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Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness…

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“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.”  [1]

This fourth Beatitude is one that I particularly love because I believe it establishes one of the foundational requirements for Godly living. In it, Jesus used two of the strongest human needs, hunger and thirst, to express the passion with which we should pursue God.

Have you ever been so thirsty that it seemed your thirst just couldn’t be quenched? Did that stop you from drinking still more? Of course not! Even if it meant drinking several different things you were determined to quench your thirst.

For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.  [2]

Sometimes when I’m hungry, I’ll go to the cabinet and stand there looking inside, trying to decide what it is that I want to eat. I may grab this or that, and as soon as I’ve eaten it I’ll know that I made the wrong choice, so I’ll try something else.

In much the same way Jesus is describing the hunger and thirst for righteousness that we are to have. The desire for more of Him should permeate our being, as an insatiable appetite does for those that have not eaten.

David said O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You
….[3]

As the hart pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after you, O God…[4]

deer in the lake

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This type of intense longing is exactly the type of hunger and thirst that Jesus is talking about. It means we do not approach the Lord with an attitude of indifference, but rather a passionate zeal to know him and his ways.

To hunger and thirst for righteousness means we must make a conscious decision about which part of us gets fed. If we desire the things of the world more than God, those things will destroy our hunger for the righteousness that Jesus is speaking of in this Beatitude.

This is very dangerous because if we allow our zeal for God to be swallowed up by the pleasures of the flesh, we will spiritually die.

He who pursues righteousness and loving devotion finds life, righteousness, and honor.[5]

My prayer for all is that we are passionate in our search for a closer walk with God, that we develop a hunger and thirst for righteousness that can only be filled by Him.

Be Blessed!

Ron

 

[1] Matthew 5:6

[2] Psalm 107:9

[3] Psalm 63:1,2

[4] Psalm 42:1,2

[5] Prov. 21:21

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It’s time for an Attitude Adjustment!

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From where I sit on the front row, it would seem that an Attitude Adjustment within the Body of Christ would be in order.

It is way past time for a respite from the incessant bickering from the various Christian factions over on Twitter and Facebook about our nation’s current political climate.

Yes, that’s right. When people who are supposed to be Spirit filled servants of the Most High God lash out at one another with stinging, hate filled words, it’s gone too far.

The Church needs to put away the vitriol surrounding the ever-widening gap between the warring political camps, a gap that must be acknowledged as being about as far as the East is from the West. (Psalm 103:12, for those of you keeping score). 

Seriously? You don’t think the enemy is using division and strife to drive a wedge between the Body of Christ just as he is doing with this nation? Has the Church forgotten that God rules in the kingdom of men?

the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.’   Daniel 4:17

It’s time to give it a rest and refocus our priorities.

Time for an Attitude Adjustment from God’s Word!

Paul the Apostle, speaking to the Philippians, urged them to become unified in love, esteeming others before themselves. 

Therefore, if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.   Philippians 2:1-4

Can you imagine what Paul might be told today if he were to preach at the National Mall in D.C. or at the largest church in America, and tell the assembled crowds that we should be of ‘one accord, of one mind‘?

Were he to admonish the populace today that it is not in our best interest to be consumed with selfish ambition, I’m certain he would be booed off the platform…or worse.

Esteem others better than ourselves? Look out for the interests of others and not just ourselves? Today the great Apostle would be labeled as insane and hurried away to the nearest psych ward.

Paul was a preacher of righteousness and were he here today, I’m pretty sure that he would not involve himself in the UN-Christlike activities of so many who claim to be Christs representatives.

No, I think Paul would instead boldly proclaim the Word of God, expecting the hearer to put aside the divisive rhetoric and submit to the authority of God’s Word.

I think it’s time for the church to have an Attitude Adjustment, and a good place to start would be to humble ourselves before God.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

Business as usual?

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The other day my wife heard a somewhat amusing story about a pastor and his struggling church,and she thought I might want to pass it along via the blog. I thought it made a pretty good point and I hope you will agree.

