There are some basic desires that most, if not all, people have. Let me list some: 1) the desire for recognition; 2) the desire for security; 3) the desire for love; 4) the desire for purpose; 5) the desire for acceptance. It is a rare human being, indeed, who has all desires met! When someone does have all those desires met, it’s only for this life. However, for those who have entered into a saving relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior, the satisfying of those desires are available for time and eternity. The Psalmist gives us this inspired promise: “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4). For example: Recognition – “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love” (From Hebrews 6:10); – Security “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any (man) pluck them out of My hand” (From John 10:28); Love – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life;” – Purpose “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, (which is) your reasonable service.” (From Romans 12:1);- Acceptance “He hath made us accepted in the beloved” (From Ephesians 1:6). Jesus grants these desires in proportion to the level of commitment we have to studying, applying and obeying His Word. Give careful thought to this stanza from “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” by Joachim Neander: “Praise to the LORD, Who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth, shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth! Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been granted in what He ordaineth?” Selah! Our self-centered desires, even when met, never begin to compare with the joy and fulfillment that comes from the granting of Godly desires! Ron
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Delicious fruit requires knowledge, effort and care. God’s orchard requires the same things. However, God’s fruit is unique and distinct from all other fruit. In fact, the first fruit is what brings about all the other fruit. What fruit is that? For many, it wouldn’t even be recognized as a fruit. Simply stated, it is “love!” Those who have Jesus as their Savior and Lord would believe love to be fruit. In Galatians 5:22, Paul explains: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love….” We believe this but……do we have the knowledge, will we make the effort, and take care of this fruit? To say that we are loved and that we love can be only a statement of something that we assume to be true, but without actually being experienced. The first step in loving and being loved is taking a long, hard, deep look at how much He loved and loves us. When was the last time we really thought deeply on what His love for us caused Him to suffer? When have we thought on what agony that He endured to save us from the penalty that we deserved? This requires time, deep thought, and really getting to comprehend what moved Him to pay such a price and coming to respond to such love with intense gratitude, love for Him and worship. “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,”- by Isaac Watts can give us insight into Jesus’ love and how to respond: “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast save in the death of Christ, my God! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood. See, from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down. Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown? Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small. Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” Selah! Quality time, consistently given to really knowing Him, will draw our hearts to Him, in worshipful adoration and the fruit of love will bless us and others. Ron
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This part of the fruit draws its strength from the other parts. As we mature in faith, we come to realize that we, apart from Him, have nothing for which to commend ourselves. Any good in our lives, before or after conversion, has its source in God’s grace and working in our lives. What is astonishing is that He takes our sin-ridden lives, forgives, cleanses, saves and imparts His Life to us. At that moment, He begins developing the likeness of His Son in and through us and continues the process throughout our lives, until our arrival in Heaven brings the completion of what He has been doing while we have been on earth. (See Philippians 1:6). So, meekness is having a Biblically sound assessment of ourselves. Before salvation, we are sinners; after salvation, we are sinners in process of being purified, changed and conformed to His likeness. This provides a unique perspective: I have no goodness in myself! In Christ, God gives me goodness, not my own, but His! Therefore, I have nothing to justify pride; I have a huge amount for which to be grateful: God’s work in me (and in you, if you are born again). God’s working gives meaning to our lives and He gets the glory. We have purpose and ministry because of Him. Romans 12:3 is the basis of our balanced perspective: “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think (of himself) more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” In ourselves, nothing; in Him, worthwhile lives! It’s all of grace! “I hear the Savior say, “thy strength indeed is small, child of weakness, watch and pray, find in Me thine all in all.” Lord, now indeed I find Thy pow’r and Thine alone, can change the leper’s spots and melt the heart of stone. For nothing good have I where-by Thy grace to claim; I’ll wash my garments white in the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb. And when, before the throne, I stand in Him complete, “Jesus died my soul to save,” my lips shall still repeat. Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe; sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” (“Jesus Paid It All”-by Elvina M. Hall). Selah! Only God, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, can salvage a sinner and shape a saint! Ron
Every truly born again person is a part of God’s “flesh and blood” temple! Speaking of Jesus, Ephesians 2:22 explains about this very unique temple: “In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” In this temple (the church), God the Holy Spirit dwells! Think carefully of the implications of this amazing Truth. Remember Jesus’ cleansing of the physical temple. God wants His temple to be clean; He also wants His Spiritual temple to be clean. Now, we who are His, know that we have been washed and cleansed with the precious blood of Jesus. Therefore, we become a part of this temple as completely clean people However, just as the ancient temple was defiled, we can take on defilement and allow uncleanness to enter our part of this temple. This has an impact on the entire temple. How can we have our uncleanness removed? Jesus still cleanses His temple! How? “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word” (Ephesians 5:25b-26). Our responsibility is found in I John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The hymnwriter addressed this responsibility in these words: “Search me, O God, and know my heart today, try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray; see if there be some wicked way in me; cleanse me from every sin, and set me free. 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. Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine; fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine; take all my will, my passion, self and pride; I now surrender, Lord, in me abide” (From the hymn, “Search Me, O God” by J. Edwin Orr). Selah God gave us some wonderful promises in II Corinthians 6:14-18. “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” (II Corinthians 7:1). Ron
Guest Article-By A. W. Tozer
March 09, 2017
The absence of the concept of discipleship from present-day Christianity leaves a vacuum which we instinctively try to fill with one or another substitute. I name a few.
