Saturday, May 31, 2014

Slow Down                                                                                         05-31-14

First an apology for my tardiness this week. I was unavoidably tied up yesterday. please accept my apologies. Just some thoughts this week. The famous philosopher, Ferris Bueller once said,"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." A much wiser(wiser than Ferris?!) yes wiser than Ferris, put it this way.

Psalm 127:2 (NASB) 2  It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.

My favorite verse in all the Bible is the one that precedes the above verse.

Psalm 127:1 (NASB)
 Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.

It speaks to the vanity of building our lives, our dreams and aspirations without the direction and counsel of the Lord. That being said I was reminded this week past of an article, actually articles that I read concerning the American worker. Bear with me, I have a point. The article spoke about the workers in America being overworked. At least those that can find a job. It cited study after study about the gradual lengthening of the work week from the 60's and even before to the present day. We work longer and harder than any country in the industrialized world. It is estimated that we now work on average one month per year more than our preceding generations. But here is the real kicker. Since the 1970's the wage of the American worker, adjusted for inflation is flat or even slightly negative! It seems that 40 % or so of American workers are working for less than the minimum wage of 1968 adjusted for inflation. So yes, you are working longer and harder and for less money too!! Apparently, all those profits have found their way to the corporate coffers and the investment classes, you know the so called 1%'s.  While you, fellow average Joe, are working yourself to death to feed and clothe your family. O.K., O.K. No, this is not a political diatribe on income inequality. The Bible speaks to that on countless occasions. It is a fact of life.However,I had to lay that foundation to make my point. 

There are people out there(you may be one of them) that are worn out physically, mentally and spiritually due to a system that makes empty promises. All this system cares about is squeezing the last ounce of energy and life out of you to increase it's bottom line. It could care less whether you live or die. Your spot will be filled before your desk is cleaned out. You feelin' me here? So what are you saying here Ronnie? That I should quit my job and start the revolution? Not at all, far from it as a matter of fact. The Bible is very clear about those that don't want to work and play the system. Read this.

      2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NASB) 10  For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.

The key word being "willing." If this verse was official public policy for our country we wouldn't be in near as bad a mess would we? I shall proceed to keep my big mouth shut as that IS the beginning of a political diatribe!(smile) My question to you is simply this. Are you tired from the beatdown the world is putting on you? Are you so worn out that you can't or better yet DON'T HAVE THE TIME to enjoy the kids, grandkids etc.?  Has your joy been stolen or more accurately worked and pressed out of you? If so, then maybe it's time to take a good look at that verse again.

 Psalm 127:2 (NASB) 2  It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.

"...For He gives to His beloved EVEN IN HIS SLEEP."(caps mine)

Folks, my point is this. To feel slighted, to become angry or frustrated with circumstances, (even though we all have and still do at times), to stage sit-in protests at your employer's corporate offices is to miss the point of this verse. What this verse and the one before it is saying is this. Quit killing yourself for a system that doesn't care. Get alone with God, tell Him how tired you are and how that you can't see the forest for the trees. Your being pressed beyond measure and you need HIS help. Ask Him to help you find a way to take a step back and SLOW DOWN from the demands of the system. Listen, He owns it all. The cattle on a thousand hills. All and I mean ALL the gold and silver is HIS! And it is His good pleasure to give you a little slice and get you off that killer treadmill. Don't go out and make any radical changes, no....take it to the Lord God Almighty and allow Him to make the radical changes for you.

Psalm 121:1-8 (NASB) 1
 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?
2  My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
3  He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.
4  Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.
5  The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6  The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night.
7  The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.
8  The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.

God Bless

Monday, May 26, 2014

Matthew 24

 I wanted to share with you a study that I did some time ago on this exact passage. It is thorough and somewhat lengthy but I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope you do also. It is entitled The Olivet Discourse.

