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“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!

Looking for something to brag about?

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I was listening to someone today sing a song when they mentioned that it wouldn’t matter to them if they lost everything as long as they had Jesus. I thought that was a noble thing to say,and I really do hope they meant it.

I hope all of us would feel this way,especially since an ever increasing number of Christians are experiencing exactly that across this world.

For me the song made me stop and think hard about that particular statement. Would it matter to me if I lost everything except Jesus? My honest answer is yes,it would matter a great deal to me.

Shocked? Disappointed? You shouldn’t be, because if you’re anything at all like the average American,you love stuff as much as I do. And if I can go one step further while I’m being honest, I am learning that I love stuff far more than I should.

I do not fancy myself a Biblical scholar,and while I have studied the Word for close to forty years now,it is increasingly evident that I must have slept through this part from the Apostle Paul:

I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:12-13‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

The King James Version translate those verses to say that Paul had learned to be content in whatever state he found himself.Using these two verses as a measuring stick,it is apparent that I have a ways to go.How about you?

I love also that as great a man of God that Paul was,he still remained humble before the Lord. Though he had reached that place of contentment that so many of us struggle to attain,he had this to say regarding his position in Christ:

But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world. For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation.
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:12-15‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

Amazing isn’t it,what happens to a man who holds nothing back,but completely gives his life to God.He had it all at one time, respect of his peers,wealth and prestige beyond his fellow teachers.It was only after Jesus met him on a dusty road that he began to realize that he possessed nothing of real value.

If you’ve ever bragged on your own abilities,ever thought that you were smarter or knew best,or even once thought yourself just a little superior to those around you,just remember this man named Paul.A man that was taken up to the third heaven and heard things that are not lawful for  man to hear.A man that wrote most of the New Testament.

His boast was in the cross of the Master.All that the world could offer him meant nothing because he had died to the pride of life and the lust of the flesh. What mattered to this man of God was seeing the lost repent and come to Jesus.

Oh God,let this be MY prayer from this day forward.

If you have a few moments,give this song a listen. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

How to have faith in God’s timeless process

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Face it.As much as we’d like to believe that hidden somewhere in the pages of God’s Word there exists a little known formula for living a charmed life,life’s journey has taught us that there is no quick fix,no potion,no enchantment that will deliver the kind of success being touted by the proponents of the prosperity gospel.

No glitzy TV programs,no Sunday snake oil salesman,no faith/power of positive confession/self help/sow your best seed now types of conferences,no slick self promoting “get in on this special offer now” spiel,will ever supplant God’s timeless process of faithful maturation.

You can’t buy it. You can’t steal it. For certain you can’t con your way to get it.

You have to earn it.Like a badge or a medal that is awarded to only a select few,growing in the faith and grace of our Lord is a process that will literally take the rest of your life.Indeed,our faith is continually growing, and that is as it should be lest we become stagnant and die.

In his 2nd letter to the church at Thessalonica,Paul was encouraged by their demonstrations of faith and love toward one another. “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;” II Thess 1:3    KJV

Paul draws us to the fact that their faith was “growing exceedingly”. For him to note this he would have had to have seen some outward,physical proof of this growth,which of course he recognized in their infectious love for one another.

These early Christians serve as wonderful examples to us today of the kind of growing faith and love that comes from God as we walk with Him daily. Did you notice the absence of so much of what we think of as church today? Are we missing something?

Could it be that these early Christians had already discovered the “formula” that so many seek today? I suggest that they had indeed found the secret to living the successful Christian life that the church today is searching for. In all the wrong places I might add.

The fact that this early church loved one another abundantly is ample evidence of their growing faith in God.Consider if you will that these Christians had no internet,no phone,no TV,no church buildings,and no programs for every member of the family.What they did have however… was each other!

Given the current church’s appetite for a “one stop shopping”brand of Christianity where an attempt is made to provide something for everyone,we are left to wonder how these poor,unfortunate,backward men and women ever survived.

They not only survived,but they also prospered because they trusted the Lord to see them through every situation.In other words,they trusted the process. James also,in speaking of the process said that “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”   James 1:12   KJV

All too often this flesh does not want to endure much of anything, but will instead look for the closest exit or way of escape.In doing so we fail to see the hand of God guiding us through the process,thus stunting the growth of our own faith.