Seems a church was struggling to make ends meet, and the situation had caused the pastor to inquire of the Lord as to why this was. The Lord responded and said “you are in the church business, but I am in the redemption business. If you will get in the redemption business, I’ll take care of your church business”.

Sometimes we get caught up in things and situations, and in doing so we forget who is really in charge and what is important. Some call this majoring in the minors, and that sounds about right.

The thing is, we all do it to some degree. It’s hard not to when you’re struggling to get by or are trying to figure a way out of a seemingly impossible situation.

It’s in these times however when we need to take a step back and remember that God is our Helper. We are not alone and have no reason to doubt or fear because God is with us.

The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble.   Psalm 9:9

We have the assurance that we can trust in Him and that he will not forsake us. Our job then is to be about the Lord’s business. Or as my Pastor likes to say: “let go and let God”.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,then these other things will be given to you. Matthew 6:33

If we are faithful to do that, to be about our Father’s business, he then is faithful to “supply all of your needs according to his riches in glory.”  Philippians 4:19

Be blessed!

Ron

Integrity: a priceless commodity

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Integrity: adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.   source: dictionary.com

We don’t hear much about integrity these days. No doubt the above definition will explain part of the reason for that.

Morals, ethics, and honesty seem to be in short supply just about everywhere you look. What used to be the bedrock qualification to gain acceptance into a noble field of endeavor, is now no longer a requirement for participation.

Did you know that the Bible has a great deal to say about integrity? The entire book of Job, for example, is a testament to one man’s concern for maintaining his integrity.

The book of Job is one of the oldest in the Bible, with many scholars believing that Job was alive during the time of Abraham. It is a powerful story of good vs. evil, and brings to the forefront the age old question of why do bad things happen to good people?

As we open this particular book, we see that Satan has presented himself to God and proceeds to ask Him to remove the protective hedge from Job. This was Satan’s vain attempt to prove whether Job’s love for God was rooted in his wealth and prosperity, or if in fact it was rooted in Godly integrity.

God then permitted Satan to afflict Job, which he does by causing the loss of all ten of his children, all of his wealth, and all of his material possessions. In spite of all of this unspeakable sorrow, Job held on to his integrity.

In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.   Job 1:22

Unfortunately for Job however, his time of testing was far from over. The day came when Satan once again presented himself to God.

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” Job 2:3

Did you see that Job held fast to his integrity?

So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”   Job 2:4,5

After this Satan was then permitted to afflict Job physically, yet was ordered to spare his life. This is where we find Job being afflicted with boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. So severe was this torment, that even his wife urged him to put an end to it all by cursing God and dying.

There is much that we can identify with in the story of Job. All of us have suffered loss,whether it was through death, divorce, or abandonment.

Many can relate to losing their wealth and seeing their finances shattered to the point of bankruptcy. Indeed, there are many among us that have enjoyed life in the penthouse, only to see it all crumble before our eyes, leaving us to wonder how this could be.

As I write this I wonder how many readers are at this very moment suffering from a debilitating disease or an incurable condition? Have you been to the brink where you just wanted to end it all and put an end to your suffering?

If so, you can identify with Job.

Job had three friends who came to see him upon hearing of all the calamity that had befallen him. Like Job, in times of despair and suffering we need people to lean on, to draw comfort from. Of course, we need real friends, not the type who cast one accusation after another at Job.

Through all of the pain and suffering, the abandonment of those he once thought were his best friends, and most importantly the silence of God, Job maintained his integrity. How was this possible you may ask?

I believe Job had a “big picture” view of life. He knew that this life was filled with its mountains and its valley’s. Though he was the “greatest man in all the East”, he also knew that all of it could vanish in an instant.

This is why he continually offered sacrifices on behalf of his children. If they had inadvertently sinned he wanted to make sure they were covered.

Job lived by the creed that his integrity could not be bought nor compromised. Read the following words he spoke to his friends as he declared his intentions to hold fast to his integrity to the very end.

