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Create in me a clean heart,O God;

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Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.   Psalm 51:10-12

This was the prayer of David after he had fallen into deep sin. This once humble shepherd boy turned giant killer, the apple of Gods eye, has been knocked off of his lofty throne by pride, arrogance, and lust.

Having committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then having her husband killed in a vain attempt to hide his sin, King David found himself in bitterness and anguish of soul. As you read Psalm 51, the depths of this anguish nearly jumps off the page, and no doubt many of us can empathize with his sorrows.

For the rest of his life David would pay a tremendous price for his moral failures. Not only he, but his family as well would suffer the consequences of “the pleasures of sin for a season”. Indeed, his own son tried to take the kingdom from him, and never again would David know complete peace and contentment in his life.

thou-art-the-man_peter_rothermel_david_nathan_b

Thou Art The Man- by Peter Rothermel

There are several lessons to be gleaned from this tragic episode in the life of Israel’s beloved king, not the least of which is that none of us has to be a murderer or an adulterer to have need of a clean heart and a right spirit within us. All of us are in need of these things.

Everyday events can drain us, leaving us discouraged and feeling so lowly that we have to reach up just to be able to touch the bottom. Life, for all of its joys and triumphs, also brings with it incredible heartaches and disappointments. For these, we need the security of knowing that God is working “all things together for our good”.

Who among us doesn’t need renewal from time to time? Contrary to popular opinion, there certainly is no shame in acknowledging our own inabilities to “fix ourselves” by calling upon the Lord. As a matter of fact, He tells us to “cast all of our cares upon him, because He cares for us.”

I don’t know where you are in your walk with the Lord, but I’m craving a deeper walk with him. So many things in this life cause division and separation between us and God. Even good things, in excess, can come between us and our relationship with him.

The last thing I want is to be found like David, far from God, yet I know that if I don’t pray and study his word that is exactly what will happen. Our prayer then should always be like David’s; “Lord, cast me not away from your presence.”

In perilous and uncertain times such as we are living in today, all of us need the strong hand of the Lord to sustain us, to keep us pointed in the right direction. Let’s face it, we need Him!

David understood that even though he had committed horrible sins before his God forgiveness, albeit at a cost, was available to him. The son that was born to him out of the illicit affair with Bathsheba for example, would become sick and die. No amount of fasting and prayer for him could save his life, yet this event served a greater purpose in turning David’s heart back to God.

Having done that, he began the road back to once again having a clean heart, a right spirit, the joy of the Lord, and a restored relationship with God. Yes, there were consequences for his actions, however with God’s help; David was able to persevere in spite of them.

The grace of God is truly amazing isn’t it? A God that would forgive David is just as quick to forgive us for our own shortcomings. It really is as simple as calling upon Him to forgive us and create in us a clean heart.

Be blessed on this Lords day!

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

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What are you settling for?

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God has called us to live an Abundant Life, just as Jesus describes in John 10:10.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

I’m thinking that we are settling for far less than an Abundant Life, especially as Christians, the Body of Christ. For example…

By all appearances, we are content to go to church, listen to a few songs, settle in for a nice sermon that was designed to make us feel better about ourselves, then head quickly for the door in order to get a seat at our favorite restaurant.

Mediocrity Green Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds, Sun Rays and Sky.Content to leave exactly as we came.

Content to settle for yet another dry, lifeless, powerless church service.

 

The only thing worse than this is doing it all over again.

Every

Single 

Week

Surely, the enemy of our souls is watching all of this, gleeful in that we have succumbed to the spirit of slumber. This, in spite of Paul’s warning to the church at Rome:

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” Rom. 13:11

This is what settling does to us. It allows complacency to overwhelm our senses to the point that we no longer are even aware of what we don’t have!

Our churches have all kinds of musical talent for example. From keyboards and guitars to drums and full orchestra’s. Music fills the rafters. Yet it’s one lifeless, cold, ritualistic note after another, void of any anointing that might sear the conscious or break through a heart hardened by sin.

So we settle. And we clap. And we sing. And we clap some more.

And leave exactly the same way we came.

We have learned to be OK with settling. In fact, settling is now normal.

Our ministers now have access to scriptural knowledge like at no other time in history. Thanks to the Internet, entire volumes of reference materials are at our fingertips. Huge libraries containing thousands of works published by sold out men and women of God are accessible via a click of a computer mouse.

Yet for all of this available knowledge and wisdom, what we are presented on Sunday mornings are short sermonettes containing tidbits of scripture, but filled with stories about being a better you, or how to live your best life. To more than a few, this is a great time to take a nap!

bored_in_church-300x270

charleyreeb.com

These sermonnettes are nothing more than pulpit cheer-leading. They prompt us to feel the “rah rah rah” of the moment, but cannot prevent the euphoria from draining away when life suddenly interrupts our version of “churchianity”.

