You Were There!

There is a hymn that is used most around Easter and with messages about Jesus’ cross. Its title asks: Were you there? The idea seems to be that we really should think on Calvary as if we were there when He hung there. Actually, however, all who receive (or will receive) Jesus as Lord and Savior were there! We were “in Him” when He suffered, died, and rose again. God, the Father, placed all the redeemed in Jesus. So close is that union, that identification, that we have been given a “position,” a “standing” of being “perfected”-in Christ. With that record behind us, God works to make it real in our daily experience. Paul’s inspired message in Galatians 2:20 was not only for that local church; it is for us as well! “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” “I am” (The tense is that of something that took place back there at the cross but is taking place daily in the lives of true believers). “I,” our self-life is being crucified daily. When it rears its ugly head pulling us down, our response is: “I” am dead to what you are trying to do to trap me. For that to work, we must bring God’s Word to bear on the temptation. We take a stand on His Word and refuse to be emotionally swayed. We depend on the Holy Spirit’s strength to give us a cast-iron will to go by Scripture and not by “feelings.” A. B. Simpson wrote about this in his hymn, “Not I, But Christ.” Think on this: “Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted; not I, but Christ, be seen be known, be heard; not I, but Christ, in every look and action, not I, but Christ, in every thought and word. Not I, but Christ, to gently soothe in sorrow; not I, but Christ, to wipe the falling tear; not I, but Christ, to lift the weary burden! Not I, but Christ, to hush away all fear. Not I, but Christ, in lowly, silent labor; not I, but Christ, in humble, earnest toil;  Christ, only Christ! no show, no ostentation! Christ, none but Christ, the gath’rer of the spoil. Christ, only Christ, ere long will fill my vision; glory excelling, soon, full soon, I’ll see– Christ, only Christ, my every wish fulfilling– Christ, only Christ, my All in all to be.” Selah! This daily experience doesn’t happen in an instant. As we daily learn from and use the Sword of the Spirit, more and more of “I” will fall before the cross!  Ron

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There are far more idols than we realize. True Christians usually recognize as idols, those that are made by hands. How many recognize idols of the heart? An exhaustive list would be well beyond the boundaries of this “post.” However, here’s a sampling of things that too often become idols: careers, jobs, popularity, wealth, entertainment, sex, travel, hobbies, etc. Many more things could be added. When do these things become idols? When they capture our time, attention, interest, resources, actions, efforts, fascination, etc. as much as or more than Jesus. Anything that keeps Jesus from being the highest priority of our lives is an idol! Paul, in I Thessalonians 1:9-10, commended those believers at Thessalonica because they: “….turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from Heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, (even) Jesus,” Let us follow their example! May the burning desire of our hearts be that of William Cowper’s as expressed in the title of his hymn, “O for a Closer Walk with God,” which included this prayer that must be ours: “The dearest idol I have known, whate’er that idol be, help me to tear it from Thy throne and worship only Thee.” Selah! True worship arises when we begin to understand His sacrifice on Calvary for us; it intensifies when we devote ourselves to a deepening relationship with Him; it comes to full fruition when we see Him face-to-face!    Ron

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Jesus is the most fascinating Person of all times. Biographies of His life are interesting and inspiring. Reading the four Gospels gives us a wonderful understanding of Him. Those who know Him as their Savior and Lord love to learn all about Him. While all of this is hugely important and absolutely essential for us to do, it is not enough! We need to go much further! We need to have a true “one on one” personal friendship, fellowship and relationship! Saul knew about Jesus. He had hostility against Him and His followers. The last thing he wanted was to know Jesus on a personal level. Then one day the risen Jesus dramatically confronted him on the road to Damascus. In a moment of life changing surrender, Saul saw Jesus for Who He was. His life was changed; his name was changed to Paul, and his purpose and goals were completely changed. The rest of his life was spent getting to really know Jesus personally and urging others to come to know Jesus. When he saw Jesus for Who he was, all hostility was ended. Paul was driven to know Jesus intimately. His testimony, in Philippians 1:21, was: “For to me to live (is) Christ….” Is that our passion? Let’s move from knowledge about Jesus to knowing Him in a love-filled personal relationship. Then, we can identify with Thoro Harris’ hymn, “All That thrills My Soul Is Jesus.” This is how he put it: “Who can cheer the heart like Jesus, by His Presence all divine? True and tender, pure and precious, Oh, how blest to call Him mine! Love of Christ so freely given, grace of God beyond degree, mercy higher than the heaven, deeper than the deepest sea. Ev’ry need His hand supplying, ev’ry good in Him I see; on His strength divine relying, He is all in all to me. By the crystal flowing river with the ransomed I will sing and forever and forever praise and glorify the King. All that thrills my soul is Jesus, He is more than life to me and the fairest of ten thousand in my blessed Lord I see.” Selah! When the eyes of faith see Him all through the pages of Scripture, we will really get to know Him personally!   Ron

