Saturday, July 30, 2016

Surviving an Attack

If you are active in your Christian life, it's probably not going to be news for you to learn Satan is still on the attack.  We all should be constantly aware of his ways to distract, rob, ruin and eliminate our Christian endeavors. Not long ago, I stumbled onto this poster which gives 5 ways we can defeat Satan and his attacks on God's people.

(poster from

This weekend, lets give special attention to these ways we can be victorious over spiritual attack. Spend some time on each of these 5 suggestions and specifically the first 4 as a beginning.  If we are faithful in exercising 1-4, then we can deliver Satan's defeat as we watch God do his work for our victory.  We'd like to hear from you as you experience your victory over Satan.  God bless.

Friday, July 29, 2016

And the joy we share..........

Today's blog is repeated from 2013 by request.  The original post was made when I was in a local rehab facility recovering from hip replacement surgery.  --RonB

I was blessed to attend worship today at the dining hall/chapel of the rehab facility I have called home for just over a week.  I've been learning how to walk correctly with a walker, raise myself from a seated position, get in and out of bed, and probably a few other things you wouldn't be interested in hearing about. 

The Sunday schedule on the wall mentioned a devotional service at 10 AM so I decided to go.  I came wheeling into the middle of several rows of wheel chairs, people sitting in straight chairs leaning on walkers, and a few that had walked in there and found a comfortable place to sit and enjoy the music. 

The man was singing and playing an old beat up guitar, and leading us in a medley of praise songs.  I positioned my wheel chair in one corner and began singing along, but also observing some of the others. Being in a rehab facility, you can see just about every medical ailment known to mankind.  I am here because of a hip replacement surgery, and I noticed today's assembly was also being attended by one of the men from my physical therapy group who was recovering from knee replacement.  Others around the room were showing signs of suffering from strokes and some were there because of various injuries from falls.  All of us are in this place learning how to care for ourselves now that physical limitations have caused changes. 

There was one lady slumped way down in a mobile reclining chair, her body almost in the fetal position, and her husband seated beside her leaned closely to her ears as he sang the words of the songs.  Almost every person in there was really getting into the praise music, and I noticed hands clapping and at least one foot on everyone was patting to the beat. 

All of this reminded me of my growing up years, when we would take a group from our church to a similar facility and sing for the residents. I remember how I never looked forward to it and often expressed my displeasure at going, only to be reminded by mom that it would mean so much to the old people for us to be there. 

The man leading the praise medley finished and gave a welcome to all in attendance. There were lots of smiles on the faces of everyone as he told us about his years of being in a motorcycle gang, traveling and singing about the Lord. He then let everyone know he was going to lead some of the "older" hymns and started singing, "I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses;  And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. "
The lady sitting in front of me started it, then I noticed it in several others, too. Even the lady slumped in the fetal position was doing it. The memories of the song, and the importance of those words brought tears and mine could not be withheld.  I thought again about the words of the chorus, "And he walks with me and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own;  And the joy we share, as we tarry there; None other has ever known." 

I have heard lots of powerful sermons preached, but today I actually saw a sermon I will never forget.

Thursday, July 28, 2016


I was thumbing through some books at a garage sale and ran across a copy of Richard Stearn's book, Unfinished: Believing is Only the Beginning. A review, written by Collin Hansen, got my attention with Hansen's quote  from the book, "Christians have everything they need to finish Jesus' mission--except the willpower."

Knowing of Richard Stearns work with World Vision, and his previous outstanding book, The Hole in Our Gospel, I was drawn to see what his new book was about.  From the teaser in the written review, it's apparently  going to take aim at Christians, equipped for service, but with no willpower. Ouch!

I read a little more and Stearns hit me again with another line from his book.  He all but calls some of us by name when he says, "affluent, comfortable, and distracted" Christians no longer burn with passion to change the world.  Ouch, again!

Those two quotes are enough to get me to read the book, but I want us, based on the quotes given, to see if there is an application here that fits us.

