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Who But God?

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Have you ever thought about what it took for God to orchestrate the birth of Jesus Christ? I mean really thought about it? Well if you haven’t, pull up a chair and come along with me on a journey that tells the story of how God did the impossible time and time again, leaving us to wonder “Who But God”?

Shortly after the creation of man, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, thus bringing sin into the world. The stain of this original sin would be passed onto every person born. To rectify this, God tells us that a Savior would come from the seed of the woman, Eve.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15 NKJV

Though it seemed that Satan had the upper hand, God intervened immediately and said that this seed would be the one that would crush, or bruise the head of the serpent. This seed, of course, refers to Jesus Christ. Moses, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, wrote these words almost 1500 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. All of which leaves us to ask “Who But God”?

Later on in the book of Genesis we find a man called Abraham. This man loved God more than anything or anyone. In fact, Abraham was willing to leave everything he knew just to obey God. He was even willing to sacrifice his son Isaac if that was what God wanted him to do. Sound familiar? It was through Abraham that God said He would bless all the people of the earth.

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 12:3 NKJV

God made a promise to Abraham that he would make of him a great nation, and that all people on earth would be blessed through him. This great blessing upon mankind points to the One who would redeem people from every tribe, tongue, and nation on the earth. One look at the genealogy of Jesus demands that once again we ask, “Who But God”?

Over 700 years before the birth of Jesus, a prophet by the name of Isaiah said that there would be a sign given to mankind to let them know that a Deliverer would one day come to Israel.

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 KJV

This scripture points to the impossible, that a virgin would conceive a child. In all of human history, this is the only occasion where such a thing has happened, leaving us to marvel and ask, “Who But God”? This scripture reveals one of the many names associated with Jesus Christ: Immanuel. I love this name because it literally means God with us. This points to both His humanity as well as His divinity.

So precise was God’s plan that 800 years prior to Jesus being born, He told us the exact name of the town where His Son would be born.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2 NKJV

This might be a good time to interject a comment for those who may be reading this and are on the fence about whether or not you believe any of this. “Who But God” could speak through the prophet Micah to let the world know the exact name of the little town where the Savior would be born?

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in the dark street shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

Finally, lets look at another Old Testament prophet who foretold the coming of the Savior. About the same time as Isaiah prophesied that a virgin would conceive, a prophet named Hosea wrote what could only be described as a reference to a future event about the Redeemer.

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt“.

This verse is very interesting because it looks back to Egypt, where Israel was held captive for over 400 years, but it also looks forward to a time when the Son of God would be called out of Egypt. Matthew recalled this prophecy as he recounted the events of Jesus earthly family fleeing to Egypt to escape Herod.

When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt have I called my son“. Matthew 2:14-15 KJV

“Who But God” could have decreed this event to such an extent? Think of the almost 2000 year history of man that led up to the birth of Christ. How many wars did Israel and Judah fight? How many times did God intervene on their behalf? How many kingdoms were subdued in order for the next in line of Judah’s kings take their place on the throne, all while knowing that there was yet to be a future King of Judah that would rule the world?

The story of Christ’s birth is miraculous on many fronts. From the beginning where God reminded Satan that there was coming a “seed” that would crush him, to all the Old Testament prophets who spoke of His coming, we are left to marvel at the awesome power of the only God who could bring all of this to pass.

This Christmas I am humbled by the sheer majesty of the Almighty. So much so that I am left without words, except to say “Who But God”?

Merry Christmas everyone!

Ron

The Branch of Righteousness

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“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:

THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

These two verses (5-6) from Jeremiah chapter 23 were no doubt encouraging to a nation steeped in sin and suffering from deep corruption within the religious hierarchy of the day. Judah and Israel would soon fall into bondage, the promised punishment for their having abandoned the commands of God. Chaos was the order of the day, and lawlessness prevailed on an unparalleled scale. Yet even in the midst of their backsliding, God was looking to a new day.

I am reminded of these comforting verses as we approach the day in which we celebrate the coming of the promised Messiah. “Behold, the days are coming” remind us that the evil and injustice we see in our world today will not always be. Because of the Branch of Righteousness that came as the Redeemer of mankind, a better day is coming. And you and I are the beneficiaries.

This is why I have hope for the future. To be clear, my hope is not centered on this life, but the life which is to come. Because of God’s Branch, I have hope that one day Godly judgment will be the norm. I have hope that the day will come when the voice of crying will never be heard again. I have hope that one day there will never be another loved one leave us because of death.

