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The love of many…

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Of all of the different things that Jesus taught his followers while he was here on earth, one that holds significant interest to most Christians today is his teachings on what we now call the “End Times”.

Literally thousands of books have been written by men and women who claim to have unique insight into these teachings, and little wonder because it seems there is an insatiable appetite for all things related to the ‘end of day’s as we know them. Major Christian publishing companies consider these books to be “cash cows” because they sell so well, hence the market saturation of these books.

There are so many books written that they have to be categorized into sub sections such as:

Prophecy

Armageddon

Revelation                       

Coming of the Lord

Tribulation, and many more.

I must admit that while I have read a few of them, I am not a fan of these books for the simple fact that all of them are largely nothing more than the authors own private interpretation of The BOOK. Far too many of them propose theories and ideas that are completely contrary to what the Bible says, and while I enjoy the learning process I cannot go along with teachings that ultimately place less emphasis on God’s word than the author’s opinions.

With that said, I draw your attention to the book of Matthew, chapter 24. This particular chapter is one that most students of prophecy and all things “End Times” recognize as one of the most important of all.

The first seven verses of this chapter find Jesus revealing several things that will be taking place upon the earth prior to his return. He actually refers to these things as “the beginning of sorrows”. It is what Jesus says next that causes people so much anxiety and fear because this is where it gets personal. Read along with me from Matthew 24: 9-13.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

We must ask ourselves who is this “you” that Jesus said will be delivered up to tribulation and killed? We know that Jesus was speaking specifically to his disciples about these matters, so we can easily make the case that it was the disciples who were to be delivered up and killed. History in fact reveals that all of the disciples except John died a martyrs death, thus fulfilling the words of Jesus.

Yet we must also realize that God’s word is eternal, making it applicable for every generation and period of history. Indeed, history shows us that there have been many attempts to purge the world of Christianity. Wars, Inquisitions, laws, etc have all been used over the past two thousand years to try and eliminate Christianity from the earth.

Today, this trend continues at an alarming rate. According to Open Doors USA ,in just the last year* there have been:

  • Over 245 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution
  • 4,305 Christians killed for their faith
  • 1,847 churches and other Christian buildings attacked.
  • 3,150 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned

So we see that when Jesus said “they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you“,his words are just as applicable today as they were that day when He spoke them to his disciples. What is so problematic about this persecution of the church is that in America we have so far managed to escape the wrath that is being felt by our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, and this has left us disinterested at best.

This, however, is about to change. While it is true that we are not facing the prospect of being beheaded or our churches burned to the ground(YET), persecution of Christians in America is alive and well. For those who believe that persecution will never happen here, or that it is some far off generation that will have to deal with it, consider the following:

There is increasing intolerance of traditional Christian values in this country. Those that hold to traditional Biblical values are now seen as bigots, racists, and close-minded.

Let a conservative Christian politician be nominated for a Federal Court position and watch how the nominee’s Christian values are called into question, as if his or hers values would somehow prevent them from rendering a proper verdict.

If you dare to refuse to bake a cake or issue a marriage license for same-sex marriages, you better be prepared to spend your life’s savings on attorney fees.

In addition to the ridicule and hatred that Christian college students face on campus today, a move is underway to remove a college’s accreditation unless they conform to a more secularist ideology. And let us not forget the schools that have banned the pre-game prayer before a Friday night football game.

Aside from the obvious ‘because Jesus said it would’, why are we as a nation headed in this downward trend?

The answer is found in the text from Matthew 24 that I included above.

“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold”.

The love of many is growing cold. What happens when love grows cold? We see the answer on the news every night. Another mass shooting. An increase in the suicide rate. The rise of injustice. An ever increasing number of innocent children gunned down. Perversion and child pornography at an all time high.

All of these and so many more are a direct result of hearts grown cold. No feeling for their fellow man. Total indifference to the plight of the unfortunate. Hearts so cold that walking past the homeless draws not an ounce of compassion. No concern for the millions who do not have enough to eat.

This is love grown cold.

Ice cold.

And it’s only going to get worse.

Much, much worse.

