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Sabbath Day Showdown

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Well, it’s been a while so I thought I’d shake the bushes and see what I could stir up. Insert chuckle here! I hope everyone who has been dealing with frigid temps and mountains of snow is staying safe and warm during this cold winter season. Here in Florida, we recently had our own version of a “cold front” that resulted in an F2 tornado a few miles south of me. I’m always hesitant to say something like “I’m so grateful it missed us”, even though of course I am, because somewhere, someone else has suffered a tremendous loss.

With all that said, my mind is still a bit preoccupied with the message I delivered this past Sunday evening at our church. I entitled it “Sabbath Day Showdown” and took my text from Luke 6:6-11. If you are familiar with it, this is where Jesus went into the synagogue and healed the man who had a withered hand.

And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it? 10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.

As the story unfolds, the Pharisees and religious folks who were there were only interested in seeing if Jesus would dare to break one of their customs by healing on the Sabbath day. This story has always left me wondering how in the world anyone claiming to be a son of Abraham could be so calloused and hard-hearted as to have no regard for humanity yet be ready to pounce the moment one of their rules were broken.

In preparing for this message, I did a lot of soul searching about the conditions in our churches today, and to be completely honest I don’t think a whole lot has changed with God’s people since Jesus had this encounter with the Pharisees. Meaning, we still struggle to focus on what’s really important.

In reading Mark’s gospel, we see this same encounter being played out with the Pharisees and the man with the withered hand. The only difference is that Mark recalls something Jesus did that Luke either forgot or simply chose to omit it. Here it is:

And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. Mark 3:5 KJV

The Son of God was angry, and His heart was grieved. What could cause such reactions from Jesus? The answer is there in verse five: He was angry that they had allowed their hearts to become so hardened that they cared more about traditions and religious rules than they cared about the well-being of their fellow man.

Call them Pharisees, Legalists, or by some other name. The point is that they cared more about crossing an “I” or dotting a “T” than they did about easing the suffering of the man who had a withered hand. And Jesus called them out on it. He had had enough of their religion; it was time for real ministry to happen. So, he healed the man’s withered hand.

Now, under normal circumstances this healing would have ignited a mini revival of sorts. People would be rejoicing, praising God, and overjoyed at the wonderful miracle this man had experienced. Under normal circumstances, that’s what would have happened. But this wasn’t a normal situation because cold, loveless, dead, and uncaring religion had turned the hearts of this religious crowd to stone.

Their response to this incredible healing was to call an impromptu meeting to decide what to do with this Jesus. This had to stop, they said. We can’t have him doing these things and polluting our Sabbath. It goes against our religious rules.

Here’s the thing though. These traditions and religious rules they clung to so desperately? They were all man-made. They were not from God at all. Examine the Mosaic Law and all its 634+ ordinances, and you will not find one word forbidding the healing of a man on the Sabbath. As I reminded our church, it’s never the wrong day to do the right thing.

The Pharisees had done what Pharisees always do; however, they had taken what God had given to man, considered it insufficient, and added their own traditions and commandments to it. The end result was a “Law” that was based upon man’s ideas of righteousness, not God’s.

When that happens mercy and compassion fly out the window. We can’t be bothered with that when there are rules to administer, traditions to uphold. So, they sat in silence as Jesus asked them “is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath, or evil”? To answer would have brought self-condemnation, something their hearts would never permit.

As I said to the congregation the other evening, we must be so careful not to permit our own hearts to become hardened and unfeeling. At all costs we must stay in the Word and upon our knees so that our hearts remain tender before the Lord. Only then can we be the eyes, ears, hands, and feet of Jesus on this earth.

Failing that, we are no use to the kingdom of God.

Have a blessed week everyone!

Ron

Yet Another Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

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Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves“.

Jesus spoke those words of warning in Matthew 7:15 so that God’s children would not be harmed by those who outwardly profess to be “religious”, but inwardly they are nothing more than wolves seeking to devour the flock. In the next several verses, Jesus goes on to explain that we can see through their disguise if we will open our eyes and ears to the truth.

16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles”?

In these six verses from Matthew chapter seven, Jesus tells us plainly that not everyone who wears a robe or a suit and tie while carrying a Bible can be trusted to have your best interests at heart.

