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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Have faith in God!

Nobody asks directions any more. It used to be that if you didn’t know how to get someplace, you’d ask someone for directions. But it’s not that way now. Everybody either has their own GPS, or if they don’t, they go on MapQuest and receive written directions that are detailed and precise.

But you know what? People are still getting lost! It turns out that putting your faith in GPS or MapQuest may not always work out. But there’s one place you can put your faith with no fear of losing your way:

Mark 11:22 (NKJV) So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.”

What is faith in God? It’s simply believing what He says! He has given us a whole 66-volume Book filled with His guidance. And in order to get to the destination of a productive and successful life, all we need to do is to follow His directions.

How many times have you trusted the directions someone gave you, or even what your GPS told you, and still had difficulty getting where you wanted to go? Do we really believe that MapQuest or a GPS is more trustworthy than God? I don’t think so!

Yet how many of us unhesitatingly follow the directions our technology gives, while hesitating to put total faith in the directions God gives in His Word.

Jesus never said, “have faith in modern technology.” But He most emphatically said that if we want to be victorious in life, we must “have faith in God.”

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How To Make The Law of Sowing and Reaping Work For You

A few years ago, I made a major mistake with my lawn. I put down too much fertilizer. Then my error was compounded by a near drought. The result was that all my grass burned up and died.

I really felt bad about that. I regretted no end having messed up my lawn by my own ill advised actions.

But this episode taught me a valuable spiritual lesson. It allowed me to see, in a very practical way, that the biblical Law of Sowing and Reaping works both ways – for the positive as well as for the negative:

Galatians 6:7 (NKJV) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

On the negative side, my dead grass was the result of me reaping from the overdose of fertilizer I had sown. If I had just continued to wallow in regret for my stupidity, that would have been the end of the story.

But then I began to realize that the Law of Sowing and Reaping could work for me as well as against me. So instead of continuing to moan, groan, and complain about the grass that died, I planted new grass!

I used what I learned from my previous failure to help me grow a great new lawn.

Grass lawn 01Many of us have episodes in our past lives that we deeply regret. Trying to do the best we knew how in life, we made stupid mistakes that were much more damaging than just using too much fertilizer.

It may have been marrying someone we shouldn’t have married. Or divorcing our mate when the marriage could have been saved. Many times our regrets come from spending money we didn’t have, and being saddled for years with debts that hang on us like weights. Whatever it was, it left us living with our regrets.

We can never go back in time and undo the mistakes we made. But the Law of Sowing and Reaping teaches us that we can go forward in time and overcome those mistakes.

How? By doing just what I did with my lawn. The way to get beyond reaping the corrupt harvest of the bad seeds we planted in our past is to plant new seed for our future!

The apostle Paul showed us the way:

Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

So, stop moaning, groaning, and complaining about reaping from the stupid mistakes of the past, and start making some biblically wise decisions now. You’ll continue to reap what you have sown, but now you’ll have a new crop, green and lush, not just dead grass.

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Only The Strong Survive

Years ago soul singer Jerry Butler had a hit with a tune called, “Only The Strong Survive.”

Sometimes there’s a lot of wisdom in the words of a song, and I think that’s the case with this one. If you want to survive in this life, you’ve got to be strong.

Life is not easy. Have you noticed that you never seem to have any extended period of time in your life when you don’t face challenges? Whether it’s on the job, with our children, when there are more bills than money, the challenges seem to just keep on coming. Sometimes it’s a challenge just to get out of bed in the morning!

But, as with everything else in life, God has already provided what His people need to overcome the challenges of life:

BibleColossians 1:11 (NKJV) strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;

This is a great promise for those who put their trust in Christ – God Himself will strengthen us according to His own glorious power! You literally cannot get any stronger than that!

Yes, only the strong survive. But anyone who puts his or her trust in Christ will never have to wonder if they will have the strength to survive. When you are strengthened with the mighty power of God Himself, you’ll not only survive, but thrive!

