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A personal God. A personal Father.

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The word “Father” is an important one in nearly every society. To some, Father denotes the elder, or leader of the family. Others use the word Father when referring to someone who originated something, like the Father of a particular industry.

In today’s post however, I want us to look at how God was first revealed as our Father.

In the prelude leading up to Jesus teaching his disciples about how they should pray, on no less than five occasions do we find Jesus referring to God as “your Father”.         Scripture reference Matt. 6:1-9

Why is this important? It is important because with the words “your Father” Jesus did something that had never been done before.

He personalized Almighty God by attributing to Him an intimate nature.

Think about that statement. I cannot find one instance in the Old Testament where the Jews ever referred to God as their Father in the first person. When I first realized this I was stunned!

To think that the God who revealed Himself to mankind, first in the garden and then throughout the Old Testament history of the Jews, was never thought of in a personal way as Father was almost unbelievable.

In fact, studies have been done (by real scholars) of every book of the Old Testament, as well as every known Jewish writing up until about the tenth century, and there is not one single reference of a Jewish person addressing God personally as their Father.

This makes Jesus referring to God as “your Father” all the more remarkable!

As a matter of fact, the very first Jewish rabbi known to have called God “Father” was Jesus of Nazareth!  In Judaism, this was such a radical departure from tradition that it cannot be overstated in its importance.

So great was the Jews anger against Jesus for suggesting that God could have an intimate relationship with man, that He was somehow approachable by mere mortals, that it incited the Jews to want to destroy Jesus.

To refer to the One True God as “Father” was unthinkable to the Jews, who would have deemed such a name as disrespectful. Of course, they used many distinct names for God; in fact in the Old Testament they used as many as sixteen different names that were deemed appropriate when addressing God. Perhaps you have heard most of these?
* El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
* El Elyon (The Most High God)
* Adonai (Lord, Master)
* Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)
* Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
* Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)
* Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
* Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
* Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)
* Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)
* El Olam (The Everlasting God)
* Elohim (God)
* Qanna (Jealous)
* Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
* Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
* Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)

None of these names, however, refer to Him as “Father”. They are all names that reflect Holiness, Worship, and respect. They reflect upon his many incredible attributes.

In revealing the intimate nature of God by referring to Him as “our Father”, Jesus introduced to mankind the concept that God Almighty was also approachable.

Jesus revealed to the world for the first time that God was not some cold, unfeeling entity in a galaxy far, far away. No, Jesus pulled back the curtain of religious mystique and revealed God as Father, a title that suggests intimacy and personal relationship.

Because scripture teaches us that God has adopted us into his family and made us joint heirs with his only Son, we have been granted the right and the privilege to come into the presence of God and call him Father.

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”           Romans 8:14-17

A personal God, a personal Father, has adopted us into His family. We belong to Him, and as such we can call Him our Father.

I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t get any better than this for me.

Be blessed, and have a wonderful day,

Ron

 

 

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The risk of telling the truth

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Have you ever been faced with the dilemma of either telling someone the truth and risking a relationship, or not addressing a particular situation and allowing that same person to continue living what is tantamount to a lie?

This can be a difficult, stressful situation to find yourself in. On the one hand you don’t want to lose a friendship, yet on the other hand to say nothing is even worse. It’s the “silence is consent” conundrum.

As a Christian, I believe we are to speak the truth in love. Always.

In fact, we are commanded to address sin for the purpose of restoring the one who has sinned.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”           Galatians 6:1

Confronting the sins, or faults, or transgressions of another is never easy because all of us are just as guilty of our own shortcomings. It is important then that when we approach someone who is struggling in a particular area of their lives, that we do so lovingly and with grace.

After all, our purpose in doing so must not be to judge or condemn, but to restore that person to a right standing relationship with God. That is God’s plan for all of us, isn’t it? To be reconciled to God is the sole purpose for Jesus Christ offering Himself on the cross.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,” II Corinthians 5:18

When we get right down to it, when we come to the end of our days, all that will matter is whether or not our hearts are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. And when you consider that we are dealing with eternal things, it really does matter!