So how do we get to the place where we can have faith in God’s process? I think the writer of Hebrews said it best.”For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”  Heb. 10:36

Patience in the process.Patience and endurance to see the race ran to completion.If we can learn patience,we will see a faith that grows exceedingly,a love for one another that abounds,and an enduring spirit that understands the process.

Would Jesus ever sanction”pay to pray”?

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Yes friends and neighbors,it’s now time to pay up.. if you need to pray up that is.

I found this little gem in my inbox the other morning from a group providing a subscription service to ministers. An obviously distraught pastor wrote to them with this question: “I have a power group trying to run me out of the church. What do I do?”  The answer to this pastor’s question is below.

“Here’s what happened: Within six hours, the pastor had received guidance from seven different people, including me. He was blown away.

There is no place like (group providing a subscription service to ministers). You can come to our safe community and ask any questions freely and without limits for only $9.97/month! That’s 33 cents a day.”

That’s right,for less than ten dollars a month you can ask unlimited questions,attend a live virtual staff meeting,receive a checklist to follow up on from the staff meeting,and finally you will receive resources to help you to follow up on the checklist from the staff meeting. All for the low,low price of $9.97 a month.

Stop. The. Presses. Pastors and other church leaders,with a mere click of a mouse or a tap on their iPad are now consulting subscription services instead of the Lord? Does anyone care to tell me what happened when God’s people failed to consult Him? I Chr.15:13,Ezra 2:63,Neh.7:65,Isa.19:3,etc…just to name a few!

OK,I’ll be the first guy to say that there are times when I desperately wish I could bounce some things off of my late Father in Law,the Rev. W.D.Tibbs. He and I spent many hours on his back porch discussing church matters,and I’m much wiser for it.

However, if paying for advice is how a church “leader” conducts himself,may God help his congregation.This,dear readers is what the church has come to.Do you still wonder that the devil laughs at church leadership today as he says to them “Jesus I know,and Paul I know,but who are you?”

I don’t know who I am most disillusioned with; pastors who have no more confidence in the God they supposedly serve that they would do such a thing,or a business that solicits money from them.Especially a business being run by someone who surely must know better.

What I do know is this:there is a reason why the church is so anemic today.All one has to do is look to it’s leadership to see the problem.

As for old fashioned me,I’ve yet to have God fail me,so I think I’ll stick with Him.

Now,where’s my WWJD bracelet when I need it?

Holy Father,surely your heart breaks as we find more and newer ways to reject you in favor of ourselves.Just as your word has foretold,we have sunk into deep mire.Our hearts are no longer aflame with the passion to serve you.We have not only lost our first love,we have fallen so far as to have no recollection of it.

Lord I pray the prayer of a heartbroken David:create in us a clean heart,and renew a right Spirit within us.

 

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

He Remains Faithful

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Have you ever doubted your faith? Have you ever dared to question the existence of God? Have you ever felt like you’re in this thing all alone?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions congratulations!,you are in the company of untold millions of other Christians who have doubted,questioned,and felt abandoned along the journey.Who,thanks to Jesus, just happen to be standing stronger today than at any other time.

But for many of us, the doubts and the questions won’t go away.

Think about this: the enemy speaks to us in countless ways through a variety of circumstances all carefully designed to plant the tiniest seed of doubt in our minds. In no time at all it seems we’re asking how or why.

Those two little words,each containing but three letters,have the potential to grow into a raging firestorm that left unchecked,will shipwreck our faith.

It’s during these times that we must draw upon our armor and prepare to defend ourselves against the onslaught of the devil.

The apostle Paul authored the majority of the New Testament,and the following text is,in my opinion,one of the clearest assurances that God is faithful to those who are faithful to Him.

“Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel,

This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”
‭‭II Timothy‬ ‭2:8, 11-13‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Beloved, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

He has promised us that if we endure,if we hold on,if we faint not away but hold to His promises,we shall reign with Him.

Doubts will always come. Questions will arise in our hearts and minds for which there are no answers. Loneliness will sometimes feel like abandonment.

