Friday, August 29, 2014

            !                                                                               08-29-14

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NASB) 5  Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

While scrolling Facebook the other day in my usual manner I caught myself doing something. Well, I didn't catch it, the Holy Spirit did; and, He brought my attention to it. What it was isn't important, a matter for Him and me. It was, however, put front and center before my eyes and warranted my attention. I was reading a couple of days ago and this verse stood out at me. It wasn't actually the verse, but the punctuation mark. The exclamation point! Now,just what is an exclamation? Well, here is Merriam-Webster's take. "the act of exclaiming; an outcry, loud complaint, roar,holler(for all us southerners) yawp??? yell, vociferation. Are you gettin' it here? It is someone trying to get someone else's attention through writing, yelling or whatever. Now, in the original languages there was no punctuation or at least no exclamation points  They had their ways of expressing strong sentiments, but, you will have to consult the scholars for an explanation. That is beyond my paygrade!On the other hand, in English that is how we holler and yawp at someone. At any rate, the exclamation point is rare in the New Testament. Don't have an exact number, but less than 5 times maybe. The Apostle Paul was and is trying to get their(the Corinthians) and our attention.

You see, sometimes we need to take a step back and look at ourselves.  Unfortunately, most of us,this writer included, are hesitant to do that unless and until God uses an exclamation point to grab our attention. (smile) But, it's odd isn't it. What's that Ronnie? Well, Paul doesn't seem to be concerned with the same type of stuff that we usually think is important. First(and this usually gives us pause) this examination is a SELF examination. It's not a don't do this, don't do that,quit doing this,quit doing that is it? No, it seems Paul is more intent on the condition of the heart. Look again. "test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!" To see if you are in the faith. How is your heart towards Jesus? Does He live inside of you?  You see, we tend to look at the outside of the cup but not so here. Here's an aside to look at when you get the time. The Corinthian church was a mess. A church of outlaws if you will. They were steeped in sin and division. But, the overriding problem was a problem of partyism and self promotion. One group followed one man and another group followed another man and each group thought the other was wrong. "My group has all the truth and my guy is God's man and no other."  This led to all sorts of problems inside the church and resulted in a spiritual arrogance that was killing it. Check it out.

1 Corinthians 1:11-12 (NASB) 11  For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you.
12  Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ."

And again.

1 Corinthians 3:3-4 (NASB) 3  for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?
4  For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men?

You should read some of the history and circumstances surrounding this particular church. It is really eye opening. As you read the Scripture, it goes on and on, getting worse and worse. Yet, and this is what I wanted to say, Paul makes a very bold statement about these Corinthians. In the midst of all their shortcomings he calls them saints. That is some food for thought.

 1 Corinthians 1:2 (NASB) 2  To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:

At any rate I am rambling and off point. Many times we get caught up in just surviving in these perilous times. We must run faster and faster just to stay on the merry-go-round and it is easy to lose contact with God in the process. Sometimes we just fall prey to the enemy's snares. There are a zillion reasons that we get lost and off track. It happens to all of us at one time or another. That's when He puts an exclamation point in our lives. He, in HIS way begins to holler and yawp.  All we need do is SLOW DOWN, STOP and take some time to examine ourselves and just where God is in our lives. Don't try to change. Just yield yourself to Him and let Him point out those areas of your life that He wants to work on. All we need do is YIELD and let Him do the work. Remember this. If you are lending yourself to self examination, that means you have rested from examining others. Amen?

   2 Corinthians ?13:11 (NASB) 11  Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Put yourselves in order and allow God to search the condition of your heart.

Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB) 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, And lead me in the everlasting way.

God Bless

Friday, August 22, 2014

All The Difference                                                                              08-22-14

Today, for starters, I, as I am sure you are well aware, am not a poet. I do not read poetry and sadly, I do not have an appreciation for much that is poetic. I suppose you would say that I am oafish(?) in that area of the literary arts. Nonetheless, it was a poem that set me to thinking this week. Well, not actually a poem but a couple of lines from a famous poem. I had to Google the author's name and I didn't even have the lines right in my head; but, somehow I fell into it. It was a poem written by Robert Frost. "The Road Not Taken" was the name. A very famous poem that even the poetically illiterate like myself are somewhat familiar with. I was taken with the last two lines well, actually the last line.

