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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Are We Ready for Revival?

When thinking about, talking about and praying for revival, I believe Revelation 3:18 is seldom given a close look. This is what it says: “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” “Gold tried in the fire:”  fire burns away dross. The fire of God’s Word, when we are really sensitive to it, burns away sin, and consumes “wood, hay and stubble” in our lives. This includes things like cheap amusements, carnal desires and actions, false idols like money, fame, popularity, even ungodly education, taking harmful substances into our bodies, listening to or sharing questionable talk, etc. “White raiment:” clothed in His promised righteousness, let Him purify our lives with daily application of Scripture. “The shame of our nakedness.” We don’t want to have Spiritual “bankruptcy” exposed in our lives. Be filled with His riches and become holy! (If we don’t want to experience this, we are likely not His yet)! “Eyesalve” heals and relieves eye problems, helping us to see better. Instead of skimming over God’s Truth and missing much of what He wants us to see, we take a hard look; we focus on understanding, applying and obeying what He enables us to see. The “bottom line?” A walk through life with Jesus as our Lord and Savior is serious business! Are we taking our relationship with Him seriously? “Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart,” a hymn by George Croly, Includes petitions that are to be mirrored in our hearts: “Spirit of God, Who dwells within my heart, wean it from sin, through all its pulses move. Stoop to my weakness, mighty as You are, and make me love You as I ought to love. Did You not bid us love You, God and King, love You with all our heart and strength and mind? I see the cross there teach my heart to cling. O let me seek You and O let me find! Teach me to feel that You are always nigh; teach me the struggles of the soul to bear, to check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh; teach me the patience of unceasing prayer. Teach me to love You as Your angels love, one holy passion filling all my frame: the fullness of the heaven-descended Dove; my heart an altar, and Your love the flame.” Selah! If we are ready to heed the counsel in this verse we have been considering, we are ready for revival.   Ron

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Overcoming Tepid Living

There is something wrong with just drifting through life without aim or purpose. It is without excuse in the life of a person who has received Jesus as Lord and Savior. We, who know Him, have more to live for than anyone else on earth has. We have been pardoned for all sin(s); we have a personal relationship with God; we are in His Presence 24/7; we are guaranteed Heaven; we are loved, blessed,  guided, taught, encouraged and much more. We have meaning, purpose, peace, joy, help, fulfillment and more. What’s not to get excited about? But too many have lapsed into a numbing lethargy, a tasteless lukewarmness, a bored attitude toward the most dynamic existence possible to a human being. Why? What could restore the zeal to a life like that? Here are some things that would “fire up” Godly passion: 1. Investing time in deepening fellowship with Jesus in the Word and prayer. 2. Truly repenting of any known sin in our lives. 3. An increasing burden for the lost. 4. Separation from the world’s ways and values. 5. Time spent with God’s people and special times with those who take their walk with Jesus seriously. II Corinthians7:1 gives us this inspired charge: Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” It’s time to get intense with God! “There was pow’r, O Lord, in the days of old, to kindle a fire in hearts grown cold; that we on Thy Word may now lay hold,  Lord, send that pow’r again. There was pow’r by which every tongue could speak, new life-giving pow’r unto the weak, that sent them the wand’ring ones to seek—Lord, send that pow’r again. There was pow’r to set ev’ry captive free and give to Thy servants liberty to speak and to pray and work for  Thee—Lord, send that pow’r again. There was pow’r, O Lord, in the old-time pray’r, it thrilled every heart and lingered there, till we in Thy glory seemed to share—Lord, send that pow’r again. Lord, send the pow’r again,  O send the pow’r again!  We believe on Thy name, and Thy promise we claim,  Lord, send the pow’r again. (“Send the Power Again“- by William C. Poole). Selah! Take hold on God; let Him set your heart on fire with the flame of revival!   Ron

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Taking Our Spiritual Temperature

If there were a thermometer for taking one’s Spiritual temperature, what would it read? If 10 were the high and 0 the low, where would the red line be for each of us? What guidelines could we use to estimate? Here are some: 1. Do I have a deepening love for, and gratitude to, Jesus? 2. Am I excited and/or enthusiastic about the things of God? 3. Do I seek to be holy? 4. Have I lost interest in the ways of this world? 5. Do I have a true burden for lost people? 6. Do I love and crave the Word and prayer? 7. Is my entertainment and are my activities clean and wholesome? 8. Do I pray for and seek to be an example to, with God’s help, my local church? 9. Do I have a meaningful and pleasurable “quiet time alone with God,” daily? These are a few questions (not necessarily in order) to help us assess how Spiritually high or low we are; how Spiritually hot or cold we are. May these considerations move us to “….love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength….” (From Mark 12:30). May our desires and determination be like Johnson Oatman Jr. as expressed in his hymn, “Higher Ground.” He exclaimed, “I’m pressing on the upward way, new heights I’m gaining every day; still praying as I’m onward bound, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.” My heart has no desire to stay where doubts arise and fears dismay; though some may dwell where these abound, my prayer, my aim, is higher ground. I want to live above the world, though Satan’s darts at me are hurled; for faith has caught the joyful sound, the song of saints on higher ground. I want to scale the utmost height and catch a gleam of glory bright; but still I’ll pray till Heav’n I’ve found, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.” Lord, lift me up and let me stand, by faith, on Heaven’s tableland, a higher plane than I have found;  Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.” Selah! Taking our Spiritual temperature is not so we can see how bad it is. It is to identify the need and apply the needed cure!   Ron