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Grasping Spiritual Reality

If Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we must think “outside the box” of time. Time for us is a brief dot within “eternity.” Without that perspective, hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc. can seem very long. However, as we look back over the years, we often ask: “Where has the time gone.” Within time, we experience pain, worry, fear, sorrows, sickness and other types of suffering. In I Peter 4:12, Peter tells us: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” As we are stressed and scared, we must not lose sight of God’s grace and help. Draw on His love, grace, strength and comfort. Remember, our faith is being tested: “….now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (From: I Peter 1:6-7). Facing being burned alive, three Hebrew young men trusted God regardless of circumstances. Paul, who suffered far more than most of us will ever suffer, was inspired to remind us that our light? affliction is only for a moment, even when it seems to never end. Remember: God purifies His gold  silver and precious stones. Just as He was with those three young men, He is with us each step of the way! “Just When I Need Him Most,”-By William C. Poole, speaks to this: “Just when I need Him, Jesus is near, just when I falter, just when I fear; ready to help me, ready to cheer, just when I need Him most. Just when I need Him, Jesus is true, never forsaking, all the way through; giving for burdens pleasures anew, just when I need Him most. Just when I need Him, Jesus is strong, bearing my burdens all the day long; for all my sorrow giving a song, just when I need Him most. Just when I need Him, He is my all, answering when upon Him I call; tenderly watching lest I should fall, just when I need Him most. Just when I need Him most, just when I need Him most, Jesus is near to comfort and cheer, just when I need Him most.” Selah! The finished product will validate the intensity of the heat, “For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” (From Ephesians 2:10).     Ron

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The Missing Peace

Those who know Jesus as their Lord and Savior are promised: “….the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (From Philippians 4:7). However, the sad reality is that peace is missing in many Christian’s lives. Why is that? One basic reason is that we try to make peace conditional. We are at peace when things are going the way we want them to go and/or when we can do what we want to do. Peace is not dependent on our circumstances; it is dependent on our unconditional trust in God’s care and His working in our lives. Circumstances can be physically and emotionally draining. What we experience, we may not understand. We don’t always have to understand! In Proverbs 3:5, we are explicitly told: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Isaiah 26:3 adds: “Thou wilt keep (him) in perfect peace, (whose) mind (is) stayed (on Thee): because he trusteth in Thee“. Someone wisely said, “Nothing can touch us unless it first passes through the permissive will of God!” If He permits it, He has a loving purpose in doing so. From Isaiah 30:15, carefully ponder this excerpt: “….in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength….” Regardless of troubling emotions and problems that seem insurmountable, we determine to trust our all wise God and His love! God is concerned about our problems; He is much more concerned with our response to them. Rest in His love and purposes and He will guide you through. “Let not your heart be troubled” and missing peace will return to your heart! John S. Brown’s hymn, “Hidden Peace,” speaks of peace in the hardest moments of our journey home: “I cannot tell thee whence it came, this peace within my breast; but this I know, there fills my soul a strange and tranquil rest. Beneath the toil and care of life, this hidden stream flows on; my weary soul no longer thirsts, nor am I sad and lone. I cannot tell the half of love, unfeigned, supreme, divine, that caused my darkest inmost self with beams of hope to shine. I cannot tell thee why He chose to suffer and to die, but if I suffer here with Him, I’ll reign with Him on high. There’s a deep, settled peace in my soul,  There’s a deep, settled peace in my soul, tho’ the billows of sin near me roll, He abides, Christ abides.” Selah! Trusting in the trustworthiness of the trustworthy One fills our hearts with a deep settled peace! Don’t let peace continue to be missing in your heart  Ron

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The Transforming Process-Part 6

Why have I done six posts on this subject? It’s because this is the life story of all who are truly born again. But what about the end of the process? Well, back up with me a moment. With all of the attacks, temptations, obstacles, distractions, etc. something very important is going on. Peter gives us a summary of our responsibility in this process: “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that (pertain) unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make (you that ye shall) neither (be) barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:1-8). When this process ends, we leave time behind and enter eternity! A lifetime of this process leads to this glorious conclusion/beginning: “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Verse 11). And, in this great moment: “….we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” (From ! John 3:2). W. Elmo Mercer gives insights into this process in his hymn, “Each Step I Take,” in these words: “Each step I take, my Savior goes before me, and with His loving hand He leads the way. And with each breath I whisper “I adore Thee;” O, what joy to walk with Him each day. At times I feel my faith begin to waver, when up ahead I see a chasm wide. It’s then I turn and look up to my Savior, I am strong when He is by my side. I trust in God no matter come what may, for life eternal is in His hand. He holds the key that opens up the way that will lead me to the promised land. Each step I take, I know that He will guide me; to higher ground He ever leads me on, until someday the last step will be taken, each step I take just leads me closer home.” Selah! That last step and Oh, what a sight!!   Ron

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The Transforming Process-Part 5

The path of least resistance is to “give in” to our carnal cravings. It is far easier and seems to bring pleasure. That “pleasure” is not “long lasting.” And, it has consequences! We are to be disciplined; we are not to be weaklings: “taken captive by him [Satan] at his will.” (From II Timothy 2:26). In fact, God’s saving grace teaches (disciplines) us that: “….denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” (From Titus 2:12). Our three basic means of Spiritual strength and discipline are: “….the shield of faith,” ….the helmet of salvation,” and “….the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God….” (From Ephesians 6;16-17). How do we use these means? First, believing (trusting) what God says in His Word, instead of falling for Satan’s temptations and his skillful manipulation of our emotions and desires. Second, this is only possible if we have experienced salvation by receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord. The helmet of salvation protects our thoughts from being hi-jacked. Scripture changes our thinking from our way of thinking before we came to Christ. This “renewed” thinking wards off Satan’s attempts to control our thoughts. Last, but not least, is the Sword of the Spirit! This is letting the Holy Spirit teach us Spiritual Truth and Godly principles and guidelines. Then, through prayer, He enables us to wield this Sword with God-given skill. “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. Brave to bear life’s testing, strong the foe to meet, walking like a hero midst the furnace heat, doing wondrous exploits with the Spirit’s Sword, winning souls for Jesus, praise, oh, praise the Lord!” (From: Victory All the Time“-by Mrs. C. H. Morris). Selah! Truly trusting what God says in His Word, or not trusting it, determines if we will know victory or defeat. You decide: “wimp” or warrior!”    Ron

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