Friday, April 25, 2014

High Anxiety                                                                                 04-25-14

John 15:5 (NASB) 5  "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Well, I believe ol' man winter has finally flown the coop. GOOD RIDDANCE! Can I get an amen?
It's nice up here in Volunteer Land. I saw one weather report calling for 90 degrees this coming week. That's just fine with me. Better hot than cold. Give me 85 and sunshine on one of those Caribbean hideaways. O.K., O.K. let's get on point here. For many years I thought Jesus was talking about soul winning in the above verse. The fruit was new additions to the kingdom. But, the more I thought about it and read what others had to say about it, I now think I have been missing the thrust of Jesus' words. While my original premise may have some validity to it, it's more about our personal walk isn't it. I believe He's talking about the fruit of the Spirit in own lives. You know....Galatians 5. All those lofty ideals that are often difficult to realize in their fullness.(well, at least they are for me )

 Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB) 22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

hmmm....."against such things there is no law."  You ever been anxious? Have you ever fought a battle with anxiety?

Anxiety-a painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind caused by doubts concerning the reality of the threat and self doubt about one's capacity to cope with it.

They tell me that left to incubate, anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as sweats and increases in heat rate. It will also lead the sufferer into depression and such. We call it an anxiety or panic attack.
I believe that I had a mild one this week. Now that's not newsworthy to anyone except me. You see I've been around for some 60 odd years and I am very laid back. VERY laid back. So much so that I have been called a procrastinator,(probably true) even an underachiever(God will be the judge of that) Now, I do get angry and I do have a definite belief system. But, basically I am a "you do your thing and I'll do mine" kind of guy. Right or wrong it's the way I am. I certainly never considered myself a candidate for a bout with anxiety. At any rate some elements from the past paid me a visit earlier this week. What it was isn't pertinent to this discussion but my reaction is. For some reason I got all bent out of shape over this episode from the past reemerging in my life. The reason for the message on anxiety is this. As I dwelt on this my heart literally began to beat faster. I'd take a deep breath and whatnot with no real relief. When I settled down, I got down in my spirit. It ruined my day. So, later on that evening I was reading my Bible and was in John 15 when that verse hit me. Here it is again.

  John 15:5 (NASB) 5  "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
It's the last part of that verse that the Lord spoke to me about. "........apart from Me you can do nothing." I take that verse literally, even though I fall woefully short of applying it to my own life on many occasions. You see the question is not whether or not you or I have the ability to cope with life's issues. The simple answer to that is a resounding NO! How do I know that you ask? Take a look at this week's headlines and tell me that we have ANY control over what is happening in the Ukraine, Iran, or even in our own country. The scenarios taking front row in this country are...well....unbelievable, even irrational. I, on almost a daily basis,drive by the homeless community in this city. I read about people losing their jobs. Little children asking the First Lady for a job for their father. I mean THINK ABOUT THAT. Of all the questions a little girl could ask the wife of the President of the United States, she asks for her father a job. I mean c'mon man. Insanity on all sides. It's no wonder we are prone to anxiety. Folks,all that we can control is US and even that can be challenging. I remembered that clip from the Mel Brooks movie High Anxiety with the guy spinning out of control on a spinning wheel in mid air. You remember that?(Ha Ha)  It's not a question  of our ability, nope, it is a question of our reliance. Who you gonna call? " Ronnie are you going to rely on your ability or Mine?" "Are you going to be self reliant or are you going to abide in Me?"

We're in a microwave world. Everything is happening at breakneck speed. God told us how it would be.

 Daniel 12:4 (NASB) 4  "But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase."

Brothers and sisters let's take a page from the Book.

1 Peter 5:7 (NASB) 7  casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

I don't know about you, but, I could use a big spoonful of all that good stuff. You know love, joy, peace..... You gettin my drift? Apart from him, you, me, us can do NOTHING.

Psalm 91:1-2 (NASB) 1  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2  I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!"

God Bless

Friday, April 18, 2014

Prepare                                                                                      04-18-14

Isaiah 53:1-7 (NASB) 1  Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2  For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
3  He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4  Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
6  All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
7  He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.