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At Room Temperature

Water at room temperature, at least for most of us, is really “blah!” Cold water on a hot day is refreshing; hot water can yield a nice cup of coffee and/or tea. It’s one thing when we are talking about something to drink; it’s quite another thing when we are thinking about our spiritual lives. How tragic for one who was once “on fire” in the things of God to settle down to the “room temperature” in far too many churches today! How many people today get a “taste” of what we profess and decide that it’s “blah?” Revelation 3:14-19 records Jesus’ rebuke and appeal. Verses 14-17 contain the rebuke. (It’s worth the time to think deeply on Jesus’ rebuke; it seriously applies to many today). For example: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (From Verses 15-16). After further rebuke in Verse 17, Jesus appeals to this Laodicean church and, by inspiration, to us: “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and (that) the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Verses 18-19).  Many need to be re-ignited in zeal. To be “zealous” means to be brought back to the boiling point. Are we “on fire?” Or, do we need to be revived to a “burning” intensity? Can we identify with the prayer in the second stanza of J. Edwin Orr’s hymn, “Search Me, O God?” His prayer (and ours?): “I praise thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin; fulfill Thy Word and make me pure within.  Fill me with fire where once I burned with shame; grant my desire to magnify Thy name.” Selah! We may or may not be in the Laodicean period of church history, but we have, in large measure, a Laodicean spirit to overcome. Are we ready to overcome lethargy?    Ron

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Vanishing Wisdom

The Bible devotes a lot of space to the matter of wisdom. It’s obvious that God wants us to understand the two kinds of wisdom that we can pursue. James 3:15 mentions a wisdom that “….descendeth not from above, but (is) earthly, sensual, devilish.” Verse 17 describes wisdom from God: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, (and) easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” The wisdom that is required to repair a car or build a house is not in question here. What is at issue is a foolish wisdom that lives life without God here on earth. But where do we get God’s wisdom? Psalm 119:130 tells us: “The entrance of Thy Words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Foolish to the extreme is anyone who lives without drawing deeply, faithfully and intensely from God’s Word! All the world’s values and belief systems will be destroyed. In I Corinthians 1:19, the inspired record states: “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Only as our minds are permeated with Scripture will we know true wisdom. God’s Word applied and obeyed conveys God’s wisdom into our hearts. Our lives are changed and we are blessed with Godly wisdom. By the word of God the worlds were made, and are held in place by His commands; all the grasses wither and the flowers fade, but His truth forever stands. More to be desired than honey sweet, richer are its treasures, far, than gold; like a brilliant light, it shines to guide my feet, never grows its story old. Thy eternal law is my delight, strength and daily manna to my soul; ’tis my meditation all the day and night, balm to make the wounded whole. Stream of life from Heaven, crystal pure, shed thy cooling freshness over me; let my thirsting spirit, till I thirst no more, drink thy sparkling waters free. Oh, the precious Bible, counsel for the soul, path the faithful saints and martyrs trod; settled in the heavens, true while ages roll, changeless as the throne of God.” (“The Word of God,”-by Clara McAlister Brooks). Selah! God’s Word is the only foundation that we can safely make the basis of our lives.   Ron

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A Preview of Earth’s Future

Have you ever thought of a time when sin will be put down and dealt with swiftly. We can expect a vast improvement during Jesus’ thousand year reign on earth. Nevertheless, sin will not be completely gone during that period of time. Even though the thousand years begin with only saved people on earth, children will be born with Adam’s nature. Not a few of them will resent and reject Jesus. Even with that reality, world conditions will be the best since Eden. The Psalmist shares his inspired anticipation in Psalm 67: “(To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm [or] Song:) “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause His face to shine upon us; Selah. That Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health among all nations. Let the people praise Thee, O God; let all the people praise Thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for Thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah. Let the people praise Thee, O God; let all the people praise Thee. (Then) shall the earth yield her increase; (and) God, (even) our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.” This time of great blessing foreshadows the coming of the perfect day when all sin and wrong is purged from the earth and only righteousness is the saints’ experience. There will be no more sin, sickness, disease, danger or death. This is the “forever” destiny of all who know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Eliza E. Hewitt’s hymn, “Jesus Reigns Forever, Mighty Victor Still,” throbs with joy and longing for the “preview” and the final reign: “Jesus reigns forever, mighty Victor still; tempest, wave and sunshine shall His Word fulfill; pardon and salvation, joy and consolation, bless the happy people who obey His will. Jesus reigns forever, blessed Prince of Peace; thro’ the world’s dominions may His Word increase; by His grace unfailing, over sin prevailing, wonderful His kingdom, nevermore to cease. Jesus reigns forever on His heav’nly throne; yield Him glad allegiance, serving Him alone; when the finished story shall record His glory, we shall sing His mercy, and His goodness own. Jesus reigns, our mighty King forever!  Jesus reigns! transcendent in His love. Let our praises, blending, join the song unending, swell the hallelujahs of the world above.” Selah! Those who have experienced (or will experience) genuine conversion are given this preview and will see its fulfillment.   Ron

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