“I Had a Feeling….”

It is as I suspected. The web designers dropped the ball, and put the whole website launch  thing behind schedule. Please bear with me a bit longer as we sort through the unresolved issues. They have assured me things will be corrected in the next couple of days.

party pooperSo, for now, the “Big Launch Party” is on hold. Its like getting to the airport only to discover they have cancelled your flight, and booked you on the next one. So, stand by. I will let you know when the actual BUTTON will be pushed, and the new and improved devotions are going to be posted.

This much I promise you — it will be wort the wait. You are going to love the changes I’ve made.

Until then…..

Notice the eSword Link?

It is no exaggeration whatever when I say that millions of people around the world are reaping the vast benefits of the eSword program. To be factual, as of January 2013, the 25,000,000th download occurred! It is now being used in 230 countries around the world!

“What is it?”, you might ask (if you don”t already know). Simply this — the most comprehensive Bible Study tool you can find, anywhere — and it’s FREE.

Did you get that? It’s FREE.bible_light

There are several translations of the Bible – FREE. There are several commentaries by some of the most renowned scholars in history — FREE. There are scores of research and resource books in the Reference Library — FREE.

There is a Graphics Viewer, which provides multiple Bible Maps, Charts, and  historical works of art — FREE.

There are several Dictionaries to help you study the words of the BIble — FREE.

There are several Daily Devotions listed under the “TOOLS” tab — FREE. By the way, Rylisms Daily Devotions are there as well!

There is a place to write your own notes, comments, and thoughts about a verse of Scripture you are studying, and then print it through an word processor program embedded in the software — FREE.

I could go on and on. I have been using eSword for almost fouorteen years now, and rarely need to look anywhere else. The early success of eSword was so astonishing that many Bible software providers have now partnered with eSword, and some of their modules are available for a fee, which (if you want) you can purchase.

The bottom line is this — eSword is hands down the single, most comprehensive Bible Study tool you will ever find that is 100% FREE….and ready for you to download now.

You can install it on your PC, your iPAD, or your MAC — FREE.

So what are you waiting for? Click the link in the sidebar, get the software, and — who knows — you just might end up writing some devotions of your own! If you are on a mobile device and cannot see the link, click www.e-sword.net

James

It’s Just Around the Corner….

steel in your convictionsYou can already see some of the changes we have made in the new look of the site — cleaner, simple, nothing gaudy. The video link will not work until the first of next week….there are things that still need to be worked out….but you’re gonna love it once it opens up!

There are some other changes you need to know about. First, the daily devotions will no longer be daily. I realize that for some of this this will be disappointing, but I assure you — I think you will like what we are doing even better. Rather than post short, brief devotional thoughts — we instead are going to publish devotionals that are a bit longer to hold more content, and also a bit deeper as we delve into and develop themes of Truth. For the record, the daily devotions will still appear in the archives, and remain there for sometime.

three ring journalI would encourage you to buy a three ring note book, print out the devotions and build your own collection to have as a hard copy. That way you can read them as often as you wish. And share them with others.

That brings me to the second change you will notice in the new devotional format. Not only will it be longer, but at the end of each devotion will be a series of question to help facilitate a discussion — like at a home meeting, or a Bible Study. And best of all, you will find a link to a full PDF version of the devotional which will be appear in “newsletter format”, which you can print and share with others.

There will be other features added as we move along, so bear with us while we work out the glitches that inevitably occur when you change horses in the middle of a race!

It’s Time for a Change…

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Mark Twain said, “The only one who likes change  is a wet baby.”

I read a piece of graffiti somewhere (I think it was in the men’s room of St. Thomas Episcopal Church) that read, “Expect change from everything but a vending machine.”

Change. It is a fact of life. and most times, it for the better. It’s time for a change for me.

"I'll Be Baaack!" (By the way, this really isn't a picture of me; just in case you couldn't tell)

“I’ll Be Baaack!”
(By the way, this really isn’t a picture of me; just in case you couldn’t tell)

Over the past five years I have posted daily devotionals that are short and pointed, and hopefully meaningful to many.

There have many several times where I have re-posted a few  because my reading audience has grown and I wanted to give others an opportunity to read what they had missed.

And on a few stretches I simply needed a break to reboot; so I thought if something was worth posting at all, it wouldn’t hurt to post it again.

But now its time for a change.

Over the next few weeks I will be rebuilding my website, adding new features and content — video, audio, etc. During this time I will not be uploading my daily devotions. As soon as the changes are made and the new site ready to publish, I will let you know. Or, as Conan the Theologian said, “I’ll be baaack!”

