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You just had to be there

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Yesterday, our Pastor preached a message entitled “The Harvest is Great, But The Laborer’s Are Few”. In his message, he pointed out how that we need to look upon others as Jesus does. In other words, instead of their lack, their dirty clothes, or their sin, what we should see in them is someone in need of a Savior.

Pastor spoke of how many opportunities we miss to be the hands and feet of Jesus if all we see is what’s on the outside. This was a powerful message for such a time as this, and I was deeply moved by his words.

At the end of the service, as is our custom, my wife went to the piano to play a song that Pastor had requested. This song was one that she did not know, so several times during the week I would hear her practicing it at the piano. To say I was humbled by the message in this particular song would be a colossal understatement.

The song is called My House is Full (But My Field is Empty). Here is the Lynda Randle version on YouTube: Lynda Randle – My House Is Full (But My Field Is Empty) (Live) – YouTube

Here is the link to the sermon our Pastor preached. My wife sings the song near the end of the video.

The Harvest Is Plenty But The Laborers Are Few – YouTube

As I said, you just had to be there.

Blessings to all,

Ron

Fallen Man’s Most Bitter Pill

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The Lord reigns-not Satan, not man, not God and man, not good luck, not random events, not chance occurrences, not the alignment of the stars, not accidents, not blind fate, not good or bad karma-only God, and God alone“. [1]

God’s highest, greatest creation achievement occurred when He created man from the dust of the earth. What the Almighty did in that moment had never been done before, nor has it been replicated since. Sadly, however, His greatest creation hasn’t always been receptive to this miracle of miracles.

As incredible as it sounds, for hundreds, if not thousands of years, scoffers, sceptics, doubters, and cynics of every discipline have laughed at the notion that man is a created being. Recorded history makes it clear that from the instant the breath of God entered his lungs and man became a living soul, there has never been a moment that God’s crowning creation hasn’t been under attack. In fact, It started long before man was created, when Lucifer attempted a coup in heaven in a vain attempt to wrest control from God in order to alter the course of history.

12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.   Isaiah 14:12-15  KJV

“I will be like the most High” was the motivation that led Lucifer, now known as Satan, to rebel against God, and in the process take one third of the angels with him, reserved under chains of darkness. [2] Satan quickly found himself removed from his once lofty position, the sentence of eternal Hell pronounced upon him.

Fallen though he may be, Satan has never stopped his relentless quest for dominion over man. So successful has he been that today there are far more unbelievers on earth than there are believers. [3] Such is the devastating, veiled power of Satan to turn the hearts of men from their God and seduce them into worshiping another.

What Satan was unable to do in heaven he has managed to do with relative ease upon the earth. The created is now risen above the Creator in the minds of the majority of earth’s inhabitants. Unbelievably, these same individuals now view the Almighty God as nothing more than a Sunday morning ritual perpetuated by the aged and unlearned.

Unfortunately for those who reject the knowledge of God, their ‘enlightened’ view of themselves is soon to come tumbling down. In nearly every nation there is a level of discontent on a scale never before seen, not even during the ‘war years’ of the 20th century. It is though the nations are preparing for a cataclysmic event that will usher in a new era. Which, in fact, is exactly what is going to happen.

The world is rushing headlong to the day when all nations will come under the rule of the antichrist. To be certain, Satan has disguised his master plan well. Under the guise of unity, acceptance, tolerance, and social justice, the trap has been set that will be sprung at just the right moment upon this unsuspecting generation. Then will the billions of people who have cast their lot with man instead of God begin to understand that just as Satan did, they too have sealed their eternal fate.

Yet all of this is so avoidable! Scripture makes it clear that God loved man so deeply that He gave his only Son as a sacrifice for sin. [4] It has always been God’s plan to dwell forever with His highest creation, to end once and for all sickness, disease, poverty, and every other malady that affects us all. Man, however, has been determined to create his own version of ‘utopia’ here on earth, thus bypassing God’s plan altogether. Could there possibly be a greater failure then that?