We know however that not everyone receives correction, or restoration, because the heart becomes hardened to the effects of sin. It’s not that a person doesn’t know or understand that their choices are sinful, but rather that they willingly choose to do so.

“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17

To these individuals, speaking the truth in love can often seem futile. It can also be costly because the hearer may not reject just the correction, but you as well. And this is very difficult for us to accept because we do not understand why someone would not receive what we are offering to them in love.

“Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” Galatians 4:16

Many Christians are being falsely labeled today as “hate groups” because they do not subscribe to the worlds standards for living. Taking a biblical stand for example against homosexuality will get you labeled as a “hater”. The same goes for supporting only Biblical marriage between a man and a woman, along with everything else the world is trying to peddle as acceptable.

This is important, because the foundation has been laid by groups such as the SPLC to categorize all Bible believing Christians as intolerant bigots who must be silenced. While the Church has slumbered (yet again), the process to do just that has made great strides.

Telling the truth, especially the Biblical truth to a person is not hate at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. To say nothing to someone living a lifestyle that Scripture condemns is the opposite of love, for in doing so you have assisted them in continuing down the path to certain destruction.

To lovingly confront someone with Biblical truth however is love, for you are demonstrating to that person that you love them enough to risk a friendship or the relationship for the sake of restoring them to a right relationship with Christ.

How big of a risk taker are you?

Be blessed!

Ron

 

“What will you do in the end”? Part 1

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That’s an odd question, isn’t it? Especially when you consider the source of the question is God Himself.

“An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land:

The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power;

And my people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?    Jer. 5:30,31    emphasis mine

This is a very pointed question that God asked of the children of Israel, isn’t it? The question was asked, not to elicit an answer, but rather to serve as an indictment against the children of Israel for abandoning their God.

God describes the condition of Israel at this time as both astonishing and horrible. What are supposed to be His spokesmen, the prophets, speak only lies in the name of God.

The religious leaders, or priests of the Tabernacle, rule by their own decrees, not God’s. Long abandoned is the Law, having given way to the sons of Aaron defiling the priesthood.

Even more incredible is the statement that “my people love to have it so”. Gone is the desire to do that which is right in the sight of God. It has been replaced by a passion for all things ungodly. Chaos is the rule of the land.

God is saying to them that once all the calamities come upon them that He has decreed, all of the gods they have prayed to will not be able to save them. He tells them that their priests cannot save them; nor can their leaders save them from the terror that is soon to envelop them.

So, Israel, what are you going to do then?

What will you do in the end, when I send an army upon your lands, an army without number, an army so fierce as to defy imagination? How will you handle it?

God is asking them “what will you do in the end” because He is about to permit the unthinkable.

History has recorded in detail “what they did in the end” when the Babylonian armies conquered Israel. They “handled” it by becoming enslaved by a people who wholly devoured them and their lands.

The irony of this is almost beyond belief! Israel, the very same Israel that God delivered from over 400 years of Egyptian slavery, has once again become enslaved by a nation more powerful than itself.

If this weren’t recorded in Scripture, one would think this was a fable, for what nation could be so foolish as to allow this to happen to them again? Or, as we like to say today…who does this?

Indeed, what nation would ever permit itself to become enslaved after enjoying the freedoms and liberties afforded them by the Providence of the Almighty?

What nation would ever turn their back on the God who had blessed it beyond measure with such an abundance of natural resources, blessed its soil to produce food enough to literally feed the world?

What nation would ever turn its back on the God who blessed its citizens with such technological knowledge that it could harness the energy of the atom? Blessed it with economic prosperity beyond comprehension?

In Part 2 of this series, we will learn the identity of this nation, and also take a look into the “blame game” being played out before us.

Have a blessed Lord’s day!

Ron

How would you worship if you knew today was your last opportunity?

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Would you change anything? Would you do anything different?

Would you notice the crying baby, or the fussy children?

Would you notice what the person next to you was wearing?

Would you take extra care in picking out what you would wear, or take no thought at all?

Would the volume of the music bother you as much as it usually does, or not at all?

Would you care that your favorite song wasn’t sung, yet again?