Such is the case with a vicious wolf in sheep’s clothing whose name is Dr. Burnett L. Robinson, senior pastor of Grand Concourse Seventh-Day Adventist Temple in New York City.

In his sermon dated November 13th of this year, Mr. Robinson tells the men of his congregation “I would say to you, gentlemen, the best person to rape is your wife.” Here is the link to the video message:

Pastor Tells Men: ‘The Best Person to Rape is Your Wife’ (julieroys.com)

Now, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, dear readers, that this man is not of God. Anyone who would make such a statement is an instrument of Satan. Either his heart has never been regenerated by the power of God, or he has chosen to walk away from God and has assumed the role of a deranged and demented hireling intent on fleecing whatever flock he was put in authority over.

These are indeed troubling times. It isn’t enough that God’s children are subjected to a relentless spiritual assault intended to wear them down to the point of giving up. Now, it would seem, Satan has employed false ministers in the Church to do the very same thing.

Be watchful beloved. Keep your eyes and ears open. Remember the words of our Savior: “you shall know them by their fruits”.  

Thankful. Grateful. Blessed.

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That was the title of the message I delivered yesterday morning at my home church. Taken from the first three verses of Psalm 107, my message focused on how we all have so much to be thankful for. Despite all the negativity we are bombarded with, despite all the naysayers spewing forth a constant stream of divisive rhetoric, God’s children ought to be the most grateful people on the planet.

1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south. Psalm 107:1-3

If you were to read all 43 verses of this Psalm, they would tell the incredible story of the people of God giving praise and thanks to the Lord for his deliverance from their many desperate and dangerous situations. Unlike many of the Old Testament historical and genealogical texts, this Psalm is as relevant for you and me as it was when it was penned.

Who among us has not found ourselves with our back against the wall, with seemingly no way out. Out of options and filled with despair, our only recourse is to turn our hearts to the Lord and ask Him to mercifully intervene on our behalf.

David was a man well acquainted with the mercies of God. Having committed adultery and then ordering the murder of Bathsheba’s husband in a shameful attempt cover up his sins, he did the only thing he could do: he fell on his face is sorrowful repentance and received mercy. When he numbered the people in defiance of God’s command not to do so, he turned his heart back to God in thankfulness and gratitude for the mercy he received from the Lord.

These experiences served not only to teach David the importance of faithful obedience, they also had another profound affect on his life. You see, David learned firsthand of the love, compassion, and mercy available to every child of God.

No wonder then that David was an exuberant worshiper. Having been spared being put to death for his many sins, David was able to say “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever”! When your back is against the wall and you’ve run out of options only to have God intervene on your behalf, you realize then that it’s good to be thankful, and that He is worthy to be praised!

Far too many of God’s children today are waiting on Him to do something for them before they will worship Him with a grateful heart. I think we’ve got it all wrong. What should be happening is God’s children should be worshipping Him for what He has already done for them!

How long would it take you, dear reader, to list all of the Lord’s blessings that you have enjoyed? Can I share something with you regarding these blessings? While we were wasting away in the desert of sin and disobedience, spiritually dying of hunger and thirst, God never forgot you!

The apostle Paul said it this way in Ephesians 2:

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

“But God…” I love that. When everything has fallen apart in our lives, “But God”. When we have nowhere to turn for help, “But God”. When we’ve been used and abused, rejected, and given up for dead, “But God”.

My prayer for you is that you will see God’s great love for you. I pray that you will see that you’re never too far from Him and never too broken for our Father to reach you right where you are. Reach out to Him and give thanks with a grateful heart to the God who is rich in mercy.

Be Thankful, Grateful, and Blessed this Thanksgiving season.

Ron

Faithful To The End

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It seems as though every day I am made aware of yet another of God’s children who is feeling broken and beaten down by this world. The numbers of people who regularly attend church that are frightened about the future, discouraged by their own lack of spiritual progress, and frustrated at the apparent lack of love and concern from their church leadership is nothing less than staggering.

The battle is real friends, and the pressure from every angle is only intensifying in these dark days. On one hand we in America are inundated with spiritual attacks on our minds, largely due (I believe) in part by our insatiable appetite for the things of this world. On the other hand, we see Christians in many other parts of the world being killed for their faith in Christ. Both groups are in the midst of a fervent battle, both groups must make the choice to stand or give up.

