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The next BIG thing

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I’ve been studying 1st Corinthians 2 where the Apostle Paul speaks about the gospel being presented in a demonstration of Spirit and of Power. I’m sure most of you are familiar with this subject matter, but for reference sake I’ll post a few key verses.

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1st Corinthians 2:1-5

Knowing the capabilities of Paul to more than hold his own in any theological debate, I find it interesting that he would start this letter by saying he wasn’t coming to them using excellency of speech or wisdom.

We know that this man Paul studied at the feet of Jewish scholars, and was well versed in the Old Testament scriptures. He most certainly had attained a high level of wisdom, and his knowledge of various languages gave him the ability to converse with nearly everyone. He disputed with the Jews and Greeks frequently, clearly demonstrating to all that he was on their level, so to speak.

Yet he said that he pretended not to know anything except for Jesus and him crucified. In other words, Paul’s heart was for winning souls. He knew that the key to winning these people was to become one of them. So he left his superior knowledge, education, and skills at home so that he might be received by these Corinthians.

Do you think there might be a lesson here for all of us today? Might we be better soul winners if we were to lose the attitude? Is it possible that if we humbled ourselves and got down on the level of those who are so desperate for hope, that we might actually have something to offer?

Paul went on to say that his preaching was not done with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power.

What he meant by that is that he did not come to entertain them as though he were some great orator. The people were accustomed to hearing speeches given by politicians, sages, philosophers, and other learned men of the day. As such, they were always on the lookout for the next BIG thing.

If Paul had come to them as one of these, it is likely that they would have paid him very little attention. Paul, however, was hardly in the ‘entertainment business’.

The Apostle knew that the Corinthians had many voices vying for their attention. There was one voice, however that they had yet to hear from. This voice not only spoke at a level they could appreciate, but it was accompanied by a demonstration of God’s power.

These passages remind me of how desperate the Church is today for a demonstration of the Spirit and power of God. When I say that, I am making a clear distinction between the Spirit and power of God as Paul knew it, and that which is passed off today as being from God.

We have a lot of voices in the world today who claim to speak for God and to operate in His power. Sadly, these voices are nothing more than con men(and women), who have figured out that desperate people will shell out millions of dollars in hopes of receiving their miracle.

This is not, however, the power that Paul spoke of. As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul would have soundly rebuked each and every one of these modern day deceivers.

Unfortunately, the Church isn’t aware of it’s desperate state. Instead, she is only too willing to continue down the path towards capitulation to the gods of this world.

Such is the price that must be paid when the Church embraces the world and its standards, instead of proclaiming herself as the standard bearer of Biblical truth and righteousness.

Oh how I wish that pastors everywhere would once again teach this to their congregations. Instead, what we have is a modern day system of idolatry, where pastor worship has become the norm.

Beloved, “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God”(1st Cor. 3:19). Do not allow your hearts to be deceived by placing your faith in man. Whatever wisdom man has, it is temporal. It is fleeting, destined to pass away.

The power of God however is from everlasting to everlasting. It transcends the wisdom of man, indeed the natural man cannot begin to understand such power.

Paul desperately wanted the Corinthians to understand that their faith must not be in the wisdom of men….but in the power of God.

Instead of always searching for the next BIG thing, my earnest prayer is that we who know Him as Lord and Savior will come to experience His power in a very real and tangible way.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

Who’s really in control of YOU?

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No doubt you’ve heard the expression “one step forward, two steps backwards”.

Have you ever really thought about this statement? What does it say about us?

I think it says that we are trusting more in our own abilities than we are the Lords.

It says for all the world to hear that we are controlling things, or at least we are trying to. And when we try to be in control, our progress is always being hampered by US. We get in our own way and make a mess of things.

Hence, we take “one step forward and two steps backwards”.

Of course, being a human being carries with it a certain “issue”, one that we all have, which is that we really like to be in control don’t we? The thought of someone, anyone besides ourselves calling the shots is, for the most part, unthinkable to our carnal nature.

