Devotional Reflections

Flee, Follow and Fight

Posted on July 13, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“Run from these things; but pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the faith.” 1 Timothy 6:11-12

We tend to simplify what it takes to live a successful Christian life. In the minds of most believers one is a good Christian if he goes to church, prays, does what is good, and tries to live according to Godʼs laws. There is nothing wrong with that, but a victorious life of serving God is much more complex. The Apostle Paul writes to his young protege, Timothy, and advises him that contending for the faith is a battle, and that it involves conscientious efforts both negative and positive.

This focus passage in 1 Timothy 6:11 first …

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Intimacy with God

Posted on July 6, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant” (Psalm 25:14).

In previous devotionals we have reviewed how the fear of God is the compelling motivation for living a holy and godly life for His glory. It is the source of wisdom and understanding for knowing Godʼs will. The fear of God supersedes knowledge, intellect and human reasoning for guiding our lives and appropriate decision-making. It is also a deterrent to evil as our reverence for and submission to a sovereign God makes us accountable in doing only that which would please and be glorifying to Him.

The Bible reminds us that the fear of God gives meaning and purpose …

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Assurance of Life’s Provisions

Posted on June 29, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“There is no want to those who fear the Lord” (Psalm 34:9).

We understand there are big issues that shape the direction of our life. As Christians we should serve God, faithfully worship with the people of God and live to make a difference for eternity. Hopefully, we have nailed down the foundational values that enable us to live moral lives and contribute positively to our community.

But that is not where we live from day-to-day. Life is typically dominated by concern for meeting the needs of our family. In an evil and fallen world, we live with a gnawing anxiety about the possibility of being involved in a traffic accident, diagnosed with cancer or other debilitating disease or becoming …

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Finding Purpose and Meaning in Life

Posted on June 22, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“Teach me your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify your name forevermore” (Psalm 86:11-12).

Continuing our focus on the fear of God, the Bible reveals that this is the key for knowing Godʼs will and finding purpose in life. Wanting to know Godʼs will is common to every dedicated Christian. Young people understand that God has a plan and purpose for their life. Each day we are faced with decisions about what to do and how God wants us to live. There are major decisions that come along in life that result in job …

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No Fear of God

Posted on June 10, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” Judges 21:25

Most Christians have a sincere desire to live a godly life and follow Godʼs will, but consistently fail because their efforts are based on a legalistic approach of trying to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. We must realize that a holy life and victorious living doesn’t come from mere obedience but a faith-walk of trusting Christ–”not I, but Christ.” But we often overlook a simple, singular key for success in the Christian life. Scripture is prolific in its admonition to fear God.

Proverbs 9:10 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, …

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A Life Worth Imitating

Posted on May 25, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.” 1 Cor. 11:1

The Apostle Paul offers what appears to be a rather arrogant exhortation to his readers when he advised them to imitate him and, if they did so, they would be imitators of Christ. We tend to be more aware of our own flaws and failings rather than presuming to have attained a level of obedience and holiness worth emulating by others. But are we conscious of what kind of model and example we are to others.

The level of our devotion and nature of our Christian walk is more by imitation than learning. We see someone living a godly life who exhibits patience, shows compassion, is unflappable …

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Grieve, but Not Without Hope

Posted on May 18, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do those without hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Attending the funeral last week of Fran Buckley reminded me, in the unavoidable emotions I experienced, of the unique Christian perspective on death. Fran, with her husband, R.T., served for more than 30 years as missionaries in Bangladesh. It was our privilege to work with these dedicated missionary colleagues and personal friends from Mississippi.

Earlier this spring Bobbye and I participated in the funerals of both Win and Laverne Applewhite, fellow missionaries from Indonesia who mentored and encouraged us when we arrived as novices. We joined Matt Bristol in grieving the passing …

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Praying God’s Providence

Posted on May 11, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

When the New Testament church was born, and the followers of Christ set out to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, it was not a welcoming environment. In fact, they encountered hostility, rejection and government restrictions, similar to what many modern day missionaries are experiencing. The reaction of established religious authorities was especially harsh. The apostles were threatened, arrested, beaten and were soon to be martyred; they were ordered not to preach and teach publicly in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4 tells of the arrest of Peter and John. When they were released they went and reported their harassment to the gathering of local believers who responded by praying. It is worthy to note the nature …

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Telling Jesus What to Do!

Posted on May 3, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“Send the crowd away so they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find food and lodging, because we are in a deserted place here.” (Luke 9:12)

Feeding the 5,000 is one of the most prominent miracles in the Bible; it is the only miracle of Jesus recorded in all four Gospels. It reflects the compassion of Jesus for people in need and is an amazing demonstration of His power to meet our daily needs. It did have negative repercussions in the people missing the spiritual implications of Jesus as the Bread of Life and their wanting to make Him an earthly king that would fulfill their entitlement of food and material things.

Often missed in this familiar …

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Aware of Jesus’ Presence

Posted on April 27, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin

“Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him.” (Luke 24:31)

On Easter Sunday the focus of our Bible study group was on the account of the two men on the road to Emmaus. These, identified as Cleopas and his companion, were disciples of Jesus. Though not included among the twelve, they had been with Jesus, followed Him, seen His miracles, heard His teachings and believed in Him as the promised Messiah. Yet they did not recognize Him when Jesus came along and joined them on the road and in the conversation about the events in Jerusalem.

The Scripture indicates a passive action; they were prevented from recognizing Him, implying God had a purpose in obscuring Jesus’ identity. We also …

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