About This Blog

Welcome to The Word In Life! This blog is about the practical understanding and application of Scripture in everyday life. Come along as we explore God’s written word together.

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture is quoted from the New King James Version (NKJV).

Ron Franklin

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Moving on from offense

Have you ever gotten so angry at someone who mistreated you that if you had the power, there’d be nothing left of them but a black smudge on the ground?

Honestly, I’ve been there; and so, probably, have you. I’m just glad that when I was feeling those raw emotions, I didn’t have the power to do anything drastic about it.

But when a pair of Jesus’s disciples felt that He (and they) had been disrespected and mistreated by the residents of a Samaritan village, they did think they had the power to do something drastic about it, and wanted to:

BibleLuke 9:52-56 (NKJV) . . . they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.

What an example Jesus gives us here! Instead of receiving the Samaritans’ disrespect as an offense to Himself and reacting to it, Jesus let it roll right off His back, and just went on to the next town.

In other words, disrespect was aimed at Him, but because He refused to receive it and take it unto Himself, it couldn’t affect Him. James and John were infected with the spirit of retaliation. Jesus was animated by a spirit of love, even for those who showed anything but love to Him.

It’s very easy for me to be offended when someone shows me disrespect. But actually, it’s my choice how I react. In the moment when deliberate offense is aimed at me, I can choose to be like James and John, and look for a way to rain down fire on the culprits’ heads. Or I can choose to respond as Jesus did, recognizing that when someone deliberately communicates disrespect to me, it’s they who have the problem, not me.

Instead of trying to retaliate, I can cover their offense with God’s love, and move on.

Ron Franklin

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Setting my face like a flint on the job

At the time I decided to go to seminary, I was working as an engineering manager at a high tech company. I asked for and received a leave of absence to pursue my studies, with the understanding that when I graduated, my job would be waiting for me.

As I approached graduation, the company and I agreed on the date of my return to work. But when I walked in the door that day, it quickly became apparent they had no idea what to do with me.

My expectation, which I soon realized was unrealistic, was that I would step back into my old job, or one very like it. The company, on the other hand, had moved on, and seemed to have made no provision for my return. Now, they were scrambling to find a place for me.

The result was that I found myself relegated to a job I hated!

Doing that job, I quickly began to feel overlooked and unappreciated, and I dreaded going to work every day. It was very difficult for me to keep a positive attitude.

But what really helped me to be an overcomer in that most difficult time of my career was Isaiah’s picture of Jesus as He turned toward Jerusalem and the cross:

BibleIsaiah 50:7 (NKJV)  For the Lord GOD will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed.

“I have set my face like a flint.” That’s the example Jesus set as He faced the most difficult circumstance anyone has ever had to endure. And that’s what I felt I needed to do to make it through my own difficult times that threatened to keep me mired in hopelessness and depression.

I can’t tell you how many times a day I repeated that verse to myself! I prayed it, I confessed it, I stood on it.

I came to believe, on the basis of Romans 8:28-29, that I wasn’t where I was by accident. God not only knew about my situation, but had brought me to that place for a purpose. So, instead of allowing myself to be beat down by a circumstance I hated but couldn’t control, I “set my face like a flint” to glorify God through that job for as long as He kept me there.

After a year doing that uncongenial work, God opened up an entirely unexpected opportunity with another company that moved me clear across the country and turned my life in a totally new direction. I literally wouldn’t be where I am today had it not been for that difficult time in my life.

And I will always believe that it was the inspiration of Isaiah’s picture of the Lord setting His face like a flint that that brought me through.

Ron Franklin

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Setting my face like a flint!

I remember a Peanuts cartoon in which Charlie Brown is determined to finally go and speak to the little red haired girl who is his idol. This time he’s going to do it, and nothing will stop him!

Then it starts to rain.

Well, you know what happened. Charlie Brown isn’t called wishy-washy for nothing.

We all have some Charlie Brown in us. I know I do. For me, it’s far too easy to get distracted or lose focus, or be deterred by challenging circumstances, and end up not following through on commitments I’ve made.

I think that’s why the Bible’s picture of Jesus setting His face to go to the cross is so meaningful to me (see The Resolute Love of Jesus).

Bible

Isaiah 50:5-7 (NKJV) The Lord GOD has opened My ear; And I was not rebellious, Nor did I turn away. 6  I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. 7  “For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.

Jesus set His face like a flint. That vivid image helps me to understand what commitment really is. It means that once I know what God is calling me to do, there’s no discussion, no argument, no questioning … no ifs, ands, or buts.

No obstacle or difficulty will make me change my mind. If it’s too hot or too cold, that won’t stop me. If I’m tired, I’ll try to get some rest, but being tired won’t keep me from doing what I’m called to do. If people talk about me and ridicule me, it may hurt, but it won’t make me turn around.

If I am going to accomplish anything of value in life, and especially if I’m going to fulfill my God-given calling, I’m going to have to set my face like a flint, just as Jesus did.

That’s what it takes to have victory over the obstacles that inevitably confront me in life. That’s what it takes to be an overcomer.

Ron Franklin

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The Resolute Love of Jesus

Jesus, when He walked the earth, was both fully God and fully man. I think we sometimes forget how fully man He was. When He was about to go to the cross, the human Jesus felt all the trepidation any of us would feel at the prospect of suffering and death that awaited Him.

