Friday, November 30, 2012

O Tannenbaum

Man, it is gorgeous outside today! It is beautiful out there today as the first few days of the Christmas.. ughh..sorry..the Holiday season gets into full swing. (more on that shortly) As I watched a newscast this week,I realized that I(we) was(were) watching the last faint heartbeats of what we call common decency in our fair land. More than that, we are presiding over the slow death of plain ol' COMMON SENSE! Let me 'splain myself here.

I watched this week a newscast that showed a leading political figure in our country(a state Governor) tell a national audience that he was offended at calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree. Yes, that's right ladies and gentlemen.Now, for fear of offending the sensibilities of some folk, the tree that would serve as the official? tree would be called a Holiday tree.Never mind that the Federal Government has designated December 25th, CHRISTMAS DAY as a federal holiday, we shouldn't call the tree a Christmas tree. I just had to shake my head and chuckle.

On a similar note I was told about a commercial that was marketing this holiday season as "the season of reason." The REASON being obvious. So as not to offend any potential customers who might not like the reference to Christ. I mean C'MON MAN! I thought about that newscast all week. I began to wonder what reaction, if any, that the King Of Glory, the Lord Jesus Christ might have to all of this. As I thought about this a play on what Pastor Doug this week said about Israel came to mind. The question begs an answer.

What has Jesus ever done to you and me? In what scurvy,sordid way has He treated us to evoke such a heated response? What are His crimes against humanity? Why are we so angry at Him just for the mention of His name? Hmmmm.. Good question.

Let's see what the Bible says about Him.

1 " Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 "He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street.
3 "A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 "He will not be disheartened or crushed Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law."
Isaiah 42:1-4 (NASB)

All He's done is proclaim healing and restoration for a fallen race. He was so meek and gentle that He wouldn't break an already bruised reed in His dealings with men and women. Not only did he proclaim liberty and justice for all, but He also offered life to any that would receive it. Not just life but ETERNAL life.

16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NASB)

However, to acquire that life someone had to die. So this meek, gentle, suffering servant VOLUNTEERED to give His life to pay OUR debt.

5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5 (NASB)

Let's see now, meek, gentle, loving, restoring,forgiving and dying all for us and we repay Him by despising and becoming offended at the mere mention of His name.

Listen to me Brothers and Sisters in Christ. We live in an Age of Grace right now. God, in His infinite mercy and grace is allowing time for any who will, to take the Lord Jesus up on His offer. During this time the world mocks our Lord and Savior, THE ONLY LORD AND SAVIOR I might add. But, just as time ran out in Noah's day so too it will run out in this, our day. Then, the mockery of the One we hold so dear will cease. It would behoove us all to pay CLOSE attention to what God has to say concerning His only begotten Son.

1 Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
3 "Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!"
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them.
Psalms 2:1-4 (NASB)

10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Phil 2:10-11 (NASB)

As it was told to me so many years ago.. me,you and indeed the whole world has a choice...we can bow now or we can bow later.

20 ~'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
Rev 3:20 (NASB)

God Bless

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Light In The Darkness

14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;
Matt 5:14 (NASB)

Man! Help somebody!! I'm ready to jump off the Holiday train and it just pulled out of the station!!! I tried to sit down and write this out today but there was something happening all day long. We had a long night at work last night after gorging all day onThanksgiving goodies. It seemed as soon as I woke up today there was something going on. Finally, I just got back home from taking my grandson out to eat and have now at 6:45 p.m. just sat down. I'm not feeling real spiritual right now but, you know what? I enjoyed every minute of it and am truly thankful for the GREAT food and the time I got to spend with my loved ones. As I was riding home thinking about what I would write my mind went back a couple of days this week. It was no great spiritual insight or revelation, but about the life of someone that had gotten touched this week from a message that had been sent out that very same week. A little background please Maestro. O.K.

This past week I noticed many different posts on Facebook by different ministries.They were all touting the many different ways that God had blessed their ministries; and, also how they were reaching out to the community with the resources that God had so richly blessed them with. Now, I was thinking about how successful those ministries and how much they were in the public eye when my son called me. In the course of our conversation he told me that a close friend of his had written him and proceeded to summarize the letter to me. After he had finished he told me what inspired this message tonight. His friend writes a bi weekly sermon and sends it out via the internet. One of those messages had touched my son's girlfriend and she had begun reading the internet sermons. The message had moved on the both of them enough to make them want to go to church and so they did.O.K. Ronnie. So what!? It happens all the time. 24/7/365. Yes I understand that but hear me out. It was not the fact that a message had been sent and received but it was where the message originated from. You see, in all those great ministries that I read about this week I nowhere read that a life had been touched. Yes, those various ministries absolutely DO touch people's lives, but for me, this week it was this one letter that I heard about. Now for my point. This letter and all the aforementioned bi weekly sermons came from the pen of an inmate in the darkness and hell hole of a prison cell in Jackson, Ga.

