"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it… There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John." (Ezekiel 22:30a; John 1:6)
As we approach Father’s Day in a few weeks, I thought I might share with Dads something to think about as they contemplate their duties and responsibilities as head of their home and place in the world. The world today is looking for:
~Men who are not for sale;
~Men who are honest, sound from center to circumference, true to the heart's core;
~Men with consciences as steady as the needle to the North pole;
~Men who will stand for the right if the heavens totter and the earth reels;
~Men who can tell the truth and look the world right in the eye;
~Men who neither brag nor run;
~Men who neither flag nor flinch;
~Men who can have courage without shouting it;
~Men in whom the courage of everlasting life runs still, deep and strong;
~Men who will know their message and tell it;
~Men who know their place and fill it;
~Men who know their business and attend to it;
~Men who will not lie, shirk or dodge;
~Men who are not too lazy to work, nor too proud to be poor;
~Men who are willing to eat what they have earned and wear what they have paid for;
~Men who are not ashamed to say 'No' with emphasis and who are not ashamed to say "I can't afford it."
God is looking for men. He wants those who can unite together around a common faith — who can join hands in a common task — and who have come to the kingdom for such a time as this. God give us men.
May 28, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10
Here's the brief autobiography of one such man:
"I built… "I made… "I bought… "I owned… "I amassed… "I acquired… "
"I BECAME… "
In other words, he arrived, having achieved affluence. Visibility. Status. Perhaps even respect.
But here is the kicker: According to his autobiography:
"When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 2:11)
How is this possible? Had he not achieved it all? The answer is, "No, he had not." And the reason?
None of his achievements could fill his inner emptiness. As Pascal sagaciously observed, "Inside of every man there is a God-shaped vacuum that only God can fill."
Jesus Christ cautioned, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? “A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Matthew 16:26; Luke 12:15)
How tragic it would be to have climbed the ladder of success, only to realize too late (as did Solomon) that you had leaned it against the wrong wall.
SO THE QUESTION IS: "Which wall is your ladder leaning against?"
May 27, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” 1 Peter 1:18-19
Is It Possible To Live A Righteous Life In A Godless Environment?
The answer of course is "YES!" Daniel of the Old Testament is probably our best example of someone who did it with class. You may remember that as a Jewish lad, Daniel, along with his three compatriots, was taken captive into wicked Babylonia. Throughout his life, he demonstrated God's faithfulness by choosing to live righteously amidst life-threatening pressures to conform otherwise.
HERE'S THE BOTTOM LINE: Daniel lived in Babylonia, but Babylonia did not live in Daniel. Four observations on how Daniel did it:
1. DETERMINATION — Daniel determined in his heart not to eat the king's defiled food. Working as many of you do in the public where compromise is a daily occurrence, have you determined in your heart to not take the first step toward defilement?
2. DELIVERANCE — Daniel chose to believe God for deliverance amidst humanly impossible circumstances. One example was Daniel's commitment to interpret the king's dream before God guaranteed him the interpretation. Failure would surely cost him his life. (Daniel 2:1-23) Are you willing to take steps of faith (when warranted) that could cost you an account, diminish your production, or otherwise adversely affect your career?
3. DEPENDENCE — In times of crisis, Daniel chose to be dependent upon his compatriots. In the instances cited in 1. and 2. above, Daniel enlisted the support or prayers of his three Jewish companions. (Daniel 1:9-20; 2:17, 18) Are you locked in with a team of friends whom you look to for mutual moral and spiritual support? Or are you choosing to tough it out alone? (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10)
4. DECENCY — Daniel chose to live a life of uncompromising decency. After interpreting the king's dream he chose not to yield to the king's influence by accepting his gifts. (Daniel 5:17; Consider also Daniel 6:1-5) Has your moral integrity been compromised by receiving gifts or favors from those in positions of power or authority? (Proverbs 23:1-3) THE BIG QUESTION: "You are in the world, but is the world in you"? (John 17:13-19)
May 26, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“The Lord beareth your murmurings, which ye murmur against Him.” Exodus 16:8.
Without murmur, uncomplaining In His hand, Leave whatever things thou canst not Understand.
K. R. HAGENBACH.
One great characteristic of holiness is never to be exacting—never to complain. Each complaint drags us down a degree, in our upward course. If you would discern in whom God's spirit dwells, watch that person, and notice whether you ever hear him murmur.
When we wish things to be otherwise than they are, we lose sight of the great practical parts of the life of godliness. We wish, and wish—when, if we have done all that lies on us, we should fall quietly into the hands of God. Such wishing cuts the very sinews of our privileges and consolations. You are leaving me for a time; and you say that you wish you could leave me better, or leave me with some assistance: but, if it is right for you to go, it is right for me to meet what lies on me, without a wish that I had less to meet, or were better able to meet it.
May 22, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6
What does it mean to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God in your job, vocation, or profession? What if you’re not getting the raise or the promotion you deserve? What if you are in a situation where you could make things happen…but you really want God to do that?
