Friday, June 23, 2017

The Final Significance

The Final Significance                                        06-23-17

Matthew 18:12 (ESV) 12  What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?

Luke 15:4 (ESV) 4  “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?

Have a little different take on these Scriptures this week. A different perspective if you will. 

The title of the message is the title of the last chapter of a book I read and finally finished this week. Without getting off track, the author states that indeed our actions and "works"in this life are going to have a significance when we stand before God one of these days. Not in the sense of salvation but in the sense of accountability and reward. Agree,disagree it doesn't matter. He,however did say something that hit me.
Significance- A realization that I am engaged in a responsibility or job that is truly important,whose results will not evaporate with time,but will last throughout eternity,that fundamentally involves having a meaningful impact on another person.....

I read this week that in order to be mentally and spiritually whole that we as people feel secure in our standing before God. Not only that but the need to feel significant with God is also deeply seated in our psyche. I have heard ministers of the Gospel when speaking of their particular work or ministry,talk of the need to be validated.We don't want to feel like we are as Paul put it,"beating the air." We need to feel that we are contributing something of value to the world and people around us. That we have some inkling of significance.
No matter where you are in life,or what you are engaged in,you and I need to know that what we are doing has value or is appreciated by someone else. We are contributing  our portion to the tribe. As Christians for sure we need to feel that we are laboring in some endeavor that God has directed us. Not only that, we need to feel that God attaches some import to it;some significance if you will. Our efforts need to be validated in our own minds and hearts.A thank you or a word of encouragement. At least we know someone is listening .It contributes to our feeling that we have a God given purpose. And herein lieth the lesson.

Ever feel insignificant?Ever feel like no one is taking any notice at all of your efforts? Not just that no one is taking notice,but even if they did notice it would not make a difference.You feel that your labors don't amount to a speck of dust in the eyes of man,and given time you begin to believe they are even more inconsequential in the eyes of God. 

I heard those verses this week and thought about them. It seemed that I got a slightly different perspective on those passages.Let me see if I can put it into words.

The enemy of our souls will do anything in an attempt to discourage and dishearten us.We see ministers and ministries affecting hundreds and even thousands. We see friends and acquaintances whose lives seem blessed beyond measure. And then there's us. Nothing seems to be happening. It's a battle just to drive into work. 

A friend of mine at work spoke those verses this week as we were conversing and he gave me a different and encouraging look. What's that Ronnie? Well just this. Not everyone,indeed most people are not called to minister to the 99. Most of us are called to minister and nurture the one. As my friend Pastor Doug has so very often reminded me, in God's eyes it's not about the success of our labor,but the FAITHFULNESS. 

While it surely is grand to minister to the multitudes,to build great works and whatnot. In God's eyes it is just as grand to pray for a child or encourage a struggling soul that God places in our path. It's easy to lose that perspective when things are difficult. It's oh so easy to see yourself and your life as supremely INSIGNIFICANT. BUT THAT IS A LIE OF THE DEVIL.It is hard to see sometimes isn't it? Yes it is! At least for your's truly it is. God doesn't call everyone to the 99. Somebody has to go see about the one. One thing is for sure. When we stand before Him,He is not going to forget. He's not like us.That ONE that you gave that encouraging word to. That ONE that you spent time in prayer for. That ONE that no one else saw except you. Rest assured child of God, HE saw it. He's writing it all down. And one day soon it will become very SIGNIFICANT.

Hebrews 6:10-12 (ESV) 10  For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.
11  And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end,
12  so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.


God Bless






   

  


  

Friday, June 16, 2017

Without Reproach

Without Reproach                                           06-16-17

James 1:5 (ESV) 5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Without reproach. God will answer you no matter how many times you ask without chiding or taunting you.That is what that word reproach means. But,BUT, we have to ASK.

Got a story to tell about something that happened to me this week. Where shall I begin? At the beginning I suppose. This may be a tadbit lengthy,but bear with me please.

I have been a tithe payer for the better part of 40 years. As a matter of fact it is one of only two days that I can trace back in my Christian walk. One being the day I got saved and the other the day I committed to a tithe. Easter Sunday,1978 I "caught" the truth about tithing/giving. It has become second nature to me by now. Something that I don't even think about anymore. However,this message today is not about tithing.The only reason that I am sharing that with you is for background to my story. 

