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Continue in the things we have learned

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Unlike so many of you,I had little in the way of church,or religious training while growing up. I could count on both hands the number of times I went to church during those years,so to say I got a late start would be an understatement! Quite the contrast to my wife,the pastor’s daughter, whose earliest memories are of being in church!

During those early years I could never have imagined that one day God’s Word would become the bedrock of my life. Indeed,had God never drawn me to Him and instilled in me a deep hunger to know His Word,my life would have been unimaginably different.

As I gaze upon the events unfolding in the world I can’t help but pause to give God thanks that I am no longer the person I used to be,or the person I could have easily become. At this stage of my life,I now know more assuredly than I ever have before,that He and He alone has kept me from reverting back to that person I once was.

He has a plan for my life. And He has one for you too.

Listening to current events can be disturbing to even the most well grounded among us. For those not familiar with God’s Word,some of these events are actually frightening when you realize their potential implications.To those people,it must seem overwhelming watching the evening news.

The Apostle Paul knew something about this as well and even prophesied about it. In 2nd Timothy 3:2 he described the condition of the world in the latter days as a time when men would be lovers of themselves,boastful,proud,and a whole host of other not too pleasant things,most of which we are seeing unfold right before our eyes.

Yet this great Apostle knew something else about this,which was that irregardless of what was going on around us,we were to continue walking with Christ as though nothing was happening. He explained it this way:

10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,
11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.
12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.    II Tim 3:10-15   NKJV   (emphasis mine)

Paul tells us we must continue in the things we have learned,which brings me to the central point of this post. All of us must remind ourselves from time to time that our hope is sealed in Jesus Christ. The things we have learned through our studies of the scriptures have made us wise for salvation,meaning the Word of God will instruct us in all things necessary for our salvation.

Events taking place now in the world,and events to come in the future all have the ability to divert our attention away from the “things we have learned”. Our responsibility is to make certain that does not happen,which we can accomplish by following Paul’s advice to Timothy.

Have a blessed Wednesday,

Ron

Where is the Lord God of Elijah Today?

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Thinking of the Old Testament prophets,their ministries,their successes and failures has me wondering why we don’t see God show up today like He did back then.In light of the fact that (a) God never changes(Malachi 3:6) and (b) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever(Heb 13:8),it seems reasonable to ponder these things.

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Blueletterbible.com

I have heard it preached and taught that God just doesn’t move like that today.That God has a new covenant with us through His Son Jesus.

While I agree with that,it still doesn’t explain why we don’t see God moving in the powerful ways like we read about in His Word.Here is just one example.

From the Old Testament book of II Kings,chapter two,we read where the successor to the prophet Elijah,in this case a man named Elisha, takes the mantle,or cloak that fell from Elijah and smacks it upon the Jordan River.
No doubt expecting something miraculous he utters the quote “where is the Lord God of Elijah“?(II Kings 2:14),at which time the waters of the Jordan dried up and Elisha was able to pass over on dry land.We thus see that the prophetic ministry of Elijah was passed on to Elisha.

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Bibleencyclopedia.com

Now,given what I’ve already stated about God never changing,suppose we turn Elisha’s question around to read like this:”Where Are God’s Elijah’s Today”? If in fact we serve a God that changes not, it stands to reason that His power has not diminished with the passing of time.

So we can assume that God is still God,and that as God He can still do what He did hundreds or thousands of years ago.The reason then that we don’t see God performing the miraculous must lie elsewhere.

Of course,if you are a cessationist you believe that all miracles stopped long ago.That those things only happened for our admonition and pertained to the apostolic,or early church era.I do not share that view but believe that God was performing the miraculous long before there was a church,and it is His desire to do so today.

It is my contention however that the “Elijah’s of God”in our time have been derelict in their duties,resulting in a famine of the miraculous.Tough words indeed,and they hit home with me as well.

For certain,the word “miracle” is thrown around a lot today.Nearly every gospel crusade or event proclaims the presence of miracles.Just last night I listened to a man telling of the

incredible miracles taking place in Africa.They weren’t shown mind you,just talked about.

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Slideplayer.com

My minister brethren cringe when I say this,but I’ll go out on a limb here and say that 99.9% of Christians alive today have never seen a complete,instantaneous physical healing.

This must be one of the great tragedies of our time!

Many will take this lack of physical evidence and use it to make their case for cessasionism,however this reasoning is a scapegoat for our own lack of faith and is indicative of a culture of unbelief in our churches.

Far from being finished with performing the miraculous,I am of the persuasion that God still desires to work through His Church to do those things that only He can do.Perhaps a stumbling block to this is that we want the credit? Just a thought.

Over 2100 years ago God used another prophet to speak to the nations,specifically to this generation.This prophet’s name was Daniel,whom you may remember as being thrown into a den of hungry lions for refusing to bow to an ungodly decree.

This same Daniel had a message for the Church of our day that should cause all of us to think about whether or not the miraculous has ceased.This message is found in the book of Daniel,chapter eleven.

Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.  Daniel 11:32 NKJV

Daniel looked into the future and saw the Antichrist deceiving the people of earth.More importantly,he also saw God’s people as strong and doing great exploits.In other words,if you believe as I do that we are living in the last days before the return of Christ,we are to expect God to show up through His people(the Church) and do the miraculous.

I must admit that I do not know when God’s Elijah’s will show up on the scene.I believe many of them are alive today,perhaps waiting for the clarion call from on High to go forth.One thing I do know is this:when they show up and begin to do exploits, we will not have to wonder if they are real.

Maybe YOU are one of God’s Elijah’s.Perhaps something is stirring deep within your soul that is calling you,drawing you to a closer walk with the Lord.If so,I pray that you heed His call and begin to prepare yourself.

God is still God.In the past He always did what He said He would do.

I am expecting Him to continue this pattern. After all,He hasn’t changed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s wrong with telling the truth?

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Have you noticed that truth is something people do not like to hear? Why is that?

Do your children like it when you tell them the truth,as in “no,you cannot get into Harvard with those grades”? Does your spouse like it when you tell them “I’m sorry but we just can’t afford a vacation this year”?

Probably not,right?      bigstockphoto_Truth_1044622

There can be a sense of finality in the truth,a sense of “well,that’s the end of that”. And oh how do we not like that!

What’s more,why is it that when you do speak the truth to someone it seems as if you become their enemy? Is it because of this scripture becoming a reality to us: “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”  Gal 4:16 KJV

Have you ever lost a friend because you told them the truth? Ever lost a business associate or account,your job or position,your church? Well I have,and I can tell you that sometimes telling the truth can be costly,even though it shouldn’t be.

Truth is one of those things that used to be valued much more than it is today,and I think that we as a society are much worse off because we have devalued truth in favor of man’s opinions.

If you really think about this,truth is something that the carnal man rebels against because when you break it down we all want our way,don’t we? Truth is sort of like rules,and we all know how we feel about rules.The truth says “no you cannot”or “no it is not”. Humans don’t like that “NO” word,do we?

Truth is an absolute.It contains facts.It is irrefutable,even though we pay huge sums of money to people who argue that the truth isn’t really the truth.And as much as we might like to believe this,truth,like beauty, is not in the eye of the beholder.It is what it is.

Church is a place where truth reigns supreme.Or at least that’s how I see it.We teach the truth.We teach on the truth.We teach about the truth.Jesus Himself taught about truth during his entire earthly ministry.Here are just three examples of such teaching from the book of John:

John 14:6   Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth
John 8:32   And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free    (emphasis mine)
So if Jesus taught the truth,and based upon how many times truth is mentioned in the scriptures,what’s wrong with telling the truth? Why has telling the truth seemingly gone out of style in our society.And yes,in our churches as well?
I think it’s because we don’t like the finality of “truth”. Let’s face it-we want options,and truth doesn’t leave room for options.Our lack of desiring the truth has spawned a sub culture wherein lies and falsehoods have supplanted the truth to such an extent that most of us don’t even know what is truth and what is a lie.
The gospel message is one of truth and absolutes.There are no grey areas where the message of eternal life is concerned.The gospel contains no “half truths”. If it did it wouldn’t be the truth.Jesus did not leave any room for error in His message,and frankly it is not even open to debate.And I know most will not accept that statement.
Consider this statement from Christ as an one example: Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”   John 3:3 NKJV
Jesus spoke truth here.He did not say you might not see the kingdom unless you were born again,he stated he cannot see the kingdom unless he is born again. HUGE difference!This statement is non negotiable.It is not open to debate.It is not a point over which we can disagree.It is a truth.A Gospel truth.
I don’t know where you are in the great debate over truth.I only know that the Word of God is truth and as such that is my foundation. Everything else is measured against the Word.Many will call that narrow minded and if that is the case,then so be it.I refuse to measure truth by the world’s standards because they are ever changing.Not only that,but the world’s standards are pitifully inadequate to raise us up above our sinful condition.
Regardless of the cost truth is one thing that cannot be compromised,twisted,or distorted in order to fit the needs of society. To do so is to build our house on the shifting sands of opinion.
I’ll take the sure foundation of the Truth,regardless of the cost.How about you?
Ron

We only have ourselves to blame

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We only have ourselves to blame

For neglecting to educate this generation of Christians on the necessity of calling upon the name of the Lord.

  • instead,we have shown them that the church can be self sufficient
  • we have implemented one program after another designed to enlighten them to a mistaken reality that they can do anything for God while ignoring Him in the process
  • in short,we have become the Laodicean church of Revelation 

We only have ourselves to blame

For the church adopting the world’s viewpoint that the differences among generations is so vast that they must be afforded their own special status…

    • Mature/Silents

    • Baby Boomers

    • Gen. X

    • Gen. Y/Millennium

    • Gen. Z/Boomlets

In reality what we have done is create a culture in our churches that mirrors the existing culture in America,that all are special and therefore all require special needs in order to succeed. Indeed,the church has created it’s own fractured sub culture of generational divide. Which begs me to ask the question “how did the church ever survive two thousand years of history by just simply being the church”?

