Friday, August 30, 2013

Doubt And Do Without                                                          08-30-13

We've all got one don't we? You, me, neighbor down the street, brother-in-law in California. Got one what Ronnie? A story. You know, the missed opportunity, the one that got away..."Yeah you're story is good but I got one that will top that." Sound familiar? At the water cooler or in the break room we are all "toppers" at one point or another. I was reading the Book of James this week and I came across the familiar passage in the 1st chapter. You know..the one about doubting. Well, as I read that passage I was reminded of "my story." From long ago I relived what might have been.(smile) Before I share my trek down memory lane, the scripture please maestro.

 James 1:5-6 (NASB) 5  But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
6  But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

Some thirty odd years ago I was freshly out of the service and enrolled on the G.I.Bill in a local university. I had just received a tax refund and in one of my few moments of clarity, I decided that rather than spend the money I would invest it. So, I spent the next few days mulling where to invest that large sum($600.00, a good bit back then to a twenty-something) and decided that the stock market was the place to be. I had no earthly idea what company to invest in but by some act of providence I was privy to a "tip." Let me explain. My stepfather worked for Lockheed in those days and had been laid off for quite some time. Lockheed was in a lot of trouble and their stock was dirt cheap. It was also on the "do not touch at any cost" list in the financial publications. However, just as I thought to invest in some other company, my stepfather received a back to work notice. I began to think that if Lockheed was calling him back to work, things might not be as bad as published. Well, after a few more days I was convinced that Lockheed was the place to be and I would make a fortune from a back to work notice.

I marched down to the Merrill Lynch office in Atlanta and asked to see a broker. Dennis was a nice guy and seemed to be very knowledegable and up to date on the happenings in the market. I told him of my desire to buy some Lockheed stock(it was selling for less than two or maybe three dollars a share) and he gave me this "what are you, some kind of moron" look. Well, I'll shorten the story and just say that I walked out of the office that day with NO Lockheed stock. However, I was the proud owner of a South African gold mine. GOOD GRIEF! Blyvoor Gold. Don't know if they are still around. People, over the next few months and years I watched Lockheed stock go from less than  either $2 or $3 a share to around $60. I then watched as the stock split and climbed back up to $55-$60. To make my misery complete, the company was bought out a later date by Martin- Marietta at God knows what price. Are you gettin' my drift here? I missed the boat all because I doubted what I knew to be true and let a man talk me out of a blessing designed for me. I don't know about you but I have allowed that on more than one occasion. I must be a glutton for punishment or just plain dumb.(BIG SMILE) At any rate, look at vs.6 again.

James 1:6 (NASB) 6  But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

Among the several meanings for that word doubt, one prominent meaning as it is used in this verse is "to evaluate." Here's how it goes sometimes. Stay with me here.
We encounter some difficulty and don't know what to do. Or how about this. We come to a crossroads in life, job,school,marriage or any of the zillions of decisions we encounter in this life. We seek the advice of our friends and the pastor to get their input. However, neither they nor we can see into the future, so we in faith, lay it out before God seeking His wisdom. Usually after some time, God speaks to us about our situation, giving us His direction. Then, for some unknown reason, all of a sudden we want a "second opinion." We EVALUATE what God has spoken to us, especially if it isn't in line with what we are thinking or expecting. The wheels start turning, we start going over all the options. What about this or what about that. Analyzing every possible scenario. Understand, we have just received instruction from the Creator of the universe but somehow,someway that isn't enough! Amen?
AND, if we aren't careful, we allow human wisdom to divert us from the path that God has chosen. Can I get a witness? No, He isn't going to zap us or forsake us. No,no. Instead,you or me will miss a choice, ripe blessing that He has in tote for us; and, it will be added to the infinitely long list of missed opportunities. Our water fountain topper stories. smile.

Sometimes it is tough to discern God's will in our lives, trust me, I am sorely aware of that fact. But, He has promised in His Word to lead and guide us if we allow Him to. Add to that the constant drone of the enemy about how we have missed it and on and on. Ya feelin' me? At those times we have to do what that verse says to do. We have to take it on faith. Believe and not doubt. Amen?Amen!!