Pietism. By this I mean an enjoyable feeling of affection for the person of our Lord which is valued for itself and is wholly unrelated to cross-bearing or the keeping of the commandments of Christ.
It is entirely possible to feel for Jesus an ardent love which is not of the Holy Spirit. Witness the love for the Virgin felt by certain devout souls, a love which in the very nature of things must be purely subjective. The heart is adept at emotional tricks and is entirely capable of falling in love with imaginary objects or romantic religious ideas.
In the confused world of romance young persons are constantly inquiring how they can tell when they are in love. They are afraid they may mistake some other sensation for true love and are seeking some trustworthy criterion by which they can judge the quality of their latest emotional fever. Their confusion of course arises from the erroneous notion that love is an enjoyable inward passion, without intellectual or volitional qualities and carrying with it no moral obligations.
Our Lord gave us a rule by which we can test our love for Him: He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him. . . . If a man love me, he will keep my words. . . He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings (John 14:21-24).
These words are too plain to need much interpreting. Proof of love for Christ is simply removed altogether from the realm of the feelings and placed in the realm of practical obedience. I think the rest of the New Testament is in full accord with this.
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There would have been no reason to believe these early disciples’ claims that Jesus had returned to life (except for some who had seen Him). Most had only the disciples claims that Jesus was alive. What could convince many skeptics that He was alive? Mark, in Chapter 16:17-20, records Jesus’ promise of preliminary confirmation of His messengers. This is what He said would validate the claims of those who obeyed His command to preach the gospel to every creature: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” Remember, they did not, at that point, have the whole Bible, as we do. They were enabled to do miracles in order to be believed. This was not to be continued long-term. As credibility was established, and the Word of God completed, the need for certain preliminary gifts diminished. A careful reading of I Corinthians 12-14; Romans 12:6-8, and Ephesians 4:11-12 can give us a balanced perspective on gifts. While some gifts have ceased and some have faded away, others remain. With the gifts that remain, we still have the responsibility and privilege to send the Light. In the hymn by that name, Charles H. Gabriel challenges all who have received the Light to send it to others: “There’s a call comes ringing o’er the restless wave, “Send the light! Send the light” There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save, Send the light! Send the light! Let us pray that grace may ev’rywhere abound, “Send the light! Send the light!” And a Christ-like spirit ev’rywhere be found, Send the light! Send the light! Send the light the blessed gospel light; let it shine from shore to shore! Send the light the blessed gospel light; let it shine forevermore!” Selah! As His church labors to get God’s Word into hearts and minds, for many the Light will shine! Ron
Have you ever had a very trying day, or even a few days, and then wake up one morning to a bright and beautiful start of the day? There were some very discouraged and troubled disciples who had been experiencing some very trying days. All their hopes had been dashed as they saw their Master and Lord nailed to a Roman Cross. The deliverance of Israel and the reign of the Messiah, in their minds, wasn’t going to happen. Their Leader was dead! End of story! Was it? No! It was the end of that particular chapter. God had something else planned. Mark 16:!-8 reveals the beginning of a bright, new day: “And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: He is risen; He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him. But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.” These women who loved and cared for Jesus, got up and went to His tomb, planning to anoint Him. No body! The stone had been rolled away, a great feat in itself! They spotted a young man in the supulchre (obviously, an angel) who told them that Jesus had risen. Dead people do not return to life, after three days and three nights in a tomb. Jesus did! They were given instructions. Astonished and afraid, they left to carry out these instructions. What a morning! He is (not was) Lord! “He is Lord, He is Lord! He is risen from the dead and He is Lord! Ev’ry knee shall bow, ev’ry tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!” Selah! His life inhabits the hearts (the inner being) of every person who knows Him as Savior and Lord. Astonishing! Praise God! Ron