You’ve heard it all before,right?

Good enough…

Follow the rules…

More works…

More faith…

Fall in line…

All of us who know Christ have been told some variation of the above.

Maybe it was when you joined your church.

Maybe it was what you were taught as a child in Sunday School or some other bible class.

At some time in your life you reached a point where you just knew that you could never be…

Good enough………….you could never…

Follow all the rules……………you just couldn’t do…

More works………………..you grew weary of trying to somehow have…

More faith…………………and you simply couldn’t bear to…

Fall in line…………..and be like everyone else.

And then you found it. A verse in the Bible where Jesus was talking about a vineyard,and suddenly it all made sense!

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.   John 15:1-4 KJV
Did you find it???
Now lets look at this again but this time through the Amplified Bible
1 I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser.
Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.
You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you].
4 Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.
Do you see it? It’s right there in verse 3. Jesus said that you are already cleaned because of the word that He had given you.
The Word that…
Makes you Good enough…
Teaches you that rules won’t save you…
Increases our faith every time we read it…
Separates us to fulfill His calling upon our lives…
What freedom! What perfect liberty we enjoy in Christ!
Free from religious rules and laws.Free to follow His footsteps wherever they may lead us.
Already clean!
And all I had to do was say “YES” when He knocked upon my heart’s door. Isn’t God good?
Be blessed,
Ron

Seasons

Posted: March 22, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Yesterday was the 1st day of spring and after the cold winter we experienced here in Ohio,it couldn’t be more welcome! We did a bit of shopping south of where I live and it was 68 wonderful degrees,and the bright sunshine was truly beautiful to behold.When we came back home it was “only” 54 degrees and it felt cold after enjoying the earlier warmth of the day.But as we say here in Ohio,if you don’t like the weather… just wait a day and it will change!512px-Four_Poplars_in_four_seasons (1)

Experiencing the changing seasons is not unlike the changing seasons of life when you really think about it.In fact,everything about this life is constantly changing.Even the scriptures remind us that this life is an ever evolving cycle of change.

King Solomon,considered to be extremely wise beyond his years spoke of this in the third chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes when he said this:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
According to Jewish tradition Solomon wrote the Song of Solomon during his younger years, Proverbs in his middle years, and Ecclesiastes in his later years.If that is true it would make sense that in his later years he would begin to understand that there is indeed a season for everything in life.
Solomon had experienced the major highs of being a servant of the Most High as well as the major lows of this life brought on by his own idolatrous ways.If you read about his life it is apparent that at the end of his days he was disillusioned with materialism and earthly pleasures as the road to happiness,and in fact he never again recaptured the joy he once knew.
All of which has me wondering this Sunday morning if any of us are really that much different than this once wise king? We start out in life thirsting for knowledge and once we reach a certain level we seek even more.All the while ignoring the fact that there is but One TRUTH,Jesus Christ.
Or maybe we start out with a grand plan to acquire great sums of wealth,only to accomplish that goal and realize it did not yet satisfy us.Sort of like the man in this story from Luke chapter twelve…
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
Always looking for more….
The next great adventure over the horizon
The next opportunity
The next romance
The next promotion
That’s the thing about Seasons
They bring with them the winds of change
A shift in direction
A realignment of priorities
As I write this I have had a season of change handed to me and it is unclear to me what this new season will entail.My future plans had been set and I have been working towards accomplishing those plans for some time now and the end was in sight.What is that saying about “the best laid plans…?
Or as my pastor stated “it may be that God has been in the arrangements all along and is directing all of this as an answer to prayer?”
Maybe,just maybe…. God has another plan?
But such is this life,is it not?
To every thing there is a season…
How we respond to the seasons of change will show the world our true character.
It will reveal to ourselves if we are who we say we are…
Only one thing is certain and that is that God is God and that will never change.Seasons come and seasons go but He remains the same.
Is there a more sure foundation upon which to stand than that?
Be blessed,
Ron

If you’re like most people, life has handed you your share of lemons.

lemons

Funny thing about lemons.They look pretty and smell great but if you bite into one you’ll find they are very sour.They are kind of deceiving if you think about it.Kind of like they aren’t exactly what they appear to be.

Life is like too,that isn’t it?

Things are going along really good and suddenly,out of nowhere,life hands you a bunch of lemons.

  • Disappointments
  • Hurts
  • Illness

All of a sudden you find yourself wondering “what just happened”? Can you relate to that?

The Bible is filled with numerous encounters of God’s servant’s whose live’s were interrupted by being handed a big bowl of lemons. One such example was a king of Judah,King Hezekiah.

Like most kings of old,they fought many battles with the armies that surrounded them.As you read the accounts of Hezekiah’s victorious battles in the book of Isaiah,you begin to understand that this man truly did love his God and sought to live a life that was pleasing to the Lord.

Yet just like all of us the day came when Hezekiah would be dealt a huge bowl of lemons.In chapter 38 of the book of Isaiah we find that the king was very sick,and ready to die.Read along with me….

In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.  Isaiah 38:1

Now,it’s one thing to be sick,even very sick.Maybe you have been there,at death’s door?

