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Sizzling For Jesus?

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About a month ago, my wife and I were discussing some different areas of ministry, and in particular the area of preparedness. In other words, how we might approach the different ways in which we minister to people.

Now, as regular readers may know, my wife is extremely adept at getting to the crux of the matter. In other words, she doesn’t mince words but gets right to the point.

So it was on this occasion as we were discussing the study time necessary in order to prepare and deliver a sermon. Her exact quote is as follows:

”If the only time we push the pan close to the fire is when we are scheduled to preach (teach, sing, pray, etc), then we are not being faithful. We should be as close to the fire as possible at all times!” Of course, she was correct in her assessment.

To use her as an example, she is a gifted soloist and is often asked to sing at our church. To many, she’s just a pretty face standing up there singing her beautiful songs. And I’m just as certain that there are a few who see her as merely the “entertainment”.

I, on the other hand, know differently. When she is scheduled to sing, the first thing she does is to pray about what song to sing. This isn’t a quick thought like “well Lord, what’s it going to be this time?” Not at all!

She will pray until she believes she has heard from the Lord about the song He wants her to sing. Do you know why she does that? It’s because her song is her ministry gift from the Lord, and she takes that very seriously.

So seriously that she wouldn’t think of not being prepared to deliver her gift. That includes much prayer as well as a lot of practice time in her “studio”( it’s actually our garage, but she refers to it as her studio). Her gifting is in worship, and when she sings she is singing as if Jesus was sitting on the front row.

She does not “perform”, rather what she does is worship the King of Kings.

It’s no different then when I am asked to speak in one of the services. I have to know that I’ve heard from the Lord before I will ever step behind the pulpit. To do so knowing that I was unprepared would be an insult to the Lord, and you can believe me when I say that isn’t going to happen.

This takes many hours of study and prayer, because just like my wife, my calling is very serious to me. I understand that many do not take this approach, in fact, I have had my share of people tell me I am far too serious about this. Imagine that!

For me, however, there is no other way.

I’m that serious because it’s very personal to me. It’s like a covenant between the Lord and me, and I don’t ever want to break that covenant. So I endeavor to be as prepared as I possibly can be when I’m called upon.

Whatever area the Lord has gifted you in, I trust that you also take it seriously. Whatever gifts and callings we may have, use them to your fullest capability. They were given to you for a purpose, and that purpose is to use them to bring glory and honor to God.

For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.   Romans 11:29

That’s how important and serious this is.

My Princess had one final thought on the matter of preparedness, and I will leave you with that.

You can’t sizzle for Jesus unless your pan is on the fire!

That’s right my love, and we’re going to keep right on sizzling together for Him!

Be blessed on this wonderful Lord’s day!

Ron

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Why can’t we just love on Jesus?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does this happen to us so quickly?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How could we be?

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

Because He is worthy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be blessed on this Lord’s day,

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your worship dependent upon?

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Worship: reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred. [1]

I asked the question ‘what is your worship dependent upon’ because I wonder if we believe that our worship is dependent on something we do or think.

For example, if our worship is dependent upon something we ‘do’, what is it that we must ‘do’ before we worship the Lord?

  • Do we have to dress a certain way?
  • Do we have to act a certain way?
  • Do we have to say certain words?
  • Do we have to belong to a specific church or denomination?

Perhaps it is something we must think, instead of ‘do’.

  • Do we have to think certain thoughts?
  • Do we have to think like everyone else?
  • Do we have to think about our frame of mind?
  • Do we have to think at all?

Maybe none of that matters. Maybe what matters most is the environment.

  • Is the music too loud?
  • Is the music the ‘correct’ style?
  • Are the lights dimmed?
  • Are the seats comfortable enough?

Can I be honest with you for a moment? Every single one of the things I mentioned so far has at one time or another negatively impacted my worship.

Want to know something else? That was very difficult for me to admit.

If worship truly is “reverent honor and homage paid to God”, can I honestly say that I was reverently honoring and paying homage to God when I allowed anything to negatively impact my worship?

Honestly…no I was not.

You see, there are times when this flesh rises in me and wants to show me that it is still in control, and it usually happens shortly after I have experienced the goodness and grace of God in a tangible way.