I feel it too. This battle is draining, both physically and mentally. At this stage of my life, I just don’t have the stamina I once had. Studying and preparing a weekly Sunday School lesson, a weekly sermon, editing two services worth of video, maintaining and updating a website, along with a myriad of other responsibilities (not including my own family and home) leaves me drained. This blog is itself a casualty of too little time to do everything I’d like to be doing. While desiring and determined to finish well, I wonder how much longer I can do this. 

Fortunately, there is a remedy for the desperation that many are feeling today. The God that so loved this world that he gave His only Son as a sacrificial sin offering for us, is nearer to us than the enemy of our soul wants us to believe. One of Satan’s greatest joys is to convince us that we are of little to no worth, that God is far from us and uninterested in who we are, thus condemning us to a life of defeat and discouragement. God, however, says that “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope”(Jer. 29:11).

This brings us to a dilemma, a fork in the road: whose voice do we listen to? Will we choose to listen to the One that David said, “is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit”? The One who said that “many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all”?

Or will we choose to listen to the one who offers all the glory of this world in exchange for our souls? Will we listen instead to that one who said “you shall not die” when he deceived the couple in the garden? Are we listening to the one who said, “you will be like God”? (Genesis 3:5)

This much I know, that I am determined to endure until the end. God, in His infinite wisdom and care, has brought all of us to where we are today. You have not come through everything you have had to endure just to be defeated now. No indeed, God has been preparing you for just such a time as this.

I choose to listen to God’s voice no matter what it costs me. The road I have travelled to get to this point in my life has been very difficult at times, yet I have never journeyed alone. At long last, I can see the finish line up ahead, and by God’s grace I will not be denied. This world is not my home and I have no intention of becoming so comfortable here that I don’t want to leave it all behind when that time comes.

All that matters is that we make it to the end.

 Psalm 34:18-19

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,

And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Blessing Comes Through Obedience

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Have you noticed a shift in priorities in the minds of a lot of Christians these days? Specifically, that there is an entitlement attitude when it comes to the subject of God’s blessings? It goes something like this: I profess to be a Christian. I go to church. I deserve to be rewarded (blessed) for my efforts. Somewhere in the confusion, the fact that we exist solely to worship God has been supplanted by the idea that God exists to bless us.

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. In the 66 books of the Bible it is clear that God’s primary interest in us has very little to do with making us happy and wealthy. Of course, there are many scriptures that speak of the joy of the Lord, as well as about prosperity and good health. What we must understand however is that these things are a by-product of obedience.

Taken in its entirety, the Bible is clear that God’s priority for us is not to make us happy, but holy. That is because while we are more focused on being as comfortable as possible in this world, the Lord is focused on preparing us for where we will spend eternity. Do you see the difference?

Nowhere is the gap between these two positions more evident than with the false prosperity teaching that is now fully entrenched in the church. This false gospel is focused almost entirely on getting riches instead of giving worship to the Lord. It is a man-centered belief rooted in the love of money and the pride of life. In it, there is no place for the humble. Obedience has been relegated to blindly ‘sowing your best seed’.

As I began to study for an upcoming message on the subject of obedience, I began to notice a pattern: blessings came after obedience. Take the story of Abram (later named Abraham) for example. In chapter 12 of Genesis, we see that God has promised to bless His servant Abram.

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV

Abram was 75 years old when he departed Haran and headed for Canaan after having received an incredible promise from God. What did he do upon receiving these great promises? Did he set back and wait for the shower of blessings to rain down on him? Did he look around for a place to ‘sow a seed’?

The very first thing Abram did was to believe God [1]. The next thing he did was to pack up and move away from everything that was familiar to him. Are you starting to see a pattern of obedience here? If you continue reading the book of Genesis, you will find out that Abram did more than believe and move. He also endured.

Abram had to overcome many obstacles that stood between the promise of blessing and actually receiving it. Here is a sampling of what this man encountered on the way to receiving what the Lord had promised:

  • He was forced to remove himself from his homeland, his family, and his father’s house
  • He dealt with famine
  • His wife was kidnapped by Pharaoh’s princes
  • There was family strife with his nephew Lot
  • Later on there was more family strife over Hagar and Ishmael
  • His nephew Lot was kidnapped, forcing Abram to go to war to rescue him
  • He carried the mental and spiritual burden of knowing that God’s people would be held captive for 400 years
  • He interceded with the Lord to save Sodom and Gomorrah if as few as ten righteous souls could be found in those cities
  • He saw his wife kidnapped again, this time by Abimelech king of Gerar
  • Abram walked in faithful obedience before the Lord for 24 years before God changed his name to Abraham, or the father of many nations

All these things happened to Abram after he received the promises of great blessings. If you were to read the entire Genesis account of this man’s life, you would not find even one instance where he felt entitled to receive anything. What you will find instead is one example after another of his faithful obedience to his God.

