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Does all really mean “all”?

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There are many of us who sometimes question if a particular Bible verse actually means what it says. It’s like we wonder if something was lost in the translation from the original text that has rendered the verse incorrect. One of those verses is found in Romans 8:28.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.   NKJV

I guess in this instance all really does mean “all” because I checked a half dozen or so different translations, and all of them use the word all or everything  in referring to the things that are working together for our good.

When I first read Romans 8:28 as a new Christian, like a lot of others I thought that the idea of God using good things to make me a better Christian was a great thing. But I soon realized there was danger lurking in my thought process.

You see, when we read this particular verse, our carnal minds want to gravitate towards the good things that are taking place in our lives. We equate “working together for our good” with blessings, or favor.

The truth of the matter however is that God’s plan for us doesn’t include only good things. God’s plan for our lives also includes the hard things, the difficult things, and yes, the unexplainable things that come into our lives.

You see, God has a plan for each of our lives. He knows what each of your tomorrows will bring, and that includes the good things as well as the bad.

So many Christians today are caught in the web of the false gospel that states that God only has good things in store for your life. This false gospel would have you believe that should anything come into your life such as sickness or divorce, you are out of God’s will.

We know however that bad things happen to good people. That’s an immutable fact. All of us know people who have endured horrible things through no fault of their own. And yes, this includes God’s children, who are not exempt.

My point here is that oftentimes bad things happen to God’s children for no apparent reason. Yet they still happen. Life happens, and life isn’t always pretty, even for God’s children.

So what are we to make of Romans 8:28 in light of what you’ve just read? After all, it’s either true or it’s not. There is no in between.

The Apostle Paul said that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”.

ALL of your life’s situations, both good and bad, are part of the clay that God places on the potter’s wheel. He takes the good and the bad and ever so gently shapes us, molds us into the vessel He has planned that we become.

It’s true, sometimes there are impurities in the clay, impurities that become part of the finished product. These impurities do not devalue the finished product however, but serve to make each one unique in the eye of the Master Potter.

All things do work together for good…..it’s up to us to trust the process. It’s up to us to remain malleable on the potter’s wheel. God will do the real work.

 

Be blessed, in Jesus name.

Ronear tickled

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Four reasons to avoid the Vortex of Negativity

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Most of us have seen a Vortex before, whether in person or on the news. A Vortex is easily identified by a swirling mass of air or water, such as in a tornado or cyclone. Here in Florida these are also found in waterspouts.

tornado

No matter the type of Vortex, they all share at least two things in common:  1) if you get too close to one it will literally suck you into it, and 2) it will always leave a path of destruction in its wake.

Additionally, there is no escape from it unless it releases you from its deadly power. Even then, the end result will not be pleasant.

There is however another form of Vortex, perhaps more damaging than all those previously listed. It’s what I call the human “Vortex of Negativity”, and once it has you in its grip it will literally suck the life out of you. Here are four reasons why you should avoid it at all costs.

No.1 It will steal your Joy…Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit, did you know that? But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (Galatians 5:22).

If you have been around joyless people for even a few minutes you know how they can rob you of your joy. Many of us struggle with this. We’re happy, and then we’re not.

Joy killers are subtle; they rarely show up with sirens blazing, seeking instead to peck away at our joy in anonymity. Before you even know it’s happened, you find yourself struggling to find joy in anything because your joy has been stolen from you!

No.2 It will steal your Gratitude…A grateful heart is a thankful heart, one that will show up in our attitude. Paul, that great Apostle, understood the importance of thankfulness when he said that “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).  In his song of thanksgiving upon recovering the Ark of the Covenant, David said “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever“(1 Chronicles 16:34).

The Vortex of Negativity is thankful for nothing, but rather seeks out the things that have not gone our way and focuses instead on what could have/should have been.

This Vortex is particularly dangerous because it will retard our growth and leave us to wallow in defeat. People who are ungrateful, especially Christians, are also some of the meanest people around. And yes, they are infectious.

No.3 It will steal your Confidence…When we have lost our confidence we begin to flounder. We are tossed to and fro seemingly adrift on the seas of life with no real purpose. We become double minded, unable to press forward with purpose.

