives. We bask in the reality of being loved and loving Him back! When a horse is under control. we can have a pleasant ride. When our emotions are under the control of God’s Word, we have a wonderful “ride” (walk) through life! Romans 14:17 tells us that: “….the kingdom of God is ………………righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” We have a wonderful testimony in this stirring hymn, “It Is Glory Just to Walk with Him“- by Avis B. Christiansen: “It is glory just to walk with Him Whose blood has ransomed me; it is rapture for my soul each day.  It is joy divine to feel Him near where’er my path may be.  Bless the Lord, it’s glory all the way! It is glory when the shadows fall, to know that He is near. Oh, what joy to simply trust and pray! It is glory to abide in Him when skies above are clear. Yes, with Him, it’s glory all the way! ‘Twill be glory when I walk with Him on Heaven’s golden shore, never from His side again to stray. Twill be glory, wondrous glory with the Saviour evermore, everlasting glory all the way! It is glory just to walk with Him. It is glory just to walk with Him. He will guide my steps aright, thro’ the vale and o’er the height. It is glory just to walk with Him.” Selah! When we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior and respond to His Word in obedience, we reject the “pull” of sinful emotions and enjoy exalted emotions. Let God’s reins control you!  Ron

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Disciplining Our Emotions

Just as a run away horse can injure or kill the rider, so can emotions that we lose control of do to us. God doesn’t intend for our emotions to run away with us. Eve gave in to her emotions and Adam joined her. Without God’s help, we will too. Apart from God, John explains in I John 2:16 what drives our emotions: “For all that (is) in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” These are what motivated Eve to disobey God and they do the same to us. God, however, has given us the means to control our emotions. It is the human will! Our wills are to be disciplined by Scripture. Eve rejected God’s Word and failed; we can obey God’s Word and bring our emotions in line. With God’s Word heeded, God’s strength imparted and prayer, we can reign in run away emotions and escape tragedy. Paul, in II Corinthians 10:5, describes the use of the will to subdue sinful emotions: “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.” We will to go by what God says and refuse to yield to the pull of sinful emotions. Fascinatingly, God-given emotions will fill our hearts with pleasure over what God is accomplishing in our lives. John E. Bode has given us the hymn, “O Jesus, I Have Promised.” It is to be our promise as well: “O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end; be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend; I shall not fear the battle if Thou art by my side, nor wander from the pathway if Thou wilt be my guide. O let me feel Thee near me, the world is ever near; I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear; my foes are ever near me, around me and within; but, Jesus, draw Thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin. O let me hear Thee speaking in accents clear and still, above the storms of passion, the murmurs of self-will; O speak to reassure me, to hasten or control; O speak, and make me listen, Thou Guardian of my soul.” Selah! A disciple (one who knows Jesus as Lord and Savior) will discipline himself or herself to refuse the appeals of I John 2:16 and heed the responsibility we are given in II Corinthians 10:5. Keep a tight rein on your emotions and escape danger!    Ron

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Two Kinds of Holiness-The Other Kind

Yesterday, we looked at the marvelous gift of imputed (or credited) holiness. God has credited all, who are truly His, with perfect holiness. As far as our record is concerned, we are as holy as Jesus. It doesn’t get any better than that! Make no mistake, however, thinking that is all there is to it. God works in all those that He has credited with a perfect holiness to make them holy in heart and life. This is a life-long process and there are no exemptions from this process. For some, progress will be faster than for others. How do we become holy in experience? We are told in Hebrews 12:14 to: “Follow………holiness….” The idea here is to pursue, chase after, exert effort. We are to “go all out” to become holy in experience. The means to do this is so familiar that we too often overlook using it properly. Jesus prayed in John 17:17: “Sanctify them through Thy Truth: Thy Word is Truth.” It isn’t enough to just study God’s Word for information! (I strongly urge you to go back to my recent post, “Two Kinds of Study“). God’s Word is meant to guide and direct our lives, values and behavior. It is intended that we apply it and obey it. When we truly know Him as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit will work in us and discipline us to do the kind of study of Scripture that will purify our lives. Fanny Crosby, in her hymn, “All, All to Jesus, I Consecrate Anew,” speaks of holiness in our daily lives: “All, all to Jesus, I consecrate anew,  He is my portion forever; only His glory, henceforth will I pursue, He is my portion forever. All, all to Jesus, my trusting heart can say, He is my portion forever; led by His mercy I’m walking ev’ry day, He is my portion forever. Though He may try me, this blessed truth I know, He is my portion forever; He will not leave me, His promise tells me so, He is my portion forever. All, all to Jesus, I cheerfully resign, He is my portion forever; I have the witness that He, my Lord, is mine, He is my portion forever. Take, take the world with all its gilded toys, take, take the world I covet not its joys. Mine is a wealth no moth nor rust destroys; Jesus my portion forever.” Selah! God intends His Word to be taken seriously! Let’s make sure that we do!  Ron

