Friday, December 26, 2014

Eternal Life Problem Areas                                                     12-26-14

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

Last week I supplied you with a list of certain passages amongst others, that many use to debunk the doctrine of Eternal Life found in God's Word. These, plus several others not mentioned, appear contradictory to security but when studied out,are easily explained. However, there are a couple that truly are serious arguments. One, in Second Peter which we won't look at; and another in Hebrews, where we shall focus our attention. A study of these passages requires fidelity to the context. In this case both the immediate and the wider contexts must be kept in view. To begin, some background material is essential to an understanding. While there is some argument as to whom this Book of the Bible was written to, the solid majority opinion rests with a community of Jewish believers living in Jerusalem or the outlying areas of Judea.The author calls them "brethren" and "partakers of the heavenly gift." He assumes that his audience has a detailed knowledge of the Old Testament. His many references and allusions to the Temple, the Levitical Priesthood, and the sacrificial system would require a basic understanding at the very least.

Also, the author(assumed to be Paul by most) had three messages to these Jewish believers. The
superior nature of Jesus as the Messiah. Superior in Divine revelation, superior to the angels and Moses, a better sacrifice than animals and consequently a superior Priest. Secondly, the author is trying to exhort this community of believers to stand firm in their faith and not to fall or drift away. Third, he pleads with them to get past the elementary principles of the Gospel and move forward into spiritual maturity.

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NASB) 1  God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
2  in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

Hebrews 2:1 (NASB) 1  For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.

Hebrews 6:1-2 (NASB) 1  Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
2  of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.

With that little bit of background we can now move forward with the central theme of the Book. This entire book is concerned with a community of Jewish Christians that are considering renouncing their faith and returning to the elements of Mosaic Law. That is why the first three chapters deal almost exclusively with Jesus and His "better" sacrifice. This community was hoping to escape the persecution of the Church in Jerusalem by returning to the elements of Mosaic Law,with the understanding that they could once again repent and accept Jesus, after the persecution had died down. The author pleads their basic assumption is flawed and even impossible; adding that if they continue on their course they will face a sure and irrevocable judgment.That prophecy would fulfill itself  a few short years later during the Roman siege in 70A.D., with over one million Jews being slaughtered.

Hebrews 3:16-19 (NASB) 16  For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?
17  And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?
18  And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?
19  So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.

Before we get to the sixth chapter a very brief look at the third and fourth chapters is needed.
We need a little more familiarity before we look at the passage in question. In the third and fourth chapters the author chooses to compare the Wilderness Generation with this current community. You remember the Wilderness Generation don't you? They were denied entrance into the Promise Land because they believed man's report rather than God. All during the trek toward the Promised Land, the children of Israel provoked God because of a lack of faith. They were ready to go back to Egypt at the drop of a hat, and constantly complained to Moses about any inconvenience that arose.  At Kadesh Barnea, God had enough and would have destroyed them had Moses not intervened for mercy. However, this rebellion pushed Israel beyond the point of no return with God. It was the straw that broke the camel's back. Consequently, a Divine judgment was incurred. The substance of the judgment is what is of interest to us.

Numbers 14:20-23 (NASB) 20  So the LORD said, "I have pardoned them according to your word;
21  but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD.
22  "Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice,
23  shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it.

The reason I insert this at this point is to magnify the importance of context. When we look at the subject passage,the above  passage(s) will be crucial to deciding whether the judgment the author is talking about is temporal or eternal in nature. This is the exact nature of the judgment that was set in Jerusalem after the Jewish leadership committed the Unpardonable Sin by rejecting Jesus as their Messiah. The nation of Israel was forgiven, the Wilderness Generation was pardoned, but they both suffered a temporal punishment in the loss of their physical lives.

Matthew 23:35-36 (NASB) 35  so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
36  "Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

  The judgment of 70 A.D., the judgment of Wilderness Generation, and the threatened judgment of this Jewish community are all of the same nature and kind and provide a type of God's judgments when dealing with His children. Both Moses and Aaron died for their sin in the wilderness and were not allowed entrance into the Promised Land. It is unthinkable that either one forfeited their spiritual life and security isn't it? This does not argue well for conditional security. At any rate, we will look at the Queen Mother next week. Consider this. It is not a sin problem that torments people it's a belief  problem.

Psalm 119:5 (NASB) 5  Oh that my ways may be established To keep Your statutes!

God Bless.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Eternal Life At What Point                                              12-19-14

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

Lots of Scripture today.

After a brief look at the word eternal  and the concept of neverending that it conveys, we now want to focus on whether one can lose their salvation as a result of sin. There are several passages of scripture that on the surface seem to support the possibility of a salvation that can be lost. I will list a few but will not take the time to argue against them here. Next week we will look at the most problematic of these, the "if" clauses in Hebrews and the Queen Mother of them all, Hebrews 6:4-8. Here's a list of verses(not comprehensive) 

Matthew 24:13 (NASB) 13  "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
1 Timothy 4:1 (NASB) 1  But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

2 Peter 2:20 (NASB) 20  For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
Romans 11:21-22 (NASB) 21  for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.
22  Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

 1 Corinthians 9:27 (NASB) 27  but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 
 Matthew 7:22-23 (NASB) 22  "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'
23  "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

John 15:2 (NASB) 2  "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

There are more but this will give you an idea. You can study them for yourself if you want to.

Just like last week,there are few questions that jump out at us if we accept the premise of conditional security. Does Jesus Blood atone for all of our sins, past, present and future?Also, if you can lose your salvation, at what point do you lose it? What is the sin or sins that cause the loss of salvation? If there is a "drifting away," where in the drift do you lose your way? Not to mention how would anyone know except God? How can anyone know the condition of our heart except God and us? The Bible clearly states in the New Testament this truth.

