Up Close and Personal!

Knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior is the greatest blessing any human being can experience. This raises a question: how can one know Him? One way is very important, but by itself it is not enough. Too many that express interest in the offer of salvation do not get beyond this point. If we learn of Him by reading about Him in the gospels and books written about Him, that is only the means to get started. The most important and absolutely essential way to know Him is up close and personal. How do we do that? First, by trusting Him as our personal Lord and Savior. Then, by spending quality time alone with Him in the Word and prayer. This is an ongoing daily, loving relationship. If we do this faithfully, relying on the Holy Spirit to really reveal Him to us, Spiritual discernment will sharpen and increase. Give a lot of thought to His sacrifice, His love, His life, His grace and mercy, His guidance and help, and much more. Two important phrases come to us in the Book of Hebrews: “Looking unto Jesus” and “Consider Him!” When we develop these disciplines and diligently use them in loving worship and adoration, the pages of Scripture will come alive with His Presence and we commune with Him in the Word and talk with Him in prayer. Little by little, we’ll be able to identify with William C. Martin’s experience as given us in his hymn, “Still Sweeter Every Day.” Let his experience be ours: “To Jesus ev’ry day I find my heart is closer drawn; He’s fairer than the glory of the gold and purple dawn; He’s all my fancy pictured in its fairest dreams and more; each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before. His glory broke upon me when I saw Him from afar; He’s fairer than the lily, brighter than the morning star; He fills and satisfies my longing spirit o’er and o’er; each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before. My heart is sometimes heavy, but He comes with sweet relief; He folds me to His bosom when I droop with blighting grief, I love the Christ Who all my burdens in His body bore; each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before.” Selah! From Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 When we are blessed with His Presence in the pages of God’s Word, we move from information to intimacy.   Ron

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

Damage Control

Is it possible that some preaching and personal work could actually damage some folks? Or, to put it another way, are we offering incomplete information? Let me be quick to add that (for the most part) it is not done intentionally. However, are we spelling out in strong terms the level of commitment that is expected for those expressing interest in what it means to experience salvation? While we can’t work for or earn salvation, is there a willingness to surrender to Jesus’ Lordship in our lives. Are we trusting what He accomplished on the cross on our behalf, and being filled with love and gratitude, are we letting Him order our lives? A desire to make it easy for seekers and hoping that promised blessings will make them desire salvation, we may have led too many to assume that agreeing with the facts is all they need to do. Various Scriptures make it crystal clear that receiving Jesus calls for a placing of our lives under His loving leadership. One example of this is found in Romans 10:9-10. Consider: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved, for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Judson W. Van De Venter’s hymn, “I Surrender All,” gives musical voice to the response that is expected from those who realize what Jesus calls for: “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live. All to Jesus I surrender, make me, Savior, wholly Thine; let me feel Thy Holy Spirit, truly know that Thou art mine. All to Jesus I surrender, Lord, I give myself to Thee; fill me with Thy love and power, let Thy blessing fall on me. I surrender all, I surrender all; all to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.” Selah! There is eternal security for those who are truly born again; let’s not offer a false security to those who haven’t experienced authentic rebirth.   Ron

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

Anxiety Attacks

 Do we really think (I’m thinking of those who know the Lord) that what makes us anxious is something that just happens as part of life? From Satan’s point of view, he wants anxiety to undermine our trust in God’s love and care. Far too many times, he succeeds! God, on the other hand, permits stress (sometimes great stress) to lead us to trust Him, to trust His help for us, to trust that He has good reasons for what He allows and to know His love for us. His love for us far exceeds the most intense parental love. A thorough reading of the Apostle Paul’s life reveals many and  huge causes of anxiety. However, no matter how intense his struggles were, Paul countered (in faith and with God’s help) these enemy attacks. His trust put “steel” in his heart to patiently wait on God. Can you even begin to imagine his rewards, and joy, and commendation? Isaiah 40:31 is a tremendous antidote for anxiety: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew (their) strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; (and) they shall walk, and not faint.” Civilla D. Martin, in the hymn, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” gives us a musical challenge to trust: “Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why should my heart be lonely and long for Heaven and home, when Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. “Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear, and resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears; though by the path He leadeth but one step I may see: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise, when song gives place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him; from care He sets me free: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, for His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” Selah! It is for us to decide: shall Satan undermine our trust, or will we look to Jesus and rest in unshakable faith?  Ron

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

Sovereign Decrees

Guest Article by Dr. A. W. Tozer

Another real problem created by the doctrine of the divine sovereignty has to do with the will of man. If God rules His universe by His sovereign decrees, how is it possible for man to exercise free choice? And if he cannot exercise freedom of choice, how can he be held responsible for his conduct? Is he not a mere puppet whose actions are determined by a behind-the-scenes God who pulls the strings as it pleases Him?

The attempt to answer these questions has divided the Christian church neatly into two camps which have borne the names of two distinguished theologians, Jacobus Armininus and John Calvin. Most Christians are content to get into one camp or the other and deny either sovereignty to God or free will to man. It appears possible, however, to reconcile these two positions without doing violence to either, although the effort that follows may prove deficient to partisans of one camp or the other.