But I have good news! It’s not over until He says it’s over!

He remains faithful.

Have a blessed week!

 

The Invisible Line

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The Church.

For over two thousand years “The Church”has existed in this present world.What is commonly referred to as the “Body of Christ”has been a key part of society in nearly every country,on nearly every continent,and has impacted billions of people in some way or another.

The Church was born out of the heart of Jesus Christ who came to deliver a message of hope and redemption to an otherwise lost and depraved world.After Jesus was crucified and ascended to heaven,this Churchchurch one man began to replicate itself.Beginning with the twelve Disciples and the converts that they made and continuing through centuries past, this replication has been a continuous process.Whether one man or a thousand,the church has maintained it’s presence among the peoples of the world.

The World.

People of every nation and every conceivable culture make up the world that we live in.There are slightly over 7 billion people in the world today who speak approximately 6500 different languages.No matter what context you use to look at those numbers,they are staggering to comprehend!

crowd

There are a great many voices clamoring to be heard today that declare that we are,or should be, one.You’ve heard them I’m sure.They say that with every technological advancement the world is getting smaller all the time,and no doubt it is.Technology has erased the barrier of distance that has long hindered the world from becoming one people.Technology,for all of it’s greatness,has become the modern day equivalent of the Tower of Babel .One family.One people.One race.One planet.One species.One religion.One Church.

One.

There are  many in the world today who have embraced the concept that we people of the world are all one.World leaders,economists,environmentalists,special interest groups of every type all believe that the time has come to join together for the sake of us all.

Church leaders have adopted this worldly mentality as well.We are being told to lay aside our differences,our denominational doctrines,our various creeds of the faith,for the good of all.The outcome of this “oneness”is the deliberate blurring of the line between the Church and the World.In fact I will go so far as to say that the line is no longer blurred:it has become invisible!

In following this vision of “oneness”we have opened Pandora’s box to the unthinkable:the church has become indistinguishable from the world.Is this what Christ meant for the church to become?Is this what Paul meant when he said this:

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among [them]. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”

17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”

18 “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.”                     2Co 6:14-18 NKJV

When Paul wrote these words under the unction of the Holy Spirit,the church was in it’s infancy and as with any new work there were things taking place that needed to be addressed.The Holy Spirit spoke through Paul in an attempt to correct the misconception that is was OK for Christians to be joined together with unbelievers,or with those who lived a lifestyle that was in conflict with what Christ intended for His church

Where is this teaching today? I’m afraid to say that it is nearly nonexistent. I must report that such teaching is not at all well received today because the church has adopted the mindset of the world.The church wants to do everything the world does and still be called the church.We want to be included in activities that we know we should avoid.We want to partake of everything the world does and still be called the church.And we will not stand to have it any other way! We want to be one with the world!

The scriptures are clear however that God has called us to a life of separation from the world.In spite of that,the church of today chooses to inch ever closer to living a life of inclusiveness of all the world has to offer.This in spite of the Bible’s clear teaching that we cannot maintain fellowship with the world,participate in it’s sinful pleasures,adopt it’s practices as our own,and still be identified as a child of God.

It is painfully obvious to anyone that what passes for Christianity today would be completely foreign to the Apostle Paul.For all of our lofty,grandiose churches and programs I dare say that Paul would not be welcomed to preach in any of them!He was a man led by the Spirit,and any attempt to “modernize”him to go along with the program would be met with fierce refusal.WomanPileOfMoneyAlter

I chuckle sometimes when I see the WWJD bracelets being worn by people.I don’t chuckle because it’s funny,but because the answer to the question would likely not be what the masses think it should, or would be.Considering that Jesus took a whip and drove the money changers out of the temple because they had made His house a house of merchandise when it was meant to be a house of prayer,what approach would He take today in dealing with a largely backslidden church?

His way is the narrow way.

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

There must be a difference between the church and the world.

There must be a line drawn that the church cannot cross over.

It’s there.It exists. It’s not invisible.It’s plain for all to see.

If you’ve crossed that line I pray that you will come back.Come back to the straight and narrow way that leads to life.A way of personal holiness,a way of living that is separate from the world.

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.     1Jo 2:15-16 KJV

Be blessed,

Ron