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord.

I’m ready. How about you?

Have a blessed day,

Ron

Sound Familiar?

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Conspiracy theories abound today whenever the words “Corona, Pandemic, or Virus” are tossed around. Like everyone else, I have my own thoughts about the reasons why this very real virus was unleashed upon the world. Without going into those reasons (since this post isn’t really about that), suffice it to say that this virus is serving a purpose largely lost upon the entire world.

What is that, you ask? I believe the fallout from this virus is a precursor to the mark of the beast that Jesus spoke of in the book of Revelation. More to the point, I believe this virus serves to condition humanity to accept something they otherwise would not accept by withholding goods, services, medicines, and even food unless one accepts the terms imposed upon them.

Just in case you think that sounds a bit too far-fetched, you should know that Israel is already working to “motivate” their citizenry to take the vaccine in January. Their plan is actually quite simple: take the vaccine and you are free to do as you please. Refuse the vaccine and your life will never return to normal.

‘We won’t force vaccine; but here’s what we will do’ – Inside Israel – Israel National News

From the article:

The issue of how to “motivate” vaccine compliance has generated increasing interest, with commentators such as Mike Cernovich writing: “Government won’t force you to take vaccine. Amazon will. Airlines will. Banks will. You won’t be able to buy, sell, or trade without the vaccine.”

Sound Familiar? Well, if you are a student of God’s Word that last sentence should sound very familiar to you!

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name“. Revelation 13:16-17 NKJV

Like it or not, agree with it or not, the fact remains that God’s Word has a 100% accuracy rate. It has never failed to be correct. Every specific prophecy either has already or one day will be fulfilled. Not one of them will go unfulfilled. That includes Revelation 13:16-17.

What was once thought of as being far into the future is now on our doorstep, and there is no hiding from it. To be clear, the COVID vaccine is NOT the mark of the beast referred to in Revelation. It is, in my opinion, the prelude to condition humanity to eventually accept this mark.

Rest assured, the world will be watching Israel to see how its citizens react to the vaccine, as well as how they react to the “motivation” to be vaccinated. Here in America, we are very likely to follow the same path of implementation that Israel will take.

Which leads to the question…how much “motivation” will you require?

Have a blessed day!

Ron

God Will Make a Way

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How many times have I heard it said that “God will make a way”? Thousands of times I’m sure, as have many of you. I’ve used the statement hundreds of times myself when consoling someone or trying to offer hope in a desperate situation.

But what are we really saying when we tell someone that ‘God will make a way’? Are we telling the person that whatever their situation, God will move in their favor? Are we telling them that the rent money will show up somehow or another? Are we telling them that a job is finally coming their way? If in fact that is what we are doing, how do we know for certainty that God will make a way?

Can the statement ‘God will make a way’ be supported by scripture? That’s a great question, and one worth investigating. The answer is that is there are exactly two verses in all of scripture (KJV) that declares ‘God will make a way’. In 1st Corinthians 10:13, the apostle Paul says this: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it”. The second example is found in Isaiah 43:16: “Thus saith the Lord, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters”.

Did you notice anything in particular about those two verses? Here’s a little hint. Neither of them speaks of receiving a financial blessing, or any other materialistic gift. What they speak to is that in the midst of temptation, God will make a way for you to be able to endure that same temptation! When all around you are the rising flood waters of despair, God will make a path through those waters for you.

Think about that last paragraph for a few moments. Whenever the Lord came to the rescue of Israel, it was because they were in trouble. God did not come until they needed his help! In other words, it is true that God will make a way. We have an entire Bible full of examples of this. He is not, however, a genie that we can summon at our command so that he can present to us everything that is on our wish list.

So, what has to happen for ‘God to make a way’ for us? The first thing that has to happen is we must call upon the Lord. The battle is His, after all. Secondly, we have to trust Him. That means we are trusting completely in His Sovereignty to bring deliverance in the manner of HIS choosing, not ours. If you’re like me, there are few things more challenging than letting go of the issue and giving it to God. Yet that is what He demands from us: our complete trust and faith in Him.

If you are dealing with an impossible situation, give it to God. If your back is against the wall and there’s no way out, give it to God. If the Dr. has said there is nothing more I can do, give it to God. In the midst of it all, He will make a way that you might be able to bear it.