The bitter pill that man cannot swallow is the acknowledgment that there exists One much greater and infinitely more intelligent than he is, One who is still seeking to save the lost sheep scattered upon the earth, the One who reigns over all of His creation.

Is this not the greatest tragedy of all time?

Blessings to all,

Ron 

 

  1. Steven Lawson 
  2. 2nd Peter 2:4, Jude 1:6, Rev. 12:4
  3. The Changing Global Religious Landscape | Pew Research Center (pewforum.org)
  4.  John 3:16

Intercessory Prayer

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Long post alert!!

This morning I taught on the subject of Intercessory Prayer, which is prayer that you offer on behalf of someone other than yourself. Taken from Genesis 18, this lesson centers around Abraham interceding on behalf of the people who lived in a city known as Sodom. Yes, that Sodom.

I can’t think of a more timely lesson, what with millions around America celebrating what they call Pride Month. And while it would be very easy to draw a parallel between ancient Sodom and modern day America, the crux of the lesson is about interceding with God for those who are spiritually lost.

More to the point, do we as Christians love the unsaved (regardless of their sinful lifestyle) enough to intercede on their behalf?

This is THE question, at least as I see it. It has nothing to do with the sin of homosexuality, but it has everything to do with looking past the sin and seeing a person who is lost without Christ in their hearts. That is what Abraham did, and he lived over 2,000 years before Jesus walked upon the earth.

It’s true that Abraham had good reason for interceding on behalf of Sodom. He had family living there, with his nephew Lot, his wife, and daughters making their home in Sodom. So the case can be made for Abraham acting for selfish reasons.

Except that Abraham wasn’t just concerned about his own family. That is why he sought the LORD for mercy. Read along from Genesis 18 to better understand what Abraham said to the LORD.

23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 

24 Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 

25 Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

26 So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”

Abraham did not have 50 family members living in Sodom, yet he was concerned that there just might be that many righteous there that would be destroyed along with the rest of the inhabitants. He then proceeds to bargain with the LORD until he reaches 10 righteous. In effect, he received a guarantee from the LORD that if even 10 righteous were in Sodom, the city would be spared.

What this story tell us is that Abraham could have asked the LORD to destroy Sodom for their wickedness. After all, Abraham was a friend of God. He was on a first name basis with the Almighty! Instead, he asked for mercy for those that were lost. What we see here is the heart of Abraham.

He didn’t want vengeance. He didn’t ask for Sodom to be punished. He asked for Sodom to be spared. In other words, Abraham interceded with God for compassion to be extended to Sodom. You see, there was a lot more going on in Sodom than what most of us realize!

Like most of you, I was taught that the reason God rained down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah was because of the sin of homosexuality. Truth is, that’s only partly correct. Surprised? Shocked? Disillusioned? Angry? Well don’t be, because I’m going to show you something from God’s word to back up my statement that there was a whole lot more going on there than homosexuality.

If we look at Ezekiel chapter 16, we find that the LORD is speaking through his servant Ezekiel to the people of Jerusalem. He is reading them the equivalent of the riot act. After reminding them (again!) of all He had done for them, God calls them harlots, whores, and an abomination. Tough words, wouldn’t you say?

God then compares them to, yes, you guessed it, Sodom! Read along with me beginning with 16:46:

46 And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters.

47 Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways.

48 As I live, saith the Lord God, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.

49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

God just told the inhabitants of Jerusalem that they were more corrupt than Sodom was! Please look again at verse 49, for these are the sins of Sodom that led to her destruction:

Pride…they had enough to eat that they no longer depended upon God…idleness…neglecting the poor and needy. Did you see anything there about homosexuality or sexual perversion?

So, am I saying that homosexuality is not a sin? No, I am not saying that at all. Of course it is sin. Just as adultery, murder, stealing, cursing, drunkenness, and a host of other things are considered sin according to God’s word.