I have never been able to figure out why this day is called Good Friday. Yeah, I have read many articles discussing the reasons why, but, the explanations have never pacified me. Not that it matters, it is just a thought I entertain from time to time. That being said, it was an interesting week wasn't it? Anticipation surrounding the Blood Moon and all. Much to our chagrin, up here in Knoxville we didn't get to see it, as it was raining during the whole eclipse. Some more stuff took place further on in the week and I'll touch on that later. At any rate, I celebrated Passover this year on the patio out back; and, that's where God spoke this message to me. I prepared a communion with the Matzah and bought some kosher grape juice. Decided against wine as I had to drive a truck that night at work.(smile) At any rate, during this time the Lord spoke a word or better yet words to me. He said "prepare your heart." Those words played over and over in my mind and heart all night. Well, I went back inside, went to work and so on. All was going along as normal until yesterday when two headlines caught my attention. One was an article sizing up what it called the geopolitical division of the nations of the world; claiming that the backdrop for Ezekiel 38 was in fact lining up just as the Bible said it would. The other, though not as easily substantiated, was much more troubling. It seems someone had the idea to require the Jewish people to "register" with the local authorities in the Ukranian town of Donestk.(?) As I did a double and triple take I said to myself "no way." Now, you can read the account for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Is this a testing of the waters for something very nasty down the road? I don't know but I think it is. But, my point is this. As I read those headlines, those words that God spoke to my heart Monday night took on special significance.

Prepare your heart. Now, I don't want to get off point here but I want to say something you probably already know. The Lord Jesus told us that the events leading up to His return would be like the labor pains that a woman endures. Birthpangs He said. Each one coming a little closer together, and, with increased intensity. Prepare your heart. Brothers and sisters, what the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished this weekend some two thousand years ago, isn't about some event or headline half a world away that doesn't directly touch you or me. No, no. The Lord of all creation made this headline up close and personal. Jesus Christ the Lord hung on that cross for YOU and for ME specifically. And I would be remiss if I left unsaid that three days later He came out of that tomb for YOU and ME PERSONALLY! You gettin my drift here aren't you? Prepare your heart.

The Lord God Almighty is standing with arms wide open. All He wants is to spend a little time with you and me. And let me add that He stands there without condemnation. No sin, past, present or future can separate us from His love. That's why Jesus went to the cross isn't it? All we need do is run into His arms and let Him do what He does best. He wants to bless us and deliver us and strengthen us if we will PREPARE OUR HEARTS TO RECEIVE ALL THAT HE HAS. He wants to shield us from the dark days that are on the horizon. But, He won't beg. He won't plead or force Himself upon us. What the Savior of the world suffered this day is enough. He now abides in unapproachable light and glory; and, He's coming back to rule this world with a rod of iron. He's just waiting on us for some one on one. Let those above verses sink way down deep. Prepare your heart.

Psalm 2:11-12 (NASB) 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!

God Bless


Friday, April 11, 2014

Appointed Time                                                                                    04-11-14

Mark 13:33 (NASB) 33  "Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.

Leviticus 23:2 (NASB) 2  "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'The LORD'S appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations—My appointed times are these:

My, my it's going to be interesting next week isn't it? What with Passover, Easter(pagan name) and a BLOOD MOON all in the same week; only to be repeated this Fall on the Feast of Tabernacles. Hmmm..... Is it the end? I don't think so. Although, that is really God's call isn't it? All we are told is to be on the alert. We don't know the appointed time. But, it is that idea of appointment that's in my heart and mind today. That word appointed means" to fix upon by agreement," "to meet at a stated or fixed time." God established these fixed times or "feasts" with the children of Israel and they were required to keep them.It was a time that the children of Israel presented themselves before the Lord. Much symbolism is attached to these feasts, especially Passover, and it seems that at least a few of them have been extended into the Church age and beyond. Without getting too bogged down, Jesus brought the Passover into the Church with the institution of Communion and The Lord's Supper.
God established them as permanent ordinances.

Exodus 12:14 (NASB) 14  'Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.

The Feast of Tabernacles or Booths for sure will be observed during the Kingdom Age.

 Zechariah 14:16 (NASB) 16  Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
Shavu'ot or The Festival of Weeks, better known as Pentecost is very important to Christians as many mark this day as the beginning of the Church Age. At any rate you get the drift. It's that idea of a set time or a special time with God that's in view here. I believe that God sometimes wants to set aside a special time for us as His children. You know it's like a doctor's appointment. You're in the waiting room and in walks the doctor and it's just you and the doctor. All the others have been put on hold. You have his undivided attention. It's an appointment. A set time. I remember Passover a few years back. I sat on a bench on the top of a hill and conducted my own personal seder. I had an appointment with God, and it remains to this day the finest church service that I have ever attended. Just me and God on that hill. You see, that in my opinion is what is happening next week. God is setting an appointment with His people. He's "putting on the Ritz" if you will to get our attention. He wants to set an appointment with us as individuals and possibly with us as a nation. That's my take on it.

Two thousand years ago Israel, the Jewish people had an appointment with God. He wanted their undivided attention and sent His Son as their Anointed One. The Lord Jesus was their APPOINTED MESSIAH. The tragedy, as we all know, was in the fact that they MISSED their appointment.

 Luke 19:41-44 (NASB) 41  When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it,
42  saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.
43  "For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side,
44  and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."  

