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“Many are the afflictions of the righteous”…

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No doubt many of you recognize those words as part of the 34th Psalm. The entire text reads as follows:

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all”. [1]

This particular Psalm has been a great encouragement to me through the years, especially during those difficult seasons that we all go through from time to time.

I find it very comforting to know that the God of the Bible would have such a vested interest in us, and my personal observations through these many years of serving the Lord reveal that He is indeed still a Deliverer of His people.

This Psalm speaks to me in many ways. In it, David states that the righteous are afflicted not once, twice, or even three times, but he says that our afflictions are many.

In other words, David seems to be suggesting that afflictions and trials are to be expected. This aligns perfectly with what the Apostle Peter meant when he said “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you”; [2]

I can almost hear many of you say “Amen” to that!

The issues, or afflictions we deal with are as diverse and complex as we ourselves are. What may be an obstacle or hinderance to one may scarcely get another’s attention, while others of us may feel as though we are being made to pass through the fire, so great is the affliction.

I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping things in their proper perspective, which is why Peter said that we shouldn’t think it strange when we are afflicted, as if perhaps there were something wrong with us or with our relationship with the Lord.

The key issue here is that we not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the afflictions and issues of this life. Easy for me to say, right? You may be thinking that I have no idea what you have been through or are currently going through.

And you would be 100% correct.

What I do know however is that God will deliver you. The Bible declares that God will deliver His children out of all afflictions. Notice that there is no provision made for the severity or frequency of the affliction. “All” in this case simply means all.

I recently had the opportunity to address this subject when I was invited to preach at a local church. On this particular Sunday, I felt strongly that I should speak on the topic of “Overcoming Through Faith and Hope”. In this message, I shared some of these very same thoughts about how that God will deliver us if we will call upon Him.

I also pointed out that the trials and afflictions we endure actually serve a Divine purpose. As Christians, we must understand that while there are times when things happen in a seemingly random fashion, usually when we are in a difficult trial there is a greater purpose.

You see, God uses these as a means of increasing our dependence upon Him. He uses them to mold us and to shape us into the person he has destined we become. Much like the blacksmith uses a forge and a heavy hammer to bend, twist, and shape a raw piece of steel into something useable, so it is with the Lord.

Of course, none of us are likely to say how much we enjoy this process, are we? I know I don’t! After all, I don’t like being pulled out of my comfort zone any more than you do!

Being tested, tried, afflicted, or whatever you wish to call it is all a part of the process of dying to SELF. It is a necessary, albeit sometimes painful road that all of God’s children must walk.

There is great joy in this journey however, because the Lord will deliver you out of all of the afflictions and trials that come your way.

Be blessed and encouraged, because Jesus is Lord!

Ron

 

[1] Psalm 34:19 NKJV

[2] 1 Peter 4:12  NKJV

Being a difference maker

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Have you ever been in a place where you desperately needed to hear a word of hope or encouragement from a friend, family member, or pastor but all you heard were crickets? Something tells me that most of you have been in such a situation. It’s not a good place to be in, is it?

I’ve been that person so many times that I’ve lost count. I’ve paced the floor from midnight to dawn all while asking the Lord “why doesn’t anyone care enough to help me”? I have been so broken that I nearly convinced myself that there was no hope for me. Seriously, when your every waking thought centers around the hopelessness of your situation, you are in a dark, dark place.

I’ll never forget going to a “friend’s” house one day, desperate for friendship, a ray of hope, or just a kind word. Instead of being on the receiving end of any of the above, I spent the next two hours listening to his problems and encouraging him. I actually left there in worse shape then when I arrived, and I certainly didn’t think that was possible!

I imagine that some of you have been there as well, haven’t you?

There is a silver lining to this sad tale however. Through it all I have learned that when help is nowhere to be found, look again. You are never far from help if you look to Jesus. If you look for him, he WILL be found! Pace the floor all night long if you feel you need to, but please realize that it is not necessary.

I have learned that our God is faithful to sustain us no matter how dark or bleak our world may appear to be. As a matter of fact, scripture teaches us that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”(Psalm 46:1). The enemy of our soul would love to plant the seeds of doubt in our hearts and minds that God cares about us, but the Word of God declares that He is our helper!

There is something else that has come out of all of this, a lesson I wish to pass on to all of you. I have determined that whatever people did not do for me in my time of need, I cannot allow that to prevent me from helping others. What was is gone forever, but tomorrow is a new day, offering hope through the power of the risen Savior.

All of us need to be the difference maker in someone’s life. That’s why we’re here after all. That’s why God saved us from our sins, to be Jesus to someone in desperate need.

