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Who is waiting on whom?

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Are we waiting on God?

Or is God waiting upon us?

waiting-on-god-001

ilifejourney.wordpress.com

So much depends upon our personal perspective in the light of God’s Word,doesn’t it?

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to open the flood gates of heaven and pour out a blessing on us? We hear a lot about that don’t we?

Or is God waiting upon us to humble out hearts,acknowledge our insufficiency without Him,confess our sin,and be restored to Him so that we can be blessed? (James 5:16)

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to empower us to serve him in ways heretofore not seen?

Or is God waiting upon us to go forward in the strength and power that He has already given us?  (Luke 24:49)

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to “pour out His Spirit on all flesh…” in some version of a “last days revival”? (Joel 2:28)  How many times have you heard that?

revival-image

revivalmag.com

Or is God waiting upon us to accept His word that has already declared “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel…” (Acts 2:16)

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to fill our churches with throngs of hungry worshipers so that we can then teach them all they need to know about the Christian way?

Or is God waiting upon us to obey the command already given to “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled”? (Luke 14:23)

From our perspective, are we waiting on God to miraculously cause worldwide peace to break out on the earth,ushering in a world without poverty,violence,strife,and disease? As if God were a genie in a bottle maybe?

world-peace

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Or is God waiting upon us to accept the call already given to serve Him, knowing that until He comes again,there will be no peace but rather division and strife?  (Luke 12:51)

At the end of the day,I believe we the Church spend an inordinate amount of time waiting upon the Lord to do things He has either already done or already told us to do.

Which leads me to conclude that God is actually waiting upon us. If we are waiting around for new marching orders there will be none given. They were issued to the Church nearly 2000 years ago. You might have heard of them before:

      The Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20

great-commission

blogs.christianpost.com

The Great Commission says to “GO”. What are we waiting for?

Ever flounder?

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Recognize this?

flounder

scaquarium.org

It’s a Flounder.Do you know what Flounders do?

They Flounder!

People flounder too. They don’t lie on the bottom of the ocean,but they flounder.

Whenever we struggle,stumble,lose our way,or aimlessly flail about, we are floundering.

We get stuck.

Without a purpose we flounder.

Without direction we flounder.

Without a definitive plan we flounder.

Without passion we flounder.

So how do we stop floundering?

We must find our God given purpose.

Many of us struggle with purpose. Well, at least I do. I struggle with it seemingly non stop.And I’m sure that a lot of my struggles are tied into my recent retirement. I’ve read several books on post retirement and they all seem to have one common theme. That is that you are not defined by what you used to do.

Oh really? I must have slept through the part where they told me that because it sure seems as though the person I once was wants to still be that person! Why else would I keep waking at 4:00 am, unable to go back to sleep because my mind won’t quit trying to figure out what’s next?

The harsh reality for me is I’m afraid. I’m afraid of being without a purpose.I’m afraid of not finishing well.I’m afraid of not mattering.I’m afraid of being miserable. Mostly I’m afraid of missing what God has in store for me.

I have a feeling I’m not alone in my fears,am I?

Some say “listen to your passion,your dissatisfaction,to your gifts”. Still others say “listen to others”.

I think I need to listen to God.

And right about now I sure need to hear from Him!

Cause I’m getting tired of all this floundering!

Our Invincible Hope

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Much is being said today about the state of the union here in America. If you’re following along you know that fear,anger,resentment,and a general feeling of hopelessness prevails.Daily outpourings of outrage over this,that,and the other are the norm.protesters

Lost in the disarray of all of this is the fact that America is inching ever closer to becoming just like the rest of the world. Let that sink in for a moment.

We’ve been sheltered,for lack of a better term,from the storms of unrest that have ravaged nation after nation.What we are seeing now,however,is the dismantling of that protective shelter right before our very eyes.

For decades we have witnessed other parts of the world reeling from countless famines,wars,diseases,and drug infestations,often of biblical proportions,all resulting in untold millions of deaths and incalculable suffering.

Tragically,they have been happening for so long that they have almost become normal. Besides,those things happen to them,not us. Short of a nuclear attack,little else gives us cause to stop and listen to what’s happening across the globe.

Meanwhile,we in America have watched these events unfold from the comfort and security of our recliners,smug in our thoughts that somehow we were anointed with “favored nation status”.Secure in our self righteous ideology that America was God’s favored nation,we were above such affliction.

favorednation_emailheader

christianartsministries.com

Until now.

Things are about to change.