I’m jotting all of this down very early Sunday morning as I’m waiting to start getting ready for church. I woke this morning thinking, wondering, is there anything inhibiting my worship? And how would I worship if I had advance notice that this would be my last opportunity?

Worship

To offer Him praise and thanksgiving for all He has done in our lives,to take the time to express our gratitude to God for His many blessings. Isn’t that why we assemble on the Lord’s Day?

As I thought about all of this, my mind began to drift to the different types of worship we read about in the Bible.

Ritual Temple Worship

From the priestly worship inside the Temple we find the descendants of Aaron offering up animal sacrifices as an act of worship for the people: sin offerings, trespass offerings, guilt offerings, and on it goes.

Sacrificial Worship

The people often traveled great distances to worship, and let’s not forget that travel then was very hard and dangerous. Still, they went onward, determined to worship.

We see a man by the name of Elkanah going up yearly to the Temple to make sacrificial worship offerings. Year after year his wives went with him, and God received the worship of his wife Hannah, who was blessed with a son who you might remember was Samuel.

Emotional Worship

And how could we forget David, warrior king of Israel who danced in worship before the Lord with all his might?

Holy Worship

In the New Testament we read where there is worship in heaven, glorious, other-worldly worship where twenty four elders cast their crowns at the feet of God while crying Holy, Holy, Holy.

Whenever we find worship mentioned in scripture we typically find God responding to it, because we are told that God inhabits the praise of His people (Psalms 22:3)

Knowing all these things, the thought of “what if today was my last day to worship God” is front and center in my heart. Would we permit anything to inhibit our worship,if this was truly the case? Would all the things that we get hung up on now really matter?

As I continue working on this post, church has been over for nearly three hours. During the service today this topic was never far from my thoughts. Whether during the music portion, receiving the offering, or while being taught the word of God, I purposed in my heart that I would focus only on Him.

I couldn’t even tell you if anyone had a doughnut in their hand!😉

How then should we approach worship? Is there a right way to worship? Should our worship be limited by what our particular denomination allows, or considers acceptable?

Should our worship be traditional or contemporary? High Church or Cowboy Church? Quiet or loud, exuberant or solemn? Last time I checked, the Lord wasn’t handing out style points, but was looking for sincere hearts.

I don’t pretend to be able to answer those questions for you. I can, however, offer up this thought. I believe God expects, no demands, our very best worship. And what is “best” is different for each of us.

Take the busy single mom, who after working all day comes home exhausted knowing that her day is far from over. With kids to feed and bathe, homework to help with, laundry to be done, and a thousand other daily chores that won’t get done without her, her best worship opportunity might mean bowing her head and heart in the shower during her only 10 minute respite of the day.

Or think about the business man or woman who routinely works 80-100 hours a week. The pressure and stress never seems to let up, even on Sunday mornings. The advancements in technology have made intrusions into their quiet time with God almost predictable. For them, their best worship opportunity might be fleeting at best.

As I said, I believe God demands our best worship, and I believe He will meet with us, regardless of method, place, or duration. The important thing is that we acknowledge Him as Lord, and that we connect with Him as often as we can.

So, how would you worship if you knew today was your last opportunity?

If you think you know the answer, why not try it out the next opportunity you get? After all, it could well be your last “audition”.

Be blessed,

Ron

Do you need to hear a Word from God?

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Typing “how to hear from God”into Google reveals a plethora of books,ministry web sites,online shopping sites, and magazines all offering their version of the answer to the question “htv-infomercials-as-seen-on-tv-01ow to hear from God”.

Sounding like they could belong on a late night infomercial,these sources pander their wares under the guise that even with all the distractions we are dealing with in life,by following their specific plan or method,we can indeed hear from God.

Seriously,who among the faithful doesn’t want to hear from God?Man has always desired to communicate with His Creator,there is nothing abnormal about that.

Of course,we must be able to discern these many voices to see whether they be of God or not(1st John 4:1). And to be sure God speaks to us in several different ways,such as through:

  • nature
  • other believers
  • situations or circumstances
  • prayer

But there is a better way to hear from God, one you can be assured comes with a 100% certainty of authenticity.No guess work.No more wondering if this is really God or not.