                              " I took the one less traveled by,
                               And that has made all the difference."
                                                                          Robert Frost

1 Corinthians 15:16-19 (NASB) 16  For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised;
17  and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.
18  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
19  If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

I pondered vs. 19 amidst all the trouble and hardship this world is experiencing as it "descends into chaos." Trouble across the oceans, trouble in our own backyards. It seems that it is everywhere. We preach against it, we bind it, we rebuke it, we command it to flee...but there it is...staring us right in the face. The Apostle Paul took a different tack. He EMBRACED it. Now, before I go one foot further I should make one thing absolutely clear. I am not saying, nor do I believe that the Bible teaches that we should look for ways to suffer. Nor do I believe that we should glorify suffering as a virtue. No, no I don't believe that. The only thing that should be glorified is The Lord God Almighty. That being said, Paul, while defending his ministry and reason for being, took a foreign(at least to me) turn. It's in 2nd Corinthians. I won't put the scripture here. Go read it for yourself.

Now, while vindicating his ministry, Paul could have argued his success in planting and starting new churches, but he didn't. He certainly could have used his training and education. If memory serves me, Paul was trained at the foot of Gamaliel. The Harvard of 1st century Israel.He had the degree, the Ph.D of his day. He had earned the title Dr. Paul. But, he didn't. He could have pointed to all the miracles that God had performed through him, or the spiritual gifts that God had bestowed on him. But, he didn't. Well then Ronnie, just what did Paul have to say about himself? Look and see.

 2 Corinthians 11:24-29 (NASB) 24  Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.
25  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.
26  I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;
27  I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
28  Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.
29  Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?

Those scriptures don't really preach nowadays do they? These are, how do we put it? Hard sayings.
You bet your bippy they are. This is where I began to consider the lines of that poem. Admittedly, this may be a faulty or even dumb analogy, but it is precisely what laid on my heart as I weighed this message in my mind. We are much like Paul as we walk through this life aren't we? We have our critics, both in the church and out of it. We frequently face opposition from loved ones and Unloved ones. You feelin' me here? We are traveling down a sometimes very lonely and difficult road. The only tangible evidence that we can offer others, and many times  ourselves, of being on the right road, is the fact of our trials and tribulations.  We are hard pressed to point to a great victory that God has given us. People begin to wonder. WE begin to wonder. Trouble is our constant companion. Add to that the fact that we ourselves sometimes have difficulty finding the purposes of God in our lives. Wait a minute God! What's going on here!? And then God calms our spirits.

2 Corinthians 4:17 (NASB) 17  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,

Read this passage in it's entirety. Paul is saying this. "It's all worth it people. The trouble, the trial, the affliction, it's all worth it."  God has made all the difference. This world ain't my home. I'm just a passin' through. These MOMENTARY afflictions are producing an eternal glory. One day, soon and very soon, God is going to set things right for His children. He's going to take us away from here forever. And THAT dear brother and sister makes it worth it. That truth has made all the difference.

Psalm 25:5 (NASB) 5  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.

God Bless

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus                                                                    08-16-14

Ecclesiastes 4:1 (NASB) 1  Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them.

There are some that would say the title to my message is narrow and self centered as concerning my desire for Jesus immediate return. Some would say that there is a lost and dying world still there that needs to hear the Gospel; and, this self centered view disregards them. That being said, my response to them, at least this week, would be that they are absolutely right. It was a strangely emotional week for me. I am not normally moved emotionally by events that happen in other parts of the world. Oh, I might pop off in my spirit from time to time over  acts of injustice but it rarely, if ever moves me emotionally. Nevertheless, when I saw and read about the horror and demonic persecution of people for the sole reason of believing in Jesus, it struck me. And when I saw the picture of the little girl, I had had enough. I became angry, even embittered and vengeful in my heart against the filth that had committed these atrocities. She appeared to be about the age of my little angel Chloe and I looked heavenward and in my spirit screamed "PLEASE COME BACK LORD JESUS AND END ALL OF THIS MADNESS!"  I was done with it.The next day,in a round about way, I was reminded of a scripture.

     Deuteronomy 32:35 (NASB) 35  'Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.'

As I thought about this verse it did my heart some good to know that one day in His time, and, in a way that He only knows, He would surely set things right for that child laying on that tile floor somewhere in Iraq. I mused this week about how blessed I was for the simple reality that I lived in relative freedom. I don't have anyone marking my doorpost with an 'N' to identify me as a follower of the Nazarene. And I certainly don't have anyone threatening my life because I believe in that Nazarene. We here in America really don't have a clue do we?  I just want to say "'Thank you Jesus, the One and ONLY true God." Folks, if we are not careful this type of demonic, satanically influenced persecution is coming to a town and city near us. Remember His words. He said that these were just the BEGINNING of sorrows.  If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, accept His forgiveness and salvation NOW before it's too late. He is standing at the door of your heart right now. As for the rest of us and our nation we need to step up. They say that they are coming for us. Let us humble ourselves as individuals and as a nation. God is ready and willing to take up our cause if it is centered in Him.

