Friday, November 29, 2013

Nothing But The Blood                                                                           11-29-13

Romans 5:9 (NASB) 9  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

Man, I am stuffed. Can I get an amen? I got the night off and decided to write my message tonight. It's 2 o'clock in the morning and the peace and quiet is nice as I can hardly move after the gorging I did today. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving and now let the shopping begin!!

I heard that old gospel hymn this week. It was on one of those Bill Gaither specials that come on from time to time and it touched my heart.

                                        What can wash away my sin?
                                         Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
                                         What can make me whole again?
                                         Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
                                         Oh! Precious is the flow
                                          That makes me white as snow;
                                          No other fount I know,
                                          Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

The stain of sin. We can't wash it off. We can't go to church enough, can't read our Bible enough, can't pray enough. All the holy living and good works that you and I can muster have no effect; and all the money in the world can't buy it off. As a matter of fact there is NOTHING that YOU or I can do to make it go away. No human merit or work of righteousness is sufficient. Oh, but listen. All anyone need do is get under the flow. Nothing but the blood. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

It appears that we have started a new holiday Thursday night. A lot of the stores opened tonight trying to get a head start on the competition for the holiday sales dollar. Even both of our local malls opened early this evening. Listen, I like all the holiday hustle and bustle.It brings back childhood memories and the almost unbearable countdown to the day that the big fat man made his yearly trek to my living room. Those were some good times for sure. Understand however, that this world is in a mad dash for every last dollar that it can squeeze out of us;and Jesus, and His Blood probably don't figure too prominently into the equation

Having said that, the hymn song this week made me think about the upcoming season and provoked me to consider the man Jesus. You know something? we don't serve and worship a babe in the manger any longer. Yes, I love the songs of Christmas and the baby Jesus. The sweetness of spirit that surrounds Christmas and all the rest that goes along with it. But, let me repeat..we no longer serve that babe. No, no.  We serve a crucified and risen savior; a soon coming warrior-king. The world wants to keep Jesus in that Bethlehem manger or on Calvary's cross; but He's no longer in either place. He sits on a throne in unapproachable light and glory. He's coming back to execute His vengeance upon this earth and all the inhabitants that don't know Him as Savior. He is going to set up His kingdom with all the answers to man's feeble attempts to govern the world that God gave him.  Not only does He have all the answers that men are seeking on this earth; but, He has all the answers for the sin sick soul and the weary ones that have lost their way. As they say today, He's the real deal.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NASB) 28  "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
29  "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.
30  "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

 Even better than all that is that He loves you and me and wants to make us a part of His grand design. An important part! Find some one on one time with Him today. He knows what you are going through. Whether it is a secret sin that is weighing you down or crushing circumstances beyond your control, He has a healing Word for You and You alone. His Word says it's a sustaining word. As the song says, His Blood will wash away your sin AND make you WHOLE again.

Isaiah 50:4 (NASB) 4  The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.

 His blood still works. It can, no, it WILL save you from your sin. It will restore and refresh your soul. It will encourage and strengthen you to keep on going against the odds and will give you victory in the end. It is the only true reality in this world that we live in. And to top it off it won't cost you a dime. No standing in line and you get instant approval. Seek Him out.


Psalm 34:22 (NASB) 22  The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

God Bless            

Friday, November 22, 2013

Garbage Cans                                                                                 11-22-13

Proverbs 18:21 (KJV) 21  Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

I can remember exactly where I was when President Kennedy was shot 50 years ago today. I was sitting in Mr. Morris' 8th grade English class. I will never forget it. Fifty years ago! Just another reminder of how quickly this life passes. Well, this message may get out today and it may not. I have been teaching myself to type and this is the first time that I am trying to do it all by the book. So, look for the message either today or tomorrow!lol

I had the truth of the above verse played out in front of my eyes yesterday. I have heard many sermons on the above verse. Most of them have the speaker in view as their subject; but, I want to talk today with the listener in mind. Someone once said(I can't remember who) this," My ears ain't no garbage cans." The wisdom of that statement became painfully evident to me yesterday. Allow me to elaborate.

