Home

The Perspective of Time

2 Comments

“What a difference a day can make”.I’ve heard that remark so many times through the years.

Imagine the difference then that a few years can make. That’s what I was thinking the other day as I read several chapters in the book of Job. As I began reading it dawned on me that I had neglected this Old Testament book for quite some time.

I always loved it’s beautiful descriptors of the battle of “good vs.evil”,Satan vs. God. It always seemed that no matter how hard Satan tried to discredit God,the faithfulness of God always prevailed.It was great to reconnect with this old,familiar book.

Now,for those of you who are not familiar with the book of Job,it is often regarded as one of the greatest studies of the human response to suffering.More importantly,it is a study of trust.If the reader will carefully study the book of Job,he or she will see the subject of trust come to the forefront as Job ultimately concludes that God is just and righteous.

Many people who read this book quickly form the opinion that God is not fair,that He was unjust in allowing an upright man such as Job to suffer. This is understandable, considering the Biblical description of Job is as a man that was “pure and upright,and one who feared God and turned away from evil”.

I believed that myself,long ago. Just like I believed that God was not fair because He refused to allow Moses to enter the promised land because of one mistake. Boy did I ever struggle with that one!

Just like I believed that God was not fair when tragedy struck my own life. Just like you may be thinking right now concerning a situation you are dealing with. We all want to shout aloud “how can a God of love allow this to happen” at times,don’t we?

Can I tell you something that time has taught me about the “fairness” of God?

Unlike God,we lack the ability to see the future. The hear and now is our dwelling place,and we are forced to deal with life as it comes. That includes those things we identify as unfair.

Just like Job,we cannot see the end of the trial while we are in the midst of it. But He can,which is why we must learn to be slower to question the “fairness” of God. Remember,God always has a plan where you are concerned. And that includes the trials you go through. Coincidence is not in His vocabulary.

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)

The perspective of time has taught me the deeper meaning of this present life being a place of preparation for the eternal one that is to come. Time has taught me that God knew all along what he was doing when he permitted Job to be attacked by Satan,that he knew what he was doing when he refused to allow Moses to enter into the promised land.

That he knew all along what he was doing when he allowed me to walk through the fire,instead of quenching it first.

Nothing takes God by surprise. Nothing.

The perspective of time has taught me to trust God. To trust the refining process that all of us are going through. To trust that while I may not understand the things that have happened to me,or the things I am presently enduring,He does.

To a child of God,this is enough. If we’re faithful,the perspective of time will teach us this principle.

Have a blessed day,

Ron

Continue in the things we have learned

2 Comments

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

How to choose between the wide and the narrow:part 3

3 Comments

In my previous two posts I’ve talked about the Narrow Gate and the Wide Gate,and how one leads to life and the other leads to destruction.

I’ve talked about who the “many” are that are heading towards destruction,as well as who the “few”are that are on the pathway to life.

I’m going to conclude this simple little study in this post by explaining how we can be certain we are choosing the Narrow Gate that leads to life.

So, how do we correctly choose between the Wide Gate and the Narrow Gate? I’ve thought long and hard about this, not wanting to offer up a great theological dissertation, yet at the same time not wanting to minimize what I believe to be the greatest decision you will ever make.

So at the risk of being guilty of over simplification, here goes:

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Wait…that’s it? That’s the key to choosing right verses wrong? That’s how I choose the Narrow Gate?

Can it really be that simple? What about all the rules, the do’s and don’ts? What about joining a church? Surely there is some sort of list I need to check off! And what about those good deeds I keep hearing others talk about?

No, none of that is necessary in order for you to make the right choice.

Certainly, after salvation there are important decisions to be made. That is another topic for another day. We’re talking about making that first step, and that first step is saying YES to Jesus.

Everything, and I mean everything, is secondary to accepting Jesus as Savior. The Christian life begins and ends with Jesus.

Now I’m going to say something here that may shock you. For all I know, it might anger you. Or worse!

If any blogger, pastor, preacher, teacher, Rabbi, priest, or any other religious leader tells you that their way is the only way, I want you to RUN as fast as you can away from that person.

The ways of men are simply that. They are not God’s ways no matter how well intentioned they may be. Proverbs 14:12 tells us that There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Jesus Himself declared that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.   John 14:6   NKJV

The most important decision or choice you will ever make in this life is the decision to accept Jesus as your Savior. He is the Narrow Gate that leads to life, and He invites everyone to enter this gate.