People, meaning you and me, and most especially those of us in the Church, are apt to categorize sin. That is not a “God thing”, that is a man thing. We are the ones who have decided that certain sins should be ranked higher than others. According to Jesus, there is only one sin that is unforgivable, or at the very top of the list. That would be the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost. ALL others are forgivable!

Getting back to Abraham, he certainly knew that Sodom was a vile and wicked city. He knew there was rampant homosexuality in the midst. But he also knew that there were a host of other sins being committed there. That is why he interceded for them, because he knew they were altogether lost in sin.

The lesson for all of us here is simple: is our heart motivated by love or vengeance? Do we want to see sinners saved or punished? Are we vessels of mercy or condemnation?

I know which I aspire to be. The God that spared me from the Hell I deserved is still saving today, and I want to have a hand in that. I’ll leave sorting it all out to Him, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over these many decades of following the Lord, it is that I am not worthy to pronounce judgment on anyone.

Have a blessed day!

Ron

A Line in The Sand

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I hear it all the time. People are frightened about the new administration and the direction our country is headed. The elderly are worried about how they are going to be able to afford health care as they age. Young people are concerned about job and financial security. Still others are overwhelmed with one family crisis after another. Divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, massive personal debt, oh, and let’s not forget Corona.

The bedrock of hope, confidence, and stability, it would seem, has gone missing in 2021 America. Then again, it depends on where you are looking. If my hope is only in a President, then yes, the future is indeed bleak. If my confidence rests in the stock market or my portfolio, I confess to being on shaky ground. If any stability I have is tethered to the actions and decisions of people who have only their best interests at heart, well, wisdom is apparently not something I have much of.

As I said however, it all depends on where you are looking for these things. The Bible has much to say about hope, confidence, and stability. Whether in the past, present, or future, it is clear that those whose lives are anchored in Christ possess something that those dependent upon man do not.

For example, according to the Apostle Peter, Christians are in possession of a living hope.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. 1st Peter 1:3 NKJV

There is only one reason for this living hope: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without it none of us would have any hope in this life or the life to come, and if you ask me that is about as depressing a thought as I could imagine. No wonder the Apostle Paul said that:

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 1st Corinthians 15:19 KJV

Yet this is exactly why there is so much angst and despair today. They cannot see what lies ahead. They are consumed with the here and now as if this is all there is. They have either never known or have forgotten that this world is nothing but a place of preparation for the world that is to come. They are miserable because their Christian ‘experience’ is entrenched in this life only. How unlike John’s exhortation to abide in Him so we may have confidence at His appearing!

Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 1st John 2:28 NASB

I want to encourage everyone to better understand that no matter your circumstances, that is NOT how it will be forever. Change is coming, and I am not speaking of anything this world can offer. No, change is coming because the risen Savior is coming. That fact alone is our hope. That is our confidence. That is our stability.

God has drawn a line in the sand because the things that trouble you can only do so for so long. Whatever access the enemy has in order to tempt you is limited by God Himself. Try as he might, Satan simply cannot have his way in your life. God will not allow it because He has placed a limit on the devil, as Paul describes here:

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1st Corinthians 10:13 NASB

Obviously, all of us know that temptations and problems of every sort are a normal part of life, with emphasis on the word ‘normal’. What many don’t know, however, is that with these ‘normal’ temptations and problems comes a promise from God that though we may be forced to endure them, He will provide a way to be able to deal with them in such a manner that they do not overtake us.

That, dear reader, is something to be encouraged by!

Have a blessed day,

Ron

Where is YOUR Treasure?

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Life is speeding by at an incredible pace, isn’t it? It seems like it was just a little while ago I was a skinny kid of 13 years of age, dreaming of turning 18 and entering adulthood. The Vietnam War was winding down, and despite my desire to enlist, Uncle Sam didn’t appreciate the fact that I had already run afoul of the law and had sent me back home from the enlistment center before I could join up.

