Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful For First Baptist Church

-Pastor Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe -- November 27, 2014

Today I am reminded, as I often am, to be thankful for First Baptist Church, 119 S. Hill Street, Harrison, Ohio. I became pastor of this great church on August 2, 1982. This church had already acquired quite a reputation for being a church which preached the Bible, was concerned about the lost, and a great supporter of missionaries.

Through many trials and even troubles the Lord has brought me and my wife, Shirley, through them all; and this church has been so gracious to me as their pastor. I am so thankful for every member who has ever been at this church. We have lost many, many members through death through these years, but God has been gracious to always give us new people. God is wonderful like that.

After losing my wife in 2003, the church accommodated my needs and had great compassion and help toward me. Now that I am 70 years old, I look back through the many years and rehearse great memories of what this church has meant to me.

There have been only four pastors of this church in the past 64 years. I am thankful to be the pastor here for 32 years. I jest that I am keeping them from getting a good preacher.

Thank you, First Baptist Church, for putting up with this unworthy pastor. I am humbled by your love and considerations. May God continue to bless this his church to his own honor and glory.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Psalm 119:115

Saying No To The World
By Pastor Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe

When temptation comes by way of evildoers, we are to say to them, "Depart from me." This is one way that we can grow in the grace of the Lord.

Saying "Depart from me" is not as easy as it may seem when we read the words. Satan is always at work drawing God's people toward the enjoyments and the knowledge of the world. To these things we are to say "Depart from me."

Notice what John says in 1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

We reject the lure of the world so that we can keep the commandments of our God. He is the source of our grace, of mercy, and of wisdom and knowledge.  Col 2:3 In whom (Christ) are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Psalm 119:114

My Hiding Place

By Pastor Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe

Sometimes people must flee from danger and hide in a cave or some other protection in order to be safe. Thus we have our picture here. When one runs to Jesus Christ for refuge, he is running to his only true and confident hiding place from all kinds of dangers, especially from the wiles of the devil as he goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

The dangers of this life, or the calamities of daily living, are not to be expected to be cast away because we have believed on Christ. Jesus warns us against such religious philosophies when he says in Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

How can we suffer if all dangers, calamities, hardships, and heartaches are taken away upon our justification? We must, then, look to Christ for a city whose builder and maker is God and expect that one day in the future we shall live there away from all earthly harm--praise the Lord.

Christ is also our shield. He protects us against the wiles of Satan and the attacks of false apostles and by false scientists; and the only hope of knowing and believing this is found in God's word. God's word is the plumb line or standard for all truth.

So, Christ is our hiding place, as our verse here says. Also, we read in Psalms 32:7 Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Psalm 119:113

Vain  Thought And God's Law
By Pastor Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe

Skeptics will say that the word "vain" is not in the Hebrew language, but we must realize that the thought of vanity is mentioned many times in the Old Testament.  Exodus 5:9 and Job 16:3 speak of "vain words," "vain men" in 2 Chron. 13:7 and Job 11:11, and "vain persons" in Psalm 26:4.  See also Jeremiah 4:14.

Also, the fact that the end of this verse speaks in contradiction to the thoughts of the first part of the verse as "thy law" strengthens the idea that the word "vain" should be used.

Jesus spoke about vanity in Matt. 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.  Vain doctrine is vain thought. There are many warnings about false teachers and false doctrine from the apostles.

We should always be on the alert for false doctrine, since doctrine is extremely important to our Christian view of things. When compared to the law of God (the Bible), these thoughts can be quickly recognized, these doctrines can be identified and cleansed from our thoughts.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Psalm 119:112

Turn Your Heart Toward God
By Pastor Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe

To incline the heart means to bend it toward a certain direction. Several pages in Psalms mention the idea of inclining the ear toward God and asking God to incline his ear toward us, but only a few passages speak of inclining the heart.

We read in Psalms 141:4 Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.  This is the negative position of inclining the heart. We are NOT to incline our heart to the practice of wicked works and the dainties of the wicked. That is a job in itself. The world (secularism) is constantly pressing us to incline our heart to the things of the world. The wicked are continually at our door, tempting us with thoughts that will turn us away from our God.

But in our text today we see that the psalmist has inclined his heart to God's word (statutes). He is persuaded of that which God has set in his heart, being saved by grace. Notice that he has already inclined his heart, pointed the arrow of his heart toward God and God's testimonies (see Psalm 119:36).

