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A Matter of the Heart

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Heart Disease

Did you know that about 610,000 people die each year from heart disease? Or that 25% of deaths in the U.S. are attributed to heart disease? Add to these staggering numbers the fact that about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack each year.  Statistical source: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/statistics.htm

Unhealthy eating and drinking, lack of exercise, and stress are all major contributors to heart disease. We all know this, yet somehow we continue to justify our unhealthy lifestyles. Too busy, too tired, too whatever.

With these kinds of numbers it’s getting harder to find any family that has not been impacted in some way by heart disease. My own family, for example, has a long history of heart disease. Maybe yours does as well?

My father, older brother, all of my uncles, and even my mother has succumbed to this dreaded disease. Unfortunately, I too am being forced to deal with this monster.

As one who has this condition, I am always interested in learning about the latest procedures and techniques for dealing with heart disease. Suffice it to say that in the past 20 years, incredible advancements have been made in the treatment and diagnosis of this disease, all leading to healthier,longer,and more productive lives for the patient.

What a wonderful time we live in that doctors possess such incredible knowledge and amazing technology with which to work, and all of us are the beneficiaries of these advancements.

There is, however, a far more sinister type of heart disease that no doctor can cure. This type of heart disease strikes every person. It excludes no one, small or large, rich or poor, privileged or destitute. No one gets a pass.

What is this type of heart disease that is immune from the wonders of medical science?

SIN

That’s right. SIN is a heart condition, the outcome,or consequences of an inwardly rebellious heart. And it is consuming more lives on a daily basis than all other physical types of heart disease combined.

I won’t bore you with an endless array of statistics. Most are numb to them anyway, and it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ve heard it all before. Besides, as someone would surely say, how does one measure sin in the first place?

Of course, SIN cannot be measured, as in percentages and ratios. The aftermath of sin, however, can easily be calculated by the amount of human suffering left in its wake.

Take substance abuse for example. The following table gives a snapshot of self-induced human suffering in America that is almost beyond belief. Abuse of tobacco products, alcohol, and illegal drugs is astoundingly costly to our nation, exacting more than $740 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and health care.

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source: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics

One of the problems with the above information however, is that it attempts to “clean up” the damage by calling it abuse, rather than SIN. Substance abuse sounds so much better than SIN, doesn’t it? “Societal issues” is so much easier to stomach than SIN,would you agree?

By taking away that nasty word SIN, we eliminate the morality of it all. Besides, if we choose to use the word abuse instead of SIN, we are implying that the participants are somehow in charge, as in they alone choose to over indulge, or abuse.

It’s seemingly OK to indulge in the items listed in the table above, just don’t over indulge, or abuse them. Really?

Now let’s look at yet another heart issue that is taking a staggering toll on society.

The divorce rate in America currently stands at 40-50 %( depending upon which method of calculation is used-some cite a much lower rate). Irregardless, can any of us argue the point that divorce is primarily a heart issue? Specifically, a hardened heart issue with one or both parties?

What do you suppose is the price of divorce to America just in dollars? According to published reports, a conservative, minimum cost of $112 billion dollars annually is attributed to divorce in America.

And you ask, where does our money go?

We live in a fallen world, one that has been decimated by SIN, or outright rebellion against God. Things like substance abuse, divorce, crime, and the like are not however the causes of SIN. They are merely the output of an unregenerate,or unrepentant heart.

While medical science is not equipped to treat SIN or it’s contributing factors as they relate to the heart, I know Someone who can. His name is Jesus, and He has the antidote for every unregenerate, unrepentant heart.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.   Psalms 51:10

What would happen if all over America, millions of professing Christians were to pray that simple prayer that David prayed after he had been confronted of his sin? I believe we would see a dramatic reduction in SIN (or abuses if that makes you feel better) and a dramatic increase in love for one another.

Our SIN induced heart issues,while untouchable by medical science, are the very reasons why Jesus came to this earth in the first place.