Jesus said that ‘he that endured to the end would be saved‘. We must be doing what we can to present Jesus to a cold and indifferent world because He is their only hope.

My prayer is that every Christian takes this seriously and act upon it.

Ron

 

 

 

* 2019 World Watch List reporting period, November 1, 2017-October 31, 2018

 

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Why can’t we just love on Jesus?

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That was the question my sweet wife asked me the other day.

So, we were having yet another discussion about spiritual things (notice I didn’t say ‘a spiritual discussion’!), which is a common topic at our house. The combination of me being in ministry and her being a pastor’s kid tends to tilt the conversations in that direction a lot of the time.

What I didn’t realize however was how critical I was sounding. That is until my wife stopped my ranting and said this to me:

“Instead of focusing on things that you think are so negative, why can’t we just spend an hour or so loving on Jesus? Why isn’t He our sole focus”?

Now just in case I haven’t mentioned this in a while on this blog, I am forever thankful that God brought my wife and I together. She has been a loving, steady, and positive influence on my life, and without her I would have never known that such a deep love could exist. If ever a woman was heaven sent, it is her, and she alone has my undying love and devotion.

Well, her comments stopped me in my tracks. I’m not sure if my mouth flew open, but it should have. In an instant, my heart was crushed over my negative attitude and critical spirit.

How does this happen to us so quickly?

My mind began to race as I thought of so many scriptures that tell us where our focus should be directed. In Micah 6:8 for example, we are given clear instructions in what is expected of a child of God.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

Nothing there speaks of being critical or negative. What it does tell me is to walk humbly with the Lord. If I do that, He will take care of all the petty details that seem to overwhelm us at times.

If you take a moment to think about it, it’s amazing how different our perspectives can be when we humble our heart before God. Just as amazing I suppose is how we can allow our hearts to become so callous.

In Matthew 22:37 we hear Jesus telling people to ‘love God with all their hearts, minds, and souls’. I don’t see a lot of room for criticism there either, do you?

If we love God with all our heart, mind, and soul, that doesn’t leave any room for doubt, criticism, or complaining does it? Seriously, if we love God in such a manner why would we want to be critical?

How could we be?

 In chapter five of Revelation we find Jesus as the center of adoration and worship from the 24 elders as well as millions of angels. Do you know why there is worship of Jesus in heaven?

Because He is worthy.

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”   Rev. 5:11,12

This Lamb who was slain is Jesus Christ, and the host of heaven declares Him to be worthy of adoration, worship, honor, and praise.

If heaven declares Him worthy of all of that, who am, or who are we to say even one word to the contrary, or one word that might be construed as being critical?

As my wife asked me…” why can’t we just love on Jesus”?

So, knowing what I know, I must do what I always must do…pray for His forgiveness.

Heavenly Father forgive me for my critical spirit and lack of love for your Son Jesus. You alone are worthy to be praised. Your word teaches me not to allow any corrupt communication to come from my lips, and I have stumbled in doing so. Anything less than my highest praise and worship of You O Lord is corrupt, and I offer up the prayer that David did: “create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me”. Amen.

Be blessed on this Lord’s day,

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

Either 100% of God’s word is true, or none of it is!

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Think about that statement for a moment. Christians believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant Word given unto man. It is a collection of sixty six books, written and compiled by various authors over the span of nearly 1500 years, from 1400 BC to A.D. 90 (approximately).

While there are many detractors who maintain that the Bible is a made up fictional tale and thus not inspired of God, the truth is that there are many Biblical facts that have been proven beyond all doubt.

Perhaps more importantly, especially to the sceptics and non-believers, is that the Bible has never been proven factually wrong. Ever. It is a book of truth, divinely revealed by God to all men.

Paul the Apostle declared that God cannot lie, and if this statement is true, then God’s word is 100% accurate. [1]

Likewise, as we search through the Scriptures we are confronted time and again with the statement that God cannot or will not lie. [2]

All of which brings me to the subject of why American Christians have such a hard time believing that every word in the Scriptures is 100% true. This is never more apparent than when confronted with truths that somehow conflict with their vision of “how things are supposed to be”.

