Friday, January 31, 2014

Walk It Out And Watch Me Work                                1-31-14

The Lord spoke that phrase to me a few months back and I shared it with you in a recent message. But, He reminded me of that phrase again this week while pondering what I would write about. Keep walking. I thought about how many times it is difficult  to do just keep walking. I'm not talking about accomplishing some great feat. On the contrary, it is probably easier to maintain when we have a definite goal in sight; no matter the demands that goal demands of us. But, it's when nothing is going on or worse, when we are in the midst of troubling and burdensome circumstances that the rubber really meets the road. Amen? Look at this verse.

  Ephesians 1:10-11 (NASB)  In Him
11  also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

Look at another translation.

Ephesians 1:11 (GW) 11  God also decided ahead of time to choose us through Christ according to his plan, which makes everything work the way he intends.
And another.

Ephesians 1:11 (HCSB) 11  We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will,

You see a common thread here? " ALL THINGS(my caps) after the counsel of His will"
"...makes EVERYTHING(again my caps) work the way he intends."

"...EVERYTHING(caps) in agreement with the decision of His will,"

Here's a favorite.

Romans 8:28 (HCSB) 28  We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
There's that word "all" again. When I thought about those verses I couldn't figure it out. Why you ask? Well, I'll tell you. All things most definitely, most assuredly DO NOT work out for the good. I,personally, and I am sure you also can shout in agreement, I personally have had events and circumstances that did not work out for the good; and, they NEVER WILL! Some bad happenings do turn out for the good. I have no problem with that. But,there is no way that you, I ,or even I believe, God can put a positive spin on some of the "things" that come our way.  Well, brothers and sisters that isn't the idea these verses are conveying. There are events and circumstances that are decidedly not good for us. They have no redeeming value in our lives. That is the reality that we live in. But, here's the deal. In the midst of these difficulties and tragedies, God's unseen Hand is somehow working to bring us through. We don't see it. We certainly don't or can't feel it. But, it is nonetheless working on our behalf and for our eventual and ultimate good. It makes absolutely no sense to our natural minds and senses. And it doesn't make it hurt any less or make it any easier to swallow.


God asks us in these times to take Him at His word and trust Him. I am reminded of my friend right now. Upon being asked whether he could keep the faith after some very difficult times his reply was "Where else can I go"?  Faith in God's unseen hand is many,many times ALL we have to cling to. But, take heart, God has promised to stick beside us and even reward us if we can just HOLD ON. I hear ya. Sometimes it's just too much. It's too hard. Child of God, hear this, let it sink way down inside. He's got you... even if you can't hold on. He will never let go of you. Ya hearin' me?

John 10:28-29 (HCSB) 28  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.
29  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

No one. No one on this earth. Not the devils of hell. Nor the angels of heaven. NO ONE! Those aren't my words they are God Almighty's. He has not forgotten you nor has He forgotten your labor of love. As hard as it may seem to understand it, He is just and He WILL make things right. Don't ask me how. I don't know.But, His Word says just that. Amen?Amen!!

2 Corinthians 1:8-10 (HCSB) 8  For we don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in Asia: we were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength—so that we even despaired of life.
9  Indeed, we personally had a death sentence within ourselves, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. 
10  He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and He will deliver us. We have put our hope in Him that He will deliver us again

Read the whole passage. Sometimes we stop in the middle.Yes we HAD a death sentence. PERSONALLY. But, it continues. "...we would not trust in ourselves but in God..." " He has delivered us...."  "We have put our hope in Him...."

Walk it out and let Him work.

Psalm 34:19 (NASB) 19  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.

There's that word "all" again.

God Bless

Friday, January 24, 2014

Widen Your Gaze                                            01-24-14

Genesis 13:14 (NASB) 14  The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, "Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward;

O.K. I did NOT sign on for 9 degrees! Did you get that? It isn't in my contract and I quit. So there!
I had to vent. Man it is COLD out there isn't it? I actually saw someone riding a scooter yesterday. I mean c'mon man. At any rate, despite living in an icebox it has been a good week. Shelley and I went to the Mexican restaurant this week and my message was born over chips and salsa. The menus arrived and as I always do, I enquired as to what Shelley was going to order. After the required "I don't know," she settled on her regular chicken fajita nachos. I then made the bold statement"Why don't you expand your horizons? Try something else. You like chili rellenos. Why don't you order those?" After some back and forth she stayed with the nachos. I ventured out with the steak fajita nachos and it was instantly brought to my attention that I ALWAYS ordered the steak nachos. Upon being exposed for my blatant hypocrisy, I quietly nixed my demands and relished the steak nachos ONCE AGAIN! LOL.

