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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Keep on Singing

A few summers ago I had the opportunity to visit a summer youth camp when one of my grandchildren was attending as a camper.  I had been invited to come to their evening devotional where several hundred youth campers had gathered for some time with God in worship.  Just today I was thinking of the "atmosphere" of that gathering of young people.  To be specific, I noted their enthusiasm in singing and thought about how it seemed those kids sang with greater zeal and attention than most of us older folks in a structured Sunday morning assembly.

Over the years I have spent considerable time in leading congregational singing, as well as singing in small groups.  With an educational background in music and now in my later years, I am still one to pay attention to the notes in a song book, as well as all the sharps, flats, and rests. And now, as not only a singer in the congregation, I like to think we sing songs that uplift our spirits while at the same time enjoying the worship and praise of our Heavenly Father.

Let me emphasize here that every note of every song I have sung, has not been in tune.  I may have to listen closer to make sure my harmony is blending, my tempo is correct, with most of the emphasis being God as the audience listening to me praise Him.

The scripture encourages us to "sing and make melody in our hearts."  That means to me, one of God's children, knowing he lives and abides in my heart, he is the first to know the genuineness of the praise I sing to him. I am attempting not only to make the songs pleasing to me, but to God.

I have also noticed there are some in the assembly who do not sing.  While I am one of those who will be vocal at every opportunity, I also confess my imperfections with an off-key note or perhaps my timing is out of wack. This is my greatest understanding of how to deal with these problems.  Keep on singing!  God desires these praises and overlooks our musical blunders.  Keep on singing!  You will grow closer to him with the routine of making melody in your hearts. Keep on singing!

"Sing and you'll be happy today. Press along to the goal, 
Trust in him who leads the way, He is keeping your soul;
Let the world know where you belong, Look to Jesus and pray.
Lift your voice and praise him in song, Sing and be happy today."

ronbwriting@gmail.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Relationships



How would you describe your relationship with God?  The suggestions above give a pretty good idea of what it means to be in a relationship .    As I read the list I am amazed at the writer's knack of using the acrostic to describe our relationships, and how closely it describes our relationship with God, too.

My suggestion today, as you read this list, utilize the thoughts presented and see how they might be applied to how you relate to God and His Will.  But then, also spend some time in thinking how your relationships with others need to fit these ideas.  Which one or ones are most important in your relationships?

This is one time we will welcome comments, suggestions, and additions to the list.  Feel free to send us an email at the address below, and give your insight into how these suggestions can help you relate better to God, as well as be more effective in relating to others.

The thoughts and meditations on this theme will bring us closer together, help us to grow, and bring us into a deeper understanding of the "what and how" God would have us relate to himself and others. 

God bless your thoughts and prayers today. 

<ronbwriting@gmail.com>

Monday, February 20, 2017

Interrupting Jesus?

Mark 10:46-52
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

It seems so natural that a person who is blind is anxious and excited about Jesus passing his way. This man had a need and had obviously heard about some of the things Jesus had done so he wanted to make sure his cry out to the Lord was heard. 

The scripture says that many rebuked this man and tried to keep him quiet. But he continued shouting at Jesus. He wanted mercy from the Lord. The result is the good part of the story, as the man was healed because of his faith. 

My focus on the story is to question those that tried to get Bartimaeus to be quiet. Did they think he is interrupting Jesus from some greater mission?  Could they think the Lord could be so busy he didn't have time to minister to one seemingly insignificant blind man?  The real beauty of this story is when our Lord stopped what he was doing and called the man to him. There is no doubt about the happiness of the blind beggar as the scripture tells us he "threw his cloak aside and jumped to his feet and came to Jesus."

The point is this. No one is insignificant in the eyes of the Lord. Whatever need we have, it's important to Him.  He will not be too busy, he will never ignore, he will always be interested in the situations of our lives.

If the Lord's ministry had been programmed by big company officials today, every time we called on him, we would talk to a recorded message, or we would be put on hold until a more convenient time, or we would have to make an appointment at some date and time in the future. 

Jesus cares. He is interested in YOU. He wants you to cast your cares on Him, for he cares for you. 

<ronbwriting@gmail.com>

Friday, February 17, 2017

The garments of salvation...

Isaiah 61:10-11
10 I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, 
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
 and  a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.



