Friday, May 29, 2015

Hide and Seek                      05-29-15

7 You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.
Psalms 32:7 (NASB)

Mine and Shelley's granddaughter, Maddie Grace, was at the house yesterday and as she was getting ready to leave, she wanted to play a quick game of hide and seek. So, without leaving my seat I told her to go hide and I would come find her....I lied. About every 10 seconds or so I would yell out "O.K. Maddie here I come!" It worked for a while but, eventually she wised up. After the 4th or 5th shoutout, she came walking disgustedly in the living room and declared that I wasn't even trying to find her. (smile)

I recounted that anecdote as a lead in to the message. I read the above verse in the Bible today and God spoke it to my heart. You know,there are times when there are no words...there are no gestures that will comfort or ease the heartache. Nothing anyone can say or do will numb that gnawing in our soul.The pain gets down into our insides and won't budge. You know what I'm talking about, don't you?

 When I pictured Maddie Grace running into the other room and hiding herself, it reminded me of  how we feel when we have been crushed by the circumstances of this life. We want to run to some place far from the madding crowd. We want to HIDE where no one can find us. Just to be left alone.

We don't want to talk to anyone. We don't want anyone around. PLEASE JUST  LEAVE ME ALONE!! You feelin' me here? Not only that, when, if ever, we get to that hiding place, the pain is so intense that we neither have the desire nor the will to talk to God or anyone else about our pain. We are empty and destitute, lacking the strength to continue. All in the world that we want is for the hurt to go away. WE NEED HELP. AMEN?!

That's what the Psalmist is talking about here, don't you think? A hiding place. A harbor that we can float face down into. To find relief for our souls. A place where we can fall into the arms of a loving God, and just curl up and go to sleep. A hiding place from the world.

2 From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Psalms 61:2 (NASB)

David described it like this. He made his bed to swim in his tears. No one has any comfort. No one has any encouragement. God says He can help. He's there for you and me in our distress. 

15 May the flood of water not overflow me Nor the deep swallow me up, Nor the pit shut its mouth on me.
16 Answer me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; According to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me, 17 And do not hide Your face from Your servant, For I am in distress; answer me quickly.
Psalms 69:15-17 (NASB)

God Bless 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Just My Imagination                          05-22-15

11 A rich man's wealth is his strong city,  And like a high wall in his own imagination.
Prov 18:11 (NASB)

Do you remember the Temptations song "Just My Imagination?" That song stirs memories of my stay overseas while in the military. Upon hearing that song, I would often close my eyes and imagine, dream, whatever, about being back home. It would almost be like a trance you know? I would let my mind conjure up these images of "the world" and briefly I would almost swear I was back home. Then, from nowhere, the sights and sounds of reality would invade my imaginary world. I would be jolted back to the "real world" of my surroundings.

I came across this verse recently and the last four words stuck in my mind. Now, to be sure, this verse is speaking to the individual and the dangers of relying on the things of this world, instead of the living God. Could it be.....? More on that shortly.

I listen to the BBC Europe oftentimes on the radio while I am driving at night. The reason I enjoy listening is the perspective I get from the London broadcast. It is, how do they say it,...Euro centric. The news over there doesn't center around Washington, D.C. or New York or even these United States.

They report from places like North Africa, the Middle East, the worlds around them if you will. One thing is for sure.The portrait of the lives of these people, and the circumstances they face, makes my life seem like a fairy tale. Idyllic, Alice in Wonderland comes to mind. Blessed beyond measure by God Almighty is the actual truth of the matter.

For a long while now, God has been impressing  my heart about a personal relationship with Him. You know, one on one. I understand that is a worn out subject. The number of sermons that have been preached on that solitary subject is like the sand of the sea. But, for me these days, it has been freshened, and has taken on a renewed importance.

Why? I am not sure I know. Maybe, like my buddy and I were talking today, it is the realization that the harsh realities experienced by our brothers and sisters around the world, have now been placed at our doorstep. Could it be?