For that, we need the whole counsel of the meat of God’s Word.

Do you want to know the secret to living your best life, and how to be a better you? The secret is to die daily. That’s right, draw nigh to God and in the process you will crucify this flesh that demands more and more of the pleasures of this world.

Would it shock you to learn that God isn’t the least bit interested in whether or not you are living your best life? Would it surprise you to learn that what He is really interested in is that you submit your entire life to Him?

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Matthew 6:33

Give Him all of you FIRST, then the things you desire will come. Anything less than this is settling. Yes, seeking the kingdom of God first is a costly endeavor. It will cost you your WILL.

Nothing worth having is free, nor does it come easy. The rewards however, are priceless.

Why then do we settle for less than the Abundant Life Jesus spoke of?

What exactly are you settling for?

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

What’s so good about Good Friday?

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A lot of people ask that question at this time of the year. Just this past Wednesday a lady asked me “why do we call it good, and where did the name ‘Good Friday’ come from”?

The second part of her question was a bit difficult to answer because there is no clear cut, definitive answer to the question. At least as far as I’ve been able to understand. I have been able to locate both Protestant and Catholic descriptions of how the name Good Friday originated, and personally I don’t think it matters in the least.

Regardless of its origin, the name Good Friday is exactly what it is. Yes, it marks the day that we commemorate the brutal torture and subsequent murder of the innocent Jesus. It also marks the day that mankind was freed from the bondage of sin.

Good Friday is the culmination of God’s redemptive plan to restore what was lost in the garden of Eden. From the original sin until Jesus’s last breath on the cross, man was held in the bondage of sin, unable to free himself through good works and sacrifices.

It took a spotless lamb, in this case the sinless Lamb of God to break the chains that held humanity captive. Jesus offered Himself once, for all time, upon the most cruel of torture devices in order to pay our sin debt in full.

It was a debt that you and I could never pay on our own. There was only one payment acceptable that would turn away the wrath of a Holy God; the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

What’s so good about Good Friday?

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.  John 3:16

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.   Romans 5:6-11   emphasis mine

That’s what’s so good about Good Friday.

Thank you Father, for the plan of salvation. Without it I would be lost for eternity, and I would never have known that I could be loved so greatly.

Ron

 

 

Searching for God in all the wrong places

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“It would be rather nice if we lived in a world where everyone’s beliefs came true for them. The Christians would go to heaven, the Muslims to paradise, the Buddhists and Hindus would achieve nirvana, and the atheists would have a peaceful rest. Unfortunately, that’s all wishful thinking. We don’t know what’s true or not…”         Comment taken from an article published on http://www.religioustolerance.org/li_01.htm. Author Grace Li.

Unfortunately, this statement is not uncommon to hear in today’s era of “religious tolerance and enlightenment”. The idea that “we don’t know what’s true or not” is prevalent throughout the world, giving billions the “out” they are looking for in their vain attempt to hide from the One true God.

Even more unfortunate, however, is the fact that this is a lie, on par with one of the greatest lies ever told. When Satan told Eve that if she ate of the forbidden fruit she would not die, it birthed doubt into her heart that perhaps what God had said was not really true after all. Therefore if what God said then wasn’t true, it must be OK for mankind to figure it out on his own by making his own choices.

That worked out real well for Eve, didn’t it?

Fortunately for all of mankind, the response to those who subscribe to the errant belief that “we don’t know what’s true or not” was given two thousand years ago when Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, spoke these words:

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

This declaration however, does not set well with those who want to be free to create or choose their own pathway to a personal paradise. It is rejected by those who refuse to humble themselves and repent of their sins.

None of which changes one thing that Jesus said. This is yet another stumbling block to the unbeliever. The fact that unbelievers reject the word of God changes nothing, because the truth is that our opinions do not matter. What matters is TRUTH, and the word of God is TRUTH. Reject it or accept it…it is still TRUTH.

Popular authors and TV hosts alike all offer differing opinions about how to get to God, or how to reach their version of “paradise”. Talk show hosts like Oprah, for example, argue that Jesus is not the only way to God, as seen in this YouTube video.

What Oprah and her millions of followers fail to understand however is that since the Garden of Eden, men have claimed to have stumbled upon “another” path to enlightenment. Her views, as well as all others that are in opposition to the Bible, are nothing new. They are simply wrapped in a more deceptive, easier on the ears package that appeals to the flesh.

Looking for God…in all the wrong places.

The words of Jesus that declare Him to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, are offensive to the world, of this there can be no doubt. How dare anyone lay sole claim to be the only way! This reeks of arrogance to the unregenerate, who wrongly believe everyone is free to worship or believe anything they wish.