I really like Luke’s description of how Jesus began His final journey toward the cross:

Bible

Luke 9:51 (NKJV) Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem,

Jesus “steadfastly set His face” to go to Jerusalem.

You could read this, on one level, as simply saying He purposed to go to Jerusalem. But I think it goes much deeper than that. I think about the imagery of “He set His face.” That’s very vivid. It’s like Jesus, knowing He was headed directly toward the greatest challenge anyone could face, put His game face on.

But even that picture was not quite enough for Luke. He wants to make sure we really understand that going to Jerusalem and the cross was neither easy nor automatic for the human Jesus. It’s something He had to deliberately determine to do, knowing what the cost would be.

So, Luke adds that not only did Jesus set His face, He did so “steadfastly.” That word in the Greek means to be fixed, strong, firm, unmovable.

That’s how Jesus faced the challenge of the cross. He did not flinch, and He did not waver. He went resolutely forward to accomplish the work He came to earth to do. And He did it for you and for me.

When I remember how human Jesus was when He set His face to go to the cross, it makes me even more deeply appreciative of the love God has for me:

Romans 5:8    But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

That’s love!

Ron Franklin

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Pride Can Be Sneaky!

One summer, years ago now, a friend and I backpacked through Europe. We got Eurail Passes and traveled by train to most of the countries on the continent. Naturally, everywhere we went, sooner or later someone would ask us what kind of work we did.

I had taken a leave of absence from IBM to attend seminary. So, when people asked about my work, I would tell them that I was an electrical engineer working for IBM. After seeing me respond this way several times, my friend told me something about myself that pretty much astounded me. She said that whenever I told people I worked for IBM, I took on an air of pridefulness.

That was hard for me to believe. At that time I considered IBM to be perhaps the most elite company in the high-tech world. Apparently what my friend detected was an unconscious conviction that working for such a company made me elite as well! Yet, I was entirely unaware of having that kind of pride, and certainly had no idea that I was communicating it to other people.

As I think back on that episode, I see it as an example of how subtle our pride can be. To C. S. Lewis it is the vice we most easily overlook in ourselves. He put it this way in Mere Christianity:

There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else… There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves.

That’s why the Bible warns over and over that our hidden pride is extremely dangerous.

Bible

James 4:6b (NKJV) … God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

James 4:10 (NKJV) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

The Scripture tells us that if we want God to lift us up, we must first humble ourselves in His sight. We can’t humble ourselves in God’s sight without humbling ourselves in the sight of others. Since it’s so easy to overlook my own pridefulness, being truly humble before the Lord requires that I specifically watch out for it in the way I relate to others. Again, C. S. Lewis provides great insight about detecting my own pride:

Pride is essentially competitive – is competitive by its very nature – while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.

If I am to avoid hidden pride in my life, the first step is to prayerfully ask God to reveal it to me whenever that insidious vice begins to take root. Then I need to examine my own thoughts and motives. When I find myself taking pleasure from seeing myself as ahead of or over other people, that may indicate that pridefulness is once again rearing its very ugly head in my life.

Ron Franklin

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Only what’s done for Christ will last!

As a youngster attending Bible Camp, I learned a little couplet that has stayed with me all these years:

“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Although not expressed in biblical language, it seems to me that this little saying embodies a very important biblical idea. Here’s how the Bible expresses it:

Bible

Matthew 6:19-20 (NKJV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

I am a student of the Civil War. I love reading about the people who lived through that conflict, and especially what they say about themselves in letters and diaries. I like getting to know them as people.

But one thing I’m always aware of when I project my imagination back into Civil War times: not one of the people who were alive during that war is alive today. And everything they strove to get for themselves in this world, no matter how much of their time, energy, strength, and affection they put into acquiring those things, is gone.

If they worked to amass a fortune in money, it’s gone. If they wanted power and respect from other people, that’s gone. Whatever individuals who lived in that era invested their lives into getting for themselves, or even for their families, has flown away with the years. The only riches that still belong to them are those registered in heaven.

I’m so glad I learned that little couplet early in my life. It’s one so many people who are putting everything into trying to make it to the top of some mountain of prosperity or prestige desperately need to take heed of in their lives today.

“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Ron Franklin

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My past has passed away!

Do you have a past? I certainly do.

If you are anything like me, there are some things you’ve done in your past that you are not proud of. Many of us are weighed down in life right now by baggage we’ve accumulated by some unsavory past activities or behavior that we wish could just disappear from our resumes.

Well, if you feel that way about your past, the Bible has some very good news for you:

Bible

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

I’ve spoken to people who think that they are hopelessly condemned by their past behavior, and God is punishing them now for sins they committed years or even decades ago. That’s not true! Or, at least, it need not be true.

God does not want us to be condemned because of our past sins! In fact, the Bible teaches when we become followers of Christ, we leave all that old baggage behind.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

I like the way Corrie ten Boom put it:

“When I confessed (my sins) to the Father, Jesus Christ washed them in His blood. They are now cast into the deepest sea and a sign is put up that says, NO FISHING ALLOWED.”

That’s good news!

Ron Franklin

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