God Never Fails.

God will help you catch your breath.
You’ll find God right there.

God Never Fails. I’m pretty sure I’ve written that before. Maybe multiple times. But it’s worth repeating. Over and over again.

God never fails.

We fail, right?

Can I assure you, however, that for those who trust God and who follow Jesus that it’s okay to fail. I believe we all actually need to have at least one moment in our life, or multiple moments in our life, where we we fail… where we are broken… where we take all of the burdens we’ve been carrying and finally fall to our knees at the foot of the Cross and say, “Here, Jesus. I can’t do this anymore.” I believe we all need to get to that point where we stop kidding ourselves that we can be self-dependent and we fully cross the line to being dependent on God and God alone.

For me personally, I could share story after story where I was so broken that I just couldn’t carry the load any longer.  They include:

      • Each of the six times my employer at the time decided to change directions without me.
      • Too many times to count when parenting teenagers or adult children.
      • And the recent death of my Mom.

On each occasion, my knees couldn’t hit the floor quick enough. Did I fail or did my situation fail me? No matter. I couldn’t bear the weight alone.

The strongest people are those who fail… who acknowledge that they are weak and empty.

One of the greatest, strongest people of all time was Israel’s King David. He writes, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there.”  Then, look at the word picture painted by the Message translation: “If you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath.” (Psalm 34:18 MSG). What an encouraging image!

Even when bad things happen to good people, God is there for you. Every time.

Perhaps your tending to a broken heart? Perhaps you’ve wondered where is the promised victory of the Christian life? In Luke 4 Jesus says the whole reason He came was to heal the brokenhearted, to release the captives and to bring sight to the blind. No matter what broke your heart, no matter what is holding you captive, no matter that you can’t seem to see your way out of your situation, can I assure you that Jesus came for you.

You may have failed, but you are not a failure! Take time, maybe even right now, to tell God that you need Him. Admit that you can’t carry this burden on your own. Tell Him that you’ll trust Him.

And then… do it. Lay your burden down and trust Him.  Cross that bridge and breathe in the air of a new found freedom and peace.  Jesus is waiting to help you catch your breath!

 

(c) Rich Ronald. 2019

So Good.

God is kind, but he’s not soft.

What is something that is “so good” you can’t live without it? You may recall the old ketchup TV ad that used a creative pun to promote their condiment as being “slowwww gooood.”

During the summer months some may have a favorite vacation spot that is “so good!” Others might find it to be an escape with a book or movie that is “so good.”

For the Believer, truly God is so, so good to us. He really is!

The Bible is full of promises of the goodness of God. But here’s the thing: God’s goodness does not depend on our goodness. Thanks to His grace, there  is nothing we have to do to earn His goodness.

Paul says it this way: But you cannot make God accept you because of something you do; God accepts sinners only because they have faith in Him. (Romans 4:5 MSG).

God also confirms His goodness through the writings of Solomon: God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. (Lamentations 3:25 MSG)

So, goodness comes to the faithful who wait, to those who seek.

Why is God good to us? Again from Paul:  God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness He takes us by the hand and leads us into a radical life change. (Romans 2:4 MSG)

That’s why He is good to us! It’s not just for the sake of our happiness or joy. No, God is good to us because He wants to see radical life change in us. He wants us to let Him guide us and lead us to true transformation!

And then, as we are inspired to grow, we can have an impact on those around us.  Think about it. If a group of people is inspired to accept God’s goodness, be led by Him, be more like Him, be transformed by Him, that group can collectively have a God-sized impact on the community in which they live. And that’s where God’s goodness get exciting!

You may be feeling like He is distant or ignoring you right now.  The key is to have the faith to believe, to passionately wait and to diligently seek.

You will see Him. And you will see that God is so, so good.

 

(c) Rich Ronald. 2019.

Trust God. Period.

Some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we will trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Psalm20

David writes in Psalm 20:7:

Some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we will trust in the name of the LORD our God.

A chariot combined with a horse was one of the most powerful weapons of war in King David’s day.  The first six verses of the psalm suggest it is penned for the person who is in trouble or who needs to be rescued. Some have called this psalm a prayer for victory. When life has you against a wall, where is the source of any true triumph? It is only in trusting the LORD; it is only in trusting God.