This is not how God created you. An oft quoted scripture from the Old Testament book of Jeremiah tell us “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). The Vortex of Negativity wants to hide from us the promise of God and instead get us to focus on what we ourselves can do. This, of course, is never enough to satisfy.

No.4 It will steal the life God has appointed you to…We are called and chosen to live a fulfilling and complete life. Jesus described it this way: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly“(John 10:10).

The Vortex of Negativity is a thief bent on stealing, killing, and destroying our lives one piece at a time until the notion of an abundant life is nothing more than a fairy tale.

The devil would like nothing more than to get our focus off of God’s plan for our lives so that he can then offer us an alternative. Without fail, the alternative he presents to us will lead us down the path of destruction. How could it not, when Jesus has already told us what the enemy’s motives are?

The “Vortex of Negativity” is a powerful force that works against us in many ways. Whether it’s to steal our joy, our gratitude, our confidence, or even the very life God has planned for us, this cocktail of negativity is the enemy’s design for your ultimate destruction.

But I have Good News this day! Your Bible declares that “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord.    Isaiah 54:17

No weapon, no device, no Vortex of Negativity that the enemy tries to destroy you with can prosper.

This is your heritage as a child of God!

 

 

 

 

Translation or Demonstration: which do we need more of today?

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As of this post, there are approximately 100 versions of the English translation of the Bible. Amazingly enough, I am old enough to remember when you could count the number of Bible translations on one hand! My, how things have changed!

We now have versions that have eliminated all of the “impossibly difficult to pronounce words”. There are also versions that contain word for word translations of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek . We have Women’s,Men’s, Teens, Tweens, Children’s, Student’s, Leader’s, and New Believers Bibles.

Browsing online or through a Christian book store reveals a plethora of KJV,NKJV,ESV,NIV,NLT,NASB,HCSB,ISV, and about ninety other translations.

Confused yet? You should be.

Why do we have so many translations of the Bible when statistics show that only one in five Americans actually read the Bible? If we are to believe the data, it seems obvious that our attempts to make the Bible easier to read have largely been for naught.

Of course some will argue that if even one person is strengthened in their walk with Christ through reading one of the above mentioned Bibles it’s worth it, and I couldn’t agree more. I am thrilled that the Word of God is being presented in a manner so easily understood by the masses.

Yet somehow, the sheer volume of Bible translations hasn’t equated to stronger, faith filled Christians. How could they be, when the percentage of Bible reading is so low? Or as the Princess recently told me, just because man changes a lot of the words, man cannot change the heart.

Could it be that our focus is misdirected? Do you suppose that even with all of the available translations of the Bible we are still missing something?

I believe that we are. It’s a key component of our relationship with Christ, and it’s written on the very pages of the Bible we aren’t reading! Consider the following from  2nd Corinthians,chapter two:

1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

In his 2nd letter to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul has just revealed to us the key component I was referring to. Let me explain.

It is not excellency of speech, for Paul said that he didn’t come spouting great sounding words, nor did he come declaring his vast wisdom. He could have, but that wasn’t his focus.

He did not come to them bragging about all of his past accomplishments, or of his powerful connections. Again, he certainly could have done so, as his resume was filled with them. What he did profess however was the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His resurrection.

Paul did not speak as to appeal to the wisdom of men, though he certainly could have held his own with the brightest minds of his day. Being a master of the Law, Paul was well versed in all aspects of communication, yet he made no effort to appease the conscience of men.

What Paul brought was nothing that would appeal to the carnal nature of man. What he brought to Corinth was a demonstration of the Spirit and power of God.

This is what I believe to be the missing, key component in our relationship with Christ: the demonstration of God’s power.

All of the things that Paul did NOT do or bring to Corinth, we have in abundance today. We have some of the most highly educated and knowledgeable men and women to be found anywhere in the world standing in our pulpits today.

We have men and women so eloquent of speech as to be capable of painting a thousand virtual masterpieces with their great swelling words, all designed to appeal to our carnal nature.