When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.   Mark 2:17

Looking for a solution to your “matters of the heart”?  Look no further than Jesus my friend. He alone has the antidote for all of our heart issues.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

Relinquishing Your Freedom in Christ is an Expensive Proposition

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Freedom

Just saying the word evokes thoughts of sacrifice and struggle, oppression and conflict. It also calls to remembrance our sincere appreciation and gratitude for those who have sacrificed to ensure freedom for people’s everywhere.

As children of God we know that in Christ we have been made free. Those who know the Lord as Savior know a freedom unlike any other, as “free indeed” is unlike any other freedom……”whom the Son sets free, is free indeed”. (John 8:36).

Other verses inform us of the fact that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and while we are now free from sin, we have become slaves to righteous living.            (II Cor.3:17 & Romans 6:18)

All this to say that as Christians, we willingly, lovingly embrace the liberty we have in Christ. Nonetheless, this liberty is fraught with potential dangers should we be tempted to dangle our toes in unfamiliar waters.

All of us, and I do mean all of us, face temptations that appeal to our flesh. Whether we are tempted by power, drugs, alcohol, sex, or money, the fact is that any of these can quickly become our master, overpowering our senses and bringing us again into bondage.

We must remain ever vigilant to counter such temptations if we are to live in victory. Prayer and the reading of the Word are key weapons in this never ending struggle.

These points have been driven home to me again this week while reading the story of how Israel came to have a king reign over them. What started as a nation fully dependent upon and loyal to God, soon turned into full blown rejection of His leadership.

Without launching into a long, detailed history lesson, Samuel was the prophet who had the unenviable task of anointing the first king of Israel. While crowning a new king would normally be cause for great celebration, Samuel’s task was heartbreaking because he knew that in anointing an earthly king, it signaled a severing of the cord between Israel and their God.

As most of you know, throughout Israel’s history they demonstrated a propensity to wander from God. This tendency to stray eventually culminated in their demanding a king to rule over them, just like all the nations around them. In other words, they wanted to be just like everyone else.

Have you ever been told, or have you ever told someone “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it”? This is about to happen to Israel.

Even though they had received an advanced warning as to the quality of leader they would be getting, Israel was determined to proceed with having things their way regardless of the cost. And oh what a price they would pay!

If you will read 1st Samuel 8:10-18 you will see the details of what was to come upon Israel. Take note especially of how many times the word “his” or “take” appears in the description of their new king.

The takeaway I want to leave with you is just how much this new king was going to take from them. Whereas we look to new leadership with an eye for what they can do for us, Israel’s new king would be a taker, not a giver.

What’s the lesson for the New Testament Christian in all of this? The lesson is that we are called out of sin to be the Church. We are not called to be like everyone else.

We also have a Leader who is unlike any other. We are different because our King is the difference maker!

Once God has delivered us from sin, we are not to go back. Not even to look back! We have a freedom known only by the redeemed, and that freedom was purchased by the highest cost imaginable.

Relinquishing your freedom in Christ is an expensive proposition, a proposition I have no desire to entertain.

How about you?

“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!

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

This is What Happens When God Has Left the Building

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I have wrestled for weeks over whether or not to post this.Actually,anguish is a far better descriptor than wrestle.I have literally paced the floor over this.I have written it and then rewritten it at least six times.I set it on the shelf hoping it would disappear or somehow delete itself.Which, of course, it didn’t.

It is not my intent to offend,but rather to call attention to an unfolding tragedy.So with that out of the way,and apologies for the length of this post…

Sometimes it seems as though I’m setting in a room watching a movie,or more accurately a horror film,as I watch,listen,and observe our society in action.

From the humble beginnings of a people desperately searching for something better a scant two and a half centuries ago,we have morphed into a society our forefathers would never have imagined.Could never have imagined.

Sometimes I want to scream from the tallest building”what in the world has happened to us!”.

Even the most ardent,forward thinking framers of the Constitution could never have envisioned the nightmare that has now enveloped us.Were it not unfolding right in front of us it would be all but unbelievable.