Do you see what David did there? Look at the chariots. They are man-made objects. Sometimes we can trust in those kinds of things, right? Our homes. Our cars. Our jobs. Even our churches.

But these are things that all have the potential to fall apart, rust, disappear or even close.

Or how about the living things like the horses? How often have we trusted in people only to have them fail us? Our spouse. Our children. Our boss. Our parents. Our friends. This list is endless because people are people. Often selfishness tends to put our wants before others’ needs. As a result, we don’t live up to expectations.

There is only One to whom we can confidently put our trust in: God. He will never fail us. He will never disappoint us. He will not fall apart on us or disappear. He will answer you “with the victorious power of his right hand.” (Psalm 20:6).

Certainly, it is important to build your marriage on trust or maintain the roof so rain will not leak into your house. Whether it’s a catastrophe or a minor offense, we will be let down by both the living and inanimate. “The chariots will rust and the horse will pull up lame.” (Psalm 20:7 MSG).

But we can confidently trust God! Period. He knows us and knows what is best for us. You can trust Him. You can! And, the victory we have in God’s economy is this: “God blesses everyone who trusts Him.” (Proverbs 16:20 CEV).

 

(c) Rich Ronald. 2019.

Want peace? Trust Jesus.

This is Graduation season! It’s “Pomp and Circumstance” for everyone from Kindergarten to College and beyond.  Graduates are parading across stages and moving tassels from left to right (or is it right to left?).  It’s a grand and glorious season for families everywhere.

What are the two emotions most people have during this time of the year? For both parents and graduates it is excitement, joy and pride for what they just accomplished. And simultaneous to that, it is fear for what is next on life’s journey. Will they be going away to college? Parents are worried about fall semester, freshman year and what their children might get into outside of the classrooms. Will they be off to boot camp? New recruits worry that they might be going off to battle. Will they start a new full-time job? New employees wonder if they will be able to do the work and then pay their own bills and live on their own.

When I graduated high school, a friend shared this promise with me, given by God to Joshua: “I have commanded you to be strong and courageous. Do not fear, do not be afraid or discouraged. I am the Lord your God and I will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Jesus echoed the same words in Matthew didn’t He?  The final words as He ascended into heaven are this: “Surely, I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Whether you are a graduate or someone going through the seasons of life, fear can be paralyzing. Are you between a biopsy and a diagnosis? The silence can be debilitating. Did you do something you regret and now have to have a crucial conversation with your spouse? The guilt can be crippling.  Are you facing a new transistion? I heard this recently: “I know I need to get a new job, but I hate change.” Fear in all of these situations can prevent us from taking action, right? Fear nibbles at our heels and creates static noise in our heads.

But Jesus silences fear with His love. He brings peace… His perfect peace to all who trust in Him. Practically, it might be a bit of rough road getting from here to there. That’s okay. Remember, He is always with us. Give Him your fears and your anxious heart and enjoy the harmony of His peace.

 

 

(c) 2019 Rich Ronald.

The Last Day is really the First Day!

As we concluded our time in Israel our tour guide, Ronen, challenged us with these encouraging words: “Make your nine days in The Land a collective Day One.”

Days Two and Beyond are what we do with the experiences we just encountered.

This has been my fourth trip to Israel. And each time I’ve enjoyed a very special heart-to-heart connection with my Father and Savior.

But we are always encouraged to give away that which we have received, right? And that’s why I’m passionate about The Land. That’s why I want as many people to experience it for themselves.

On our final day in Israel, we began it six miles south of Jerusalem in Bethlehem. Amazing to see the Herodian, the ruins of Herod’s palace. To think that Jesus was born in its shadow, and to see what became of the followers of Herod and the ways of Rome. I’m thankful for the grace and life of the little baby born in Bethlehem! And the significance of that life on all mankind, even you and me 2000+years later!

Children, you belong to God, and you have defeated these enemies. God’s Spirit is in you and is more powerful than the one who is in the world.
1 John 4:4 CEV

We then went up to Jerusalem and followed the path of Yeshua from the Mt. of Olives on Palm Sunday, to the Garden of Gethsemane, to the Antonian Fortress along the Via Dolorosa, to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is the site of the crucifixion and the tomb.