 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NASB) 14  and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
15  "Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.

You know, they tell me that this verse is for Israel and Israel alone but I am claiming it for me and mine. Amen? Please excuse my overt transparency this week. I am wearing my heart on my sleeve this week for those people that are enduring untold and unknown to us here in America, suffering. That being said...

Revelation 22:20 (NASB) 20  He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

God Bless


Friday, August 8, 2014

The Good Part                                                                         08-08-14

Luke 10:38-42 (NASB) 38  Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.
39  She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word.
40  But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me."
41  But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;
42  but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

I was informed last night that the owner of the company that I work for was killed in an automobile accident a couple of days ago. I have never met the man, but I have met and talked with one of his sons on a couple of occasions. As I digested this untimely tragedy last evening, I wondered to myself of all the time and effort and energy that it must have taken to build a company of this size. The responsibilities that come with building and running a company of this size certainly must be daunting. When I woke up this morning with his death still in my head I picked up my tablet to check on what was going on in the world. Remember the pinball machines you played as a kid? What would happen when you bumped the machine too violently trying to get some added action to the ball movement? Remember? TILT! TILT! And you lost your game. Well, that was my brain after 10 minutes perusing the headlines. So, in the midst of catching up on all the insanity I had this brainstorm. (Not a brainstorm actually, but you can picture it right? smile) We spend our lives devoting ourselves to our own pursuits, either for ourselves or in the service of others and suddenly without warning, it all disappears in a breezy waft of smoke. Poof...gone in 60 seconds. As I pondered the death of my employer, the genocide in Iraq, the ebola outbreak,the umpteen trillion dollar debt we have rolled up, need I go on? I can you know, as I am sure you can also. With all that "stuff" floating around, this passage of Scripture came to mind. Before I continue, for a while, whenever I saw the word Martha,I inserted my name;then, towards the end of the passage I plugged into Mary's name. You'll understand as we go along or at least my sister and mother will.(smile)Let's take MARTHA'S side for a minute. O.K.? Get the picture here. Plug yourself in. The Son Of God and his entourage just came rolling in to your town and you have invited Him to stay in your home while He is in town. Do you think that you might want the living room straight? You might want to wash last night's dirty dishes. Maybe make up the bed, vacuum the rug and on top of all of that... they probably will want something to eat. So, here is Martha, KILLING HERSELF trying to get all the preparations done for all these people, oh yeah and Jesus too. I can see her now, running all over Hades and half of Georgia trying to get this stuff done. So, Jesus walks in and here is poor Martha, exhausted, still going, trying to get everyone served.. And then there's Mary. My sister and my mother are taking notice now, as Mary seems to fit someone they know very well. I will mention no names to protect the guilty.  

Here is Mary, Hello? Anybody at home in there? I mean Mary.Mary? MARY?! Jesus is here! Are you gonna get off your behind and help? Well, you know the rest of the story. If you don't, then read the above passage again. Brothers and sisters, Martha had a valid complaint. There were "things" that needed to be done. There were responsibilities. As it was then, so it is now. Our daily lives are filled with problems, responsibilities,tasks, and if you don't have anything to concern yourself about, just turn on the news, you'll find plenty. "God,I love you. You know that I do. But, everybody and everything is pulling and DEMANDING my time." Ever had that conversation? If you don't do it, it won't get done. I HAVE TO DO IT GOD! I DON'T HAVE TIME TO STOP Ever feel like that?  That was basically what Martha told Jesus. And she was telling the truth. But, look at Jesus' reply.

Luke 10:41-42 (NASB) 41  But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;
42  but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Folks, it can all be gone in an instant. A flash of time and our sand castles that we have spent a lifetime building can be carried out to sea with a changing tide. God is telling us to put it all aside for a minute. Sit at His feet for a little while. We don't have to forsake our dreams or give up our pursuits, nope, just lay them aside for a few minutes and choose "the good part." Spend some time with Him. We can solve all the world's and our problems AFTER we allow Him entrance into our hearts and lives.The world is awash with evil. If you don't think that there is a war RAGING for our very souls, then you and I are on different planets.  The Lord Jesus and the Lord Jesus ALONE is our very present help. Let us choose the good part.

 Psalm 121:1-2 (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.

