Friday, July 26, 2013

Don't Shave

Let me begin this message with a story from my week. There is a little girl who is very dear to my heart. Her name is Chloe and she lives in Georgia. Chloe has very bad eyesight and must wear specially made glasses in order to see. She had been visiting here recently and had gone to church. While at church they had a healing service and Chloe wanted to know if God could heal her eyes so she would not have to wear her thick glasses anymore. The Pastor said that yes, indeed, God could heal her; so, she prayed right there to God and asked Him to heal her eyes. Fast forward a couple of days.While I was talking to Shelley she recounted to me the story at the church. It hit me for some reason because I had been praying for some time for God to heal not only Chloe but also her brothers, all three of whom suffer from poor eyesight.  As I was walking around the track a couple days ago I prayed for Chloe and a verse came to mind.

19 "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
Matt 18:18-19 (NASB)

Well, I decided right there that I would agree with Chloe about God healing her eyes. I agreed in my spirit with that little girl and prayed earnestly for her healing. It seems(at least to me) that no sooner had the words left my mouth that a subtle attack against God's Word was launched in my mind. "Ronnie, that isn't what that verse actually means." "Remember all the times you have agreed in prayer and nothing happened?" "Remember, remember,remember....that verse doesn't mean what it says" Ever experienced that? O.K. so next day I am down at the track and I start to pray for Chloe and I stop myself and I ask God if that verse really means that. Well, without answering my question the Holy Spirit spoke these words to my heart."Don't diminish My Word " Now that really hit me because just a few days ago my friend had told me not to let anyone diminish what God had called me to do. Add to that the fact that I had read in my Bible study just the night before the following:

2 Thus saith Jehovah: Stand in the court of Jehovah's house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in Jehovah's house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word.
Jer 26:1-2 (ASV)

There it is again..diminish. O.K. so maybe I need to look at diminish.

Look at that word diminish.

a primitive root; to scrape off; by implication to shave, remove, lessen or withhold :- abate, clip, (di-) minish, do (take) away, keep back, restrain, make small, withdraw.
—Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary

You see the Lord was instructing Jeremiah in this passage to omit nothing of the prophesy.To speak all the words that He commanded. But, God went a step further. He told Jeremiah what? ..." DIMINISH(caps mine) not a word." Speak every word Jeremiah and don't shave or lessen anything that I have spoken. In today's vernacular DON'T WATER IT DOWN. DON'T MAKE IT SMALL.

You see brothers and sisters that is what happened to me. When I look at that verse in Matthew, simply read, it speaks of great power. Read it again.

  19 "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
Matt 18:19 (NASB)

Folks, that be some STRONG medicine. If you agree...about ANYTHING....IT SHALL BE DONE FOR THEM BY MY FATHER....."(caps mine)

You see in my case when the Lord put that verse on my heart in prayer the enemy started his' hath God said' game." Ronnie did God say that? Does the Bible really mean that?" Before long I began to water it down in my mind. "Well, it would be great if her eyes would IMPROVE." MAYBE she can get better and won't have to wear those thick glasses. MAYBE God will put her into contacts." You feelin' me here. I lessened His Word. I made it inferior.

Maybe you are in a similar situation. God has spoken something to you and in your mind it seems impossible. Possibly you, like me have prayed for something big and you are being tempted to water down what God spoke to you. To accept a shaved or inferior version of God's best. But God is shouting to us DON'T DIMINISH MY WORD!
Now hear this! God's best may not be a pulpit in a 10,000 member church, or a world renowned evangelistic ministry. No, no. God's best may be to make you and me a "singular point of light" as my friend put it the other day. But, understand, if it is God's best for you and me ANYTHING else would result in DIMINISHMENT! Amen?! Pray that you and I take God at His word no matter how impossible it seems. Pray that we don't accept satan's lies and attempts to deceive us into diminishing God's Word.