I don’t know about you, but that tells me something. It tells me that even though I might receive a promise of blessings from God, that promise often comes with a price tag. What does it cost? The price is 100% obedience.

  • Obedience when your family is being torn apart
  • Obedience when you lose your home and everything dear to you
  • Obedience when you wonder where the next meal is coming from
  • Obedience when you’re called upon to stand in the gap for others
  • Obedience when all your friends abandon you
  • Obedience when the doctor gives you a bad report

There is no such thing as a cheap blessing. Never has been, never will be. It may surprise some of you to read this, but God does not need your money! Neither can we buy a blessing from Him. Yes, give unto the Lord from the perspective of a grateful heart, but do not give with the expectation of profiting from your giving!

Blessings come from being obedient to the Lord and to His word.

Have a blessed day, in Jesus name!

Ron

[1] Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23

As if there were any doubt…

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For many decades, dedicated men and women of God have voiced their opinions that when held to the Biblical definition of Christianity, the state of the church in America is one of decay, rot, and outright rebellious contempt for the things of God. From a host of different platforms, these courageous leaders have made their positions clear: the battle for the church in America has been lost to the world.

What a shocking statement! How dare anyone declare that the church in America has capitulated to the world! Wasn’t it Jesus Christ himself who declared that “upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it“? [1] (emphasis mine)

Yes, Jesus certainly did make that statement. But unlike those who take those words and twist them to mean that we can live any lifestyle we wish to so long as it’s done under the banner of what they define as ‘church‘, the church Jesus said would never be defeated scarcely resembles such an aberration.

Say what you will, but by and large, American church attendees seem to have an aversion to anyone speaking about the church in a manner they deem as divisive, critical, or out of line. I get it, I really do. No one likes discord or division in the ranks. Most certainly, no one likes a troublemaker in their midst. It would seem then that the solution is to keep quiet and toe the “company line”.

Which is fine, I suppose, if what you’re interested in is blending in with the masses and going along with everything that comes along whether it is Biblically factual or not. Apparently, what constitutes for a faithful church member today is to hear nothing, see nothing, and do nothing when egregious sin is in the camp.

Unfortunately for me, I am cut from a very different cloth.

It is not possible for me to stay silent when I see God’s word being trampled, diluted, or wholly compromised for the sake of tickling yet another set of ears. It is an affront to a Holy God that the church has prostituted itself with the world to the extent that it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between what we call church and the world at large.

The decades-long Satanic assault on the family has taken its toll. Divorce, single family homes, unwed mothers, and absentee fathers are now fully accepted as normal. Church, Sunday School, and worship have been transformed into “events” rather than being everyday, critical elements of the Christian life.

The data doesn’t lie. It never does.

“According to Dr. George Barna, CRC Director of Research and author of the AWVI 2021, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism—which he describes as “fake Christianity”—is a worldview that is defined and driven by current culture more than by historic religious truths or a comprehensive and coherent doctrine”.

From that same article Arizona Christian University President Len Munsil noted, “As a nation, the biblical worldview is running on fumes.” Munsil explained, “People see themselves as Christians, but these findings show they are actually living out a watered-down, counterfeit worldview that looks more like the culture around them than the biblical Christianity they profess.”

Is this the Church that our Lord said would stand against the gates of Hell? I think not!

Perhaps it is time to redefine the word “church” so that it more accurately reflects the culture that has overwhelmed her. Or maybe the correct thing would be to return to the Biblical definition of “Church”.

Either way, what we have now would be nearly unrecognizable to the church found in the book of Acts.

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. [2]

Have a blessed day everyone,

Ron

[1] Matthew 16:18

[2] Romans 13:11-12

You just had to be there

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Yesterday, our Pastor preached a message entitled “The Harvest is Great, But The Laborer’s Are Few”. In his message, he pointed out how that we need to look upon others as Jesus does. In other words, instead of their lack, their dirty clothes, or their sin, what we should see in them is someone in need of a Savior.