Think of David, the young musician, tending his father’s sheep back on the hills of Judea many centuries ago. He was a self-taught, gifted musician. He didn’t hire an agent and go on tour, trying to make a name for himself. Instead, he sang to the sheep. He had no idea that someday his lyrics would find their way into the psalter or would be the very songs that have inspired and comforted millions of people through long, dark nights.
David did not seek success; he simply humbled himself under the mighty hand of God, staying close to the Lord and submitting himself to Him. And in His time God exalted David to the highest position in the land. He became the shepherd of the entire nation!
In what area of your life is God calling you to humble yourself? Allow yourself the opportunity to not only listen to the still, small voice of God; but allow yourself to act upon the urging of the Holy Spirit. It may be a small step of obedience or a large leap of faith, but regardless, if God is calling, you will not fail. This may mean sacrifice or suffering in some small context, yet I assure you all will be worth it. Listen and learn as He leads and you will never lose your way nor will you ever fail.
May 21, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
Most scholars believe this psalm was composed in the aftermath of God’s delivering the Israelites from Sennacherib’s army. This deliverance occurred after the siege of Jerusalem that ended when the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. Martin Luther’s famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” took its starting point from this mighty, moving Hebrew song that proclaims the sufficiency of God for the crises of life. This robust psalm, defiant of God’s enemies, moves beyond the local situation that may have inspired it, to universal principles. Its great value, however, is the word it speaks to individuals to have faith in
God’s protecting hand and ample resources. It proclaims the ascendancy of God in three areas. God has power over the forces of nature. Because communication technology, news of earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and other tragedies reach our ears instantly. We live in the face of grim reality, often seeing innocent people victimized by these terrible events. We must remember, that God has ultimate control of these forces. He limits them and only allows them to go so far and no further. We must not surrender our faith when we are confronted with tragedies we cannot understand or explain. Continued faith will produce courage. God controls this world and will never turn it over to chance.
God has power over those who attack His strongholds. When God’s citadel, Jerusalem, was attacked God responded by protecting His Temple on earth. Though they have their shortcomings, the institutions of our religious faith are important. God ultimately protects His Word for how else can you explain its longevity down through the ages? God’s people need to trust Him, continuing to believe in the integrity of His Word.
God has control over the whole warring world. What does a Christian do when they see the nations of the world moving toward what seems to be an inevitable war that will bring universal destruction to the human race? The psalmist says, “He maketh wars to cease” and we know this to be true. Yet, wars continue to arise. We must realize peace can only come when people have peace in their hearts, and this comes only through Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
The psalmist cries out, “Be still!” If God be for us, who can be against us?
May 20, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?” Psalm 139:7
In Christian teaching certain basic truths are found, hidden at times, and rather assumed than asserted, but necessary to all truth as the primary colors are found in and necessary to the finished painting. Such a truth is the divine immanence.
God dwells in His creation and is everywhere invisibly present in all His works. This is boldly taught by prophet and apostle, and is accepted by Christian theology generally. That is, it appears in the books, but for some reason it has not sunk into the average Christian’s heart to become a part of his believing self. Christian teachers shy away from its full implications and, if they mention it at all, mute it down until it has little meaning.
The truth is that while God dwells in His world He is separated by a gulf forever impassable (Luke 16:26). However closely He may be identified with the work of His hands, they are and must eternally be other than He, and He is and must be antecedent to and independent of them. He is transcendent above all His works even while He is immanent within them.
What does this divine immanence mean in direct Christian experience? It means simply that God is here. Wherever we are, God is here. There is no place, there can be no place, where He is not.
To you and me, this is fulfilled in Christ’s words of Matthew 28:20, when He stated unequivocally, “…lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” No matter what we face, where we go, what we do or even who or what opposes us, Immanuel, God with us, is with us. We must accept the words of Christ as the truth or the whole of the Bible is false. We must apply this premise to everyday life realizing the fullness of the power and presence of the risen Christ through the presence of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us daily as we will allow.
What daunting event are you facing today? What has caused you to fret and bemoan getting out of bed today? Cast your care on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7) and trust in Him to provide what you need to overcome the dread and uncertainty. He will prevail if we will avail!
Have a blessed day!
May 19, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.”
In these verses we are challenged to practice the confession of our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Literally clinging to the promises spoken of by our Lord and restated and reinforced by the Apostles and the writers of the New Testament. What good is our faith if we say one thing then do another? If we endeavor to go to Greenville and end up in Seneca; is it not the same as our conduct in daily life when we say one thing but do another?
These last months have tried our patience and resolve, but at the same time given us time to reflect and ponder our life’s circumstances. Has your faith been tried during this period of self-isolation? If so, what is the Lord saying to you about yourself? What have you learned in the long, quiet hours of thought and remembrance? It is times like these that will either draw us closer to the Lord and to His people or it will drive us further away from both.