Yet what we desperately lack is a demonstration of the power of God. Please understand what Paul was referring to by the “demonstration of the Spirit and power”.

He was referring to the power of the Spirit to heal the sick, save the lost, and yes, even to raise the dead. Real power. God power. The kind of power that has become nearly extinct in our day.

While publishers continue to pump out more and more new Bible translations that go largely unread, the Church starves for a demonstration of the real power of God.

I must ask though, how can God reveal Himself in power when we don’t even know Him as the God of the Word?

Why is this so important? Paul gives us the answer in the last verse, where he says “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God”.

Our faith, that precious commodity that we are to cherish and nurture as a precious gift, must not be in any man. No preacher, no pastor, certainly not a “pay for your blessing” televangelist. Paul declares that our faith should stand in the power of God.

As many of you know, in the hardest times of your life faith that is rooted in God will stand. Likewise, faith that is rooted in man will last only as long as the good times last. God’s power is infinite, and His supply has not diminished with the passing of time.

My prayer is that all who read this will commit their being to God,not man. That instead of running to the next conference or the next hot off the press translation, we will run instead to the Word of God.

Regardless of the translation.

Ron

 

The risk of telling the truth

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Have you ever been faced with the dilemma of either telling someone the truth and risking a relationship, or not addressing a particular situation and allowing that same person to continue living what is tantamount to a lie?

This can be a difficult, stressful situation to find yourself in. On the one hand you don’t want to lose a friendship, yet on the other hand to say nothing is even worse. It’s the “silence is consent” conundrum.

As a Christian, I believe we are to speak the truth in love. Always.

In fact, we are commanded to address sin for the purpose of restoring the one who has sinned.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”           Galatians 6:1

Confronting the sins, or faults, or transgressions of another is never easy because all of us are just as guilty of our own shortcomings. It is important then that when we approach someone who is struggling in a particular area of their lives, that we do so lovingly and with grace.

After all, our purpose in doing so must not be to judge or condemn, but to restore that person to a right standing relationship with God. That is God’s plan for all of us, isn’t it? To be reconciled to God is the sole purpose for Jesus Christ offering Himself on the cross.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,” II Corinthians 5:18

When we get right down to it, when we come to the end of our days, all that will matter is whether or not our hearts are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. And when you consider that we are dealing with eternal things, it really does matter!

We know however that not everyone receives correction, or restoration, because the heart becomes hardened to the effects of sin. It’s not that a person doesn’t know or understand that their choices are sinful, but rather that they willingly choose to do so.

“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17

To these individuals, speaking the truth in love can often seem futile. It can also be costly because the hearer may not reject just the correction, but you as well. And this is very difficult for us to accept because we do not understand why someone would not receive what we are offering to them in love.

“Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” Galatians 4:16

Many Christians are being falsely labeled today as “hate groups” because they do not subscribe to the worlds standards for living. Taking a biblical stand for example against homosexuality will get you labeled as a “hater”. The same goes for supporting only Biblical marriage between a man and a woman, along with everything else the world is trying to peddle as acceptable.

This is important, because the foundation has been laid by groups such as the SPLC to categorize all Bible believing Christians as intolerant bigots who must be silenced. While the Church has slumbered (yet again), the process to do just that has made great strides.

Telling the truth, especially the Biblical truth to a person is not hate at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. To say nothing to someone living a lifestyle that Scripture condemns is the opposite of love, for in doing so you have assisted them in continuing down the path to certain destruction.

To lovingly confront someone with Biblical truth however is love, for you are demonstrating to that person that you love them enough to risk a friendship or the relationship for the sake of restoring them to a right relationship with Christ.

How big of a risk taker are you?

Be blessed!

Ron

 

5 reasons why I don’t fear the future

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The daily barrage of  political upheaval, North Korean saber rattling, “end of the world proclaiming” Eclipse watchers, frequent terrorist attacks, and America’s insatiable appetite for anything that pleases the flesh has left many Christians wondering if it’s time to head for the hills and await the second coming.