There is wonderful peace and exceeding joy when we know that God has clothed us with garments of salvation, and arrayed us in a robe of righteousness. Christians today need to know and understand how much the goodness of God is manifest in his people when they know God's salvation and God's righteousness.


Satan will attack us in an attempt to bring us down by convincing us that we are not worthy, or that we really do not receive salvation from God.  Sinners that we are, Satan will constantly work on us, getting us to believe that God would never save us.

In addition to the outward attacks of Satan, there are some inward attacks that happen, too. Inward accusations meant to tear down and damage the influence of the church. These may come in several forms, but the most evident movement from within the body of Christ is legalism. It rears its ugly head when Christians, under the guise of being defenders of the truth, try to bind us with a strict adherence to their list of biblical laws. Anyone that steps out of line is immediately suspect of not being a "real" Christian at all. The legalist cannot see that he allows himself to become exactly like the Pharisees, which Jesus continually chastised for making God's rules and laws a burden instead of a blessing. 


None of us will ever be perfect, and for me, I am glad. I can latch hold of the claim of Jesus that he did not come to save the perfect, he came to save the imperfect. Those who are not sick do not need a doctor, but those who suffer spiritual sickness can always lean on Jesus, the Great Physician. 


Legalism leads to self-righteousness, and those who make such a venture through life will have us believing our salvation is based on something we do, rather than God's grace, which assures us that salvation is something God does. My righteousness will not save me. Only God's righteousness can do the job. The legalist will have us believing we are under condemnation because of our sin. God wants us to receive forgiveness through Jesus paying the price for our sins on the cross. "There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1.  It's time we praise God by celebrating the freedom he has given. 


<ronbwriting@gmail.com>

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Better Than Life


It was Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, that taught us the importance of learning and opening our lives more to the presence of God when he said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”  Matthew 5:6

We do know when it's lunchtime or dinner time.  We are programmed to feel hunger then to satisfy that hunger through eating.  The same is true with the sense of thirst, which we meet with a drink of water.  Jesus is saying our spiritual desires toward righteousness are fulfilled when we actually hunger and thirst for righteousness. 

To actually see this happening, look to Psalm 63 (from ESV)

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,

    beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,

    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek to destroy my life
    shall go down into the depths of the earth;
10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword;

    they shall be a portion for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
    all who swear by him shall exult,
    for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

David knows what it is to sincerely be seeking God, when he says his soul thirsts, and his flesh faints for God.  He looks upon God and beholds his power and glory , and the result is endless praise from David's lips.  He now has a satisfied soul, one that clings to God.  He has experienced God's help and sings for joy.  We can agree.  When we seek and experience God like David, we will know God's love really is "better than life."

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Above all these.......put on love

From time to time I like to go read and re-read passages of scripture that I have read numerous times. Today I was looking in the letter of Paul to the Colossians, and noticed the words of Colossians 3.  The first 14 verses are divided into 3 paragraphs, and carry an abundance of information pertaining to our lives in Jesus Christ. 

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."   We have been raised with Jesus.  It's time for us to start living and acting like citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom.  That can happen when we set our minds on things above so when Jesus comes, we will be seen with him in glory.

"5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all."   While we are still in this life, we are in a spiritual wrestling match with the world and the things of the world. In order to remain in Christ, we must continually be aware of the need to "put to death" the things of our earthly nature.  While we recognize with Paul that we used to have these ways in our lives prior to living for Christ, they all need to be brought under our control now, through dealing with them and erasing them from our lifestyle.  Paul says we have put on the new self which is continually being renewed, that we may reflect the image of our Creator.  That's why he can say to those in their new lives, that now, "Christ is all and is in all."

"12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."   It is because we have been raised with Christ, and because we put to death our earthly nature, we can now as God's people, wrap ourselves with things like compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  We can extend understanding and forgiveness where previously we would have been judgmental and divisive.  The key to all relationships is seen in the verse which says we are to forgive as the Lord forgave us.  

The last verse there, verse 14 is the "icing on the cake."  Paul has talked about lots of things we need to carefully consider.  The life-changing event of becoming a believer and follower of Jesus brings about lots of changes in us.  Now he says, " And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Did you catch that?  It is our love for each other that binds us all together in unity.   Yes, there is more.  I will leave it to you to read the rest of the chapter, but here is a hint, the rest of the chapter leads us to experience peace in our lives and in our relationships.  God is so good, and he leaves no stone unturned.  Trust him. 

ronbwriting@gmail.com