You are missed and dearly longed for as we look to the future reopening of our regular church activities. Will you find your place once again and lift your voice aloft with the songs of our faith? Will the teaching and preaching of the Word bring a renewed joy to your heart and soul? Does fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ lighten your heart a bit in these times of heaviness and doubt? I sincerely hope so!
I found this bit of light-hearted humor today and thought I might share it with you for a smile or a laugh:
While in the midst of a rather lengthy sermon, the preacher of a fashionable congregation was horrified to see a small boy shooting spitballs at certain members. The boy, noticing him hesitate, shouted, “You go ahead with your preaching, Mister; I’ll keep them awake.”
Or, you might like this one as well: The pastor looked out in the congregation and noticed one of the deacons had fallen asleep. He asked the man’s wife to please wake brother so-and-so to which she replied, “You put him to sleep; you wake him up!”
Go ahead and smile…it will do you good!
May 18, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I was skimming through a book of illustrations the other day and found this gem that I knew would brighten your day. Think about these words today and maybe, just maybe, they will bring a smile to you like they did me. The piece is entitled; “Thank You, Lord.” I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings each morning, Thank you Lord that I can hear. There are those who are deaf.
Even though I keep my eyes tightly closed against the morning light as long as possible, Thank you Lord that I can see. There are many who are blind.
Even though I huddle in my bed and put off the physical effort of rising, Thank you Lord that I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedfast.
Even though the first hour of the day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned, tempers are short, Thank you Lord for my family. There are many who are lonely.
Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in the ladies’ magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced, Thank you Lord for the food we have. There are many who are hungry.
Even though the routine of my job is often monotonous, Thank you Lord for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no work.
Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my modest circumstances were not quite so modest, Thank you Lord for the gift of life!
Let us all determine to share the “attitude of gratitude” for all the Lord has done for us!
May 15, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18 Our Savior is greater than even the angles and that is to our eternal benefit. As the Creator and King of glory, He has the power to help us where angels cannot, and He has even appointed the angels to serve us (Hebrews 1). And because He is better than the angels, He was able to humble Himself, taking on our nature in the incarnation so that He could atone for sin and defeat the devil (Hebrews 2:1-15). Jesus can provide effective assistance where no one else can.*
What does this mean for you and me, especially since we have just finished studying James 1:2-4? We have a High Priest who was tempted in all ways as we are and therefore He alone knows exactly what we face day-in and day-out. He was tested and tried by Satan in the book of Matthew, Chapter Four with all three modes of temptation to sin.
First was the lust of the flesh when Satan commanded Jesus to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger pangs from 40 days of fasting. Jesus sets the ultimate example for us in returning “fire” with Scripture; “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Next, Satan appealed to the pride of life in charging Jesus to tempt God by casting Himself off the pinnacle of the Temple. Again, the Holy example answered Satan with Scripture; “…Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”
Finally, Satan struck at the heart of who Christ was; God man, man God. Satan asked Christ to fall down and worship him. Jesus responded, “…Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve.”
Our High Priest has beaten Satan at his own game and He and the angels of Heaven stand ready to aid you in your time of weakness and despair. Run to the Word of God for in it you will find every help you need to follow the great Example, Jesus Christ. Beat Satan at his own game with the same weapons Christ used in the greatest temptation of all.
“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His…” 2 Timothy 2:19
He knows us by name! Is that not a blessed thought! The meeting between our Lord and Mary after His resurrection gives us a lovely picture of what it means to us individually who belong to Him. She knew Him when He simply spoke her name—“Mary.” It was only one word; but with it came recognition, relief and reassurance. It told her that the very One she had known and loved had not left her desolate but was alive again and had conquered death.
Our given names are very personal. Sometimes acquaintances of past years forget, and when we meet, they do not remember our names. But the Lord Jesus knows everyone who is His, and He never forgets our names. We have His sure word for it: “The Lord knoweth them that are His.”
And I can believe that everyone who goes to sleep in Jesus and awakes in His glorious presence doubtless fears Him speak his or her name, as His weeping friend did in the garden, when He said with such love and tenderness, “Mary.”
And I don’t believe the Lord will welcome Mr. Longenecker Home, but that it will be a much more personal welcome—Ray.
I hope and trust you can insert your name in the space my name occupies. For if it is so, you can rest in the assurance of the glories of heaven one day being manifest to your eyes and your ears serenaded with your name from the lips of the Savior.
But if not, would you consider Him and all He has done for you so that He may call you by name one day. That summons would allay all your fears and doubts as your soul responds to the query of the Master. He knows His own and His own know Him. If you are unsure of His nature, call on Him today and receive sweet peace and comfort like you have never known. Then, when He calls your name, you will gladly say; “Yea Lord, here am I.”
May 12, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
A husband and wife, married many years, had planned to enjoy life and travel. But only a month after he retired, the husband suddenly died.
All of life seemed to end for that dear widow. And on her husband’s tombstone she had engraved the words: “The light of my life has gone out.”
