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Is today the day?

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“Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.”  1 Chronicles 28:20   ESV

The words of King David to his son Solomon, as he was about to depart this life.

Words of…

  • encouragement
  • hope
  • promise
  • courage
  • faith

You know what I think? I think that sometimes its not only the kings sons that need to hear these words. I think everyday people like you and I need to hear words like these as well.

In these troubled days we all need to encouraged and strengthened by the Word of God.

Maybe today is the day that you speak these words into the life of someone desperate to hear that there is hope after all.

Perhaps today is a strangers day to receive a word of encouragement. Perhaps God has called you to deliver them?

Who knows, today might just be the day that you discover a new faith to overcome that which has defeated you in the past.

For all of us, let this day be one in which we are encouraged and strengthened in the Lord!

Ron

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Time Out,Anyone?

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It’s amazing how cluttered our lives have become. Like the proverbial stuffed attic at your aging aunt Clara’s house, our days have become so filled with “stuff” that there’s hardly time to catch our breath. attic

The sheer number of things we cram into our days would be mind boggling to those a generation before us, incomprehensible to those just two generations ago. When you consider our ten to twelve hour work days, children’s after school activities, various appointments, and if we’re lucky a quickly assembled dinner, it’s no wonder we collapse into our beds exhausted from it all.

This time of the year of course, with its holiday planning, shopping excursions, and endless “to do” lists just seems to take it to a whole other level. And it’s very apparent that the pace of it all is taking its toll on us.

You can see it on the streets and highways as people drive ever faster and more aggressively in their hurry to get to the next thing on their list. You do understand that THEIR list is more important than yours, don’t you?

You see it in the grocery store as people rarely smile but instead offer up a face that reveals nothing remotely close to “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas”. Cue the theme song from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”! Grinch

You see it at Walmart where the “greeter” doesn’t even try to greet because somehow or another he always seems to be preoccupied. Where kids are screaming for this and that and their parents want us to believe that those are actually the neighbors kids.

Who could blame anyone for wanting to run away from it all to find a moment of solace in the midst of the insanity?

Sometimes I wish I had one of those whistles that referees have hanging from their necks. Only I want a super colossal ginormous one that could be heard round the world. If I had one I would blow it a few times until I had everyone’s attention.

Then I would throw a penalty flag for “unnecessary abuse of the time God has allotted us”, and penalize all of us 15 minutes. penalty flagThat’s right, not 15 yards, but 15 minutes.

Then I would signal a 15 MINUTE TIME OUT!

A simple 15 minute time out to breathe, to catch up, to reflect. So much of this precious commodity that we call time is slipping through our fingers. Slipping away into eternity, leaving in its wake an empty vacuum of soon forgotten minutiae.

This life we live is described in scripture as a vapor (James 4:14). It doesn’t last for long when you compare it to eternity. Certainly I’m not the only one now asking where did the years go, am I?

Do yourself and your family a huge Christmas favor this year. Call a time out. You won’t be sorry you did.

‘Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. ‘    Ephesians 5:15-16   emphasis mine

Be blessed,   Ron

 

The fear of the unknown vs. your familiar past

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I’ve been thinking about an event recorded early on in the book of Genesis, one that took place thousands of years ago, yet still has implications for us today.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is one that most people are familiar with, or have at least heard something about. It’s a story of both destruction and deliverance, one where the central theme is God’s willingness to forgo righteous judgment if only a few God fearing people can be found.

As the story goes, the search for righteous citizens is futile, thus God orders the complete destruction of the cities by raining down fire and brimstone. Not a pretty thought, to be sure. The only escapees are Abraham and his wife, his nephew Lot and his wife, and their two daughters.

As they are running for their lives, the angels who delivered them warned them not to look back. Unfortunately for Lot’s wife, she could not resist the temptation to do just that. Here is the high price she paid for her disobedience:

“But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”   Genesis 19:26

This story is now thousands of years old, yet the central truths of it still ring true today. God is still a righteous, loving, and forgiving God. And man is still prone to looking in the rear view mirror instead of looking ahead.

Lot’s wife looked back because she wanted to see what was happening to her former home. She felt an emotional attachment to the city, so much so that she disregarded the clear warning of the angels who had been sent to rescue her.

Aren’t all of us guilty to some degree of doing the same thing? Instead of forgetting those things which are behind and pressing toward the mark (Philippians 3:14)….we are drawn back to familiar territory. We gravitate toward the known and comfortable, and resist the unknown in front of us.

The familiar is a powerful force in our lives, and I dare say all of us enjoy the comfort we receive from being surrounded by the familiar things we have accumulated.

The flip side of this however is that the familiar can also become a huge burden that wears us down as we endeavor to journey onward with Christ.

This burden is always present to remind us that we don’t really need to press on into uncharted territory, not when we can stay here in the relative calm waters of familiarity. Besides, there is a certain element of fear when dealing with the unknown, and we all know how we feel about that!

In spit of these things, there is a very real danger in allowing the familiar to rock us to sleep. If we choose to permit this, we risk missing the greatest adventure we could ever partake of!