That was 48 years ago, and like most of you reading this, I could never have imagined the twists and turns my life would take over those nearly five decades. Marriage, divorce, job changes, children born, homes bought and sold, called into the ministry….

Like everyone else I knew I was caught up in this whirlwind we call LIFE. Working two jobs for quite a while, the pace of life seemed to fly by even faster and I found it difficult to follow the command of Jesus about storing up treasure in heaven instead of here on earth.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 NASB

Yet “storing up treasures on earth” was exactly what I was doing. I didn’t know any other way. How else was one supposed to get ahead in life? Working 12 to 15 hour days back then seemed very normal. It wasn’t until I was older that I finally began to understand what James meant about our lives being so short.

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are just a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away“. James 4:14 NASB

“Just a vapor”. In the really big picture, no matter how many years one lived it was all just a vapor when compared to eternity. As a young man, I would look at people in their 80’s and 90’s and think about how long that was. Yet even that is a vapor when you really think about it.

I guess that is why the Bible refers to God’s children as Pilgrims. We’re always longing for something better. We’re always on the move seeking what’s next. Like the Pilgrims who came to America in search of a better life, we too understand that this world is not our home. We may have taken up a temporary residence, but this is not home.

Home is Heaven. Home is where God resides. Home is the place of where Jesus said “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“. John 14:2 KJV

Home is where our treasure is, if in fact we laying up treasure in Heaven. Anything else is all for naught because it is all going to rust and decay eventually.

I hope that last sentence resonates with you. I hope it causes you to stop for a moment and think about how temporary everything is here on earth.

Our nation is crumbling before our eyes, and like every nation before it that has rejected God, ours too will implode and be reduced to a shell of its former glory. It is inevitable, and as much as it hurts to say it, we have chosen our course.

At such a time as this, I can’t think of a better question to leave you with than where is YOUR treasure?

Have a blessed day Pilgrim,

Ron

Do You Remember When Easter Focused on The Resurrection?

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When you think of Easter, what images immediately come to mind?

Church?

Jesus?

Candy Basket?

A New Outfit?

A Bunny?

An Empty Tomb?

White Lilly’s?

Colorful Eggs?

As with most things, the passage of time has clouded the meaning of the day we call Easter, or Resurrection Sunday. What was once a most sacred holiday, reserved for the remembrance and celebration of Jesus being raised back to life, now has become a convoluted mixture of the holy and the secular, with the lines distinguishing the two becoming more blurred with each passing year.

All that aside, this post is simply a reminder of the reason we celebrate Easter, which is that Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and rose to life victorious over death, Hell, and the grave. Easter without the Resurrection would not be Easter. It would be just another day. The Crucifixion without the Resurrection would be just one more of a thousand deaths at the hands of the Roman executioners. The Resurrection, however, makes all the difference.

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Matthew 28:1-6 NKJV

He is not here; for He is risen, as He said“. Here, in this simple sentence comprised of just eleven words, is what I believe to be the most important announcement ever heard by mortal ears. Jesus, the slain carpenter from Galilee, is no longer among the dead but has risen in power and victory over no less than Satan himself. Contained in His resurrection is complete, eternal freedom from the shackles of sin that had bound mankind since the fall in the Garden of Eden.

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Hebrews 2:14-15 KJV

The fear of death has always held men in bondage. The grave, and what is beyond, has always been the great unknown, a place where no one has returned from to tell the rest of us what awaits us when our time here is finished. Jesus Christ however used death to destroy the one who had the power over death, that being Satan.