Could it be ..that just as the rich man in the above verse, we as a nation, have shifted our trust from the God of all the universe to the riches and mammon of this world?  Could it be.. that because of the unheard of blessing that God has bestowed upon us,we as a people have forgotten where it comes from?And we have IMAGINED that our untold wealth and riches are now our high wall, our strong city.

 Could it be.. that God has insulated this nation so completely from the ravages of satan, that we no longer heed the preceding verse..
  10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.
Prov 18:10 (NASB)

...and instead run headstrong into the following verse...

12  Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, But humility goes before honor.
Prov 18:12 (NASB)

Have we imagined ourselves as a nation into a false sense of self righteousness and security? I simply do not have the answer to that question. But, I do know this. We ALL, this writer included, above ALL things need to find God for ourselves. We need to know Him personally. If we look at what is going on around us..ON OUR VERY DOORSTEP, YOUR DOORSTEP AND MY DOORSTEP, the storm clouds, very real, if we choose to acknowledge them... are not just our imagination.

1  Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men; Preserve me from violent men 2 Who devise evil things in their hearts; They continually stir up wars. 3 They sharpen their tongues as a serpent; Poison of a viper is under their lips. Selah.
Psalms 140:1-3 (NASB)

God Bless

Friday, May 15, 2015

"Do what you know to do"                    05-15-15

And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" 17 And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." 18 Then he *said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, " YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; 19  HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." 20 The young man *said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?"
Matt 19:16-20 (NASB)

My message today is wrapped up inside of two stories. One from my personal life; a second as told by a preacher in a sermon that I personally heard many years ago.

The Lord spoke the words in today's title to my heart a few years back while I was on the road. I remember the exact place where He spoke them. On I- 40 West at the Lovell Road exit. While driving, I had just received a phone call from a prospective employer, informing me of an interview that very day. Literally shaken, I told the man on the other end of the line that I would not be able to make the interview because I had to go back out that very day. As a matter of fact, I was passing the spot where the interview was scheduled(Lovell Road) as I talked to the employer on the phone.

When I hung up I was devastated. This was a great opportunity to get back home and I felt that I had a great chance at landing the job. All those hopes gone. Poof...into the wind. With tears rolling down my cheeks, I asked God why. "Lord, I'm at my wits end. I'm crushed. PLEASE HELP ME! I DON'T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO!!" 

His answer was  swift and very much to the point. I can still remember the voice which spoke to my heart."Go back to where you left off,and do what you know to do." Hence my title. Bear with me.

A long, long time ago in a place far away, I sat and listened to a man preach a sermon about a woman on the front pew of a huge service that the man was preaching at. The man of God told us about preaching to a crowd of thousands that particular time. He recounted to us that as he was sitting on stage, during the song service, the Lord spoke to him to pray for a woman that was sitting up front. First couple of rows as I remember.

He was not remiss in stressing to us the great anointing and flow of God that filled the great auditorium where he was preaching. A powerful song service followed by an anointed message. Your getting my drift I trust. Powerful move of God.

All the while however, God would not let this man forget about that one woman sitting placidly up front. All during the man's lengthy sermon( a couple of hours as I remember, he was truly a master storyteller) he kept putting God off.Throughout the shouting and the amens and moves of the Holy Ghost, God very gently was reminding him that he needed to pray for this woman. He kept putting it off, waiting for a more opportune time.

Lo, and behold the man of God finished his message, gave an altar call that lasted for about an hour; with all manner of folks receiving healing, deliverance and salvation. A mighty, mighty move of God. Now, as Paul Harvey used to say,"Here's the rest of the story."

As the great evangelist sat in his hotel that evening, feeling that he had tapped DIRECTLY into the throne room of Almighty God, he offered up a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God for the tremendous outpouring of the Holy Spirit where literally hundreds had been touched by God through this man. And then it fell. As the man tells, he was feeling great, knowing that he had truly heard from God that evening and had been mightily used. The preacher's reward if you will.The Lord then asked him a simple question. "Did you pray for the woman down front like I told you too?" ..............

