Friday, March 25, 2016

Lord Liar Or Lunatic?

Lord Liar Or Lunatic ?                                       03-25-16

Revelation 1:12-18 (ESV) 12  Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,
13  and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.
14  The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,
15  his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.
16  In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

17  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,
18  and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Surely the most sobering day of the year is it not? What else can be said about this day that has not been said? Nothing really. At any rate, here's my take.

I remember a few years back, I was talking wih a group of folks and made this statement, "Jesus was not a good man." Well, after I said it, most if not all just stared back at me, their expressions screaming,"you have lost your ever loving mind!" As the seconds rolled on a few of them started grinning as if to concur with the popular opinion of my mental state. One hardy soul even made a gesture with his hands that implied that maybe I had been smoking something before I opened my mouth. He was mentally writing off the absurdity of my statement to the fact that I was floating around in lala land. (BIG SMILE) I actually had a point to make that day, but after that brief episode, all was lost, and we all had a big laugh. I tell you of that "faux pas" because that came to mind last night as I pondered on the title today.

The title is taken from a chapter in a book by Josh McDowell entitled "Evidence That Demands A Verdict." It was, if memory serves, the second Christian book that I ever read. In that chapter, McDowell, in arguing for the claims of Jesus contends that we don't have the choice of calling Jesus a good man. I will not belabor it here, for fear of a similar response(smile). However, our only choices,says McDowell when it comes to Jesus, are the ones offered in the title. Lord, Liar, or Lunatic. 

It's clear to me as I rove the web,or watch the news, that verily those three choices are still being offered. How so Ronnie? Glad you asked.

I have been on websites and even read a book a long time ago(The Passover Plot) that make Jesus out to be a tragic figure. A self deluded crazy with visions of grandeur. A lunatic,on the level of a poached egg(McDowell's words) who gave his life because he was living in his own imaginary world, believing himself to be the Son of God. There are any number of sources that peddle this pablum today. Only problem with that is when Jesus teachings are studied, His depth and insight into the human condition is so revealing that His teachings can hardly be written off as the ravings of a delusional who is disconnected from reality.

Well, if we can't make Him out a crazy, let's call Him a liar shall we? Those that seriously argue this, base such an argument on one statement of Jesus.Just one.

Matthew 26:63-64 (ESV) 63  But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
64  Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

You see all the accounts of Jesus's life, His teachings, His miracles, His death, burial, and resurrection are first hand accounts. Jesus isn't tooting His own horn. These are eyewitness accounts from those who followed Him. If Jesus were a liar, then a grand conspiracy of unimaginable magnitude was hatched. A conspiracy that dwarfs any of the popular conspiracy theories that abound today on every conceivable subject. A conspiracy mind you that has endured and grown exponentially over the last 2000+ years.  Given the weight of all the independent, objective evidence, I suppose that we must decide for ourselves if Jesus was who He said He was, or come to a much darker conclusion.......He was a liar from the pit of hell. What say you?

However, all that being said, it is the third and last option that is most relevant to us today as believers or even non believers. And I choose Good(?) Friday to declare that Jesus is Lord. You see, here is what happens much of the time. We leave Jesus on the cross. It is somehow inwardly moving to watch the movies and read the accounts of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. It is emotionally cleansing to identify with His pain and suffering. I remember watching The Passion for the first time. The scene of Jesus's flogging is etched permanently in my mind's eye. When It was over, I felt relieved. When the whole movie finished I had that catharsis that is the purpose of a good drama. We feel purged. And that is what we do with Jesus especially during this time of year. We identify more with His suffering than with His Resurrection. He IS the suffering savior. He IS the bruised reed. The lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world for our redemption. And truly, He was and is all of those things. But, now He is something entirely different. HE IS THE KING OF KINGS AND THE LORD OF LORDS. He has suffered all He is going to suffer. And while He loves us with a love beyond all others, He is the soon coming King that will rule the nations with a rod of iron. His position COMMANDS our respect, and one day soon not his position, but HE will DEMAND said respect.Not only is He the Lord of all the earth, He is YOUR Lord, He is MY Lord.Read the above Scripture again. The Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the End. He's not on the cross anymore brothers and sisters. Contrary to prevailing opinion about many different paths to God; opposing the imaginations that exalt themselves against the knowledge of the Son of God, JESUS CHRIST is the one and only way to the God of all the universe. We can call Him a delusional lunatic if it tickles our fancy. We can label Him a pathological liar, to remove the offense of the cross at our own peril. As for me and my house, I choose to call Him my risen Savior and Lord.
No other way but THE WAY.