The ability to hinder our worship is one of the most effective tools in Satan’s toolbox. Jesus referred to this in a manner of speaking when he said that “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” …[2]

The thief of course is Satan. He is a thief and a liar, and he comes to steal many things from us. If we permit him to do so, he will steal our joy, our love, our compassion for others, even the victory we enjoy in our souls.

What he is most wanting to steal however is our worship. That is because Satan knows that if he can steal our desire to worship God, he has gained a foothold in our lives. The devil knows all too well that if he can get us focused on external conditions and circumstances, he can negatively impact the internal, or our heart.

The Apostle Paul also understood how important it is for the Christian to not allow the devil to steal anything from us, and we find him telling the Ephesian church to “neither give place to the devil”. [3]

What Paul is telling us here is that we are not to give the enemy any access into our lives. Closing every door of opportunity so that the devil will find no entrance into your home or life means just that. Do whatever it takes to keep him out.

If you will remember, Paul was known in Hell [4] and was locked in a battle with Satan that lasted until he drew his last breath. He knew this adversary well, and understood the ramifications of ‘playing with fire’.

So determined was Paul that Satan would not steal his worship that we find him and Silas singing praises to God at midnight while both were in prison! There feet may have been bound in the stocks, but their worship could not be chained! [5]

Beloved, our worship is not dependent upon any external circumstance or situation. It doesn’t matter if the lights are too bright or the songs too fast. All that matters is that our hearts are engaged with our Creator.

When that happens, all external hindrances fade into obscurity. Those voices telling us not to worship because this or that is not to our liking are silenced.

This is when we fully understand what David meant when he said this prayer:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. [6]

All of us, especially me, need to approach the Lord with a clean heart and a right spirit, or attitude. This is what opens the door to our worship.

Be blessed everyone,

Ron

 

[1] https://www.dictionary.com/browse/worship

[2] John 10:10

[3] Ephesians 4:27

[4] Acts 19:15

[5] Acts 16:25

[6] Psalm 51:10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beast has been unleashed

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On December 31st, 2018, the Rev. Justin Hoke, pastor of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in Weed, California, posted the following on the church’s outdoor sign. [1]

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Unfortunately for Rev. Hoke, LGBT activists descended upon the church last Sunday, claiming the sign was “hateful.” Later, these activists vandalized the church sign. Far worse than that however was the shameful lack of support this pastor received from his congregation. Persecution is to be expected whenever one takes a stand for Godly principles, being abandoned by one’s congregation,however, is not. [2]

In light of that sad state of affairs, the Rev. Hoke was forced to write the following on his Facebook page a few days ago:

“As of today, I am no longer the pastor of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church.

After much prayer and counsel, I have decided that it is best to briefly communicate what has taken place.

1. I was informed by our other elder that he felt he could no longer follow my lead as Pastor of TBPC.
2. I was informed that essentially all but one couple in membership would leave the church if I continued as pastor of TBPC.
3. Our other elder and the couple felt that those who left would likely return if I would leave.
4. Our other elder was agreeable to stay and assume the pastoral responsibilities.

Therefore it was determined that it would be in the best interest of the local body for us (TBPC and the Hoke family) to part ways.”

So what we have here is a minister of the Gospel who stated three irrefutable,Biblical truths on his church sign.

  1. Bruce Jenner is still a man
  2. Homosexuality is still sin
  3. God’s Word does not change,even if the culture does

Incredibly, his entire congregation (save one family) decided that it was better to side with the LGBT activists than their own pastor,and left the church. Rather than standing firm upon the truths of God’s word, this congregation bowed their knees to Baal, soundly rejecting God, His word, and their pastor. Instead of supporting their pastor and his family by upholding these truths, they took the cowards way out by throwing him under the bus.

The fact that this could even happen is evidence that the spirit of antiChrist, which has always been present (though largely kept under wraps), has been unleashed upon America and is no longer being restrained. This should serve as a warning to all Christian leaders that the freedom to declare the whole counsel of God is now a part of America’s past. [3]

Indeed, the Beast has been unleashed!