Psalm 119:105 (NASB) 105
 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

God Bless

Friday, August 23, 2013

If Just One                                                                                    8-23-13

Matthew 7:7 (NASB) 7  "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Matthew 7:7 (HCSB) 7  “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

Have you seen the Gatorade(I think?) commercial where the athletes are in training and they are pushing themselves to the limit? It has a football player doing conditioning drills during practice, then it switches to the same player in the weight room doing bench press reps. At the end of each exercise when he has pushed himself to the limit, a coach or a fellow athlete yells out "Just one more!" Then he pushes himself for just one more. It's a good commercial(at least I think so.) That commercial came to mind today. But, let me back up a bit.

I was walking this week and I often pray when I walk. At any rate one day while I was praying, I all of a sudden became weary of praying the same prayer. Let me explain. It occurred to me that I had been praying this same prayer, almost verbatim, for a particular person for a long, long time. Over and over, day after day and all of a sudden I was tired of praying this prayer. It was like it had become a drudgery to pray that same old prayer. It literally took a discipline to mouth those words to God one more time. As I walked on and forced those words out, I began to think what was the point? It seemed to me that my prayers weren't making a difference and even if God wasn't tired of hearing the same old prayer, I was certainly tired of praying it. I walked on and prayed without further mental interruption,but,when I finished my walk and was headed home these words were spoken to my spirit. "If just one..." God didn't have to say another word. I understood what He was saying to me. 

Unlike entering into His gates with praise and thanksgiving, accompanied by beautiful music and worship, prayer can be work. Prayer can be downright hard. It can require a discipline that tries even the most steadfast soul. Now, don't misunderstand, it can also be wonderful and flowing at times. BUT, at least in my experience it can be tough. Much like that commercial, I have to be exhorted by the Holy Spirit daily with a "Just one more." I'm wandering a bit. My point.

When God spoke those three words to me, I got it. "Ronnie, it's like this. For all the prayers, for all the inconvenience, for all the material resources used, IF JUST ONE LIFE IS CHANGED IT WILL HAVE BEEN WORTH IT!" If one person is delivered from bondage, if one person's destructive course is altered, if one soul comes to know Jesus as Savior and Lord....IF JUST ONE..then it will all have been well spent.

Brother or sister, you, like me may have been praying that same ol',same ol' for a long time with no visible results. You may have become tired mouthing those same words over and over and over again. What is it that has been eluding you all this loooonnngg time? A much needed healing? A financial breakthrough? A lost and hurting child or loved one? Does it seem that the enemy has a lock on it? Maybe YOU are tired and YOUR spirit is impoverished. I feel ya. But, take heart child of God. Consider this verse.

 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB) 17  pray without ceasing;

That is a word for me as well as for you. Keep at it. Keep working. Keep gnawin on it. Look back at Matthew 7

Matthew 7:7 (HCSB) 7  “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

"Keep asking, AND... Keep searching, AND...Keep knocking,AND..."


Psalm 55:1-2 (NASB) 

 Give ear to my prayer, O God; And do not hide Yourself from my supplication.
2  Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted,

God Bless 

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Darnel                                                                            08-16-13

As the telepols (my new word for the tv politicians lol) postured for the cameras this week, I was reminded of one of Jesus' parables that we might all benefit from.

Matthew 13:24-30 (NASB) 24  Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
25  "But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.
26  "But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.
27  "The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?'
28  "And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' The slaves *said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?'
29  "But he *said, 'No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.
30  ~'Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn."'"

There's an interesting story behind the "tare" of this parable. You may have heard it but I will share it again. The tare of Matthew 13 is actually called a darnel. In this case it is a bearded darnel. The darnel is a common weed found among crops of wheat and barley. It is very similar in appearance to wheat and oddly enough becomes more readily identifiable as a darnel when seen side by side with wheat, at harvest, when both plants are MATURE. At maturity the stalk of wheat with a full head of grain literally bows much like we would bow at the waist. The darnel on the other hand is very rigid and unbending. Another sidebar is the fruit they produce. Of course we all know that bread is a final product of wheat, but the seeds of tares are POISONOUS even unto death to men and beasts. You see Jesus wasn't giving a lecture on agriculture no,no. The wheat and tares in the parable are illustrations of people. I'm sure you knew that but I threw it in anyway.(SMILE) I hear this all the time and have said it myself on more than one occasion." I want to be more spiritual" or"I want to be more like Jesus." When I hear that I am reminded of the pearl told me many moons ago when I voiced the same desire. "Be careful what you ask for, they crucified Jesus!" Amen?! Look at this.

