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My Advocate…

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Advocate:”one that pleads the cause of another; specifically one that pleads the cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court.”

Have you ever wished that someone would stand up up in your defense? I certainly have and I imagine most people have at one time or another.

For the better part of my life I have always championed the underdog,or the underprivileged.I simply cannot abide seeing the innocent abused or neglected and have little sympathy for those who prey upon them.The truth is I have always imagined that the poor in this life are at a huge disadvantage when compared to those who are of means(which is nearly all of us).

The Bible speaks of an Advocate as well.The need for an Advocate when God’s children stumble.I can’t speak for you,but that includes me.Read along with me the words that John spoke about this matter:

2:1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

1 John 2:1-2

John tells us of the Lord’s provision in the event of failure. God’s perfect desire for our lives is that we do not sin,or stumble in our walk with Him. Because God is perfect, He expects us to strive to be perfect.That must be our goal.

Well,you may ask,how in the world is that even possible?The truth be told,in this life while trapped in these mortal bodies,it is not possible!Yet that does not excuse us from making our best effort to live a holy and Godly life in Him.

At the same time, the Lord knows us intimately.After all,He created us didn’t He? He remembers that we are frail and weak in our own strength and so He has graciously made provision for us in the event of failure.And thank God that He has!

“If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” An advocate is one who comes to the side of another person in time of need in order to help. This is exactly what Jesus does for us when we sin. He comes to us in order to restore our broken relationship with Himself.On our part,we need only to repent and desire to do better.And yes…it really is that simple!

There is something very wonderful in this verse which I want to emphasize.It says, “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father.” Doesn’t matter if you live in the penthouse or the outhouse-God forgives one and all! Oh,how many are beaten down and discouraged because when they do sin there is no one there to encourage them to get right back up and take another step!

Our Advocate is Jesus Christ the righteous. Praise be unto God that our Advocate is righteous.He is above reproach,His words in defense of us are truthful for in Him is no lie.When the accuser of the brethren(satan)brings accusation against us we have a righteous Advocate to plead our case!

Be blessed,

Ron

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We Are Not in Darkness!

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Like a lot of Christians I have been watching with great interest the events unfolding in Israel the past few weeks. I guess where I differ from most is that I don’t see the beginning of Armageddon or the final war in every battle that Israel is involved in. There are some very specific things that must take place at that time, but that’s for another post.

What concerns me mostly is the apparent lack of knowledge and understanding of the times in which we live. I’m speaking of course concerning the church.

Why is it that whenever any type of fighting breaks out involving Israel, every so called prophecy expert comes out of hibernation to declare that the end is at hand?

There can be no doubt that the nation of Israel is the key to the 2nd coming of our Lord. This is elementary, or should be to any seasoned Christian. Just as it is a given that the nation of Israel has always been and will continue to be despised by the vast majority of the world, these things should not take us by surprise. Again, this is very basic stuff folks. Or at least I have always thought it so.

In times of uncertainty or trouble, I have always found wisdom in God’s word and comfort for the days ahead. In Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica, he addressed many of the issues that are unfolding today.

What I find the most interesting about this passage of scripture is how that something written nearly two centuries ago is so appropriate for our day.

Of course, it was written under the anointing of the Holy Spirit so there can be no doubt of its accuracy! Here is Paul’s word of encouragement to the believer:

5:1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.
2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.
7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.
8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.

The New King James Version. 1982 (1 Th 5:1-8). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

I love the way Paul says that we are not in darkness so this day should not overtake us, or take us by surprise because we had no idea it was coming! Rather, he is saying that you are a child of God, one who should be in constant communication with Him.

Beloved, let us watch and be vigilant as we see troubling times approaching. Dig into the Word, study to show ourselves approved,pray without ceasing. Be not fearful but be strengthened in Him!

Be blessed,

Ron

Whatever Happened To John 3:17?

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I get it. Nearly everyone in church can quote John 3:16,and that’s a great verse to memorize.The world surely does need to hear that God loved them so much that He sent his only Son to die as payment for their sins.There is no greater news than this IMO.

But what happened to John 3:17?

