An “About face” on the Bible

For those who do not have a genuine saving relationship with Jesus, the Bible is of very little importance to them. They don’t really understand it. It may be appreciated as great literature, interesting history, or as teaching high moral values. However, it is often considered boring, or outdated, or not relevant. What a total “About face” when one comes to Jesus, and through Spiritual rebirth discovers the Bible to be the most amazing book for all of time and eternity. Their prayer becomes: “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law” (Psalm 119:18). This complete change comes as a result of new Spiritual illumination from the indwelling Holy Spirit, living now in the regenerated person. For the redeemed soul, the vastness of the change of attitude towards God’s Word encompasses a lifetime of exposure to its Spiritually alive contents. For some, much is grasped “early on.” For others, it comes more slowly. But it comes, informs, challenges, guides, explains, reveals, and changes the hearers. It is realized that this supernatural Book is the voice of God speaking to His child’s heart and mind. John Burton’s hymn, “Holy Bible, Book Divine,” gives musical voice to the wonder of God’s Word: “Holy Bible, Book divine, precious treasure, thou art mine: mine to tell me whence I came; mine to teach me what I am. Mine to chide me when I rove, mine to show a Savior’s love; mine thou art to guide and guard; mine to punish or reward. Mine to comfort in distress, suffering in this wilderness; mine to show by living faith, we can triumph over death. Mine to tell of joys to come, and the rebel sinner’s doom:  O thou Holy Book divine, precious treasure thou art mine.” Selah! The Word of God is the only Truth that will last forever!  Ron

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

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The Thinking of a Disciple

What fills the mind of a disciple of Jesus? Let’s begin with a brief look at the mind of one who doesn’t know Jesus. That mind is filled with what I want for myself, my family, my friends and my fellow workers. You will notice it all revolves around “me.” When one surrenders to Jesus and receives Him as Lord and Savior, that surrender includes the mind. Prior to being a disciple, the mind is under the sway of “self” and the manipulation of Satan. Our fallen natures “call the shots.” With genuine conversion, the Holy Spirit enters our inner being and begins renewing our minds. “….according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (From Titus 3:5; See also Romans 12:2). Now the renewed mind is filled with wonder, love and gratitude for God’s grace, love and mercy. Questions challenge the redeemed mind. How can I know more about Him? How can I please Him? How does He want me to invest my life? How do I know and do His will? The Bible becomes the most exciting book in the world! Prayer is realized to be the privilege of talking with our Heavenly Father and…….listening to Him. We become motivated for others to discover what God is able and willing to do for them. Our affections are being weaned from this world’s sinful attractions and fixed on the things of God. it is a radical transformation and gradually shapes us for our eternal home. Proverbs 23:7 points this out: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so (is) he.”  The chorus to Helen H. Lemmel’s  hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” speaks of the mind that is being renewed: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Selah! A disciple’s old thoughts, desires, motives, values and purposes are giving way to new, higher, and holier ones. If you are a disciple, you are experiencing this renewal of your thinking.   Ron

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

The Extent of Enlistment

To enlist can be short term and would usually not  be binding. It can be like enlisting in the military. Once you sign up in the armed forces, it’s very binding. It would take a lot to get out of that commitment. However, when we “sign up” to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, it is permanent! We need to make that commitment, knowing it is forever! The church is a “battleground,” not a “playground!” “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high (places)” (Ephesians 6:10-12). Paul’s inspired charge to Timothy (and to us) is this: “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of (this) life; that he may please Him Who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” As a disciplined and trained soldier of Jesus Christ, strong in the Lord, we are to know the enemy, keep our focus on our “Commander-in-Chief,” and resist the attacks of the enemy, wielding “the Sword of the Spirit” for Him to use! “Sound the battle cry!  See, the foe is nigh; raise the standard high for the Lord; gird your armor on,  stand firm, every one; rest your cause upon His Holy Word. Strong to meet the foe,  marching on we go, while our cause we know, must prevail; shield and banner bright,  gleaming in the light; battling for the right we ne’er can fail.” (From: “Sound the Battle Cry”-By William F. Sherwin). Selah! Confident in God’s strength and love, we are to be strong 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).    Ron

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

What Local Churches Need to Do

I wonder how many local churches are still carrying out their basic mission. Which is what?  Paul’s inspired teaching tells us in Ephesians 4:12. It is: ‘….the perfecting (maturing) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” Those assigned the responsibility today are: “….some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” What does this involve? These leaders should be educated in God’s Word. (Loving it, studying it and living it).They must strive to experientially live out the Word in their lives, depending on God’s enabling. They must explain God’s Truth as the Holy Spirit enlightens it. They are to exhort those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior to study, apply, and obey the Word of God. Those who are born again must know correct doctrine and know it well. They must be quick to recognize and able to refute error. They are to mature in holy living. Their love for God and each other will grow as they walk in the Light. They need to find ways to encourage others to  receive Jesus and salvation. The end goal? “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Verse 13). Those who lead and those who follow are to be true to the trust God desires to be exhibited in our lives. Let us share the purpose expressed in H. A Walter’s hymn, “I Would Be True:” “I would be true, for there are those who trust me; I would be pure, for there are those who care; I would be strong, for there is much to suffer; I would be brave, for there is much to dare, I would be brave, for there is much to dare. I would be friend of all, the foe, the friendless; I would be giving, and forget the gift; I would be humble, for I know my weakness; I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift, I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift. I would be prayerful through each busy moment; I would be constantly in touch with God; I would be tuned to sense His slightest whisper; I would have faith to keep the path Christ trod. I would have faith to keep the past Christ trod.” Selah! God give us discernment to distinguish between “wood, hay and stubble” and “gold, silver and precious stones!”   (See I Corinthians 3:11-15).    Ron