Matthew 18:1-4 (NASB) 1  At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
2  And He called a child to Himself and set him before them,
3  and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
4  "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Pay close attention to verse 4. "Whoever then humbles himself..."  That word humble means in a good sense "of low degree, brought low" "to make (yourself) low."

You see we could all take a lesson from that wheatstalk couldn't we? That darnel or tare all it's life stays rigid and unbending. God has another word for it "stiffnecked"! You see we all at one time or another have been like that tare haven't we?(smile) We get our hind parts on our shoulders and get that attitude. You know what I'm talkin bout don't you? It's my way or the highway. I know what's best for me(and you too a lot of the time..AMEN??) and I ain't(hillbilly for am not lol) changing!! We become rigid and unbending. Unteachable. Poisonous to those around us and to our own spirits as well. One of the first things I was taught as a Christian was I had to develop a teachable spirit. That, brothers and sisters, is a life long learning process. Trust me on that one.  Yes, that's right Ronnie. Contrary to what you believe, you DON'T have all the answers. And no, you are not always right. It's not your way or the highway or, if that is what you insist on, you will be travelling alone! But, the it matures full of fruit, all it does is bow to the Creator.No hidden agendas. No unholy ambition. No posturing. Unlike the tare, it humbles itself, bows, and acknowledges God as Lord of all. And let me insert this here.. it understands that God has ALL the answers. He isn't saying one thing to you and me,all the while having made some compromise in the back room. He's already given us the answers and solutions for this life and He for sure ain't changing.

Don't you think that to be more like Jesus we could take a lesson from the wheat? The more we humble ourselves before the Almighty God and allow Him to use us in whatever way He desires, the more we become like Jesus. Isn't that the desirable fruit we all want to produce. Doesn't that make sense? All we need do is bow our hearts and acknowledge our need of our Lord and let HIM take care of the rest. Amen and Amen.

A personal note here. Please allow me to share own thoughts if you will. When I see people shedding their blood and dying in the service of false religions and false gods all I can do is say "thank you" to the Lord Jesus for having mercy on me. Thank You Lord Jesus.

 Psalm 71:5-6 (NASB) 5  For You are my hope; O Lord GOD, You are my confidence from my youth.
6  By You I have been sustained from my birth; You are He who took me from my mother's womb; My praise is continually of You.

God Bless

Friday, August 9, 2013

One Step Forward...

18  For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us.
1 Thess 2:17-18 (NASB)

Help me out here. Who was it that said "the more faster I go, the more behinder I get."? Was it brer rabbit? I can't remember. Anyway ever feel that way? Yeah, I understand.  That's one of the marks of a soldier of the Lord. Even the Apostle Paul was hindered more than once from going to see the church in Thessalonica. Ya see, if you are trying to live as best as you can for Jesus, trying to do the right thing, then you can EXPECT to be hindered and harassed. It's what satan does. Even the Lord Jesus Christ endured satan's schemes.

13 When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.
Luke 4:13 (NASB)

The key word in that passage is opportune. Satan departed only until a more convenient or opportune moment showed itself. Look back at the verse in Thessalonians. Hindered

Greek NASB Number: 1465

Greek Word: ἐγκόπτω

Transliterated Word: egkoptô
Root: from 1722 and 2875;

Definition: to cut into, i.e. fig. impede, detain:--

List of English Words and Number of Times Used
hindered (3),
prevented (1),
weary (1).

—NASB Greek-Hebrew Dictionary

To cut into. This actually meant to cut into or break up a road that a person was travelling. It's like walking in a field that has only been tilled once. You know there are large clumps of earth and holes where you sink into. Not that I have ever plowed a field but I have tilled a backyard veggie garden. Does that count? lol.Anyway that is the picture this word hindered is trying to project. As you walk through this life,satan will throw every imaginable obstacle to hinder your progress.  You know how it goes. You pledge an extra amount for the building fund and the AC in the house goes out when you get home. Or you decide to give the Lord a little time in prayer and study and you guessed it. Little Johnny or Mary hurts themselves. The phone starts ringing off the wall or any of a zillion irritations and delays start popping up. That's called a hindrance. Well, rest assured brother or sister you are not alone.