Pastor spoke of how many opportunities we miss to be the hands and feet of Jesus if all we see is what’s on the outside. This was a powerful message for such a time as this, and I was deeply moved by his words.

At the end of the service, as is our custom, my wife went to the piano to play a song that Pastor had requested. This song was one that she did not know, so several times during the week I would hear her practicing it at the piano. To say I was humbled by the message in this particular song would be a colossal understatement.

The song is called My House is Full (But My Field is Empty). Here is the Lynda Randle version on YouTube: Lynda Randle – My House Is Full (But My Field Is Empty) (Live) – YouTube

Here is the link to the sermon our Pastor preached. My wife sings the song near the end of the video.

The Harvest Is Plenty But The Laborers Are Few – YouTube

As I said, you just had to be there.

Blessings to all,

Ron

Fallen Man’s Most Bitter Pill

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The Lord reigns-not Satan, not man, not God and man, not good luck, not random events, not chance occurrences, not the alignment of the stars, not accidents, not blind fate, not good or bad karma-only God, and God alone“. [1]

God’s highest, greatest creation achievement occurred when He created man from the dust of the earth. What the Almighty did in that moment had never been done before, nor has it been replicated since. Sadly, however, His greatest creation hasn’t always been receptive to this miracle of miracles.

As incredible as it sounds, for hundreds, if not thousands of years, scoffers, sceptics, doubters, and cynics of every discipline have laughed at the notion that man is a created being. Recorded history makes it clear that from the instant the breath of God entered his lungs and man became a living soul, there has never been a moment that God’s crowning creation hasn’t been under attack. In fact, It started long before man was created, when Lucifer attempted a coup in heaven in a vain attempt to wrest control from God in order to alter the course of history.

12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.   Isaiah 14:12-15  KJV

“I will be like the most High” was the motivation that led Lucifer, now known as Satan, to rebel against God, and in the process take one third of the angels with him, reserved under chains of darkness. [2] Satan quickly found himself removed from his once lofty position, the sentence of eternal Hell pronounced upon him.

Fallen though he may be, Satan has never stopped his relentless quest for dominion over man. So successful has he been that today there are far more unbelievers on earth than there are believers. [3] Such is the devastating, veiled power of Satan to turn the hearts of men from their God and seduce them into worshiping another.

What Satan was unable to do in heaven he has managed to do with relative ease upon the earth. The created is now risen above the Creator in the minds of the majority of earth’s inhabitants. Unbelievably, these same individuals now view the Almighty God as nothing more than a Sunday morning ritual perpetuated by the aged and unlearned.

Unfortunately for those who reject the knowledge of God, their ‘enlightened’ view of themselves is soon to come tumbling down. In nearly every nation there is a level of discontent on a scale never before seen, not even during the ‘war years’ of the 20th century. It is though the nations are preparing for a cataclysmic event that will usher in a new era. Which, in fact, is exactly what is going to happen.

The world is rushing headlong to the day when all nations will come under the rule of the antichrist. To be certain, Satan has disguised his master plan well. Under the guise of unity, acceptance, tolerance, and social justice, the trap has been set that will be sprung at just the right moment upon this unsuspecting generation. Then will the billions of people who have cast their lot with man instead of God begin to understand that just as Satan did, they too have sealed their eternal fate.

Yet all of this is so avoidable! Scripture makes it clear that God loved man so deeply that He gave his only Son as a sacrifice for sin. [4] It has always been God’s plan to dwell forever with His highest creation, to end once and for all sickness, disease, poverty, and every other malady that affects us all. Man, however, has been determined to create his own version of ‘utopia’ here on earth, thus bypassing God’s plan altogether. Could there possibly be a greater failure then that?

The bitter pill that man cannot swallow is the acknowledgment that there exists One much greater and infinitely more intelligent than he is, One who is still seeking to save the lost sheep scattered upon the earth, the One who reigns over all of His creation.

Is this not the greatest tragedy of all time?

Blessings to all,

Ron 

 

  1. Steven Lawson 
  2. 2nd Peter 2:4, Jude 1:6, Rev. 12:4
  3. The Changing Global Religious Landscape | Pew Research Center (pewforum.org)
  4.  John 3:16

Intercessory Prayer

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Long post alert!!