In the mean time I will leave the posts already published available for you to read. Just select from the drop down menu on the right side of the page to do so.

Stay tuned for a new and improved site, dedicated to helping you experience God’s Presence.

James Ryle

 

Go Home to Your Friends

“Go home to your friends and tell them the great things the Lord has done.” (Mark 5:19).

“Hallelujah! Jesus reigns!!” As the good news of the Great King’s triumph over the powers of darkness began to spread, delusional collaborators with the evil empire sought to intercept the heavenly couriers and prevent the message of Grace from reaching the ears of captives held throughout their conquered kingdom.

For many years now this phase of the conflict has been contested, and the tide is turning day by day. Yet, there are scores still in darkness who have not heard the liberating truth of God’s Grace. Will you tell them?

It is a question only you can answer.

You now are knighted by Grace with the mandate of God’s mercy, love, forgiveness and goodness. “It’s not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord. “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly, because the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with you. Amen.” (Romans 16:20)

passing the batonMy role as Tour Guide for this trip is finished; but yours has just begun. What the Lord has done for us, we now must do for others. Go home to your friends and tell them the great things the Lord has done.

And right here I must confess to you that, while I have been to this place called Grace many times, this was my first time ever serving as a tour guide bringing others to it! Oh, yes, I have spoken about Grace on many occasions and told others of the wonders of this place, but this was my first time actually bringing people along with me on the journey.

And if I can do it, so can you. I’m passing the baton into your hands!

First, you must become filled with the wonder of this place. You have got to see it, and believe it for yourself. You must let this revelation of Grace renew your mind, so that your witness of it to others will carry conviction that does not waver in the face of long-standing traditions.

Second, you must remember that the contemporary thinking about Grace has long been unchallenged, and it will not easily yield ground to traveling pilgrims – no matter how passionate we may be.

Third, you must be patient. Some will see it for themselves; others will not. This is a matter for the Lord of Grace to resolve; not you. As for you, “walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always  with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:5,6).

Here is a practical plan that just might work.

If you will tell two friends, and take them through the process just like I did for you; and they tell two friends, and take them through the process just like you did for them; and then they tell two friends…and so on, and so on, and do on – well, it’s only a matter of time before a Grace Awakening occurs, and a Grace Revolution transforms the contemporary Church into a spiritual dynamo that shakes our world with real power and truth.

If you will tell two friends, and take them through the process just like I did for you; and they tell two friends, and take them through the process just like you did for them; and then they tell two friends…and so on, and so on, and so on – well, it’s only a matter of time before a Grace Awakening occurs, and a Grace Revolution transforms the contemporary Church into a spiritual dynamo that shakes our world with real power and truth.

No more hype and bravado; no more banging of cymbals and prancing of ponies; no more pontificating and chest-beating – just GRACE: the empowering presence of God enabling us to be who He created us to be, and to do what He has called us to do – right where we are. For the light that shines the farthest, shines brightest at home!

Do this and watch what happens! Print out these posts and host a group of your friends once a week at your home. Become their tour guide and take them on this journey, just as I have done for you. Read the posts and engage in a hearty discussion together.

Imagine.

If enough of us do this, then its only a matter of time until we will experience a Grace Awakening across the nation…and dare I be so bold as to believe…around the World!

Tell them to come with you on a journey to a place called grace. Tell them not to pack a lot of bags. Tell them about the Tavern, where they can visit with the Apostle Paul; and the Ancient Library, where they can see the gold beneath the surface of the water, illumined by the Holy Ghost.

Tell them about Peter walking with us on the road. Show them your Tour Guide and tell them how they can get their own copy – and take their own journey. Tell them about the Conference on Grace in Great Hall of Truth, and the amazing sights and sounds of Monumental Park. And, yes, tell them about the Stones of the dark corner of the Disgraced.

Tell them about this place where you experience a power because you meet a Person. Tell them about a place called Grace. And then take them to it.

“Go home to your friends and tell them the great things the Lord has done.” (Mark 5:19).

And as you cross the finish line of your service to the Lord, you can say with Paul, “I am what I am by the grace of God. And His grace given unto me was not in vain, for I labored more abundantly than they all. Yet, it was not I; but was the grace of God in me.”

The Gateway to the Kingdom

“Go ye therefore into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15).

long and winding roadAt the west end of Monumental Park stood a huge archway called The Gateway to the Kingdom. Inscribed in the Arch were these words: “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28)

We supposed that by passing through this Gateway we would be taken from glory to glory; you know, like Ezekiel caught up in the Spirit and transported to realms beyond our imagination. So we were quite shocked when we stepped through the Gateway and saw that it actually brought right back to where we had at first started our journey to a place called Grace!