This passage of scripture is found in three Gospels. Matt.24Luke 21, and Mark 13. In order to fully comprehend, all these different accounts must be studied. Different authors included certain items and also left out certain items, but , when taken as a whole the context and meaning become quite clear.

To give a historical setting we will start with the Matthew account. Mark 13:1-2 and Luke 21:5-6 also record this.

   1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Matt 24:1-2 (KJV)

Jesus had just finished blasting the Pharisees and as he and his disciples left the temple area they pointed out the magnificence of the temple. The above scriptures record Jesus' response. This prophecy aroused three questions from his disciples..

Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
Matt 24:3 (KJV)

The first question "when shall these things be" refers to Jesus' warning about the destruction of the temple look at Luke's account:

7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?
Luke 21:7 (KJV)

When will the temple be destroyed and what sign will alert us that it is about to happen?

Another question was then posed..and what shall be the sign of thy coming,
Matt 24:3 (KJV)

This was not talking about the "catching away" of the saints as no sign will be given for that peculiar event.It was referring to Jesus' 2nd coming.

Finally, a third inquiry..and of the end of the world?

Matt 24:3 (KJV)
That word world translates age. What is the sign of your coming and what is the sign of the end of the age?
 Before answering these questions Jesus pointed to some
characteristics of the coming age none of which would signal that the end was near.

  4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Matt 24:4-6 (KJV)

Jesus was the first to claim to be the Jewish messiah however many since Him have made that claim. Also, he said that periods of local wars would persist but thius would not signal the end. It was at this point that Jesus began to answer the disciples questions. He dealt with their third inquiry first.

  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these arethe beginning of sorrows.
Matt 24:7-8 (KJV)
This response is recorded in all three accounts. These are the beginnings of sorrows or more closely birthpangs.This description of successive pangs is painted by the O.T.prophets. What is important here is the phrase "nation against nation, and kingdom against kingdom". This is the sign of the end of the age. It is not the local wars already referred to but is a Hebrew idiom meaning a World War. This idiom when it was spoken pointed to a total conflict of the area in view. It's usage is found in two O.T. passages. Isaiah 19:1-4 points to Egypt being in view, 2 Chronicles 15:1-7 points to the Middle East, this last passage pointing to the whole world.

To keep to sequential context we must now look at the Luke account

But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. 13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony. 14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: 15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. 16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. 17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. 18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish. 19 In your patience possess ye your souls.
Luke 21:12-19 (KJV)

Notice the beginning words "But before all these things"
when reading all three accounts one sees that this is inserted in Luke and it gives an account of what the Apostles are going to encounter. It is a description of their forthcoming experiences. Some say this was inserted to comfort the Apostles when the Messianic  Kingdom did not soon materialize and they confronted the suffering resulting from their preaching of the Gospel.

After this Jesus proceeds to answer the first question: the sign of the destruction the temple. It is recorded in Luke only.

And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
Luke 21:20-24 (KJV)

This passage of scripture had a very interesting fulfillment.
In 66 A.D. a Jewish revolt broke out When this revolt broke out the Roman general Cestus Gailus surrounded the city of Jerusalem thus compassing it with armies. When the Hebrew  Christians saw this they knew destruction was near. However, the Roman supply lines were inadequate to maintain the seige and he lifted it.This allowed for vs.21 to be fulfilled. After the Romans withdrew Hebrew Christians fled Jerusalem ans set up a community across the Jordan River in a towncalled Pella.
In 68A.D. another general named Vaspasian compassed the city for two years. In 70 A.D. they attacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Because of the melting gold into the crevices of the stones the Romans turned every stone to get at the gold leaving not one unturned. Also, in this siege over a million Jews were slaughtered but no Hebrew Christian lost his life because of the obedience to Jesus command in vs.21. Since that time Jerusalem has been trodden down of the Gentiles.

The answer to the second question requires a careful reading of the text in Matthew and also a corresponding text in Mark.

