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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