 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. Romans 6:8-10 ESV

We who know Him as Lord have died to this world, raised in Spirit to live with Him. Death no longer has the hold on us that it once did. Yes, we will die physically, but the same power of Resurrection that brought Jesus out of the tomb will also bring us from the grave when the trumpet of God sounds.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 1st Thessalonians 4:16 NKJV

The Resurrection may mean different things to each of us, but one thing we share in common is that it brings hope to the hopeless. I was once hopelessly lost in sin, as were you. As the old song says “I owed a debt I could not pay, He paid a debt He did not owe”. None of us could overcome death by ourselves, we needed a death conqueror to fight this battle for us and to win back the relationship that man once enjoyed with God.

This Easter, among the hustle and bustle, among the activities and family dinners, won’t you take a few moments to reflect upon this incredible thing we call the Resurrection?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Ron

How do you know that you know Him?

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Did you know that there is a fool proof test in the Bible for proving whether or not we know God? Yes, there really is and it’s found in 1st John 2:3.

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

Wait, surely it can’t be that simple, can it? Just keeping His commandments means I know God? Yes, that’s exactly what it means and it really is that simple. If we know Him, we will keep his commandments. John goes on to explain this in a bit more detail in verses 5 and 6.

But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

So if we keep His word (commandments), God’s love is perfected in us and we have full assurance that we are His. Furthermore, as God’s love is perfected in us those things that are not pleasing to Him fall off of us, enabling us to walk in the Spirit just as our Lord did.

Pretty simple, wouldn’t you agree? If we love God, we will do what he said to do. Easy Peasy!

Now, if you’re following along you may have noticed that I skipped verse 4. That was because verse 4 proves something entirely different than verse 3 does. In fact, verse four is often skipped entirely by those who are responsible for proclaiming the whole counsel of God. The reasons for that are many, but suffice it to say that in the ears of many today, verse 4 is considered harsh and unloving. See if you agree.

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Ummm….can someone say “OUCH”!

How about we do a comparison, OK? Verse 3 tells us that if we keep His commandments, we are one of God’s children and know Him. Verse 4 says that if we say we know Him but do NOT keep his commandments, we do not know Him because we are a liar.

I’m certain that a great many people would find it offensive to be called out in such a manner. After all, isn’t the common response something along the lines of “you don’t know my heart, so how can you say such a horrible thing” when we are challenged?

But you, see, that’s just it. None of us can see inside another’s heart. None of us can judge the motives of others. Besides, that really isn’t what God has told any of us to do, despite what some may think. Yet God’s word bypasses all of the ‘what ifs’ and ‘how do you knows’ by simply breaking it down to whether or not we are keeping God’s word and living accordingly.

I don’t know how you feel about it, but it seems to me that in this day when what used to be wrong is now right and what used to be right is now wrong, something as simple as ” Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” is pretty refreshing.

Actually, the reason I’m writing this post is because of a personal desire to reconnect with a common, simple faith. A faith void of superlatives, outlandish claims, unreasonable (and unbiblical) expectations, and a host of man-made requirements. In short, the farther down the down-grade (to quote Spurgeon) the church appears to be headed, the more inclined I am to hold fast to the basic, simple truths of scripture.

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40 ESV

Have a blessed day everyone!

Ron

Some days I just need a reminder

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I don’t know about you dear friend, but every one in a while I need to be reminded of Heaven. When the sin and evil that permeates this world seems to have taken center stage and few if any dare raise their voices in protest, I need to be reminded that it won’t always be this way.

When the government passes legislation that effectively places the Scripture in the category of hate speech while essentially redefining the definition of male and female, I need to be reminded that the very God who created them male and female will ultimately judge those who dare to corrupt His creation. [1] [2]

When I see and hear actors and actresses receive yet another award for their incredible “gifts” to humanity all while blaspheming the name of the Lord when they exercise their craft, I need a gentle reminder that these are the sons and daughters of darkness. They are not to be idolized or worshiped, they are to be looked upon with pity and compassion for they are lost and in danger of eternal damnation.

