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Our Identity in Him

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Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”            Jer. 1:4,5  NKJV

Much has been written about the prophet Jeremiah. About how he served his God as a Prophet to the nations and saw very little in the way of fruit for his labors.For someone called to be a prophet before he was even born he knew little except hardship,disappointment, and torment his entire life.No royal attire for him,no dinners at the king’s table,no respect of his peers.

Very different than what we see today where the name of the game is to identify ones self with God in order to gain materialistically,yet shun any part of the refiners fire.The fire that cleanses from the inside out,and shapes the very character of a man until he is fit to be called a servant of the Most High God.

Serving God can be like that when you have His call upon your life.Jeremiah understood this all too well.

Funny thing,this calling.For those unfamiliar with what this means the simplest way to describe it would be to say that it is something like a voice inside of you that there is no escape from.A voice that calls you to holiness and a right relationship with the Almighty.

It compels you onward when every fiber in your being screams “GIVE UP”! It is an unseen force that you know is there because in the worst of times it somehow sustains you.I can only imagine how many times Jeremiah wanted to quit because I have felt that way more times than I can remember.

Haven’t you?

A calling is ever present,whether in the slime pit, the pulpit or on the job.This presence,or calling is a fire shut up in the bones of the one who has an unction from the Lord to go forth and speak what must be said.

In spite of the lack of support from those who know better.

In spite of the fact that it would be so much easier to just walk away.

Except that you cannot just walk away. Not from the call. Not from something so holy.To do so would mean acknowledging that God cannot do what He said He would do.And we know better than that.

Are we to believe that God does not know every one of us just as He knew Jeremiah? Are we to believe that God did not form us in the womb and ordain our steps long before we breathed our very first breath?

Sorry…I’m too long into this journey to ever doubt that my steps are not ordained of the Lord.

I’ve been through far too much to ever doubt that only God and God alone could have taken me through the barren,dry deserts I have passed through.

No,God knew us long before we were formed. And He also KNOWS us,as in the right now.Everything about us.So much so that Jesus declared that the very hairs of our heads were numbered(Matt.10:30).

In spite of the many failures and shortcomings too numerous to recall,the calling of God drives me.It speaks to me in the early hours of the day to square my shoulders and take a stand.And I am persuaded that you sense it as well.

For you also have walked the deserts of sickness and pain.You too have felt the immense pain of abuse and abandonment.You’ve been there in that dark, lonely place where the only answer to your cries was the sound of silence.

But that still small voice,that call from the One who knows you better than you could ever hope to know yourself urges you onward.Urges you to take a stand and claim victory in Jesus name.

Our identity may be defined by the world as Mom & Dad,or Doctor,or Lawyer.But our true identity is hidden in the comfort of knowing that He has called us,and if He has called us He will sustain us through every season.

Be blessed

Ron

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Enough is Never Enough….

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I’ve been reading this week in the Old Testament book of Esther and what a joy it has been to be reacquainted with this wonderful story of God’s redemption and grace. If you haven’t read the book of Esther in a while I encourage you to do so and enjoy this story along with me.

Even though Esther is the main participant there is another individual I want to focus on and his name is Haman. Haman was promoted by the king to a position of great power and authority,second only to the king.Incidentally, this king (Ahasuerus) was so great that he threw a party that lasted 180 days! And you thought you could party?

As I was saying,Haman was a great man who demanded that everyone bow to him in order to pay him the respect he felt was due him.And everyone did,everyone except a man named Mordecai,who was also a Jew.Day after day Haman passed by this man Mordecai who refused to pay him homage,and his anger grew more intense every day.So much so that Haman determined to destroy all the Jews and convinced the king to go along with his evil plot.

That says a lot about the heart of a man,doesn’t it? A man who had power and influence over an entire kingdom yet could only focus on this one man who refused to bow to him. Listen to what Haman did after dining with the king and queen one evening…

So Haman went out that day joyful and with a glad heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, and that he did not stand or tremble before him, he was filled with indignation against Mordecai.

Nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh.

Then Haman told them of his great riches, the multitude of his children, everything in which the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and servants of the king.

Moreover Haman said, “Besides, Queen Esther invited no one but me to come in with the king to the banquet that she prepared; and tomorrow I am again invited by her, along with the king.

“Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”  Esther 5:9-13  NKJV

Can you imagine this scene? Here is a man who has been given so much.People honor him.They no doubt fear him.He even gets to have dinner with the king and queen.But even that is not enough to satisfy him.

No,he wants it all. And what is standing in his way of having it all is this one Jew named Mordecai.Can you imagine this?

Of course,no one dared ask Haman how much is enough? How much do you need? Will you ever be content with what you have been given? You have more than the rest of us combined!