My ancestors and yours,many of whom risked their lives to come to America,would hardly have thought of making the journey to come here had they envisioned the debacle which is now America.

The greatest symbol of freedom and democracy the world has ever known has been corrupted by it’s own success,and now more closely resembles the tyrannical empires of the past more than the beacon of hope she used to be.

Let’s be honest here,America is out of control. Not “spinning out of control”,which would infer that it is still possible to regain control. No,we are completely out of control.And we are spiraling into an abyss from which there can be no escape lest we repent and return to God.

If you’re like me and wondering how this could have happened,I offer this simple but poignant observation: We have all been willing partakers in this tragedy!

By our own actions,or lack of action,we all must share the blame.The Hell borne efforts to rid this nation of it’s dependence upon God are now firmly entrenched in our culture,so much so that God is a stranger in America today.

All all of us have blood on our hands.

We Christians have not prayed enough.We have not loved enough.We set idly by while millions every day depart this life for an eternity separated from God.Doomed.Damned.And we feel nothing for them! No burden felt for the lost,no empathy for those outside the Ark of safety.Nothing.

Think of all the time,money,and effort that the adversary has been spent on campaigns to reduce God to an afterthought at best.God defying court decisions,every imaginable wickedness and evil in high places. All have played a key part in the systematic overthrow of the conscious of this nation.We are numb.

for-we-wrestle-not-against-flesh-and-blood-but-against-principalities-against-powers-against-the-rulers-of-the-darkness-of-this-world-against-spiritual-wickedness-in-high-places

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The end result is an endless stream of blood in our streets. Murder rages out of control.Unconscionable  violence rarely causes an eyebrow to raise.

We are overwhelmed with a drunken,drug induced society incapable of righting itself in spite of incalculable dollars spent in hopes of rectifying the problems.

Democrats.Republicans.Independents.Two party. Three party.All have promised us that they have the answers.All have failed because at best all they can do is apply limited interventions,or bandaids to spiritual problems encased in darkness.

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We are angry.Our collective voices ring loudly with the sounds of outrage.We rail against our government,this government of the people,by the people,for the people.

Contentment among us is a foreign concept.Divisiveness is the new commonality that binds us!

 

Indeed,implosion seems inevitable.

We have been blinded by the light.Not that Light,but this one: And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light”.    II Cor. 11:14

The god of this world has invaded our homes,our schools,our government,and yes especially our churches.Satan has ripped apart our society right in front of us,and we allowed it to happen with hardly a whimper.

God was declared out of touch with the new reality a long time ago. He became an unfashionable relic from a bygone era that must be dealt with in order for the hip,progressive and destructive agenda Satan devised for America to culminate in the travesty we now see before us.

And we,the church,did next to nothing to stem the tide. In our rush to become more like the world instead of separating ourselves from the world as we are taught in scripture(II Cor. 6:17),we the church are as guilty if not more so than the heathen we love to rail against.

Our pastors and church leaders have bowed the knee to Baal,to the great god compromise

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in order to distance themselves from the stigma of holiness and righteousness.We who sit in the pew each Sunday have clamored for teachers that will tell us stories that appease the conscious,all the while soundly rejecting the Gospel message as too strict and cumbersome.

This Christian way is too strict,they say,echoing the words of our Lord(Matt. 7:13,14). We want an easier path to follow,one that won’t cost us anything.

Considering all that has been said so far,and if you are still reading this,I have an announcement to make.One that I have agonized over for several weeks. One I take no joy in proclaiming and do not wish to make.

God Has Left The Building.

If He hasn’t,then why doesn’t He hear us? Could it be that we have become so used to this new normative of evil that we no longer care enough to cry out to Him? Has our collective conscious been seared with the proverbial hot iron(I Tim. 4:2)? Are we utterly incapable of determining right and wrong?

Has the line between good and evil become so blurred as to be nearly invisible to the masses? Where is the outrage from the church in America? Forget a National Day of Prayer. We are desperately in need of a National Day of Repentance!