You are loved!

Ron

Well, Now What?

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As I write this, the “official” word has been given that we have a new President-elect of the United States. Depending on your political point of view, this news will be met with either joy, hopefulness, and relief, or with a feeling that America is doomed to slide into the abyss of an eternal inferno at breakneck speed.

It seems that in America these days there is no middle ground, no common territory where all can feel welcome and safe to express their personal opinions. You’re either one of them or one of them, but you better not be one of them!

Long time readers will remember that I’m one of them. I’m one of those who hold to the Biblical viewpoint that God is always working in the affairs of man. This statement from Daniel chapter 22:20-21 sums it up nicely I believe.

Daniel answered and said:

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
For wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding
“.

Whatever is to come, rest assured that it will not take God by surprise. On the contrary, this world and all that it contains is encased in God’s eternal plan of redemption for man. Therefore, the results of an election can not alter what the Almighty has already decreed. Whether your favorite candidate won or lost is of no consequence to the Ancient of Days, for He alone knows the end from the beginning.

What then is our role to be in all of this?

To Pray.

Christians are commanded to pray for those in authority. That’s right, praying for our leaders is not optional according to God’s word. Paul said in Romans 13:1 to “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God“. We are all held to the same standard, meaning every one of us is required to pray for our leaders. You may not like the person in authority, but the word of God says it doesn’t matter. We are to pray for them. Regardless of whether or not you voted for them. We do not get a choice in the matter.

Additionally, our Christian witness and testimony should be one of gratitude and thanksgiving that we live in a nation where we have the opportunity to have our voices heard. If we fully understood just how rare that is, I’d like to think we would appreciate such opportunity even more. We cannot be Christlike only when our candidate of choice is elected to office, for to be so would be hypocritical. What does such an attitude say to the world about us, or our Lord?

Christians in America would do well to remember that God is Sovereign. He rules and reins from His throne over every nation and government, and that includes America. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that God will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Why would we ever think He would do so now?

The answer to the question of “well, now what” is simple: PRAY.

Have blessed day everyone,

Ron

When Life Hands You Lemons

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You’ve all heard the expression “When life hands you lemons, make some lemonade”.

Well, I had one of those life situations the other day, so I thought I would share it with you. Now before I get started I should tell you up front that the “lemon” I was handed was hardly worth making a fuss over. And when compared to some of the real problems others are facing, it pales in comparison. Be that as it may, I want to tell the story because the “lemonade” part of the story is well worth it.

A couple of days ago I went outside to mow the lawn. I grabbed my trimmer and trimmed around the shrubs and landscape just like I do every week. I then filled the mower with gas and pulled the rope to start the mower, except the rope wouldn’t pull no matter how hard I tried. Uh oh, I thought, this is not good. Especially since I just got the mower out of the shop a week and a half ago for the very same problem!

No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the starter rope to pull. Of course, I knew exactly what was wrong with it. The valves in the engine needed adjusted. Just like they did a week and a half ago! By this time the Princess is looking at me through the garage door, offering advice as only she could. “Maybe you should anoint it with oil and pray over it” she says. Funny, that’s not at all what I was thinking. I was actually thinking of a spot in the ocean where I could toss the mower off of a bridge! Being the (somewhat) dutiful husband that I am however, I prayed for the mower to start. Not happening.

So, it’s back to the dealer again for another 60 mile round trip in traffic I am in no mood to deal with. As we settle in for the drive, I’m quietly contemplating this mowers demise when all of a sudden the Princess says to me “well, we always like these drives anyway”. “Of course you would say that” I tell her. It’s just like her to try to put a positive spin on everything. Like when we were loading the mower in the SUV she said “there must be a reason why you weren’t supposed to mow the lawn today”. Sure, I thought to myself. On a day when it’s not hot out but sunny, mild, and breezy and I was actually looking forward to getting outside to mow…THIS HAPPENED!

So we drop the mower off and the Princess turns to me and says “you want to go to the beach”? Well, that’s a no brainer I say to myself. So instead of coming home we head to the beach, which is just a few miles from where we were. Fortunately, its still early in the tourist season so finding a parking spot was a breeze.

So, like a couple of love struck teenagers we start walking towards the beach, holding hands like we always do. As we get to the beach, it hits me. That familiar feeling I always get when I go there. Peace and relaxation suddenly displace the stress, frustration, and anxiety that had built up over the mower issue. A silly, ridiculous, ‘what was I so upset about mower issue’.