For example; the Scripture is very clear that at some point in the future (whether near or far away is not the pont), the entire world will be under the sole authority of one ruler, who is called the antichrist. This is confirmed by Daniel, Paul, and even Jesus in the Revelation. [3]

Yet in spite of overwhelming and irrefutable Scriptural evidence of this future one world dictatorial government, many American Christians emphatically believe that America will never capitulate.

In other words, they believe that good ol’ American Nationalism will prevail, and that Old Glory will continue to wave irregardless of the rest of the nations coming under the authoritarian rule of the antichrist.

American Nationalism, as most of you know, is the widely held belief that we are better than everyone else, and that our goals, principles, and ideals are superior to everyone else’s. [4]

As a Christian, I believe the Bible is clear in its teaching that all of us are to live according to God’s word. Jesus even said as much when he told Satan that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from God”. [5]

What that means is if we are going to call ourselves Christians, then we must live ‘by and according to’ the word of God. This means 100% of God’s word.

We cannot pluck out the sections that do not align themselves with our political ideology or cause. We’re either all in or we’re not, in which case we’re out.

Whether we like a particular subject of the Bible or not is irrelevant. Whether or not we think certain scriptures apply to us or not is also irrelevant.

The fact of the matter is that the Bible was not written by holy men of God under the guise of each of us getting to pick out only those parts we agree with. If we are Christians, we come under the authority of every word. One hundred percent of the time.

The entire world is running headlong toward a one world government and ruler, a fact confirmed by none other than the United Nations, who recently issued a document entitled “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

This document serves as an outline for how to achieve a one world government, and I highly recommend that students of the Bible take a close look at it.

Wishing and hoping it were not so does not change this fact. This is the direction the world is rapidly moving towards. The course has been chartered, and it is inevitable that some form of it will come to fruition simply because the Bible declares it to be so.

No amount of wishing for a return to the “good old days” will make that come to pass. Those of us who love to relish those carefree days of long ago must do so with the understanding that those days will never return.

Those well-meaning Christians who staunchly maintain that America is God’s chosen nation and thus deserving of advantages and blessings no other nation has, are, quite honestly, deceived.

I believe it’s high time that all of God’s children come to a level of maturity in Him where we accept His word and His will for our lives without reservation. No more wavering, no more doubting, no more wishing we can go back.

Let’s acknowledge instead that His direction is best for us.

Nationalistic pride aside, either 100% of God’s word is true, or none of it is. I’m staking my life on the former. How about you?

Be blessed on this Lord’s day!

Ron

 

[1] Titus 1:2

[2] Numbers 23:19,   1 Samuel 15:29,   Psalm 89:35,

[3] Daniel 7:232 Thessalonians 2: 1-12Revelation 13:1-5 

[4] Lest anyone think otherwise, I am proud to be an American. I consider myself to be among the most blessed of all people in that God in His mercy permitted me to be born in this country. For over six decades I have enjoyed the incredible wealth and prosperity this country has provided, and I am humbled by what God has given this nation.

Yet for all of that, I do not consider myself or my country to be any better than any individual or any other country. In spite of the political rhetoric that says otherwise, we are no better or no more worthy of God’s favor than any other nation.

[5] Scripture reference Luke 4:4

 

If you’ve ever wondered if God cares

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Let’s face it.

There are very few of us who haven’t wondered from time to time if God really does care about us. When we’re dealing with feelings of insecurity, loneliness, fear, betrayal, or shame this opens the door for the enemy to cast doubt in our minds as to whether God cares.

We rationalize in our minds the thought that if God does indeed care, would I be dealing with these feelings in the first place?

So, we wonder.

This falls perfectly in line with John 10:10 where Jesus said that “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…” Satan comes to steal and kill our confidence in God, and once this is accomplished he moves in to destroy.

So how do we know that God really does care about us, and that he knows what we are going through? After all, aren’t there times when even the most ardent follower of Jesus needs to be reminded of John 3:16?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

I’d say that a God who would give His only Son as a sacrifice to pay for your sins has demonstrated His care and concern for you, wouldn’t you agree?

But let’s dive just a bit deeper into this matter. I believe another way that Jesus demonstrates His care for us is in the fact that He knows all about us. That’s right, He knows all about YOU.