My mother, who is ?4 years old. She would kill me if I actually revealed how young she is. (smile.)
She is somewhat frail, but manages to putter around reasonably well. Yesterday she was having a good day,busying herself with various tasks that she wanted to do. She had recently missed a phone call from a long time friend and decided that she would return that call yesterday. I was sitting at the kitchen table within earshot of Memaw when she called. It began like any other call,"hey, how you doin?" and all that; but, then something changed and Memaw became silent. After a few seconds of silence my ears perked up to hear anything. I heard her say" oh that's too bad" then after some back and forth I heard "let's talk about something else." Well, this back and forth went on and I overheard "this is depressing me, it is reminding me of what all is wrong with me, let's talk about something positive." This banter went on for about ten minutes back and forth and then I heard my mother say "I've got to go, I'm feeling funny." She wasn't kidding. I didn't think too much about it believing that she had had enough and was trying to politely say good-bye. No big deal until she called for me a couple of minutes later. I went to see what was up and saw her trying to balance herself. I asked her what was the matter and she said the room was spinning. As I went to her side she started gagging; needless to say, I became concerned. For the next few minutes it was very hectic, trying to figure out why the sudden onset of illness and what was the matter. So much so that I called my sister to come over and have a look.

O.K. The rest of the story. When mother finally calmed down, before falling asleep for the rest of the day and night she told me that the phone call had made her sick. She said that ------ had made her very nervous talking about how bad things were. It had upset her so bad that she had gotten violently ill. I asked her again today if she felt better and what had happened. She repeated that the phone call had made her sick. Words had upset her so bad that she made herself sick.

I thought of the above verse and that comment about not turning our ears into garbage cans. You see if we aren't careful, all the negative that surrounds us will affect us the hearers. Sometimes we have to zone it out. No, that doesn't mean that we get all high and mighty. I've had people tell me that they weren't going to let me bring them down AFTER asking me about a circumstance in my life. No, remember that the Bible also says that we should bear one another's burdens. But, sometimes we can't bear anymore. Amen? What is it that they say? One negative comment offsets five positives?  It's something like that. The tongue can be destructive or it can be healing.

Proverbs 12:18 (KJV) 18  There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.

Proverbs 10:20 (KJV) 20  The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.
Listen, there are times that we can't take anymore. We have to get away and get alone with God. We have to allow Him to heal our wounds and encourage us. We have to allow Him to work it out. We are all guilty from time to time.But we have to clean out the garbage that we allow to get on the inside of us. When the hopelessness of this world poisons our spirits, there is only one antidote. You have to open up that Bible and let IT talk to you. You have to take it to the Lord and let Him heal your heart.  

Well, it took me 45 minutes to type this. It would appear that I have some work to do!
Happy Thanksgiving! Talk to you on black Friday.

  Psalm 52:2 (KJV) 2  Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.

God Bless

Friday, November 15, 2013

On Feeling Human                                                                                 11-15-13

I am often reminded of the old Temptations song,"Ball of Confusion."
"Round and around and around we go, where the world's headed, nobody knows. It's a Ball of Confusion."

From the "What else is new department." It seems that North Korea executed 80 people this week past for owning a Bible and for watching television that was being broadcast from South Korea. Not to be outdone, a CHRISTIAN pastor who is an AMERICAN CITIZEN no less is being imprisoned and tortured in Iran while his own country isn't lifting a finger in his defense as far as I can tell. Makes me wanna holler.

Acts 20:35 (NASB) 35  "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

This world is a hard place. If you don't believe me just take a trip down to the local Walmart. Cars at breakneck speeds through parking lots to get to the closest space. People shoving other people out of the way, rushing to the checkout lane. It's a jungle out there!lol But, seriously, take a look at what's happening. We are constantly bombarded by bad news. From every imaginable venue, it's ALL BAD!
I don't have to tell you, you know what I am talking about. Add to this the pressures of daily life and it is a challenge to remain positive about ANYTHING. The burden can be difficult at best. It's very easy to become hardened and cynical.Who can blame you?  The enemy's arrows are constant and when they find their target, they hurt. Yeah, I hear you. But, sometimes when our shield of faith is full of arrows and we lay it down to pick up another one we get hit. You feelin' me? At any rate we begin to build walls around our hearts because of the pain. We can become indifferent and impassive towards other people and their struggles. Not because we are mean or have "backslidden" but because our battle is fierce and OUR plate is full with very REAL problems. But, let me share a little testimony here and maybe it will help you this week.

The above paragraph described how I felt early in the week. I can't really say that I had any crushing problems raising their head; but, I felt cold and indifferent in my spirit. I felt hard and aloof. I didn't want anyone bothering me, I was self absorbed. So, off I go to the aforementioned Wally World to bump and shove with everybody else. As I walked in from the parking lot, there was a man who had a table set up for donations to a local drug rehab. While I was approaching I felt a nudge in my spirit to make a donation. But, I didn't respond and walked right by and on into the "jungle." But, the Holy Spirit wasn't going to let me off the hook this time. The man at that table was in the back of my mind the whole time. So, round and round I went and as I left the Walmart, I nonchalantly remarked in my spirit,O.K. Lord I'll give a donation. What happened then.. changed my day. The man with the most warm and sincere smile gave me a heartwarming "Thank You, We really appreciate it." The appreciation and sincerity was so real and it touched my heart. I remember thinking while walking away, that he had made me feel human on the inside again. My cold heart was melted and I felt good on the inside. It was then that the Lord spoke that verse to my heart.