It was as if we had not moved from there at all.

That’s when it struck us profoundly – all we had seen and experienced during this long journey to a place nearby, had actually happened inside us as we stood in that one location!  “Iti Swhe Reyo Uare,” I thought to myself. A whisper then came into my ear, “Be still and know that I am God – right where you are.”

Then we all heard the voice of the Lord say, “What I have done to you, I will now do through you.”

In that moment we looked and saw a series of roads that went out in all directions — over hill and dale, across rivers and oceans, to places far and wide.

And there was a River. Seeing it reminded me most vividly of the vision Ezekiel told of a river that flowed from the Temple. It measured ankle deep at the start, and then incrementally deepened – knee deep, waist deep, and then a mighty river which was over our heads.

Then Ezekiel saw that this great river flowed into the Dead Sea!  And as its living waters enter into the stagnant pool of this fallen world, a miraculous transformation occurred. “And it shall be,” said the Lord, “that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.” (Ezekiel 47:9)

Paul stood at the Gateway, together with Peter, James and John, Timothy, Apollos and several others, and called out to us, saying, “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” (2 Corinthians 6:1).

“You are that River,” Paul said. “It’s time for you to flow forth into all the world, bringing the redeeming power of God’s Grace to all you meet – as you go. It would be a sad thing indeed if you saw, and heard, and experienced all of this Grace for no purpose; if it all flowed into you only to be held in an empty place in your souls.

“I beseech you, therefore, my brethren; you must not hear this truth with no intention of doing anything about it. That would be directly opposed to God’s will. We all are with you in this as workers together! Please do NOT receive the grace of God in vain. Do not hear this message and dismiss it without thought. Do not see this truth and then close your eyes to its wonder and potential in and through your life. And do not keep it from others.”

Then Peter spoke up, “Remember how I told you to be stewards of the manifold grace of God? To take the many gifts he has blessed you with, and minister the same to others all around you? Well, if I may use one of my familiar quotes, ‘This is that!’ Freely you have received; freely give!”

Suddenly we realized that our journey to a place called Grace was in fact a recruiting trip to the mission field! And we were more than ready to go!!

And all those who had hosted us in a place called Grace called out once more in one voice, saying, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” (Rev 22:21)

“Are We There Yet?”

And Jesus said unto him, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mar 12:34)

are we there yetStanding at the west end of Monumental Park with a group of happy pilgrims taking in the sights and sounds of God’s amazing Grace, we heard a fellow in our group call out and ask, “Are we there yet?” His voice was a bit strained, and betrayed a measure of mild exasperation.

“What do you mean?” a fellow traveler asked.

“The Place called Grace – are we there yet?”

Everybody was stunned. I must admit that I myself was a bit perplexed at this fellow’s disconnection to the moment. How could he not know where we were?

“Dude, we’ve been here for quite awhile!” somebody else in the group replied.

Realizing this guy needed help, I then said, “At the start of our Journey I told you all that we would be traveling far to a place that is nearby; and once we are there, you will realize that we’ve actually been here all along. Remember me saying that to you?”

“So, are you saying we have arrived?” the fellow then asked.

“You’re the only one who can answer that,” I replied. “Grace is a place where you experience a power because you have met a Person.”

That Person is the Lord Jesus, the King of Grace and Glory. The power is the incomprehensible influence of His redeeming presence in all things, at all times. And the Place of Grace is everywhere humble men and women live freely to do God’s will fully.

“So, let me ask the question a different way,” I  then said. “Have you arrived?”

The perplexed brother stared at me in silence.

Perhaps a short story will serve to illustrate my meaning.

Years ago at a youth camp the guest speaker presented a compelling message for surrendering our all to Jesus Christ. What made his talk so compelling was the glow upon his face. This was real to him; and we could tell. He was “standing in a place called Grace.”

At one point in his message he told us about an experience he himself had at this very camp years earlier when he was a student. He had taken a walk into the woods after an evening meeting and found a spot where he fell on his knees and cried out to God, “Oh, God! Do in me anything You need to do, so You can do through me everything You want to do!”

The power of the Holy Spirit fell upon him as he prayed, and he rose to “walk in newness of life; empowered to love and serve the Lord.”

We were riveted by his story. One student approached him after our evening meeting and asked, “Preacher, can you take me to that spot?”

“Certainly,” the camp preacher said, “Follow me.” And they headed off into the woods. After they had walked for several minutes, the student asked, “Are we there, yet?”