 98 Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine. 99 I have more insight than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, Because I have observed Your precepts.
Psalms 119:98-100 (NASB)

God Bless


Friday, July 19, 2013

Extract The Precious

You know something? The more things change the more they stay the same. Haven't you found that to be true? I've been studying about Isaiah and Jeremiah and lo and behold it seems that Isreal in their day was much like the good ol' Red, White and Blue of 2013. Political, social, and religious issues of 8th and 7th Century B.C. Israel read like tonight's edition of the Knoxville News Sentinel. Crime, corruption, behavioral taboos, what constitutes right and wrong etc., etc. There was even a popular slogan that read "Hope and Change" LOL No one could make that up! (smile)

So anyway this is the climate that Jeremiah was called to prophesy against.Well, you know about Jeremiah's message. It wasn't exactly one of those encouraging peace and prosperity messages if you know what I mean. Without spending too much space, suffice it to say that there was a good reason that Jeremiah has come to be known as the "weeping prophet." His message was one of coming destruction. He was opposed, ridiculed and persecuted for the better part of 40 years. People didn't want to hear his message of repentance and even the"church" of his day vehemently opposed him and sought to take his life. So much for wanting to be a prophet! Amen??

Well, a couple of times along the way Jeremiah got discouraged and complained before the Lord.(can't say that I blame him) On one occasion Jeremiah finally got God a little riled at him. In truth God became angry and threatened to take Jeremiah's prophetic office from him.  Look at these verses.

 17 I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers, Nor did I exult. Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone, For You filled me with indignation. 18 Why has my pain been perpetual And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream With water that is unreliable?
Jer 15:17-18 (NASB)

If you read the whole passage you will see that this started out as a prayer and ended up a complaint and a confession of doubt in God's ability.

19 Therefore, thus says the Lord, " If you return, then I will restore you— Before Me you will stand; And if you extract the precious from the worthless, You will become My spokesman.
Jer 15:19 (NASB)

This verse is what God spoke to my heart. "..if you extract the precious from the worthless,..."

Much(if not all!lol) of the information we get these days is worthless. Media is focused on ratings and agenda instead of truth. Even some of our pulpits seem to have lost the way. Christians are under barrage from all sides while false religions are catered to all in the name of tolerance. By the way, idolatry was the number one reason for God's judgment on Israel in Jeremiah's day. Go read it for yourself. It was actually the only reason if you want the truth. I digress.

Well, here you are in this menacing climate of today and God calls you to do something. And that "something" almost certainly invites opposition. Usually it starts with family doesn't it? Ronnie that's crazy stupid! You can't do that!! God didn't tell you to do that, it's something you conjured up in your head!!! Sound familiar? If it isn't in conflict with family then it will be with work. All of a sudden you are needed to work at that time that God wanted you to do His work. So now you are a religious nut to your bosses and co-workers. This can all get very discouraging. People will try and belittle what God has called you to do. As I was told not long ago. don't let anyone diminish or degrade what God has called you to do. That is what God told Jeremiah here when he was taken with discouragement and doubt. Extract what is precious.

That word extract means " to take out, effort or force". It seems to me that was what God was speaking to Jeremiah. Those days,like our own were challenging even evil. In the midst of all the opposition,ridicule and even downright lies it was going to be a struggle to stand against it. He had to somehow tune it all out and tune in to God. He had to rely on God for the strength to stand and the very words to speak. Amen? That is precisely where we as Christians stand today. A society that doesn't want to hear about the righteousness of God on the inside. A nation that snubs it's collective nose at God and His truth. False religions of every sort attacking our foundations on the outside. As God's Word says, we as children of the ONLY GOD, THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL must extract what is precious from His Word and His Presence if we are to walk uprightly in a world turned upside down. In today's world, just as in Jeremiah's any attempt on our part to do something for God is going to be met with resistance. It all comes from the enemy, no matter what form it takes. But God today as in Jeremiah's day has our back.