This is, in a nutshell, one of the reasons why there are so many false religions in the world today. To believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God removes man from the equation. It renders man’s efforts useless, and man cannot accept the fact that he is not in control of his eternal destiny.

Man’s answer therefore, is to create his own religious belief system that fits into HIS values, beliefs, and ideas. How’s that working out for mankind anyway?

You see, Jesus Christ basically declared for all eternity that He didn’t need our help. He did it by Himself by fulfilling God’s plan of redemption for mankind. Thus, He can truthfully say that He is the Way, He is the Truth, and He is the Life.

There is no other way. There is no other truth. There is no other life.

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.   Isaiah 45:22

Apart from Him, all else is shifting sand.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

A part of something much bigger than you or I

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With so much in the world today that is spiraling out of control, I can only say that “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.

The Family of God

I’m so glad I’m a part of the fam’ly of God!
I’ve been washed in the fountain,
Cleansed by His blood.
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I’m part of the fam’ly,
The fam’ly of God.           Lyrics by Bill and Gloria Gaither

For over two thousand years people have been exhorting those who don’t know Christ to come and receive Him into their hearts.

Humbly, I submit to you that I cannot imagine a time when the need was greater than it is right now.

Look to Him,

Ron

 

 

 

Stickers say a lot about us

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I think those old,leather luggage trunks are so cool,especially the ones that have those travel stickers plastered all over them, like this one…

travel-trunk

One can only imagine the stories this trunk could tell,and the countless memories made in far away, exotic places would no doubt be joyfully shared for years to come. Think of the adventures! Each one of those old stickers is a story,and when you add them all up they would make quite a novel!.

Did you know that all of us have our own collection of stickers? That’s right,even if you’ve never left your home town you have them. And just like those on the travel trunk above,our stickers tell a great story. Stickers of a different sort,stickers of our life’s journey. Yours might look like the one above,or it might look like this one…

custom-luggage

Here’s the thing about these stickers. They represent events of the past,both happy and sad. Events that we cannot change or wish away. Events that are burned indelibly in our hearts and minds. Some wonderful,some not. Either way,they are part of who we are. And while all of us would like to focus on those happy stickers,the truth is that we often spend more time thinking about the not so happy ones.

Not that anyone needs reminded of this,but the devil does a great job of bringing past, painful memories back to life. Painful memories are one of his chief weapons in the battle for our souls. Do you know why this is? Because they are extremely effective at stopping our forward momentum in Christ,often to the point of paralyzing us.

Scripture reminds us that the weapons of our warfare are nor carnal (II Cor.10:4). That is because our battles are not carnal,but spiritual,and are fought with mind and spirit. Paul understood this, and to the believers at Philippi he offered the following as the guiding philosophy that drove him onward…

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,   Philippians 3:13.NKJV

Maybe,like me,your life is plastered with stickers that remind us of things we wish we had never done,or that things had not been done to us. As an example,a lot of the stickers on the second trunk are my own. And I left off the really bad ones.

Perhaps,again like me,you struggle with the whole “forgetting those things which are behind”. If so,here’s a different perspective on the subject that I would like to share with you.

Many times when we read the Bible we lose sight of the fact that these men were not super human. Rather,they were cut from the same cloth as you and I. Still,we wonder how Paul could say that he had forgotten the things of his past. It doesn’t seem possible,does it?

Well,I don’t believe he ever forgot them completely. And I can absolutely guarantee you that Satan never stopped reminding him of them. When he said “forgetting those things which are behind” he meant that those events would always be a part of him,but they would never define him.

Though always present,Paul chose not to allow his stickers to hinder him from fulfilling God’s plan for his life. They had been set aside,placed on the back burner,a part of his life that while reachable,he no longer considered them essential to his mission.

What do you choose to do with your stickers?

Our vision of those things which are in front of us,blessings,joy,peace,and ultimately our salvation,is marred by the painful reminders of our past that are pasted like stickers on a baggage trunk.

Here then,is the secret to dealing with those unpleasant stickers. When we endure bad things,the memories of the event are forever etched into our minds. But like Paul,those events do not,can not define us because we are new creatures in Christ Jesus.

That God has done a new work in our hearts and lives is cause to rejoice! Do you agree with me that we sometimes forget this? We should be shouting that “I’m not the same any more”!

We should never forget that the battles of today are strengthening us for tomorrow.We know what to expect from the enemy,we know how he works, but more importantly we also know what our God can do!

Through Jesus the way has been made for us to live an abundant life ( John 10:10). A life of pressing toward the mark of our high calling in Jesus.

In spite of those stickers that have attached themselves to our lives!

Special thanks to my daughter Lindsey for her help with the artwork! You should check out her blog at https://thelindseyvibe.wordpress.com/.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be blessed everyone,

Ron

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