As I said the paying of my tithes and offerings is ingrained in me now and has been for many years. It is a Scriptural truth that I caught long ago,and I have been the recipient of untold material blessings over the years that I attribute to the giving of my substance. It is something that I do,without reservation or hesitation. UNTIL THIS PAST WEEK! Can we talk here? O.K. Good. Let me be a little transparent here.

I had some unexpected expenses recently and found myself this week a little tight. Nothing that I had not experienced many times in the past. But, this week it came down to a choice. Chloe was going to a church camp this week and in order to  pay for it I was going to have to dip into a savings account that I had earmarked for other purposes. It was money that I was saving in order to pay off a debt coming due later this year. Money that I had COMMITTED to NOT TOUCHING. See, I had the money to send little bit to camp,but,I was going to have to raid the fund that I had promised myself I would not touch. And herein lieth the lesson.

As I searched for a way to pay for this camp,the thought entered my head."Ronnie,why don't you use your tithe this week to pay for the camp"? Hmmmmm.....Let's see here.I am not using this money(my tithe) for myself. It is a church sponsored function.Chloe will be benefiting from this camp AND I won't have to dip into my fund for paying off debt. The more I entertained the thought,the better it sounded. After a couple of days I had almost convinced myself that there was no harm in it. But, way down deep it seemed I had a check in my spirit. And here is where the story begins.

On Tuesday of this past week I was sitting in the Kroger parking lot getting ready to meet Shelley and Chloe for dinner. We were going to buy Chloe her first Bible to take to camp. As I sat in my car I prayed to the Lord for some direction. I told Him that I was planning on using my tithe money to pay for the church camp.I told Him that I thought it was O.K. but I wanted to know if my heart was in the right place. What was gnawing at me a little bit was the fact I had the money in the untouchable account,but I did not want to use it. Went through all I told you above. I ended with this final request. I said these words."Lord,I need you to speak to me plainly in this.I need your wisdom and I need it set before me in a PLAIN way.

After 39 years of giving. After 39 years of seeing God honor my tithe with His provision. I asked Him if I could now NOT give it.Not because I did not have it to give.NO,NO. BUT,Because I did not want to use funds I had sitting in a bank account. Money that God and God alone had given me the strength to earn. Ya feelin me here?Ever happen to you? Anyway here is where it gets good.

I go through the rest of Tuesday evening without incident.I awoke Wednesday morning,my off day from KAT and as is my custom,got a cup of coffee and turned on my I Pad to check my emails and whatnot. When I opened up my email the very FIRST WORD I saw In bold,black letters was TITHING!.

FIRST WORD I LAID MY EYES ON. As I read on  I realized it was Pastor Doug's Wednesday message. It was the title of his sermon that day.TITHING!!Now it was not odd that I had received his Wednesday message, but the time of day WAS odd.It normally arrives in the late afternoon or early evening. Rarely is his message out by 7:30 A.M. As I read his message it brought tears to my eyes.I was stunned. No,I was humbled. I realized that Indeed God,as only my God can, had answered my prayer.Not only that,He answered it about as PLAINLY as it could be answered. More importantly,He answered it gently,lovingly,without chiding or upbraiding. It could've been something like "Ronnie you have seen me provide for you for most of your life and now you have to ask if you should give your tithe?" But He didn't. Ya feelin me? 

After the shock wore off I decided to investigate a little bit. I called Pastor Doug and asked him about the last time he had spoken on tithing/giving. I could not remember and neither could he. Then he gave me this nugget. He told me about 3:30 or 4P.M. yesterday as he got on the treadmill that the Lord spoke to him about speaking on tithing. He even mentioned that fact in his sermon. I had spoken my prayer to Him almost the exact same time. Maybe 4:30 or so. God knew what was going on with me and He decided to use my best friend and mentor for the past 40 years to speak to me PLAINLY.

Brothers and sisters we are frail creatures. It is a great God that remembers and knows our frame. 

Psalm 103:14 (ESV) 14  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

In spite of our frailties,in spite of all our fears,doubts and weaknesses He has compassion on us. He does not reproach us does He?

Psalm 103:13 (ESV) 13  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

Dealing with a familiar sin? Needing guidance and direction AGAIN? Being tempted to put God in second place for a pittance? Don't fret. God is waiting to hear from you. He is not going to taunt,or chide or reproach you. No matter how many times you need Him to come to your aid. All you or me have to do is ask.

