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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When church members help one another

Woman speakerOne of the members of the church I pastor gave a great testimony in the service not long ago. She had just had surgery on her jaw, and had been laid up with a lot of pain. She wasn’t able to go to the store to purchase things she needed, so she called on one of the other members to help.

Her testimony was about how much of a comfort it is to be in a congregation where you can call on fellow members in your time of need, without feeling that you are imposing on them. She talked about being comfortable in asking for help, because she had built relationships with other members.

This was great to hear, because that’s what a church should be like. Nobody wants to feel that they are imposing on other people, but when you know that the people around you love you and are happy to go out of their way to help you, that gives a sense of comfort that money can’t buy.

The other thing I, as her pastor, really liked about this member’s testimony, which she gave standing at a microphone in front of the congregation, was that I knew she was doing something way out of her comfort zone. But even though she is by nature pretty shy about speaking in public, and although it still gave her pain to have to speak, she wanted the church to know how blessed she felt by her fellow member’s willingness to give help when she needed it.

So, not only did she bless the congregation by her testimony, she herself grew a little bit more in the process.

Ron Franklin

Photo credit: City Temple SDA Church, Dallas via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) [Photo is not of our member]
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Be a giver, not a taker

When it comes to love, there are two classes of people in the world: the takers and the givers.

Takers are people who are primarily concerned with getting things for themselves. So, they “love” money or power or prestige or fame. Even when they love people, it is a love corrupted by the desire to gain something for self. When they “love” someone, they look for admiration, respect, and loyalty in return.

But that’s not the kind of love the Bible is talking about when it bids us to love one another.

Bible-sxchu-443787-Nafrea.jpg1 Peter 4:8 (NKJV) And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

The love spoken of in this verse is a translation of the Greek word agape, which in the New Testament signifies the kind of unconditional love that God Himself has. Scripture assures us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” to rescue human beings from both eternal damnation and living messed up lives right here and now (John 3:16). And He showed us that love even though He knew the vast majority of humanity would never show Him love in return.

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

That’s the kind of love we are to have for one another – a love that gives, even gives sacrificially, to benefit someone else, without thought or expectation of receiving any benefit in return. Ironically, it is that unconditional love that gives with no expectation of reciprocity that actually stimulates the most sincere response from the one to whom it is given.

If you were to take an unbiased look at how you’ve been living your daily life, which category would you place yourself in. Are you a giver or a taker?

Learn more about real love at What Is Love In The Bible?

Ron Franklin

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Getting over ME, MYSELF, and I

The most dangerous person I’ve ever had to confront in life has been: ME.

What life (as well as Scripture) has taught me is that to the degree that I am focused on myself; to the degree that I am the center of all my thoughts and aspirations and desires; to the degree that I am more concerned about myself and my problems and my issues than I am about anybody else … to just that degree I have become a slave – a slave in bondage to ME, MYSELF, and I.

As long as ME, MYSELF, and I are the top priorities in my life, I’m going to not only be miserable myself, but I will be very proficient at making the people around me miserable as well.

And yet that tendency to focus most on self seems to be built in to us as human beings. No child has to be taught how to be selfish – it comes very naturally. A hungry infant doesn’t care that it’s 4:00 am and mommy needs sleep so she can get up and go to work a few hours from now; baby wants to be fed now, and that’s all there is to it!

How can I escape that ingrained focus on self? Here’s the Bible’s prescription:

Bible-sxchu-443787-Nafrea_thumb.jpgPhilippians 2:3 (NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

I can escape the trap of being in bondage to ME, MYSELF, and I, only by deliberately putting other people ahead of myself. I actually need to look for ways to prefer someone else over myself; to give, or at least share the best I have with someone who would be blessed by it rather than being intent on keeping it for myself.

That’s a tall order for someone as inherently selfish as I am! I don’t have that kind of love for others. But God does. And He has promised that when I commit myself to loving others that way, He’ll actually share His own love through me.

You can read more about this at: Avoiding Self-Centeredness: How To Keep Your Ego In Its Place

Ron Franklin

 

 

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We are a Royal Priesthood!

In the Old Testament, the priest stood between God and the people. His role was to relate to the people on God’s behalf, and to God on the people’s behalf. And that’s exactly the role Christians are called to play in our generation.

Bible1 Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV) But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

We live in a time when the vast majority of people are far from God. Although Christ, by His blood, opened the way for anyone to have a direct, personal relationship with Him, most of our relatives, coworkers, neighbors, and friends seem to neither know nor care about having such a relationship. There is a wide, impassable gulf between them and God.

How is that gulf to be bridged? That’s why God calls Christians to be a royal priesthood. Our role is to stand between God and people who don’t know Him.