I know what that feels like because I was at death’s door when I underwent heart by-pass surgery.And thankfully I did not have anyone come to me telling me to set my affairs in order because I’m not going to make it through this sickness.I can’t imagine how that would feel!

But notice how in the next verse king Hezekiah responded to this bowl of lemons.

2 Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord,
And said, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.   Isaiah 38: 2,3
The king’s response was to turn immediately to the Lord.  Wouldn’t we all be better off if instead of struggling on our own to understand the “Why’s” we would instead just turn to the Lord? And notice also how that Hezekiah reminded the Lord that he had walked before Him in a perfect heart?
Can we say that of our walk with Him? I only wish I could say that.Many well meaning people today like to tell us that we’re under grace(which we are)and that God understands our failures.Like that’s supposed to somehow take away the sting of failure!
Now look and see what happens next!
4 Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying,
Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.  Isaiah 38: 4,5
Isn’t that amazing? One minute Hezekiah is sick and ready to die. A visit from the prophet Isaiah confirmed to the king that he wasn’t long for this world and he should make sure he had his will made out.This word from the Lord was all it took to get Hezekiah out of his sick bed and to begin calling on the name of the Lord.
Can I share something with you? When life hands us a bowl of lemons our first reaction ought to be to turn to the Lord in prayer and the Word because that’s where our strength to fight will come from!
The prayer of king Hezekiah got God’s attention.And you know what?He hears your prayers too.But we have to PRAY to be heard!So many times the enemy gets us discouraged and we don’t even think to pray,we just want to give up.
Yet God has a more sure word for someone today,and that word is to begin calling upon the Lord for your situation.Do not give up,do not throw in the towel.Pray with an understanding that it ain’t over until He says it’s over!
When life hands you lemons the popular saying is to take them and make lemonade out of them.And that is often good advice because attitude is everything when you’re dealing with difficult circumstances.
Yet when you’re in the battle of your life,lemonade won’t put the enemy to flight.It takes prayer to do that!It takes someone seriously calling upon the name of the Lord to know that He will hear.
The next time life hands you a bowl of lemons and you find yourself out of answers and helpless to figure a way out,do this:
PRAY!!!
Be blessed,
Ron

Admit it.

The word BLOOD conjures up images of something gruesome and horrific.It’s the stuff that horror movies like to show in graphic detail as victim after victim succumbs to some unspeakable horror.

Not the most entertaining topic of conversation in my opinion.

Come to think of it,outside of the medical or first responder professions I rarely hear anyone use the word in anything that resembles a normal conversation.

But yet when we step into the pages of God’s Word,we find that a great number of references to blood actually do exist.

Maybe that’s because to the Lord,blood has a special significance.The blood represents life,for in our veins pumps the blood of life.Every vessel,every artery,every vein carries this life giving resource.Being the Creator of us all,of course the Lord designed us to be so.

So let’s look at the nation of Israel and a significant event involving the BLOOD.

Early in the book of Exodus we find Israel on the brink of deliverance from the slavery of Egypt.Moses had appeared before Pharaoh several times to demand that he let the people of Israel go to worship their God,and though he would agree he always recanted and refused to allow Israel to depart.

Until God said “enough”.Through all of the various plagues that had befallen the land of Egypt,Pharaoh had continually hardened his heart before the God of heaven and remained in denial of God’s great power.

Until the BLOOD was applied.The BLOOD that made all the difference.The BLOOD that distinguished Israel from Egypt.The BLOOD that spelled redemption for one and destruction for the other.

The BLOOD.

7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.   Exodus 12:7,12,13

Painting blood

The BLOOD.
When I see the BLOOD I will pass over you and you will be safe in the midst of the destruction that’s coming.
The Passover.
Now,I realize that many don’t like Old Testament references for one reason or another.Yet in it’s pages we find so many similarities to Christ. Like the one you just read!
In the same way that the children of Israel were protected because the BLOOD had been applied to the door posts,you and I are also protected from the wrath to come by the BLOOD of the Lamb of God that has been shed abroad in our hearts.
If we have repented of our sins,if we have asked Him to save us,if we have acknowledged Him as our Savior,the BLOOD that was shed for the remission of our sins will save us from the destruction that is coming upon the world.
The BLOOD has always been a part of God’s redemptive plan for man.
Won’t you receive his sacrifice today?
Be blessed,
Ron

We only have ourselves to blame

For neglecting to educate this generation of Christians on the necessity of calling upon the name of the Lord.

  • instead,we have shown them that the church can be self sufficient
  • we have implemented one program after another designed to enlighten them to a mistaken reality that they can do anything for God while ignoring Him in the process
  • in short,we have become the Laodicean church of Revelation 

We only have ourselves to blame

For the church adopting the world’s viewpoint that the differences among generations is so vast that they must be afforded their own special status…

    • Mature/Silents

    • Baby Boomers

    • Gen. X

    • Gen. Y/Millennium

    • Gen. Z/Boomlets

In reality what we have done is create a culture in our churches that mirrors the existing culture in America,that all are special and therefore all require special needs in order to succeed. Indeed,the church has created it’s own fractured sub culture of generational divide. Which begs me to ask the question “how did the church ever survive two thousand years of history by just simply being the church”?

