Friday, October 25, 2013

Amnesia                                                                                                       10-25-13

I saw, this week past, an interview with Tori Hunter, the centerfielder for the Detroit Tigers. The interviewer asked Hunter a question about a circumstance that occurred during a game where Hunter had failed to execute. I can't remember the particulars. It was probably concerning an at bat or a fielding play that Hunter had messed up. The interviewer asked him" how do you come back from a situation where you have failed?" Hunter's reply was this,"... you have to develop amnesia in this game or you won't be around very long." His reply brought to mind something Brother Mushegan often said.

" Life is like a wheel" he used to say, "Sometimes you're on top, sometimes you're on the bottom."
Good days, bad days, in betweeners, hills, valleys,this is the stuff that life is made of. The trick is not to get too absorbed in any of it.

   Philippians 3:13 (NASB) 13  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,

You see that wheel has two different perspectives depending upon where we are perched. Whether on top or bottom we have only one direction to go. Allow me to illustrate. Here you are on top of the world. Good job, good marriage, kids all doing good, bills paid and all of a sudden one report from the doctor and your life is turned upside down. The wheel rolls. Or how about from the bottom. A true life example. I remember a man that I used to go to church with who was a plumber. Now, this guy went through some hard times. Some really tough times. But, if I remember correctly he was turned into a millionaire literally overnight. He signed a contract with a huge grocery chain that turned his financial fortunes in a complete 180. You see, in a New York minute, everything can change. The wheel rolls. The snare for us is when we get lost in our circumstances whether good or bad. In the midst of suffering and affliction, it is tempting to give up on God and become embittered. Been there and done that. While at the opposite pole, when we are flying high, it is ooohhh so easy to forget God and the fact that it was He who made our good life possible. Been there and done that. Look at the Book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 30:7-9 (NASB) 7  Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die:
8  Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion,
9  That I not be full and deny You and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.

This guy Agur knew exactly how we humans behave didn't he? When it's good we can be bad and when it's bad we can be worse!(smile) But, that is Paul's admonition here isn't it. Forget the past, it is gone. Lock in and press toward the prize of the Lord Jesus. The one thing that I must keep reminding myself of, is the fact that God is sovereign. No matter what the circumstances, God has allowed those circumstances,good or bad to achieve His purpose and will. Now, those words are apples of gold when you are sitting on top and have the world by the tail. Those apples turn sour and aren't nearly as tasty at the southern end of that wheel. Give me neither poverty NOR riches. Amen? Remember the old cliche? Success and failure are both impostors. Yes, it IS a cliche. But, it rings very true. The only fixed point that we have to navigate this life is the Lord Jesus and His truth. Everything else is a revolving door of change.

Brothers and sisters hear this. If you are living in the salad days at present, know that it was God that got you there and it is God that will keep you there. If you are at the bottom of the ocean with a 500 pound millstone around your neck, know this..God can change your circumstances overnight just as He did for my friend. Listen to Paul's words.

 Philippians 4:11-12 (NASB) 11  Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
12  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

How does that commercial go? FORGGEETT ABOUT IT! God is very able to see you and me through whatever life throws at us. He is able.

Psalm 40:4-5 (NASB) 4  How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
5  Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count.

God Bless

Friday, October 18, 2013

Clocked!                                                                                                      10-18 13

2 Timothy 1:12 (NASB) 12  For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

Clocked. Have you ever been clocked? No, not on the clock as in work or by the clock as in telling time. Nope, I'm talking about what happens on the corner when you get clocked.

Clocked-slang- To strike sharply or heavily. Now you gettin' it? It's when somebody goes up side your head and "puts you to sleep" lol

Here you are minding your own business, going about your life, doing the best you can and BAM! as Emeril says, you get clocked. Not physically, but spiritually. Some devil in hell raises up and attacks you or a loved one through any number of avenues. No rhyme or reason, just for the sole purpose of bringing you down. Just because you or they are a child of the Almighty God. That fact alone puts a bullseye on your back.  You know how it feels don't you? Your heart is crushed, your gut is churning and twisted like a rope and then you get that numb feeling while your looking for the truck that just ran you over. No warning, didn't see it coming, didn't even have a clue until... you were on the ground staring blurrily upwards. You just got CLOCKED.

I live next door to the daughter of a very prominent local pastor with a very prominent local church just a couple of miles from where I am writing this. This pastor had spent the last 25 or so years laboring for the Lord and God had blessed his work mightily.Then a couple of years ago he lost his teenage son and he was devastated. His son's demise made the paper and was a matter of public knowledge. Now, I have never spoken to his daughter about that incident but, it doesn't take a genius to figure it.My guess is the family was devastated. They got CLOCKED.