Sometimes, I just need to go back and read Revelation chapter four again. I need a reminder of the fact that there exists a throne in heaven, and the One that sits upon the throne is the Lord of all. I need to be reminded of what John saw when he looked beyond the open door, for what John saw is what all of God’s children will see.

I need a reminder that the way things are now will one day be no more. That there exists a place where Holiness and Righteousness aren’t just words, but reality. A place where worship comes from the heart, and praise is heard day and night for ever and ever.

The Throne Room of Heaven: Revelation chapter four.

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:

“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”

This, my friends, is where I long to be. Heaven, the dwelling place of God, surrounded by an innumerable company of angels as well as the saints who have already gone before me.

Some days, I just need a reminder…

Have a blessed evening,

Ron

[1] https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/5

[2] Genesis 1:27, 5:2

A Fresh Perspective

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Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26

Psalm 73 has to be one of my favorites because it points to the fact that as a child of God, it is normal to question, to wonder, and yes, to doubt. The writer of this Psalm, Asaph, struggled greatly over the fact that while he was doing his best to serve God, the wicked were seemingly enjoying a continuous state of prosperity. This caused him no small amount of doubt, dismay, and confusion, as I’m sure it does with you and I today when it appears as though the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer”.

To better understand his perspective, it’s important to know a little bit about Asaph. He was was from the priestly tribe of the Levites, and was one of the three men that David had put in charge of the singing part of their worship. In today’s religious circles he would be called a worship leader or a song leader. [1]

Despite his position and his loving relationship with the Lord, it did not prevent him from feeling as though he was getting the short end of the stick. While he was doing his best for the Lord, it appeared to Asaph that the wicked were living better than he was. In other words, if the wicked were prospering while at the same time living life on their own terms, why should he continue to walk the straight and narrow if the wicked were also being rewarded?

Have you ever felt this way? Have you been the person at work who is known for always taking the high road, for example, only to see someone of questionable conduct or character get the promotion? It happens all the time, doesn’t it? It’s enough to make you question what in the world is going on here, or at least say along with Asaph ” Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain“. [2]

Just like Asaph, when we feel unfairly taken advantage of or somehow slighted, questions and doubts begin to formulate in our minds. Our flesh, being what it is, causes us to be envious of the wicked who appear to be rewarded for their deeds, leaving us to wonder about the injustice of it all. Asaph himself said that he was envious of the boastful when he saw the prosperity of the wicked. [3]

The reality is that we live in a fallen world, a world of hurt, pain, and injustice. A world where what is fair and just has been supplanted with undeserved accolades being heaped upon the enemies of those who desire to do good and to follow God. In essence, the world seems to have done a 180 when it comes to what it considers right and wrong, just and unjust. Evil, it would seem, is rewarded while Godliness is reviled in our world today.

All of this of course was spoken about in the Scriptures, so no one should be surprised that it is occurring now. The truth is, none of this is new. It’s been happening for as long as man has inhabited this earth. Even Jesus said that the rain fell upon the just and the unjust. [4]

Still, believers are no strangers to doubts and struggles. After all, we have very real emotions, emotions that can get the best of us at times. It’s important then to remember that we are not robots, programmed to act and feel according to a preset narrative. 

Who doesn’t have ups and downs in their walk with the Lord? Like many of you, I can attest to the fact that sometimes our faith is strong and sometimes it is weak. There are times when we look at the world and it has no attraction for us. Other times it seems that we can’t stop looking and admiring the things of the world. Our humanity dictates that there will be times of strength and times of weakness.

Asaph allowed the seeming prosperity of the wicked to nearly shipwreck his faith. He describes how that in trying to make sense of it all that it became too painful for him. [5] We’re like that too, aren’t we? We can become so fixated on what others have or are doing that it consumes our every thought, causing us to lose sight of the big picture. Focusing on the perceived wrongdoings of others blinds us to the reality that God is the only one qualified to make righteous judgements.