 

Ron Franklin

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God’s gift is unearned and undeserved

When Jesus met and spoke with a deeply sinful woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria, He told her of the gift God was offering to her:

Bible-sxchu-443787-Nafrea.jpgJohn 4:10 (NKJV) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

That “gift of God” was (and is) eternal life in Jesus Christ. This woman, who had had five husbands and was now living with a man she was not married to, was the poster child for flagrant sin in her village. Yet, Jesus was offering her God’s greatest gift.

The wonderful thing about a gift is that it is unearned and undeserved. For example, if you work a job, your salary is not a gift! If your boss started talking in a department meeting about the financial gift you were getting every week from the payroll department, you’d probably be highly offended. That money was no gift – you earned every penny of it!

So, God’s gift is a blessing that is unearned and undeserved. The biblical word for it is GRACE: the unmerited favor of God.

And the same gift of eternal life that Jesus offered a woman who in no way deserved it, He also offers to each of us today. All we have to do is invite Him into our lives as Savior and Lord.

And that is grace, because we don’t deserve it any more than the woman at the well did.

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Christmas is about “God With Us”

In our worship service this past Sunday, our church sang a little chorus entitled “Emmanuel.” It goes like this:

Emmanuel, Emmanuel
His name is called Emmanuel
God with us, revealed in us
His name is called Emmanuel

That little song summarizes, in just four lines, one of the greatest meanings of Christmas. Scripture puts it this way:

BibleMatthew 1:23 (NKJV)  “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

God with us! What a wonderful reality. God sent Jesus into the world on the first Christmas to be God with us.

Isn’t it great to know that God didn’t just create us and leave us on our own? And He didn’t just stay way off up in heaven, looking down at us from afar. Instead, in the person of His Son, God came to us, and became one of us.

Hebrews 2:17-18 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

That tells me that anything I have to face in life, Jesus, who names Himself my divine brother, has already gone through. He understands! And because He Himself had to deal with the same types of trials and temptations, He can be an ever present help in my time of trouble.

So, remember that Christmas is not just about what happened in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago. It’s about the great and wondrous reality that the One who was born on that day is here now, and He’s here to be “God with us”!

And because of Christmas you and I need never again face a hostile world alone.

Ron Franklin

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Having a thankful spirit every day

One of the first lessons I learned as a child was the importance of “please” and “thank you.” My mom was adamant about these courtesies. She understood what I as a child did not: that failure to express humility in asking, or gratitude in receiving, indicates a spirit of arrogance and entitlement that no parent wants to see their children grow up with.

Well, as good a parent as my mother was, God is a better one. He, too, emphasizes the importance of a humble spirit in His children. That why throughout Scripture we are told over and over about the importance of being thankful for all He has done for us.

Bible1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV) in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Of course, that spirit of thanksgiving is not reserved for any one day. But our yearly celebration of Thanksgiving Day provides an opportunity for us to reflect on how much we have truly shown ourselves thankful to God, versus the degree to which we have implicitly taken Him and His gifts for granted.

Here’s a little Thanksgiving self assessment that I have found helpful for myself:

If I were a fly on the wall in your house, what would I hear as you speak about the issues of your life?

  • Would I hear you talking more about what you don’t have, or giving thanks for what you do have?
  • Would I hear you talking about what’s wrong with your health, or praising God for all you are still able to do?
  • Would I hear you complaining about how bad your job is, or telling everyone how thankful you are that God has provided a job?
  • Would I hear you talking more about how much your husband or wife comes short of your expectations, or would I hear you giving thanks to them, and to God, for the good things they contribute to your life?

Thanksgiving Day is certainly a day to express our thanks to God. But more than that, it is a day that reminds us to have a thankful spirit all year long.

Ron Franklin

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Creation Declares That God Is In Control

This morning, as I read Psalm 19, I was inspired and encouraged.

BiblePsalms 19:1-3 (NKJV) The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.

This psalm draws my attention to the majesty and power of God. Every tree, every cloud, the sun and moon in the sky, the breeze I feel on my cheek; all of these were created by God. So when I really look at them, and think about their beauty, they take my mind off whatever dreary circumstances I might be facing at the moment, and point my attention back to Him.