C’mon, admit it. You like to be the one calling the shots don’t you? I know I certainly do! We all have this compelling need within us to take charge of the situation and bulldoze our way through it.

But what about when our own capabilities, talents, and skills leave us on the wrong side, or short of the goal?

More often than not, we go backwards don’t we?

Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, those two steps backwards was where the Lord wanted you to stand and be still for a time and a season? That maybe He wasn’t ready for you to move forward just yet. Or that YOU weren’t ready to go forward yet because there were still lessons to be learned ‘back there’?

There is a verse in the Old Testament that talks about standing still and seeking out the old paths. Perhaps you are familiar with it?

Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.   Jer. 6:16

Israel had a terrible time with simply walking in the place God had called them to walk in. Seems they always had a better idea, or so they thought. If ever a people was known for taking “one step forward and two steps backwards” it was the children of Israel.

So prevelant was their penchant for backsliding that in the long history of Israel, only two little words are necessary to sum up their predicament. These two little words say it better than an entire library full of scholarly works.

If Only.

If only they would have listened. If only they would have followed the Lord instead of trying to take charge themselves. If only they would have stood by the Lord and asked for the old paths, where the good way was.

If Only.

The whole of human history has been one gigantic battle of “If Only”, and that includes you and me.

If Only we would have listened to the warnings of the one who had already walked where we were about to tread.

If Only we would have sacrificed and taken our children to church when they were still young, instead of either taking them to the lake or soccer practice or worse yet, permitting them to do whatever they wished to do.

If Only

Who’s really in control of your life? If we’re honest, that’s a very easy question to answer isn’t it? As long as we continue to take “one step forward and two steps backwards”, the answer is obvious.

The question then becomes are we willing to give up control in order to gain rest for our souls as the Lord desires us to do?

Something to think about on this Lords day.

Be blessed, in Jesus name.

Ron

Faithful to the call

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Every Christian is a called Christian.

In spite of the fact that there are over six hundred thousand paid clergy in the United States, every Christian, irrespective of denomination or church affiliation, has been called to “spread the Good News”.

Think about it; there are currently over 7.6 billion souls on the earth. If only those 600,00 paid clergy were sharing the gospel, each of them would be responsible for 12,666 of those 7.6 billion souls. How practical is that?

The ‘Great Commission’, found in Mark 16:15 directs us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature“. This is the defining call upon the lives of all believers everywhere.

The fact is that God intended for all of us, whether paid/professional clergy or laymen and laywomen, to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a solemn and divine mandate handed to us by Jesus Himself.

The question all of us must answer is simple: are we being faithful to this very personal call to preach the gospel? And if not, why not?

We hear many excuses for not heeding the call, don’t we? Let me list a few and see if they sound familiar.

  • It’s not my job
  • That’s what we pay the minister to do
  • I’m not qualified
  • I give in the offering, isn’t that enough?
  • I lack the confidence to talk about such things

The thing is, most if not all of us have used these or similar excuses before to explain away our missed opportunities to share the Gospel. It’s not that we set out to deliberately shirk our personal responsibilities, it’s just that in our humanity we somehow manage to do so.

I’m from the camp that believes that God has not only called us all to spread the Good News, but that He has also equipped us all to do the work. You don’t need to be a Biblical scholar, nor do you need a seminary education to be a witness of His goodness.

You see, God has a unique way of taking our life’s experiences and using them as a catalyst to reach the lost. In other words, he takes what you already have and uses it to reach someone who needs to hear your story.

As an example, I was approached one day by someone I had never seen before who wanted to speak with me about Christianity and divorce. When I asked her why she was coming to me, she replied that she had heard that I had been divorced and had been watching my life from a distance.

Scary, huh?

She wanted to know how I had been able to move past such a difficult and personal issue. This was an opportunity to share with her that the Gospel is both personal and powerful, and that faith in Jesus will sustain us in the worst of times.