It wasn’t until Asaph went into the sanctuary that God gave him understanding in the matters that were so troubling to him.  It was then that he saw that the end of the wicked was certain destruction. Yes, the wicked certainly do prosper in this life, we see it every day, but what really matters concerning them is the same thing that matters to the righteous: where will eternity be spent?

You might say that when Asaph went to church, he received a fresh perspective on things!

Once God enlightened Asaph regarding the end of the wicked, his heart was grieved and his mind was vexed at how foolish he had been not to trust that the Lord had all of this under control. It wasn’t until after he had entered the sanctuary and enquired of God that he was able to speak the words at the top of this post.

So what’s the lesson in all of this? Well, I think there are many things we can take away from this Psalm, but I want to highlight just three of them:

  1. While it is perfectly normal for us to question the injustice of wicked people prospering while the righteous suffer lack, such things are not for us to judge. God alone is righteous, therefore it is He who determines the fate of us all. This, of course, requires much faith on our part, as well as the strength to focus on our own particular calling.
  2. Sometimes the simple truth is that we need to take things to God in prayer. All of our mental wrangling over things that are beyond our ability to comprehend are best given to God. We can lay awake at night, tormented by a thousand “why’s”, only to have the sun rise upon them the next morning with nothing having been resolved. As Asaph learned, God has a different and higher perspective than we are capable of, and we can save ourselves much anguish by simply letting go of things that are outside of our own lane.
  3. Because it is a normal thing to question and doubt at times, we should use the lesson of Asaph to encourage other Christians when they too have struggles and doubts. This is far better than for us to haphazardly judge them, especially as we see so many struggling today.

I hope that you will take a few minutes today and read the 73rd Psalm in its entirety. In it you will find the answer to one of life’s greatest mysteries. I don’t know about you, but from time to time I need to see things from a fresh perspective.

Have a blessed day,

Ron

[1] 1st Chronicles 15: 17 [2] Psalm 73:13 [3] Psalm 73:3 [4] Matthew 5:45 [5] Psalm 73:16

The Balm of Forgiveness

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I’m writing this blog for no one in particular, yet it seems appropriate to say I am writing it for everyone.  I am writing it for the person overwhelmed with the guilt of past mistakes. I am writing it for those who have known the depths of discouragement and defeat. I am writing it for those who stumble under the weight of “if only” or “why did I?”. 

Most especially I am writing it for me.

Living, as we do, in a broken world, it is next to impossible to pass through it without accumulating our share of battle scars. Innumerable regrets, a multitude of sorrows, and days of desperation and hopelessness mark the road we have traveled. It’s enough to cause the strongest among us to ask “why bother?”.

The answer is because we have a Father in heaven who loves us and cares for us, and he has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). To put it plainly, what we cannot do in and of ourselves, God can. He alone can forgive us and blot out every sin, leaving us to stand before him without guilt.

The Psalmist David experienced the forgiveness of God on several occasions, one of which he wrote about in Psalm 32. This is one of the most beautiful and encouraging Psalms for it speaks of the soul rejoicing in the wonders of God’s grace and mercy. In this Psalm, we see God’s forgiveness of sin, we see Him comforting the sorrowful, and we take from it the knowledge that God is merciful to those who turn to him. 

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah

5 I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

6 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You
In a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters
They shall not come near him.

7 You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah. Psalm 32;1-7.  NKJV

As David found out on more than one occasion, unrepentant sin is like having a huge weight around your neck. It wears you down and will eventually destroy you. The “heavy hand” that David speaks of is the conviction of our heart, and it will not go away unless God takes it away. Oh, how I thank God that in his compassion he removes our sins and casts them into the depths of the sea! (Micah 7:19)

If you’re carrying a heavy load of guilt and shame, you don’t have to carry them any longer. Jesus Christ bore your guilt and shame on the Cross, releasing you to live in freedom. All you need to do is turn your heart towards the Lord and ask Him to forgive you.

Have a blessed day!

Ron

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