For the next hour and a half we stroll the beach, picking up the occasional pretty shell or in the case of the Princess, a sharks tooth. She has an uncanny ability to spot those things in the sand. We have them everywhere in jars of shells and sand. She has one that is a couple of inches long that she found many years ago. No way I’d want to meet the shark that lost that tooth!

Walking in the surf, listening to the crashing waves, feeling the warm sand on our feet, all of that made me realize that yes indeed, there was a reason why I wasn’t supposed to mow the lawn that day. There were better, more important things I was supposed to be doing instead. And you know what? We needed that time at the beach. The hectic pace I’ve been keeping these past few months hasn’t left much time for fun things like walking on the beach. Which, as if you didn’t already know, is NOT the way to spend retirement!

image courtesy of Ron Whited

The next time life throws you a curveball, or hands you a bowlful of lemons, try to remember that whatever the situation, it will pass eventually. We just never know what tomorrow is going to bring us. For that matter, we don’t even know if we’ll have a tomorrow! All the more reason not to sweat the small stuff. Perspective is a powerful thing isn’t it? It can make all the difference in how we see things and in what kind of attitude we have.

All of us have so many things to be thankful for. Now, I think I’ll have another glass of that lemonade!

Ron

God Will Still Be God On Wednesday!

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Well, this is embarrassing. It’s been nearly two months since my last post. How is that even possible? Is time really moving that quickly? I guess the best answer is always an honest answer, so the truth is I’ve been so busy doing ministry in my own home church that it leaves me precious little free time to write about things that are important to me personally.

Being a holdout that favors the Classic WP editor, my first surprise was to find that I am now forced to learn how to use the Block editor. Oh well, I’ll simply add this to the ever growing list of new things I’ve had to learn over the past two months. There should be an old saying I could insert here about how learning new things keeps your mind sharp, or something to that effect. If there is I cannot remember it. So much for staying sharp!

With all of that out of the way, I feel compelled to offer up a few short words of encouragement to anyone that may need them. I hear from people nearly every day that are discouraged, weary, stressed, and very frightened concerning the upcoming Presidential election. In particular, what I hear mostly is grave concern over the direction our nation is headed. It seems that regardless of which side of the political fence you are standing on, the “other side” is the sure and certain path to destruction.

Regular readers of this blog (if any are still around) no doubt remember that I share the sentiments of those who are deeply concerned about the direction our nation is headed. My concern lies in the fact that as a nation we have forgotten where our true strength comes from. In short, just as ancient Israel rejected the Lordship of the Almighty, so have we.

For all of the grievous sins of the nations of Judah and Israel, God ultimately allowed these nations to be carried away as slaves to Babylon and Assyria. Having ignored the near constant pleas of the Almighty to return unto Him, these nations nonetheless rejected God’s offer of grace and mercy, determined to rule themselves by their own intellect. Sadly, Israel’s history was all too brief, lasting but 207 years. Her sister Judah lasted a bit longer, having existed for 344 years before being carried into Babylon. Apparently, it doesn’t take all that long to self destruct does it?

I point all of this out to show that God can and does run out of patience when the nations forsake Him. For this very reason I am persuaded to believe that God has lifted the hedge of protection once enjoyed by this nation, and we are seeing the results of His turning away from us on a daily basis. There is no need for me to go into the details, for it is plain for all to see that we are walking the same roads as every nation before us has walked who chose to reject the Lord.

One thing we can know however is that no matter which way the election goes, half of our nation will not be pleased. We will still be divided, perhaps more than we currently are. If that isn’t enough to cause you concern, I don’t know what is. Animosity, hatred, and bitterness will still be on full display for all to view. This is what happens when the Source of our strength has been forgotten and abandoned. Love, kindness, and civility are tossed out like dirty dishwater, to be replaced by ugliness and brutality.

So, what about those words of encouragement I mentioned? Firstly, as to what will happen in the upcoming election, there is One who already knows the outcome, and we can take solace in the fact that the results will not take Him by surprise. I take great comfort in knowing that God is orchestrating things according to His plan for mankind. Of course, that doesn’t mean I understand all of it. His ways, after all, are beyond my understanding. I simply choose to trust Him. Amazingly, as I have come to learn, the Lord doesn’t need my approval (or yours), or my permission!