There were no television cameras or radio stations attending to this letter. No fancy computers to assist the writer in his labors. No, it was written by a man with a pencil and paper in longhand then hand delivered to another person for transcribing on to a computer and sent out over the internet. No facebook or twitter posts to inform the public. Just a simple hand written letter from the inside of a prison cell. But, it TOUCHED a life. It made a difference at a point in time in the life of another human being. And THAT dear reader IS my point. Look at that verse again:

14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;
Matt 5:14 (NASB)

Brothers and sisters it matters not your circumstances or station in life. You may not think that you are doing anything of substance but think again. There is nothing glorious in going to work day after day,year after year to give your children or loved ones a decent life. No, no.. you aren't going to make any headlines teaching a Sunday School class or keeping a nursery. The networks probably aren't going to beat a path to your door for caring for that loved one or giving to that charity. But, I can assure you that God is taking note and so is someone in this world. You are a light dear Christian, a city set on a hill.

No, that letter and those bi weekly sermons won't make Fox News or TBN or even Facebook. Likewise for the unseen toil that YOU are and have been bearing. But, trust me God is taking note and writing a Book Of Remembrance about it. Oh yeah, YES HE IS!

14 "You have said, 'It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the Lord of hosts?
15 ~'So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape.'"
The Book of Remembrance
16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name.
Mal 3:14-16 (NASB)

Brothers and Sisters, if you are in a prison cell God sees your labor. If you are working hard just to keep food on the table God knows it. He is not going to forget it and you WILL reap your reward.

9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Gal 6:9-10 (NASB)

God Bless

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Effectual Prayer

This is my last post before Thanksgiving so HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Hope ya'll have a good one because I assure you, God willing, I am going to! I've been on a low..well lower carbohydrate diet for cholesterol but come next Thursday carbohydrates beware.. I have you in my sights! Cornbread dressing and pie here I come!! At any rate, for some reason this past week I pulled out my prayer for 2012 which I wrote out last New Year's Eve and was surprised no, I was taken aback at how many of my prayers God had answered for me this past year. It actually caused me to pause and reflect to just say "thank you Lord." This week I was reading in James and came across this verse.

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

James 5:16 (NASB)

I paid close attention to the hind end of that verse because I actually had been encouraged by reading my prayer of 2012 and wanted to dig a little bit on what that verse was saying. Just what is an effective prayer? I'm not a big subscriber to the books or schools of thought that give "how to's". You know.. "seven steps to this or that". Not saying that there isn't some helpful advice in those how to's.They just haven't been helpful to me. But, here's what I gleaned this week. Look at that word "effective".

Greek NASB Number: 1754

Greek Word: ἐνεργέω

Transliterated Word: energeô
Root: from 1756;

Definition: to be at work, to work, to do:--

List of English Words and Number of Times Used
accomplish (1),
brought about (1),
effective (2),
effectually worked (2), (1),
work (6),
working (2),
works (7).

—NASB Greek-Hebrew Dictionary

You know what really jumped out at me here?

To be at work, to work. Effective prayer is the 'W' word. It's work. That is truth to this writer. I don't know about you but there are times,.. if the truth were known, MANY times that I simply do not WANT to pray. I would rather do anything than pray. I don't know how to say it any plainer. Not very spiritual here I'm afraid, but, I just do not want to pray sometimes. IT'S TOO HARD!

Maybe that's not you but, I'm sorry that IS me. If that struck a chord inside of you then give me a shout out!! Amen. It takes discipline sometimes. You have to MAKE yourself pray. It reminds me of the old Ringo tune(that's Ringo Starr for all you pups out there) you remember?

"If you wanna sing the blues, then you got to pay the dues, and you know it don't come easy." (smile)

The flesh just doesn't want to humble itself and pray. Or at least my flesh. I found something else out about that word effective. That word also means "an inworking" meaning that prayer works on your insides. Let me try and explain.The Bible says this about prayer.