This Great Adventure is going to be the primary emphasis of “A Front Row View of the Church” in 2018. I will be sharing from the word of God how that the words of Jesus in John 10:10 “…... I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly, are the key to unlocking this Great Adventure.

I am excited about what God has in store, and trust you will be encouraged to put yourself out there, where The Great Adventure beckons!

Ron

 

 

 

Searching for God in all the wrong places

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“It would be rather nice if we lived in a world where everyone’s beliefs came true for them. The Christians would go to heaven, the Muslims to paradise, the Buddhists and Hindus would achieve nirvana, and the atheists would have a peaceful rest. Unfortunately, that’s all wishful thinking. We don’t know what’s true or not…”         Comment taken from an article published on http://www.religioustolerance.org/li_01.htm. Author Grace Li.

Unfortunately, this statement is not uncommon to hear in today’s era of “religious tolerance and enlightenment”. The idea that “we don’t know what’s true or not” is prevalent throughout the world, giving billions the “out” they are looking for in their vain attempt to hide from the One true God.

Even more unfortunate, however, is the fact that this is a lie, on par with one of the greatest lies ever told. When Satan told Eve that if she ate of the forbidden fruit she would not die, it birthed doubt into her heart that perhaps what God had said was not really true after all. Therefore if what God said then wasn’t true, it must be OK for mankind to figure it out on his own by making his own choices.

That worked out real well for Eve, didn’t it?

Fortunately for all of mankind, the response to those who subscribe to the errant belief that “we don’t know what’s true or not” was given two thousand years ago when Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, spoke these words:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”    John 14:6 NKJV

This declaration however, does not set well with those who want to be free to create or choose their own pathway to a personal paradise. It is rejected by those who refuse to humble themselves and repent of their sins.

None of which changes one thing that Jesus said. This is yet another stumbling block to the unbeliever. The fact that unbelievers reject the word of God changes nothing, because the truth is that our opinions do not matter. What matters is TRUTH, and the word of God is TRUTH. Reject it or accept it…it is still TRUTH.

Popular authors and TV hosts alike all offer differing opinions about how to get to God, or how to reach their version of “paradise”. Talk show hosts like Oprah, for example, argue that Jesus is not the only way to God, as seen in this YouTube video.

What Oprah and her millions of followers fail to understand however is that since the Garden of Eden, men have claimed to have stumbled upon “another” path to enlightenment. Her views, as well as all others that are in opposition to the Bible, are nothing new. They are simply wrapped in a more deceptive, easier on the ears package that appeals to the flesh.

Looking for God…in all the wrong places.

The words of Jesus that declare Him to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, are offensive to the world, of this there can be no doubt. How dare anyone lay sole claim to be the only way! This reeks of arrogance to the unregenerate, who wrongly believe everyone is free to worship or believe anything they wish.

This is, in a nutshell, one of the reasons why there are so many false religions in the world today. To believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God removes man from the equation. It renders man’s efforts useless, and man cannot accept the fact that he is not in control of his eternal destiny.

Man’s answer therefore, is to create his own religious belief system that fits into HIS values, beliefs, and ideas. How’s that working out for mankind anyway?

You see, Jesus Christ basically declared for all eternity that He didn’t need our help. He did it by Himself by fulfilling God’s plan of redemption for mankind. Thus, He can truthfully say that He is the Way, He is the Truth, and He is the Life.

There is no other way. There is no other truth. There is no other life.

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.   Isaiah 45:22

Apart from Him, all else is shifting sand.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

Why is this so difficult?

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Giving to God what is rightfully His. Why is this so difficult? Is it because His requirements are so out of reach for us mortals that we give a weak, anemic effort?

To answer that, let’s first understand what His requirements actually are.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?   Micah 6:8

Anyone? Can anyone give a reasonable explanation as to why it is so difficult for us to do just these THREE things? To do justly and treat people fairly, to be kind one to another, and acknowledge that there is One much greater than any of us…is this so hard?

Or how about this? (emphasis mine):

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ‘ Matthew 22:35-40

Anyone? Can anyone give a reasonable explanation as to why it is so difficult for us to do even these TWO things? For us to love God with our entire being, and to love one another as much as we love ourselves, is God asking the impossible of us?

It seems so trite, so obvious for us to say that the reason we struggle with doing these very doable things is because we live in a fallen world. Or that it’s because the enemy is hard at work.

As if he hasn’t always been hard at work.

Here’s what I think. Like everything else in life, we make time for the things that are important to us. With unending devotion we sacrifice for what we deem necessary. We exert monumental effort to achieve our dreams.

Don’t we?

And the things that are not important to us…..

Ron

 

It’s what comes OUT of a man that matters…

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Do you agree that we often place far too much emphasis on outward appearances? And in doing so, are sometimes guilty of misjudging someone? After all, isn’t it still true that looks can be deceiving?

do-not-judge

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Consider this lesson from the gospel of Mark.

One day Jesus was confronted by a group of Pharisees and scribes because they had observed his disciples eating bread with unwashed hands.