God took a tragic season of my life and was able to use it to encourage another of His children to keep pressing on. What’s great about this is that all of us have stories of hurt, abuse, despair, and bitterness that God can use as an opening to to share the Good News with another person.

Our role is simply to be faithful to the call by allowing God to use our brokenness to reach others. It’s a proven fact that some of the most powerful witnesses for Jesus are also some of the most broken.

Like you.

My hope and my prayer is that we would allow God to take our lives and use them as His hands and feet to reach this desperately lost and searching generation.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

 

 

 

What are YOU good at?

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The other day my wife handed me a piece of paper on which she had quickly written something she had heard somewhere. Here is her message:

“In the church we’ve gotten really good at worship, but not so good at service to the Lord.”

As I reflected on this it struck me in a profound way that what she said was very true. For so long our churches have focused so much of their resources on creating the perfect “worship environment”(whatever that is), that it’s come at the high cost of neglecting others, and more importantly, Him.

If we aren’t serving others, how are we Christlike?

If ministry is not our primary purpose, what exactly is our purpose?

If we aren’t being salt and light in this world, why does this world even need us?

If we aren’t anointed and equipped for service, then who is doing the work of the ministry?

Father, as David prayed, so do I.

Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Teach me that serving others is serving You. Take the blinders from my eyes that I might see the needs that are all around me. Help me to understand that my neighborhood is my mission field, that souls hang in the balance, and that yes, I am my brothers keeper. Instruct me in your ways Lord, and let me not fail to praise you for the untold blessings that have been given to me. Amen

Ron

 

 

How to choose between the wide and the narrow:part 2

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In today’s post we are going to examine the second distinct people group from Matthew 7:13, 14, the “few”. If you remember from my last post, Jesus stated that there would be few that find the narrow road that leads to life.

The key word “few” as used here can be defined in one of several ways, including:

  • A small number of.
  • Emphasis on how small a number of people or a thing is.
  • The minority of people; the elect.

Don’t overlook the importance of this word. I believe that Jesus used it purposefully. Even though it is a very small word, it carries significant weight and impact in this lesson.By using the word few,Jesus is pointing out that the many,or the majority,are headed the wrong way.

How does the fact that Jesus used this word sit with you? Does this bother you or make you uncomfortable? Doesn’t it sound like Jesus is saying that those who find the way to life are in the minority?

Think about that point for a moment. There are over 7.5 billion souls on this planet. The latest estimates (2015) are that there are just over 2.2 billion Christians, or roughly 30% of the world’s population.few-there-be-stuart-miles-fdp-etpr-2

Even if every one of those 2.2 billion are numbered among the “few that find it”, that leaves 5.3 Billion, or 70% of the world’s population that will enter through the Wide Gate. From a purely statistical point of view, this is astounding!

Of course, there really is no way for us to number the few or the many. That task, thankfully, belongs to God and God alone.I use the numbers as a reference only.

But could Jesus really be saying to us that not everyone who thinks they are on the right track,isn’t? Well, he actually did say that here:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  Matthew 7:21-23

Now we have Jesus telling us that not only will there be “few that find it”, He is also telling us that many will think they will enter through the Narrow Gate, only to be told that He never even knew them! The four most dreadful words we could ever be told are “I never knew you”!

This brings me to ask a very important question:does this sound like something we should trust to chance? I don’t think so! Jesus Christ is telling all of us that we can be busy doing all types of good deeds,church or religious works,and still miss heaven!ef-2-chance-dice-03

 

If that doesn’t cause us to take a look deep inside our hearts,I don’t know what will.

So we see that in truth there actually are going to be comparably few that find that narrow road that leads to life. OK,OK,so, exactly who are these “few”? The answer is found in Matthew 25:31-46. Here is an excerpt from that passage:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of 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 took Me in; 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? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’   Matthew 25:31-40   NKJV

These, beloved, are “the few that be that find it”. May I encourage you to study these verses of scripture? Within them you will find many character traits of the chosen.

In my next post I’m going to conclude this topic by showing you how to make absolutely certain that you choose the path that leads to life.