As long as my breath is in me,
And the breath of God in my nostrils,
My lips will not speak wickedness,
Nor my tongue utter deceit.
Far be it from me
That I should say you are right;
Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.
My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go;
My heart shall not reproach me as long as I live.   Job 27: 3-6

What a difference it would make in this world if more people lived like they believed this! Can’t you just imagine what it would be like in our churches alone if all of us who profess Christ lived this way?

While we may not hold influence over the masses to the point of convincing them that this is the better way, we can do our part to see that we ourselves adopt the same convictions that Job had.

Integrity is a priceless commodity.

The good news for all of us is that we don’t have to purchase it, nor could we. Jesus Christ did that for all mankind when he died on an old rugged cross. Our integrity is rooted in Him, for He is our righteousness!

Be blessed!

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

faced with the appalling loss of his possessions, his children, and finally his own health, Job still refuses to curse God.

 

An appointment with the King

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

I’ve never met a king or queen before. For that matter I’ve never met a President or Senator either. Come to think of it, other than a Mayor or two I’ve never met anyone who held a public office, or if I have it must not have been a memorable occasion.

 

No matter, I happen to have a very important appointment coming up with someone many of you will instantly recognize when I tell you his name. You see, I’m scheduled to see King Jesus one day soon.

I don’t know the exact day and time, but the appointment has been scheduled nonetheless. He’s already told me that he’ll call me when He gets here, so I’m not really worried about the exact timing.

Did you know that you also have an appointment with Jesus? An appointment that was made a long,long time ago? It’s true, everyone has an appointment with this King.

eric-rothermel-23788 (1)

Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash

 

I remember very clearly what it was like to have entire days blocked off with one meeting or appointment after another. A lot of days it became a challenge  to squeeze in just 15 minutes to grab a bite to eat. Most days evolved into an appointment juggling act that would have made Barnum and Bailey proud. I’m sure many of you can relate.

 

Funny thing though about this Divine appointment with Jesus that we all have. None of us will be too busy, and none of us will be able to say “sorry, I can’t make it, something else came up”. Not one of us will be late for this appointment. No juggling of schedules allowed.

I’m looking forward to that appointment. Unlike hundreds of others I’ve been involved with, there is no sense of dread associated with my upcoming meeting with  Jesus. I won’t hear voices of anger, fists slamming down, threats of “or else”,or any of the kind.

What I will hear instead will be this:

Matt 25

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“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?

And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”     Matthew 25:34-40

How about you? Are you prepared and looking forward to meeting the King one day?

Be blessed!

Ron

 

Man shall live by what?

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Most of us have a code, or creed that we live by. A set of principles, they guide us each day through this life. They can come from family, church, the military, even the streets.

What may come as a surprise to many is that God also has a set of principles. It’s called the Bible. For example:

But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ”.  Matthew 4:4

The verse above comes from a very hungry and tired Jesus, who, after being tempted for 40 days, is responding to Satan’s temptation to turn stones into bread.

He is repeating something stated in the distant past of Israel’s history by Moses, who was reminding Israel of God’s providence during their trek through the wilderness.

So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.”     Deuteronomy 8:3

I find it interesting that the interpretation of both Jesus and Moses is the phrase” every word”. What’s so interesting about that? Well for starters, the phrase “every word” disallows the selective application of God’s Word to our lives.

In other words, every word means none may be excluded!

Lots of things today are thought of as being selective. Husbands may have been told that they have selective hearing, for example. Or those of us who tend to be forgetful at times may have been told that we have a selective memory.

For the child of God however, there can be no selective application of the Word if we are going to walk in obedience to it. In other words, we cannot selectively pick and choose those verses we wish to live by. It doesn’t work that way.

If Jesus stated that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God, are we to argue that we don’t like or accept certain parts of it?

I first became aware of this selective application of the Word many years ago when having a discussion with a neighbor about the Millennial Reign mentioned in the book of Revelation.

This neighbor, who was also a deacon in his church, told me that he didn’t believe in the thousand year reign of Christ. When I asked him how he could not believe in something that was obviously written in the Word, he simply said “I just don’t believe in that”. Not knowing how to respond to that, I just walked away.