Secondly, no matter the outcome God will still be God. He will still be the same God who “is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”(Psalm 46:1). This is important! Our fears over things that are out of our control speak volumes about where our hope lies. To put it in plain English, we cannot go to church on Sunday and sing “He’s got the whole world in His hands”, while on Monday we’re wringing our hands over things we cannot control. Is that faith beloved? Is our hope in things above, or is our hope in the outcome of an election?

Finally, I believe a change in perspective and attitude is in order. Maybe what we should be doing is instead of living in fear of what might be, we should live in gratitude of what God has already done for us. Maybe, just maybe, a grateful heart will cause us to see more clearly that the sky is not falling after all. Perhaps an “attitude of gratitude” is the key to unlocking the faith and hope that so many seem to be lacking. The fact is that it really does not matter who resides in the Big White House. What matters is that we learn to trust completely upon the Lord for our needs, not some politician who will say anything to get your vote.

All of these are reasons why I am grateful to be a child of God. I am a temporary resident of a world gone mad, one who is looking forward to the day when I step into a world “where the former things are passed away“. I cling to the knowledge that every king, ruler, or president is accountable to God for how they have handled the authority entrusted to them. And yes, we can be sure that God is watching.

He rules by His power forever;
His eyes observe the nations;
Do not let the rebellious exalt themselves
Selah

Psalm 66:7 NKJV

Take courage friends! God is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

Ron

What Does Your Heart Desire?

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This was the title of a sermon I delivered this morning at our church. Taken from Psalm 27, it speaks about what King David considered to be the most important thing in his life.

I’d like to share my text with you, as well a few notes that may be of encouragement to someone.

Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Hear, O Lordwhen I cry with my voice

When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

If you have ever felt that overwhelming feeling like it’s you against the world, you can appreciate what David is saying here. I can relate to what he is saying, because just like a lot of you I’ve been in that scary place where I’m surrounded by trouble and despair.

David uses a military analogy to describe his approach to such a situation. Whether it’s a person or an army, or even war itself, should it come against him David said that he would be confident.

The question that immediately comes to mind is confident in what? What David was saying here was that I’ve experienced God’s deliverance many times over the course of my lifetime, and I believe He will do it again.

How about you? Do you believe God will do it again? Is he still able to deliver? I know He is more than able!

David then reveals something from the depths of his heart, something that people in positions of great power and authority rarely do.

He says that he has desired just one thing of the Lord, and that was to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Does that sound like something a man of war would say? How unusual would it be to hear a king say that his desire is to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire in his temple?

Pretty bizarre, if you ask me.

My mind immediately goes to thoughts of “is this the same David who committed adultery? The same David who conspired to murder? The same David of whom they sang of killing tens of thousands”?

Yes! Warts and all it was that David!

The David whose life was marred by sin and destruction.

The David who would pay dearly for the sins he committed.

The David who carried an enormous amount of baggage throughout his life.

Want to know something? All of us are marred. All of us carry with us the scars of our past.

Scripture reminds us that there is none righteous, not even one(Romans 3:10).

David was saying to the Lord that he desired to be in the presence of the Lord more than anything else. 

David was King, and as such could have asked for and received anything he desired. But it wasn’t riches, or real estate, or battlefield victories he wanted.

He wanted God. Despite his history and despite the mistakes of his past, what he longed for was intimacy with God.

What are you longing for today? What does your heart desire?

I find it encouraging that David wasn’t looking for entertainment in God’s house. He wasn’t looking to be seen. He wasn’t looking for accolades from the meek and lowly.

He simply wanted to dwell in God’s house, to bask in His presence.

Isn’t that why all of us should desire to be in God’s house? 

David also recognized that in God’s house was safety and security. In the time of trouble David said that God would hide him in His pavilion. In the secret of the tabernacle God would hide him.

God’s house was the one place that David felt safe from his enemies. As King of Israel, David had a target on his back, yet in God’s house he felt safe.

In Psalm 46:1 David declares that “God is our refuge, a very present help in trouble”. 

So many times in my own life I have ran to the Lord seeking refuge from the storm that was raging. Like David, I can testify that He is indeed a “very present help in trouble”.

As I ponder this Psalm of David about being in God’s house, my mind wanders back to an old gospel song that goes something like this:

“When I walk through the doors, I felt His presence.

And I knew this was the place where love abounds.

For this is the temple, Jehovah God abides here.

And we are standing in His presence, on holy ground”.