This is only the beginning of course. Don’t want to support an unholy agenda by baking a cake for a homosexual couple? Then you will be shut down so you can’t bake a cake for anyone. Soon, these events will become commonplace, hardly raising an eyebrow.

It isn’t too far on the horizon when the Devil’s advocates will sit in the sanctuary, secretly recording a gospel message, carefully listening for anything they can remotely twist into “hate speech” so they can call in their ‘activists’ and destroy more pastors and their congregations.

What these so called ‘activists’ are willingly ignorant of however is that these same tactics have long been employed by ruthless regimes of every type in order to weed out the “subversives” who seek to overthrow the government by their “heinous deeds” of worshiping God. The only difference between them and groups such as LGBT and others like them is that the latter have managed to garner the support of the liberal elite in both Hollywood and Washington D.C.

Thus, they wield an unprecedented level of power to destroy the family and as much as possible whatever is Godly by ascribing the words “hateful” and hate speech” to all who dare oppose them.

But let’s be honest here, shall we? Was it the sign itself that caused such an explosion of anger and hate from the LGBT activists, or is something else the cause of their outburst? Was seeing words that refute their lifestyle and their agenda really what triggered this explosion of hate from them?

Of course not! What so enraged these people was the fact that someone would dare condemn their chosen lifestyle.  What really happened here was these LGBT activists were making a statement. And that statement was that no one, not even God Almighty himself can tell them how to live their lives. This was all about spiritual rebellion against the authority of God to govern our lives according to His divine mandate.

This outburst is just the latest in what has become a predictable pattern by those who oppose God. Oh, to be sure the methods have changed, as have the players in the game. New strategies are being developed almost daily in order to destroy the family as God created it. Rest assured however, that the chief engineer behind these activities is Satan himself.

There really is nothing new about all of this. As a matter of fact, it’s been going on since Satan first appeared to Eve in the garden when he coerced her and Adam into disobeying the command of their Creator. It’s the same mindset today, only instead of cunning, stealth, and deception, Satan now uses an “in your face” attack designed to intimidate God’s people into surrendering without a fight. [4]

Those who are wise understand where all of this is headed. The ‘children of light’ understand that these are the beginning days of the time when the adversary would unleash his power against all that is called Godly, thus causing many to lose their faith. [5]

Rather than cower in fear at those who oppose God and all that is Godly, our assignment is to pray for those who persecute and seek to harm us. Jesus teaches us that our weapon of choice must be love. We are not to return hate for hate, but must rise above the hate from those who oppose God. [6]

Be blessed, and pray without ceasing!

Ron

 

[1] https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/article224506495.html

[2] 2 Timothy, 3:12

[3] 1 John 4:3

[4] Genesis 3

[5] 1 Timothy 4:1

[6] Matthew 5:43-45

When a baby enters the room

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You’ve seen this a thousand times. A beaming couple can’t wait to show off their newborn. Plans are made, family and friends are invited, and the long awaited day finally arrives.

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Photo by Carlo Navarro on Unsplash

As the guests arrive, the beaming parents can hardly contain their excitement as they eagerly walk around the room, proudly showing their guests how perfect their little cherub is.

The point out it’s weight, any special features, how the baby is already showing signs of having his mother’s nose or her fathers eyes. And then you notice it…

For some odd reason, the entire room has taken on a different atmosphere. Grown adults, parents, grandparents, great grandparents, even children all are swept up in the moment.

The moment a newborn enters the room time stands still. Nothing else matters as all eyes are diverted towards the baby. A hush settles over the once noisy room, replaced by the wonder of this new creation.

I have to believe that this was the scene when the wise men, or Magi, who had been following the heavenly star first laid eyes upon the Christ child.

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Photo by Batang Latagaw on Unsplash

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.    Matt. 2:10-11

During this Christmas season, may each of us reflect once more upon the birth of Jesus Christ. May we be in awe, just as the Magi and the shepherds in the fields were. May the wonder of it all astound us as we ponder the magnitude of God’s love for man.

And most of all, may we worship Him who was born in the most meager of circumstances, this son of a carpenter, the Gift that was given to all mankind, destined to become the payment for our sins, who is now seated at the right hand of God.