You see the blessing that Jesus talked about in that verse took a different form for me that day. It wasn't about the hundred fold blessing. Neither was it about planting a seed for a harvest. Those are both valid reasons when kept in perspective and Holy Ghost motivated for sure; but, for me, on that day, that wasn't it. My blessing wasn't material. But by the help of the Holy Spirit, when I walked over to that table my heart was touched. My insides were healed. You hearing me? The Holy Spirit then reminded me of an old truth.

Philippians 2:3-4 (NASB) 3  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
4  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Listen, there's nothing super spiritual about what I am saying here. To be honest, I'm over with super spiritual. But, if you are feeling cold and isolated this week,try helping someone else. Take some time for someone else and it might turn out to be a mighty blessing in your life as well.

Psalm 138:3 (NASB) 3  On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.

God Bless

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Grinder                                                                                                    11-07-13

Early message this week as I have been called out of town with my job tomorrow morning. Will be gone all day. Hope you enjoy it. God Bless.

1 Peter 2:19-20 (NASB) 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.

No, I am not talking about that grinder. You know the one don't you?.. one of those cheesesteak sandwiches on the french baguette that make your mouth water and add pounds just at the thought of eating one! No, unfortunately.Actually, my sister and Tiger Woods got me to thinking  this week. I heard a television interview this week talking about what makes Tiger such a great golfer. There were a number of differing opinions but a near unanimous agreement on one trait above all others..Tiger Woods is the greatest "grinder" the game has ever seen. What do you mean Ronnie? O.K. try and picture this. You spend hour after hour at the practice tee trying to groove your swing. Swing after swing after swing and after God only knows how many swings, it seems that by golly you, at last are hitting the ball straight. Halleleuia! O.K. now multiply that effort for all the clubs in the bag(14 of em') and for all the different situations that Tiger finds himself in on the course; and you have an idea of the time and effort expended to play at his level. But, it's not commitment we're talking about here. After all the practice, when it's time to tee off in a real tournament, he walks up to the first tee to thunderous applause, television cameras rolling and promptly duckhooks his shot out in the second cut of the heavy rough. For all you non golfers suffice it to say, it isn't pretty. But, the real kicker is this, as the day rolls on Tiger's game doesn't get any better. Nobody can really figure it out. He's in the sand, he's in the rough, he's everywhere EXCEPT the fairway. He's scrambling on every hole. The commentators offer up many plausible reasons but no one has the answer. Fresh out of reasons, they resign themselves and you hear them say something like " well his 'A' game has deserted him today and he's really suffering out there he'll just have to grind it out." It's not going his way but he keeps on keeping on. He's suffering out there but he finds a way. He grinds it out; and, at the end of the day you look at the leaderboard and guess whose name is up there? Yep, you got it TIGER WOODS! Somehow, he has found a way. Through adversity he persevered and ground it out. That is what Tiger Woods does best.That is why Tiger Woods is the best golfer in the world. (number 1 in the world as of this past Monday)

I watched my sister this week as she took care of my mother and was reminded of the above story. She was attending to my mother's needs and receiving some pretty harsh and downright angry comments for her efforts. Memaw wasn't herself that day. LOL But, Betty plodded right on. She patiently endured. A virtue in and of itself. It wasn't pretty. She was struggling to keep composed, but, she found a way. I'll give her credit, I would have certainly lost my cool. Next day she showed up again with a smile on her face and a sweetness to her voice. It wasn't easy, she was grinding it out. You gettin' the picture? That's the way it goes with us sometimes isn't it? You're doing it right the best you can. Praying, reading your Bible, going to church. Raising the kids, working, paying the bills etc., etc., but it's tough and it isn't getting any easier is it?  It's not like you sometimes hear on T.V. Just have enough faith and sow this seed and watch God take all your problems away. Find God's favor through this love offering. But, for YOU it hasn't worked out that way has it? No, no it's been tough. It's been a grind a lot of the time hasn't it. Look at verse 20 again.

1 Peter 2:20 (NASB) 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.
Sometimes we, like Tiger have to grind it out. It isn't pretty. It ain't no Shangri-la. But, if we can just find a way and hang in there,"...this finds favor with God." God hasn't forgotten about you. 

Galatians 6:9 (NASB) 9  Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
Hang in there. He's got your back.