 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Matt 24:9-14 (KJV)

You can read the corresponding passage in Mark 13:14-23 . Matthew 24 begins with the word Then which implies that these next passages are sequential; being part of the travail or birthpangs describing the last days. This is very similar to the passages in Mark 13:9-13 and Luke 21:12-19 . Luke is clear stating that "before all these" indicating an inserted passage. Mark has a small problem with this view because of vs.10 being mentioned in the Apostles experiences. However, the preponderance of scripture taken in context would support this view. That said ,let's look at Matthew once more and when we do it is clear that Jesus is talking about the first half of the tribulation. The use of "then" implies chronology and goes on to describe events of the first half of the tribulation.

After this Jesus moves forward to the middle and second half of the tribulation in vss. 15-28.

15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)16 Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18  Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered
Matt 24:15-28 (KJV)

Jesus described many events taking place during this time. The abomination of desolation standing in the holy place marks the second half of tribulation. This event will signal a Jewish flight from Israel because of the intense persecution to follow this flight is also recorded in Rev.12
Anti Semitism will be worldwide and the nation of Israel would be destroyed except for a shortening of the days.
This period will be characterized by false christs and prophets typified in the counterfeit trinity of Revelation.
Jesus then warns against following this Antichrist even though he does great signs and wonders. Vs. 27 he describes what His coming will be like. Vs. 28 gives a hint as to where Jesus is coming back to. The carcase or better rendered the body is a reference to Israel being where the Gentile nations are gathered to destroy them.
The body will be gathered to a place called Bozrah or Petra in Greek. This is in accordance with Micah 2:12-13. This is where the vultures will come against them34:1-7 and Isaiah 63:1-6.

 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Matt 24:29-30 (KJV)

These verses provide the final touches to the question of His coming. It gives the sign which shall precede Jesus secind coming. It will be a total blackout of light to the earth. Immediately after the tribulation of those days a blackout followed  by the light of the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth. Thus, Jesus answered all three questions providing the signs which would accompany the events. The first in 66-70 A.D. The second in 1914-1918 with the first world war and the third at the end of the tribulation.

 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Matt 24:31 (KJV)

Jesus then describes a world wide regathering of the elect of Israel and in Luke 21:28 gives this exhortation.
When you see these things come to pass look up for your redemption draweth nigh. What things? The beginning of the birthpangs which started with the first world war.  

 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Matt 24:32-34 (KJV)

There has been much speculation about this parable most of which concern the reestablishment of the state of Israel. A quick note: Israel in scripture is usually represented as a vine not a fig tree.Also, a generation can mean anywhere from 20-100 years. In scripture only one time is it given a period of time and that is in Genesis 15:13 and that is reckoned at 100 years. In context this passage should be taken literally. Jesus was making an illustration simply saying that as the fig tree leafs out we know summer is near; so we should know that His coming is near as we see these events unfold.

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Matt 24:35-44 (KJV)

The next passage of scripture I believe points to the catching away or "rapture" of the saints. No matter how one believes these scriptures are describing something.People being taken away one here,the other gone. Jesus second coming can be predicted with accuracy. It is pretty clearly spelled out in Daniel and Revelation. Since that is not the purpose of this study I will leave you to investigate that on your own.
This passage refers to an event that cannot be predicted. Indeed according to this passage not even Jesus himself knows when this event will take place. It also speaks of the times as being normative. As the days of Noah they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. Normal conditions. Then a taking away.At the time of Jesus physical return times will be anything but normal.The earth will be undergoing the most catastrophic judgments in history. So this passage describes a taking away under normal times. Also, in vs.42 an appeal is made to watch or to BE READY. This is equivalent to salvation.

 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
Luke 21:36 (KJV)

Once again the appeal to watch or be ready is made. After this appeal is made our Lord went on to give five parables all pointing to the importance of watching and being ready. They all speak to some being ready for their lord and some not being ready. These are not aimed at different types of believers but at believers and unbelievers.

