Devotional Reflections

. . . But God!

Posted on January 25, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…” Ephesians 2:4

During my student pastorate in a small rural community in North Texas I can remember being indignant over a farmer who regularly plowed his fields on Sunday mornings. He never came to church and seemed to delight in this blatant expression of his lack of respect for the Lord’s Day. But I soon realized that we should not expect non-Christians to conform to our religious convictions and way of life.

We should all be distraught over the growing acceptance of sinful practices and carnal lifestyles in our society. We would like to dictate laws that enforce morality, but that would result only …

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Those With No Hope

Posted on January 19, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as other who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13

Having attended three funerals in the last two weeks, I invariably think of this verse as I reflect on the joy and celebration of these occasions. It seems counter-intuitive that a funeral would be a time of joy instead of grief, but that is a proper perspective for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ and served Him faithfully.

All of these, my former pastor and two emeritus missionaries, were advanced in age and had a long tenure of Christian service. Most of their peers and colleagues had already graduated …

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Following the Narrow Way

Posted on January 11, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” Matthew 7:14

We should not be surprised that many are indifferent to the gospel and unresponsive to our witness. We would like to think that the world would be evangelized if we would be more diligent and faithful in sharing the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, but that is not necessarily true.

When we went overseas as missionaries I thought the pages of Acts would unfold and multitudes would be saved every day once we arrived on the shores of Indonesia. I assumed they were aware of their lostness and despairing in their search for God. Once …

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New Creation in Christ

Posted on January 4, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

I never ceased to be amazed at dramatic testimonies of changed lives. It strengthens my faith whenever I hear of someone who is radically changed by the grace of God. It reaffirms that there is no depth of degradation and sin, no carnal lifestyle or reprobate character that cannot be redeemed when one turns their faith to Jesus Christ.

While I rejoice in significant conversions of others, it sometimes makes me feel that something is lacking in my own experience. I was saved at a young age and had been nurtured in a church-going family. …

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How Long Will Christmas Last?

Posted on December 27, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

Christmas is over for another year. The gifts have been exchanged with friends and loved ones, decorations taken down and packed away and the Christmas tree thrown out with the trash. Admittedly, in the midst of the beauty of colorful lights and lilting carols heard and sung once a year, the season is actually quite a hassle.

Shopping is filled with anxiety in trying to select just the right gifts that will be appreciated while maneuvering among congested traffic and shoppers to find the best bargain. The pilgrimage home to gather with scattered family members, sometimes in inclement weather and enduring improvised sleeping arrangements at grandmother’s house, …

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Prayer is Work

Posted on December 14, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“Epaphras…always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.” Colossians 4:12

I am concluding this series of devotionals on the prayers of Paul with a final observation that prayer is work. Having led a number of prayer conferences and discipled believers over the years, I have found that few are truly satisfied with their practice of prayer. I can personally testify that it is a struggle to experience a consistent intimacy with God. Too often we resort to a perfunctory discipline, trying to find creative words worthy of communing with the Father and succumbing to repetitious expressions.

Concentration is difficult as our minds tend to wander. While …

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The Outcome of Intercession

Posted on December 7, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“In order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:12

Prayers that Paul prayed for the churches and co-workers who were recipients of his epistles reveal a great deal about the nature of prayer and God’s desire for us. They are also guidelines by which we can learn to pray more effectively. In this tenth devotional reflection of the series we get fresh insight into the ultimate purpose of intercessory prayer.

Many of our public prayers are quite general as we pray for God’s blessings or for those in crisis, for our city and nation and for …

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Implementing our Prayers

Posted on November 9, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“We night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face and may complete what is lacking in your faith.” 1 Thessalonians 3:10

In passages similar to Philippians and Colossians, Paul prays for those in the church at Thessalonica. In the opening verses he thanks God for them and intercedes for them with gratitude for their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:3). Here again is that litany of faith, hope and love found repeatedly in the Bible.

It is significant to note that these are not passive character traits but action-related attributes. Faith is not just a matter of trust but is reflected in …

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Praying for God’s Will

Posted on November 2, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Colossians 1:9

Who has not at some time prayed to know God’s will. Perhaps it was as a student seeking divine direction for a vocational choice or someone struggling with a sense of call to missions or ministry. Throughout life we pray for a knowledge of God’s will as we make decisions or have to choose between two courses of action. Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-12 was that his readers would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.

This was an unceasing prayer which implied we need to be spiritually sensitive …

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Anyone Thankful for You?

Posted on October 26, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.” Colossians 1:3-6

Is anyone thankful for you? We would like to think that there are a few people who are glad that we were born on this earth and are thankful for what our life means to them. Surely our spouse, our children and our parents are thankful for us, though there may be those times of conflicts and strained relationships that would challenge that premise. Occasionally our boss or supervisor may express appreciation for a job well done, or someone at church or in our community say they are thankful for a service rendered.

Is there anyone who, when they come to mind, …

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