Revelation 1:6a (NIV) and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father . . .

We know that there is only one mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5): only Jesus can fulfill that role. But He allows us the privilege of being His instruments in connecting people with God.

First, as God’s priests we relate to unbelieving people on His behalf:

Romans 10:13-14 (NKJV) for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

It is only through Christ’s royal priesthood that people can hear the good news that they can be born again (John 3:7), and have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Our priestly responsibility is to be willing to share our testimony of God’s love with those God has placed in our sphere of influence.

Then we are to relate to God on behalf of the people – praying for them as groups and as individuals that the light of Christ will break through the darkness of mind imposed by the enemy on those who don’t know Him (2 Corinthians 4:4-5).

Being a “royal priesthood” is not about having the privileges of royalty, but about carrying out the responsibilities of priests. Who has God placed in your life in order that you might help connect them with Him? Are you praying for them? Are you sharing your testimony of God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice with them? That’s what a royal priesthood does.

Ron Franklin

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My help in time of trouble

If you are anything like me, you need help!

You’ve got circumstances, situations, and issues going on in your life that you don’t know how to handle. It may be financial issues, health problems, or a family situation. Whatever it is, you realize you don’t have the power to successfully deal with it. And if you don’t watch out, that sense of being helpless to change your situation will begin to get you down.

For those of us who ever find ourselves in that kind of situation, the Bible has some great words of encouragement:

BiblePsalm 46:1-3 (NKJV) God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.

God’s promise to be my refuge and strength, and a very present help in trouble, means that no matter how dire my situation might seem to be, I’m never really helpless. God has my back – and my front, too, for that matter!

Nothing can really threaten me: not earthquakes, nor floods, nor financial upheaval. I have a refuge that cannot be overthrown, and a strength that can withstand any assault.

So, instead of panic or despair, I can have confidence, even when my world seems to have been turned upside down. I can run to my refuge and know that I am safe, and that the Lord of the universe has promised to be my help in my time of trouble.

Ron Franklin

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Don’t be a spiritual recluse!

Howard Hughes, movie mogul, business magnate, philanthropist, and founder of the Hughes Aircraft Company as well as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, was one of the wealthiest men on earth. But toward the end of his life he became a recluse, locking himself away from all human contact.

Hughes was a man who had more money than he knew what to do with; but he had no one in his life who really loved him. And so, in the end, with all that money, he lived a miserable, lonely life, and finally died a miserable, lonely death.

It was not supposed to be that way – not for Hughes, and not for any of us. God knew the desire He built into every human being to love and be loved. So, He set up a community of love on the earth, called the church, and gave to it this commandment:

Bible1 Peter 4:8 (NKJV) And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

It is within this community, this family called the church, that any person can find the unconditional love we all crave. Jesus said that it is by demonstrating that sincere love for one another that any group of believers proves that they really belong to Him:

John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

I know that not every church meets this ideal. But, in almost every community it is possible to find churches that do.

Some people believe that they can be faithful followers of Christ without being involved in a local church. But what they fail to see is that by being a recluse from the family of God on earth, not only do they miss out on the love God designed for them to receive, they also withhold the love He intended for them to give.

As Howard Hughes so tragically demonstrated, shutting yourself away from the spiritual family that is knit together by love for Christ and for one another is nothing less than a recipe for misery.

Ron Franklin

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We Are God’s Holy Nation

In this dark, fallen, and rebellious world in which we live, Christians ought to stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. We cannot “go with the flow” of what the people around us believe, say, and do. Our outlook is shaped by God and His Word, not by the orthodoxies of our times.

Bible1 Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV) But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

The word “holy” means “set apart.” So, Christians are a people set apart from the world and unto God. We are not to be conformed to the world (Romans 12:2), but instead we should be entirely distinct in our way of thinking and in our behavior.

The standards to which Christians adhere are not those of the people among whom we live, but are those of the kingdom of God, as revealed in His Word. That means, we shouldn’t expect to “fit in” with our peers. In a very real sense, Christians will often find themselves going against the flow of 21st century beliefs and practices.

Here’s what Christians who stay true to their commitment to Christ can expect:

John 15:19 (NKJV) If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

That may seem like a pretty heavy burden – to know that the more we stand for Christ, the more disliked, and even hated we can expect to be. But don’t let that scare or dismay you:

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Even as the world around us grows darker in its rebellion against God and all He stands for, our light shines all the brighter in contrast. So, never be discouraged at the opposition or contempt you may be subjected to for continuing to stand against the ways of this world. That’s what God put us here for in the midst of “a perverse and crooked generation.”

And that’s what it means to be His holy nation.

Ron Franklin

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