That’s how I see being in God’s house. A holy place on holy ground.

David then tells us that in God’s house he will offer sacrifices of joy, and that he will sing praises unto the Lord.

I wonder, is this what we do when we enter His courts? Do we come in to the presence of God with a complaint or a praise?

Something to think about, isn’t it?

As a matter of fact, I asked our congregation this morning how long will we remain mute in the house of God. What would it take for us to shake off the heavy bands and lift up holy hands in praise to the King of Kings?

I shared with them how that in Psalm 22:3 David had said “But thou are holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel”.

I am a firm believer that when we lift our praise and worship to the Almighty, He will come down and inhabit, or bask in our worship. Call me a fanatic, but that’s how I see it!

This is the Readers Digest version of my message this morning, and I sincerely hope you will derive some comfort from it.

I will close this blog just as I did the message this morning by asking the question:

“What Does Your Heart Desire”? 

Until the next time, may the Lord keep you safe in His arms.

Ron

 

 

 

Marking a Tragedy

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Tragedy:

an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe.

“a tragedy that killed 95 people”   [1]

Do you know someone who has suffered a tragedy? Most of us do.

Perhaps it is you that has suffered a tragedy? I know I have. Several of them actually.

How does one recover from a tragedy? Does one ever really recover from a tragedy?

Are there people who never recover from a tragedy? I believe there are.

I know someone like this. This person keeps a “death calendar”. Every year when it’s time to buy a new calendar, this person will go through it marking the dates when the people they loved died. This is a “death calendar”.

Certain dates are marked with personal notes such as “this is the day my world ended”. This day is marked for mourning and little else. This is a day for closing the curtains and sitting in the dark, alone with the distant memories of the day when life stopped.

This is what I refer to as Marking a Tragedy. An event so traumatic that it causes us to put our life on hold. We don’t move past it because we either cannot or will not.

All life now centers around the tragedy. Indeed, it has become larger than life itself.

In a lifetime of dealing with my own personal tragedies and in observing the tragedies of others,I have come to the conclusion that there is a very fine line between those who suffer tragedy and never recover, and those who suffer tragedy and go on to lead productive lives.

So I wonder, what makes the difference? Why doesn’t everyone recover from their personal tragedy and go on to lead a fulfilling and productive life?

The answer, at least in part, I believe is found in the word purpose. I like the word purpose because it speaks of something, a force perhaps, beyond our own limitations.

When we realize our purpose for being, it propels us forward in life and gives us the necessary strength and courage to overcome life’s challenges. And yes, that includes tragedy.

In my own life, I can say with the utmost confidence that a sense of purpose has kept me grounded and on track(for the most part), enabling me to move beyond situations that otherwise would have likely destroyed me.

As a young man of 23 I accepted the call into ministry, a decision that completely altered my life. For the first time, I had discovered purpose and that discovery was instrumental in seeing me through some very hard times.

For example, I quickly learned that accepting this calling was not met by those nearest to me with the same joy and excitement as I felt. Far from it actually. Because of their “lack of enthusiasm” towards what I was sure God was calling me to do, it caused me to question everything about what I believed. So much so, that I wanted to throw in the towel at least once or twice a month.

Yet for all of that, and there was a lot of “that”, I could never shake the sense of purpose that I felt when doing the work of the ministry. In ways that I could not understand, it seemed that every time I was ready to quit that sense of purpose would become even stronger.

As the weeks and months turned into years and now into decades, several events have occurred in my life that meet the definition of tragedy. At least a couple of those events should have destroyed my life, and even now they continue to try to hinder me.

As someone who has spent a great deal of time studying the scriptures, I have found them to be the antidote for life’s challenges. I have lost count of how many times God’s word has pulled me back from the brink.

Like the time I was sitting in my living room, Bible in my hands, crying out to the Lord that I couldn’t take it any longer. Having been blindsided by what was soon to turn into yet another tragedy, I had reached the end of my ability to hold on.

It was then that I felt the urge to turn in my Bible to the book of Job. Now, those of you who know Job’s story also know that this isn’t the most likely place to turn for encouragement when you are at the end of your rope.

Yet when I opened the book of Job to the 38th chapter, I saw it. In verse 1 it says “The the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said”,

Did you see the “hidden message” that I so desperately need to hear from the Lord that day?