“We’re getting close,” the preacher said. And they walked on further. And again, after some distance was covered, the student asked, “Are we almost there?”

“It won’t be much longer,” the preacher said. “It should be just a little bit further.”

They walked on deeper into the woods, getting farther and farther from camp. The young man grew increasingly restless, and asked once more – “Are we close to that spot?”

bowing“It shouldn’t be too much further,” the preacher said.

After several minutes of more hiking, the student fell to his knees and cried out in desperation, “Oh, God! I can’t wait any longer! Do in me what you did in this preacher!”

God’s presence suddenly flooded the young man’s heart, as he wept for joy. And the preacher smiled and said, “There’s the spot, right there!”

Get it? Grace is a place where you experience a power because you have met a Person. Nobody knows but YOU when that moment occurs. It is that moment when you realize that you cannot, and you will not, live another day outside this place called Grace.

So let me now ask the question — “Have you arrived there yet?”

Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound!

“Let us come boldly to the throne of Grace.” Hebrews 4:12-16

John spoke to the vast crowd once more from the Pavilion, “God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need; you will abound to every good work. Doing good, and being good; bearing fruit and increasing in the knowledge of God as you stand under the covering of His amazing grace!”

Then Daniel and the Three Hebrew Children began to play a familiar chorus, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.”

The band picked up on it and joined in with the instruments. And like a prairie fire swept by a mighty wind, the melody spread throughout the vast crowd gathered in Monumental Park. We lifted our voices together and sang the song of the Ages.

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see!
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved!
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.

Though many danger, toils and snares I have already come,
‘twas grace that brought me safe thus far; and grace will lead me home!
When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shinning as the sun!
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun!

war in heavenThen John lifted his voice above the crowd and said, “A great battle was fought as the powers of darkness sought to seize the Throne of Heaven. The Lord girded Himself in battle array and led His Saints and Angels into the conflict. The full arsenal of Hell was unleashed in one desperate attempt to topple the King and take control of all things. There was loss on both sides as the War unfolded all around, reaching a terrifying and chaotic pitch.

And then, suddenly, there was silence. The last shot had been fired, the final blow had been landed. We who survived stood in the fog of war waiting to learn of its outcome. A breeze began to blow across the vast battlefield, and slowly the smoke and dust started to clear. We stood on tiptoe looking about for some sign that would signal what would happen next.

A ray of golden sunshine pierced through the lingering clouds and we saw it. First, a sparkle from a jewel in the Royal Crown. Then, the golden glow of its untarnished splendor. It was but a moment longer until someone closer to the epicenter shouted out in exuberant triumph – “Hallelujah! Jesus Reigns!!”

That word of triumph swept through the battlefield and we raised our voices to heaven as one, “Hallelujah! Jesus reigns!!”

And then King David shouted, “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah (Psalm 24:7-10)

At that we all joined together and shouted, “Hallelujah! Jesus reigns!!” And once again we began to sing, “Amazing Grace!” After some time we slowly began to disperse. Our group headed toward the west end of Monumental Park to plan our next move.

That No One Fail

“Guard against turning back from the grace of God. Let no one become like a bitter plant that grows up and causes many troubles with its poison.” (Heb 12:15, GNB)

It was obvious that many in our tour group were disturbed by what they experienced in the Dark Corner of Disgrace. They needed a word of encouragement, and so I said, “Praise and Prayer always go together, and ascend as a sweet aroma of faith and love before the God of Heaven and Earth.”

And then I prayed, “O Lord Jesus, we, Your ransomed people whose lives are being rebuilt from the ruins of selfishness and sin, yield our humbled hearts to become the habitation of the Lord.”

As I spoke, God began to fill us with His Spirit!

help othersKing David stepped down from the stage and said to us, “God takes no pleasure in the fall of His children, nor in the shame that scars their lives. He is great in mercy and abounding in grace. Ever ready to receive and to restore, He waits with open arms to embrace freely and fully all who turn to Him and call upon His name.”

Solomon, his son, joined him and said, “We learn from those who have fallen, as well as from those who have stood faithful to the end. We have received grace and mercy; therefore we extend grace and mercy to others. For our single desire is to be like the Lord.”

“Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look after one another,” Paul then added, ” to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace. This will prevent any root of bitterness from shooting forth and causing trouble for many.”

In light os this, may I ask you a question? Where are you, dear friend, in your life? Where has the road taken you thus far? Are you tossed about with uncertainties? Halting in your devotions, and flagging in your zeal? Are you hot one day, and cold the next? Has your affection faded and your commitment softened? Does your heart hunger for something more?