The Olivet Discourse comes to a close with thre judgment of the Gentile nations after the King is come and He sits on his throne.

  For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. 3 And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.
Joel 3:1-3 (KJV)

 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 3
Matt 25:31-34 (KJV)

These scriptures speak to a judgment of the Gentile nations in the Valley of Jehoshaphat . The basis of this judgment will be on their treatment of the Jews during the tribulation. This is an eternal judgment and the sins against Israel are laid out in Joel.They are a scattering of the Jews in the middle of the tribulation, a parting of the land referring to the last war,and for selling the Jews into slavery. The last part of the 25th chapter of Matthew describes Jesus pronouncement of judgment on the Gentiles based on their pro or anti semitism.

God Bless.

Friday, May 16, 2014

IN You Not BY You                                                                 05-16-14

Romans 8:3-4 (NASB) 3  For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
4  so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Permit me a short preamble to my message please. I have learned over the years that I have to read the Bible as a whole. To make sense of it all, I have to understand the flow of what is being said. Anyone can take a verse out of context and make the Bible say what they want it to say to support their argument. It's called prooftexting. Remember this rule, "a verse taken out of context is a pretext." Jesus told His detractors to "search the Scriptures" to see if eternal life was to be found in Him. Don't take my word just because I write it. Look for yourself, it might save you a lot of pain. O.K. Let's move on.

I spoke with someone recently who was working themselves to exhaustion. They were working two jobs and it was wearing them out. There was another problem to it all. They were only getting paid on one job. The other job was paying but the wages involved more work. The more they worked at this job, the more work the job required. Never any rest, never any break, just more work until they became so fatigued they were ready to quit. Discouraged, depressed, and condemned they couldn't keep going. They didn't WANT to keep going. I can't blame them can you? What kind of job is that?
It's that treadmill we jump on when we take upon ourselves the impossible task of pleasing God or attempting to gain His acceptance by our own merits.

Our merit takes as many forms as our minds can invent on ways to earn our way into God's acceptance. Usually though, it involves attempts to change our outward behavior according to our notions of righteousness or even worse someone else's standard of holy living. You've been there haven't you? I certainly have. You know stop doing this, stop doing that, or start doing this, and start doing that. Also, oddly enough we never seem to consider those "unseen sins." You know the really deadly ones that involve the condition of our heart before a Holy God. No, it always seems to center on the fleshly indulgences. Stop right here. I want to give you a verse(one of many) that speaks to those indulgences.

      Colossians 2:20-23 (NASB) 20  If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as,
21  "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!"
22  (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?
23  These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Focus on vs.23. ..."appearance of wisdom...self made religion....severe value against fleshly indulgence." Our efforts to abstain from this and that, to offer a sacrifice of our merits to please or appease God are worthless. Not only that, they are of no value in our battle against those things of the flesh. It isn't in the power of our will or determination that overcomes sin. No, it is the recognition that sin has ALREADY been overcome as far as God is concerned. That goes against our nature. It just doesn't feel right does it? We must work for everything else in life. We must labor to have a roof over our heads, to have clothes on our bodies, to have food to eat. We must work for EVERYTHING that we have....EXCEPT God's salvation and acceptance. It just goes against our grain. Our NEED to earn our stripes is deeply rooted. Along comes God and says "there is nothing Ronnie, absolutely NOTHING that you can do to gain or more importantly for some of us TO KEEP my acceptance." I said all of that to bring home this one point to my friend. Look at the above verse again.

