Friday, August 26, 2016

Good..Better..Best                                               08-26-16

Psalm 127:1 (ESV) 1
 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

Probably my favorite verse in the entire Bible. If you have been in a Sears store in the last 20-30 years, or in fact in any number of retail outlets over the years, then you are familiar with the title of this message. The slogan,on signs throughout the store giving the consumer a choice of three qualities of products. One can by the good one for the least expensive (never say cheapest) amount. Or one can upgrade to the better model, of course for a little more money. Finally, the "Cadillac" is offered when only the best is good enough.

I was reading an article this week about redeeming the time. But,it was one statement in the article that was relevant to me and hence this message today.It went like this:

"Often it is not evil pursuits that rob us....Rather,the temptation is to sacrifice what is best for what is good." When I read that, the above verse in Psalms popped into my head.

The above Scripture was one of the first concepts that as a young Christian I learned in my head,but not in my heart. The most difficult path to traverse in this life is the distance between our head and our heart. I can personally attest to the truthfulness of this statement after forty or so years of experience. It is one thing to read about it in a book;quite another to translate the teaching into the practical aspects of our lives isn't it? Becoming a doer and not a hearer only is most times difficult and costly.

I remember MANY moons ago,reading a book on discerning the will of God for our lives entitled "Fifteen Steps Out." The one precept that still stands out to me is determining the wisdom of God. You remember don't you? James 3:17  

James 3:17 (ESV) 17  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

Without going into detail,our decisions should be based upon and indeed line up with three tests. The Word Of God, Circumstances, and Inner Witness or prompting of the Holy Ghost. They ALL THREE had to line up and be in harmony. If for instance you had a strong inner witness, an inward feeling or leading about going a certain direction and it did not contradict what the Bible said, BUT it did not line up with your particular circumstances,then you needed to step back and take another look. Look again at the verse. It must be pure(not contradictory to the written word),it must be peaceable and gentle(inner witness) and it must be open to reason. That phrase means it is easy to talk over with others.When seeking counsel,while their may be a dissenting voice, the general reaction of those around you will be favorable.While there are exceptions, this is generally a good test to examine the direction you are contemplating. 

A good example of this is the story about the young man on fire for God. Happily married with a couple of kids, one day he comes in from work and declares to his wife that God has called him to the mission field on the other side of the world. All seems right with this until the facts of his circumstances are examined. Wife and two children to raise and God is calling him elsewhere? Maybe,but not likely. He might need to take a long,long look at what he is thinking about doing. Extreme example yes,but you're getting my drift. 

And herein lieth the lesson.

Many times in this life we are presented with opportunities that appear very attractive. Job,ministry etc.,etc., And many times this is what we do. We take a couple of verses out of context and convince ourselves that the Lord spoke them to our heart concerning our decision. But, if...IF we subject it to the scrutiny of the whole counsel of God, we get a different picture. Or we allow that inner witness to overwhelm and cancel out Scripture or the wise counsel of others. We find out later that it was nothing but our unbridled desires or ambition controlling our decisions. Finally,sometimes it looks so right that we just charge headlong into the melee,disregarding all the warning signs; and most times like clockwork,some time later,we sit blind sided and wondering what happened.

Brothers and sisters,if we allow the Lord to build the house, we avoid the pitfalls and set backs that come with us doing it our way. Sometimes sitting steady in the boat can be maddening as we watch what we think is our life passing in front of us. But rest assured,while it may seem slow and painful, if the Lord is building the house,it will be built on solid ground and will not fail in times of trouble.

 Psalm 54:4 (ESV) 4  Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.

God Bless   


Friday, August 19, 2016

Right Shell Shell

Right Shell Shell?                                        08-19-16

Matthew 10:42 (ESV) 42  And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

The title to my message is a phrase that I hear at least fifty times a day. Shell Shell is the name given to my wife Shelley by the little pipsqueak as I call her,Chloe.Whenever Chloe is talking, and especially when talking to Shell Shell, she ends almost every comment with "Right Shell Shell?" A statement of fact, a question about anything, an opinion ALWAYS is followed by "Right Shell Shell?" "The sky is blue,right Shell Shell? The sun is hot,right Shell Shell? Ronnie just needs to leave us alone,right Shell Shell?" You're gettin' my drift here right?

Well, that set me to thinking. Chloe loves Shell Shell and trusts her implicitly.As I thought about that today the above verse came across my mind.You see Shell Shell has never written a book. As far as I know,she has never gotten into a pulpit and preached to a congregation.I have never seen her on TBN or Daystar being interviewed or whatnot.God has not to my knowledge given her a new "revelation"  to be shared with the church world over the airwaves. No,no. 

But....BUT.... Shell Shell has made more of an IMPACT on a life than me or anyone else I know. No, I am not preaching about the greatness of Shell Shell. The Lord Jesus is the cause of it all, and herein lieth the lesson.