The Greek verb "to be saved" is often in the Greek Aorist(?) tense(don't ask me) This tense, I understand emphasizes a singular act. It happens singularly, only one time. We only get saved once. Unlike confession of sin, which is never said to be singular,salvation is not repeatable. To add to that, there is not one single case in the Bible where someone gets saved, loses their salvation, then regains it. Nowhere is that recorded in the Bible. Even any recorded instance conveying that idea or concept is absent from the Scriptures. On top of that, it flies directly in the face of a host of Scriptures that speak to the believer's security . Turn your attention to Romans.

Romans 8:30 (NASB) 30  and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. 

Do you see the progression here? This speaks of an act or better, acts that God has already accomplished. We have been predestined, called, justified, and glorified. It's all been accomplished according to scripture before the foundation of the world. Look at what Paul says.

Ephesians 1:4 (NASB) 4  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love

Ephesians 1:11 (NASB) 11  also we have obtained an inheritance, having been PREDESTINED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE WHO WORKS ALL THINGS AFTER THE COUNSEL OF HIS WILL..(CAPS MINE)
If the loss of our salvation were possible it would negate God's sovereign will and His sovereign purpose. We have been in God's plan from all eternity past. Understand that. Those verses speaking about foreordained and predestined are not speaking to some non descript goop of people, no, no. In the Greek they are speaking individually. To the individual, you and me. It is a comfort if you will. He predestined YOU. He predestined ME from eternity past to be called, justified, and glorified. Don't ask me why, I do not have a clue. It is God being God. All I can do is fall on my knees and say "thank You" It is beyond our comprehension when you take some time and meditate on it. That being the case, He will not allow His grand purpose and plan to be thwarted.If He has done all that, do you imagine that He is going to accept a sacrifice that does not have the power to save and preserve our salvation without anything being contributed on our part.?

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB) 8  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

............"not as a result of works....." Understand what this says. You and I are helpless. We are without merit(works) to obtain or maintain our salvation. Not the slightest tittle. For our discussion this means that if it is possible to lose our salvation, then there is no hope of ever regaining it. No work of our doing will suffice. Not confession, not repentance, NOTHING! We are doomed to an eternal hell once we lose it. That doesn't really fit does it? God sends His only begotten son to live a perfect life, endure a torture and death that is past our ability to comprehend, then raise Him from the dead, all for the purpose of losing His creation at some point because of sin or sins in the life of  His children. I just can't buy that.
Here is what the Bible says concerning Jesus' sacrifice.

Hebrews 9:12 (NASB) 12  and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Hebrews 10:14-15 (NASB) 14  For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

Hebrews 10:18 (NASB) 18  Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Read the entire Book of Hebrews. It is the Leviticus of the New Testament. It will give you an idea of just how perfect Jesus Blood is. The Lord Jesus' sacrifice has to be sufficient. It is essential that His death cover and REMOVE ALL OF OUR SIN past, present, and FUTURE. Otherwise, we are all lost and undone even now. Should we cheapen His passion by insisting or even hinting that His death is not enough? If we do, then how can we enjoy the benefits of His resurrection? Amen.

Psalm 110:4 (NASB) 4  The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."

God Bless

Friday, December 12, 2014

 Eternal Life                                                                   12-12-14

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

Doctrine. A body or system of teachings relating to a particular subject. Like I said last week, I began this personal study when a doctrine that I believed in did not prove true to me. That's not to say that it was and is invalid, but I wanted to find out for myself, to my satisfaction. This material I will be sharing is not some great revelation given me. As a matter of fact it can be readily had for the asking if one is interested. The greatest benefit is that it might help you fill in the gaps about what you believe; and it might rescue you from getting your heart wounded. I wish I had done a systematic study of God's word thirty years ago but, better late than never right? O.K. then.

Eternal security. Better known as "once saved, always saved" is probably the most debated issue in God's Word. For the record I believe in it.......are you still there? If you are, then you probably are not among those that chastised me a while back when admitting that I agreed with it during a Sunday School class. At any rate this is our subject for a while. I intend to give you the positive side(security) with my evidence from Scripture and if you are interested you can study it out and make your own mind up.

Doctrines are debated.Doctrines are argued. Doctrines are fought over. It may appear that there are multiple differing viewpoints but, that is rarely, if ever the case. The Bible does not present opposing,contradictory viewpoints. God is not the author of confusion. So, why all the squabbling if only one viewpoint should prevail? In my very limited study it appears to me to be context. Context is skewed or ignored altogether. Because of this, Scripture is misapplied and we have differing interpretations. If we have two or more differing viewpoints and one is found to be true, then common sense tells us that the other is false OR is somehow a supporting view that we need to search out.This is the importance of context because this is a common occurrence in the Bible. At any rate,
to begin this study, we have to answer the question before looking at the evidence. How so Ronnie?What does the word eternal mean? There can be no gray area here. No in between. No margin for error. If eternal means eternal, then by it's very definition we either have eternal life as a present possession, or we do not.We will look at that later down the line. Look at this.

John 5:24 (NASB) 24  "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

The word translated eternal is forty seven times translated "forever" or "forever and ever."
Now this word eternal is joined with different words,especially concerning God's Kingdom. But, by far the most common usage of the word eternal is with the word "life." The phrase "eternal life" appears forty three times in the New Testament according to Strong's. Eternal redemption, eternal salvation, eternal inheritance, eternal kingdom, eternal damnation, these are all New Testament uses of the word eternal. Can you see the flow of the use of eternal? Mounce's Dictionary of New Testament Words says this about the word eternal. Having no beginning or end in two senses. One being that of going forward and backward and the other going forward only. At any rate the meaning being advanced is one of foreverness. The flow conveys everlasting, having no beginning or end.