John 14:6 (ESV) 6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Psalm 2:7-9 (ESV) 7  I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.
8  Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.
9  You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”




Friday, March 18, 2016

No Rainy Days

No Rainy Days                                             03-18-16

Philippians 3:12 (ESV) 12  Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
A word I came across this week in the Scriptures spurred this message. The text (Romans 11:24) isn't a part of the message, but, I include it here so you can have a look see.

Romans 11:24 (ESV) 24  For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

The word being cultivated. A past tense of the verb to cultivate. That word means to "foster the growth of" or "to develop for growing" You know don't you? All you green thumbs out there, of which I am most definitely not, know exactly what "to cultivate" means. More on that shortly.

Allow me please,to take a round about approach to my point today.I am oft reminded of a Tiger Woods commercial for American Express about rainy days. In the video ad, a camera is panning around a room or rooms of Tiger's home, telling us of all the diversions that he can attend to during a rainy day. You know...a day off if you will.The room is open to the outside by windows and glass doors, and from this vantage point we can see that is deluging outside. Raining very steadily and hard. All the different activities, watching television, being a fan of a favorite sports team or just being lazy and doing nothing are offered as alternatives for just relaxing on a dreary, rainy day. Then all of a sudden the camera pans outside, and in the driving rain we see Tiger, driving a golf ball off of a practice tee. It pans to a close up of Tiger swinging in the downpour and Tiger makes this statement," ...problem is...there are no rainy life is about never settling..........."

That commercial resonated in my spirit as I thought about a spiritual application of that word cultivate. The Apostle Paul, well before Tiger Woods, recognized the danger in ignoring or neglecting to cultivate a relationship with God didn't he?  You see, in the spiritual realm of this life, we never arrive do we? There is never a time in this life, that we can "settle back" and relax is there? Now, be it known, there IS a time approaching when the toils and burdens of this life are going to be lifted. Oh yes! Praise God! One day soon and very soon, the Lord Jesus is gonna bust through that eastern sky and take us all home with Him. Absolutely!! But, BUT, that time has not arrived yet and to repeat myself, neither have we. You feelin' me here? Why is that Ronnie? Simply this. 

1 Peter 5:8 (ESV) 8  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

We have an enemy out there dedicated to our destruction. That's as plainly as I can put it.The enemy wants to devour you and me. Not only that, he wants to devour all that belongs to you and me. Children, loved ones, material wealth, health and any of the countless other blessings that the Lord God has given us. That's his one purpose,... to make our lives as miserable as possible and kill us if he can. I wish it weren't so, but it is. 

Look at that once more.

 Philippians 3:12 (ESV) 12  Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

Back to those green thumbs. You know how it is when you plant a vegetable or flower garden don't you? First, you till the soil and break it up to make it easier for the seed to germinate and grow. Then, upon the first sign of growth, you tenderly and faithfully attend to the seedling with fertilizer, water and whatnot. As the plant grows on to maturity, you make sure that no weeds are allowed to take hold. Many a backbreaking hour has been spent on pulling the choking weeds out of a garden. On top of all that, you make sure that the plant has plenty of sunshine and nutrients, etc., etc., In short you CULTIVATE the seed all the way from dropping it in the ground until it provides a bloom or a harvest as the case may be. You seein' that here? You have taken of your time and resources, both physical and material, to foster the growth of that seed. You have done all that you can do to develop the soil and the seed for growth. And if you do that..if you cultivate that tiny seed and don't ignore or neglect it; that seed will grow and mature. It will strengthen to weather the weather. And eventually, if you keep at it, that tiny seed will grow into a mature plant that produces fruit.

That's precisely what the Apostle Paul is saying to us here isn't it. We have not yet obtained. We are not yet perfect. But, if we will cultivate. If we will take some time with God. If we refuse to "settle." If we don't ignore and neglect our relationship with the Lord Jesus...The Apostle calls it "pressing on." Then we will be strengthened to weather the storms and adversities of this life. If we nurture our relationship with the Lord, He will empower us to resist the devil, not only for ourselves, but for those that we love. If we ignore or neglect that relationship, we put ourselves at risk of falling to the schemes and attacks of the enemy.Just as in the Tiger commercial, there are many diversions that seem very attractive. But, remember this.. in the spiritual battles that rage around God's elect,you and me, there's only one problem.....  there are no rainy days. 

Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV) 1  Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2  but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3  He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

God Bless


Friday, March 11, 2016

I've Got My Mind Set On You

I've Got My Mind Set On You                       03-11-16
Romans 8:5-6 (ESV)  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 
 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 

I hope all ya’ll hippies from the 60’s and 70’s enjoy this video. I believe it was Beatle George Harrison’s last video. If not the last it was one of the last.

Mindset...hmmm.... that word evokes a powerful, even mystical portrait doesn't it ? It sparks images of a monk, chanting somewhere on a Himalayan mountaintop. Well, at least it does to me lol.  What exactly is a mindset? I looked it up. Here is the definition;
mindset- An attitude, disposition or mood that puts or returns someone or something to it's  proper place.
Let me share a testimony from a personal friend of mine this week past. I read a quote this week attributed to C.S.Lewis. It went something like this.
" True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less" 
These words came to mind as I sat in the living room of a friend of mine last night. While fighting to stem the flow of  the tears that were welling up in his eyes, he spoke to me of the blessings and miracles that God was performing in his life. He was ON FIRE, telling me what God had and was doing in his life. Then he said something that caught my ear and provoked this message. He boldly, but humbly told me that he didn't want anyone thinking that he had anything to do with it. "I don't want anyone to think that I had anything to do with this, I want them to know that it was God that did this. I don't even want my name mentioned." 
Psalm 109:26-27 (ESV) 26  Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love! 
27  Let them know that this is your hand; you, O LORD, have done it!
As the story goes this man, around the first of this year decided to become a giver. He committed to a tithe to a church right down the road from where he lives. He made no fanfare about it. Although I saw him on a daily basis, he didn't voice it. Then one day, while talking to him, he couldn't hold it in any longer. He spent the better part of a half hour recounting how God had began to bless him financially. I won't go into the many different blessings that God has bestowed on him, but, trust me God is MOVING in this man's life. This isn't a message about the benefits of giving...BUT IT COULD BE!!
But, this is a message about mindset. You see,my friend has adjusted his mindset. Or better yet, he has allowed God to change his thinking. Let me go back in time a little bit here. A while back, according to this man's own words "something got a hold of me." That's how he told it to me. The Lord Jesus got a hold of him and began to work a miracle in his life.
It was apparent to many in the neighborhood.The change was noticeable. You gettin my drift here? He was seeing things a little differently. He was talking a little differently. A little bit here, a little bit there. He told me on several different occasions that God had done so much for him, that He wanted to do something for Him. He wanted to honor and praise God because God had been so good to him. 
You see, my friend has been transported from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. He has moved from death and chaos, to life and peace. He has PUT GOD BACK INTO HIS PROPER POSITION. HIS MINDSET HAS BEEN ALTERED. His thinking now revolves around things of the Spirit, rather than the flesh. He thinks more about God and less about himself. And here is the kicker. The benefits of this change in thinking are tangible and material. 
He told me last night that he no longer allows his blood pressure to go through the roof while listening to the psycho babble broadcast over the news media. He informed me last night that while his income is unchanged,(he lives primarily on Social Security) he has MORE in his personal checking account now that at anytime in the recent or distant past. On top of that, he told me that he had received a phone call yesterday that informed him there was more money coming in from some retirement account that he had long since forgotten about. "Ronnie", he said, "I am giving more money to the church now than ever, and I have more money in my account than I can remember. I have enough to pay my bills ahead in March and still have plenty left over. I don't understand how God is doing it." This isn't a message about the benefits of giving, BUT, IT COULD BE!!  
Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 
 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 
 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. 
 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
Brothers and sisters, believe me when I tell you this. I could go on and on about the blessings of the Lord in this man's life. Blessings of physical healings, blessings of spiritual healings. In the midst of the many uncertainties in his life, while battling the storms and attacks of the enemy, he has a peace about him. His perspective is removed from the glare and glitter of this present life, and is focused on what is to come.This man's life is being CHANGED because "SOMETHING GOT A HOLD OF HIM" a while back. And he is not ashamed to tell what or better WHO it was. The Lord Jesus Christ captured him and took him in. Just ask him, trust me...he will tell you.
Why all of this? Because, Jesus the Lord, in His mercy, reached down and took a hold of this man. And to his credit this man allowed Jesus in. He took Him at His word. And because of that yielding,he has had a change come over not only his thinking, but over his entire life.He has "set" God back up in his PROPER place.  
More about God, less about himself. The essence of true humility.
This man preached to ME last night.He had a word for MY LIFE. Ronnie, look at what God can and will do if you will allow him to change your mindset. If you will set your mind on the things of the Spirit and set God back up into His proper place in your life, then He will do for you as He has done for me. Amen? AMEN AND AMEN!!  
Psalm 119:89 (ESV) 89 
 Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.
God Bless