You see,I have listened to preachers in mega churches deliver great messages to hundreds,even thousands,but would not know my or your name if we walked through their front door. No,that is not a criticism by any stretch. It is just a statement of fact. It's well nigh impossible to know the thousands in their churches on a first name basis. And that is my point today. Ministry,.. true,effective ministry is one on one isn't it? 

The enemy of our souls will try to discourage us in our walk with Jesus.He will whisper to us in the midnight hour that we aren't doing anything for the Lord. He will tell us riding down the road what is the use, we have failed. He will scream at us on the job that God is not pleased with us and why don't we just give up and throw in the towel. Nobody sees nor even cares about what we are doing. Does that ring a bell with you?

Yeah I feel ya' But, those words and accusations are lies from the pit of hell. 

Zechariah 3:1 (ESV) 1  Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.

The accuser of the brethren.This is what the enemy does best. He's had a lot of time to get it right, and he's very good at it.

Listen brothers and sisters, your efforts and labors in the Lord are not going unnoticed.As much as the devil may tell you that you are worthless and wasting your time, the Lord Jesus sees it a little differently.Even the small,seemingly insignificant kindnesses are recorded aren't they? Your efforts ARE having an impact in the lives of others, whether you realize it or not.

I can say with a certainty that it was not a big gift,or a handful of money that impacted the life of that little girl. No, no. It was all the hugs, the "I love you's"a trip to the ice cream store and all the other "cups of cold water"that touched that child.

Let this verse sink down into your spirit.

Hebrews 6:10 (ESV) 10  For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.

God does not forget. Your labors are not in vain. Jesus is coming back and He is bringing His reward with Him to all that are looking for His blessed return. Keep doing what you know to do.

Right Shell Shell? 

Psalm 128:1-2 (ESV) 1
 Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways!
2  You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

God Bless


Friday, August 12, 2016

It's What Got Us Here

It's What Got Us Here                                               08-12-16

2 Timothy 2:4 (ESV) 4  No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

This verse from last week's blog ambled around in my mind all week. I could not shed the idea of the danger and ease of becoming entangled in this life. It's sooooooooo easy isn't it? Hear me out please. 

I have watched, on ESPN, countless interviews with coaches and players as a particularly big game approached. Invariably the reporter/interviewer will pose this question. " How do you intend to deal with (fill in the blank), do you intend to do anything differently?"   And just as surely as the question being asked, this is almost always the coach's or player's reply. "Well, we don't plan to do anything differently, THIS IS WHAT GOT US HERE." They weren't going to change their game plan, it was working for them.I was talking with my friend this week and that very phrase came up in the course of our conversation. "It's what got us here." Now there's a spiritual truth lurking around those words isn't there? Those words have a positive AND a negative application to our lives don't they? And herein lieth the lesson.

You know how it goes don't you? Here you are, you have been faithfully supporting God's work with your pocketbook and God begins to bless you back. All of a sudden you have plenty of money because you can't outgive God can you? Oh no,no,no.You begin to pay off all your bills, you don't have to check the restaurant menu to see how much that entree costs, life is good. One day you look around and discover that you are in the best financial shape of your life. You can't really put a finger on it, all you know is that as you committed to giving, God started giving back. Praise God let the God times roll!! When interviewed by friends and family as to how you attained  this lofty estate, all you can reply is," Well, I don't really know how it happened. I started giving and God blessed me. IT'S WHAT GOT ME HERE!"

Now let's fast forward a little bit in our lives and if we are not very careful, this is what we will find. That person, who just a short while ago had the world by the tail, is in a mess. What in the world happened? What transpired to bring him or her to this lowly estate? Here is what so many times is the answer. "Well, God blessed my socks off. I had all that I needed or even wanted. If I wanted something, I just went out and bought it. Donald Trump didn't have anything on me! But, all of a sudden the one or two year old car didn't satisfy. I had to have a new one every year. Then the one or two year old SECOND car wasn't good enough. I had to have a new one every year. But, you know something, driving those new cars around lost it's glitter once the "new" wore off. For some reason they just didn't satisfy me anymore. Then, all of a sudden, the house that I had been living in lo these many years began to shrink. It just wasn't big enough anymore.  So, I went out and bought a bigger one. And on, and on, and on......Until one day I woke up and the bills were piled to the ceiling. I was working myself to death just to stay even. I even had to pick up a part time job. There wasn't enough money to go around and now I can't afford to give to God's work anymore. I abused God's provision and got greedy. THAT'S WHAT GOT ME HERE!" 

Look at this.The most precarious seed.

 Matthew 13:22 (ESV) 22  As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Sound extreme? Maybe, but personally I don't think so. The point ,brothers and sisters, is this. Rarely does the sky fall on us. Now, it sometimes happens, but that is the exception rather than the rule.Most times we become entangled and enslaved gradually, almost imperceptibly. It's like being in the clutches of a python. I watch those animal attack videos all the time. The python wraps itself around it's prey and simply waits. As the prey struggles and struggles the python simply tightens it's grip until eventually the poor animal can't breathe anymore and suffocates. I have seen these snakes kill a lion like this.