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

What the Local Church is

As mentioned, worship overflow can and should be a part of the church’s assembling. However, what should a local church look like? We have local churches of all sizes and shapes today; we have “home churches.” A few just assemble together. It’s not the purpose of this article to debate the relative merits of these variations. What I want to do is visit the early church and look at how they “did” church. “And they continued stedfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” —– “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:42; 46-47). In it’s simplest form, this is “the church,” meeting in a local church. They steadfastly applied themselves to do and be what the Apostles taught them. They ate and fellowshipped together in various houses. They were wholly involved. They prayed. They ate with joy and shared purpose. They had a good testimony. And the Lord used that to draw people into such a committed group. People were saved daily! I see this as a living visual aid of what the local church is all about. How close is our local church to that early church, today? “Lord, as of old at Pentecost Thou didst Thy power display, with cleansing purifying flame, descend on us today. For mighty works for Thee, prepare and strengthen every heart; come, take possession of Thine own and nevermore depart. All self consume, all sin destroy! With earnest zeal endue each waiting heart to work for Thee; O Lord, our faith renew! Speak, Lord! before Thy throne we wait, Thy promise we believe,  and will not let Thee go until the blessing we receive. Lord, send the old-time power, the Pentecostal power! Thy floodgates of blessing on us throw open wide! Lord send the old-time power. the Pentecostal power, that sinners be converted and Thy name glorified!” (“Pentecostal Power“- By  Chas. H. Gabriel). Selah! Their focus was on Jesus risen and His love and they were motivated to live close to Him!   Ron

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

What the Local Church is Not

The local church is not a religious club or group where we can discharge our religious duties and/or obligations. It is not, in one sense of the label, a worship center, although worship should be done by those assembling there. If that happens, worship will have been going on prior to arrival. Group worship (only done by the redeemed) will be the outflow of private worship that has been going on daily. The church is not a “spiritual entertainment” center. We don’t go to be entertained. To gather with the brethren for wholesome entertainment, occasionally, is not wrong, as long as it is not a major component of the church’s activity). The church is not a place to go through thoughtless routine unengaged, awaiting the clock’s announcement of the noon hour. It is not a place for a dramatic display of the Pastor’s homiletical skills.  In Ephesians 4:11-13, we have Paul’s inspired explanation of Jesus’ plan for the church: “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” In the hymn, “Jesus, Where’er Thy People Meet,” William Cowper has shared vital truth: “Jesus, where’er Thy people meet, there they behold Thy mercy-seat; where’er they seek Thee, Thou art found, and every place is hallowed ground. For Thou, within no walls confined, inhabitest the humble mind; such ever bring Thee when they come, and, going, take Thee to their home. Dear Shepherd of Thy chosen few, Thy former mercies here renew; here to our waiting hearts proclaim the sweetness of Thy saving name. Here may we prove the power of prayer to strengthen faith and sweeten care, to teach our faint desires to rise, and bring all heaven before our eyes. Lord, we are few, but Thou art near;  nor short Thine arm, nor deaf Thine ear: O rend the heavens, come quickly down,  and make a thousand hearts Thine own!” Selah! Let’s not lose sight of “substance” in the overshadowing of “form!”   Ron

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

 

 

 

Closer Every Day

The walk through life, for those whose Savior and Lord is Jesus, is short for some and long for others. However, when we reach our destination, it will seem to have been brief. But that perspective is far less obvious during our “walk.” How do we handle all the trials of the way? Many of these trials will be intense. First and foremost, we are not alone. Second, we have the greatest “Guidebook” in the whole world, the Bible. Next, we have instant communication with the Throne, prayer. Finally, we have the assurance that nothing can touch our lives unless He causes or permits it. If He does that, He has good reason and we can trust His judgment and His purpose. No matter how difficult or how wrong it seems, He will ultimately bring good out of it. So, what do we do? We move on, trusting Him and drawing on His strength, and continue the ascent toward Home. Like Paul we say, “….one thing (I do), forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (From Philippians 3:13-14). With our eyes on the goal and Him with us every step of the way, we will reach Home and a wonderful end to trouble and trials and a perfect eternity! It will be worth it all! Ida L. Reed’s hymn, “Every Grief Shall Pass Away,” reminds us: “What if here thy path is shadowed, and the heavy clouds sweep low, God’s almighty arms uphold thee and He will not let thee go. All the way He knows, thy Father, all its peril, all its pain, look to Him, He will not fail thee, and thou canst not trust in vain. Yield thy soul to His dear keeping, lay thy hand within His own, tho’ life’s tempests gather o’er thee,  He will leave thee not alone. Trust Him, trust Him, through the shadow press the closer to His side; trust Him, trust Him, He will guide thee, and no evil will betide.” Selah! Remember that the longest life lived here is but a “blip” on the horizon of eternity. Trust Him; He’ll guide you Home!  Ron

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