Our pastors and church leaders are needed on the front lines of this battle,but they are nowhere to be found.Where are the voices from our pulpits declaring that we have offended a Holy God by our actions? Where is the call for repentance? It would seem that the sheep have been abandoned on the hillside to fend for themselves!

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But Wait!

It can’t be that bad can it? Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.It will get better,it always does.Sure, we may have fallen a bit but we’ll turn it around.

After all,we just elected someone who promised to make America great again didn’t we? As if any man or woman can cure what ails this once proud nation.

I know many that maintain that America,  at less than 250 years old, is too young to die.I appreciate that sentiment. I understand where they’re coming from.No one likes to admit what I’m stating here.It’s not popular.It’s not good news.It reeks of despair and uncertainty.I will win exactly zero friends by posting this and no doubt incur the wrath of many.

I would counter the “America is too young to die”outcry with this: America is already dead.In fact,death occurred some time ago when America became “rich and in need of nothing”. She just hasn’t accepted it yet.Or perhaps remains willingly blind to her condition.

Because you say,‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…”   Rev 3:17

As I stated,we are blinded by the light from the deceiver who has positioned himself as truth.And we have bought it. Hook. Line. And Sinker.

And our silence is deafening.

Surely our decision making abilities (or lack thereof) must cause bewilderment in heaven!

No rational,sane Christian can argue that we are living in the Laodicean age of the church. The age of the great falling away.The age of compromise and rebellion against spiritual authority.Against the Ultimate Authority.

1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:

2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,

4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

5 having a form of godliness but denying its power   II Tim 3:1-5

Dangerous or perilous for who? Certainly for everyone.Specifically for Christians.To the watchful eye,every single one of these traits is evident in America today.And it’s about to get uglier than we ever imagined.

We are beginning to reap what we have sown.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.Gal 6:7

Serious students of the Bible know full well what has happened to the nation of Israel who,though blessed mightily by God,forsook Him for other gods.Israel,God’s own chosen people,was eventually consumed by the sinful lifestyle they willingly chose to follow after. One hundred percent of them suffered the consequences. No exceptions.No escape.

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This,it pains me to say, is America’s destiny.The destiny that we ourselves have plotted.We have chosen our own path rather than follow the path chosen for us by God Himself.

As terrifying as it sounds,the upcoming acts of this catastrophic drama are soon to play out one by one,and rest assured,there will be a final act.The curtain is going to close on all we hold dear.

How can we be so sure this is going to happen? Because God has done all that He could to restore humanities broken relationship with Himself. And we have counted it as nothing.We have cast the sacrifice of His Son aside and trampled his blood under our feet(Heb. 10:29). God will not remain silent.He never has.

So is there no Hope?

Absolutely! As long as there is breath in us we have hope! God Almighty will see us through every upcoming scene.For the Christian who has placed their trust in the Lord,victory is assured.No matter what happens,God is faithful to His children.

Like many of you,I cling to the promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us(Heb 13:5). As a matter of fact I’m completely dependent upon His faithfulness.I trust Him completely because I have no one else in whom I can place my trust,and He has never violated that sacred trust.

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History has taught us that governments will fail.Societies will crumble.Men have always brought destruction upon themselves by the poor choices they make.It is a seemingly endless cycle.

History has also taught us something more valuable than those things.Perhaps the greatest lesson of all is this:

God may have left the building,but He will never leave YOU!

A Lifetime of “What if’s “

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What would our lives be like if only we would have…?

Haven’t we all asked ourselves this question? Has there been that “if only I would have…”  moment in your life?

If only I would have taken that job. If only I would have married him instead. If only I had taken more interest in my family. If only I would have acknowledged God sooner.

Or to phrase it differently…

What if I would have…? What if I would have turned left instead of right? What if would have stayed in school…?

These questions used to consume my every waking moment. Let me explain.

