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The Law of Love

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I thought I would pass along a little nugget from God’s word tonight regarding what many refer to as the Law of Love, taken from the Beatitudes as recorded in Luke 6. I hope it will be both a blessing and a source of encouragement to you.

After Jesus had come down from a mountain where he had spent the entire night in prayer, he encountered a multitude of people from Judea, Jerusalem, and the entire region that were afflicted by all types of sickness, as well as demon possession.

When Jesus had finished healing them all, he proceeded to teach them about a type of love that none of them had ever heard about. It was a love based upon giving instead of receiving, a concept that was just as strange to these people as it is to many of us today.

Beginning in Luke 6:27 and continuing through verse 36, Jesus begins teaching them about loving their enemies, doing good to those who hated them, and being merciful.

He tells them to bless them that curse you, give to any that ask of you, love those that don’t love you, and lend expecting nothing in return.

This, my friends, is the Law of Love.

Give yourself away. Pour into others. Do not be a taker, but a giver.

If there ever was a time when the church needed to rise up and give itself away, it is today.

Give your heart to the lost. Give your heart to the poor. Give your heart to the downtrodden. Opportunities to give of your heart are everywhere.

You might say there’s an endless supply of these ‘opportunities’. A local nursing home, for example is a prime opportunity to share our heart. So is the after school program in your local school district.

GIVE

I have often heard it said by Christians that we cannot out-give God. The meaning behind this is that the more we give of our finances to the Lord’s work, the more He blesses what we give and adds to it.

I have no doubt that this principle is factual because I have seen it with my own eyes many times. The manner in which God multiplies our efforts is nothing short of amazing.

Our heart however, is something we hold onto and guard carefully. When it comes to the type of love Jesus is referring to here, it’s all about the heart, not the wallet. And while it is true finances are needed to carry on the work of the ministry, a heart that is open to the touch of God is of much greater value to the Kingdom.

I encourage you to reacquaint yourself with Luke 6:27-36. You never know what the Lord might stir up in your heart as a way of ministering to others.

I’m grateful for all of you who read this. I trust the Lord will meet with you in a special way.

RonC

 

 

 

 

It’s never over until He says it’s over!

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Like most of you, my life has had its share of defining moments.

Whether it was accepting Jesus as my Savior, finishing school, getting married, buying a house, losing my dad when I was only 12, memorable vacations, landing a good job and having a successful career, all of these and more are defining moments in my life.

There is yet another defining moment, one that took place exactly nineteen years ago today, that I want to mention in this blog.

Very early on a Monday morning 19 years ago, my wife and I drove to the hospital where I was scheduled to have open heart surgery.

A few months prior to this, on my daughter’s second birthday, I had suffered a massive heart attack while mowing the lawn. Subsequent procedures, rehab, and medications failed to keep my arteries open, and we were faced with the dim reality that surgery was the only option left.

A lot of things go through your mind when you are facing something of this magnitude. For one thing, while open heart surgery has become a normal procedure these days, there is nothing normal about it when it’s you that is going to be operated on.

Emotions, if left unchecked, will get the best of you and leave you in a constant state of panic and fear. Of course, all of this is very normal, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they are not being honest with you.

As best as I can remember, there were about three weeks between the time I was told I had to have surgery and the day I actually went to the hospital for the procedure.

During those three weeks you have to undergo a battery of tests and procedures, none of which do anything to allay the fears that creep into the mind. Actually, by the time they finish all of these tests, you just want to have the surgery and get it over with.

People that know that I had open heart surgery generally will ask one of two questions.

1. How were you able to overcome the fear of such a serious surgery?

2. If you are a Christian that believes God still heals today, why didn’t God heal you so you didn’t have to have the surgery?

The answer to the first question is that God gave me a peace that passes all understanding about the situation. It’s hard to explain to non-believers, but driving to the hospital that morning I had no fear.

How is that possible? It was because I knew that no matter what happened, I was completely in God’s hands. If I did not come through the surgery, I was going to be in His presence for all of eternity.

If I did come through, I knew that God wasn’t done with me yet. So how could I lose? How could I not be at peace knowing that I was safe and secure in the Father’s arms?

Now, to be sure, my wife was very fearful of me not coming through the surgery. After all, we had only been married three years and we had a two year old baby. What wife and mother wouldn’t be scared?