We are creatures of habit aren't we? You add to that the pressures and problems of this life and it becomes easy to get bogged down. You know the feeling. Walking on a treadmill, running around in
a maze...we've all been there. We get stuck in a rut and we develop tunnel vision. All we can see is a very dim light if we can see any light at all. I had conversations with a couple of different people this week and I woke up today with this verse on my mind. In the above verse, Abraham had settled in the land after Lot had left. Now, I don't know whether Abraham was in a rut or not, but, God told him to "lift up his eyes and look.." The phrase that came to my mind was 'widen your gaze.' God then told Abraham to take a hike and walk the length and breadth of the land. He moved him out of his zone if you will to see the land that He was going to give him. Abraham was able to see beyond his present surroundings and circumstances. He was able to widen his gaze.

It occurred to me that in our contemporary world and in much of our Christian culture, phrases such as those above....expand your horizons, widen your gaze translate into one idea. The pursuit of more. More money, more homes, more cars, etc., etc., just more. You gettin' my drift? Now don't get me wrong on this. There is nothing wrong with working hard and pursuing dreams and goals. The Bible speaks to providing for your own the best that you can. But, many times that pursuit starts to feed upon itself and before long becomes a taskmaster. It is no longer a pursuit of ours; instead it is driving us to obtain more and more; it can and will enslave us. The tail begins to wag the dog. As the wise sage Ferris Bueller once said 'life moves fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you just might miss it.' (That's not a direct quote, but it is close enough. smile)

"I've got your back." The Lord has spoken that phrase many, many times to me in the last year or two. I think that He might be trying to teach me something here. Look at this.

Luke 12:31-34 (NASB) 31  "But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
32  "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.
33  "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.
34  "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Look at verse 33. Now, Jesus has never once told me to sell everything that I have. I believe that He has spoken that to many people in the past; but, He has never spoken that to me. But, it's the idea that He's trying to get across isn't it? Ronnie, widen your gaze.  Don't let the issues of life and your inability to solve them enslave you. Don't keep moving in your own strength, all it is going to do is wear you out. Widen your gaze. RONNIE! I'VE GOT YOUR BACK!! 

The demands of this life can be brutal. The world will suck you dry. It is a never ending tug-of-war. Trying to give it all to God, then taking it all back. Believe me, I know. I have first hand knowledge. If you can get off the treadmill, if you can break out of the maze, you will be ahead of the game. Try and enjoy what is left of life. Lose that tunnel vision and lift up your eyes. Seek His kingdom first and all these things will be added to you. WIDEN YOUR GAZE. HE'S GOT YOUR BACK.  

Psalm 126:1-6 (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.
4  Restore our captivity, O LORD, As the streams in the South.
5  Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
6  He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

God Bless

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Sustaining Word                                                          1-17-2014

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.

I've had the word burden on my heart for the last couple of days. I saw a post on Facebook the other day by a friend of mine. This person was grieved by a burden of self guilt and self condemnation and stated that they were tired of dealing with it. Many times this thing called life simply wears us out. It just rolls in on us wave after wave after wave. Amen? I started thinking about all the voices out there that attempt to assist us in navigating the challenges we all face. We have voices that encourage us to holiness and right living. They are quick to direct us on how to live, and how to conduct ourselves before the eyes of the world. We have voices on how to live the victorious life. Many great teachings on the virtues of praise and worship, the power of walking in faith and so on. But, what do you say to the person whom for one reason or another is despairing of life? The person who is forlorn and whose spirit has been numbed by grief and despondency. Many times the plain answer is NOTHING. At times any word is inappropriate and most times unappreciated. However.

I was, today, reading my prayer that I wrote last New Year's. My prayer for 2013 and I was reminded of the above verse and the Holy Spirit spoke to me about the voices mentioned above. You see that is what that word 'tongue' is. It's a voice. It's a word for a weary soul.  This whole chapter is talking about Jesus and the discipline He underwent as the Servant of the Lord. It speaks to His sufferings and has encouragements for believers, and warnings for unbelievers. You see verse 4 is speaking not only about Jesus but disciples(plural) as well. It is talking about what I believe to be a gift. A gift of knowing what to say, and when to say it. I'm not talking about quoting some scripture or just "being there." No, I believe this is talking about something more profound. A word that goes deep into the spirit and produces comfort and healing. You see this is a word that will sustain someone. It's more than just helping someone. It means to carry through. To get you to the other side when you don't have the strength. It was this "word" that strengthened the Lord to endure His sufferings. It, in reality, trained Jesus to endure. That's what verse 5 is talking about.  Read about it in this chapter. But the key to securing this kind of insight is awakening"morning by morning." Look at that again.

"He awakens Me morning by morning,He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple."

God help me.I just had to wait 45 minutes on an automatic download. I DEFINITELY need a sustaining word at this time!(smile) Now, where was I.

He awoke morning after morning and disciplined himself to LISTEN for and to the voice of the Lord God. I'm not trying to be mystical here, no,no. All I am trying to say is that if I will yield to God "morning by morning" and let HIM guide me and speak through me, then, maybe, I will be able to minister real healing to a hurting soul. Or better yet when it is ME who has been sifted like wheat then someone else can sustain me through my trial. A word in season is priceless. Just sayin' It's a thought.