We only have ourselves to blame

For creating an “atmosphere of worship” in which our children have never personally witnessed the power of God demonstrated…

  • audio/visual presentations have supplanted the moving of the Spirit
  • personal prayer and fasting have become “seasonal” or special event promotions instead of guidelines for daily living
  • prayer for the sick and subsequent healing have all but disappeared

We only have ourselves to blame

For failing to impart the knowledge of the Lord to those coming up behind us…

  • we no longer mentor the next generation of church leaders,instead neglecting this time proven method in favor of techniques more suited to the secular world
  • our Christian universities and colleges are virtually indistinguishable from those of the world and are Christian in name only
  • we have provided learning environments where our children are ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth

We only have ourselves to blame

For the apostate condition of the church today. We have found our scapegoat in Satan himself! It has become all too convenient to blame our spiritual woes on the devil while the church slumbers and sleeps in it’s bed of complacency. All of this while the lost are leaving this world dammed for eternity.

We are drunken with the victim mentality of the world. It’s not my fault-others are to blame for my actions! Our spiritual senses have become dull, our ears no longer hear “what the Spirit says unto the churches”. We all like sheep have gone astray….

We only have ourselves to blameWe only have ourselves to blame

May God shake us from our slumber and cause us to see the condition we are in.

May He have mercy upon those of us who know better,yet disregard the pleading of the Spirit to repent of our sinful ways.

The Blessed Hope

Posted: March 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

Hope…

Where would we be without it?

Who among us can live without Hope?

  • Hope for a better job
  • Hope for a better marriage
  • Hope for better health

Indeed, Hope for a better life.

There is something within all of us that compels us to long for something better. And it’s not always a desire to get more of this or that,but a longing for contentment,a desire to know that in spite of it all,everything’s going to be OK.

Hope is defined in many different ways,and I’m certain you have your own ideas about Hope.

From Dictionary.com here are three examples of Hope:

  • to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.
  • to believe, desire, or trust
  • to feel that something desired may happen

As a Christian I have Hope because I look forward to a world as yet unseen or unknown to me. A Hope that one day I will step into an eternity where God Himself dwells among us. And yes,I know that it is going to happen.

Because Jesus said it would happen.

1“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 

2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.           John 14:1-3 NKJV 
Jesus is inviting all who have ears to hear, cast all of your cares upon Me so that your hearts will not be troubled. You see,Jesus is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother or sister,and If we are troubled in mind and heart we can turn to Him and know that He will see us through somehow. It’s His great desire to carry us through the storms of life,and not that we try to go it all alone.

He has gone on to prepare a place for you and I, a place where we will dwell eternally in the security of knowing that we will never be separated from His love and care. There is room for all in His house…what a promise!

That’s the Hope I have. That if He went to prepare a place for me,He is going to come one day and take me to that place.

This is the The Blessed Hope. Not some made up doctrine of cleverly devised escapism fantasy, but a Hope that He will do what He said he would do.

What surer Hope could we have than the Hope that comes from the Lord?

Be blessed,

Ron

Two Roads

Posted: March 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

Last night just before going to bed I asked my wife this question: “when will the Lord lead us out of this valley”?

Now,before I tell you what her answer was you need to know a bit about my wife.The daughter of a Pentecostal pastor who was raised to believe that God would always supply our needs,she is my constant companion and most ardent supporter and encourager. She does her very best to live out the words of Jesus and she is far and away the most “real” Christian I have ever met.

Her steadfast faith in God’s word and her dedication to holding fast to the hands of Jesus rather than man makes many people uncomfortable.She is a truth seeker who cannot tolerate anyone who is comfortable telling lies.Fact is,she can spot em’ a mile away!

She is a holdout from a lost generation of believers who actually believed that God was GOD and it didn’t matter what anyone else said about it. So,what was her response to my question?She thought for just a moment and said this:”there are two roads out of this:

  1. When we have learned enough,or
  2. We we have had enough”.

I must be honest and say that I was dumbstruck by her response because it was 100% correct.It was as if God was telling me “Ron,you still have lessons to learn here in the place where I’ve placed you and you aren’t getting out until I’ve taught you the things that you will need for the journey ahead”.

Either that,or we have grown so accustomed to the valley that we no longer desire the sunshine and fresh air of the mountain top. Maybe we’ve become so comfortable in our surroundings that we no longer feel the urge to move out and claim the land for God.Until we get to the place where we’ve had enough of despair and lack, we’re likely to stay in it.

Discouragement will do that to us won’t it? It clouds our vision and dims our perspective about things.Sometimes to the point that all we can see is the here and now-we lose our vision for the future. If you are in such a place,take heart and know that He is God,and God always knows what He’s doing!

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.   Psalm 46:1,10

As for those two roads; I sense an awesome sermon in the making!

Be blessed,

Ron