In the flesh the heart is desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9), but God has given us a new heart. Ezekiel mentions this at least twice (Ezek. 18:31 and 36:26). This is the only way that we can incline our heart toward God. Without God's interception we have only a wicked heart, but by his grace we have a new heart that is directed toward God and his word.

So, if we have not a heart inclined toward his word and set upon God himself, then we must examine whether we be in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). Notice what the psalmist says in Psalms 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

What about your heart? Is it right with God through grace and dedication?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Psalm 119:111

God's Word Our Heritage
By Pastor Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe

A heritage is something that belongs to someone by birth. It is an inheritance, something given by or through your parents.

God's testimonies (the Bible) were given to most of us by our parents; and, if not by them, it was given to us from someone who preached the Gospel to us. Through whatever source, we all receive the word of God as a heritage, not as a natural part of our being.

Once we have received the word of God as his word, as the inspired words of God, as the only source of real and divine truth, we receive them forever; for the word of God stands forever. It abides in all believers forever. It corrects, reproves, and instructs us forever. It is settled in heaven, and therefore it will abide in us throughout all eternity.

Some believers forget that it is the word of God that worked miraculously in their lives to save them from their sins, to seal them and to give them assurance for an eternity with Christ Jesus.

We accept the word as a heritage, because the words of God make us to rejoice in our hearts. If the word of God does not thrill your soul, then you must search the Scriptures, for they are they that testify of Jesus Christ (John 5:39).

Lu 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

If you have received God's word as a heritage, then you will bring forth fruit with patience. Let us seek his word, hide his word in our hearts, preach his word, and make his word the guiding force in our lives to bring glory and honor to him.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Psalm 119:110

Snares For My Soul
By Pastor Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe

God continually warned Israel about serving other gods, that these gods would be a snare to them (Exodus 23:33; Psalm 106:36).

The wicked, the ungodly, the haters of God and hostile toward God are continually laying snares for the Christian. These snares come in many forms. They come in the "form of godliness" (2 Tim. 3:5). The word form in this verse means "a resemblance," not the real form, as is mentioned in 2 Tim. 1:13, which is an example, a showing forth and telling forth of the real truth, not simply a resemblance of the truth. This resemblance of the truth is a snare, a trap, that is set for believers to lead them away from the real truth, to cause them to stumble.

Jeremiah spoke of this:

Jeremiah 18:15 Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up;

But we shall not err (stray from) the truth of the LORD if we will eat and digest the word of God for our strength and our confidence. Notice these verses:

Psalm 119:89 -- Thy word is settled .  . .
Psalm 119:105 -- Thy word is a lamp and a light . . .
Psalm 119:40 -- Thy word is very pure . . .
Psalm 119:160 -- Thy word is true from the beginning ...

Therefore, to keep from swerving, from swaying, from turning from the truth, one must keep himself in the word of God daily, eating it and digesting it, memorizing it, reading it, consuming it. Otherwise, we shall be as the Israelites as they turned from God's commandments to serve other gods. We all have this proclivity, so let us read the word, believe the word, preach the word, and live the word so we will not err and fall into the snares that the wicked (even Satan himself) have set for us.

Psalms 70:2 Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Psalm 119:109

The Hope Within Us
By Pastor Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe

For the soul to be in one's own hands is for the soul to be vulnerable to all kinds of possibilities of death, for we are at the mercy of many wiles of the devil and many happenstances (if there are such things). It is as though no one is guarding our life or protecting us from harm or death. If my soul is in my hand, I have no authority over death and am susceptible to calamities that may come upon me at any time.

But the law of God gives promise of protection to those who trust and love him. His law (the Scriptures) tell us that he will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). The Scriptures also tell us that there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).

Thus our trust must be in God, our confidence in his word (his law). His law is the only assurance that we have. If God has no law, then we have no assurance of life here or in eternity; but, if the word of God is his law, then we do have a hope that lies within us (Col. 1:17).

Friday, November 7, 2014

Psalm 119:108

Freewill Offering Of My Mouth
By Pastor Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe

The psalmist in this verse desires that God accept (be pleased with) the freewill offering of his mouth. We mostly think of offerings as money, but God accepts more than money for freewill offerings. He will accept praise (Heb. 13:15); he will accept the use of talents (Matt. 25:22); he accepts our witness (Acts 1:8); he accepts our preaching (1 Cor. 1:21) and other things.

As God accepts the freewill offering of our mouth (Eph. 6:19), it is only the LORD who can teach us the precepts of his word and persuade us in their understanding, for it is in him that is hidden the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3).