John 3:36 (NASB) 36  "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

John 6:47 (NASB) 47  "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.

John 10:28 (NASB) 28  and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

When scripture speaks of the believers life it always references eternal life. If God wanted to convey the idea that we could lose our salvation He would not have spoken of eternal life being the present possession of the believer. Look at a couple more verses.

Ephesians 1:11 (NASB) 11  also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

1 John 5:11-13 (NASB) 11  And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
12  He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
13  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Do you notice anything that all these verses have in common? This is no grammar primer here but these verses are all in the present tense. They are speaking of a present possession. The point being that we are given life at the point when we believe, not at some future point in time such as death. If we have eternal life at the instant we believe and if this life is truly eternal, then we cannot lose it during our stay here on earth.

The Scriptures, in any number of places, teach that salvation is a free gift. But, infinitely more important is that they teach that the BELIEVER is a gift. We are a gift from the Father to the Son.

 John 6:37 (NASB) 37  "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
John 17:2 (NASB) 2  even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.

If salvation is conditional and can be lost, this would make the Father out to be a liar. To support this the Bible teaches that all the gifts, salvation, the charismatic gifts,the gifts in Romans, ALL the gifts are irrevocable. He will not repent or change His mind. This only scrapes the surface on this teaching on the word eternal. If you want to look further it's out there.

All this being said, there is another facet to the argument over security. Most that disagree with this doctrine don't have a problem with eternal. They have a problem with what is required to maintain and keep this salvation, unwittingly making salvation conditional. This doctrine says NOTHING. As a matter of fact God requires nothing to obtain or KEEP your salvation. Further, if there WERE a requirement it would be IMPOSSIBLE for you or any flesh to keep it.You are powerless to gain your salvation, and you are just as powerless to keep it! It's ALL God.
We will take a look at just what happened at and on Calvary some 2000 years ago.

Psalm 119:58 (NASB) 58  I sought Your favor with all my heart; Be gracious to me according to Your word.

God Bless

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Why Do I Believe What I Believe ?                                                     12-04-14

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

Have you ever asked yourself that question? I have..but first, the rest of the story. When I first got saved I had a voracious appetite for God's written Word. I couldn't get enough of it. I studied and read the Bible endlessly. As a good friend about his salvation experience," When I got saved, I got saved!" That describes my experience also. Once what had happened to me took hold, nothing else mattered. I was totally absorbed and I saturated myself with the things of God. Now as all of you seasoned Christians out there already know, that feeling goes away after a while; and "walking the walk" takes it place. After a few years of walking I found that I had some questions about what the Word of God was saying. Now don't get me wrong..I didn't lose my faith in God Or Jesus. Neither did I lose my faith in the men of God whose ministry and teaching I was sitting under; but I had questions mostly about the consistency of the Scripture. Here's an example. If we have eternal life
when we believe:

Romans 10:9 (NASB) 9  that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
John 3:16 (NASB) 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.

Then why do we preach that it can be lost?
Matthew 10:22 (NASB) 22  "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.
Hebrews 3:6 (NASB) 6  but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.


Consider this. If the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, with the subsequent gifts, is a blessing that is given after salvation, a "second blessing" if you will.
Acts 19:2 (NASB) 2  He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit."

Then why does the Bible say this?
1 Corinthians 12:13 (NASB) 13  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Are spiritual gifts(especially speaking in tongues) given to us for the asking?)  If we ask and are willing to receive, does God oblige? If so then why this.
1 Corinthians 12:11 (NASB) 11  But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

For most of my Christian life, I entertained these and other questions, but in my mind only.I never discussed them, thinking that they really weren't essential. I knew what I had been taught and believed.
Then a few years back during a very critical period something happened. Not going into detail, I will give a brief summary. I spoke a prophecy over a person and a situation I believed was from God. "Thus saith the Lord" I began..... That prophecy was not fulfilled and remains unfilled as I speak. That day was the starting point for me and my search for truth for my life. It has haunted me many times since I "spoke it." I have asked for and received forgiveness from God and have been delivered from condemnation(the self kind) and have moved on. However, my question to myself(the title to this message) remains a work in progress. My personal Bible study from that day to this is a quest to answer that question to my self satisfaction.

A few weeks back I decided to write about doctrine. Now doctrine can be divisive if you approach it with the perspective of I'm right and everybody else is wrong. There are many different interpretations out there and I believe everyone has a little bit of truth. However, if doctrine wasn't important, God would not have included it in His Word would He? Jesus and the Cross is the Divining Rod of doctrine. Once we start looking beyond Calvary,EVERYTHING IS DOCTRINE! That being said there is some destructive doctrine being preached these days that is bewildering and harmful to the faith of  many good Christians, both young and old. I hope you will enjoy and become interested in what I have to say. I plan to take four or five basic doctrines that I believe are important to our daily lives and discuss what I have come to believe. Agree or disagree, you are free to do both. I hope you somehow are blessed by these messages.

 Psalm 119:11 (NASB) 11  Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. 

God Bless

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Self Denial                                11-1-14

23 And He was saying to them all, " If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
Luke 9:23-24 (NASB)

I am,at my job, what is called a 4 star route. That is a designation for routes that are loaded and leave at a later time. This is due to being situated more locally than some routes that must leave at earlier times due to time sensitivity.  There are about four or five of us that come in at midnight and don't leave until 3 A.M. or even later at times. So we sit around every night and watch football or find a cubby and read or scroll the web on our phones until loaded and ready. Last night I was reading my Kindle App on my phone when out of nowhere the title of my message floated into my mind. Now, I am absolutely sure the Lord whispered it to me. How Ronnie, do you know that? Well, a cursory glance at my waistline and you will realize that I don't dwell too much on self denial.  And everybody said "Bon Appetit!"