But with the passage of time and the encouragement and counsel of friends, her life came alive again. Two years later her pastor joined her in marriage to another good man and watched them as they enthusiastically anticipated building a life together.
Later she went to her pastor and said, “I’m going to have to change that inscription on my first husband’s headstone.”
“No,” replied the pastor, “I think all you have to do is add one more line: “I struck another match!”
No matter what happens to us, there is always something left to live for. Broken lives can be rebuilt.
What do you do when your world caves in? If you have faith in the goodness of God and in His power to change the course of your life, you never give up on life. You know you’re a child of God. He promises to walk through life with you. The bottom can never fall out of your life, no matter what happens.
An inscription found on a small gravestone after a devastating air raid on Britain in World War II gained much attention. People thought it must be a famous quotation, but it wasn’t. The words were written by a lonely old lady whose pet was killed by a bomb: “There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of one small candle.”
We have the promise of God that if we have Jesus Christ as our Savior, we have the light of the world, so desperately needed by mankind. Does your light shine brightly or could it use a little maintenance or “tuning up?” Every word, every deed, every thought allows our light to shine and it can shine brighter every day. The Light of your life can never be extinguished, only hidden or dimmed; but never put out!
May 11, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things.” Revelation 21:7
Fiske Planetarium, on the campus of the University of Colorado, needed money, so its director dreamed up a gimmick. He printed brochures offering 1,000-acre lots on the planet Mars for only twenty dollars. Located in the Olympus Mons region, the land is a huge, extinct volcano more than twice as high as Mount Everest. The flyers read:
“This land features pink skies, unlimited rock gardens and not one, but two moons. So peaceful, quiet and romantic—even the natives are friendly. At one-sixth the gravity of Earth, your golf game will improve immensely—drives will be six times longer. Mars will provide a world of adventure for the entire family.”
The gag was surprisingly successful. People from across the country sent twenty dollars for a deed, space flight insurance and a simulated sample of red Martian soil.
But better than any offer for property on Mars is God’s promise of heavenly real estate. God is preparing it for Christians, not to make money, but to express His love for all who trust Jesus as their Savior. “New World II” is a real place where the Lord Himself will live with His people. The additional features are beyond description. There will be no tears, pain or death, and the occupants will rejoice forever in God’s everlasting goodness.
How reassuring to know that God’s free offer of a home in the heavens is not just some promotional gimmick! It may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t. It’s too good to pass up.
The “brochure” is the Bible and you don’t need twenty dollars; all fees were paid on Calvary’s cross when the Son of God willingly sacrificed His life for you and me. Accept God’s offer of salvation and His personal love and guidance for all eternity. First John, chapter one, verse nine tells us that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The price has been paid for your “estate” in heaven, all you have to do is accept it as “paid in full.”
No gimmicks, no deception, just the true Word of God!
May 8, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“But beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8
I am certain that many of you reading this would agree that recently, a day can really seem like a thousand years. Especially when it comes to home schooling, self-isolation, social distancing and the lack of work, recreational and social distractions.
Joni Eareckson Tada writes; “I believe that every moment is an opportunity to be seized. Each day is as a thousand years; our twenty-four-hour slice of time is a sunrise-to-sunset opportunity for us to do something, by the grace of God that counts for eternity. Everything we do here has a direct bearing on what’s going to happen here. When I think about it, it makes me not want to waste my moments but to redeem the time, to seize the opportunity.”
A French mystic of the seventeenth century said that God does not give us time in which to do nothing. There is no such thing as empty time. Now, certainly there must be times of rest and respite in which you go before the Lord in solitude. But even our meditation has a beautiful purpose, a sweet repose in which those moments of rest benefit the soul and end up glorifying God. This perspective makes even our suffering purposeful. It doesn’t mean we are any less busy—it may mean we are busier. But the load is lightened knowing that this translates out to eternity—in our life, in another’s life, and for the glory of God.
How will you impact eternity with the time you have been given? How will your life be enriched by the opportunities you make the best of? Will your activity today lighten the load of someone in your sphere of influence? These are all questions that we should consider from time to time as we evaluate our effective use of the time God has given us.
May 7, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” Ephesians 5:20-21
Paul was a great teacher, so he knew the power of an object lesson. He compares the marriage relationship with Christ and the church. As Christ is to the church so the husband is to be to the wife. That analogy is the key to understanding a husband’s role and a wife’s needs.
A wife needs her husband to be a leader. Christ is the head of the church and the husband is the head of the wife (vv. 22–24). He is to be the leader in the home. And as the leader, he is primarily responsible for the spiritual, emotional, and financial health and welfare of the home. Husbands have tried to pass off their duty as the leader to their wives, to the schools, to the churches, to the scouts, etc. But Joshua said, ‘‘As for me and for my house, we will serve the Lord’’ (Josh. 24:15). Joshua stepped up and shouldered the responsibility for the spiritual well-being of his family.