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Phil 4:6 (NASB)

In today's vernacular" let her rip" Take everything to the Lord in prayer. Nothing is too small or insignifigant in His eyes.But, here's what happens in that prayer time. As we begin to talk it over with the Lord, He starts speaking to our hearts about our requests; what is good and acceptable and what might have the wrong motivation behind it. You getting my drift? That's the other meaning or sense behind that word effective. The more we talk to Him, the more He conforms us to His mind and His desire for us.

Beyond that and probably more important is that God wants us to be real with Him" Lord, I pray for world peace". O.K. I understand that, but, I need some peace in MY heart before I take on the world. Amen? We tend to offer lofty prayers to God with high ideals, while ignoring the anger we have with our next door neighbor.Listen, I'm preaching to myself here. Listen, if you stubbed your toe on the door and yelled out something you might not should have HE knows all about it. Bottom line. If you got a headache tell God that you got a headache. I am certainly no authority on effective prayer and don't make any pretense to be one. I just know that God graciously and sovereignly answered my prayers and I was encouraged. So I decided to find out a little bit more about it. I hope it blessed you.Have a great Thanksgiving. God really is a good God.

1 I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.

Psalms 9:1 (NASB)

God Bless

Friday, November 9, 2012

We Have No King But Caesar

Remember that line from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar? I read something this week that put that line in my mind. Let me share it with you. The article was a quote but it didn't give author credit but these are not my words, I just don't know who they belong to. It went something like this: "God is letting every form of human government run it's course to demonstrate that man is not qualified to rule himself.

When history has set the stage, proving mankind's inadequacy, then God will usher in His ideal form of government,- theocracy, in which God openly rules through His Son. Until then His rule is behind the scenes. Yet He openly intervenes and overrules when His honor and the true interests of one or more of His people are at stake."

In the aftermath of the most divisive election in my lifetime, with people absolutely polarized and vehemently opposed to the other's solutions to the problems facing a very sick country, this thought once again popped into my head,... GOD IS SOVEREIGN. Selah. How do I know this? The Bible tells me so.

35 " All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ' What have You done?'

Dan 4:35 (NASB)

Go read Daniel 4 and get the whole story. Here's another one.

6 Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.

Psalms 135:6 (NASB)

One more.

13 "Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?"

Isaiah 43:13 (NASB)

Here's a couple from the New Testament

In Him
11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

Eph 1:10-11 (NASB)

20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Phil 3:20-21 (NASB)

I apologize for all the scripture but, I don't have too much to add today. I would, however, point you to a common phrase in those scriptures. Look at the words "all things" That phrase is also used in Hebrews 1:3.

God "works" all things, He "subjects" all things, and He "upholds" all things. He allows us to choose our leaders, Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative, Good or Evil...BUT, He is behind the scenes orchestrating the outcome. His purposes will not be frustrated by human endeavor. He will receive His Glory in all the earth in spite of earthly authority that resists Him. Heck. He was the one who set the authority up. What? Oh yeah that's right.

1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

Romans 13:1 (NASB)

Listen brothers and sisters I said all that to make this one point.Kings and kingdoms come and go. Perilous times are indeed upon us, there is no denying that. But, in the midst of all the turmoil and in spite of the shaking of the nations God and His sovereignty reach all the way down to you and me. He, in my opinion, is much more interested in you and me as His children than He is about any country or political ideology.In the midst of all the uncertainty His promises still hold true for you and me. His plan for our lives remain steadfast if we can just learn to trust Him. He will turn the hearts of kings and nations as He desires but He desires us to willingly yield ourselves to Him for our well being. He IS the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and He searches all the earth to find someone who will lean on and trust in Him. Let us divorce ourselves from the politicos, pundits and performers of this age and turn to the Sovereign Lord of all the earth.

1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

Psalms 121:1-2 (KJV)

God Bless

Friday, November 2, 2012

It's For Real

I was speaking with a friend this week and we were talking about various details of our lives, both good and difficult. At the end of the conversation my friend made an observation concerning a difficult situation. He said "..there's always hope." After we finished talking I went for my daily walk and this verse came to mind.

19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

1 Cor 15:19 (NASB)

Here's how King James said it:

19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

1 Cor 15:18-19 (KJV)

"..we are of all men MOST MISERABLE" or "..most to be PITIED." (caps mine)

That verse led me to a question. Why do we do it?