My favorite spot today? Praying with a young man in our group on the Mt. of Olives. It was a special last day! Or like our guide says, the first day!

Off to Turkey for a few sites and then home!

I’m so very thankful for this opportunity to experience The Land. It’s such a special place.

Shalom!

_____

Come with me to Israel! I’ll be bringing a group back to The Land in October. Please join us!For more info go to www.gtitours.org/trip/ronald19

Praying at The Wall.

Day Seven.

Although many might disagree, it’s just a wall. God does not live in the wall. He does not need to open and read the prayers inscribed on tiny pieces of paper and left in small crevices. The prayers offered here at the wall won’t be answered with any greater priority. It’s just a bunch of massive stones that Herod had taken from a nearby quarry and stacked on top of each other.

But for many, these 2000+ year old stones are the closest they’ll ever get to the Holy of Holies today. You see, the ancient temple, destroyed in 70 AD, used to run east and west at the top of Mt. Moriah. The eastern porticoes were for the Gentiles. The further west you went, the holier it became, until finally one reached the Most Holy Place, which was fairly close to this foundation wall in the heart of Jerusalem.

So, did I offer a prayer at the wall? Sure! Was there something special about those few moments of one-on-one communication with the One True God? Absolutely! But it’s not about the stone! And I know that those who pray here regularly understand that.

It’s awesome to get to pray here. It’s not about the stone, it is about who is your sure foundation?! What is the bedrock of truth in your life. Does that make sense?

On this day, many families were celebrating their son’s bar-mitzveh. The dads beamed with great pride! The sons were greatly moved at this new direction in their journeys.

There was prayer, reciting and reading Scripture, music, dancing and great joy! At first, we felt like outsiders. But this is a public celebration, and our group was included, even if just for a few minutes. Fun!

We also went up to the Mount, where the temple used to be. There’s a Muslim shrine in its place now. Part of the politics of The Land. And a good reminder that for those of us who believe, thanks to the sacrifice of the Lamb, God makes His residence in our hearts.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? …for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.
1 Corinthians 3:16‭-‬17 NIV

The Southern Steps are always one of my favorite sites. We get to stand on 2000 year old stones and read Acts 2, which is the story of the day the Church was born. The people of God were celebrating Shavuot. We call it Pentecost. They were celebrating the day Moses brought the Law of God down from the mountain. And God chose that very day to release His Holy Spirit for us all!

So many amazing sites and stories in this Land!

Shalom!

_____

I’m here in Israel preparing for a Biblical Study Tour in October. I would love to have you join me in The Land! For more information go to gtitours.org/trip/ronald19.

#gtipastors

Let us go up to the House of the Lord!

Day Six.

We said goodbye to the Sea of Galilee this morning and traveled across the Land to the west and south and up to Jerusalem!

Our first stop was the Roman city of Scythopolis. Interesting, before it was a Roman city it was the Israelite tel called Bet She’an. A tel is a large hill upon which multiple civilizations were built on top of each other. Then, when the Romans came to the Land, they built a major city at the base of the tel.

Why here in this spot?

It has water. It is defensivable. It has crops and agriculture nearby. And it is along a major crossroad and highway.

It is a major cultural hub. And a place with great influence in the Land. I think the faith lesson for us here is a reminder to not let us be influenced by the culture, but rather we can make it our aim to be people of faith who influence the culture for the Kingdom of God. (See Romans 12:2, for example). Whether it was the judgment of God against the excesses and carnality of Rome, or merely a natural event, this beautiful city was destroyed by an earthquake in 749 AD.

From here we visited Magiddo, Mt. Carmel and Caesaria along the Mediterranean Sea.

Tonight, we have reached the House! We will spend the next three days in Jerusalem! Why? To see the sites, to study the Word and to praise the Lord!

That is where the tribes go up— the tribes of the Lord — to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel.
Psalm 122:4 NIV

Shalom!

_____

I’m here in Israel preparing for a Biblical Study Tour in October. I would love to have you join me in The Land! For more information go to gtitours.org/trip/ronald19.

#gtipastors