That does not mean that she didn’t have any faith. Quite the contrary! My wife has more faith than any person I know, and literally trusts God for everything.

The way that I answer the second question is because God chose not to miraculously heal me. Could He have? Of course he could have! He is God after all. But He chose not to. And whether you believe this or not, I was OK with his decision.

Would I have rather He instantly healed me? You better believe I would have preferred that to the surgery. I may be crazy, but I’m not that crazy!

In case you haven’t noticed, Christians die every day from one type of disease or another. Can anyone quote the chapter and verse from the Bible that says Christians will live long, illness free lives, and die peacefully in their sleep at a ripe old age?

Didn’t think so!

The fact is that God is Sovereign. He is in control. He orders our footsteps, not us. It is God who exalts and also brings low. In short, our lives are not our own, but His to do with as he pleases.

That is a bitter pill for many to swallow, and I have learned that submission to God’s will is a lifelong process. You don’t wake up one morning and suddenly say “from this day forward I will submit every part of my life to the Lord”.

It just doesn’t work that way. Getting to the place where we trust God with our very lives comes from the daily experience of learning to trust the Lord that He alone knows what is best for our lives.

Coming through open heart surgery changes a person in several ways. There are the physical benefits of course, but there is also a change that takes place in the inner heart because now you know an attribute of God that may have been hidden from you before.

You now know God as Faithful in a way that goes far beyond words. And because you know Him as Faithful, you know that there is nothing that He cannot do for you.

These past nineteen years have been years of great joy, moments of severe testing, times of rejoicing, and yes even occasions of despair. Through them all however, God has been faithful to stand by us. I cannot think of a single time that I have felt as if God did not have my life in His hands.

Maybe you are facing the trial of a lifetime. Maybe fear has gripped your heart and panic rules the day. Maybe events from your past haunt you with the torment that you will never be free of them. Maybe the defining moments of your life have left you battered, broken, and helpless.

If this is you, I’ve got good news for you. It’s not over until He says it’s over! You are still standing. You may have been knocked down but you are not counted out.

There is still life to live, victories to cherish, mountains to conquer, and enemies to defeat all because God has you in the palm of His hands.

Nineteen years ago today there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding my life. Would I live or die? If I lived, what kind of life would I be able to have? Would I ever be the same again?

Praise God I am alive and well today to say that God is Faithful to sustain us and keep us. It is true, I cannot do some things as well as I used to. Part of that is heart related and part of it is the normal aging process all of us deal with.

I choose to focus however on what I can do, not what I cannot do. God has chosen to keep me around and as long as I am here, I will give Him praise and thanks for the wonderful life I have been blessed to live.

It’s not over until he says it’s over. My life, as well as your, is not and will not be defined by illness or weakness. God brought me through then and He will bring me through tomorrow!

Be blessed everyone,

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll take the prayer of faith any day…

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I was recently made aware of someone that has been dealing with some on-going health issues. It was nothing catastrophic, but serious enough nonetheless.

I made inquiries about their present condition and was told “They’re hanging in there”. Not sounding very convincing, I asked again and was told “They’ll be alright”. Still not convinced, I decided to probe a bit deeper as to how they were really doing.

The person proceeded to say “well, they don’t like to profess anything negative”. Of course, I immediately recognized this as classic word of faith (WOF) teaching because one of their beliefs is that your words have creative power, and you can bring negative things into your life just by speaking them.

My response? I told them that I believed in professing the TRUTH, in telling it like it is. If I feel great I’ll say so. If I feel sick I will say so. Saying “I don’t like to profess anything negative” doesn’t do one thing to mask the pain and discomfort when that’s what I’m feeling.

If you want to drill down to it, it’s actually dishonest to do this!

I’m paraphrasing here, but WOF adherents believe that if you speak positive things like blessings and prosperity, blessings will be coming your way shortly. However, speak anything they interpret as being negative such as pain, disease, or sickness, and bad things are coming upon you.

Now, the purpose of this post is not to do a comparative analysis of all that’s wrong with WOF theology. I simply want to point out that the scriptures do not teach what the WOF adherents believe as it pertains to sickness or disease. For example:

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.   James 5:14-16

James is recognizing that there are sick people among the congregation. Why didn’t he launch into the benefits of positive confession if indeed that is all that is required? Or why didn’t he scold the people for confessing negative things like sickness, or for their apparent lack of faith?