Just how do we know this to be true?

Because He has given us detailed examples in His word.

Using the seven churches in Asia found in the Book of Revelation as our guide, we find that Jesus had many things to say to these churches. The word that Jesus spoke to each individual church reflected their spiritual condition and relationship with Christ. Some received words of comfort and edification, while others received words of rebuke and correction.

Imagine if you will two columns, one with pluses and one with minuses, and in each of those columns Jesus lists the positives and the negatives that He has found within each of these seven churches.

Yet for all of that, there are commonalities in what Jesus had to say to them. For example, to each one of the churches of Revelation Jesus says the same two words:

“I KNOW”

  • I know your works, your labor, your patience…
  • I know your works, tribulation, and poverty…
  • I know your works, and where you dwell…
  • I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience…
  • I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead…
  • I know your works…
  • I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot…

“I KNOW”

So how do we know that God really does care about us, and that he knows what we are going through?

Because He knows you more intimately than you could ever know yourself. Just as He knew every detail of each of the seven churches of Revelation, so does He know you.

We can take comfort in knowing that Jesus knows all about it.

Ron

 

He That Has Ears to Hear…

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

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

 

Seven_churches_of_asia_1

tour-turkey.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know a better way!

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

He who has an ear, let him hear!

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

If this world is not our home…

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Then why on earth are we Christians so consumed with creating our own version of heaven on earth?

I mean where do we draw the line between being salt and light to this world, and wanting to supposedly claim dominion over the earth in Jesus name?

I don’t want to take control of this earth, neither is it a mandate from Jesus that we do so. There are many false teachings floating about today, particularly those coming from the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) camp that say Christians are to rule the earth NOW.

I won’t bore you with the gory details, but a quick search over at 828 ministries will provide ample evidence of their four primary mandates,with Dominionism being the primary one. This false belief states that Christians must conquer the world in order to facilitate the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Time after time the scripture makes it crystal clear that we just passing through here. This world is not our home. Even the great patriarch Abraham was told by God to look for a city whose builder and maker was God. In addition, Jesus tells us we are not to lay up treasures on this earth.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.   Matt.6:19-21

Scripture is clear, John the Revelator saw a new heaven and a new earth coming down from God out of heaven, for the former earth was passed away. Does that sound like we should be wasting our time trying to gain control of an earth that is one day going to be destroyed?

I believe in living life to the fullest. Enjoy all that God has given us while we are here. Live the abundant life Jesus talked about in John chapter 10. Go for it in Jesus name! Yet never forget that we are but strangers and Pilgrims here on this earth.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.   Hebrews 11:13

One day, one glorious day, we will inherit a new earth. One that will never be corrupted by sin. A place where we will live without sickness, without ever experiencing lack or want of any thing. Jesus is even now preparing such a place for you and I!

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.   John 14:2

Rest in the promise that God has a better place for us, a place where we will live with Christ for all eternity. No matter your plight here on earth, when we step into that new home that has been prepared for us all will be forgotten here below.

Thank God, this world is not my home. This is but a place of preparation, a dress rehearsal for that which is to come!

Be blessed, in Jesus name

Ron

 

 

 

 

What’s Behind The Door?

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That was the title of a message I delivered Wednesday evening at my home church. My scripture text came from Revelation 4:1-5.

1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” 

2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.

3 And He who sat there was[a] like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns[b] of gold on their heads.

5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices.[c] Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the[d] seven Spirits of God.

The crux of my message was that God has so much for for His church than what we are settling for today. Just as the voice told John to “come up here”, I believe the Lord is speaking to the church to do likewise so that He may show us what lies behind our own door.

We cannot do the work of God if we stay in the same place, nor can we do it by doing the same thing the same way we’ve always done it and expect more from our efforts. Talk about the definition of insanity!! We need to finally get on God’s page!

I am convinced that behind the door is MORE.

More power. More love. More compassion. More faith. More strength.

More of everything the church needs to be Jesus to a lost and helpless world.

The question all of us must answer is this: are we willing to “come up here” to see what’s behind the door?

Think about it. Please?

Be blessed!

Ron

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