So, we need not only to learn the word of God but also to acknowledge that God is our only teacher, and the Holy Spirit can give us knowledge and lead us toward truth, the only real and genuine truth.

Sometimes the word of God is sweet in the mouth but bitter in the belly (Rev. 10:10), but we must take the council of Psalms 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Thus we can give God our freewill offering with our mouth.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Psalm 119:107

Worthy of Suffering
By Pastor Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe

Affliction is given to each of us, especially to believers in Jesus Christ.  We cannot forget the words of Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Jesus himself was appointed to suffer, or be afflicted. Notice these scriptures:

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Jesus' whole vocation on earth was to culminate in suffering. He said himself in John 18:11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

Luke 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

The word behoved means "a necessity is put upon me." He must die.

Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

So, Jesus is our example, not simply of living a righteous life, but also to expect and endure suffering. We are told in 1 Peter 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

Suffering and patience go hand in hand. Patience, of course, means to endure, to bear a burden, and it is this patience that is prevalent in believers.

We shall see persecution and suffering in our own lives, so what shall we do? Should we pull back away from suffering and surrender through compromise, or should we endure the suffering as a witness to the world that we have a God and a Savior who is much greater than this world and a world to come that is above and beyond anything this world can offer, and of which suffering is worthy?


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Psalm 119:106

Swearing To Keep His Word
By Pastor Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe

The psalmist has already sworn; he has already made a vow; he has already promised that he would keep the righteous judgment of God. Have you already sworn to that? Have you settled in your mind to always follow the word of God? Have you put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior, God as your Father, and the Bible as your final authority for living and dying?  If not, perhaps today you can do that. This settlement in your mind can be done today once and for all of your life. This is not a process but an act of dependence upon God's word and a commitment to follow his word daily. Few have done it, I think, in the context of our verse today.

His oath is that he will perform, literally "to arise up and do." Many people are lazy at heart and in their personal nature, but we must not be lazy in doing (performing) our sworn duty to make the word of God the guiding principle in our lives. We MUST turn to it daily, follow it tenaciously, and love it deeply. Remember 1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

No, not grievous, but honorable and beneficial are his laws. If we keep his commandments, we are his disciples indeed (John 8:31). We shall benefit from his reward of blessing in regard to our obedience to his word. We shall live in a good conscience (see Acts 23:1), good confidence (Philemon 1:21), and a good conversation (conduct) Philippians 1:27  Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ:

May we all simply begin our day with the word of God, break from the day in the middle of it for a taste of the word of God, and end the day with the great consolation of the word of God. Thus, we shall defeat through him the wiles of the devil, and weariness of culture, and the waste of searching truth in the world rather than objectively, from without, where God dwells in the Spirit and speaks through his word.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Psalm 119:105

A Lamp And A Light
By Pastor Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe

As we walk along as believers in this dark, sinful, and wicked world, we certainly do need a lamp and a light to guide our way. Jesus is the way (John 14:60), and he is the Light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5).

There is also another light that is somewhat more physical to us than Jesus, whom we cannot see. That other light is God's word, the Bible. It is a lamp that is lit by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21) and continues to burn:  Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

We need specific direction to know wisdom and instruction, and we need to see the right way as we go. Only through the word of God can we be sanctified, John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Notice the connection in light and truth:

Psalms 43:3 O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.

John 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Without this lamp and light of God, where would we be, where would we go, what would we do? We know not the path we take or the way before us, but God knows:  Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. He knows, and he will lead us, not into temptation, but beside still waters and in the paths of righteousness (Psalm 23).

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Psalm 119:104

Getting Understanding
By Pastor Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe

The purpose of reading God's word is not only to be comforted, revived, and strengthened, but also to know right from wrong, good from bad, and truth from error.

Ps 119:128 Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.

While believers hate every false way, the wicked hate knowledge (see Prov. 1:22); that is, they hate the knowledge that is wisdom, that leads to wisdom and the fear of God.

We gain understanding by the word of God, for it describes all the basic and necessary principles of life as it applies to man as a creation of God. Man is created by God, so he is responsible to God to get wisdom and understanding and also to apply that wisdom and understanding to life practices.

There are many false ways. How many can you bring to mind? The psalmist hates EVERY false way no matter who invents or develops it, no matter who is involved in it, no matter how humanly logical it may sound; if it does not agree with the word of God, then it is false.

We should be constantly, daily, distinguishing between truth and error. By that we can know the will of God for our living in this world, for through the word of God we get understanding.