While Christians everywhere are spending untold millions of dollars in pursuit of the elusive “magic formula” for hearing from God,the answer is right there on their coffee table. It’s called the Bible.coffee_bible21

The Apostle Paul,in II Timothy 3:16,17 said that ” All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

I believe that Paul was saying that the Word of God is sufficient to guide us in every facet of our lives. As such,it also offers to us an answer that will help us to navigate the storms of this life.

Notice I did not say it offers THE answer.Trying to find answers in the Bible to very specific questions such as “why did this have to happen me”,or “why did my loved one die”,will be an effort in futility.

What the Bible does give us however,is wise counsel and instruction that if heeded will enable us to find the strength and wisdom needed to cope with all of life’s challenges.

God also gives us the assurance that His word “will not go out and return to Him void,but will accomplish what He has intended“.   Isaiah 55:11     God’s Word has a purpose,and He has decreed that it will accomplish the purpose for which it was intended.

I have personally seen this many times in my lifetime. God is faithful in all things,and that includes His Word.

If you’ve ever been at the end of your rope raising children,God tells us all about that in the Word(Proverbs,anyone?). Ever fear for your life? Jesus talked about that one stormy night when He quieted the wind and the waves by saying “Peace, be still!”

You don’t need to buy another book written by your favorite author to learn how to hear from God.Save your money and spend some quiet time in God’s Word.You might be shocked at just how much He has to say to you!how-to-hear-god

Maybe,just maybe,the notion that God speaks to us isn’t so far fetched after all. Instead,maybe the real issue here is that God is continually speaking to us through His Word,we’re just looking in all the wrong places!

Have a blessed Sunday everyone!

Ron

What’s wrong with telling the truth?

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Have you noticed that truth is something people do not like to hear? Why is that?

Do your children like it when you tell them the truth,as in “no,you cannot get into Harvard with those grades”? Does your spouse like it when you tell them “I’m sorry but we just can’t afford a vacation this year”?

Probably not,right?      bigstockphoto_Truth_1044622

There can be a sense of finality in the truth,a sense of “well,that’s the end of that”. And oh how do we not like that!

What’s more,why is it that when you do speak the truth to someone it seems as if you become their enemy? Is it because of this scripture becoming a reality to us: “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”  Gal 4:16 KJV

Have you ever lost a friend because you told them the truth? Ever lost a business associate or account,your job or position,your church? Well I have,and I can tell you that sometimes telling the truth can be costly,even though it shouldn’t be.

Truth is one of those things that used to be valued much more than it is today,and I think that we as a society are much worse off because we have devalued truth in favor of man’s opinions.

If you really think about this,truth is something that the carnal man rebels against because when you break it down we all want our way,don’t we? Truth is sort of like rules,and we all know how we feel about rules.The truth says “no you cannot”or “no it is not”. Humans don’t like that “NO” word,do we?

Truth is an absolute.It contains facts.It is irrefutable,even though we pay huge sums of money to people who argue that the truth isn’t really the truth.And as much as we might like to believe this,truth,like beauty, is not in the eye of the beholder.It is what it is.

Church is a place where truth reigns supreme.Or at least that’s how I see it.We teach the truth.We teach on the truth.We teach about the truth.Jesus Himself taught about truth during his entire earthly ministry.Here are just three examples of such teaching from the book of John:

John 14:6   Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth
John 8:32   And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free    (emphasis mine)
So if Jesus taught the truth,and based upon how many times truth is mentioned in the scriptures,what’s wrong with telling the truth? Why has telling the truth seemingly gone out of style in our society.And yes,in our churches as well?
I think it’s because we don’t like the finality of “truth”. Let’s face it-we want options,and truth doesn’t leave room for options.Our lack of desiring the truth has spawned a sub culture wherein lies and falsehoods have supplanted the truth to such an extent that most of us don’t even know what is truth and what is a lie.
The gospel message is one of truth and absolutes.There are no grey areas where the message of eternal life is concerned.The gospel contains no “half truths”. If it did it wouldn’t be the truth.Jesus did not leave any room for error in His message,and frankly it is not even open to debate.And I know most will not accept that statement.
Consider this statement from Christ as an one example: Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”   John 3:3 NKJV
Jesus spoke truth here.He did not say you might not see the kingdom unless you were born again,he stated he cannot see the kingdom unless he is born again. HUGE difference!This statement is non negotiable.It is not open to debate.It is not a point over which we can disagree.It is a truth.A Gospel truth.
I don’t know where you are in the great debate over truth.I only know that the Word of God is truth and as such that is my foundation. Everything else is measured against the Word.Many will call that narrow minded and if that is the case,then so be it.I refuse to measure truth by the world’s standards because they are ever changing.Not only that,but the world’s standards are pitifully inadequate to raise us up above our sinful condition.
Regardless of the cost truth is one thing that cannot be compromised,twisted,or distorted in order to fit the needs of society. To do so is to build our house on the shifting sands of opinion.
I’ll take the sure foundation of the Truth,regardless of the cost.How about you?
Ron

A World Gone Mad?

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Or are we reaping the effects of man’s efforts to replace God with himself? A world where God is largely ignored and man is in control.

When I was a kid I used to hear the older folks use the expression”this world’s gone to hell in a hand basket”. Back then I used to laugh at such a notion as if it were merely the musing of yet another old fogy whose time has come and gone.

You know what? I’m not laughing anymore.Turn on your TV to watch the aftermath of yet another school shooting and see if you don’t think that civility and order have spiraled out of control.Wars and rumors of more wars.Innocents being slaughtered by the thousands by marauding bands of extremists hell bent on the creation of an Anti-Christ nation where your only choices are submit or die.Lies being told so often by the highest office of governments and corporations that we scarcely even recognize the truth any longer.Right has become wrong and wrong is the new right.Chaos has become the new rule of the land.

And the church remains strangely silent.Oh,we have our “causes” to be sure.I see more participation from churches in the latest effort to raise money for “name the disease” than I do for those who are suffering all across the world.Our churches have become nothing more than social clubs where community organizers attempt to put their spin on the ills of society so they can implement yet another program,thus making the word of God of no effect whatsoever!

Satan has orchestrated his master plan to perfection-and the church remains silent!The early church leaders were accused of trying to turn the city upside down with the gospel of Jesus Christ.Contrast that with the church today that refuses to confront sin but rather has chosen to lie in the bed of adultery and fornication with the devil himself.The new religion of today has at it’s cornerstone the gospel of political correctness which has in turn silenced the church.

Call me delusional,crazy,or whatever else you want to call me but one thing’s for sure and that is we as a society are headed for the darkest period in our history. And for the most part the church is silent. Where is the outrage from the body of Christ? Where are the preachers taking a bold stand and declaring what thus saith the Lord? How is it even possible that the church has backslidden so far that it cannot feel for the lost and desperate? Is this the church that was started in a upper room 2000 years ago? Surely Satan must be celebrating the silence emanating from our pulpits!

The scriptures are very clear about this.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NKJV)
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. And from such people turn away!

Does this not perfectly describe the society in which we live today? On an even broader scale it perfectly describes the world as a whole! Wait…let’s take it up another notch and boldly declare that these verses of scripture might as well be referring to the church!

We have a form of godliness, and that’s about all we have. We have no power,for to receive power we must reject this world system but instead we have joined ranks with it! Indeed, the church has become no different than the world,for they have become inseparable.

It is unfathomable to me that anyone could read these scriptures and not be able to connect the dots.Every single trait mentioned in these few verses perfectly sum up the condition of man’s heart today! We cannot stick our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t so…the Word of God does not lie.

The church has become one with the world that we are called out of! We have become so lukewarm as to be in danger of being cast away!

I don’t know about you,but I have made my choice.I will not follow the paths of the “religious” who seek to pacify the sinners heart with feel good stories and dreams of grandeur.I refuse to entertain the goats while the sheep die of neglect.I’m going to declare the Word of God while I am still able to do so for the days are not too far off when this privilege will be taken from us.

A World Gone Mad? Or a world reaping the effects of man’s efforts to replace God with himself?

You tell me!

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