A dictionary rendering of the term self denial puts it this way: " the surrender of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim"` A HIGHER CLAIM. When I saw that, I realized that indeed God was speaking to me concerning some issues in my life. Let me interject some 'sho nuff ' truth here before proceeding. When we go boldly before God in a "mountain top" moment and ask Him to search our hearts...
23  Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
Psalms 139:23-24 (NASB)

Don't be surprised if God does just that. And don't be surprised if it turns out to be somewhat painful.
Be careful what you pray for. Those Amens may turn into Oh Me's.(smile)

Jesus words to His disciples followed His stern rebuke of Peter(see Matthew 16 and Mark 8) He
got in Peter's face because Peter was concerned with the interests of man, in this case Peter's interests and not God's. Now, because I haven't done too much study on the subject, I checked out some references and discovered that the meat of self denial is in the phrase "take up his cross." The subject of that phrase is us, me and you. And it is first and forever more, voluntary. We are to voluntarily take up, and shoulder our own cross, to  surrender our will to God's. It is different from "bearing a cross." Bearing a cross implies bearing a load that is involuntarily put upon you. It is dealing with life and the burdens it lays on you. This verse however is talking about voluntarily sacrificing your will and desire for the sole purpose of serving God or your fellow man.It can be painful, it's a cross. Jesus said if anyone "wishes" to be a follower of Him, then, this is what it looks like. Now, this does not mean that we go searching for ways to take up a cross. No, no. That is nothing more than soul annihilation, which left unchecked, turns into religious asceticism and legalism. A work of man. That is not what Jesus is saying here. When God desires a change, IF we are listening, He will speak to our hearts. If He isn't speaking to you, don't go searching for something. Remember Jesus' words.

 28 So Jesus said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.
John 8:27-28 (NASB)

".....I do nothing on my own initiative...."

God speaks, we yield and we do. Sometimes better than others. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Amen?

 Our culture today is obsessed with instant gratification and self satisfaction. It is a "me first" mentality. Personal victory and power are considered absolute rights.That doesn't really preach in West Africa or Iraq right now though, does it? I digress. It's everywhere in Western culture and we are all influenced by it to some degree. Oh yes, I will serve my fellow man, but only after I satisfy my own wants and desires. Maybe you don't battle that, but, I assure you this writer does. The old cliche holds true." Salvation is free, discipleship is costly." Listen, I can't tell you what "following after" Jesus means to you. That is a personal relationship between God and the rest of us. It's a" me and God" thing. I can make this assertion however. It's an unpopular subject in the secular and church world; it's almost always painful and if I had my way, I would just skip over that page.(smile)

It's painful, it's sobering(read vs. 24 at the top again) but it will yield eternal rewards.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Psalms 19:14 (NASB)

God Bless

Friday, October 17, 2014

Don't Get Left Behind               10-17-14

No,  I have not seen the Nicholas Cage movie, I will wait until it comes out on Redbox. However, I thought it would be interesting to see what the Bible had to say about it, since it may soon become a reality. Amen? Say about what Ronnie? Oh, I'm sorry. Why, the Rapture of course. No, that word is not in the Bible, but, the Greek and Latin rendition of the English word is. In order to get a good look at the "catching away," a few verses must be looked at. The first is in the Book of John.

  1 " Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going."
John 14:1-4 (NASB)

John 14-17 concerns itself with a transitional period in the ministry of the Lord Jesus. To begin, it describes a transition of His ministry as a prophet into the ministry of High Priest. Also, it speaks of a change from Law to Grace. All that Jesus had taught up until this point was seasoned with a perspective from the Mosaic Law. Until His death on the Cross, He was still subject to the demands of the Mosaic Covenant. Understand that while Jesus was in a mortal body,He could not operate in the function of a priest, because He was of the tribe of Judah and that would have violated the Law concerning the Levitical Priesthood. So, the first act that Jesus performed as a priest was to offer His Blood on the altar at Calvary. Speaking in the upper room of things to come, Jesus told the Disciples that He was going away, but at some time in the future, He would return for them. Not only them, but for all the saints. This is important for us in this study because He says that He is going to take the saints to that place that He is preparing for them. In His Father's House. This first promise is to prepare a place. The second is to return for the believers to take them where He is. This is not speaking of a return to Earth. He is coming to take the saints to Heaven in preparation for a literal, physical return to the earth.   Here is a passage that speaks to the method of that return.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
1 Thess 4:14-17 (NASB)

This passage is apparently answering a question that the church in Thessalonica had concerning  believers who had died. The concern of the church was not one of whether there would be a catching away, but one of whether their dead relatives would benefit from the Rapture or would have to wait in the grave until some future time. Were those that had already died going to be taken to that place that Jesus had prepared for them?  Here's a couple more for thought.

34 " Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; 35 for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. 36 But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Luke 21:34-36 (NASB)

Two phrases in this passage are germaine. Starting with"....for it will come upon all those who dwell on the earth..." In this passage Jesus is speaking of "that day." The Day of the Lord that the Old Testament prophets spoke so often of is in view here. The Great Tribulation is another word for it. The structure and wording leave no doubt that ALL who dwell upon the earth will have to endure that day. There is no out for those who dwell upon the earth. But, then in verse 36 the Lord speaks of PREVAILING TO ESCAPE (caps mine) If you dwell upon the earth at "that day" then you will go through all that will come upon the earth. But, "keep escape all these things...about to take place...."  In order to escape, one must be a believer. The way of escape is to "stand before the Son of Man" in that place that He has prepared.