Friday, March 4, 2016

He's In The Details

He's In The Details                                   03-04-16

Matthew 10:30 (ESV) 30  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

Luke 12:6-7 (ESV) 6  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
7  Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

They tell me that the devil is in the details. You ever heard that? In a contract, it's the fine print that we have to scour over isn't it? It's the language in the small print that we must  unearth. It's the details that define the art of the deal. I'm having some work done on my house and it's the details that separate the professional from the weekender.

Anyway, God showed me this week past, that indeed,He is interested and concerned about the details of our lives. Over the past few weeks in our Tuesday prayer meeting, there was a recurring request concerning a phone number. That's right, a phone number. Now that probably doesn't sound like much to you, and, you would be absolutely right. BUT, it was important to one of the folk in the prayer group. A simple phone number to be changed. We prayed about it for weeks,and this past week that prayer was answered..the number was changed.

You see, if you are like me, you sometimes tell yourself that something so insignificant as a phone number is not worth wasting God's and your time. So, we put those "small concerns" on the back burner or, most likely, we say to ourselves "well, I'll take care of that myself." It's so unimportant or it's something that I can take care of and we leave God out of the equation. We jump out in he fast lane, rather than seek and wait on God's answer.

You know how  we think(or at least how I think sometimes) "God's got more important stuff on His plate. World peace, an end to poverty, He's not worried about me paying for the bathroom remodel or that pain in my back that won't go away." You see we have no problem talking to God about someone's salvation, or praying for someone to be healed of some dreaded disease. But, maybe we are hesitant to present Him with the little stuff, the small problems and irritations that plague our everyday lives. They just aren't that important...... or so we think. Look at this.

Song of Songs 2:15 (ESV) 15  Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”

Little foxes. You see it isn't the major stuff that causes us to stumble. No,no. When we are run over by a freight train, we KNOW that we need God's help. We have no problem with running to Him and seeking His counsel. A serious illness, a kid or loved one gone absolutely crazy, a job loss or major financial shaking...the pressure of these problems drives us to our knees in search of God's help and counsel. But, it's the LITTLE FOXES, the "minor stuff" THOSE are what spoils the vine.The kid's braces, the leaking roof, the persistent, nagging pain, THESE are what destroys the fruit on the vine. You feelin' me here?

That phone number I shared with you up top is a mlli,nano, micro second when viewed in the landscape of the problems that exist in this world today. But, to the person that took that phone number to the Lord,... it was important. And here it is, you start adding all those unimportant, insignificant problems up, and if we aren't careful,they can become one big problem. You hearin' me here?

You see, brothers and sisters, God wants the details. He truly is interested in the "little foxes." If we give Him the little stuff, it just strengthens and bolsters our faith in Him during the bigger trials that come our way, don't you think?

I once read that a trick of the enemy is to get our prayer life focused on those things that we don't have personal contact with. While it is surely is noble and good to pray for hurting children the world over, it's the needy child next door that will be affected most by our prayers. You see it's the people and the circumstances that are local, those that are in"our world" that are affected most by our prayers. It's the "up close and personal" where ministry takes place. 

Let me end with a little bit of "book learning" I have come across. There is a "Golden Rule" of interpretation when it comes to expounding on the Scripture. In a nutshell it says this: the Bible is to be taken literally except where it is obvious that literary terms such as hyperbole and metaphor are being used. To keep Scripture in context, this rule is ultra important to minimize what is called proof texting. No need to delve any further here. My point being that in the title verses today, that Scripture spoken by Jesus is to be taken literally. EVERY SINGLE LAST SOLITARY HAIR ON YOUR AND MY HEAD IS NUMBERED. If God is that precise, if He has the time and concern to number my hair,....then He certainly isn't going to mind if I ask Him to show me the best way to handle a problem as trifling as a phone number, is He? Amen and Amen.

Psalm 107:6 (ESV) 6  Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

Psalm 107:13 (ESV) 13  Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

  Psalm 107:19 (ESV) 19  Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

 Psalm 107:28 (ESV) 28  Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

You feelin' it?

God Bless