Psalm 103:10-11 (ESV) 10  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;



God Bless





 




 



    

    





Without Reproach

Without Reproach                                           06-16-17

James 1:5 (ESV) 5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Without reproach. God will answer you no matter how many times you ask without chiding or taunting you.That is what that word reproach means. But,BUT, we have to ASK.

Got a story to tell about something that happened to me this week. Where shall I begin? At the beginning I suppose. This may be a tadbit lengthy,but bear with me please.

I have been a tithe payer for the better part of 40 years. As a matter of fact it is one of only two days that I can trace back in my Christian walk. One being the day I got saved and the other the day I committed to a tithe. Easter Sunday,1978 I "caught" the truth about tithing/giving. It has become second nature to me by now. Something that I don't even think about anymore. However,this message today is not about tithing.The only reason that I am sharing that with you is for background to my story. 

As I said the paying of my tithes and offerings is ingrained in me now and has been for many years. It is a Scriptural truth that I caught long ago,and I have been the recipient of untold material blessings over the years that I attribute to the giving of my substance. It is something that I do,without reservation or hesitation. UNTIL THIS PAST WEEK! Can we talk here? O.K. Good. Let me be a little transparent here.

I had some unexpected expenses recently and found myself this week a little tight. Nothing that I had not experienced many times in the past. But, this week it came down to a choice. Chloe was going to a church camp this week and in order to  pay for it I was going to have to dip into a savings account that I had earmarked for other purposes. It was money that I was saving in order to pay off a debt coming due later this year. Money that I had COMMITTED to NOT TOUCHING. See, I had the money to send little bit to camp,but,I was going to have to raid the fund that I had promised myself I would not touch. And herein lieth the lesson.

As I searched for a way to pay for this camp,the thought entered my head."Ronnie,why don't you use your tithe this week to pay for the camp"? Hmmmmm.....Let's see here.I am not using this money(my tithe) for myself. It is a church sponsored function.Chloe will be benefiting from this camp AND I won't have to dip into my fund for paying off debt. The more I entertained the thought,the better it sounded. After a couple of days I had almost convinced myself that there was no harm in it. But, way down deep it seemed I had a check in my spirit. And here is where the story begins.

On Tuesday of this past week I was sitting in the Kroger parking lot getting ready to meet Shelley and Chloe for dinner. We were going to buy Chloe her first Bible to take to camp. As I sat in my car I prayed to the Lord for some direction. I told Him that I was planning on using my tithe money to pay for the church camp.I told Him that I thought it was O.K. but I wanted to know if my heart was in the right place. What was gnawing at me a little bit was the fact I had the money in the untouchable account,but I did not want to use it. Went through all I told you above. I ended with this final request. I said these words."Lord,I need you to speak to me plainly in this.I need your wisdom and I need it set before me in a PLAIN way.

After 39 years of giving. After 39 years of seeing God honor my tithe with His provision. I asked Him if I could now NOT give it.Not because I did not have it to give.NO,NO. BUT,Because I did not want to use funds I had sitting in a bank account. Money that God and God alone had given me the strength to earn. Ya feelin me here?Ever happen to you? Anyway here is where it gets good.

I go through the rest of Tuesday evening without incident.I awoke Wednesday morning,my off day from KAT and as is my custom,got a cup of coffee and turned on my I Pad to check my emails and whatnot. When I opened up my email the very FIRST WORD I saw In bold,black letters was TITHING!.

FIRST WORD I LAID MY EYES ON. As I read on  I realized it was Pastor Doug's Wednesday message. It was the title of his sermon that day.TITHING!!Now it was not odd that I had received his Wednesday message, but the time of day WAS odd.It normally arrives in the late afternoon or early evening. Rarely is his message out by 7:30 A.M. As I read his message it brought tears to my eyes.I was stunned. No,I was humbled. I realized that Indeed God,as only my God can, had answered my prayer.Not only that,He answered it about as PLAINLY as it could be answered. More importantly,He answered it gently,lovingly,without chiding or upbraiding. It could've been something like "Ronnie you have seen me provide for you for most of your life and now you have to ask if you should give your tithe?" But He didn't. Ya feelin me? 