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Read that verse again.It plainly states that God did not send Jesus His Son into this world to condemn the world,but rather to save the world through Him.

There it is friends…Jesus did NOT come to condemn but to SAVE.

From where I sit on the front row, I see something else and it is ugly.I see an abundance of God’s people doing exactly what Jesus did not come to do, and that is to condemn.

Let me share this observation with you:I see prodigal sons(and daughters)everywhere among us,yet I see very little effort being made to win them back with the love of Christ.I hear biting,stinging words of rebuke and hypocrisy directed at those who have wandered away.

I hear words like “well,they made the choice to leave”,or “it’s not my job to go after them”. Or much worse than any of these is that nothing is said at all. It’s as if they never existed.Is this what Jesus meant for His church to become?

I am pretty certain that most of us in the church know of an individual or family that has seemingly dropped off the face of the earth.People who at one time were active in the church and yet now no one knows anything about them.People who have been hurt by words of condemnation,people starving for one word from someone to let them know they are loved and valued,yet hear nothing.

I know what this feels like,which is why it’s so personal with me.I know what it’s like to be abandoned on the side of the road by a denomination that said they loved but in reality did not.I also know what it’s like to be abandoned by those in church that have been deceived into thinking they know what the love of Christ is,but in practice fall far short.

Words of condemnation do not come from the Lord,but rather those who profess to be His children.How pitiful and hypocritical the church must appear to the rest of the world!

While the church rages on in it’s condemnation of homosexuals,adulterers,liars,and thieves,Jesus stands before the world with an open door policy saying “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

No condemnation….no stinging rebuke….no words of hate or judgement.

Just “come unto me….”

I wonder….whatever did happen to John 3:17?

Be blessed,

Ron

Why Do We Do This?

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The church that is. Why does the church insist upon imposing rules, traditions, and customs upon people who come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? It’s as if they are saying “well, we’re glad you’re saved but here’s the rest of what you will need to make it to heaven!” REALLY??

Isn’t it enough to simply know Jesus as our Lord and Savior? I mean, why is it that denominations and organizations,preachers and priests, are all so determined to add to the Word of God and saddle us with the commandments of men that can do nothing for us?

Every time I read or hear of a church doing this I think of the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church at Corinth as he explained that he did not come to them with enticing words of man’s wisdom…..

In fact Paul said this in 1st Cor 2:2…..”For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified”.

What Paul was saying here was that Jesus was enough. It was not about Paul. It was not even about the church. It was about the crucified and risen Christ. Nothing more was needed!

I would to God that we could go back in time to a point where the simplicity of the glorious gospel was taught with a sincere heart to those who were hungry to be filled.

What I wouldn’t give to hear someone say “I don’t want your money,I want your heart to be in a right relationship with Almighty God”. I want to hear someone say once again that “being a disciple is about following in HIS footsteps, not taking our 16 week class so we can create yet another clone of ourselves”.

Surely, God did not save us just so we can continuously repeat the cycle that the church is stuck in!

Father, help your people to wake out of the slumber that the devil has cast upon us. Cause us to awaken to life,abundant life in You!

Be blessed,

Ron

Well Does He, or Doesn’t He Answer Prayer?

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A day or so ago I wasn’t feeling well at all,and to be perfectly honest I was a bit concerned.You see, fourteen years ago I had a heart attack and subsequent by-pass surgery,and while I do not live in a state of fear or dread of a recurrence,I am very keen to those times when I just don’t feel “right”.

As you can imagine, my wife had trouble going to sleep that particular night and actually stayed awake for a good portion of it praying for me.Now,you have to realize that my wife is a preacher’s kid, so to her the first and most viable option is to begin calling on the name of the Lord in times like this.

At work the next morning I received this text from her:
“Prayer works,helps,or it doesn’t…..which is it? Sometimes I feel like I was brainwashed and all this is for naught!”

I assured her that I too have many questions regarding this subject of prayer being answered,or not.

Perhaps you do as well?

Her response to that was “Do questions mean we don’t fully trust or believe?”

What do you think of that question?

The last text she sent me was to tell me that she had my Bible out and was asking the Lord to help her unbelief when she turned to Psalm 20,which I would like to include here.