Unfortunately in so many homes today, men are passive at best and at worst they’re hindering the family and each member in it from being what they could be under God. Seriously, a man who won’t lead is a man outside the will of God, and a man outside the will of God is no good to himself or to his wife, his family, or to anyone around him. So men, step up. Your wife needs you to take the lead in the home.
Men, are you leading in your home and giving your family what they need to be Godly, productive citizens; active in their community and their church? Ladies, are you following your husband’s lead or because of his indifference, are you leading in his absence? God will honor all who strive to follow Him and allow Him to work in their lives. Selah!
~A little humor from Tony Perkins of Family Research Council:
A woman accompanied her husband to the doctor’s office for a checkup. Afterwards, the doctor took the wife aside and said, ‘‘Unless you do the following things, your husband will surely die. Every morning make sure he gets a good healthy breakfast. Have him come home for lunch each day so you can feed him a well-balanced meal. Make sure you feed him a good, hot dinner every night. Don’t overburden him with any household chores. Also, keep the house spotless and clean so he doesn’t get exposed to any unnecessary germs.’’ On the way home, the husband asked his wife what the doctor said. She replied, ‘‘You’re gonna die!’’
May 6, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” Ephesians 4:1
“Vocation” means profession or occupation. The vocation of a medical doctor is the practice of medicine. The vocation of a lawyer is the practice of law. The merchant’s vocation is dealing in merchandise—buying and selling.
The Christian has a vocation, and Paul admonishes us to “walk worthy” of our calling, for by its very nature it involves matters and interests of infinite magnitude. It is evident from Romans 8:30 that this calling is regeneration, and much may be said about it.
A Christian’s vocation is a high and holy calling. It surpasses all earthly callings as the light of the sun exceeds that of a small candle. It calls from all that is miserable, low and sinful, to all that is high, holy and glorious. It calls from earth to heaven What a vocation!
Paul says that we are to “walk worthy” of this vocation. “Walk” as used in Scriptures often means “to act, to live, or to conduct oneself.” From Paul’s use of the word “worthy” we assume that there is a standard of walk consistent with the Christian calling—but what is the standard? A careful study of Scriptures reveals that many things are implied for Christians.
Our actions should be consistently Christian. The name “Christian” is derived from Christ and it means to be Christ like or to be like Christ. To do this, we must not only have the new heart of a Christian, but also the mind of Christ. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
We must live a life compatible with the name. The story is told of a group of derelict Alexandrian soldiers brought before the Greek conqueror, Alexander the Great. One by one, he interviewed them and passed judgment on them. He came to a lad who looked too young to be a soldier and was accused of desertion. The mighty conqueror asked the boy his name who replied; “Alexander” and the great leader flew into a furious rage. He scolded the lad and bellowed; “Young man, you have a great name; either change your behavior or change your name!”
What would Christ say to us today if we were examined today before the throne of grace? Would we need to make changes? How has your transformation to Christ-likeness progressed? Something to think about!
May 5, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. Plans for good and not for evil; to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
Joel Gregory recently wrote: "If I hit my thumb with a hammer and it hurts, that is causation. If I hit my thumb with a hammer and a bird sings, that is correlation. Sometimes God acts in a causative way and sometimes in a correlative way. In that strange passage Exodus 17:8-16 Israelites fight Amalek. When Moses holds up his hands, Israel wins. When Moses gets fatigued and his hands drop, Israel loses. His buddies Aaron and Hur sit him on a rock and hold his hands up. Israel wins. That is correlation, not causation.”*
God still does that. College student Gardner C. Taylor wrecks his college president's car, kills a man, and at the inquest is called to preach. Sixteen-year-old Charles Spurgeon gets lost in a Sunday snowstorm, ducks into the wrong church, and is saved. Oswald Chambers dies in an army camp in Egypt and his wife takes his transcribed chaplain's talks back to the UK and divides them up into daily readings, now read by millions daily in My Utmost for His Highest.
Alexander Fleming forgot to clean his biology lab, came back one day, found mold in a petri dish, and there was penicillin. All of those are correlations.
Wait a minute. Hands in the air do not win battles. Car wrecks do not lead to historic ministries. Snowstorms do not lead to monumental ministries. And appendicitis in the desert does not create immortal devotional books...unless God says so. Ask the little boy who went to hear a sermon one day carrying five loaves and two fishes for his lunch.
Somewhere today in your life God will make a strange, unexpected connection and it could change everything. The more you look for it the more it will happen. If you need help, ask the donkey who happened to be standing there doing nothing on Palm Sunday. *From Preaching magazine
May, 4, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.” Psalm 18:21
One day, shortly after retiring from military service, and still full of military zeal, I was driving to work and noticed two South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) trucks and workers by the side of the road. They appeared as if they were preparing to repair an intersection notorious for pot holes. Since I had managed to hit at least one pot hole regularly, I was glad to see them addressing the problem. The traffic light was red, so I had a couple of minutes to observe the crew who presumably had been sent out to make the repairs. What I noticed was that during that cycle of the light, none of the five workmen moved. Three of them were leaning on their shovels.