Like many others,perhaps even some of you,I have been speaking out about the impending crisis headed for America for some time now. Like them,I have tried to sound a warning about the impending breakdown of our society from a biblical viewpoint.

I have also been very critical of the Church’s reluctance to confront the spirit of the age,and have drawn the ire of many for my position. Regular readers of this blog know that I am of the firm conviction that the Church of today has abandoned the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3),hence its reluctance to speak about the spiritual and moral back sliding we are witnessing.

For the most part what’s been said in pointing this out has been in vain…no real surprise there. After all, who wants to listen to some guy telling us that we need to “right the ship” by encouraging America to return to the God of the Bible?

It’s not very popular being one of those voices imploring our religious leaders to denounce the “sin which has so easily beset us” (Heb. 12:1). Then again,God didn’t call us to enter a popularity contest,did He?

Really,is it any wonder that a feeling of hopelessness permeates every facet of our nation? Even the most positive must admit that things don’t look good. We sure could use a little hope right about now,couldn’t we?

Which brings me to the title subject of this particular blog, Our Invincible Hope. Yes,in spite of everything you’ve just read,there remains a flame of hope that cannot be snuffed out by the angry,vitriolic protesters in our streets. A hope that cannot be voted out or decreed null and void by an executive order.

No,in spite of all of this we have a hope that is without end. It is because of the Resurrection that we have this Invincible Hope. Because of Jesus Christ all men everywhere have been made alive,and in the heart of every believer beats the drum of Invincible Hope. For all of us,a better day is coming! As Paul writes:

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. I Corinthians 15:19-23

If in this life only we have hope in Christ then we are in serious trouble! So many people are fixated on this life,as if this is all there is! We expect those outside the church to behave this way,but this mindset has enveloped the church as well!

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churchsermonseriesideas.com

We are so caught up in the concerns of this life that we are forgetting that this life is but a vapor (James 4:14). We aren’t here long!

We must be on guard lest the desires of our hearts shift away from the eternal to the here and now.

We can never abandon Paul’s admonition of “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable”!

The tragic events I have described in this post hang over mankind like thick darkness,much like the Egyptians must have felt just before God delivered the children of Israel. A sense of doom and foreboding has cast fear into the hearts of billions.

America,indeed the entire world is on the precipice of an implosion the likes of which this world has never seen, and we seem incapable of looking beyond this in order to see the splendor that awaits us. And truthfully,we haven’t seen anything yet.

Christians must reconnect with the truths of God’s Word that reminds us that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). That’s right,the perfect love of Christ repels fear and does not permit it to engulf us. Fear may reign in the hearts of those focused only on this life,but it has no hold on those looking for the promise of His coming.

It is the Resurrection that offers the promise of hope,of what God will do for each of us. For you see, God isn’t just offering possibilities to us,but rather the inevitability of a life far removed from the carnage all around us. I don’t know about you,but “as for me and my house” (Joshua 24:15)…

Our Invincible Hope! Grab hold of it!

 

 

Stickers say a lot about us

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I think those old,leather luggage trunks are so cool,especially the ones that have those travel stickers plastered all over them, like this one…

travel-trunk

One can only imagine the stories this trunk could tell,and the countless memories made in far away, exotic places would no doubt be joyfully shared for years to come. Think of the adventures! Each one of those old stickers is a story,and when you add them all up they would make quite a novel!.

Did you know that all of us have our own collection of stickers? That’s right,even if you’ve never left your home town you have them. And just like those on the travel trunk above,our stickers tell a great story. Stickers of a different sort,stickers of our life’s journey. Yours might look like the one above,or it might look like this one…

custom-luggage

Here’s the thing about these stickers. They represent events of the past,both happy and sad. Events that we cannot change or wish away. Events that are burned indelibly in our hearts and minds. Some wonderful,some not. Either way,they are part of who we are. And while all of us would like to focus on those happy stickers,the truth is that we often spend more time thinking about the not so happy ones.

Not that anyone needs reminded of this,but the devil does a great job of bringing past, painful memories back to life. Painful memories are one of his chief weapons in the battle for our souls. Do you know why this is? Because they are extremely effective at stopping our forward momentum in Christ,often to the point of paralyzing us.

Scripture reminds us that the weapons of our warfare are nor carnal (II Cor.10:4). That is because our battles are not carnal,but spiritual,and are fought with mind and spirit. Paul understood this, and to the believers at Philippi he offered the following as the guiding philosophy that drove him onward…

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,   Philippians 3:13.NKJV

Maybe,like me,your life is plastered with stickers that remind us of things we wish we had never done,or that things had not been done to us. As an example,a lot of the stickers on the second trunk are my own. And I left off the really bad ones.

