Devotional Reflections

Elusive Holiness

Posted on April 26, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”  1 Peter 1:15-16

Classical Christian writers often focused on the matter of holiness and the Spirit-filled life, but we seldom dwell on the issues of a sanctified life. We tend to relegate it to the theological realm of our salvation. Knowing that we were saved and cleansed by the blood of Christ, spiritually we are “saints” who are holy or “set apart” in the eyes of God. But that theological reality doesn’t necessarily translate into practical attitudes and behavior.

We tend to think of holiness as an unattainable level of perfection, something to …

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Walking the Talk

Posted on April 19, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”  Ephesians 4:1

Everyday we should practice being aware of the question of whether or not the life we live is consistent with what we confess to believe. I grew up hearing the admonition that we ought to practice what we preach. Although that truism has an application to those who stand in the pulpit and proclaim the word of God, it is relevant for every Christian.

We would readily acknowledge our tendency to fall short of how we know we are to live. Anyone who has attended church and read the Bible knows how a Christian …

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Substitutionary Resurrection

Posted on April 4, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11

The world makes a big deal of Christmas, but only Christians can truly celebrate Easter. Granted, the secularization of Christmas as practiced by the world is not exactly God-glorifying, it is the preeminent holiday of the year. Although the birthdate of founders of other religions are revered along with that of other prominent historical figures, it is appropriate that we celebrate Christmas day as the point in which Almighty God became a man in order to redeem us from sin.

Others …

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Palm Sunday: Short-lived Praise

Posted on March 26, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“The whole crowd began to praise God joyfully…‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.”  Luke 19:37-38

Celebration of Palm Sunday was a wonderful worship experience. Attendance was good, the sermon began to focus our thinking on the significance of the Passion Week. A special music presentation by the choir and orchestra in the evening stirred emotions to a peak of inspiration. Some churches traditionally dramatize the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem with a setting of children waving palm branches.

That triumphal entry as recorded in the 19th chapter of Luke’s gospel was obviously a climatic event in the popularity of Jesus as the crowds sang praises and welcomed Him as the King who comes …

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Living in the Bonus

Posted on March 15, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“The days of our years are three score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years…for as soon as it is cut off, and we fly away.” Psalm 90:10 (KJV)

Tomorrow is another birthday. They seem to come more often as the years flow by faster and faster. I thought they would slow down once I retired but maintaining a busy lifestyle keeps the pages of the calendar turning. In the early years of human history, people lived for hundreds of years; but as the earth was populated and generations multiplied, expected life spans shortened.

I remember hearing a sermon on “Living in the Hyphen.” Tombstones record one’s date of birth and death with a …

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Consequences are Inevitable

Posted on March 8, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“Do not be deceived. God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7

When will we ever learn that there are consequences to our actions whether good or bad? The cause and effect of what we do is inevitable. Is our human nature so stupid as to think we can do whatever we please without any responsibility for the result? That would seem to be the deceptive strategy of our enemy, Satan, who is intent of bringing us down.

The discipline of a young child is designed to teach this important principle. You misbehave and punishment ensues. Touch a hot stove and you will get burned. Break a toy and you no longer …

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An Accessible God

Posted on February 28, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“And you shall seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you, declares the Lord.”  Jeremiah 29:14

While traveling back to our missionary roots in Indonesia earlier this month, I used stories of our field experiences in sharing a devotional time each night with my grandchildren. Being immersed in Muslim culture and awakened by the call to prayer from the mosque at 4:00 am each morning, we were reminded us of the blatant contrast between Islam and Christianity.

After an aborted communist coup in 1965 the Indonesian government required all its citizens to practice a religion that believed in God as a deterrent to this potential threat that …

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God’s Purpose in Adversity

Posted on February 19, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

We recently traveled back to Indonesia with our daughter’s family to introduce her husband and children to her roots there. Along the way we recalled stories and experiences during our nightly devotionals about the years of missionary service in the 1970s. One subject of this sharing time focused on the adversity of our first term.

We had just arrived at our isolated assignment in East Java, more than four hours from any other western family. We began to be afflicted with staph infections with boils breaking out all over our bodies. Our 2-year-old son almost died when one of these infections on his forehead drained …

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When God is Our Refuge

Posted on February 8, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“Protect me, God, for I take refuge in You….I keep the Lord in mind always. Because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:1, 8

A refuge is a place of safety, somewhere we can feel secure. Birds seek refuge in their nests, something often used as an analogy of a place of rest. We read about refugees in war-torn countries of the world seeking to cross the border and find a place of safety from threats and dangers. Christians often feel that they are in a battle, wearied by stress and pressures to meet expectations or trying to live in conflict with the contrary values of a secular society.

We know in theory that …

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Overcoming Despair

Posted on February 1, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“Lord, how long will you continually forget me? How long will you hide your face from me?  Psalm 13:1

It is the unusual person who does not go through times of despair. Plans have gone awry. Having lost a job, subsequent employment is elusive and financial stability begins to unravel. Parents despair in cultivating appropriate behavior in their children or live with the disappointment of home life which is less than they dreamed it would be. People despair in seeking to lose weight or break unhealthy habits when their own intentions fall short of the required discipline.

For many it is just disillusionment with life. Days have become routine with lack of meaning and purpose. The sameness of our job …

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