     20 "Then I will make you to this people A fortified wall of bronze; And though they fight against you, They will not prevail over you; For I am with you to save you And deliver you," declares the Lord. 21 "So I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, And I will redeem you from the grasp of the violent."
Jer 15:20-21 (NASB)

Lord help me,us to rely wholly on You in these evil days which we live.Amen and Amen.

7 The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. 8 The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.
Psalms 121:7-8 (NASB)

God Bless

Friday, July 12, 2013

While There Is Opportunity

4 We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.
John 9:3-4 (NASB)

I was talking the other day with my mother and sister when this verse floated across my mind's eye.
We had mentioned my nephew's revelation that FINALLY (whew!) he and his better half Ashley were expecting. Then I mused as my mother went out somewhere with her grandchildren, shopping or to lunch, I'm not sure where. Somewhere in the middle of all the hubbub I thought about my own new granddaughter who's been with us for about six months. I pictured in my mind the cycle of life. Newborns like my granddaughter just ushered in, teens like my nieces and grandson just getting started, young adults like my sons and nephews fighting to survive and make their mark, people like me in the supposed "golden years" where everything is taking on a new perspective,and finally people like my mother who are literally standing on the edge and looking out at eternity. In light of all that, that verse in John kind of stared at me this week.

God used my mother to illustrate to me what He was speaking to my heart. Help me out a little bit here. You see my mother's days of doing the works of God are done. She's not going to be cooking any more pot luck dinners for the church. Her days of going to the nursing home or the hospital with her Sunday School class are over. It's not because she wouldn't like to, she just isn't physically able to do those things anymore. Her days for active ministry are at an end. That's what Jesus is saying here.Work while you still have time because night is coming when you won't be able to work. Whether the night comes by the ushering in of the end times or simply by good old Father Time; know this for certain, nighttime eventually envelopes ALL of us. Look at Galatians.

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)

..."while we have opportunity..." You see there's a time frame for all of us to do the "works of God." I remember a man of God once saying this, "Whatever you are going to do for God, do it now because you may not have another chance" Look at what Moses said:

10 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.
Psalms 90:10 (NASB)

He then went on to say this.

12 So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
Psalms 90:12 (NASB)

Teach us to number our days.

I f God has called you to do something then do it quickly while you have the time. Look at verse 10.
Seventy to eighty years is about all we are going to squeeze out of this life. Now if you are twenty or thirty something, that may seem like an eternity. BUT TRUST ME and millions more like me those "golden tears" oops..I meant years will be on you in a New York Second. (That's Don Henley for all you twenties and thirties lol)

Yes, I know serving God can be difficult at times. The devil is going to fight you tooth and nail. Does this sound familiar.."  I don't know why you keep on doing that. It's not doing anygood. No one is paying attention to you. You are just wasting your time, it doesn't make any difference." Yeah, I hear ya. The enemy will try and discourage you from doing what God has asked you to do. No matter how big or small your task you never know who is watching but someone ALWAYS is. Heard a story about a nurse being touched the other day by someone who didn't even know she was watching. I'll close with this admonition from the Apostle Paul to Timothy.

16  Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
1 Tim 4:16 (NASB)

No matter what God has called you and me to do, grand or not so grand, if we take it seriously and keep on keeping on.. look at what it says" for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you."

That's pretty strong medicine. Amen?! Ensure salvation for yourself and for those within earshot.

Let us strive to do the work of God before the nighttime is upon us.

Only one life, will soon be past. Only those things done for Christ will last.