Merry Christmas,

Ron

Becoming deaf to Satan

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Voices…

Noise…

As a lover of solitude, I find this world to be a very noisy, intrusive place. Being raised as I was, meaning as a full-fledged country boy, I learned to love the quiet and peace of near silence.

I can still remember hours and hours where the only sounds I heard were that of the wind blowing, or the birds chirping. Imagine not seeing a single car go past your house for several hours! That was my world as a child.

Things certainly change as you grow into adulthood though, don’t they? Somewhere along the way, you realize that it’s time to leave behind the only life you’ve known and join the masses who are making a living and doing all the other things that adults are expected to do.

That’s when you start to hear them. Voices, coming at you from every conceivable direction, all clamoring for your attention, all wanting to be heard. Happy voices. Angry voices.

Your Boss.

Your spouse

Your kids

Your friends

Then there are two other, very distinctive voices, voices that sound like none of the others. Voices that seem to almost be in competition with one another as they vie for your undivided attention.

Gods voice.

Satan’s voice.

As a child of God, we hear His voice in many ways. We hear it in the Word of God. We hear it when we spend time with Him in prayer. We hear it in the laughter of little children. And yes, we hear it in that “still, small voice”. [1]

The voice of God is unmistakable to His children that have inclined their ears towards Him, as Jesus told us in John 10:27 that “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”.

Satan’s voice, however, is a deceptive voice. That is because Satan is a liar and never tells the truth. To mask his lies and gain our trust so that we will let down our guard, he must appeal to our fleshly desires.

One of the ways in which he accomplishes this is to mix a little bit of biblical truth in with the lie. For example, a common false teaching that has crept into the church today is that all of us are “little gods”.

On the surface, I would hope that none of us would consider ourselves to be a “god”, yet that is exactly what some teach today. They quote John 10:34 as their proof text:

Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are ‘gods””

This is classic Word of Faith teaching, and it is nothing short of blasphemy. Yes, Jesus did in fact quote that particular verse from Psalm 82, but He was stating that HE was above judges as the Son of God. In no way, shape, or form was Jesus telling any man that they were a “god”.

This type of false teaching appeals to the flesh, and the desire for power that the flesh lusts after. It is deceptive in that the devil takes scripture and twists it to appeal to the flesh. He mixes a truth with a lie to deceive us.

There are a lot of false teachers out there today that espouse this particular brand of false “theology”. The late Paul Crouch of TBN fame was one of it’s biggest proponents, and it has been passed down to the likes of Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Crefflo Dollar, Fred Price, Marylin Hickey, and Jesse Duplantis, to name a few.

This is but one example of how the enemy will take something that God has said and twist it into something entirely different. From the moment in the Garden when Satan twisted God’s commands, thus enslaving man to sin, to this present day, he has never stopped in his attempts to undermine God’s plan for your life, all while lying to you.

How many of you, like myself, hear the non-stop voice of the enemy as he tries to steal, kill, and destroy? [2]

It’s very real, is it not?

So how are we to drown out the relentless voice of Satan so we may overcome his deceptive tactics?

  1. For one, we must stay in the Word. Nothing brings clarity to the believers’ mind like Gods Word. It is the standard by which all Truth must be measured. Every sermon or teaching that we expose ourselves to must be measured against this standard. And that includes your pastor or your favorite TV preacher or author. If what they are teaching differs in any way from the written Word of God, you must reject it.
  2. We must continue to cultivate our relationship with Christ through prayer. It is shocking to hear how little time the average Christian spends in prayer. Prayer is a line of communication between God and man that must remain open at all costs. If you are too busy to pray, you are too busy.
  3. We must be a people who worship. Worship comes in many forms, and not all of them involve singing a song! For example; purpose in your heart to be a thankful Christian. Give Him thanks for all the many blessings you have received from Him. Learn to be a sacrificial Christian. Prefer others before yourself. Become a doer of the Word, and not just a hearer.

I believe that it is possible to become deaf to the voice of Satan, but it can only be accomplished by redirecting our attention and focus on the things of God.

If we will do this, our lives will be enriched far beyond what we can imagine!

Be blessed everyone,

Ron

 

[1] 1st Kings 19:12

[2] John 10:10

The Glory of the Lord has departed

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Ichabod

What a strange word, and an even stranger name for a child.