Romans 8:4 (NASB) 4  so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
One small word in that verse fills the bill.... in   IN. "...might be fulfilled in us..." IN us not BY us.
Read the verses before vs. 4. Read the chapter leading up to verse 4. Heck, read the WHOLE BOOK before vs.4 Get the flow of what Paul is saying here. The requirements for appeasing, pleasing, finding and keeping favor with, and anything else to do with our relationship with God have been fulfilled IN us by what or by whom? THE SON'S OFFERING OF HIMSELF AS A  SACRIFICE FOR OUR SIN. Stay on that one verse until your eyes and spirit SEE the spiritual truth of that one word. It's already in you. You don't have to do anything to satisfy it except believe it. In truth you CAN'T do anything. You are powerless in your own ability. I could go on and on but I will stop. The Lord Jesus saves you, the Lord Jesus through His Spirit keeps you, and soon and very soon the Lord Jesus is coming back to glorify you and take you back with Him. Oh yeah, that's right, scroll on down in Chapter 8 and look at this.

Romans 8:29-30 (NASB) 29  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
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.

Take all your works, your merits, your standards, self imposed or imposed by others and cast them at the cross of Calvary. Let His Holy Spirit come and dwell inside of you and begin to learn to lean on His power. It matters not what I or anyone says or thinks about your "spirituality." It's between you and God. Always has been and He is not a taskmaster. 
 Matthew 11:29 (NASB) 29  "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

Psalm 103:10 (NASB) 10  He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

God Bless

Friday, May 9, 2014

Don't Stop Believing                                                                      05-09-14

Luke 18:8 (NASB) 8  "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"

Praise God for the lawnmower man waking me up early for the umpteenth(southern word) time! It's better than not waking up! Amen ? (smile) Looking at the above verse, Jesus is finishing up a parable encouraging persistence in prayer. As I thought about this past week a couple things stand out about that verse. First is that word quickly. Speedily, I believe in the KJV. Past that, the word' however' kind of gets in my face. If God is going to avenge His elect speedily then why are people going to lose faith? That's what Jesus said. However, or put another way, in spite of, God answering prayer quickly is Jesus going to find anyone who has any faith when He returns? Now, two explanations come to mind. Either people are going to become so devoid of anything that has to do with God, or conditions in this world are going to be so frightful that people will give up. They just won't have enough energy to muster up any kind of meaningful faith.

Even today the world around us can weigh us down can't it? I watch as my mother, Memaw, battles daily with pain in her 90 something year old body. I see her struggle to speak because of the effects of her strokes. I feel her frustration as she questions why God is keeping her here, knowing that truth be told, she is ready to see her Savior and Lord. I have no answers to those questions. I don't know why.

We all have people and circumstances that we hope against hope will change, don't we? Not for our sakes mind you, but, for theirs. It hurts to live with their struggles while being powerless to do anything about it. 'All you can do is pray' we are told. While many, many times that is true, it becomes numbing to our ears AND our spirits from time to time doesn't it?

Television is chock full of evangelists and preachers touting all manner of success stories. A program for success, usually consisting of a seed faith offering on our part. If we will do this, then a wonderful blessing will come our way. A financial miracle or a healing miracle and so forth. But, as our eyes take in the REALITY of this world and it's ways, the program for "success" just doesn't pan out does it?

Look around the world and in our own country at the horror and insanity that inundates us every minute of every day. Is there a victory anywhere to be applauded? Will these crushing circumstances that I find myself in ever, ever, EVER be lightened? With all the press pushing in we consider that verse above; and we point Jesus' words inward toward our own hearts. It's then that the question begs..." Do I still have faith?" " Do I still believe in the goodness of God ?" Oh yes I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving grace for sure, but that's not the question is it? No, it's this, Do I still believe and have faith that God will answer my prayers? Do I have faith enough to keep on seeking God for myself and others. It seems a hopeless cause. DO I STILL HAVE FAITH? Then just at the crucial juncture something happens doesn't it?