There are many more passages dealing with this subject, but, for the sake of time and space I will look at just six more.......just kidding. One more begs our attention for a decent grasp of the subject matter.

 9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.
1 Thess 1:8-10 (NASB)

It's all about that one word wrath.  That word is the same word used in Revelation about God's wrath in the Great Tribulation and in Romans 1 about His general wrath against sin. Same word. In this verse, it is speaking of a future wrath, the wrath "to come."
Because of this it cannot be speaking about God's wrath against sin as in Romans 1 for that is a present reality.Neither can it be pointing to the wrath of Hell or the Lake of Fire. The reason being that this was being written to a church of believers who were waiting for the Lord's return.(vs.10) These believers, like the believers of today have already been delivered from hell and eternal torment by our Lord's shed blood on the cross of Calvary. Now, with all that settled, look at the last few words. Who rescues us from the wrath to come. Only one period of God's wrath remains. The wrath that will be poured out on the earth during the Day of the Lord or the Great Tribuluation. Having been delivered from the wrath of Eternal Damnation we have yet to be caught away and rescued from the future wrath of that great and glorious Day of he Lord.

But, there is yet another matter to be taken up with this catching away we label the rapture.

Folks, it isn't a matter of whether or not we are going to be caught,no...the great unanswered question is whether we, you and I are ready for His appearing. Look around you, can it be far off? Surely it is nearer now than it was when we were growing up. Let us take a minute and make sure that we are ready.He's coming...ready or not.

 11  Worship the Lord with reverence And rejoice with trembling. 12  Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
Psalms 2:11-12 (NASB)

God Bless


Saturday, October 11, 2014

How Should We Then Live         10-11-14 

 17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
Phil 3:17 (NASB)

Memaw (my mother) enjoys going to church when she feels up to it. The pastor at her church has been doing a study on the book of Revelation for the past few weeks. They have progressed to the ninth chapter and a couple of weeks ago his exegesis of the beginning of that chapter intrigued me.

2 He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit.
Rev 9:1-2 (NASB)

 He stated that while this smoke should be taken literally in its time frame, many scholars also speak of a symbolic meaning for this smoke; that being it represented a wave of deception and false doctrine  that would come upon the earth leading up to and during those perilous times.  Hmmm..You don't have to look far today to see the  various doctrines being set forth in the Christian church. We are even being beguiled into tolerance and acceptance of a false religion, all for the sake of peace. With all that to go on, I set about thinking on the above verse in Phillipians. Here it is again.

17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
Phil 3:17 (NASB)

Read the third chapter and you discover that Paul is warning the Philippians about deception and false doctrine in his day. He then exhorts them to follow him and his example and to observe those who walk according to his pattern. The NIV says to"keep your eyes on those who live as we do." In order to escape the lure of another gospel Paul instructs the church to join with those who LIVE as we do. I asked myself this question. What was Paul's example? What was the pattern or model of life that Paul was talking about? Was it preaching? No. Was it giving? I don't think so. Was it suffering? That's closer, but not really. I couldn't really put a finger on it until my eyes fell on something a few verses later.

    3 Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Phil 4:3 (NASB)

".....who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel...." You see Paul's example..his lifestyle, was one of struggle.

That word struggle means "to contend with an adversary or opposing force," "to advance with violent effort."

You see Paul was not always in the clutches of suffering. He had some good days too. As a matter of fact he said that he had learned contentment in good times as well as bad. But, it seems that the one attribute that marked his life was struggle. He was all the time contending with the adversary. His mindset was one of advancing the Gospel. This world was not his home. His citizenship was in heaven. He warned against joining ourselves with those whose direction and focus was set on things of this world. Even calling them "enemies of the cross." Rather he said to "observe" those who lived like he did; not only observe but join with. To yolk ourselves with those of like mind, who contend and struggle with the adversary for the cause of the Gospel.

You see folks your life may not look like much to the systems of this world. You may not be the "success" or "walking in the victorious  life." Heck you may not look like much at all when measured by the standards of this world. Maybe your finances are a little on the short side. Maybe your kids aren't exactly where you would like them to be. It's possible that your life isn't "Leave it to Beaver." You know "honey I'm home!" You feelin me here? Maybe you are in a pitched battle with the enemy and adversary of your soul. Is it possible that you and yours are in a STRUGGLE. Could it be that you are CONTENDING for every inch of ground."Yeah,Ronnie that's exactly how it is." Well DON'T FRET!! You are in good company. As a matter of fact you are the kind that God is looking for. You are a kindred spirit with the writer of much of the New Testament, and one to be observed and sought out by others of like mind. Take heart brother and sister. Keep the faith. Amen.