Here's the first one again: "Christians have everything they need to finish Jesus' mission--except the willpower."  This brings me to ask Christians today  (and I'm asking myself, too) if they, in becoming Christians, inherited not only the blessings of God's love and forgiveness, but also the task of finishing Jesus'  mission on earth?  While the answer is a resounding YES, I'm afraid that is not among the motives of most of us.  I thank and praise God for those whose lives are devoted to mission activities in reaching the unreached and teaching the untaught, even those close to home.  Richard Stearns himself left a profitable position in the business world to lead what is now one of the largest non-profit humanitarian groups on earth.  He is quick to point out everyone may not be called to do something like that but think of the accomplishments for God if we actually did the things God calls us to do. Stearns probably hits the nail on the head of the problem. It's a lack of willpower. 

And the second quote one more time: "affluent, comfortable, and distracted" Christians no longer burn with passion to change the world. That's quite a description of Christians today.  Affluent? We have become a society which adheres to the principle, "If there is nothing in this for me, count me out." Comfortable? Again we fall into the downward spiral of a worldly trap, "If I am called to do something or give something that takes me outside my comfort zone, get someone else for the job."  Distracted?  That's probably the part that convicts us the most. We allow other activities, events, commitments, and plans to get in the way of our vows to God and our world remains unchanged.  The early Christians like Peter preaching on Pentecost and Paul on his missionary journeys, had world changing commitment. It's time all of us were committed to making our world a heavenly place.

I can't wait to read Mr. Stearn's book. The review I read today has me excited, as all of us should be excited, about fulfilling the mission of our Lord, and renewing our passion to change the world.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

God Did It!

Four verses from Romans 8
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,  God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

No other segment of scripture says it so directly, "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  To the first recipients, the Roman Christians receiving this message, and to us, the boldness of the inspired writer, Paul, lets us know when we are in Jesus Christ, we will not be condemned.  The world may despise us, anti-Christian groups may hate us, individuals and masses may try to do away with us, and even the legalist which may rise us among us will say it's impossible, but God, the one that counts, tells us there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

To support the statement, Paul continues, "because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death."  Shortly before Jesus' death on the cross, he told his followers about the "Comforter" he would send.  This Comforter was none other than the third personality of our triune God, The Holy Spirit.  Followers of Jesus were promised the presence of the Spirit who would guide them, lead them, comfort them, empower them  and even live inside them. Now Paul lets us know it is this Spirit that delivers us from the law of sin and death.

 More supportive scriptural information is in the verse that follows,  "For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering."  The law could establish principles by which we should live, it could serve as a standard for dealing with others, it could even place God as the one true God for us to serve. But like our scripture under consideration says, what the law was powerless to do, weakened by the flesh, God did when he sent Jesus in the flesh to be our sin offering.

To summarize, " And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."  Paul supplies in his teaching the proposition we are not condemned in Christ, supported his claim by showing us the law of the Spirit, continued supporting this truth by telling us how God did it, ending by saying we no longer live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

My closing is to tell you the most important two words of that section of Scripture. Care to guess? They are the words found in verse 3,  "God did."  They are the most important because you cannot save yourself, but you can enjoy the blessings of salvation because of what God did.  Because of what God did, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Go learn what this means....

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’  For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”       Matthew 9:9-13

Matthew is one of those selected by the Spirit of God to write about the events surrounding the life of Jesus Christ.  His account of the actions and teachings of our Lord is filled with lessons we can learn and make application to us whose lives are 2,000 years later.

In the story from the middle part of Matthew 9, Jesus sees Matthew, the local tax collector, sitting at his desk, busily doing what tax collectors do.  But something different was about to interrupt Matthew's tax collecting.  Jesus spoke to him and said, "Follow me."  The next thing we know Matthew walks away from his tax collecting duties and follows Jesus.