After the shock wore off I decided to investigate a little bit. I called Pastor Doug and asked him about the last time he had spoken on tithing/giving. I could not remember and neither could he. Then he gave me this nugget. He told me about 3:30 or 4P.M. yesterday as he got on the treadmill that the Lord spoke to him about speaking on tithing. He even mentioned that fact in his sermon. I had spoken my prayer to Him almost the exact same time. Maybe 4:30 or so. God knew what was going on with me and He decided to use my best friend and mentor for the past 40 years to speak to me PLAINLY.

Brothers and sisters we are frail creatures. It is a great God that remembers and knows our frame. 

Psalm 103:14 (ESV) 14  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

In spite of our frailties,in spite of all our fears,doubts and weaknesses He has compassion on us. He does not reproach us does He?

Psalm 103:13 (ESV) 13  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

Dealing with a familiar sin? Needing guidance and direction AGAIN? Being tempted to put God in second place for a pittance? Don't fret. God is waiting to hear from you. He is not going to taunt,or chide or reproach you. No matter how many times you need Him to come to your aid. All you or me have to do is ask.

Psalm 103:10-11 (ESV) 10  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;



God Bless





 




 



    

    





Friday, June 9, 2017

Have You Asked God

Have You Asked?                                         06-09-17

James 4:2 (ESV) 2  You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.

This verse came across my mind this week as I thought about a situation in my life that is an absolute impossibility. When I say an impossibility, I am in no way,shape or form exaggerating. If God doesn't move in this area of my life,it is not going to happen.As I was going over this situation in my mind this week,I heard that small voice in my heart say something to me. The question posed to me was simply this,"Have you asked God?"To which I responded positively."Yes I have." And that was the truth. In my New Year's prayer that I write out every year,I had indeed included that very request. However,as I went about this past week ,the above verse kept rolling across my mind.It wouldn't go away. "Have you asked God?" You do not have because you do not ask. And herein lieth the lesson.

A few years ago I spent a summer walking to work. It was a good workout,about five miles each way.I had a car,but I needed another one,Mine being on it's last legs.So,I decided that I would take the matter before God. I began to ask Him
every day.I would walk and pray about stuff,especially that car.Didn't have to be new,but I prayed for something nice. Mechanically sound,but most of all I wanted it to be GIVEN to me. What I mean by that is I did not want a payment.I remembered long ago how we folks in the church(me included) would give a testimony about how God had given us a car or a home or whatever.But,in reality that "gift" came with a hefty monthly payment. Ya feelin'me here? However, this time I wanted this car to truly be given to me. No strings or payments attached. Well,I had no idea where it was coming from,BUT it came. I was given a car from an unexpected source,the same car I am driving today.My point in telling you this is that I ASKED God for that car. I did not just casually toss my request out there.I was FERVENT in my prayer.

James 5:16 (KJV) 16  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

I like the wording of the KJV here. If I have a need in my life. If I have an impossibility in my life,the Bible tells me that FIRST I need to ask GOD.Not my family,not the doctor,and in the above example not the loan officer. I may end up going to those folks,but only AFTER I get God's direction on it. One of the most common(at least for  me) failings in my prayer life is the fact that I get impatient and decide to answer my own prayer. I pray for God to give me a car or whatever, but then I go out and buy it myself! We do it all the time. But then it goes on to say that I need to be FERVENT in my asking. I need to KEEP on asking,KEEP on seeking,KEEP on knocking.

Now sometimes God answers and that answer is no. He has said no to me before. But,I am going to tell you something here,that is the RARE exception,at least in my experience. The problem has rarely been with God rejecting my request. God wants to give His children their needs AND wants Rather,it has been on my side of the equation. Impatience, JUMPING THE GUN and wanting to do it myself being the usual suspect to any unanswered prayer.

Maybe we should take a cue from our children. When kids ask their parents for something they don't say "Daddy or Mommy please bless me." No,NO. They let you know EXACTLY what kind of bicycle,or glove or dress they want. It comes with the color, brand and any other pertinent details.And they don't stop asking until you threaten to beat them OR you go buy what it is they want.And you get a big kick out of seeing their faces light up when they open that package. God isn't any different is He? Well, except for the part about beating us.(smile)

You(we) have not because you(we)ask not. Amen?