God Bless


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Familiarity Breeds Contempt                                                               08-02-14

Mark 6:4 (NASB) 4  Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household."

John 4:44 (NASB) 44  For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.
I listened yesterday to a world renowned preacher, now deceased, declare that a significant portion of the American church was preaching a false gospel. They were, in his wise and seasoned view, walking in apostasy. As I listened, the above scripture(s) came to mind. A chain reaction was ignited in my head as I mused about the different applications these scriptures have in our lives today. We need some context here to fully appreciate the word of the Lord. Look at the preceding verses:

Mark 6:1-3 (NASB) 1  Jesus went out from there and *came into His hometown; and His disciples *followed Him.
2  When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?
3  "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" And they took offense at Him.

In a nutshell, Jesus returned to His hometown and His teaching was rejected by the people because they "knew" who Jesus was. They had grown up with Him. They had seen Him fall down and skin His knee. Probably had seen Him get angry from time to time. Might even had seen Him act  in a way that they personally disagreed with. For whatever reason, these people knew Jesus "in the flesh" and the Bible says they took "offense" at Him. "Who does He think He is? Sitting up there all high and mighty telling us that we should repent! Not only that, but did you here what He said? No? Well, I heard that He said that He was the Son of God ??!! Of all the nerve!!!" That is my imagined narrative but you understand don't you? THEY TOOK OFFENSE AT HIM!! Fast forward to 2014.

One of the more difficult things to do in this life is to be able to switch hats. Especially in the realm of church. Sometimes, if we are not careful, we become like the people in Nazareth. We "know" the preacher. We have seen him in his humanity. We have known him to have dropped the ball in his life. We know all too well that he is human and that he makes mistakes. He sins. So, when he walks into the pulpit Sunday morning, or sends out his message over the internet and that message steps on our toes...we allow ourselves a healthy dose of self righteousness and begin to criticize the messenger. "Who does that preacher think he is. I know for a fact that he doesn't live that holy of a life." We haven't learned to switch hats. The people in Nazareth couldn't switch hats. They couldn't get past Jesus' humanity. We still face that same problem today. Let me tell you something about preachers and men of God in general. They are all human and they all, down to the very least of them, fail on a daily basis. Let me say something I will let God's Word do my talking on this.

Romans 11:29 (NASB) 29  for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Now, without getting off track that word "gifts" is the same word used for the different gifts that God has bestowed on His children through His grace. Beginning with salvation, moving on through the gifts of service,teaching and so on in Romans 12. The spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14 and finally the ministry gifts of Ephesians. You know Apostles, prophets,pastors....  they are as Strong's says a "divine gratuity" They are IRREVOCABLE. So, yes, that man of God, that preacher, flawed as he MAY be,(I choose my words carefully here) is still called of God to deliver His message to you and me. And as in so many cases, if we choose to take offense at God's messenger then we shall surely lose out on the blessing that God has in store for us. No, He is not going to harm us or curse us if we reject the message, although there are many in the pulpit out there that would have you believe that, just so they can build their own personal kingdoms.
BUT, we do stand to lose our blessing, just like the people in Jesus' day. Look and see. 

Mark 6:5-6 (NASB) 5  And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.
6  And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching.

I wonder at the word "could." It doesn't say would, it says could. I will look into that later. At any rate, you get the point don't you? Because of their unbelief, which was preceded by their taking offense, Jesus, the Son Of God couldn't work in their midst. He couldn't bless them. They lost out on their encounter with the one true God. If Jesus was stymied,do you think that we can effect God's blessing when we take offense and criticize God's human agent? Brothers and sisters, I am not saying that we must believe every word proceeding out of every mouth that calls itself a messenger of God. No,no. The Bible doesn't teach that. We are to discern the spirits. However, when someone who has proved their faithfulness and mettle over time speaks "Thus saith the Lord," then we help our own cause if we listen. Amen? In a different vein, I will leave you with this thought. In the Old Testament God sent messengers to speak His Word to the people, the children of Israel. They were called shepherds, they were called judges, they were called prophets. When the people obeyed their voice they were blessed of God. When they did not, they fell under His judgment. There are God sent messengers today calling this country to wake up before it's too late. If we are smart as a nation, we will turn to God, His Son, His Holy Spirit, and His Holy Word to chart our course for the future. If we refuse and rebel, then we will suffer the same fate of those whom have chosen to reject God in times past. All sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  Psalm 40:16 (NASB) 16  Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let those who love Your salvation say continually, "The LORD be magnified!"

God Bless