1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you;

2 May He send you help from the sanctuary, And strengthen you out of Zion;

3 May He remember all your offerings, And accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah

4 May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, And fulfill all your purpose.

5 We will rejoice in your salvation, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.

6 Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand.

7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

8 They have bowed down and fallen; But we have risen and stand upright.

9 Save, Lord! May the King answer us when we call.

I have to tell you….I am blessed of God to have been given a wife like I have.One who loves the Lord and is sensitive to the pleading of the Spirit is a rare jewel indeed.

So my question to you is this: based upon your personal experiences,does God answer prayer…… or not? What say ye?

Be blessed,

Ron

He’s Still In Control

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This weeks news of yet another outbreak of war(hard to call rockets being launched a “skirmish”) between Israel and the Palestinians draws my thoughts back to a passage in Matthew 24 where Jesus was speaking about the days in which we live.

3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.
5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

So serious is this latest conflict that United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, called urgently for a return to calm and a cease-fire.
“Today, we face the risk of an all-out escalation in Israel and Gaza, with the threat of a ground offensive still palpable — and preventable only if Hamas stops rocket firing,” he told an emergency meeting of the Security Council.

Meanwhile, our own President is offering the help of our government in brokering yet one more cease fire. One more cease fire that not only will not last, but is doomed to ultimate failure.

I wonder: in whom do we trust? In whom do we have our hope? As a Christian I know what the Bible plainly declares, and that is that there can be no peace until the Prince of Peace comes again to reign and rule upon this earth for a thousand years.

I like to believe that I have my eyes wide open to what is taking place in the world and I consider myself to be a realist in the sense that I know perfectly well what is coming. What our Lord said would happen MUST happen, it cannot be otherwise.No amount of deal making or promise giving will put an end to this centuries old battle for control of the Middle East.

All of us wish for peace. We all want everyone to just get along. No one likes seeing the pictures of death and mayhem on the evening news.Yet take note that Jesus said that these were the beginning of sorrows.

Yet in spite of it all, I still have a hope that at an appointed time all of this will end,once and for all.Or as so many have already stated: I’ve read the back of the book and I know who wins!
There’s only One reason I have this hope….

He’s Still In Control

Be blessed,

Ron

Sin Has A Voice…

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I heard a man say once that his drug of choice had a voice that kept calling him. No matter how hard he tried to leave it alone it would always call him back to the crack house. Even after giving it up for months that familiar voice would eventually speak to him and call him back to start using again. That voice, the one that silenced the voice of reason and hope, that voice seemed to speak louder than any other.

Sin is like that, isn’t it? In spite of our best efforts to resist, in and of ourselves we are helpless to defend ourselves against those voices that keep calling. It is only by the grace of God that we who once were bound by the sins of this life are now set free. It’s nothing we did, for as I said we are powerless against the wiles of the devil and it’s only because of the “greater is He that is within you then he that is in the world” that we are who we are in Christ.

Yes, sin has a voice. Through the years the years the church has selected certain types of sin that it likes to focus on. Sins such as homosexuality, drug use, pornography, adultery…..you get the picture. We love to rail against those who practice such sins, choosing to focus on the act of sinning instead of focusing on the desperate needs of the sinner.

Yes, sin has a voice. And the church has selective hearing. We have learned to condemn certain sins but readily accept others. While we look through our spiritual binoculars to be able to detect the adulterer and rush to call one another with the latest gossip, we embrace other sins as though they are somewhat “less evil”. You know the ones I’m talking about……

Gossip
Love of money
Lying
Self Righteousness

Funny how we rationalize things, isn’t it? On one hand we are ready to offer swift judgment upon those who dare transgress what the church has established as the most heinous of sins. Yet on the other hand we willingly turn a blind eye to the sins that we deem as “acceptable”, or not as bad as what those people commit.

Yes, sin has a voice. It has many voices and they are all vying to be heard.

Yet there is another voice clamoring to be heard as well. A voice that says:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29 KJV

I know which voice I desire to listen to and by God’s grace I will hear His voice loud and clear.

My prayer is that all of us will focus less on the sin, and more on the sinner who is struggling to overcome.

Be blessed,

Ron