Out of curiosity I decided to drive around the block again to see if they were going to get to work. Several minutes and two red lights later, the crew still hadn’t started the job. They hadn’t even moved! This was confirming all my suspicions regarding government employees. So I went around the block yet again to see how long the five could keep from working…and returned to the same picture.
Irritated, I wanted to get out of the car and confront those irresponsible workers or at least call the regional SCDOT supervisor and complain about my high taxes paying workers to stand around looking at the problem. But, I noticed the time and realized I needed to be at work for an early morning appointment with an architect. I arrived at the office a few minutes late and apologized to the man who had been impatiently waiting for me, explaining the reason for my delay. In becoming consumed by someone else’s irresponsibility, I became irresponsible.
We each have a personal mission in life, but often we do not fulfill that mission because we are worrying about other’s who are not fulfilling theirs. When we turn our attention away from what God has called us to do in order to fixate on the flaws of others, we are not only being irresponsible, we are turning away from God. May our testimony be that of the Psalmist:
“For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.”
May 1, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also you do” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
The Bible consistently calls us to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We are to “let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). Solomon was right: “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad” (Proverbs 12:25). Scripture commands: “Exhort one another every day” (Hebrews 3:13).
This imperative is especially urgent for evangelical Christians today.
One of the challenges of standing for biblical morality is that we must stand against what is wrong as well as for what is right. However, those who endorse what Scripture forbids often censure the messenger so they do not have to deal with the message. As a result, evangelicals have become known for what we are against more than for what we are for.
An intentional, daily strategy to encourage others with biblical wisdom is one very practical way to turn this tide. Carriers of faith and inspirers of hope
What if our culture witnessed a national movement of Christians sharing God’s love in this way?
What if every believer made an intentional commitment to share words of encouragement regularly with those we influence?
What if we made this priority a daily strategy?
Amid the fears of these days, we can be carriers of faith. Amid the challenges so many face, we can be inspirers of hope.
Think of someone whose encouragement helped you in a significant way.
Who will remember you in the same way today?
April 30, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
Jesus said, “A man’s life consists not in the abundance of things which he possesses” (Luke 12:15). Yet men and women today feverishly are seeking satisfaction in power, profit and pleasure. As the poet Cowper has said, these people will be disappointed in their search, for they are seeking in the wrong places happiness—“letting down buckets into empty wells, and growing old with drawing nothing.” Thus they have come to walk only on boredom's path.
Lord Byron was a genius with position and wealth in his possession. All of these advantages could not bring him lasting satisfaction and inner peace. On his thirty-third birthday, he was standing in the center of boredom’s path, and he wrote: Through life’s dull road so dim and dirty; I have dragged to three and thirty; What have these years left me? Nothing, except thirty-three.
Scores of people can be classified as being both bored and boring. Seeing no real meaning in life, they scowl and accuse. Having their own patter of thoughts, they choose never to widen the circumference of their outlook. To such people, every ship seems romantic except the one they are on. Boredom’s path is indeed crowded.
A woman remarked in disgust as she threw down a book, “I believe that is the dullest book I have ever read.” A few years later the same woman me the author of that dull book. Eventually she found herself in love with the author, and they were married. Under those conditions, she reread the book. The second reading produced a different impression altogether. Why? Because love gives meaning to anything and anybody. Many think that life is empty and boring. They find themselves wandering on boredom’s path. But life can become a magnificent obsession when you come to know and love the Author.
April 29, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1:4
What’s your idea of a perfect church? Does that mean perfect members, a large congregation, or an excellent choir? From Paul’s perspective, the perfect church is the church in Christ. We need to remember that the church of Corinth was plagued with problems, but Paul focuses on God’s work despite these problems. Three things exist in the Corinthian church and in every church of God.
First and foremost, the church is called by God. Notice the repeated use of the word call in the opening verses of 1st Corinthians. Paul is addressing those who were, “called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:2)
Secondly, the church is enriched by God. God will complete His will: to build His church. God has provided His people, the members of His church, with all the resources they need. Despite all the problems in the church at Corinth, Paul is thankful for how the church has been enriched in everything and come short in no gift. What gifts has God given you? How are you using them?
Finally, the church at Corinth was a church kept by God. Verse 7 ends with these words: “eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Corinthian Christians have every spiritual gift they need but they are not yet perfect because Christ has not yet returned. Their gifts needed to be used for the church to function and live as God intended in preparation for Christ’s return.
If Paul could have such confidence about God’s ability and commitment to the church in Corinth, surely we should have confidence about our church and ourselves. Since God has called us into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, He has gifted us with all we need and will hold us firm until the end. Our confidence is not in ourselves but in God!
As radio columnist Paul Harvey might say; “And that’s the rest of the story!” Your part in the “rest of the story” is not finished yet meaning we still have work to do. And since we still have work to do, will you do your part, using your gifts, linking arm in arm with your brothers and sisters in Christ and serving Him until He returns? There is no greater reward than serving Him!