Oops! In all the hullabaloo and  the frenzied excitement, the man had let that little lady leave without him praying for her. In spite of all the excuses he offered, God was having none of them. "Look at all the people that were touched Lord," the man was talking to the wall. He put it this way, "The Lord then proceeded to take me to he woodshed." It did not matter that He had moved mightily in and through this preacher. He had not done what God had told him to do. He had done many mighty works that night through the power of God, but he had been disobedient.

There was one thing that he lacked.

Brothers and sisters, many times in our lives we offer God this and that. Sacrifices that take infinite numbers of shapes and sizes. All to no avail. And many times it is because we have moved on from something that God has asked us to do. Maybe it became inconvenient. Maybe we just didn't want to do it anymore. Maybe we got caught up in other activities and this was no longer important to us. Maybe,maybe,maybe. Sometimes we need to go back to where we left off, and do what we know to do.

15 I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. 16 I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.
Psalms 119:15-16 (NASB)

God Bless

Friday, May 8, 2015

Staying Power                             05-08-15

28 "You are those who have stood by Me in My trials;
Luke 22:28 (NASB)

Just some musings of mine this week. I read this verse this week past and for some odd reason my mind traveled back some 40 odd years to a magazine. "New Wine," edited by Don Basham, was one of the most anointed publications that I have ever read. It was years ahead of it's time and I  just discovered that it is available online. It was the brainchild of a group of ministers in south Florida who later became known as the Ft. Lauderdale Five. These men were the cornerstones of a movement that became known as the Shepherding Movement. I won't go into details, but in the years that followed, what started as a high truth(in this writer's opinion) fell prey to abuse and corruption.

What happened, I believe, is that man took a genuine revelation of God, and degraded a truth into a grab for power and control. It took the God given "authority" placed in church leadership and turned it into an apparatus of "control," designed  to intimidate and fleece the sheep. You see in my opinion, pastors or shepherds are here to equip us and build us up. They act in our best interests.

 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some  prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12  for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
Eph 4:11-12 (NASB)

Before I move on, if you find "New Wine" somewhere on the internet, take a look at it and tell me where you found it. It was a killer publication.

With that little bit of groundwork, let me throw something out here. Look at Luke again.

 28 "You are those who have stood by Me in My trials;
Luke 22:28 (NASB)

In spite of the abuse and corruption that exists in  both the secular and church world, there are a "few good men" and women out there. People who take their call seriously, knowing that they, like us sheep, are accountable to God. The problem many times is now with the sheep isn't it? What do you mean Ronnie? Just this. Jesus said this concerning sheep and shepherds.

4 When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
John 10:4 (NASB)

We follow shepherds because we know their voice. That is what the Bible says. But these days we often see a shepherd through the eyes of the flesh don't we? Not looking beyond the natural senses, we fail to see the call that God has placed on that shepherds's life.

Our opinions are more often than not based on what we see, no, this is better, on what we perceive; NOT on what God says or to go a bit further, on what God DOES in that person's life. Circumstances, trials, tribulations, so called "lifestyles" play into our "evaluations" of this one or that one.

All the time we read about the time it takes to develop a relationship. Nothing takes the place of time spent. That's what they all say. We should apply that to the people that God has placed in our lives don't you think? If we discard those people because they don't live up to our preconceived standards, in time we will have NO ONE to turn to will we? There was only ONE perfect shepherd. Everyone else is a mere imitation. That is God's plan however. It is as simple as that. He has chosen to place folks in our lives for our encouragement and guidance. Not to control or intimidate but to gently lead and instruct.

If you know someone like that, grab on tight. They are few and far between these days. If you have been blessed enough to have developed a relationship with one of those folks, don't turn your back on them when they have troubles in their own lives. If you do that enough times there won't be any shepherds left for you will there? Amen?   

 10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father's friend, And do not go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity; Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.
Prov 27:10 (NASB)

Don't forsake those friends, e.g. pastors, shepherds that over time have proven their dedication to God and to you and yours.

 20 He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him; He has violated his covenant.
Psalms 55:20 (NASB)

God Bless