Like Haman,many of us have been given riches beyond what most of this world can even comprehend,yet still that is not enough. I dare say that the vast majority reading this will not go to bed hungry tonight.We will not suffer lack tomorrow or the next day.We will go to our jobs instead of poking around a garbage dump or trash bin.In short,we will have all we could ever need, and exceedingly more.

And still we will not be satisfied.For our hearts wander aimlessly,ever searching for next new thing.The next rush,the next challenge.The next relationship.With our hearts divided we can never be satisfied, nor can we know contentment.We can only know the call of more.

Like Haman.

We sing the song “He’s all I need” yet continually search for something, or someone else.His word is filled with thousands of promises,yet still we look elsewhere.

Like Haman. Never enough.

When will we ever get tired of chasing what we will never find apart from a loving God?

Why So Much Killing?

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Like most of America I was deeply saddened by the latest school shooting in Oregon this week.If I’m being honest I must admit that I wasn’t shocked,and that in itself is is a testament to how violent our society has become.Violence in America has become the norm,and whether we like to admit it or not,it is.

Let’s face it,violence has become so common place that it has lost it’s shock value.We shake our heads and bemoan the senseless loss of life,and then go about our business wondering quietly when and where the next attack will occur.In fact,only a day later and the topic around the water cooler is the football game.

Are you surprised by the level of violence in America? If not surprised,what are you? What emotions are you dealing with in light of the Oregon school killings? Are you angry? Are you hurt? Are you sickened by it all?

And what is the underlying reason behind all of this? Well,as a Christian I know that the driving force behind all of this is evil.It is the force of darkness being unleashed upon a society that has by and large rejected God.You see,we live in a society where men’s heart are cold and hardened by the deceitfulness of sin,and from what I read in the scripture it is only going to get worse.

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”   Matthew 24:12

Of course,in America we don’t teach such things any longer,and even if we did most parents are not reinforcing it at home.I read recently of someone who stated that he simply did not believe in evil,that the word evil was just an excuse.Try telling that to the parents of one of the victims of this weeks murder spree.

I believe we in America,and especially the church, are in denial about what is taking place right before our eyes.For the past couple of hundred years the church has been only too willing to accept a new premise that there was no need to be concerned about the dangers of a last day rebellion against God, for after all one day the Lord himself is going to snatch us all away and spare us any suffering.Well guess what? We are living in the last days in the midst of a great falling away.

And you’re still here!

Easy believeism that says repeat this prayer and you are a Christian.Easy believeism that says suffering is for those “left behind”. Easy believeism does not require a change of heart,only that we fall in line with the millions of others who are pretenders for the faith instead of contenders.

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”   Jude 1:3

Do these words hurt you? Do they offend you? That is not my intention.I seek only to call attention to the fact that we are fast asleep to the evil all around us.

Millions of words have been spoken already regarding this latest tragedy.Some,like our President, are angry and want to impose strict controls on who can possess a firearm.Others see the solution as one of arming everyone so that we at least have a chance to defend ourselves.Many are also speaking out about the lack of available mental health resources.Still others are taking the position that it’s the parent’s fault.

What I have yet to hear is someone willing to step out into the spotlight and state publicly that we are reaping the consequences of our own past decisions.That’s right…we have brought this evil upon ourselves!The society we now have is the society that has been created by a populous consumed with the ideology that God is dead,if indeed He ever existed.

We,by our insistence on creating a society where every man is responsible only to himself,have created a culture of death.We act as though we cannot understand why there is so much killing,yet think nothing of killing tens of millions in the womb because we pretty up the massacre by calling it “choice” instead of what it really is.We are delusional,we are willingly ignorant of the facts in the hope that “it won’t happen to me”.

How in God’s name could we ever think that we could end up any different when our hands are stained red with the blood of the innocent?We in America glorify death,we celebrate it and the forces behind it.We continually reelect politicians who will carry out our wishes for more carnage,lest by some miracle someone would actually be given an opportunity try and stem the (RED) tide.We have opened up a Pandora’s box of unprecedented evil,and yet still we refuse to humble ourselves before the only One that can save us.Yes…we have what we have because we have paid a great price to have it so!

In the verse from Matthew quoted above,Jesus stated that the love of many shall wax cold.We are witnessing just such a thing right before our eyes.The sinner who has continually rejected Christ continues to grow angrier by the day.His heart knows nothing but rage for he is angry at what he does not know.

But there is also this:the love of many Christians is waxing cold as well.Oh,we may not read about them shooting up defenseless citizens,but they are turning cold nonetheless. The lack of genuine Christian love is appalling today and it grows continually worse.You see,in the church there is a different “culture of death”. It is a culture of complacency,a culture of lack,and a culture of “you are not important enough for me to care”.

The day of the Oregon shootings I asked my wife when all of this would stop.Her answer? “When we get to Heaven”. She was 100% correct, I’m afraid.

Why so much killing?

It’s because we have supplanted the love of God for the love of self.

Ron