Israel did not "recognize the time of your visitation." They had an appointment with God and cancelled it. The consequences of that one missed appointment have been unfathomable for the Jewish people and the JEWISH (caps are mine and they are intended) nation. God wants to have an appointment with us. Individually, one on one with our undivided attention. He desires to speak with us about all of our issues in life. The issues that torment and shackle us. He's got the prescription for our ill health both physically and spiritually. Amen? All we need do is KEEP THE APPOINTMENT! Meditate on those scriptures. Think about the words at the beginning of this paragraph. God help me to not miss the time of MY visitation. He's waiting on us with the wisdom of all the ages. ALL WE NEED DO IS KEEP THE APPOINTMENT!!

God help us that we not miss our appointment with You as your people.
God help us that we not miss our appointment with You as a nation.

Psalm 84:11 (NASB) 11  For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Psalm 86:9 (NASB) 9  All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, And they shall glorify Your name.

God Bless

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Short Commentary                                                                           04-04-2014

The days leading up to Passover are special for me. The symbolism and foreshadowing of Jesus in this festival blow my mind. It's also a time of reflection for me. I meditate about the cross and the sacrifice that was made for me during this time, and it always seems to have a cleansing effect on my insides; to draw me a little closer to my Savior. That being said,allow me to give you my take on things this week.

Romans 6:5-6 (NASB) 5  For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6  knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;

I spent the wee hours of my off days this week watching some documentaries. Not a lot on T.V. during 1 and 4 A.M. So, I picked a couple that looked interesting to me(maybe not to you though) about the ills that face us in America. Although, they were presented from a worldview that differs from mine somewhat, they had a semblance of objectivity and more importantly to me, sincerity. The producers came across as actually believing what they were saying. Whether they did or not....who knows, but it was good enough for me to keep on watching. They dealt with a wide range of issues, ethical ambiguity in politics, economic inequality, so forth and so on. On the whole, I enjoyed watching both presentations. However, it was what was at the end of both shows that got me to thinking. Both docs put forward a solution for all the ills that are making us sick as a nation. A remedy if you will. As you can imagine, religion and certainly Jesus were not in the mix. What the solutions consisted of aren't important and would take up far too much space and time. Suffice it to say that they were man centered in their essence. All of that led me to look up the above verses. You see that old cliche is true. The world actually is changed one person at a time. The only thing that I can change is ME!

The problem with that change is that it is painful. Look closely at verse 6. It has to do with our old self. Our sin nature. It's in all of us you know. It is provoking to see how God views that nature and His fix for it. He doesn't try to educate it. He doesn't try to analyze it. He makes no allowances for the inequalities it produces. He doesn't try to provide for it or medicate it back to health. Nope. He understands it for what it is and He CRUCIFIES it. You see brothers and sisters, the world and it's wisdom spends trillions of dollars attempting to make things right on the outside; apparently not realizing that it is what is on the INSIDE that needs fixing. And that is the problem isn't it? Why you ask. Because it means that we must embrace the notion that there is a God in heaven; and, in order to please Him we must do things His way. We must yield ourselves to Him and allow Him to guide our lives. The Apsotle Paul put it this way.

1 Corinthians 15:31 (NASB) 31  I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
You see Paul speaks about yielding to God on a daily basis. To acknowledge His way of doing things and do them. Perhaps baby steps at first but much more as I keep walking. 

 Galatians 2:20 (NASB) 20  "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Listen, if I want to affect THE world, I start in MY world, and my world starts with ME. During this upcoming season of sacrifice, get alone with God and let Him talk to you. Let Him deal with your "issues." Remember we can't save the world until God saves us. Amen

 Hebrews 12:11 (NASB) 11  All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

I'll close with a quick story. I will never forget as an 8th grade BBall player the wind sprints that Coach Paye would put us through. If you've ever seen the movie"Miracle", about the 1980 Olympic Hockey team and the sprints they endured, then you have an idea of what I am talking about. We would line up at the of bounds line and he would roll the ball down the court. If anyone could beat the ball then they could hit the showers. Of course, no one ever beat the ball until coach allowed them to beat the ball. I can remember after what seemed an eternity, doubled over,literally sucking air into my lungs those words"beat the ball." And one more time I would run down that court barely able to move my lead filled legs, whispering unmentionables about Coach Paye. Whispering because I didn't have the strength to yell out loud. I mean it was torture. Not just one day, but, everyday we endured this. But, when the season started we could run with anybody and I mean anybody. All the discipline and training yielded a reward. It was worth it in the end. It's all worth it folks.

Psalm 79:13 (NASB) 13  So we Your people and the sheep of Your pasture Will give thanks to You forever; To all generations we will tell of Your praise.

God Bless