Perhaps in these following words of an anonymous poet, you might find a voice for your own feelings…and deeper longings.

O the shame and bitter sorrow that a time could ever be,
When I let my Savior’s mercy plead in vain, and proudly answered,
“All of self, and none of Thee!”

Yet He found me. I beheld Him dying on the cursed tree.
I heard Him pray, ‘Forgive him Father.’ And my wistful heart said faintly,
“Some of Self, and some of Thee.”

Day by day His tender mercy; healing, helping, guiding me;
Sweet and strong, and O so patient, brought me lower till I whispered,
“Less of Self and more of Thee!”

Now higher than the highest heavens! Deeper than the deepest seas!
Lord, at last Thy Love has conquered! Grant me now my soul’s desire:
“None of Self, and all of Thee!”

May the grace of God empower you to live in the full measure of His will for your life! May you be a source of joy and encouragement to others around you, inspiring them to forsake lesser things and pursue the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

The Dark Corner of The Disgraced

“You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks in which you have delighted; you will be disgraced because of the gardens that you have chosen.” (Isaiah 1:29)

The sight before me seemed to contradict everything that was going on about me. It looked like a graveyard; untended and overgrown with thorns and weeds. It was dark and damp; and seemed so out of place. Yet, here it was, off in a corner of Monumental Park.

Etched in a stone arch at the gateway of this dark corner were these words: “The wretch, concentered all in self, doubly dying shall go down unto the vile dust from which he sprung – unwept, unhonored, and unsung.” (Sir Walter Scott)

graveyard of fallenI looked inside and I saw that there were five ashen stone markers on this plot of desolate ground.

The first marker had but one word on it – “Insignificance.” It was erected as a witness to the woeful failure of Lot, Abraham’s kinsman. The second darkened stone said, “I have played the fool.” They were the dying words of King Saul.

The third marker said, “Ephraim is joined to his idols; leave him alone.” (Hosea 4:17). And the fourth marker read, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” (2 Timothy 4:10). These words were written by Paul the Apostle.

These Four Stones tell a Sobering Tale.

The story of Lot is nothing but pathetic. He was a close kinsman of Abraham, God’s friend. Lot had every privilege and blessing he would ever need to live a full, free, and prosperous life. But he chose to go his own way, settling for less than God’s best.

Turning away from Abraham, Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom – the doomed city. The first thing Lot saw every morning when he awoke, and the last thing he saw every night before he fell asleep – was Sodom. What a man gives himself to continually gaze upon will soon possess him.

We discover later in Lot’s story that he moved into the city and became vexed by its great evil. When the Angels visited him to warn of the coming destruction, he made a pitiful request, asking if he could be permitted to settle in a small town some distance from doomed Sodom. The Angels granted him his request.

The name of the town was Zoar, which means “insignificant.” And there is where his life ended. An insignificant man living an insignificant life in an insignificant town – disgraced.

King Saul also stands as the ultimate example of a man who had everything needed to succeed – and yet he failed miserably. God anointed with His Spirit, gave him victory in battle, empowered him to prophesy, and rallied Israel to his support. But he tossed it all aside.

His own words sum it up in clear and pathetic finality – “I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly” (1 Sa 26:21). His life ended on the battlefield as he fell upon his own sword to prevent the pagan Philistines from capturing him alive. He died as a man disgraced.

Ephraim came to a unhappy end. Several tribes bore his name and carried it into shame and disgrace. Chosen by God to be doubly fruitful in all things, they joined themselves to idols and reaped great sorrow of soul. They drank themselves into a stupor, and then gave themselves over to every sexual deviation imaginable. They loved shame more than honor. Their lives ended in disgrace.

Demas, a potential champion in the New Testament, traveled and ministered with Paul on several missionary campaigns. Had he stayed the course in faithfulness his name would be held in high esteem today. But he quit. At the moment he was most needed by Paul, the waffling man bolted and sought pleasure over sacrifice; temporal delight over eternal gain. The man’s life in a single word? Disgraced.

There was yet one more stone set in that disturbing and disgraceful place – but it was blank. The words were pending, not yet written. As I gazed upon it a frightening sense came over my being. I knew that this singular stone was awaiting the outcome of a life that was yet being lived – mine, and yours.

So, my fellow traveler — what will it be? Grace? Or, disgrace?

After a time of deep reflection I returned to the Pavilion of Praise to rejoin our tour group. “What were you looking at over there?” several asked, as I drew near.

“You will need to go see for yourself,” I answered. “But do so quickly, for you dare not tarry long in a place where others have so shamefully fallen.”