4 "Lord, make me to know my end And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am.
Psalms 39:4 (NASB)

God Bless

Friday, July 5, 2013

And Justice For All

And Justice For All

26  Many seek the ruler's favor, But justice for man comes from the Lord.
Prov 29:26 (NASB)

I was watching the news this week and it seemed to me that there were calls for justice ringing from almost every corner of the globe. Rebels in Syria, and once again uprisings in Egypt desiring redress against the government. Here in our own country people outraged by IRS scandals, Bengazi, in Florida, a murder trial with both sides pleading for justice. Everyone wants justice. I went to the dictionary to find out just what justice is. What I found was somewhat interesting. The original meaning of our word justice means "what is right" doing the right thing if you will. But, over the years it has taken on a different meaning from the original. When we speak of justice today it is usually in a negative connotation most often associated with "the execution of a sentence, or punishment" (Vine's Dictionary) The New Oxford Dictionary traces a similar path for the word. Originally it meant "just behavior or treatment" but now, more often than not, it associates the word with "bringing someone to justice by arrest for a crime..." It seems the word is more closely associated with vengeance these days than with doing the right thing.

I went to see what the Word Of God had to say about it and was surprised to find that the word is not found in the New Testament of the KJV and it is listed only three times in my NASB concordance in the back of my Bible. There are numerous references in the Old Testament but very few in the New Testament. O.K. Ronnie what's your point. Just this. Sometimes seeking justice can be detrimental to our spiritual and even our physical health. Let me try and explain.

Has anyone ever done you wrong? You know, taken unfair advantage, or unjustly accused you, or gossiped about you behind your back? Don't worry you don't have to answer. We already know the answer don't we? Of course they have. On a million different occasions.If you are anything like me(I hope you aren't) you will sit around and stew about it. You'll play and replay the incident over and over in your mind, getting a little more upset each time. Finally, you'll do one of two things(if you are like me, which I hope you aren't! smile) You will stir the pot and stir the pot until it boils over and you lash out in a fit of anger OR you will let that pot just sit there and simmer while you carry the hurt and anger around with you. Now you may not be like that. You may be confrontational and address the matter immediately. That's not me. But, the Bible has a few things to say on these matters. 

19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
1 Peter 2:19-20 (NASB)

Here's another one.
43 " You have heard that it was said, ' YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matt 5:43-48 (NASB)

HMMM....Maybe we can just tear those two pages out. I should just go back and delete them from the message.

Yeah, I hear ya. That is much easier said than done especially when someone has just stabbed you in the back and broken the handle off. If somehow, and I'm preaching loud and hard to ME right now, we can just humble ourselves before God Almighty and let Him deal with our hurt and give us strength to endure we will be way ahead of the game. Just try and remember this old cliche because it is right on. When you carry a grudge around, the only one it's killing is YOU!

Listen, that is what God is trying to get across to you and me in that verse above. Look again.

26  Many seek the ruler's favor, But justice for man comes from the Lord.
Prov 29:26 (NASB)

You see the natural reaction when we are done wrong is to seek the ruler's favor. BUT. That word but means to erase everything you have just read. It wipes out everything preceding it. BUT justice for man comes from the Lord. You see God is telling us to forget the human agents involved and to take your case before the Righteous Judge. He is the one who dispenses true justice. When we are done wrong anger is unavoidable and yes it takes some time to get over it. But, instead of carrying it around and letting it make you miserable;(are you listening Ronnie?) or worse yet allowing it to reach the boiling point causing you to "lose it" in a fit of rage,(Ronnie, are you hearing this?smile) why not take it to God in prayer and let Him work it out all the while healing you in the process. Because this is the bottom line. Most times we are not seeking "justice" no, most of the time we are seeking that other word, you know, the"V"word. Amen?? We don't really want to ask God for justice do we? God help us if we ask for and receive justice outside of the cross. You feelin' me?  I'll tell you what. You pray for me and I'll pray for you that next time we encounter a wrong, instead of taking matters into our own hands we give it over to God. O.K.? O.K.! (smile)

2 For they have opened the wicked and deceitful mouth against me; They have spoken against me with a lying tongue. 3 They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, And fought against me without cause. 4 In return for my love they act as my accusers; But I am in prayer.
Psalms 109:2-4 (NASB)

God Bless