12  Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;
1 Peter 4:12 (NASB)

But, know this also. God has promised to get you through it and out on the other side. Read the next verse in 1Peter.

13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
1 Peter 4:13 (NASB)

One preacher put it like this"we aren't on a cruise ship, we're on a battleship." Committed to giving materially to the Lord and all financial h--- is breaking loose on your checkbook? Take heart.

38 Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."
Luke 6:37-38 (NASB)

Trying to do the right thing and keep getting knocked back? Hang in there.

9  Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
Gal 6:8-9 (NASB)

If He brought you to it, He'll get you through it.
Help all of us Lord God to keep walking. Amen?!!

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Psalms 23:1 (NASB)

God Bless

Friday, August 2, 2013

His Word Stands

27 ~'Behold, I am watching over them for harm and not for good, and all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt will meet their end by the sword and by famine until they are completely gone. 28 ~' Those who escape the sword will return out of the land of Egypt to the land of Judah few in number. Then all the remnant of Judah who have gone to the land of Egypt to reside there will know whose word will stand, Mine or theirs.
Jer 44:26-28 (NASB)

I was wondering this week..maybe you can help me. My question was this"Does God still judge nations like He did in the Old Testament?"

 The above verse is God telling some Jewish rebels about the fate they were going to meet. This remnant was composed of some people that King Nebuchednezzar had left behind in Jerusalem, also  some Jews who had been living in other lands  and had returned to Jerusalem when they heard that there were still Jews in Judah. These folks, who had grown tired of the constant threat of war and captivity had decided to move to Egypt to escape. They were warned by Jeremiah not to do it but move they did. As a result they sank into idolatry and were given one last chance by God to repent.They basically mocked God and His prophet at this last plea. Move up a couple of verses and you can read their response.

16 "As for the message that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we are not going to listen to you! 17 But rather we will certainly carry out every word that has proceeded from our mouths,
Jer 44:16-17 (NASB)

God's response to this arrogance(His word not mine) was O.K. go ahead and do your thing and I'll  do mine and we'll  see whose word will stand, Mine or yours.

Do you remember a guy named Voltaire? Actually I learned this week that Voltaire was not his real name. It was a pen name. At any rate, Voltaire was an instrumental figure in the French Revolution and he made a bold prediction. He said that within 100 years of his time the Bible would be antiquated and Christianity would would be swept away and "pass into the obscurity of history." Yet, 50 years after his death the Geneva Bible Society used his very house in Switzerland to print and produce God's Word.

I mused this week over the political pundits and their solutions for all that ails us as a nation. One in particular offered this scenario. He said that we had created an underclass in this nation. One that primarily rested with poor people of all colors. But, then he and his commentators blamed the creation of this underclass on out of wedlock births. I was taken aback at this because I wasn't expecting that to be a cause. However, they made a perfectly plausible argument for their contention. But listen..hasn't God been telling us that in His Word for thousands of years. My point here is not to moralize. We ALL have made mistakes and NOBODY has a corner on righteousness. You hearing me? No, my point is this. NOW, in 2013 America, just as in 17th Century France and 580 B.C. Israel, God's Word will stand. It is just as relevant today as it was when Moses parted the Red Sea. He honors His Word above His own name. You sure about that Ronnie? Yes I am!

 . 2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, And give thanks unto thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
Psalms 138:1-2 (ASV)

Listen, likely the reason we are ailing as a nation is that we are ailing as individuals. Just like the remnant in Egypt, we have decided to toss God's counsel aside and carry out our own words and purposes. Brothers and sisters, I can't tell you whether we as a nation are facing God's judgment.
Only God knows and only He can carry that out.
But, I can tell you this. God is sovereign and His Word stands as true today as it did 3000 years ago.
If God has spoken a promise to your heart, He will cause it to come to pass. If He has begun something in you He WILL cause it to come to pass. All you (or me or anyone else for that matter) has to do is go with the flow and let God do His thing. He will make His Word stand in your life just as He made it stand those many years ago.

11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.
Psalms 33:11 (NASB)

God Bless