That's our danger isn't it? Normally, we don't get run over by a truck, we just get ourselves into predicaments that squeeze the life out of us. It doesn't have to be money, it can be almost anything. Job, school, whatever.How do we break free? I will close with this anecdote from my own life.

Some years ago I had allowed myself to become entangled. I had gotten off track and was struggling. Literally, as I was driving down the road, distraught over my circumstances the Lord spoke these words to my heart. "Go back to where you left off, and do what you know to do." That is an exact quote and even now I can remember perfectly riding down the road that day. I got alone with God and He showed me where I had gone wrong and what to do about it. It wasn't a great revelation. A simple act of obedience actually. But, that disobedience had slowly but surely strangled the life out of me. IT WAS WHAT GOT ME TO WHERE I WAS!!

IF you are hurting, struggling, entangled etc., get alone with God and find out what got you there. It could be that you are right where God wants you and He wants to encourage and strengthen you. Or it could be that you have derailed yourself and the life is being pressed out of you. At any rate what is important is finding out what got you there.  Amen?

Psalm 119:71 (ESV) 71  It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.

God Bless




Friday, August 5, 2016

Entangled Or Entrusted?

Entangled Or Entrusted?                                        08-05-16

2 Timothy 2:4 (ESV) 4  No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

I know, I know.....I hear you LOUD AND CLEAR! There aren't enough hours in the day are there? It's not as if they have you for eight, nine, ten or maybe more hours in the day. No, no that isn't enough. They feel it necessary to call you on the phone at home to ask about a problem at work. Just heard a story at my work about a man I know personally. His father died last Sunday night past, but his employer required him to be at a Monday morning7A.M. meeting or lose his job.

You and I may think "How cruel and heartless, I would tell them to take that job and.........." I hear ya. But maybe he's got a couple of small children who would enjoy having some corn flakes or bacon and eggs to eat tomorrow for breakfast.You see the above is easy for us to say but a little harder for him,.. he's got skin in the game.

You see there's a difference between being entangled and entrusted. I hope I can make some sense here. Please take a  look at  the previous verses in this passage.

2 Timothy 2:1-3 (ESV) 1  You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
2  and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
3  Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

Pay particular attention to vs. 2

".....what you have heard from me............ENTRUST  to FAITHFUL (caps mine) men who will be able to teach t others also."

When I was a young Christian I was led to attend a Saturday morning prayer meeting at the home of my friend Pastor Doug. If memory serves, we would meet in a concrete shed in his back yard every Saturday morning at 4A.M. and pray for a couple of hours. I don't remember the number of men, about five or six I think. The prayer meeting was based on 2 Timothy 2:2. Some of us drove 50 or more miles to attend this prayer meeting and over the course of a couple of years we had some mighty, mighty answers to prayer. Let me assure you that 4 A.M. came very early in the cold of winter; and, many times I would question my sanity while driving to that little prayer meeting. But, I was COMPELLED to attend. No, Pastor Doug didn't require my attendance. The Holy Spirit did. It was something on the inside of me that urged me on, many times IN SPITE of myself.

God had entrusted that prayer meeting to me,along with the other men who gathered on those Saturday mornings.He taught me something in that prayer meeting.
Sometimes,.. no ALL the time it was hard to roll out of bed that early. It was difficult just to get to that place of prayer, and my flesh wanted no part of it. It was easy to get puffed up and consider what a great "sacrifice" I was making. But as God showed me as only He can,it was not a sacrifice, but a PRIVILEGE to gather together and seek His face. Not only a privilege, but an OPPORTUNITY to be blessed mightily. And so I was. Had I been unfaithful to His prompting, I would have missed witnessing the many answers and outright miracles that God wrought in that gathering. And herein lieth the lesson.

 Has God entrusted something to your care? Just like my friend at work, the circumstances may be difficult. If God has given you a responsibility, if He has entrusted your faithfulness, then more than likely your flesh is going to war against it, and the enemy is going to attack it. It may get difficult and trying at times. But look at vs. 1 again. If God has entrusted and compelled you to do something, He's going to enable you to complete the task. 

2 Timothy 2:1 (ESV) 1  You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,

His grace will strengthen you inside and out.

So your world is a little haywire right now huh? It's a wee bit frantic and unsettling. You are tempted, like the pinball machine to flash TILT! I FEEL YAH!!

Hang in there, whatever it is, it may seem like a great sacrifice now,  it may seem absolutely off the chain, but TRUST GOD, He will turn your faithfulness into a great opportunity for YOUR blessing.  

Psalm 20:4 (ESV) 4  May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans!

God Bless