I think what so inspired me this morning is the realization that even in my times of discouragement, anxiety, or fear, I can stop, look around me at God’s creation, and be reminded of His awesome power that remains in control of this universe and of my personal world.

Ron Franklin

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The church is our team!

Football teamWhen I was in high school, I discovered that I had a passion for electronics. So, I decided to major in Electrical Engineering in college. I worked hard and got my degree. And I had to do so as an individual; there’s no such thing as a shared diploma!

Eventually I graduated with all the knowledge and educational credentials I needed to be the engineer I had dreamed of being.

But the real fruition of my dream came when I landed a job at IBM as a Junior Engineer. Now, my success was no longer a matter of individual effort alone. I was part of a team, and the skills I had worked so hard to acquire as an individual could now only bear fruit as they were combined with the efforts of the other members of that team.

The Christian life is something like that.

1 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.

Believers in Christ are not just individuals with a personal relationship with Him. No, we are also a “holy nation; His own special people.” In other words, we are a team!

The work of God’s kingdom is not designed to be accomplished by individuals who focus just on their own personal relationship with God, but by a coordinated team working together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

That’s what the church is all about – God’s people working together as a team, each one applying his or her individual knowledge, skills, and gifts to achieve together what none of us can achieve alone.

Ron Franklin

 Photo credit: skeeze via Pixabay
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Refusing To Condemn People Even When They Deserve It

If you are a Christian, and committed to your faith, I’m sure you are doing your best to live a godly life. Jesus said that if we love Him we will keep His commandments (John 14:15).

But there is a danger that those who love the Lord, and who strive to live a life worthy of Him, have all-too-often fallen into. That potential trap is indicated in the following verses:

BibleTitus 3:2-3 (NKJV) to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. 3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.

How many times do we look at the lives of people around us, family members or coworkers on the job, and criticize them savagely because of the ungodly lifestyle they are living? When we feel that urge, Scripture says, be careful! We have no right to condemn another person for their ungodly behavior, because we used to be just like them.

True, we may not have committed their particular sins; we may not have used illegal drugs, or had children out of wedlock, or been too lazy to go out and find a job. But, in whatever way our rebellion against God and His righteous standards manifested itself, we too were once just as foolish, disobedient, and deceived as the person we feel so justified in criticizing.

It’s not that Scripture is saying we must not correct our loved ones for their off-center behavior. Many times correcting someone who is living dangerously is the most loving thing we can do. But when we do correct them, we must do it by speaking the truth, but only in a gentle, loving and supportive way (Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:15).

We must recognize that it is only the grace of God – His unconditional love that favored us when we had absolutely nothing good to offer Him – that has lifted us out of our own pits of darkness and destruction, and into the light of Christ.

So the next time you get ready to harshly criticize and condemn and talk negatively about the way someone else is living … STOP!

When we allow ourselves to speak evil of others, we become the ones who are falling into ungodly behavior.

Ron Franklin

 

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Stay focused on your mission!

Do you know what your mission in life is? Jesus certainly knew His. And whatever happened, He always stayed focused on His mission.

BibleLuke 9:54-56 (NKJV) 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.

When James and John wanted to blow away this Samaritan village because the inhabitants had disrespected Jesus and turned Him away, Jesus let His two firebrand disciples know: “That’s not the mission!”

Jesus didn’t come to destroy people’s lives, He came to save them. No matter what their attitude toward Him, or how they treated Him, getting people saved was always His focus. He never let disrespect or maltreatment by the people He came to save deflect Him from the mission.

The most significant example of the Lord’s laser-like focus on His mission is, of course, the cross. Even as He was being put to death by the very people He came to deliver from death, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Every day I need to ask myself, how focused am I on my mission? Do I have the same laser focus on seeing my neighbors delivered from death that Jesus had?

And just how much (or how little) disrespect or opposition from the people around me will it take to make me start reacting to how I’m being treated, rather than keeping my focus on the mission?

Ron Franklin

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