Instead, James says to call for the elders of the church to pray for the sick. He did NOT say to call for the elders to speak a positive confession over them. He told them to pray a prayer of faith.

Could it be that James knew what he was talking about? Well, I’d like to believe he did! While James apparently did not become a believer until after the resurrection1, he had no doubt seen the power of prayer up close and personal.

What he did NOT see was a Sermon on the Mount about the benefits of a positive confession. Nor did he ever see Jesus admonish a grief stricken parent for their lack of faith, or for speaking negative words.

What he DID see however was the power of prayer in action.

And that my friends, trumps a positive confession any day of the week!

Be blessed!

Ron

1 John 7:5, Acts 1:14, 1 Corinthians 15:7, Galatians 1:19

He’s All I Need

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Have you ever struggled with something that was so much bigger than you that it seemed like a hopeless situation?  Perhaps the better question for many of us would be not if we have such a situation, but  how many of those types of situations are we struggling with!

Lets face it, in this world everybody is dealing with something. The size of the “something” might differ with us, but we all have our battles to fight.

But I love how the Word always seems to have just the right nugget for the particular situation we’re dealing with. Take the everyday battles we all endure, don’t they make you weary at times?  They sure do that to me.

That’s why I love the following:

Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.

My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalms 73:25-26

The Lord understands that we don’t have an endless supply of strength and energy. Our strength runs out,and to be honest we can get weary in our hearts and spirit as well. In fact, throwing in the towel might not seem like the worst option at times!

To offset our weaknesses, God takes over and gives us the necessary strength to keep going. You know how we know when God takes over? It’s when we sense His peace in the midst of the storm. That’s right,God doesn’t always remove the problem,but he is faithful to walk beside of us in the midst of it all.

Many of us have prayed for certain things such as healing, restoration, peace of mind, etc.,only to see the situation either not resolved or perhaps grow more serious. This leads us to ask one of those “questions of the ages”…

“Lord, why aren’t you answering my prayers. Are you not even hearing me?”

This can be one of the most disheartening things to deal with as a child of God, these unanswered prayers. What are we to do when we’ve done all we can do, when we’ve followed the script and still get no answer?

Well, I can tell you what one of the greatest men of the bible did when he was facing a similar situation. The Apostle Paul had a physical issue, exactly what it was remains a mystery, but the fact is he had a physical issue and he had prayed three times for healing.

And got nothing in return. No healing. Nothing.

Has that ever happened to you? I’ve lived it myself, and I’m pretty sure most of you have as well. We pray and pray, we do our best to believe and not waver in our faith, and boom! Nothing happens.

So what about the great Apostle Paul? This man prayed for many others and saw them healed. Why on earth did God not heal him?

Lets see what Paul himself had to say about this.

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.”

“And He said to me,“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  II Cor. 12: 7-9

Paul prayed three times for healing. Perhaps you’ve prayed hundreds of times more than that without an answer?  The truth is, Paul did receive an answer, it just wasn’t the one he was expecting.

Jesus told Paul that His grace was sufficient for his situation, and that His strength was made perfect in our weakness. Please don’t brush this off with a “well, some consolation that is”!

If we will learn to trust Him in all things, His grace will be enough to see us through. No one can adequately express why God doesn’t answer our prayers in the manner we ask Him to. Countless theologians have tried and failed. The truth is we want what we ask for.

Aren’t we like that in all things? We want it our way, and we want it now.

God however, doesn’t operate on our schedules. Well, at least He doesn’t on mine. He is not tied to a calendar or a clock, and it is for certain that His ways are higher than our ways. Meaning, it is futile to try and understand the why’s and how’s of God’s doings.

The one thing we can do however is accept that His grace is sufficient for our every need. Accept that when I’m weak, His strength takes over.

Acknowledge that He is all you need.

Be blessed,

Ron

Anoint Me Lord

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On Sunday my wife Debbie sang a beautiful Vicki Yohe song entitled “Anoint Me Lord”. If you’ve never heard this song before, I highly recommend giving it a listen.

The message this song conveys is one of asking the Lord to equip us for His service. So often if we aren’t careful, the life we live as Christians can easily become one where it’s more about us than Him. How easily it can turn into being about us being served, rather than us serving Him.