Look closely at verse 10 as the scene moves to Matthew's house and Jesus is also there having dinner. Not only that, but there were many tax collector and other sinners stopping by to eat. Then the Pharisees took notice and started questioning Jesus' disciples about his new association with the despised tax collectors and sinners.

Jesus hears the questions and makes an interesting answer. Read verses 12 and 13 again. "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  Go learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

The first part which Jesus answered is easy to understand. We can know how foolish it would be for healthy people to seek a doctor.  On the other hand, sick people need doctoring. But the second part of his answer might need some deeper thinking.  I think we can assume the Pharisees didn't bother with going to learn the meaning of Jesus' statement.  Mercy?   Sacrifice?  Nor could they fully
comprehend the closing statement, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

The Pharisees were the self-appointed police of truth, but Jesus has thrown them a curve with his answers. They knew the law had plenty to say about sacrifices. Jesus is actually trying to get them to see, even greater than their sacrifices, is something called mercy. 

So Jesus wants us to know, too, that his mission is not directed to those who consider themselves spiritually healthy, like the Pharisees, but to those who suffer in spiritual sickness.  Also, we can learn that no matter how much we feel we sacrifice for God, he desires us to show mercy.  He didn't come to call those whose self-righteousness seemed sufficient, but sinners.

I suffer from spiritual weakness but I am glad he calls me to spiritual power.  And yes, I am a sinner and I am glad Jesus doesn't call the righteous, but sinners.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Getting High on God

I was thinking recently, mostly asking myself questions about this roller coaster we ride on almost daily, called life.  Then someone asked me, (they always ask at the lowest point of their experiences) why there seems to be highs and lows.  There are times when we feel so good about our Christian journey, seeming to find joy in accomplishing good things for God, and there are times when we feel so low we start to think we are absolutely useless. 

The only solace I get in thinking these things is that I am not alone.  As far as I can detect, what we have called the "roller coaster" event happens to all of us.  There are some things which might help us overcome the effects of those low points, and they come in the form of answering some questions.  These are questions I ask myself often, and you can see if they are beneficial to you.

1.  When was the last time I really worshiped?   Your mind probably goes back to Sunday, perhaps a Sunday when you were present for worship services.  That point is good, but the worship suggestion I make to you today goes deeper than that.  For some of us, worship involves listening to a team leading our singing, and occasionally joining in to sing ourselves.  We have a time of prayer, a time of communion, a time of Bible study.  Any or all of these events are obvious parts of our worship assembly, but I am asking you personally, did you really worship?  Were there reflections about God and all he is to you and all he has done for you?  Did you pause to praise him and thank him for sacrificing his only son to pay for your sins?  Did you think of the instances God came to your rescue, just at the right time?  Examine not only the quantity, but the quality of your personal worship.

2.  How long since I have prayed with such intensity I poured out my heart to God?  There is a need for us to go beyond all the repeated phrases which we can remember from the public prayers, and get down to the business of confessing our sins to God, seeking his forgiveness, and a searching of our personal lives to see the areas which need genuine newness.  Start with the heart, the mind, and yes, even the physical things.  Remember we are on a roller coaster so we know what it's like to be at the peak, so can we go for more of the peak experiences and develop a stronger Christian of ourselves, learning to deal with and even overcome those low spots?  I am a firm believer that as long as we are in the process of getting closer to God, we find more and more of his indwelling comfort, his answers, his direction, and...... his everything!

3.  I must maintain a constant and regular schedule with the Scriptures.  Bible reading is one thing, Bible learning is quite different.  Learn to make the application of what you are reading directly to the experience which is troubling you.  You may need a Bible with index, concordance, cross references, and other helps.  I promise you, the answer to the problem is in the Word.  Get close to every page, and watch it become more and more of a reality in your daily experience.