That verse above was laid on my heart last night. I was going in a different direction when that verse was put in my spirit. But, the take that I got was this. The message today lies more in the verses leading up to that verse. I'll try to put into words what's in my heart.

Look a couple of verses back.

2 Timothy 1:8 (NASB) 8  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,

You see Paul must have really been going through it. He was concerned that because of the testimony(a.k.a. suffering) of the Lord Jesus or of Paul himself, that Timothy might be ashamed of their suffering. Now folks that's a powerful lot of suffering in my opinion. But, that's the way it appears in a lot of Christendom today. Suffering and spiritual warfare are for the 1st century church, not today with all our knowledge of the faith walk. But, look at what Paul says next. "...but join with me in suffering for the gospel....."" join with me" Paul then goes on to tell us about a holy calling according to His own purpose and grace. Paul invites Timothy to join with him in a holy calling according to God's purpose. To bear the burden and fight the fight.Truth be known that's just not a show stopper is it? My flesh doesn't very much care for those words suffer and fight and whatnot. That might not preach too well these days.

Brothers and sisters, I can't make light of this fact.When you and I are going through hard times, no one can truly know how we feel. There aren't any words that make the pain and discouragement go away. The Holy Scriptures read like The Wall Street Journal. There is no relief in sight. And in those times all anyone can really do is pray and be there for us when we need them. You get my drift on that? In those times only God has the answers. He is the only relief and comfort. However, He is mindful of our plight and makes a great promise to us. Again.

2 Timothy 1:12 (NASB) 12  For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
Look at the back half of that verse. "...I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted..."When my world has been clocked, my faith sometimes wanes. Discouragement will set in
and I will wonder what is going on. Where are you God? I can't take it anymore! I can't fix it and I just want it to go away. Or just let me go away. Ever feel that way? Me too. Plenty. But, God says this. Whatever we have entrusted to Him..our families, our finances,our very lives.. WHATEVER we have put in His hands... He is able. Able to what Ronnie? Able to guard, able to keep, able to PRESERVE FROM PERISHING. That's what that word guard means. It may look bleak. It may look dark and hopeless. It may even look frightful..but GOD is able to protect us.

 Job 19:25 (NASB) 25  "As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.

Our Redeemer lives and He has paid our ransom. He has us and all that we deem precious in the palm of His hand and NO ONE can snatch us out of His hand. Heck, we can't even snatch ourselves out of His hand. Brothers and sisters, umderstand me, the battle is real. It don't come easy. Anyone who says different is deceived or they're just not in the ring. It is so real and fierce that Paul admonished us not to be ashamed of our or someone's else's plight.  It is a war in spite of all the faith we claim to possess. But, Paul was CONVINCED that he and WE have a Redeemer in the Lord Jesus Christ and He is going to bring us home. He is going to preserve and protect us in this life and the next. He is going to preserve and protect those that are precious to us in this life and the next. Oh yeah, that's right. I meant what I said. IN THIS LIFE and the next. He is able to guard us UNTIL. Up to the time that or when some event occurs. Those are HIS words not mine. In this life and the next. AMEN? AMEN!!

Psalm 63:8 (NASB) 8  My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

God Bless

Friday, October 11, 2013

Discernment                                                                                                   10-11-13

Hebrews 5:14 (NASB) 14  But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

Man it is gorgeous outside. I enjoy this time of year. If you are a sports fan then October is your month. Why so Ronnie? Well, we have the baseball playoffs going on, the NBAand NHL have kicked off, PLUS my favorite, college football and the NFL. The sports plate is full in October. Only problem is with October's arrival, Old Man Winter can't be far behind. Oh well enjoy it while you can, Amen?

That word discernment was on my mind all week. Strong's translates that word as "an act of judgment"
 but that doesn't capture the nuance of the word. Vine's has a better rendering. It means" to distinguish, or to discriminate." Being capable of distinguishing between good and evil. Not only that, it seems that this skill of discernment or distinguishing must be learned through practice. The root of the word discern in the above verse is "to learn by discriminating."

I heard something this week that put this word 'discern' on my mind. You know sometimes instead of discernment we operate in judgment. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. The Bible speaks in many places about discerning this or that. Jesus spoke of being able to discern the signs in the heavens but not the reality of who He was. He spoke somewhere about swallowing a camel but straining at a gnat in our discerning of sin, mercy and judgment. Then He spoke a truth concerning what true discernment was all about. Discerning good and evil.

  Matthew 7:15-16 (NASB) 15  "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
16  "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?

Paul spoke of the natural man not being able to appraise or discern spiritual things.