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Two Kinds of Holiness

Why would we who know the Lord need more than one kind of holiness? Because this first kind that we discuss today is beyond our ability to experience. In I Peter 1:16, we have an impossible command that we are to obey: “….it is written, ‘Be ye holy; for I am holy.'” Why would God inspire a command that is impossible to obey? The answer is that He knew we couldn’t, but He has something for us that will take care of the problem. The theologians call it “positional holiness.” Hebrews 12:14 states that without holiness: “….. no man shall see the Lord.” What can we do about that? Nothing! God has already done something. In I Corinthians 1:30, Paul shares God’s provision of perfect holiness; “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” “Sanctification” and “holy” come from the same root word. The idea is for us to be wholly set apart to God. So…..when we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, we are credited with the perfect holiness of Christ. Without  perfect holiness we couldn’t come near God! But what about practical (or actual) holiness? God isn’t going to leave us without means to be holy in our daily living. God willing, that will engage our attention tomorrow. He intends for our “state” (our actual condition) to gradually conform to our “standing” (our “positional holiness”). Weigh carefully the thoughts in Mrs. C. H. Morris’ hymn, “Holiness unto the Lord.” She wrote: 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, untarnished with sin, God’s Holy Spirit abiding within. “Called unto holiness,” praise His dear name! This blessed secret to faith now made plain, not our own righteousness, but Christ within, living and reigning and saving from sin. Holiness unto the Lord” is our watchword and song,” “Holiness unto the Lord” as we’re marching along; sing it, shout it, loud and long, “Holiness unto the Lord,” now and forever.” Selah! How can our lives be actually holy? Do stop by tomorrow!    Ron

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Consecrated Cravings

There are many corrupt cravings. People crave fame, popularity, wealth, possessions, acceptance, pleasure, certain sins, to name a few things. Those who know Jesus as Savior and Lord are characterized by higher cravings. We crave more of God. We crave more of His Word and ways. We crave Godly behavior, values, attitudes, etc. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 5:6 where He said, “Blessed (are) they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” When we crave to honor Jesus and become more and more like Him, little by little our lives will increasingly reflect Him. What does this look like? In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul explains: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” This nine-fold fruit is the outshining of what Jesus brings about in the lives of those who long to please Him. When we have these consecrated cravings, we can identify with Mary D. James’ hymn, “All for Jesus.” These are the cravings she shared: “All for Jesus! All for Jesus!  All my being’s ransom’d pow’rs; all my thoughts and words and doings, all my days and all my hours.  All for Jesus! All for Jesus! All my days and all my hours. Let my hands perform His bidding; let my feet run in His ways; let my eyes see Jesus only; let my lips speak forth His praise.  All for Jesus! all for Jesus!  Let my lips speak forth His praise. Worldlings prize their gems of beauty, cling to gilded toys of dust, boast of wealth, and fame, and pleasure; only Jesus will I trust.  Only Jesus! Only Jesus!  Only Jesus will I trust. Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus,  I’ve lost sight of all beside,–so enchained my spirit’s vision, looking at the crucified.  All for Jesus! All for Jesus!  All for Jesus, crucified! Oh, what wonder! how amazing!  Jesus, glorious King of kings, deigns to call me His beloved, lets me rest beneath His wings.  All for Jesus! All for Jesus! Resting now beneath His wings.” Selah! If we love Him; if we crave more of His likeness; if we focus on Him, in His Word, our cravings will be satisfied.     Ron

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Two Ways to Study

Before I begin to explain, I have a hunch some might be thinking: “I don’t do ‘study.'” Yet, all who know Jesus as Lord and Savior are commanded to study God’s Word. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (II Timothy 2:15). We can’t neglect this essential discipline, if we truly love Jesus! The first way of study we might call “intellectual.” This has to do with correctly understanding more and more of Scripture. We “mine” the Bible for its treasures: knowledge and understanding. We dig deeply. We have “shovels” and “tools.” These include things like commentaries, expository studies, theological books, Bible dictionaries, etc. The second way of study should be understood as “devotional.” This is a deep, life-long, getting to know God in a rich personal way. We talk to Him; He listens. Sin loses the “signal!” When we deal with the sin(s), the connection is restored (I John 1:9). This “talking” is prayer and it’s a two-way exchange. How He talks with us is through His Word. As someone has wisely stated: “When the Bible “speaks” to us, It is God, Himself speaking to us! So, we don’t just read; we listen, CAREFULLY! The friendship develops, the fellowship is glorious, the relationship is thrilling and satisfying. Really, what on earth can even begin to compare with intimacy with God? “The Savior has come in His mighty pow’r, and spoken peace to my soul; and all of my life from that very hour, I’ve yielded to His control, I’ve yielded to His control. From glory to glory He leads me on, from grace to grace every day; and brighter and brighter the glory dawns, while pressing my homeward way, while pressing my homeward way. If fellowship here with my Lord can be so inexpressibly sweet, Oh, what will it be when His face we see, when ’round the bright throne we meet? When ’round the bright throne we meet? Oh, it is wonderful!  It is marvelous and wonderful, what Jesus has done for this soul of mine!The half has never been told; Oh, it is wonderful! It is marvelous and wonderful, what Jesus has done for this soul of mine! The half has never been told.” (From: “Tis Marvelous and Wonderful“-by Lelia N. Morris). Selah! Lives that have been empty because of sin are to be filled with God. His Word and prayer are His means to fill us!   Ron

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This is the Work of an Enemy!