April 28, 2020
I thought you could probably use a dose of laughter to get you through today. So here is an excerpt from Preaching Magazine just in time for Mother’s Day. Enjoy!
Things Only a Mom Can Teach
My Mother taught me about ANTICIPATION: "Just wait until your father gets home."
My Mother taught me about RECEIVING: "You are going to get it when we get home!"
My Mother taught me to MEET A CHALLENGE: "Answer me when I talk to you...Don't talk back to me!"
My Mother taught me LOGIC: "Because I said so, that's why."
My Mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE: "If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way."
My Mother taught me HUMOR: "When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me." My Mother taught me about GENETICS: "You're just like your father."
My Mother taught me about my ROOTS: "Do you think you were born in a barn?"
My Mother taught me about WISDOM OF AGE: "When you get to be my age, you will understand."
My Mother taught me about JUSTICE: "One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you. Then you'll see what it's like."
My mother taught me RELIGION: "You better pray that will come out of the carpet."
My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL: "If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"
My mother taught me FORESIGHT: "Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."
My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS: "Shut your mouth and eat your supper!"
My mother taught me about WEATHER: "It looks as if a tornado swept through your room."
My mother taught me THE CIRCLE OF LIFE: "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."
My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION: "Stop acting like your father!"
My mother taught me about ENVY: "There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do!"
(Mikey’s Funnies) Have a blessed day!
April 27, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“If any man’s work shall abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” 1 Corinthians 3:14
Well, the dear fellow had thoroughly and most completely died, and now he had been pumped, primped, and painted and laid out for all his friends to see. One lady who came by to pay her last respects daubed her eyes and said with great emotion, “Dear Harry has gone to his just reward.”
If the dear lady meant what she said, it was not compliment. Heaven is not anyone’s just reward. Every Christian ought to know that. We do not seek our just reward; rather, we seek divine grace. Heaven is not earned by anyone, but hell is earned and deserved by everyone. I have often thought there are two things I know: I am going to heaven, and I deserve to go to hell. It is faith in Christ Jesus and His atoning death that alone gains for us eternal life. However, on top of that, God tells us that by our faithfulness we can receive rewards in heaven. So, heaven is a gift; rewards are given according to our faithful service for Christ in this world.
Just suppose you didn’t trust banks, and you invested everything in your house. There you hid your money and business interests. One day it catches fire and burs to the ground and you’re left with nothing but the pajamas on your back. It’s possible for all our life’s work to be burned up like that, leaving us with no rewards in heaven. On the other hand, great rewards are possible for us. The Bible doesn’t clearly state the exact nature of those rewards but there seem to be degrees of reward in heaven even as there are degrees of penalty in hell. God is willing for Christ’s sake to accept the works which are done out of sincere hearts in faith for the glory of God, and to reward us for them.
A faithful missionary was returning from overseas on the same boat on which President Teddy Roosevelt was traveling. Hundreds were there to greet the President, but no one was there to meet the missionary. He almost felt sorry for himself. Then he heard an almost audible voice that said: “But you’re not home yet.”
One day you will be home. What a wonderful day it will be if you are a faithful Christian for you will hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…Enter thou into the joy of the Lord.”
April 23, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“Thou shalt not kill.” Exodus 20:13
This Commandment guards human life. The immensity of the issue of death is so great that there can be no sin against humanity or God greater than the taking of a life. Jesus came to defeat the final enemy—death. Death is never a friend. The Sixth Commandment is based on the proposition that God created and sanctified the principle of life.
Evolution, which became the misguided cornerstone of twentieth-century science, has caused us to lose all sense of life’s value. In their book, Darwin’s Leap of Faith, John Ankerberg and John Weldon say about Darwin’s hypothesis of evolution: “Some ideas are so bad that it must be argued they should be rejected on the basis of their implications alone.” They go on to say, “Evolution significantly impacts our views of both life and death in the logical development of its philosophical outlook.” If we have simply descended from tadpoles and tapeworms, then life is cheap and expendable with no eternal significance. We’re here today and gone tomorrow and if we never cease to exist what difference does it make? If, on the other hand, God has created us in His image and if He has a living plan for our lives both in time and eternity, then life is sacred and special. The Commandment prohibiting murder takes the view that life comes from God, therefore it is sacred and special.
Human beings are God’s masterpiece of creation. He made us in His image and breathed into us the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). We are “His workmanship” created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). We are called and set apart for Him even from the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Psalm 139 says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together in our mother’s womb by the hand of God who has planned each day of our lives. Human life is precious to God.
Do you believe you are precious to God? You should when knowing what God’s Word has to say about His plan for your life developed long before you ever took your first breath. He loves you and has a plan for you far greater than anything you could ever think or imagine. His will for your life can be known through diligent study and prayer for understanding.
Take some time today to think about what it means to be loved by the Creator of the Universe then let Him know how you feel!