Psalm 29:4 (NASB) 4  The voice of the LORD is powerful, The voice of the LORD is majestic.

God Bless  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Number Our Days                                                          01-10-14

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

Just a short message this week as I travel down to Georgia to attend Devin's funeral and be with my friends. As we all can attest to this week, life is short and uncertain. Number your days. This life is fleeting and can be gone in an instant.We need to keep that fact in front of our eyes every day. My charge today is seek the Lord while He may be found. Our hope, strength, healing and encouragement is in Him and Him alone.

Beleaguered. That's the word that is on my heart today. It means  "to surround or beset, as with troubles. I beseech you brothers and sisters to up hold in prayer, Pastor Doug, Wanda, Ryan, Amanda and Joshua. This family is beleaguered at the present and needs our prayer and support. Let's circle the wagons around them and shield them as best we can. I believe with all of my heart that God WILL see them through, but it's a tough road right now and they NEED all the support that we can muster. In parting, it is a tragedy and heart rending for us down here BUT it is a HOMECOMING for Devin! I'm sure he is showing Jesus the finer points of video gaming right this instant.(smile) 

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

God Bless

Friday, January 3, 2014

Walk It Out                                                                     1-3-14

Mark 4:26-29 (NASB)

26  And He was saying, "The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil;
27  and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know.
28  "The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.
29  "But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

Ever feel that you are walking down a dead end street? You know don't you? Nothing has changed and it doesn't appear it is going to. You are marking time, treading's a DEAD END.... Or so you think. Here's a personal story. A few months ago I had come to a decision that I was at a dead end. This decision had not been made hastily; nor, had it been made lightly or without much prayer. But, all I could see was a dead end and I had decided to turn the corner. So, as I was doing my daily walk, I asked the Lord about a new direction. Well, He didn't answer my prayer that day. I asked again and again.....nothing. Days went by, then weeks, nada. Can I get a witness? And they ALL said AMEN!  After a considerable amount of time,I decided to take matters in my  own hands. I was going to make a move that would get the ball rolling. Just at that point my spirit was stirred within me and I believed the Lord was about to answer my petition. You know how you get when you feel like God is going to move in your life don't you? It's a feeling. A certain feeling of expectancy. Well, a couple days  later I was going through my daily routine and I was down at the track where I did my daily walk, and the Lord spoke to me. Now understand I needed some direction about what I was to do; where I was to go, now that I had decided to turn the corner. I needed some wisdom. I needed some revelation. And then the Lord spoke..................."walk it out"What? "walk it out" What do you mean 'walk it out?' " You mean stay where I'm at? Keep walking down this same road? " "Yep. That's exactly what I mean." " But, wait a minute God. This is a dead end. There's no light at the end of this road. I need to do this. I'm going to end up getting smoked here. It's a dead end!" "Walk it out."

Another translation of the above story reads like this"Stay where you are and sit steady in the boat." Oftentimes it is tough to sit steady in the boat. Your own rational mind and everything about you is telling you to jump ship and all you have to go on is a "word" from God. And to top it off, the "word" is saying don't do anything. Keep doing what you're doing. Keep walking where you're walking. You see many times we have to be like the man in the above parable. He throws that seed out in TRUST. He doesn't have a clue about how that seed grows. He goes to sleep, he wakes up. Nothing happens. He goes to bed, he wakes up..still nothing. BUT, one day he wakes up and voila! That seed has broken the ground and is growing. He doesn't know how, but, it keeps growing until one day it is mature and producing fruit. Ask the man how it happened and you will get a deer in the headlights stare and a uhhh...I dunno.
All he did was TRUST that the seed would produce. He didn't do anything to hinder the growth and he didn't dig it up when he didn't see immediate results. Isn't that the way it is with God sometimes?
We don't understand how He works, but if we trust Him, if we can just trust Him, we will enjoy the harvest. Look at this.

  Isaiah 55:10-11 (NASB) 10  "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
11  So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Look at that promise brothers and sisters.My Word will not return empty. Accomplishing what I desire. And SUCCEEDING in the matter for which I sent it. Oh yeah. That's good stuff. No, it's not out of context, look at the first verse.

Isaiah 55:1 (NASB) 1  "Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost.

"..EVERYONE"(Caps mine) That's you and me brothers and sisters.It's free and it works every time. All we need do is trust and obey.

Remember that old hymn?
Trust and obey, for there's no other way. To be happy in Jesus, just trust and obey. Plant that word that God spoke to you in your heart and leave it alone. Trust God to cause it to grow however and wherever He wants it to grow. If we can do this, we will be way ahead of the game.

 Brothers and sisters it may look dark. It may look like the road you are on is leading you over the cliff. But, if we can't trust God, who can we trust? The philosophers, the economists, the politicians? I don't know about you but I'm hedging my bet on the Lord. Remember this. He's got our back. Amen? AMEN!!

Psalm 119:89 (NASB) 89
 Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.

God Bless