We only have ourselves to blame

For creating an “atmosphere of worship” in which our children have never personally witnessed the power of God demonstrated…

  • audio/visual presentations have supplanted the moving of the Spirit
  • personal prayer and fasting have become “seasonal” or special event promotions instead of guidelines for daily living
  • prayer for the sick and subsequent healing have all but disappeared

We only have ourselves to blame

For failing to impart the knowledge of the Lord to those coming up behind us…

  • we no longer mentor the next generation of church leaders,instead neglecting this time proven method in favor of techniques more suited to the secular world
  • our Christian universities and colleges are virtually indistinguishable from those of the world and are Christian in name only
  • we have provided learning environments where our children are ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth

We only have ourselves to blame

For the apostate condition of the church today. We have found our scapegoat in Satan himself! It has become all too convenient to blame our spiritual woes on the devil while the church slumbers and sleeps in it’s bed of complacency. All of this while the lost are leaving this world dammed for eternity.

We are drunken with the victim mentality of the world. It’s not my fault-others are to blame for my actions! Our spiritual senses have become dull, our ears no longer hear “what the Spirit says unto the churches”. We all like sheep have gone astray….

We only have ourselves to blameWe only have ourselves to blame

May God shake us from our slumber and cause us to see the condition we are in.

May He have mercy upon those of us who know better,yet disregard the pleading of the Spirit to repent of our sinful ways.

This is the message…..

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For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.   1 Jn 3:11  KJV

The message that was sent to a lost world.

To You and Me.

A message that is so easy to understand and yet so easy to willingly ignore. To love one another.

Love

An often overused word that can mean so many things to so many people.

All kinds of Love….love of food…love of sports…romantic love…love of family and friends…

Christian love….serving God…serving one another…preferring others before ourselves…selfless love…

The God kind of love…that doesn’t offend…that doesn’t hurt…that doesn’t demand…

That we should love one another“…

Over the past few years I have noticed a shifting away from this type of love in the church.

Yes…in the church.

“Christian love” has been replaced with a new type of “cultural love”. A type of love that really is not love because it does not extend beyond the word.It’s a new kind of “love” that doesn’t require anything of us other than to say the word. It goes something like this: church member Sally is desperate to know that someone,anyone from her church cares about her.She has endured sickness and turmoil in her home.She suffers from depression and anxiety.

She feels all alone

Her phone never rings.

Her doorbell never rings.

The mailman never brings her a card.

She needs the love of Christ extended towards her.

Sally faithfully attends services each Sunday.She’s still worshiping,still singing,still listening to the sermon.She’s doing her very best to stay engaged.Then it’s time to leave…

Martha shakes her hand and say’s “love ya” as she bounds towards the door to meet the others for lunch after church.Pastor Mike shouts to her “hey Sally we love you guys” as he runs after a staff member to remind them about something or other.

Easy love… Cultural love…Uncaring love…

Is this the message? Is this what it means to “love one another”?

Wait you say,you don’t understand.Everyone is so busy.

Uh huh. Too busy to love. Never too busy to talk about love.Too busy to show love.

If we know someone is in need what should our reaction be?

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 1 Jn 3:17-19 (emphasis mine)
I wonder…how will we give an answer for our inability to love one another in deed and in truth?
What excuse will we give to the King of Kings on the day that we stand before Him?
41“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  Mat 25:41-46 NKJV

This is the message….

I will accept no other, and neither should you.

Ron

There is But One Savior

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Your way. My way. Their way. All roads lead to the same place. It doesn’t really matter what you believe, as long as you believe something. There are good people in all churches, all religions.All you can do is your best and hope in the end it was good enough to get you “in”.

No doubt you’ve heard these words from well meaning people,both within and outside the church.Church folk especially seem to have developed their own unique brand of salvation based upon a mixture of theology,tradition,culture,values,etc…Internet forums and blogs are filled with posts and comments extolling the virtues of a common,or one world religion.And I suppose that if all that mattered was what man thought then the idea of your own plan of salvation is likely all that’s needed.After all, one man’s idea is as good as the next right?

But here’s the problem: it isn’t up to us.We are not in charge.We don’t make the rules.In spite of so many voices clamoring to be heard that we are in control of our own destinies,we are not..We are all flawed. and yes, we are all weak. Truth is, we are not “little gods” and we are certainly not God.

We need a Savior.There it is.We cannot save ourselves.When we come to the end of our days and when it matters most…we are helpless to save ourselves.We need a Savior.Enter Jesus.

In John 14:6 we read “I am the way,the truth, and the life.No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus is not someone who merely points to the way; He is the Way.No church,ceremony or tradition can be that way. He is the Way.

Hosea recorded it this way:“Yet I am the Lord your God.Ever since the land of Egypt,and you shall know no God but Me;for there is no savior besides Me.      Hosea 13:4

Jesus is the Savior. He alone is the Way to salvation. Look to Him who is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
 
Be blessed,
Ron