Do you think God really cares about your problems.  Well, to him, they can lead you in your faith, all the way to perseverance.  James writes, "Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:3

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Psalm 119

As you read Psalm 119, pick the verses which you feel speak directly to you.  Here are a few of my picks:

Friday, July 22, 2016

Just One Chapter

Here is a Friday challenge for you:

I'm asking you to read just one chapter from the Bible. What could be easier?

Please don't just read words, but seek out the meanings, the applications, and yes, even the intent of the verses.  This might take a little time.  It will lead you to some soul searching.  It will enforce your faith.  It will bring you to a greater appreciation of who God is and how much he cares for you.

Here's the chapter......... Psalm 119

That's the longest chapter in the Bible but you can read it in one sitting.  Be sure to make some notes of the things you learn, or the verses which speak to you. 

I look forward to your comments in the coming days. 

God bless!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Another Chance

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,  for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness
                                                                            Lamentations 3:22-23

This morning as soon as I was awake, I was thinking this will be a better day than yesterday.  I had good intentions the day before, but interruptions, changed plans, and a couple of unexpected phone calls, and yesterday's list of things I had to get done, didn't get done.  Maybe that's happened to you, too.  When it does happen, the tasks of today are done hurriedly so maybe you can get some things done from yesterday's list.

Sound familiar?  I suppose we all have those days when, no matter how hard we try, we get further behind in our intentions.  And when we do things in a fast-paced way, we often make a mess of the things we wanted to do perfectly. 

The verses above let us know a lot about God's love.  It's because God loves us that we are not totally defeated.  Or perhaps the word "consumed" is the better word.  I find myself in line with those who are always happy to know God's compassion never fails. Without God's mercy all of our mistakes and blunders would be amplified beyond our ability to cope.  That's why I claim these verses specifically for me, and for all those who praise God in knowing his mercies (compassions) are new every morning. 

God loves us and extends his mercies as a new gift every morning.  That let's me know yesterdays failures bring me another chance for a "do-over." Our God is a God of second chances.  That lets me try again today to be all God wants me to be and do all he wants me to do.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Growing Up

"Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."   1 Peter 2:1-3

Today we are going to look at two segments of Scripture from the pen of Peter.  We recently wrote about the middle part of this chapter, Jesus, the Living Stone, and Christians becoming like living stones, built into a spiritual house. Since the time of that writing, I have looked back at the paragraph which was before that teaching by Peter, and the paragraph after.  This will not only help us to better understand Christians as living stones, but will let us remember where we came from, and where we are going as God's children. 

The first three verses in 1 Peter 2 give us a list of things which do not belong in the ranks of a "living stone" which is being built into a spiritual house.  That's why Peter is saying, "If these things are a part of you, then get rid of them."  The list includes things like malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. When we stop and think about it, those things really don't fit in with spiritual house building. 

Then Peter suggests to those who rid themselves of those things, should be like babies, desiring the pure spiritual milk which will help them grow up in their salvation.  That reveals to us we are looking here at folks who have "tasted the goodness of the Lord," but still have some growing to do as they rid themselves of the bad things which do not belong in the life of the Christian.  Remember, Peter is getting ready at this point to teach them about Jesus, the Living Stone, and through him, they themselves can become like living stones and used in the building of the spiritual house.  So now, the last paragraph, which comes after the lesson on living stones. 

  "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."  1 Peter 2:9-10

Peter, an old sinner himself, is writing to sinners who are on the road to straightening out their lives from the ground up. We have noted it begins with spiritual infancy and feeding on the spiritual milk.  From that, there is growth and the living stone analogy.  Now notice in these last verses, Peter  calls them a "holy nation."  He continues with description phrases like "God's special possession" and "called out of darkness into his wonderful light."  

Almost as a benediction Peter informs them at one time they were "not a people but now they were the people of God."  Then he reminds them of the love behind such a drastic change when he says, "once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."  

His love and mercy are still that powerful, and still available to us as we yield to his call and allow him to lead us through his transforming power.  Now that you have tasted the goodness of the Lord, let his transformation begin in you.