12 O God, do not be far from me; O my God, hasten to my help! 13 Let those who are adversaries of my soul be ashamed and consumed;
Psalms 71:12-13 (NASB)

God Bless


Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Game Of Inches                          10-4-14

 4 "Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.
Hab 2:4 (NASB)

This is a football Saturday up here in K-Town. Earlier, I watched our beloved Vols lose one they probably should have won. Now, in the other games that I am watching, that worn out cliche that is the title of this message is,once again, being proven true. Dropped passes off the fingertips, missed first downs by "just inches," a bobble here, a slip there. Played on 100 yard field, in gargantuan stadiums, running up and down the field of play, the victor and the vanquished being determined literally by a few inches here and there. It reminded me of a  Christian cliche from years ago. Remember this one? "The most difficult twelve inches to traverse in this life is the twelve inches between your head and your heart." We read God's truth in His Word about how we should live, but, many times it's a disconnect isn't it? Or how often is there a circumstance staring smack down the barrel at us, daring us to believe God at His Word. The Lord speaking to our hearts, "Do it this way," or even better, "Leave it alone and let Me take care of it." Our sense of reason and responsibility screaming at us that it can't be right. We hear in our spirits the all too familiar,"Did God REALLY say that Ronnie?"We tell ourselves that we haven't heard God right. We begin to replay and rethink His Words in our hearts. We put our hands to a situation in a feeble attempt to fix something that only God has the fix for. Consequently, many times we talk or reason or "fix" ourselves right out of the blessing that God had in store for us. Has that happened to you? It certainly has to me.

How should we then live? The nickel answer? By faith of course. (smile)

6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. 7
Heb 11:6-7 (NASB)

Only one problem. It's just not that simple is it?
As my good buddy is apt to say,"It's minor surgery when it's you, but, it's MAJOR surgery when it's me!" There's only one way that I know to make that twelve inch journey from your head to your heart. Keep at it.... Keep at it.

17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Romans 10:16-17 (NASB)

You have to hear the word. You must hear God's written Word. Over and over again. Then over and over again. Until that promise that you are reading about and hearing about in your head becomes a real thing in your heart. But then, you must hear from THE WORD. THE LIVING WORD. We must get alone with God. We must pour our heart out to Him and ask Him for grace to believe Him and His Word. Your head isn't going to like it. Your flesh is going to holler. But, if we will keep seeking. If we can keep trusting HIM instead of ourselves, we can make that twelve inch journey from the head to the heart. Then we will understand that faith, like football is a game of inches.

89  Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. 90 Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands.
Psalms 119:89-90 (NASB)

God Bless

Friday, September 26, 2014

These Dreams                                                                                    09-26-14

I am not a dreamer. I rarely wake up in the morning with vivid images of night visions. Now, to be sure, I have in the past had some crazy, scary, funny, etc., dreams, but, they are the rare exception rather than the rule. I also, am not a visionary. God has never placed a grand vision of accomplishment or whatnot in my heart. I never had this inner drive to achieve or overachieve as probably would be the case with me. As a matter of fact, I was reflecting this week past about the fact that God has put only one overriding command in my heart these past 40 or so years. Just one. Now,there have been many, many divergences crossing my path that He has counseled and guided me through. A lot of minor details, small tasks that I have been charged with. But, I know of only one "ministry" that I am completely sure that God has assigned me in my entire life. And, to this day, I try to execute and stay faithful to that duty that I believe God has entrusted me with. I don't even write this weekly message because I believe God has "called" me to do it. I write it simple because I enjoy it. In the Kingdom of God, I am a grunt. An enlisted soldier with marching orders, or as is the case with me,order in the singular. My apologies for all the personal history, but, I wanted to convey to you my mindset. Maybe you can relate. All that being said,I was walking the parking lot last night at work, waiting for my truck to be loaded while talking to the Lord about my message for today. As I walked and waited, this song floated across my mind.  You remember don't you?"These Dreams" by Heart. Pretty good band back in the day. When that song came to mind, I revisited a dream I had and still have. More of a strong desire, a bucket list if you will, than a dream. But, take a look at this story.

Joshua 14:6-12 (NASB) 6  Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, "You know the word which the LORD spoke to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea.
Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart.
8  "Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the LORD my God fully.
9  "So Moses swore on that day, saying, 'Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God fully.'
10  "Now behold, the LORD has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today.
11  "I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in.
12  "Now then, give me this hill country about which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the LORD will be with me, and I will drive them out as the LORD has spoken."

Now, here's Joshua's buddy Caleb. He's been faithfully following the Lord for FORTY FIVE years! We don't hear too much about Caleb in the Scriptures do we? A few passing references here and there. Not nearly as much as his friend and contemporary Joshua. He strikes me as a grunt. A soldier,much like me and possibly you. What do you think? He'd been quietly serving the Lord for all those years, holding that dream close to his vest. I suspect that many times in the pitch of battle while conquering the  Promised Land, Caleb wondered whether he would even live to see his dream fulfilled. I expect that there were many nights spent under the stars that his dream seemed nothing more to him than a foolish PIPE DREAM. I wonder if Caleb ever shared his dream with others, only to be told that it was stupid, or it was never going to come to pass. "Caleb you're no Joshua and you're certainly no Moses. I doubt if God is bothered with your DAYDREAMS." I wonder if Caleb ever heard that. Maybe he even spoke those words to himself. But then, his time came. God looked down from Heaven and decided it was time to give Caleb what he had been promised. Caleb's bucket list. Ya feelin' me here?

You ever feel like that? You know. You've been marching and following orders the best you can for some time now. Just a rank and file striper trying to do what you have been told to do,waiting for your time. Or possibly circumstances and the difficulties of this life have buried those dreams that once were yours, under responsibility, tragedy or the like. These dreams are fading now to a very dim light on an even dimmer shore. But, hold on. Wait a minute. Get this.

Psalm 126:1-3 (NASB) 1
 When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream.
2  Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."
3  The LORD has done great things for us; We are glad.

You see we, at times feel like that we have been taken captive don't we?  Circumstances have tried to chain us down and the enemy has tried to steal our joy and hope. But, God is mindful of our plight and desires to give us our mountain. Not only that He is more than able to change our circumstances. But, in His timing not ours.

Jeremiah 32:27 (NASB) 27  "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?"