Yet that is what a dying mother named her child upon hearing the tragic news that both her husband and father-in-law were dead, and that the Ark of God had been taken from Israel. 

While you can read all about this heart wrenching episode in Israel’s history in the 4th chapter of 1st Samuel, here is an excerpt that tells how it came to be that a distraught mother named her child Ichabod.

19 Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her.

20 And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Do not fear, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer, nor did she regard it.

21 Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.

22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

This Ark of God is the very same Ark of the Covenant that went before Israel as they sojourned in the wilderness. Inside of it were the two stone tablets that contained God’s handwritten Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod that budded, and a pot of manna.

To Israel, this Ark represented the very presence of God in their midst, and it was a most Holy possession to them. To have lost the ark was to them the same thing as losing God, hence the reference to “the Glory has departed from Israel”.

As if losing the priest and both his sons in one day weren’t enough, the loss of the Ark had a profound impact upon the nation of Israel. When it was captured by the Philistines, along with it went Israel’s hope, strength, and courage. In short, the departure of the Ark negatively affected an entire nation.

From where I sit, I see an amazing parallel emerging right before our eyes. The world at large today, and in particular America, is suffering the same effects as Israel because in our world “the Glory of the Lord has departed”.

Or perhaps the sincerer assessment would be to acknowledge that the world has departed from God, believing it has found life without Him to be “our best life now”.

Whether through the crushing methodologies of oppressive regimes, or willful, deliberate acts of spiritual abandonment committed by the masses, it is a fair statement to say that the majority of people neither want or know God any longer.

To be sure, we have fabricated an image of God in our minds, one that we have created to serve us at our whim, to pour money into our accounts, to be at our beck and call when trouble arises, only to be shelved until the next crisis.

By and large however, we have abandoned our spiritual birthright and heritage because it is not the God of the Bible that we desire.

In our churches we no longer expect or want God to show up in our midst. For Him to do so would require us to humble ourselves and repent of our transgressions, and that does not compute with a people who only want God on their terms.

Deliberate or not, and I believe it is, we have effectively “engineered” God out of the church. Disguised as the ritualistic order of worship, we carefully plan our church services down to the most minute of details, thus ensuring that even if the Almighty should desire to come down and deal with our hearts, there has been no time allotted for Him to do so.

For many, there is no expectation of going to the house of God in order to meet with Him there. Instead, we go out of a sense of duty, or because we’ve been taught that it’s the “right thing to do”.

Instead of meeting with Him there, we are sadly content to sit and listen to a nice, ‘easy on the ears and conscious’ story about Him! In short, we have no intention of having an encounter with the living God!

This is the result of “the Glory of the lord has departed”.

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. 5:31   emphasis mine

Your experiences are probably different than mine, however I have observed a peculiar phenomenon over these past four decades of my walk with God. That is that when man demonstrates a lack of zeal for God, his word, or his presence, God will not force himself upon them.

His Glory departs, leaving them to go about their religion without Him. In His absence is a cold, indifferent, faithless man-centered organization comprised of dead men’s bones. Good for nothing, entrapping men in its clutches, enslaving them in the bondage of religiosity.

Herein is the real tragedy of all of this: it was never intended to be this way!

Jesus taught that “whom the Son sets free is free indeed”, yet by our own actions we have established that we are not content to be free. Instead of freedom, we long to be chained to the same mistakes of those who long ago learned that “without Me, you can do nothing”. John 8:36, 15:5

As I look around this nation, am I the only one who mourns over what was, and what might have been? My soul is grieved over what we have done to the God who loved us enough to sacrifice His only Son for our sins!

For all of this however, I am convinced that all hope is not lost.

Nations will fall, as they always have when they have abandoned the God of heaven. Nevertheless, as He did in days long gone, I believe God has reserved to himself a remnant that are committed to Him no matter how difficult life becomes.

“Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”  1st Kings 19:18

My hope is in Jesus Christ, and in Him alone will I place my trust. I look to no party or person to give me hope for a better future. That ship has sailed, I am sad to say.

Only God can provide real hope for His children, and I intend to cling to His glorious  hope for the rest of my days.

My prayer is that His Glory never departs from you.

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

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