This morning I taught on the subject of Intercessory Prayer, which is prayer that you offer on behalf of someone other than yourself. Taken from Genesis 18, this lesson centers around Abraham interceding on behalf of the people who lived in a city known as Sodom. Yes, that Sodom.

I can’t think of a more timely lesson, what with millions around America celebrating what they call Pride Month. And while it would be very easy to draw a parallel between ancient Sodom and modern day America, the crux of the lesson is about interceding with God for those who are spiritually lost.

More to the point, do we as Christians love the unsaved (regardless of their sinful lifestyle) enough to intercede on their behalf?

This is THE question, at least as I see it. It has nothing to do with the sin of homosexuality, but it has everything to do with looking past the sin and seeing a person who is lost without Christ in their hearts. That is what Abraham did, and he lived over 2,000 years before Jesus walked upon the earth.

It’s true that Abraham had good reason for interceding on behalf of Sodom. He had family living there, with his nephew Lot, his wife, and daughters making their home in Sodom. So the case can be made for Abraham acting for selfish reasons.

Except that Abraham wasn’t just concerned about his own family. That is why he sought the LORD for mercy. Read along from Genesis 18 to better understand what Abraham said to the LORD.

23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 

24 Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 

25 Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

26 So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”

Abraham did not have 50 family members living in Sodom, yet he was concerned that there just might be that many righteous there that would be destroyed along with the rest of the inhabitants. He then proceeds to bargain with the LORD until he reaches 10 righteous. In effect, he received a guarantee from the LORD that if even 10 righteous were in Sodom, the city would be spared.

What this story tell us is that Abraham could have asked the LORD to destroy Sodom for their wickedness. After all, Abraham was a friend of God. He was on a first name basis with the Almighty! Instead, he asked for mercy for those that were lost. What we see here is the heart of Abraham.

He didn’t want vengeance. He didn’t ask for Sodom to be punished. He asked for Sodom to be spared. In other words, Abraham interceded with God for compassion to be extended to Sodom. You see, there was a lot more going on in Sodom than what most of us realize!

Like most of you, I was taught that the reason God rained down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah was because of the sin of homosexuality. Truth is, that’s only partly correct. Surprised? Shocked? Disillusioned? Angry? Well don’t be, because I’m going to show you something from God’s word to back up my statement that there was a whole lot more going on there than homosexuality.

If we look at Ezekiel chapter 16, we find that the LORD is speaking through his servant Ezekiel to the people of Jerusalem. He is reading them the equivalent of the riot act. After reminding them (again!) of all He had done for them, God calls them harlots, whores, and an abomination. Tough words, wouldn’t you say?

God then compares them to, yes, you guessed it, Sodom! Read along with me beginning with 16:46:

46 And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters.

47 Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways.

48 As I live, saith the Lord God, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.

49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

God just told the inhabitants of Jerusalem that they were more corrupt than Sodom was! Please look again at verse 49, for these are the sins of Sodom that led to her destruction:

Pride…they had enough to eat that they no longer depended upon God…idleness…neglecting the poor and needy. Did you see anything there about homosexuality or sexual perversion?

So, am I saying that homosexuality is not a sin? No, I am not saying that at all. Of course it is sin. Just as adultery, murder, stealing, cursing, drunkenness, and a host of other things are considered sin according to God’s word.

People, meaning you and me, and most especially those of us in the Church, are apt to categorize sin. That is not a “God thing”, that is a man thing. We are the ones who have decided that certain sins should be ranked higher than others. According to Jesus, there is only one sin that is unforgivable, or at the very top of the list. That would be the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost. ALL others are forgivable!

Getting back to Abraham, he certainly knew that Sodom was a vile and wicked city. He knew there was rampant homosexuality in the midst. But he also knew that there were a host of other sins being committed there. That is why he interceded for them, because he knew they were altogether lost in sin.

The lesson for all of us here is simple: is our heart motivated by love or vengeance? Do we want to see sinners saved or punished? Are we vessels of mercy or condemnation?

I know which I aspire to be. The God that spared me from the Hell I deserved is still saving today, and I want to have a hand in that. I’ll leave sorting it all out to Him, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over these many decades of following the Lord, it is that I am not worthy to pronounce judgment on anyone.

Have a blessed day!

Ron

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

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