While all along I had been asking, pleading with the Lord to take away my pain and hurt, the Lord used this verse to let me know that He could speak to me in the midst of my storm. He didn’t need to wait until the storm had passed, He could speak out of my storm!

As the realization of this truth became more clear to me, I literally jumped up out of my chair shouting “YES”! I knew then that everything was going to be alright. No, the storm didn’t dissipate immediately, in fact the worst was yet to come. That didn’t matter however, because I was assured that God had a purpose for me and therefore would see me through this tragedy.

My prayer for you today is that you will understand that you have purpose. You are needed, and you are most certainly loved. Life may have knocked you down to the point where you don’t want to get back up. Get back up anyway.

Seasons come and seasons go. Seasons of joy, excitement, and hope, along with seasons of tragedy, despair, and discouragement. Seasons are, however, just that. A season.

I leave you with the 2nd half of Psalm 30:5…

”Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”.

Be blessed this day, in Jesus name!

Ron

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Catching up!

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I can hardly believe that it’s been nearly a whole month since my last blog! This certainly wasn’t planned, so I thought I would share with you what has me so preoccupied these days.

If you will remember, several weeks ago I accepted the position of Associate Pastor of our church. Since then, my responsibilities have grown exponentially leaving me little free time to attend to this blog.

At our church we have Sunday School, Sunday morning worship, and a Wednesday mid-week service, all of which I have some responsibility for.

I minister at every Wednesday service, which of course requires study time as well as prayer time. I also teach the adult Sunday School class every other Sunday. Again, more study and prep time.

For all of our services I am also part of the worship team, playing guitar while my wife Debbie plays the keyboard. Even our daughter has joined in the festivities as a children’s Sunday School teacher.

One of my most time consuming responsibilities is editing the video of our services. This is something I have never done before so it has been quite the learning experience for me. Especially since I’m learning completely on my own!

Learning a new software program is challenging enough, but trying to edit a video on a woefully underpowered laptop is the essence of frustration. My computer is so old and underpowered that it actually overheats and shuts down in the middle of what I’m doing!

If you know anything about this type of work, you know that to edit 4K video requires a beast of a computer, which neither our church or myself has. We are currently looking into a new PC that can handle this type of task, but because we are a small church money is tight. We simply don’t have the $2000 (low end!) to purchase what we need. So we continue to pray that God will make a way for us.

I roughly calculated that using my old PC to edit video is taking about 15-20 hours. For ONE video! As someone who is always looking for the most efficient method of getting a task completed, this activity has been “somewhat trying” on me.

One of my other responsibilities is that of managing our church website. It is a work in progress, with yours truly learning on the fly once again. We are locked into the current site hosting plan for the next year, but after that we will reevaluate things and see if we might move it to WordPress or some other platform that gives us more control over our content. For now, it does the job. If you’d care to check it out, head on over to cognocatee.org. Please remember, it still has a ways to go but it is far beyond what it was when I started.

One other thing I’m heading up now is our daily devotional outreach ministry. This is where we send out an encouraging scripture text each day, and include any urgent prayer requests along with it. So, I have had to learn a couple of new communication systems pretty quickly, which is actually very interesting to me.

Ironically, of the many things I am now doing in ministry I doubt I could have gotten up to speed so quickly had I not had the career I had at Honda. Being immersed in various forms of technology there enabled me to bring much of that same aptitude to my ministry work. It almost makes me think this was God’s plan all along. What do you think?

So there you have it.  I know I left something out, but I cannot remember what it is. At any rate, I think you get the picture. This is my new “retired life”, and I love it!

Of course, like every church ours struggles with the whole Covid-19 issue. Reorganizing the sanctuary to ensure safe distance was no easy task, and it severely limits the number of worshipers we can have.

Nonetheless, I am thrilled to be waist deep in ministry during this season of my life. I am blessed beyond measure to have a wife who is not only supportive of what I’m doing, but is right there with me when she can be. She remains my biggest supporter and I am thankful the Lord uses her gifts and talents as well.

With that I will say “thank you” to you who have prayed for me and encouraged me faithfully to press onward. I am always amazed at how faithful God is when we put our hand to the plow.

I promise I will try not to stay away so long before posting again. Believe me, I have a million words stored away for this blog but I am lacking the time to express them for now. As in all things, God knows and understands best doesn’t He?

I pray the Lord blesses you and encourages you daily. In these trying times we need the Lord like never before, and it is a great comfort to know that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”. Psalm 46:1

Ron

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