I think about how our vision becomes blurred at times, clouded by the cares and responsibilities of this life. Before we know it, it’s happened to each of us and we are no longer able to focus on the really important things.

That is when God has to pull us back and remind us that when he saved us, He had a greater purpose in store for us than to sit by and watch others struggle along their way.

You see, you weren’t called of God to become just another member of the “frozen chosen” club, but to be Salt and Light in the lives of others.

““You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16

May we all fully realize that God has called us to win others, and to shine our lights upon a world groping in gross darkness, that the people might see that there is a great Light in the midst of such darkness.

Anoint Me Lord by Vicki Yohe

Here I am again Lord, Asking for more
Fill me up completely, With the anointing oil
Not only my head, But every part of me
I’m yielded and humbly thine, A servant to thee

Anoint me Lord this day, As I go along my way
Let my life send forth a glow, Let the oil around me flow
Anoint me Lord, This day I pray
Amen

Broken hearts and lives, Can be mended anew
Just with one touch, Dear Lord from you
Let the oil and the wine, Bring healing divine
To every wounded soul, Let it overflow

 

“I want God to heal me,but…”

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I still remember hearing someone say those exact words to our pastor. A young man from church had been injured at work, and the pastor had asked him if he would like the church to pray for him according to James 5:14.

Now, the first reaction would normally be to answer “YES” to having the church pray for you, especially if you are in pain and unable to work. Especially if that was the norm for your church!

That would be the normal reaction.

That wasn’t, however, the reaction of the young man who was injured. His response was “well, I want God to heal me, but I’m expecting a big check from the state Workers Compensation and I don’t want to jeopardize that”.

Like most of us in the congregation, the pastor was stunned at his response. Quickly regaining his composure, the pastor said something along the lines of “well, let’s pray that God will heal you and that you will get the money you are anticipating”. I mean, what else could he say at that point?

What would your reaction have been?

Is it not strange how we say we want God, but we really don’t? On one hand we say we want God’s blessings, but sometimes our actions say we want them if

I guess it isn’t just kid’s “that say the darnedest things”, but do we really think about the things we say?

What does this say about us and about our relationship with the father? I think it says that we think way too highly of ourselves for one thing. Or it could say that we are confused as to who serves whom.

This attitude is reminiscent of one that appeared long ago in a garden somewhere. Remember the Garden of Eden, when Satan tempted Eve? Satan told Eve that if she would eat of the forbidden fruit her eyes would be opened and she would be like God. Even though God had been explicit in His instructions to Adam & Eve, they decided to roll the dice.

How did that work out for them?

There is an interesting dilemma in the church today, this idea that we can bargain, or negotiate with God. Of course, we’ve all heard or known of people who have said “Lord, if you will do such and such, I’ll serve you”. That’s not at all unusual.

However, we seem to have taken this thought process a step further when we say that we want God’s blessings, “but”…Are you or I in a position to negotiate with the Almighty?

This mindset is further proof that we are living in the time that Paul said would come where “men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful.…” (II Tim 3:2-5).

The young man at the beginning of this story, what happened to him? Well, he got his big check and spent it on all kinds of “stuff”. He did not however, receive his healing. It’s also interesting to note that he has not worked since those events of 25 years ago.

Oh, and lest you think this story was one that couldn’t possibly be repeated, you would be wrong. Just three years ago I had a lady from another church tell me nearly the same thing. She was also receiving compensation for a work related injury and was therefore hesitant to be prayed for.

What is it that you need from God? Healing? Finances? Hope? Comfort? Encouragement?

If we need something from our Heavenly Father, we cannot be double minded about it. When we come to the throne, we must ask in faith, with no doubting. The Bible tells us that we who are double minded are unstable in all our ways and we will receive nothing! (James 1:6-8).

Whatever your need this day, don’t try to bargain with God. Simply come to Him and make your needs known to Him. He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Perhaps you are questioning whether or not God will hear your prayer,or whether or not you are “good enough”. If that’s you, I’d like to leave you with this verse to meditate on:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out.   John 6:37

Have a blessed Lord’s day!

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.

20130123_ot_prophets

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.

elijah_in_chariot_1187-64

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.

slide_23

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.