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Who’s really in control of YOU?

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No doubt you’ve heard the expression “one step forward, two steps backwards”.

Have you ever really thought about this statement? What does it say about us?

I think it says that we are trusting more in our own abilities than we are the Lords.

It says for all the world to hear that we are controlling things, or at least we are trying to. And when we try to be in control, our progress is always being hampered by US. We get in our own way and make a mess of things.

Hence, we take “one step forward and two steps backwards”.

Of course, being a human being carries with it a certain “issue”, one that we all have, which is that we really like to be in control don’t we? The thought of someone, anyone besides ourselves calling the shots is, for the most part, unthinkable to our carnal nature.

C’mon, admit it. You like to be the one calling the shots don’t you? I know I certainly do! We all have this compelling need within us to take charge of the situation and bulldoze our way through it.

But what about when our own capabilities, talents, and skills leave us on the wrong side, or short of the goal?

More often than not, we go backwards don’t we?

Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, those two steps backwards was where the Lord wanted you to stand and be still for a time and a season? That maybe He wasn’t ready for you to move forward just yet. Or that YOU weren’t ready to go forward yet because there were still lessons to be learned ‘back there’?

There is a verse in the Old Testament that talks about standing still and seeking out the old paths. Perhaps you are familiar with it?

Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.   Jer. 6:16

Israel had a terrible time with simply walking in the place God had called them to walk in. Seems they always had a better idea, or so they thought. If ever a people was known for taking “one step forward and two steps backwards” it was the children of Israel.

So prevelant was their penchant for backsliding that in the long history of Israel, only two little words are necessary to sum up their predicament. These two little words say it better than an entire library full of scholarly works.

If Only.

If only they would have listened. If only they would have followed the Lord instead of trying to take charge themselves. If only they would have stood by the Lord and asked for the old paths, where the good way was.

If Only.

The whole of human history has been one gigantic battle of “If Only”, and that includes you and me.

If Only we would have listened to the warnings of the one who had already walked where we were about to tread.

If Only we would have sacrificed and taken our children to church when they were still young, instead of either taking them to the lake or soccer practice or worse yet, permitting them to do whatever they wished to do.

If Only

Who’s really in control of your life? If we’re honest, that’s a very easy question to answer isn’t it? As long as we continue to take “one step forward and two steps backwards”, the answer is obvious.

The question then becomes are we willing to give up control in order to gain rest for our souls as the Lord desires us to do?

Something to think about on this Lords day.

Be blessed, in Jesus name.

Ron

Playing With Fire

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It seems that everywhere you turn today people are mocking God with a greater intensity and frequency. Surely the fear of God has disappeared from the hearts and minds of untold millions of people who curse His name as easily as they curse at a dog.

This is not surprising however. After all, the Apostle Peter clearly warns us that in the last days will come “scoffers, walking after their own lusts”.  [1]

The Apostle Paul also goes to great lengths to warn the church of impending disaster, when in the last days the world would fall headlong into apostasy. In his 2nd Epistle to Timothy, he lists a multitude of dangerous and ungodly character traits that would be manifested in the hearts of unbelievers at that time.

When you see people described as “lovers of their own selves, blasphemers, fierce, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness” etc…, you can be assured that these people are playing with fire.   [2]

As we see these days closing in on us, I am so very thankful that in His mercy God saw me in my wretched condition and pulled me out of the miry clay. How many of us can identify with this beloved Psalm?

He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.   Psalm 40:2

Contrast these words of hope and restoration with the solemn warning from Hebrews about those who live their lives in outright rejection of God.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  [3]

To fall into the hands of the living God speaks to another part of God’s nature that unregenerate men choose to ignore. They would rather live their lives in any manner they wish, believing that in the end everyone gets in to heaven.

But that is not what is going to happen when we come to the end of our days. If we have not received Christ as our Lord and Savior, it will be a fearful thing because once we take our final breath, we are immediately confronted with this living God.

And that, dear readers, is playing with fire.

Ron

[1] 2nd Peter 3:3

[2] 2nd Timothy 3:1-5

[3] Hebrews 10:31

The Righteous Judgement of God

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Lately I’ve been reading the thoughts of several people who have been engaged in a discussion over whether or not God’s punishment of the unrighteousness will be eternal or temporary.

One thing is clear in this discussion, and that is that there seems to be a consensus that in the end, God will relent and end the punishment/suffering of those who rejected Him in this life, and ultimately permit them to join the righteous in heaven.

I should point out that this discussion is among Evangelical believers of primarily Baptist and Pentecostal faiths. Traditionally, both of these camps have held to the belief that God will punish the wicked for all eternity, yet something has apparently changed in how they interpret scripture today, at least according to the discussion participants.

It would seem that there is now a new level of consciousness, or awareness in the church that because God is a God of love, he could not possibly have meant that forever is, well, forever.

It’s as though we are replaying the serpent in the garden where the serpent tells Eve “you shall not die“. [1]

To our carnal minds, the notion that a God of love could meet out such punishment just doesn’t compute. We recoil at the very thought that God would somehow justify sending one of His creation to eternal suffering.

The Apostle Paul wrote about this very thing in 2nd Thessalonians, chapter one. The church at Thessalonica was under severe persecution at this time, with their patience and faith being sorely tested. Paul wrote to these persecuted believers to let them know that they had not been forgotten, neither by himself or by all of the churches. [2]

He went on to say that it was a “righteous thing” with God to ‘pay back’ those that persecuted them when Jesus returns from heaven. What is this ‘payback’ that Paul speaks of?

Pauls said that the Lord Jesus would return “in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God,and that do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ“. [3]

Does this sound to you like the gentle Jesus born in a manger? The Jesus often portrayed as a shepherd carrying a lost lamb on His shoulders? I submit to you that this is the resurrected Christ, coming as conquering King of Kings!

That’s not the worst of it however. Paul then goes on to say that those he just mentioned “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power“. [4]

How long is “everlasting”? While our finite minds struggle to comprehend the magnitude of such a length of time, in fact it means for the rest of eternity. There will never be an end to it.

For those that see the words “everlasting destruction” as a contradiction, Paul is not saying here that the unrighteousness will be annihilated because if they were their punishment would not be “everlasting”.

Annihilation only takes a second to accomplish, then it’s done. If someone is doomed to “everlasting destruction” however, as Paul states here, there must therefore be an everlasting existence.

If we are to take the Bible as the authoritative Word of God, we have no choice but to accept it for what is says. And what it plainly says is that unbelievers do not get a second chance, nor do they ever come to an end of their suffering and punishment.

There really is nothing to discuss here, unless one wishes to debate the validity of God’s Word. The judgements of God are fair, just, and righteous. How can this be so if God is love?

One need look no further than the Cross of Calvary to find God’s perfect justification. To reject the sacrifice of the Eternal Son of God is an act worthy of everlasting separation from God.

That is the Word of God. The unchangeable Word of God.

End of discussion.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

[1] Genesis 3:4

[2] 2nd Thessalonians 1:4

[3] 2nd Thessalonians 1:8

[4] 2nd Thessalonians 1:9