 1 Corinthians 2:14 (NASB) 14  But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
There are untold numbers of false spirits, false teachings, false religions that we must guard our hearts against. We must practice and learn to discern between truth and falsehood, good and evil; but, and herein lieth my point.We are never instructed to distinguish or discriminate between brothers and sisters, believers if you will. We are cautioned against becoming fruit inspectors. It's easy to develop a critical or fault finding spirit and we must constantly guard against it. Let me say something here. If all the people who behave unwisely, if all the people who sometimes don't live as they should, you know who I'm talking about....all those sinners... If all the sinners in the world were disqualified from ministering, praying, giving to the rest of us...guess what? There would be NO ONE left to minister,pray, give!! AMEN??  No,no instead of discriminating between one another the Bible is clear how we should act toward those who name the name of Christ. Instead of discrimination we need to restore.

Galatians 6:1 (NASB) 1  Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

Why restore? Because next time I might be that sinner in need of prayer, restoration etc.,etc.,
Brothers and sisters there's enough true evil in this world to occupy all our efforts until Jesus comes. Let's train our sights on the true enemy of our souls and leave the fruit inspecting to God.

James 2:8-9 (NASB) 8  If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF," you are doing well.
9  But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

  Psalm 36:11 (NASB) 11  Let not the foot of pride come upon me, And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.

God Bless

Friday, October 4, 2013

By Faith                                                                                                         10-4-13

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NASB) 7  for we walk by faith, not by sight—

Whew! What a week! We've got growing(once again)tensions in the Middle East. We have a government shutdown with both sides of the aisle at an impasse. Tempers are flaring between Republicans and Democrats, Democrats and Democrats, Republicans and Republicans. Oh My!
As lawmakers try to find a solution to the shutdown, Obamacare is initiated amidst cheers or catcalls depending upon your party affiliation. Wait! There's more!! Sometime within the next two weeks, I believe it's October 17th isn't it? The debt ceiling will ONCE AGAIN be reached and the governmental powers will be faced with the option of raising our debt levels or defaulting on the obligations of the United States. Hmmm.. here's the problem folks.

Isaiah 17:10-11 (NASB) 10  For you have forgotten the God of your salvation And have not remembered the rock of your refuge. Therefore you plant delightful plants And set them with vine slips of a strange god.
11  In the day that you plant it you carefully fence it in, And in the morning you bring your seed to blossom; But the harvest will be a heap In a day of sickliness and incurable pain.

 Oh well, here's the good part, my two favorite teams, the Braves and Red Sox are both in the playoffs and the beloved Vols have a big game with Georgia this week. MAN! The buzz is everywhere. Positively and negatively these are exciting times in our land. Yeah,..'s a quarter... Ever feel like that? I had a couple of days like that this week. There were all sorts of drama being played out this week. My friend Charles used to call them "dog and pony shows" lol. But, I couldn't muster any passion for any of it.You gettin' my drift? It was a case of the doldrums.

Doldrums- A state of inactivity or stagnation. Dull,listless (and here's my favorite)The Blue Funk. Haha sounds like a 70's rock band.(courtesy of Dictionary .Com)

Life is a regimen. The responsibilities and duties of this life can sometimes smother our zeal. I don't know if you have ever felt like that, but that's how I felt this week. As I slogged through this week past I wondered why I felt so blah. I had a roof over my head, food to eat, a car to drive, a job, and even some spending money in my pocket. What's going on here? In the end all I could come up with was the enemy was trying to steal my joy. Know what I mean? The Holy Ghost then spoke that scripture to my heart yesterday.

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NASB) 7  for we walk by faith, not by sight—
That word walk means to tread all around or be occupied with. Sometimes we have to occupy ourselves with the things of the Lord whether we feel like it or not. It is like Pastor Doug said in a recent sermon that when we feel least like praying is when we need to pray the most. Much like King David we at times have to shake ourselves and encourage and strengthen ourselves in the Lord. Whether times are good, bad, or in between we need to keep our minds and hearts on the Lord and His goodness. Amen?

1 Samuel 30:6 (NASB) 6  Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

I remember Brother Mushegan used to say that we have to drag ourselves down to the altar by the scruff of the neck and get alone with God. There are times when nothing else will do. At any rate, if you have ever felt or are feeling this way now, take heart this too shall pass.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NASB) 18  while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
The world and ALL that is in it. The cares and problems of THIS life. The feelings and emotions that so often affect us. They are ALL temporal. Lord, help us to look past the impostors of this life and help us to see the reality of your kingdom and glory.


Amen. He's coming to get us brothers and sisters. Hang in there.

Psalm 39:7 (NASB) 7  "And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.

God Bless