Psalm 37:4 (ESV) 4  Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.



God Bless


  







Friday, June 2, 2017

Wag The Dog

Wag The Dog                                           06-02-17

Nehemiah 6:3 (ESV) 3  And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”

Wagging the dog. According to  Using English.com the idiom means "to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance,to something of lesser significance." A dog is smarter than its tail;but if the tail were smarter,then it would wag the dog.

Don't know if you ever saw the movie of the same name,if not,give a look see one of these days.As Elmer Fudd or was it Bugs Bunny(?) who said "veeeerrrrrryy Interesting."

The enemy of our souls is a master at wagging the dog isn't he? Been doing it since Bible times and continues doing  all the way until now in 2017. Look at Nehemiah. Sent by the Persian king to rebuild the wall at Jerusalem, Nehemiah is beset by problems from day one. Go read the book if you want some insight into working for the Lord.

You see all through this book,the enemy is wagging the dog. Nehemiah has not only been sent by the Persian king but has been commissioned by the Lord Himself to accomplish the rebuilding of the wall and indeed Jerusalem. From the time Nehemiah sets foot in the land,  the attempt to divert him from his call is never ending. It came through threats from their enemies. These threats were real. They,the Bible says "plotted to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it."

Then there were the cries of the people. The people, the Jews,Nehemiah's brethren were being mistreated by the leaders. The governors had laid heavy burdens on the people and ;they brought it before Nehemiah for relief. Threats from without,justified complaints from within. All designed to draw Nehemiah's attention from the wall.

Finally an offer of an olive branch. A conciliatory offer to meet together. To talk things over. But, it came from wolves in sheep's clothing. All along,they intended to do Nehemiah harm. But, Nehemiah stayed the course. He remained focused. "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down." And herein lieth the lesson. 

The devil today is still wagging the dog in our lives isn't he? God will lay something on your heart. Give you a burden to do something that He wants done. You,like Nehemiah set about accomplishing the task that God has laid on your heart and guess what? All of a sudden these "little foxes" start springing up. Little Johnny or Mary, model students until now,suddenly decide they are quitting school and moving to California to find themselves. Your employer,or your biggest customer,out of the blue,begins making more demands of you at your work. The car breaks down.The roof caves in. They decide to take part of your backyard to put in a four way intersection. Fill in the blank.

That tail starts wagging. All these secondary diversions,real though they may be,are designed to get your mind and focus off the task at hand.Building the wall.

I remember the story of Henry Ford. He began work on his first automobile. As he was going about his job,he saw ways that he could make his prototype better. He was tempted to leave the first auto unfinished so he could incorporate the new and improved ideas into his second model. But,he decided that if he quit before finishing the first car,he would probably never finish the second car,as some better idea or diversion would come along to get him to keep on trying to improve on an UNFINISHED product. The moral being that he may have never finished ANY automobile always looking for a better way.

If we are not careful,it is easy to let the cares of this life divert us from the task that God has called us to.  It comes packaged in many different ways,but it is all designed to provoke us to come down off the wall. To stop the work,or leave it unfinished looking for a better way or greener pastures. And before we know it,we have spent years or decades tied up with the things of lesser importance. The tail has been wagging the dog.

It may be something that in the eyes of the world is trivial. Maybe God has called you to keep the bathrooms at the church clean. Maybe He wants you to be a friend to an elderly shut in. Maybe He wants you to be the POTUS. WHATEVER He has laid on your heart,rest assured the diversions will come calling. Whether it be direct frontal attacks,or something much more subtle slithering through the back door;the enemy is there with one thing on his mind.... to get you to come down off the wall and meet with the critics,the boo birds and naysayers,the wolves in sheep's clothing. To look for greener pastures maybe.Whatever,just come down off the wall and stop the work. Ya feelin' me here?

I will leave you with this parting thought.God is going to get the work done. Whether it be through me,or if I am tricked into stopping the work,then through someone else.The vacuum I leave when I jump off will be filled by someone,somewhere. There is always someone waiting to gather in the blessing that God meant for me. If we fall off, we need to jump right back on.

Because of Nehemiah's fortitude,reforms were made and the people repented. The last verse says that Nehemiah cleansed them from everything foreign. His last words were:
Remember me ,O my God,for good.

Psalm 79:11 (ESV) 11  Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die!



God Bless