Be blessed everyone,

Ron

How to choose between the wide and the narrow

4 Comments

Gates.

I like gates. Plain ones, ornate ones, all kinds of gates. Being a country boy, I got used to seeing gates either around the neighbor’s property or my own. They always made me curious about what’s on the other side.

Gates are built for several reasons. One is to allow access to areas that otherwise would be unreachable due to fencing or some other type of obstruction.

Some are very imposing and seem to say “keep out”, while others have that inviting look that says “welcome home”.

pasture-gate

toadhollowphoto.com

They are also built to contain things or animals, like sheep, cattle, and other animals so they cannot escape and freely roam where it may be dangerous for them to do so.

Gates are also used to safeguard the entryway of a small village or town. These gates serve as a type of passage way into the village. Once through the gate, you’re in.

Around the Old City of Jerusalem there were several gates that permitted citizens to enter and exit the city as needed.

Names such as Zions Gate, Jaffa Gate, Lions Gate, Herod’s Gate, and several others might be familiar to you. All of these gates served distinct purposes, and the history of them is quite fascinating.

map-of-old-jerusalem

While Jesus was intimately acquainted with all of the Jerusalem gates, He also spoke of gates in a figurative manner, such as when teaching his disciples.

Jesus referred to two of these types of gates as the Narrow Gate and the Wide Gate. You will find them referenced here in Matthew’s gospel:

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

14 “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.   Mat 7:13-14 NKJV

As Jesus speaks of these gates notice that he also references two distinct people groups, the “many” and the “few”. I find it interesting that every one of us fits into one of these groups, the only distinction being which gate we ultimately enter through when our lives here on earth are complete.

Let’s take a closer look at these two gates along with their corresponding entrants. Let’s begin with the Wide Gate.

What is significant about this particular gate? For starters it’s big enough to accommodate the many. Also, the road leading to it is wide. It’s easy to get through isn’t it? Unfortunately, this gate also leads to destruction.

Sometimes the easiest choices in life lead to consequences we’d just as soon have avoided, agree? The easy way is so enticing, and it’s the rare person among us who would deliberately choose the more difficult path. Indeed, our nature is to seek the path of least resistance.security-consequences

Jesus said that there are many who will be going through this particular gate. Who are these “many” described in verse 13?

I believe they fall into two different, or sub groups of people.

1) Those that willingly and knowingly rejected Christ as their Savior.

2) The religious who have been deceived into believing they are “good enough”, and thus have trusted in themselves rather than Jesus.

Luke 19:10 tells us “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost”. Obviously, those in group # 1 have rejected the One that came to seek and save. This group of people has therefore chosen the Wide Gate that leads to destruction.

Perhaps far more tragic than the 1st group is group #2. This group has some knowledge of the fact that on their own they are not “good enough”, however they are deceived into thinking that by looking inward they can do enough on their own to ultimately enter through the Narrow Gate that leads to life.

The great sorrow here is that they knew they were inadequate by themselves, that something was missing, but they chose to look within for the solution rather than look to Jesus Christ. In doing so they have also chosen the Wide Gate that leads to destruction.

Be watching for my next post, which deals with the second people group, the few.

When life hands you lemons

Leave a comment

If you’re like most people, life has handed you your share of lemons.

lemons

Funny thing about lemons.They look pretty and smell great but if you bite into one you’ll find they are very sour.They are kind of deceiving if you think about it.Kind of like they aren’t exactly what they appear to be.

Life is like too,that isn’t it?

Things are going along really good and suddenly,out of nowhere,life hands you a bunch of lemons.

  • Disappointments
  • Hurts
  • Illness

All of a sudden you find yourself wondering “what just happened”? Can you relate to that?

The Bible is filled with numerous encounters of God’s servant’s whose live’s were interrupted by being handed a big bowl of lemons. One such example was a king of Judah,King Hezekiah.

Like most kings of old,they fought many battles with the armies that surrounded them.As you read the accounts of Hezekiah’s victorious battles in the book of Isaiah,you begin to understand that this man truly did love his God and sought to live a life that was pleasing to the Lord.

Yet just like all of us the day came when Hezekiah would be dealt a huge bowl of lemons.In chapter 38 of the book of Isaiah we find that the king was very sick,and ready to die.Read along with me….