April 22, 2020 Pastor Ray's Daily Encouragement
“If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14
Christians should individually be involved in the political process and we must take Biblical stands on the moral issues of our day. But the answer to our nation’s problems is not the advancing of a particular political agenda or the dominance of a particular political party. Our root problems are spiritual and only a revival can reverse the moral tide of our country. The term revival refers to a special movement of God in which His church is dramatically refocused and revitalized with ensuing conviction and conversion among sinners. 2 Chronicles is the greatest book in the Bible on the subject of revival. It gives us a plan for revival and then it describes five different revivals under five different Old Testament kings.
God’s plan for revival is laid out in our text verse for the day. I earnestly believe the root of our nation’s problems are not found in the government; whether national, state or local, the economy, and our education systems. The problem lies with every one of us who profess the name of Christ, and hence God’s children, but live as children of the world.
If you study carefully the chronology carefully of 2 Chronicles, you might find that the prophet Daniel and his three companions, Mishael, Hannaniah, and Azaria, were “revived” during the revival of Josiah. Josiah ascended the throne at age eight and eight years later began the revival in Jerusalem by pulling down all the carved images and altars of Baalim.
Revival is God’s way of launching a new generation of workers into His kingdom. One man said that during a time of revival, the church can accomplish in a few weeks or a few months the work that otherwise would take years and years. Revival must start in each of us first. Two sisters, aged 82 and 84, began to pray for revival in their modest little home. Soon, they were joined by family and neighbors and before long, a city-wide revival caught fire. Will you spark a fire of revival in Six Mile, Liberty, Pickens, Sunset, Seneca, Clemson or Easley?
Revival begins with ME!
April 21, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” John 14:5-18
Nothing is more satisfying than that climactic moment in a person’s life when they discover that God is love and that His love is expressed in His Son, Jesus Christ. The summit of all human experience is reached when, as a result of that discovery, one accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. It is at this point that a tragic mistake is made. For many, the conversion experience is considered the completion of their relationship with God. The long struggle between enemy-human and pursuing-God is over. God has won; the human, the receiver of God’s redeeming love, “has arrived.”
But this is simply not true. It is a sad and disastrous delusion, for it means that such a person never sees the need to go beyond the conversion experience in their relationship with God. The result, then, is that the person soon regresses into the old habits and sins of their past life and their experience with Christ becomes an isolated event in the past.
What happened? This person never established a pattern of spiritual growth. They were born as a babe into God’s family but never began the growth process. There is an overwhelming need for consistent spiritual growth for the development of “quality Christians.” The method by which God “grows” His children is the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
What do we know of the Holy Spirit? He is the divine mover. He is the agent in the Godhead who simultaneously moves a holy, all-powerful God toward sinful humans and sinful humans toward God. He draws the two into a divine relationship as a result of the death, burial and resurrection of the Son, Jesus Christ as the final and complete sacrifice for sin.
Have you listened closely for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit as He tries to get your attention? He is speaking to all of us; all we must do is tune our spiritual “ears” to hear His voice. When you hear Him, respond like young Samuel, “Speak; for Thy servant heareth.”
April 20, 2020 Pastor Ray’s Daily Encouragement
“Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” Acts 12:5
Acts 12-13 offers interesting glimpses of two congregations at prayer. The Jerusalem church is described in Acts 12 and the Antioch church in Acts 13. These chapters show the relationship between prayer and some crucial concerns in the life of a church. Herod’s persecution brought James’ death and Peter’s arrest. While Peter was in jail, “the church was earnestly praying.” At Mary’s house, “many were gathered together praying” (Acts 12:12). Peter was delivered and arrived at the house, where he was greeted by an amazed congregation. Why should they be amazed after “earnestly praying” for this very event? Was their faith lacking? Were they surprised God did it without their physical help or personal intervention to the authorities? Earnest prayer has amazing results! Let us wait on the Lord and see in our church the amazing power of earnest prayer. You may ask, “What are the elements of earnest prayer?” I am glad you asked! In a nutshell, I think there are three primary elements of earnest prayer. Succinctly, they are:
1. Pray earnestly for God to bless the church’s outreach. At the end of Chapter 12, we see the church multiplied as a result of the earnest prayer and actions of the church. All wonderful movements of God have begun with saints earnestly, fervently praying for God to move.
2. Pray earnestly for the Lord to bless His laborers. We must remember that earnest prayer is involved in the sending out of workers into the fields “white unto harvest”. The needs of the world are great, but the laborers are few. Our prayers are needful for the success of those in the fields; foreign or domestic.
3. Pray earnestly for the Lord’s power over the enemy. We are prone to encounter evil at every corner and around every bend because of “spiritual hosts of wickedness.” Oftentimes we have no power against the enemy and his evil wiles because we have not prayed for it. The church is commissioned by God to reach the world. People near and far are the responsibility of our church. Satan will do all he can to frustrate our efforts, but earnest prayer will allow God to move in power! PRAY! And then pray some more!