Wheat and tares look very much alike until harvest time is near. There is a big difference, however. Wheat is a beneficial plant while tares are weeds. In Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus spoke of this: “….saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Let’s look at this in terms of a local church. What does Satan gain by sowing spiritual “weeds?” Much! They look like the real thing, but act otherwise. It gives outsiders a chance to cry, “Hypocrites! The tares can cause damage to those who are truly God’s people (wheat). As to the tares themselves, some may assume they are actually wheat, providing a false assurance. Here’s an amazing thing: Some of those tares can be turned into wheat! If they aren’t changed into wheat, the “bottom line” is tragic beyond words! They will be separated at harvest time and burned! Margaret F. Sangster wrote of this in her hymn, “Growing Together, Wheat and Tares.” Consider these thoughts: “Growing together, wheat and tares, all clustering fair and green, fanned by the gentle summer airs beneath one sky serene; over them both the sunlight falls, and over them both the rain, till the angels come when the Master calls to gather the golden grain. Growing together side by side, and both shall the reapers meet—the tares aloft in their scornful pride, and bowing heads of wheat. Swift and sure o’er the waving plain the sickle sharp will fly, and the precious wheat, the abundant grain, be harvested in the sky. But O the tares,—for them the word of a terrible doom is cast; “Bind and burn,” is the Lord’s command, they shall leave the wheat at last; never again the summer rain, and never the sunshine sweet, that were lavished freely, all in vain on the tares among the wheat. Where shall the reapers look for us when that day of days shall come?  O solemn the thought with grandeur fraught, of that wondrous harvest-home!  O Saviour grant when Thine angels come to reap the fields for Thee, that we may be found with the golden grain that garnered in Heaven shall be.” Selah! Those who have surrendered control of their lives to Jesus, as Savior and Lord, are “wheat!” “Tares” haven’t done that!   Ron

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“Forever” is a Very Long Time!

Strictly speaking, “forever” simply contains “time” within its existence. “Time is just a little “speck” in the limitless expanse of eternity. Our brief life span, compared with eternity, would defy being found within the “dot” on our letter “i.” Why, then, do we major on our time on earth and give only a little, if any, thought to “forever?” For the mind-blinded person, Satan keeps him or her focused on the concerns and allurements of this fallen and passing world. Blindness indeed! Perhaps they hear or read a few things from the Bible, but “….the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the Word, and it becometh unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). Then, there are those who yield their lives to Jesus as their Savior and Lord. They desire their lives to count for God. So, they get right “down to business” and go all out, right?  Wrong! With some notable exceptions, Satan manages to distract and divert them from focusing on what really matters. They bear little fruit. The tragedy is that they don’t even realize that they have been manipulated by a master strategist. What to do? Recognize the problem! Intensely determine to make Jesus and the things of God our major focus. Keep in mind that we have only a brief “window of opportunity” to prepare for “forever.” Let God and His Word keep you spiritually clean. Check yourself daily (hourly?) to be sure you are truly set apart to Him. Spend much quality time in fellowship with God. Keep your focus on eternity. Pray with Albert B. Smith, the prayer that he prayed in his hymn, “With Eternity’s Values in View.” May we live: “With eternity’s values in view, Lord. With eternity’s values in view, may I do each day’s work for Jesus with eternity’s values in view!” Selah! “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord (is)” (Ephesians 5:15-17).       Ron

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Escaping the Undertow

​​Feeling “pulled under?” I’m not talking about the water when I ask this question today. There is a far worse current operative in our world today. That current is generated by the enemy of our souls and it’s no mild force! Satan would drag us down into sin, discouragement, distractions, wrong friendships, etc. He suggests excuses for our failing to “get down to business” with God. The world, the flesh and the devil combine to suck us under. Now, here’s an amazing thing: if we were talking about water’s undertow, we would struggle to escape with every ounce of strength we have in our bodies. Why, then, do we not resist the undertow that is designed to destroy us spiritually? Our neglect of being serious about the things of God has lulled us into a state of spiritual paralysis. We have been tranquilized into numbness! We may not even feel the downward pull. Paul and James unite to sound the inspired alarm: “….(it is) high time to awake out of sleep.” (From Romans 13:11). “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse (your) hands, (ye) sinners; and purify (your) hearts, (ye) double minded” (James 4:8). God is reaching out to us; draw nigh to Him and take His hand and be rescued. If you know Jesus as Lord and Savior, draw on His strength and fiercely resist the undertow. These stanzas from, “Trust and Obey“-by John H. Sammis challenge us to resist the devil’s pull: “When we walk with the Lord in the light of His word, what a glory He sheds on our way!  While we do His good will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. But we never can prove the delights of His love until all on the altar we lay; for the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows, are for them who will trust and obey. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet, or we’ll walk by His side in the way; what He says we will do, where He sends we will go; never fear, only trust and obey.” Selah! One response to this will be: I need to do something about this undertow. The other response: “Looking to God, I’m going to fight this undertow with determined effort until I escape!” Your response?  Ron

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