Here is my view: God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is to stay His hand or say, “What doest thou?” Man’s will is free  because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.

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

Engaging the Enemy

A question that causes great concern is this one. How many Christians even begin to grasp that they are to confront the enemy themselves? Yes, they  do need the Lord’s equipping and enabling. However, how many take this matter seriously? To talk to many Christians today, they seem to have an academic awareness of the battle, but fail to meet the enemy head-on. It seems to be more like a story to them, instead of being very real! If we have had an authentic experience of Jesus as our Lord and Savior, it’s time to resist enemy attacks and counter-attack, taking ground away from the enemy. A large part of the battle is in the mind. The old mind (the carnal or fleshly mind) struggles intensely to hold on to its ground. Its weapons of attack are desires of the eyes, desires of the flesh and the desire to impress. And far too often, too many Christians lean back and give in to these desires without an ounce of resisting. Let’s, in His strength and with our sanctified wills, refuse to bend to these lusts and fight back by fortifying our minds with Scripture and in holy obedience wield the Sword of the Spirit, taking back more and more ground from the enemy. We too often don’t feel like we can win. Nevertheless soldiers, regardless of feelings commit themselves to fight with all they have. We must be disciplined to do the same in our spiritual battles! We have a Commander-in-Chief Who wins all His battles and He can make us triumph, if we submit to His leadership. James 4:7 reads this way: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” We don’t resist by trying not to give in to “feelings;” we resist by Biblically steeling our wills and refusing to allow “feelings” to lead us around like helpless weaklings. “They who know the Savior shall in Him be strong, mighty in the conflict of the right ’gainst wrong; this the blessed promise given in God’s Word, doing wondrous exploits, they who know the Lord. In the midst of battle be thou not dismayed, though the pow’rs of darkness ’gainst thee are arrayed; God, thy Strength, is with thee, causing thee to stand, Heaven’s allied armies wait at thy command.” (“Victory All the Time”-By Mrs. C. H. Morris). Selah! God will put “steel” in your will with a strong involvement in His Word. He can enable you to resist letting your emotions lead you around like a little puppy dog.  Fight; fight!   Ron

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

 

Are You in Your Right Mind?

Now here’s something to think about! Most of the people on earth today are not in their right mind. In fact no one is born in their right mind. If this is true (and it is) how do they get into their right mind? The fact is, they can’t! However, a right mind is given to all who repent and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. Romans 8:6 is inspired information for the church at Rome and the church today: “For to be carnally minded (is) death; but to be spiritually minded (is) life and peace.” If the only mind we have (no matter how intelligent and sharp) is the carnal (or earthly) mind, it will fail us at death. This mind is the Satan blinded mind; it is incapable of understanding Spiritual Truth. Upon coming to Jesus and receiving salvation, we are given the right mind. We start grasping Spiritual realities. Now, this Spiritual mind comes from the Holy Spirit using Scripture. He feeds and nourishes this new mind by explaining and applying its Truths to us. The carnal mind doesn’t disappear; it must be starved to death by neglect of going by its way of thinking and by the new mind gaining the upper hand. Another way of putting it is that God’s Word enables us to think God’s way. It brings life and peace. In her hymn, “May the Mind of Christ, My Savior” Kate B. Wilkinson speaks of this new mind: “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! Our minds are renewed by learning God’s mind in Scripture. As one so well said, “The greatest exercise of the mind of men is to think the thoughts of God after Him.” Let’s use our right minds to do just that! Ron

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

Living Out the New Life

Stunted growth, spiritual weakness, susceptibility to attacks, little or no spiritual maturity, why is this? The answer is almost too simple but it truly explains why many spiritual newborns experience such conditions. The problem is failure to take the Word of God seriously! Let’s examine this more closely. Is the Bible a “big” part of our day? Do we look forward to a careful and strong time in God’s Word? Does it cause us to “feel it” when we omit a day of basking in His Presence?  Would we skip the Bible when we wouldn’t skip a meal? Neglecting the Word leaves us with nothing to produce spiritual growth. Perhaps some would say, “I’m in the Word daily but it doesn’t seem to help much.” It is possible and often happens that we assume that knowledge of and defense of God’s inspired Word is all that is required. No! Yes, we need to get into the Word but we also need to get the Word into us. Our knowledge is to be experienced. Sound knowledge is the basis of what we can and are to experience. Studying God’s Word, analyzing, learning, applying, obeying, is what takes us from knowledge only, to actual experience. We have to move freely from all that God shows us in His Word to gratefully loving Him, and seeking His strength to live out what He is working in, during those wonderful times of being closeted with Him. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through Thy Truth; Thy Word is Truth” (John 17:17). “Lord, Thy Word abideth, and our footsteps guideth; who its Truth believeth, light and joy receiveth. When our foes are near us, then Thy word doth cheer us, word of consolation, message of salvation. When the storms are o’er us, and  dark clouds before us, then its light directeth, and our way protecteth. Who can tell the pleasure, who recount the treasure by Thy Word imparted to the simple-hearted. Word of mercy, giving succour. to the living; Word of Life, supplying comfort to the dying. O that we discerning its most holy learning, Lord, may love and fear Thee, evermore be near Thee!”  (Lord, Thy Word Abideth“-By H. W. Baker). Selah! When the Living Word of God is actually and actively changing us within, we will grow and mature and experience spiritual health and strength.   Ron