You know how it works. From out of nowhere a phone call from that kid you have been agonizing about. "Oh yeah Mom I'm fine, you shouldn't worry so much." In between the urges to kill, you thank God Almighty for His unseen protection. Or someone comes up and thanks you for praying for them, exclaiming how God just came on the scene for them and did a miracle.In your insides the Holy Spirit lets you know that you had a small part in that drama.  Or the feeling that you get when you help someone who can't help themselves. A child gives you a hug. You walk outside to a glorious sun filled day. Money comes in from some long lost relative or some other unknown source. Better yet you sit down to one of those meals that is so good that as we say down here in Dixie," it will make you slap your momma." And all of a sudden you wake up, look around and God's goodness is EVERYWHERE! It's at that point that the Holy Spirit reminds you that He has your back.

      Luke 12:32 (NASB) 32  "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

You open your Bible and God shows you that He's got it all under control. It's at this point that you sheepishly bow your head and repent of your unbelief. With all that God has and IS doing for you and could you not believe? Amen? Brothers and sisters, God REALLY IS GOOD and GOD REALLY DOES HAVE OUR BACKS! We just need His gentle reminding from time to time.

Psalm 27:13 (NASB) 13  I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.

Psalm 37:25 (NASB) 25  I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread.

Psalm 34:8 (NASB) 8  O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

God Bless

Friday, May 2, 2014

R-E-S-P-E-C-T                                                                              05-02-14

Galatians 5:1 (NASB) 1  It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
Ahhhh...yes the old Aretha Franklin classic.

Respect- According to Merriam-Webster the verb respect means to "consider worthy of high regard, to consider or to appreciate.

In the above verse the Apostle Paul is speaking to spiritual freedom. He was exhorting the Galatians to not return to Judaism, but I want to look at the last part of that verse from a different bent. Here's a look.

" not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."

I saw a post on Facebook this week that went something like this " Quit crossing oceans for people who won't jump a puddle for you."  I was reminded of something I heard a while back. I can't remember who said it, I think maybe T.D. Jakes. Here's the gist of what he said. 'If there are people in your life who don't respect you, let them go.' He then went on to expound on what respect was not. Things like a lack of regard for your opinions, insensitivity, mockery and so on and so forth. A general disregard for who you are and what you are or do. After a lengthy discourse of these various characteristics he summed it all up with three words. LET THEM GO! I was thinking about all this and I came across this verse..well, actually the last part of it. The yoke of slavery part. A very basic meaning of slave or slavery is "to bind." A slave gives him or herself over to the will of another BECAUSE they have been bound. Scripture teaches that we are to be slaves to one and one only, the Lord Jesus. No other. But, we humans are frail creatures aren't we. We don't normally handle rejection too well do we?  So when, for whatever reason, we are rejected, we many times look inward and question ourselves."What did I do wrong?" or better yet" What can I do to fix it?" And we set about to appease or pacify those that reject us. And most of the time when it has reached that point there isn't any fix. Comprende?  If we aren't careful we can bind ourselves and become slaves to their whims and opinions in a futile attempt to secure their acceptance. We allow ourselves to be yoked with a yoke of slavery. It's one thing to go the extra mile with or for someone; but, it's an entirely different matter to be tied to a whipping post.

 That being said, the Lord Jesus commands us to love one another.

 John 15:12 (NASB) 12  "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

John 15:17 (NASB) 17  "This I command you, that you love one another.
With that in the forefront we don't strike back or falsely accuse. We need not justify our perceived slighting to others in a public fashion....just let them go. God loves all His children, not just us and our circle. You gettin' my drift. Listen, I am not a pastor. My messages do not spring from a pastor's perspective. Neither are they motivated from a call to provide you with Godly advice on how to live your life. That's not why I write these blogs. But, this laid on my heart this week, so I wrote about it.
Brothers and sisters God doesn't want us in slavery to anything or anyone except Him and His will. As He has told me recently on more than one occasion," I've got your back." That's my back, that's your back, that's all that call on the name of the Lord Jesus.' He's got us. We need not enslave ourselves to anyone or anything.

Romans 8:31-33 (NASB) 31  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
32  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
33  Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies;

Psalm 3:3 (NASB) 3  But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

God Bless