A few evenings ago my wife and I were listening to a well known minister delivering his weekly TV message,and while it was interesting it really wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Until he said these words:

“If you were to hold a postmortem over the greatest defeats of your life,you will find in the debris a broken down alter,a closed Bible, and cut off communication with God. Every time. No longer praying,no longer opening the Book or communicating with God is a set up for tremendous failure”.

As I heard these words I immediately looked to my wife at the same time she looked at me. And we both knew that he was talking about a part of my life.

So with that I’d like to share a very personal part of my journey with you that relates to the above quote. It is my hope that it will help you to understand how easy it is to find yourself in the same condition.

I became a Christian over 38 years ago.When I accepted the Lord into my heart He changed the person I was. I no longer cursed,drank,thought wrong thoughts,or ran with the wrong crowd. I left behind nearly every relationship in my life because they were all negative influences on me. I made that decision then and I have never regretted it.

I went “all in” with Jesus and I paid a great price to do so. Family rejected me,and that includes my own mother.I was considered a black sheep,an oddball that no longer fit in.No one wanted anything to do with me any longer.

All I had was Jesus,and to my great surprise I learned that He was all I needed. Oh to be sure I was often lonely and discouraged,but He sustained me in the darkest times.

And those were precious days to me. Days when it was as if I could sense the very presence of the Lord by my side.Days when his word would seem to jump off the page as it entered my heart.

In my personal life I began to prosper in many ways.I began to be financially successful. I found a new job. I made a lot of money. I started collecting a lot of possessions.I began to receive the accolades of the church for the knowledge and abilities I had. People started complimenting me on my status and my success.

And I loved it all.

But after a few years things began to change.Slowly,subtlety at first so that I didn’t know it was happening to me.Until everything fell apart.

I lost the job and the fantastic salary that went with it. The things I had collected were sold or pawned off to pay the bills.The church looked the other way as though I had become an embarrassment to them.The praise of men completely disappeared. There were no compliments to be found.

Oh to be sure I tried to turn the situation around. I tried mightily to reverse my fortunes. But it seemed that at every corner was one roadblock after another.One more mountain to climb.

For a long time in my stubbornness I fought this crazy fight,sure that at some point I would prevail.After all,isn’t that what determined,successful people do? Just fight harder and eventually you’ll come out on top,right?

Yet I eventually had to admit that my life had been completely dismantled and torn apart.

I had asked myself a thousand times “why the struggles? Why the defeats? Why the taking two steps forward and one one step backward? Why are things that should be so easy now so difficult”?

The answer was simple: there was a communication problem between myself and God.

But if the answer is that simple then why didn’t I do something about it?

PRIDE

Pride that says “I can do this on my own”. Pride that says “it’ll be alright”. Pride that says “I will”,but we never do. Pride that says “God understands”.

“If you were to hold a postmortem over the greatest defeats of your life,you will find in the debris a broken down alter,a closed Bible, and cut off communication with God. Every time. No longer praying,no longer opening the Book or communicating with God is a set up for tremendous failure”.

Beloved, I have now lived long enough to fully understand the simplicity of following Christ and allowing Him to direct my steps and take control of my life.

The keys to a victorious life in Christ are an open Bible and prayer. That’s it.

You can read every book out there that touts the latest formula for successful Christian living,and you will come away unfulfilled.

You can “sow a seed” with every ministry on TV and still not be victorious.

You can quote scripture from memory from morning to evening and still come away empty.

However, a few moments completely alone with Christ and His word will keep open those avenues of communication,and victory shall be yours.

I praise God that I no longer live in a world of “what if’s” or “if only’s”. I am eternally thankful that God loves me enough to bring about correction,even when it hurt.And I am especially grateful that I have seen God restore that which the locust has destroyed.

My prayer is that all of us take to heart the depths of Christ’s love for us. It is unreachable and unsearchable in it’s vastness.

Let us go forward in Him in such a way that when we reach the end of our days no one will gaze upon us and say “if only”,but rather they will be able to say they loved the Lord with all their heart.

Ron

 

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