You see, the Pharisees were all about maintaining outward appearances, and they used this opportunity to inform Jesus that his little band of followers were now defiled for failing to keep up with tradition.

Then, as now, we humans seem to have this need to elevate ourselves while tearing down others. Why is that?

At any rate the Pharisees were all about outward appearances and traditions, believing that putting on a good external show somehow equates to a healthy inward relationship with God.

NOT.

Hmmm…makes one wonder if not a lot has changed over the space of a couple thousand years. OK….back to the topic at hand.

After Jesus admonished the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy, He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”     Mark 7:9 NKJV

In other words, Jesus is telling them that they rejected God’s word and his teachings in favor of their own man made traditions. And this is a snare that all of us must be on guard to avoid. Jesus came to set us free, but I dare say many of us are ensnared in traditions of our own making, thus rendering the word of God of no effect.

traditions of men

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Instead of worrying about and focusing on trivial things that mattered little, if at all, in the grand scheme of things, Jesus went on to explain to them what truly defiles a man.

And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.””
Mark 7:20-23 NKJV

Notice anything missing from this list? None of the things on it are matters of tradition or outward appearance, but matters of the heart!!

What defiles us, what condemns us are the evil, sinful acts born out of an unregenerate heart. That’s what Jesus is saying here. A heart that has resisted the love of Christ and has determined to forge its own path is a heart that is capable of doing the unthinkable.

As lest any of us should be lifted up with pride because we are so good, residing within each of our hearts are the seeds of each of the sins Jesus mentions above. I don’t care who you are, that’s a powerful and sobering thought.

The point is, our good intentions will never be good enough, but instead a life lived apart from God will give way to a heart that is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it”?   Jer. 17:9

There is but one cure for such a thing; the Lord Jesus. He alone has the cure for what defiles a man. Only Jesus can transform our hearts from one of stone into one that is fully alive in Him. He is the heart mender.

It’s what comes out of a man that matters most, and when Jesus has been given control of our lives we must continually strive to gain control of the flesh that produces the things which defile.

Walking with Jesus is not about keeping church or religious traditions, it’s not about maintaining appearances or your standing in the church. Walking with Jesus is about relationship, one that produces the fruit of the Spirit, not the deeds of the flesh.

do-not-judge-2

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Be blessed,

Ron

 

Biting the hand that feeds you

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You’ve probably heard that expression haven’t you? It’s typically used when a person displays ungratefulness to others. For instance; if someone in your life helps you out, or provides sustenance to you and you act in an ungrateful manner towards them, you are “biting the hand that feeds you”.

The truth is that when ungratefulness surfaces on the outside, it’s merely reflecting what’s going on inside of us. Murmuring, complaining, ungratefulness, being unthankful, these are all outward symptoms of inward rebellion.

As Christians, we must be especially careful about complaining and being ungrateful. I wonder, how often do we check ourselves to see if we are displaying the symptoms of an ungrateful heart?

complain

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There is an almost unbelievable example of this found in the book of Exodus. We all know the story of God’s great deliverance in setting Israel free from Egyptian bondage.

With excitement and enthusiasm the Israelite’s left Egypt, headed for a land that flowed with milk and honey.

Not only did God deliver them, but they left carrying the riches of Egypt with them! Gold, silver, and clothing in abundance were given to the children of Israel as their former masters sent them away in haste.

Yet just three days after walking through the Red Sea on dry land, the children of Israel began complaining. It’s important that we grasp this. Israel had been enslaved in Egypt for 430 years. Generation after generation knew nothing of freedom, yet within just three days of tasting freedom for the first time, they are already complaining! Here’s the story in detail (emphasis mine)ungrateful

1. “They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt.

2. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness,

3. and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

4. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.

5. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”

6. So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt,

7. and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?”

8. And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.”” Exodus 16:1-8

What is the key takeaway from this story? On the surface, it may appear to be that the nation of Israel is about as ungrateful as a nation could be. While that may be true, the key point here is that while Israel vented their complaints to Moses and Aaron, in reality they were complaining against God.

Moses told them that “Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD”. In essence, they were biting the hand that fed them!

So the million dollar question is this: are we any different than they when we complain,grumble, and generally have a terrible attitude?

I don’t know about you, but I too used to be a slave. I was a slave to sin and all that went with it, until one day God sent a deliverer to rescue me from my condition. What should my response be to what God has done for me?

When I’m going through difficult times, should I remind Him of how good I used to have it before I became a Christian? Should I remind God that I was doing well enough on my own? Should I say to God that I’d rather go back to my old life?

Of course not! I don’t care how my life is measured or by whom; at the end of the day I count myself among the most blessed of any people! My life has been just like everyone else’s, full of up’s and down’s, trials and successes.

At the end of the day however, what matters is that God has been right beside me through it all. I don’t understand some of the hard things, but I realize that I don’t need to understand everything. All I need to be sure of is that God is faithful, and as such He will never leave us or forsake us.

My prayer is that all of God’s children will appreciate Him for what he has done for us.

May we never bite the hand that feeds us!

Be blessed,

Ron

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