Really? You can read it for yourself. You know it’s there. Yet you arbitrarily reject it just because? Like I said, that was my first exposure to the selective Word mindset. Unfortunately, it’s far from an isolated incident.

There is a very simple, logical reason as to why God says we are to live by every Word that comes from him. The Word of God offers us instructions for living according to His plan, not our own.

And therein lies the problem, doesn’t it?

His plan vs. our plan. His Words vs. our words. His way vs. our way. The age old battle of the human will vs. the will of God.

Paul reminds us that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”   II Tim. 3:16    emphasis mine

Could it be that part of the problem is that we think we “have arrived” and are above being taught?

Peter addressed this attitude in his first epistle. He tells us that our hearts need to be pure so that we can desire the word that will encourage growth.

“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby.”   1 Peter 2: 1,2      emphasis mine

It is obvious then that we are to live not just by the Word, but by every Word that comes from God if we are to be nurtured and strengthened in our faith.

None of us “have arrived” to the point of no longer needing to learn of Him. To think that we have is to be in deception.

My prayer is that every one of us will take heed to the words of Jesus, who when rebuking Satan said that we must live by every Word from God.

After all, He’s still working on each of us.

Ron

Our Identity in Him

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Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”            Jer. 1:4,5  NKJV

Much has been written about the prophet Jeremiah. About how he served his God as a Prophet to the nations and saw very little in the way of fruit for his labors.For someone called to be a prophet before he was even born he knew little except hardship,disappointment, and torment his entire life.No royal attire for him,no dinners at the king’s table,no respect of his peers.

Very different than what we see today where the name of the game is to identify ones self with God in order to gain materialistically,yet shun any part of the refiners fire.The fire that cleanses from the inside out,and shapes the very character of a man until he is fit to be called a servant of the Most High God.

Serving God can be like that when you have His call upon your life.Jeremiah understood this all too well.

Funny thing,this calling.For those unfamiliar with what this means the simplest way to describe it would be to say that it is something like a voice inside of you that there is no escape from.A voice that calls you to holiness and a right relationship with the Almighty.

It compels you onward when every fiber in your being screams “GIVE UP”! It is an unseen force that you know is there because in the worst of times it somehow sustains you.I can only imagine how many times Jeremiah wanted to quit because I have felt that way more times than I can remember.

Haven’t you?

A calling is ever present,whether in the slime pit, the pulpit or on the job.This presence,or calling is a fire shut up in the bones of the one who has an unction from the Lord to go forth and speak what must be said.

In spite of the lack of support from those who know better.

In spite of the fact that it would be so much easier to just walk away.

Except that you cannot just walk away. Not from the call. Not from something so holy.To do so would mean acknowledging that God cannot do what He said He would do.And we know better than that.

Are we to believe that God does not know every one of us just as He knew Jeremiah? Are we to believe that God did not form us in the womb and ordain our steps long before we breathed our very first breath?

Sorry…I’m too long into this journey to ever doubt that my steps are not ordained of the Lord.

I’ve been through far too much to ever doubt that only God and God alone could have taken me through the barren,dry deserts I have passed through.

No,God knew us long before we were formed. And He also KNOWS us,as in the right now.Everything about us.So much so that Jesus declared that the very hairs of our heads were numbered(Matt.10:30).

In spite of the many failures and shortcomings too numerous to recall,the calling of God drives me.It speaks to me in the early hours of the day to square my shoulders and take a stand.And I am persuaded that you sense it as well.

For you also have walked the deserts of sickness and pain.You too have felt the immense pain of abuse and abandonment.You’ve been there in that dark, lonely place where the only answer to your cries was the sound of silence.

But that still small voice,that call from the One who knows you better than you could ever hope to know yourself urges you onward.Urges you to take a stand and claim victory in Jesus name.

Our identity may be defined by the world as Mom & Dad,or Doctor,or Lawyer.But our true identity is hidden in the comfort of knowing that He has called us,and if He has called us He will sustain us through every season.

Be blessed

Ron

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