Listen, Brothers and Sisters the Lord God Almighty is mindful of you and yours. Whether you are a General or a Private in His army, He wants to do good for you. He wants to give you a field commission. It's His good pleasure to give you of His Kingdom. So, dust off those dreams. Dig up that bucket list. Like Caleb, keep holding on, keep following Him,and one day, you too will be like those who dream.

Psalm 71:18 (NASB) 18  And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.

God Bless

Friday, September 19, 2014

I Was THAT Close                                                                    09-19-14

Galatians 5:15 (NASB) 15  But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Galatians 5:26 (NASB) 26  Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

The title to my message is taken from Little Stevie Van Zandt's retelling of  Al Pacino's lament in the Godfather.(I watch way too many gangster movies) Michael Corleone, reflecting on his life as a gangster said that he was "that close" to getting out of the life of crime but at the last minute they "reeled him back in." Let me share an anecdote from this week past that spawned this message. I watched a short video this week, a hip hop(?) video I suppose. I don't know if it was Christian or not
but I enjoyed it. It was entitled "The world is coming to an end" The artist was grieving over the state of our world and one of the lyrics went like this.

 "Race is an issue and so is religion. Your God doesn't exist, my God does and He is all loving.And if you disagree with me....I'll kill you. Or even worse.....ARGUE YOU TO DEATH."(Caps mine)

 With that background allow me to move on. I was tempted this week. I was THAT close to joining in a discussion this week on Facebook. You know don't you? You hit the comment link and put in your two cents worth. You with me? I've never done it before, but this time after viewing some comments, I was chomping at the bit. I was going to jump in to what had now devolved into a vicious and even ravenous argument about certain people and doctrines. Why I didn't, I don't know. But, I delayed my invasion, got called away by something that Memaw needed and never got into the pitch of battle. A couple hours later, I sat down again in front of my now black computer screen, and for some reason I opened my Bible and began reading in Galatians. As I came across the 5th chapter, the Holy Spirit highlighted the above two verses; especially that phrase ..."challenging one another..."  Hmmm.. challenging one another. That described my motive to a tee. I wanted to challenge someone on Facebook and prove I was right and they were wrong. Ya feelin' me here?

We, many times under a banner of love, publicly shred some ministry or worse, some human being because of something they said or did that we don't agree with. I witnessed this, this past week, and was very nearly a party to it on Facebook. Maybe that person did say something not quite right. Or maybe they espoused a doctrine or belief that isn't quite according to Hoyle or more to the point, according to us. Maybe so. But, if we aren't very careful, we can be caught up in it and argue each other to death. I was that close this week, but got reeled back in.  

Let me throw something in here. The Apostle Paul's public confrontations were usually with Judaizers,not believers. (see Acts 15:1 for an example) It normally was with those who were negating the sufficiency of God's grace through Jesus' shed blood by adding to the message of the Gospel, most often by requiring some form of work, namely circumcision or the observance of ritual feasts and days. That being said, my point is simply this. Rarely, if ever, did Paul correct or criticize believers in public. He kept it "in house" rather than splattering their supposed misdeed all over the social and print media. Paul's rebuke was face to face, as with Peter, or in the form of letters, as with the New Testament churches that he planted. Look at this:

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.

That 'anyone' in the original Greek means.......anyone. New convert, pew sitter, tithe payer, deacon, preacher, ministry leader, ANYONE. "Restore........ in a spirit of gentleness....."  

 As I mused over this, this week, I thought of all the times that I have let my rear end override my mouth. Of all the times that I was right and they were wrong. At least in my own mind! Oh yeah, I got my two cents worth ...and it didn't change a thing. It only resulted in feelings of regret on my part and created a wall between me and the unwitting victim of my verbal assault. It happens to all of us at one time or another. But, we will save ourselves a lot of grief, not to mention a possible chastising from the Lord, if we just keep our mouths shut,pray about it, and let God deal with it. Amen?

Psalm 133:1 (NASB) 1
 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!

God Bless  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Suddenly!                                                                                   09-12-14

Zechariah 3:1-4 (NASB) 1  Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.
2  The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?"
3  Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel.
4  He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, "Remove the filthy garments from him." Again he said to him, "See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes."

I am going to share with you today a moment in time from yesterday as I sat out on the back deck. I say a moment because it felt like that. It happened suddenly, thus the title of the message. Maybe you can relate because it has happened to you. If it hasn't, don't worry, it will. I often go out on the deck here at Memaw's, and lately it has developed into somewhat of a routine. The deck affords me some solitude and alone time. I often take that time to pray and be alone with God; also to soak up some rays for my pitifully pale body! smile.  So yesterday, shortly after I woke up, caffeine in hand, I shuffled outside, sat down, and began to pray. I will try to not be too personal here.I was praying for healing for some loved ones. Not a physical but a spiritual healing.I believed they had been wounded by past hurts and were still bleeding. No great revelation here, just something I felt in my heart for them. Here's where, for me, it gets interesting. All of a sudden I had all sorts of conflicting thoughts enter my head. It didn't seem like a distraction, but periods of my past were literally being rolled before my eyes. Now that isn't too odd except some of it was stuff that I hadn't thought or even considered in years. It had to do with the people I was praying for....and it was all BAD,.... and it was all TRUE. A movie newsreel if you will( remember those at the movies when you were a kid?) of all the mistakes and missteps I had made with these folks. Sitting there watching, I was forced to admit in my heart that indeed this was all true. It upset me to the point that I began to cry.You see I was praying for God to heal a wound that I HAD INFLICTED. I was the cause. I bore the lion's share if not ALL the guilt for their demise. It wasn't what I had done, it was what I had caused. You feelin' me here? I mean this stuff went way, way back. Small detailed type stuff that I had forgotten about decades ago. I am serious, literally decades had passed since some of this stuff had taken place. I was being accused. I was being STRONGLY accused. If not before God, certainly in my own heart and mind. The wounds that these people were enduring were, in large part, of my doing.