Psalm 113:7-8 (NASB) 7  He raises the poor from the dust And lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8  To make them sit with princes, With the princes of His people.

God Bless

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ascents                                                                                                        11-1-13

"Because there is a war on for your mind."

 That is the catchphrase that a popular internet and radio talk show host uses on his web page. I noticed it recently on the website. I read this fellow from time to time, not daily or even weekly but occasionally. My reason for dialing him in today? I wanted his take on the food stamp reduction and it's effect. Unfortunately I didn't find anything as he had already archived his thoughts on the issue and I didn't want to take the time to look those articles up. No, this isn't a political lecture, I have a point to make, just bear with me. I had been mulling this food stamp thing in my mind this week. I wondered how it made a struggling single mother or father feel, knowing that they now have less money to feed their kids. Or an elderly couple? Or a working poor family. It goes on and on. As I listened to the drivel coming out of Washington, I considered the helplessness that people must feel in those types of situations.

Have you ever had a heavy heart? Yes, I know, we all have at some time or another. I had a heavy heart last night for some unknown reason. Even though my mother has had a rough couple of days, there is food in the fridge, a car to drive, a job to go to and a roof over my head. Not too bad in the grand scheme of things right? But, just the same, my heart was heavy and I felt pressured. When I finally got to work last night I didn't want to talk to anyone. You know. Didn't feel like analyzing the Red Sox win in the Series. Didn't feel like coming up with the solutions for the world. I didn't even feel like figuring out how the Vols would beat Missouri this weekend. (smile) I just wanted to be left myself. You feelin'me? I got my paperwork done and told my boss that I was going out to my truck and for him to call me when he was ready for me to back up to the dock. I usually have some time before I get the call. When I got out to the truck, I just needed to talk to the Lord. So, I spent some time out there with Him and this message was formed.

Psalm 131:1-3 (NASB)

 O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.
2  Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.
3  O Israel, hope in the LORD From this time forth and forever.

My message is not so much grounded in a scripture but in what this Psalm is. This Psalm is called a Psalm or Song of Ascents.There are fifteen of these I believe, Psalms 120-134. These Psalms were sung by the children of Israel as they made their yearly pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the three feasts that all Israel was to attend. They were feasts and gatherings to come before the Lord to worship Him and thank Him for His blessings and care. They were to be joyous occasions for the most part and all Israel participated  in them. The priests would also sing them as they stood on the steps of the temple in Jerusalem. They would step up the steps as they sang these Psalms hence the word ascents.
The word ascents literally means an upward climb. You see it was like a preparation for the heart before they entered the presence of the Lord.

There is a war raging for control of your mind. It for sure is in the media we see and hear every day. But, it doesn't stop there. You don't have to experience a food stamp reduction to be sucked into feelings of despair. No,no. If the enemy can't attack your checkbook, he can sneak up on you in other ways. I don't have to go down the list you probably know it by heart. But, in the MIDST of the battle we can find peace and rest and confidence for our very souls. We can ASCEND above it all. Look at what the Psalmist said.

Psalm 131:1 (NASB) 1
 O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.

In today's vernacular David 'checked out.' He quit trying to figure it out. Let me put two cents worth in here. Do you honestly believe that if there is a power or a conspiracy or whatever we want to call it at work in our world today that your bellyaching and griping can do one thing to stop it? All it will do is give YOU an ulcer and make you depressed. Amen? or Oh me! In my best southern slang, "It ain't gonna happen Bubba!" Face up to it. There are things in this life that are too difficult for us. It's not just POLITICS! It can be a hopeless situation at home. A wayward child, a sickness, growing old. Any number of issues that are JUST TOO DIFFICULT FOR US!! Aahh... But not for God. You hearin' me?

Psalm 131:2 (NASB) 2  Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.

Here's God's solution for the madness. "... I have composed.." that means to agree with. "...and quieted.." to be dumb, silent ,or still. You see brothers and sisters if we can find a place' far beyond the madding crowd'. If in the midst of the war we can quieten ourselves and stay our minds on Him.
JUST FOR A LITTLE WHILE. If we can AGREE with Him that He is the Sovereign Lord and He has it under control. If we can believe that HE HAS OUR BACK.

Psalm 91:11-12 (NASB) 11  For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways.
12  They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

If we can do that, we can ascend above it all for a while. We can take a step up above all the destruction and misery and find rest for our souls. Listen brothers and sisters if this message is for no one else it is for me. There are things I can't fix. They are too difficult for me. If I fight it in my own strength it will frustrate and depress me. Only God has a relief valve. Only He can take away the pressure.

Psalm 131:3 (NASB)
 O Israel, hope in the LORD From this time forth and forever.

God Bless