In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.  Isaiah 38:1

Now,it’s one thing to be sick,even very sick.Maybe you have been there,at death’s door?

I know what that feels like because I was at death’s door when I underwent heart by-pass surgery.And thankfully I did not have anyone come to me telling me to set my affairs in order because I’m not going to make it through this sickness.I can’t imagine how that would feel!

But notice how in the next verse king Hezekiah responded to this bowl of lemons.

2 Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord,
And said, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.   Isaiah 38: 2,3
The king’s response was to turn immediately to the Lord.  Wouldn’t we all be better off if instead of struggling on our own to understand the “Why’s” we would instead just turn to the Lord? And notice also how that Hezekiah reminded the Lord that he had walked before Him in a perfect heart?
Can we say that of our walk with Him? I only wish I could say that.Many well meaning people today like to tell us that we’re under grace(which we are)and that God understands our failures.Like that’s supposed to somehow take away the sting of failure!
Now look and see what happens next!
4 Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying,
Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.  Isaiah 38: 4,5
Isn’t that amazing? One minute Hezekiah is sick and ready to die. A visit from the prophet Isaiah confirmed to the king that he wasn’t long for this world and he should make sure he had his will made out.This word from the Lord was all it took to get Hezekiah out of his sick bed and to begin calling on the name of the Lord.
Can I share something with you? When life hands us a bowl of lemons our first reaction ought to be to turn to the Lord in prayer and the Word because that’s where our strength to fight will come from!
The prayer of king Hezekiah got God’s attention.And you know what?He hears your prayers too.But we have to PRAY to be heard!So many times the enemy gets us discouraged and we don’t even think to pray,we just want to give up.
Yet God has a more sure word for someone today,and that word is to begin calling upon the Lord for your situation.Do not give up,do not throw in the towel.Pray with an understanding that it ain’t over until He says it’s over!
When life hands you lemons the popular saying is to take them and make lemonade out of them.And that is often good advice because attitude is everything when you’re dealing with difficult circumstances.
Yet when you’re in the battle of your life,lemonade won’t put the enemy to flight.It takes prayer to do that!It takes someone seriously calling upon the name of the Lord to know that He will hear.
The next time life hands you a bowl of lemons and you find yourself out of answers and helpless to figure a way out,do this:
PRAY!!!
Be blessed,
Ron

“You’ve Never Seen This One….”

Leave a comment

That’s what someone told me last night as I was watching the sunset on the beach. I had just commented to a lady who worked at the restaurant and had stopped working to gaze at the sun setting that it seemed kind of silly for a bunch of grownups to be so excited about watching it.Cameras,cell phones,even video cameras set up.People scrambling to get the best spot to take that once in a lifetime shot.I mean,the sun setting happens on a pretty regular basis doesn’t it? You’d think these people had never seen a sunset the way they’re acting!

That’s when the lady turned to me and said “You’ve never seen this one”. Honestly,I was stunned at her reply,or maybe it was that her reply stunned me back to reality.You see, it’s been pointed out to me recently that I am so busy and so consumed with my work that I am no longer a participant in life,but merely an observer. OUCH!

That dear lady had never seen me before yet she did not hesitate to point out to me the various shapes of the clouds and innumerable colors that all but seemed to set the sky on fire.Funny what you miss when it’s often right in front of you, isn’t it?

I’ve thought a lot about that,not being a participant that is. Going through the motions and all.And you know what? It is 100% true. I’ve been going through the motions at such a pace and for so long that I have all but let life leave me behind.Wow!

Life passes us by pretty quickly doesn’t it? Everywhere you turn it seems we are consumed with ourselves to the point of not even realizing that there are others all around us longing for just a little bit of our time and attention.Thinking of that brings this scripture to my mind:

James 4:14 (NKJV) whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

I don’t know about you but that’s a very sobering thing to comprehend.We do not have long upon this earth and as good stewards of the time we’ve been given, why should we sit on the sidelines?Why shouldn’t we be an active participant of the life God has blessed us with?

All of this has given me a renewed sense of the magnitude of blessings that have been given to me.Where sometimes I get so distraught when I’m faced with defeat the better choice is to remember that in the big picture I have won far more than I have lost.

Oh, and that sunset on the beach? This is what I’m talking about….

??????????

And for the record, I was among the ones jockeying for position with all the other “tourists”.

Be blessed,

Ron