Perhaps,again like me,you struggle with the whole “forgetting those things which are behind”. If so,here’s a different perspective on the subject that I would like to share with you.

Many times when we read the Bible we lose sight of the fact that these men were not super human. Rather,they were cut from the same cloth as you and I. Still,we wonder how Paul could say that he had forgotten the things of his past. It doesn’t seem possible,does it?

Well,I don’t believe he ever forgot them completely. And I can absolutely guarantee you that Satan never stopped reminding him of them. When he said “forgetting those things which are behind” he meant that those events would always be a part of him,but they would never define him.

Though always present,Paul chose not to allow his stickers to hinder him from fulfilling God’s plan for his life. They had been set aside,placed on the back burner,a part of his life that while reachable,he no longer considered them essential to his mission.

What do you choose to do with your stickers?

Our vision of those things which are in front of us,blessings,joy,peace,and ultimately our salvation,is marred by the painful reminders of our past that are pasted like stickers on a baggage trunk.

Here then,is the secret to dealing with those unpleasant stickers. When we endure bad things,the memories of the event are forever etched into our minds. But like Paul,those events do not,can not define us because we are new creatures in Christ Jesus.

That God has done a new work in our hearts and lives is cause to rejoice! Do you agree with me that we sometimes forget this? We should be shouting that “I’m not the same any more”!

We should never forget that the battles of today are strengthening us for tomorrow.We know what to expect from the enemy,we know how he works, but more importantly we also know what our God can do!

Through Jesus the way has been made for us to live an abundant life ( John 10:10). A life of pressing toward the mark of our high calling in Jesus.

In spite of those stickers that have attached themselves to our lives!

Special thanks to my daughter Lindsey for her help with the artwork! You should check out her blog at https://thelindseyvibe.wordpress.com/.

A front row seat to a marvelous transformation

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Over the past several days I have had a front row seat to watch the construction of a new home directly behind me.To many,I’m sure the noise and debris generated by this construction is all they see and hear.2016-12-22-10-30-09

For me however,it has been a wonderful experience to watch as the workmen who started with a blank canvas of Southern Oaks and tangled vines quickly transformed the site into a house.

I’ve watched with great interest as huge machines came on sight and completely ripped out trees that have been on the earth far longer than I have. In awe I watched the ground being leveled, concrete foundations poured, block walls erected, and now the roof sheathing is finished.2017-02-03-12-11-10

Like a well-oiled machine the construction crews all work in perfect harmony, each person responsible for completing a specific task. As soon as one job is finished, the next worker is waiting to add his unique part to the ever enlarging home as it soars to new and greater heights.

The more I’ve watched this building process, the more I am reminded of construction of another kind. Like these skilled workmen who transform raw lumber into a beautiful home, every one of us is being transformed into something we as of this moment cannot fully appreciate.

Just like this new home is being constructed of many pieces and parts, all of us are in various stages of our own personal transformation, with Jesus being the Master Builder. In as much as the construction crew started with sticks, stone, dirt, and trees, God took us just as we were, and began what will be a lifetime transformation process in us.

Firstly, He must remove the dirt and undesirable things from us, which occurs when we repent of our sins. Once the canvas of our heart has been cleared, it is time for the foundation work to begin.

Second, when He saves us and fills us with His Spirit, the foundation has been laid, one that can never be destroyed. He is the Chief Cornerstone of our salvation, the stone that the builders rejected (Acts 4:11), and in Him our building is secured.

Thirdly, the real work begins in us. While this work may seem tedious, even difficult at times, it is necessary for our growth and maturity. The battles that loom on our horizons will serve a dual purpose: first to strengthen our resolve in Him and our commitment to Him, and second, to increase our faith in Him.

All of this of course, is to build us up to ultimately become the finished masterpiece that the Father envisioned we should become when He is finished with us.

Paul understood this perfectly as he explains it to the church at Ephesus:

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,

21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,

22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Eph. 2:19-22   NKJV

Yes, we all start as a blank canvas, but oh what a masterpiece you will become, especially when you have a front row seat to the transformation!

Have blessed day in Jesus name!

Ron

 

Looking for something to brag about?

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I was listening to someone today sing a song when they mentioned that it wouldn’t matter to them if they lost everything as long as they had Jesus. I thought that was a noble thing to say,and I really do hope they meant it.