Have a blessed day!

Ron

Gems from Proverbs

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Today I thought I would share with my readers a few choice verses from one of my favorite chapters in Proverbs, chapter eighteen.

The Hebrew term mashal, which is translated as “proverb”, means a “parable” or a “wise saying”. Just in case you are not familiar with the book of Proverbs, it is an Old Testament book written by Solomon and other wise men, or “sages” of that era.

These wise men were gifted with both Godly wisdom and counsel, and their writings touch upon the practical and spiritual issues of life. Personally, I find the Proverbs to contain some of the best teaching and Godly counsel to be found in the entire Bible.

So with that being said, here are a few of my favorite verses from Proverbs chapter eighteen. I wonder how many of you will also find comfort and encouragement in these words of wisdom?

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.   Prov. 18:10

I’m sure I could never begin to count the times I’ve ran to the Lord for shelter and comfort from the storms of life. His name exemplifies strength and power!

The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge,
And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.   Prov. 18:15

The study of God’s word is a lifetime endeavor. Wisdom and knowledge do not come to those who approach the Lord with arrogance and a prideful heart. Wisdom and knowledge are earned…they are not given!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.   Prov. 18:21

What comes out of our mouth has eternal implications. Do you know that the words our tongue produces reveal what is in our heart? Words of hatred and evil have the power of death in them, while words of kindness and love have the power of life in them.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord.   Prov. 18:22

I could have written this verse! I know I’ve found a good thing in my Princess. As a matter of fact, I’ve found my best thing in her!

A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.   Prov. 18:24

Yes, there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Many people believe that to be their BFF. For me personally, that friend is called Jesus.

These are just a few of the verses in Proverbs 18 that really speak to me. What are some of your favorite verses?

Have a blessed Lord’s day!

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

There really is an answer

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As we approach this particular Christmas season, I am more thankful than ever that my hope is found in the Lord Jesus instead of man. Today, what should be the happiest, most thankful and appreciative time of the year, sadly has been polluted with an endless stream of negativity from across America.

Instead of messages of hope, encouragement, and gratitude, which the people are desperate to hear, what we are getting instead is commentary and dialogue filled with hate, vengeance, and vitriol of every imaginable type.

Seriously, is there any wonder that so many have given up hope, or are on the brink of throwing in the towel? What we are being inundated with is EXACTLY why the Apostle Paul said this:

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  Colossians 3:2

In other words, Paul is telling us to focus our attention on those things that are eternal, not on those things that will one day pass away. And yes, the day is fast approaching when whatever is not anchored in God will be destroyed.

When I hear the TV commentators’ rail on and on about this or that, I sometimes shake my head in disbelief. How incredibly foolish it is to allow yourself to become so angry, even to the point of violence, over something that has no eternal value!

According to the Bible, there is coming a day when governments will no longer exist. No Democrats, no Republicans, no Independents, nothing. When Jesus comes again, he alone will rule, and he will be a party of One.

If only there was a way for this world to take a step back, take a deep breath, and rejoice for the blessings we do have!

The entire world should be rejoicing today because we are about to celebrate the birth of the Son of God. A birth like none other before or after. A birth that ultimately paved the way to reconciliation between God and man.

If that doesn’t get you fired up for Jesus, I don’t know what will!

I have no reason to succumb to hate today. I have no reason to be overwhelmed by the ills of society. I am not living as one in despair of tomorrow. The things of this earth have zero impact on my eternal destiny!

Because of Jesus Christ I am a new creature in Him. The old man has passed into oblivion, and a new man has risen to take his place. This is the message that the world needs to hear!

Since man’s fall in the Garden, he has lived a life far short of what his Creator intended for him to live. Because of that original sin, the world today bears the burden of rejecting God.

Yet the Good news, no, the Great News is that there really is an answer to the sin that plagues society.

That answer appeared two thousand years ago in a little town called Bethlehem, just six miles south of Jerusalem. That is where God sent the antidote for sin.

May we once again fix our eyes on that brightest of all stars, because just as that star led the wise men to the baby Jesus, it also serves as the answer for all of man’s problems today. There is a reason that the phrase “Jesus is the reason for the season” is so impactful.

It’s because He and He alone is the answer!

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

Substitute Preacher…

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As I mentioned in my last post, this past week I have been filling in for my Pastor, who is taking a few days off for some much needed rest.

Since we have both Wednesday evening and Sunday morning services at our church, I needed to prepare two different messages, and when you add in hospital visitation it was a busy week.