 It was precisely at this moment that the above verse came into my heart. I pictured Joshua standing before the Lord in filthy rags. I rose up and went in the house to find the passage of Scripture. When I found it I pulled out a commentary to see what it had to say. Nothing really jumped out at me except that word "suddenly." It seems that in the original after the word 'and' the word suddenly is implied. Joshua was standing before God and suddenly Satan began to accuse him before the Lord. It felt like that was exactly what had happened to me. I read on and found out that filthy is not an accurate description of Joshua's garments. In the Hebrew he was clothed with human waste."Filthy" doesn't do it justice. In spite of all that, when God rebuked Satan for the accusation(God did the rebuking, not Joshua. that's for another time however) He called him "a brand plucked from the fire," meaning "one
who is still useful and not to be consumed or destroyed." He said all that before He cleaned Joshua up.

As I thought on these things the content of my message took form. Hear me out and I will try and put into words what was in my heart. People(that includes this writer I suppose) are the frailest of all the creation don't you think? We try and add to God's grace and mercy by requiring others to "do" acts of righteousness to appease God. We take away from God's grace and mercy by failing to truly receive His forgiveness into our hearts. But, from what I can glean from Joshua is the fact that he did NOTHING. He didn't "do" something and he didn't "not do" something. All he did was stand before the Lord; and God Almighty did all the cleaning up. He didn't try and defend himself before Satan's accusations. Why? Because though the text doesn't say, they were probably true! He just stood there in his filth and let God do all the rebuking. Not only did God clean Joshua up, but He promised him that if he followed Him and walked in His ways, He would make him a priest in the future house of Israel. Brothers and sisters we have all made mistakes. We have all inflicted wounds on others that we regret and wish that we could undo. And it is the enemy's job to remind us of all our failings and sins; and to use those memories to accuse us to ourselves. That's what he does. If you, like me sometimes struggle with the fact that you have hurt and wounded someone in the past, remember this. God has forgiven and forgotten. He will heal those we have hurt and He will heal us.That's what He does.God is sovereign. His plan for our lives and our loved one's lives will not be spite of all we do and say!smile God's still got plans for you and yours. He has a future for us. And whether the enemy's accusations are spot on or not, the Lord Jesus dealt with them at the cross. He didn't die in vain. He rose again and He's got us in the palm of His hand. Us AND those we love. Amen? AMEN!!

Psalm 130:1-4 (NASB) 1
 Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD.
2  Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications.
3  If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
4  But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.

God Bless

Friday, September 5, 2014

Never Give Up                                                                             09-05-14

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (NASB) 26  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;
27  but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
28  and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,
29  so that no man may boast before God.

This scripture is actually an admonition of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian church. He was scolding the church for being arrogant towards each other. Everybody thought that they were "all that." I've got a little different but still valid perspective on it today. Something that I personally hold on to if you will.  

You know the story don't you? Well, I will today recount it for you. In an address to the Harrow School in Britain on October 29, 1941, Winston Churchill, in what is now a famous speech said the following. The relevant part of the speech has become a part of famous quotation books everywhere. "...Never give in. Never,never, never,never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."  This quote came to mind this week as I read the above scripture. You know, God doesn't do or look at things the way we down here do, does He? Whenever I read that passage above, I am always reminded of a few people that are very close to me.

This is a passage of scripture that speaks personally to me. A few years ago the Lord used this scripture to encourage me to never give up on people(myself included), even when the circumstances were screaming the opposite. Sometimes it is difficult to keep on believing the best about people. It is HARD to keep a positive outlook when they are "out there" and walking that thin line on the edge of that cliff. You hearin' me here? You know how it goes. People start raising an eyebrow at that kid of yours and their shenanigans. It doesn't have to be a kid, but, it is, more often than not.They start talking,.. you try to turn a deaf ear, but, all you can do is silently agree. Or they don't say a thing and that silence is even more deafening. And after a while you start believing all the negative about them. It becomes all the more difficult to "see" them as saved, know don't you.

Or to make things down home and personal the person that is on that thin line, the person that is peering over the edge of the cliff, the one who is "out there" may be YOU! Oh yeah it can happen to any of us. We don't have to be "sinning" to fall victim to the enemy's  snares. No, no. It can be a job failure or even a job loss. It might take the form of failing to live up to other's and sometimes your expectations of your potential. It might be a sickness. There are as many circumstances as there are stars to give you a sense of hopelessness. Capisce? However,......HOWEVER that is NOT the way GOD looks at it. BUT GOD.

The world may have given up on that kid. The world may have given up on you. YOU may have given up on you.  Other people may have turned their back and given up on them. They have thrown you out with yesterday's newspaper.BUT,that's where God shines isn't it? Look at this. God has chosen what?
The foolish things, the weak things, the base things, the despised things... to do what?? To shame the wise, to shame the strong, to nullify all of those who had thrown you on the trash heap. To SHUT UP all the boo birds in the cheap seats. Yes, it is hard to hang in there. As a matter of fact, we can't hang in there, UNLESS we grab hold of God and suck His grace and strength into our veins. Allow His perspective to become our own. As it was told me many years ago. God gets a big kick out of pulling someone out of the ditch, cleaning them up, and making something out of them. That is what He does best. Amen??Amen!! Never give up.

Psalm 56:8-9 (NASB) 8  You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?
9  Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; This I know, that God is for me.

God Bless