I hope all of us would feel this way,especially since an ever increasing number of Christians are experiencing exactly that across this world.

For me the song made me stop and think hard about that particular statement. Would it matter to me if I lost everything except Jesus? My honest answer is yes,it would matter a great deal to me.

Shocked? Disappointed? You shouldn’t be, because if you’re anything at all like the average American,you love stuff as much as I do. And if I can go one step further while I’m being honest, I am learning that I love stuff far more than I should.

I do not fancy myself a Biblical scholar,and while I have studied the Word for close to forty years now,it is increasingly evident that I must have slept through this part from the Apostle Paul:

I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:12-13‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

The King James Version translate those verses to say that Paul had learned to be content in whatever state he found himself.Using these two verses as a measuring stick,it is apparent that I have a ways to go.How about you?

I love also that as great a man of God that Paul was,he still remained humble before the Lord. Though he had reached that place of contentment that so many of us struggle to attain,he had this to say regarding his position in Christ:

But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world. For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation.
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:12-15‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

Amazing isn’t it,what happens to a man who holds nothing back,but completely gives his life to God.He had it all at one time, respect of his peers,wealth and prestige beyond his fellow teachers.It was only after Jesus met him on a dusty road that he began to realize that he possessed nothing of real value.

If you’ve ever bragged on your own abilities,ever thought that you were smarter or knew best,or even once thought yourself just a little superior to those around you,just remember this man named Paul.A man that was taken up to the third heaven and heard things that are not lawful for  man to hear.A man that wrote most of the New Testament.

His boast was in the cross of the Master.All that the world could offer him meant nothing because he had died to the pride of life and the lust of the flesh. What mattered to this man of God was seeing the lost repent and come to Jesus.

Oh God,let this be MY prayer from this day forward.

If you have a few moments,give this song a listen. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

How to have faith in God’s timeless process

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Face it.As much as we’d like to believe that hidden somewhere in the pages of God’s Word there exists a little known formula for living a charmed life,life’s journey has taught us that there is no quick fix,no potion,no enchantment that will deliver the kind of success being touted by the proponents of the prosperity gospel.

No glitzy TV programs,no Sunday snake oil salesman,no faith/power of positive confession/self help/sow your best seed now types of conferences,no slick self promoting “get in on this special offer now” spiel,will ever supplant God’s timeless process of faithful maturation.

You can’t buy it. You can’t steal it. For certain you can’t con your way to get it.

You have to earn it.Like a badge or a medal that is awarded to only a select few,growing in the faith and grace of our Lord is a process that will literally take the rest of your life.Indeed,our faith is continually growing, and that is as it should be lest we become stagnant and die.

In his 2nd letter to the church at Thessalonica,Paul was encouraged by their demonstrations of faith and love toward one another. “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;” II Thess 1:3    KJV

Paul draws us to the fact that their faith was “growing exceedingly”. For him to note this he would have had to have seen some outward,physical proof of this growth,which of course he recognized in their infectious love for one another.

These early Christians serve as wonderful examples to us today of the kind of growing faith and love that comes from God as we walk with Him daily. Did you notice the absence of so much of what we think of as church today? Are we missing something?

Could it be that these early Christians had already discovered the “formula” that so many seek today? I suggest that they had indeed found the secret to living the successful Christian life that the church today is searching for. In all the wrong places I might add.

The fact that this early church loved one another abundantly is ample evidence of their growing faith in God.Consider if you will that these Christians had no internet,no phone,no TV,no church buildings,and no programs for every member of the family.What they did have however… was each other!

Given the current church’s appetite for a “one stop shopping”brand of Christianity where an attempt is made to provide something for everyone,we are left to wonder how these poor,unfortunate,backward men and women ever survived.

They not only survived,but they also prospered because they trusted the Lord to see them through every situation.In other words,they trusted the process. James also,in speaking of the process said that “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”   James 1:12   KJV

All too often this flesh does not want to endure much of anything, but will instead look for the closest exit or way of escape.In doing so we fail to see the hand of God guiding us through the process,thus stunting the growth of our own faith.

So how do we get to the place where we can have faith in God’s process? I think the writer of Hebrews said it best.”For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”  Heb. 10:36

Patience in the process.Patience and endurance to see the race ran to completion.If we can learn patience,we will see a faith that grows exceedingly,a love for one another that abounds,and an enduring spirit that understands the process.