I can understand why those who are not Christians would think this way. After all, they have placed their trust and hope in governments, science, military protection and the like, all of which offer little solace in the face of a continual sense of crisis.

For the Christian however, none of these things should move us. Should we be concerned at the magnitude of evil we are confronted with on a daily basis? Of course we should, we are human after all. Yet there is a huge difference between normal concern about the things going on around us and outright fear.

With all that said, I thought I would list five reasons (in no particular order) why I don’t fear the future.

1. My hope is not in this present world, but in a world where there exists a new heaven and a new earth.  “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”    II Peter‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭

2. Jesus has given us a clear road map of upcoming events, therefore nothing should surprise us.  Read Matthew 24 in its entirety. Then read it again.

3. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.  “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world“.   1 John 4:4

4. God has a plan for my life. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end“.  Jer. 29:11

5. God has me in the palm of His hand.   “The LORD is on my side;I will not fear.
What can man do to me?”   Psalms 118:6

So there you have it. Five simple reasons why I can lay my head down at night and not worry. I trust that everyone reading this can say the same thing.

For all of us who claim Christ as our Lord, we have a decision to make: either we believe God’s word is true or we don’t.

No fence sitting allowed!

Have a blessed day!

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

5 immutable facts about our Christian walk…

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There are many “non negotiables” concerning our covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. Here are five of them that should be required reading for us all.

“The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”
‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Determine in your heart to be faithful to the end….

Ron

“What will you do in the end?” Conclusion

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For those of you following along, I began this miniseries with a look at Jeremiah 5:30,31, which ends with God asking the children of Israel (through the prophet Jeremiah) “what will you do in the end?”

In the three previous posts I have attempted to provide enough information about the current state of affairs in America to hopefully get everyone to see the parallel between ancient Israel and America today. In my opinion, the similarities are almost unbelievable.

In today’s conclusion, I wish to show you that in spite of the ungodliness that has pervaded America; we can have both hope and confidence in Jesus Christ to not only see us through these tumultuous times, but cause us to flourish and prosper in them.

To the discerning Christian, it is evident that the breakdown of the moral fabric of our society is all part of God’s master plan for the times we are living in today. Notice I did not say that God caused this, or that it is His fault.

Oh no. What we are seeing here is history repeating itself, as in the sins of Israel and the subsequent consequences being repeated right here in America.

I am simply saying that scripture makes it very clear that before the return of Christ, lawlessness and chaos will be the norm (II Tim. 3:1, II Peter 3:3,). It does not take a trained theologian to understand that we are seeing this played out each and every day.

Indeed, what we are seeing is the beginning of the inevitable separation of the sheep and the goats. Of course, you may not agree with this and believe that eventually everything will return to normal. I believe however, that “normal” is gone forever.

But be all that as it may, I am reminded of Paul’s encouraging letter to the church at Thessalonica where he told them “not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come“.  II Thess. 2:2

Just as then, so it is today that our hope is rooted and grounded in the Lord Jesus, therefore we should not be shaken or troubled by the events we are seeing played out before us. Easier said than done? Not really! Our task is simply to keep our eyes on the prize.

Our hope cannot be placed in political parties and systems, or candidates who promise things impossible to fulfill. Our hope must be in the Lord Himself. Listen to the question that Jeremiah asked:

Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are you not he, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things”.  Jer. 14:22   ESV

Our Provider is none other than the Lord! Nations have always crumbled; none have endured because they have all forsaken the Lord at some point in their history. Only God is steadfast and unmovable. Why would we want to hold to anything but Him?

As I mentioned previously, we in America are horribly divided. Voices of every type and flavor are clamoring for our attention. Follow us. Follow them. Go this way. Go that way.

All of this reminds me of something that Joshua said when telling the children of Israel that they must make a choice about whom they would serve.

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”    Joshua 24:15   ESV

I believe that America has been presented with this very same dilemma today. Whom will we serve? Are we prepared to forsake all others in order to stand with Joshua and declare that as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord?

Or if we choose to serve another besides the Lord, are we prepared to answer the burning question:

But what will you do in the end“?

Be blessed and encouraged in His might!

Ron

 

 

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