Well, not that busy, but busier than what has become my new normal since retirement.; )

If you’ve never done something like this, it is both exhilarating and somewhat frightening, especially if you’ve been “out of the saddle” for awhile. It also helps a great deal to know that there are people praying for you, and I sincerely appreciate those of you who lift me up in prayer.

A lot of prayer and study time is necessary to deliver God’s word effectively, at least that’s how it is for me. I understand that many ministers preach from a sermon outline they’ve purchased online, and many simply purchase an entire sermon series which they then tweak to fit their needs.

I decided long ago however that I could not do it this way, preferring instead to spend time in the Word and in prayer in order to hear from the Lord as to what He would have me to deliver to the congregation.

This is not something I take lightly, and I approach it as if the Lord Himself were listening. Which, of course, He is.

As it turned out, it was well worth the effort, and I am happy to report that both messages were received with a lot of sincere enthusiasm, and many reported to be encouraged and strengthened.

I count it a privilege to be able to pray with people who have been broken by the cares of this life. Hearing them pour out their hearts to God, and to be able to pray and weep with them is an honor I do not take lightly.

It is humbling to be reminded that the Lord will still use a willing vessel, and I am thankful for the drive and passion for ministry He has instilled in me.

Sensing the presence of God was just icing on the cake, and that makes it all worthwhile for me.

Have a great Monday everyone!

Ron

 

 

 

He That Has Ears to Hear…

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He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches“.

Seven times in the first three chapters of Revelation, we read this particular phrase following a personal message from the Lord to each of the seven churches in Asia Minor.

 

Seven_churches_of_asia_1

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Jesus had a unique, personal message to deliver to each of these churches. To one was sent a message of encouragement, while to another a message of strong rebuke.

A couple of churches were admonished because they tolerated the teaching of a false gospel. Still another church was told to strengthen the things that remain,because they were about to die.

Whatever their unique situation was, Jesus called them out to receive his special message. Along with the message was the admonition to hear what the Spirit was saying to them. In other words, listen up because I’ve got something important to say to you!

Listening to the Spirit of God is something that receives a lot of emphasis in the church today. Rather than trusting in the sufficiency of scripture, many believe that God is speaking to them by using other means of doing so.

This is part of the reason why there are over 40,000 Christian organizations today. Everyone is hearing from God (they say), yet everyone is hearing something radically different!

Umm..is God the author of all this confusion? Nope!

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.       1st Cor. 14:33

Of course, we understand that God can and does speak to us in many ways. But here’s the kicker: God will never speak to you in any way, shape, or form that contradicts Scripture.

So that we’re clear on this, I’ll say again: if you believe God has impressed upon you, given you a dream or a vision, or communicated to you by any other method something that is not in agreement with Scripture, you have been deceived.

Which brings me to the gist of this particular post. Why is it that Christians are so willing and able to hear the enemy’s voice, to accept it without question, yet struggle to hear what thus says the Lord?

For example: according to Genesis 1:26-27, we are taught that we have been created in the image of God. No evolving from a blob. No crawling from the depths of the ocean. Created, formed, and fashioned in the image of God. Psalm 139:14 also says that we “are fearfully and wonderfully made“.

fearfully and wonderfully madeConsider for just a moment the complexity of our physical bodies. In all of the world there is nothing so incredibly amazing as the human body, a fact that speaks to the power and might of the Creator. Every aspect of our bodies, all the way down to the cellular and DNA level, paints a picture of just how fearfully and wonderfully they are made.

In spite of this, there are a number of Christians that question, that doubt, and just outright don’t believe this. This same group of “doubting Thomas’s” however appear to have no problem believing the devil when he whispers to them that they are stupid, ugly, worthless, and altogether unlovable.

I know so many Christians living in or near defeat because they have bought the outright lies of Satan. Always discouraged, almost depressed, little joy, even less hope. How in the world does this line up with the Abundant Life Jesus promised in John 10:10?

It bears repeating: why is it that some Christians are so willing and able to hear the enemy’s voice, to accept it without question, yet struggle to hear and receive what thus says the Lord?

Has society conditioned us to accept the negative as normal and forgo any hope of the positive? Does a negative confession seem more natural than a positive confession? If so, we are spending far too much time listening to the wrong voices.

I know a better way!

Maybe it’s high time we put on our spiritual eyes and ears and begin again to see and hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The Word of God, after all, is the Word of LIFE!

He who has an ear, let him hear!

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

Is today the day?

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

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

Words of…

  • encouragement
  • hope
  • promise
  • courage
  • faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ron

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