Why did those 1st century Christians endure the unimaginable persecution? They were crucified along the Appian Way in Rome. They were literally roasted and fed to the lions as sport in the Colosseum. Across the ages they have been stoned, drowned, and burned at the stake. Even today in the civilized 21st century, Christians the world over are suffering horrors that we here in America can only imagine. All for the sake of a man that they have never seen or heard; having only read about or listened to someone talk about. I daresay it is beginning to touch us here as the days are growing darker and darker in this once great country. I am reminded of a phrase in the "Shawshank Redemption." While trying to figure the reason for his unjust imprisonment, Tim Robbins didn't blame anything or anyone he simply mused that it was his turn to be in the storm. However, he noted that he had no idea the storm would last so long. Do you feel the same way? Has the storm lasted longer than you could possibly have imagined? The question still goes begging. Why? Why do you still believe? Why do you still hope?


AMEN? SELAH? Pause and calmly think about that.

44 "Let these words sink into your ears;

Luke 9:44 (NASB)

Let these words SINK into your ears. Let me open my heart to you and try to explain myself.I said a few weeks ago that God, His Son, His Spirit and His Word were the only things that made any sense to me these days. I am not exaggerating here. It may seem simple but it's the truth. Here's my take on it.

I noticed yesterday that U.N.troops would be monitoring various election sites next Tuesday. FOREIGN TROOPS on OUR SOIL monitoring OUR election processes. Where's the outcry? No righteous indignation from EITHER party or candidate!!?? Listen brothers and sisters our political climate is no longer uniquely American, It is global that pits some ultra-elite power brokers against the rest of us. Sadly, for all the hoopla and rhetoric, not a lot of difference exists between our two parties. Oh yes there are some differences as to style and delivery but as to SUBSTANCE?? Not a great deal. I don't know who to believe and it feels like a great fog of deception has settled over this land.

Not only are our politics fifty shades of gray but our economies are ...well...I give up. I watched a documentary on the History channel about the Industrialists at the turn of the 20th century. It was much like today where markets both stock, real estate, and commodities were manipulated.Somebody or bodies created an artificial bubble in these markets to lure the masses in and when they had blown the bubble up as fat as they could they popped it, causing untold misery to those left holding the bag.Sound familiar? This is a picture that has been played out time and time again until people(or at least me! smile) have no idea what is real and what is contrived. I have no HOPE in those institutions. At least that's how I see it. I quietly consider that a shaking is beginning.One of epic proportions. I wonder if we are living in the "little while."

6 "For thus says the Lord of hosts, ' Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land.
7I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the Lord of hosts.

Hag 2:6-7 (NASB)

You see we live in a world system that God is going to once more shake. It could well have already started. Look at what Hebrews says about it:

26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, " YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN."
27 This expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Heb 12:26-27 (NASB)

It's no wonder,as we see these systems reeling under their own weight that we lose confidence.Where else is there to look for answers? If you know of one, shout it out to me and I will consider it. You see brothers and sisters, some 37 years ago I fell off the turnip truck at the Post Office in Atlanta,Ga. and the Lord Jesus SAVED me. That day my heart, my life,my world view, indeed EVERYTHING about me changed. The Lord Jesus Christ reached down into my soul and gave me a new heart. And for the last 37 years, through thick and thin; through the times when I walked close to Him and the times when I tried to chart my own course HE was there. He has been the ONLY constant in my life.With the world entering into darkness and teetering on the edge HE is all I have left. He is my only hope. Oh yes I will vote this election(already have). Yes, I pray that we have Godly leadership. I certainly do love my country, it is the greatest ever founded. But, beloved this world's systems can't heal your broken heart. They can't strengthen you to face another day. They can't heal a sin sick soul. All they can offer you is rhetoric, deceit, broken promises and outright lies.As I,we see the pages of God's Word played out before us, it is readily apparent to me that my answers, the REAL answers to my doubts and fears are found only in Jesus. I wish that the answers were at the polling booth(U.N. troops notwithstanding). But, they aren't and never will be.Sooo...THAT is why we believe. THAT is why we continue on.THAT is why we still have HOPE way down in our soul. The Rock Of Ages has become the Rock of our age. It's because of Jesus. There is none beside Him. There is none like Him. He's the only true God. HE'S THE REAL DEAL!

3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:3-5 (NASB)

God Bless