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

Knowledge/Experience

Experience based on false knowledge can and does do a lot of damage. Sound knowledge as the basis for experience can bring blessings to our lives. The question that logically follows is: “how can we acquire sound knowledge?” Now, there’s quite a lot of sound knowledge (and much that is unsound) in our world today. That which is found in our present day world is limited. It can help to a point. It cannot, however, help us where it matters most. It cannot help with our spiritual deadness; it cannot give us a  real understanding of life. Only God can do that! And, He has made it available in His Word, the Bible. No secular worldview can adequately explain the meaning and purpose of life. The Bible can’t help us while we are dead (except in the one most important way). To state it briefly: we are dead, spiritually! When we are confronted by God’s Word, the offer that we are given is that of new life. If we willingly trust Jesus and His atoning death for us and yield our lives to Him as our Lord and Savior, a miracle happens. His life enters our inner being and we are restored to Spiritual Life. The Bible speaks of it as being “born again.”  But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)…” (Ephesians 2:4-5). With that miracle in our lives, we now can begin to understand the only sound knowledge that will serve us in this life and bring us safely home to Heaven. In the hymn, “Heaven Came Down and Glory filled My Soul,”-By John W. Peterson, the second stanza gives voice to the heart’s joy when this new life enters: “Born of the Spirit with life from above into God’s family divine, justified fully thro’ Calvary’s love, O what a standing is mine! And the transaction so quickly was made when as a sinner I came, took of the offer of grace He did proffer — He saved me, O praise His dear name!” Selah! Sound knowledge, acted on, brings the experience and presence of new life in Christ; adding and applying more and more  of this sound knowledge to our new life enables us to live in fullness of joy.   Ron

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

Worth Thinking About

How many Christians do not grasp just how absolutely indispensable a deep involvement with Scripture is? Of course, we can’t come up with a figure. Nevertheless, it’s probably a high figure. Could this account for why so many who name His name seem to only tip their hats at the idea of serious commitment? All too often, we agree that we have the need, but we don’t have the intense determination to do anything about it. Failure to get down to the serious business of discipleship leaves us without the vital soul-satisfying experience of Jesus that God intends for us to have. Anyone who is truly born again should have a profound and deeply personal relationship with the One Who loves us so much that He gave His life for us. Anything less suggests that we may only have an academic or theoretical idea of Christianity. If so, in the end, it won’t amount to much. Consider the energy, money, time and effort people put into a career, education, business, having a life partner, pursuing the “American Dream,” etc. Then, compare that with what we put into our walk with God. How does it compare? What are the implications of Matthew 10:38? “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me.” Think through these words as we examine our measure of commitment: “Thou my everlasting portion, more than friend or life to me, all along my pilgrim journey, Savior, let me walk with Thee. Not for ease or worldly pleasure, or for fame my prayer shall be; gladly will I toil and suffer, only let me walk with Thee. Lead me through the vale of shadows, bear me o’er life’s fitful sea; then the gate of life eternal may I enter, Lord, with Thee. Close to thee, close to Thee, close to Thee, close to Thee, all along my pilgrim journey, Savior, let me walk with Thee.” (“Close to Thee!”-by Fanny J. Crosby). Selah! This article, I pray, will challenge all who are His to walk ever more closely to Him.   Ron

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

 

Idolatry-3

The lust (strong desire) of the flesh and the lust (strong desire) of the eyes are rooted in the pride of life. What makes me “feel” good and the things that I see and crave are all tied into pride. Possessions, popularity, praise, reputation, all the things that I’m told I deserve, combine to feed my pride (which, by the way, was the original sin). Sinful desires are to be replaced with holy desires in the lives of all who know Jesus as Savior and Lord. Our motivation to get and have what we want, or what we convince ourselves we need or need to do, must give way to the motivation to honor our wonderful Lord in word, thought and deed. I Corinthians 6:20 is the fundamental charge to all who are born again: “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” It boils down to this: “Not I, but Christ!” We strengthen this holy motivation by deep involvement with, and application of, God’s Holy Word! As we are faithful in this holy privilege and responsibility, we will be more and more able to share in the desires and determination found in “All for Jesus!”- by Mary D. James. If you truly know the Lord, let this be the cry of your heart: “All for Jesus! all for Jesus! All my being’s ransom’d pow’rs; all my tho’ts and words and doings, all my days and all my hours. All for Jesus! all for Jesus! 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, all for Jesus! all for Jesus! Let my lips speak forth His praise. Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus, I’ve lost sight of all beside; so enchained my spirit’s vision, gazing at the Crucified. All for Jesus! all for Jesus! Gazing at the Crucified; all for Jesus! all for Jesus! gazing at the Crucified. O 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; all for Jesus! all for Jesus! Resting now beneath His wings.” Selah! The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is the putting to death of our self glory and filling us with His ministry of glorifying Jesus.   Ron

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