Tag Archive | favor

Got Favor?

Gas GaugeIn May of 2002, I was preaching a crusade in Nigeria. After about a week of wonderful meetings, it was time to once again climb aboard a plane and head back across the Atlantic. As we were about to leave, we were praying with our host pastor, Dr. Nick Ezeh, and rejoicing in what God had done in the meetings. After saying our goodbyes, we turned and walked into the terminal only to be confronted by these disturbing words on the flight schedule screen:

Flight #— to Lagos: CANCELLED

Now, in the U.S., this is not really a huge issue. When a flight is cancelled, most of the time, there is another flight within hours. However, since we were in Calabar, Nigeria, and not Cleveland, Ohio, this was not the case. If we missed our connection in Lagos, the next available flight was FOUR DAYS LATER!

At this point, our team shifted into overdrive, trying desperately to speak to someone who might have a solution to our dilemma. We quickly discovered that there was a flight to Lagos from another town called Port Harcourt. The flight was scheduled to leave in 3 hours and 45 minutes. Great, right? Except for one small problem…

Port Harcourt was 3½ hours away.

If we left immediately, we would have a fifteen minute margin of error. If we hit traffic, had any mechanical issues, or were in any other way delayed, chances were good that we would not make our connection, and would have to get comfortable for a four-day layover. Our team quickly gathered all of our gear, and got back into the vehicles for the long ride to Port Harcourt.

Now, one thing about Nigeria is that twice a year they shut down all of the oil refineries for a week or two for scheduled maintenance, thus creating shortages, rationing, and gas station shutdowns all over the country. It just so happened that that shutdown fell during our visit. The whole time we were there, we witnessed lines at gas stations that made the U.S. gas lines of the 1970’s look like the express line at Wal-Mart. About an hour into our drive, I glanced down at the gas gauge of our borrowed vehicle, and noticed that the needle was below empty. Our driver, a very nice Nigerian gentleman by the name of A.G. Bright didn’t seem too concerned. I leaned forward and asked him if the gauge was broken.

“No, my brother,” he answered, “but God will provide, for we prayed for mercy on this journey. Also, you and Dr. Ezeh are God’s men… He will surely see us through.”

It is difficult to admit this, but my faithless soul was not comforted. As we drove on, my mind was filled with visions of our stranded team, standing by our vehicles in the middle of the sweltering Nigerian jungle, or worse, being taken captive by rebels or robbers.

As my mind raced through the worst possible of scenarios, all of a sudden, I heard the sound of singing. Mr. Bright had started singing praises to God, and was quickly being joined by others in the vehicle. As the praises went up from our SUV, my faithless heart still continued to fret, expecting our engine to come to a grinding halt at any second. However, after another HOUR of unrelenting driving, we came to a crossroads, with a gas station that stood like an oasis at the intersection. As we pulled in, we questioned whether or not it was even open, since it was without the massive lines we had witnessed everywhere else. Upon discovering that it was open, we soon found out from the proprietor that the station had been closed for a week due to the fuel shortage, but that he had just received a shipment, and was actually re-opening his station AS WE PULLED UP!

A smiling A.G. Bright looked at me and said, “See, Pastor Phillips… God always takes care of His servants. You are in favor with God!”

While I originally told this story several years ago, it remains true today. Unlike the 3-month-old salad dressing in your refrigerator, truth does not have an expiration date. We face challenges on a daily basis. Turmoil in our financial markets, uncertainty and unrest about the state of our nation politically, and chaos and disquiet in various hot-spots around the globe make it difficult to have faith. Yet having the favor of God is not dependent upon who is king, prime minister or president. The favor of God does not hinge on “bull markets” or diversified portfolios. The favor of God is not even affected by our immediate circumstances… our job, our family, or even our gas gauge. The favor of God is about His goodness and His faithfulness. We receive God’s favor, not because we are good, but because HE is good.

Driving down those dirty, pot-hole infested roads of Nigeria that day, Mr. Bright became a shining example of how we get ahold of that favor.

Mr. Bright prayed… He prayed a prayer that said, “God, here is what I am expecting, and no one will be more surprised than me if You don’t come through.” (Contrast this with the prayer that many of us pray: “God, here is my need, and I will be shocked if You actually answer me.”

Mr. Bright walked by faith… He put his proverbial “money where his mouth was”. He had no choice but to move forward by faith, and he did it with gusto, literally driving into the unknown with nothing but a belief that God is true to His word and to His children.

Mr. Bright worshipped… He didn’t sit there and fret about the gas gauge. He opened his mouth and declared God’s goodness and faithfulness in advance.

What a powerful lesson! I want to be like Mr. Bright. I want to be the one who walks in favor, stands in favor, and lives in favor! I want to be the one whose life is centered in His presence, and in the blessing that God gave Moses for the children of Israel…

“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.
So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
~ Numbers 6:24-27

That is the kind of favor I want.

How about you?

Pastor Ron

When The Evidence is Overwhelming…

st-peter-and-st-john-at-beautiful-gate.jpg!LargeA man was healed… A testimony was given… God was glorified…

And for their effort, Peter and John were sent to jail.

After healing a lame beggar in Acts 3, Peter and John have the opportunity to share the message of Jesus with the astonished crowd that gathered. Peter reminds the crowd of their deplorable treatment of Jesus, but then declares in verse 16…

 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

Because of their declarations of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the religious leadership opted to lock Peter and John up for the night. But not before, as chapter 4, verse 4 goes on to state, many more believed, and the numbers of believers increased.

To make a long story short, the next day, Peter and John were taken before the Sanhedrin, where they proceeded to continue to proclaim the name of Jesus, going as far as to declare that Jesus is…

“‘… The ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”   ~ Acts 4:11-12 (NKJV)

Upon their release, Peter and John reported to their people (believers) about what had transpired. What happened next was an impromptu prayer meeting, in which the people prayed…

“… And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy word, by stretching forth Thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of Thy holy child Jesus.”

 ~ Acts 4:29-30 (KJV)

 These verses are an oft overlooked, yet very good lesson for all of us. In the contentious social climate in which we live, this is a model prayer of boldness in the face of threats and terror, a boldness that refuses to be bullied by the arrogance of men, popular opinion, and political correctness. The Greek word for boldness that we see here is parresia, which means “freedom to speak”. Just as Peter and John testified in the face of ugly threats by religious leaders, we are to stand up in the face of a godless and deceptive culture and respond to their accusations and threats with signs and wonders (v.30).

Another interesting point is the word behold (v.29). This word does not mean to simply “look at”, but “God, You look at them and fix YOUR gaze upon them.” How many times have you seen a child back down from some form of folly simply because of the disapproving gaze of a parent? This is basically saying, “God… stare ’em down!”

ExecutionLook folks… the message of the Gospel is a tough message. While yes, it is a message of love and hope in Christ, it is also a message of self-sacrifice, self-denial, and isolation (though none go with me, still I will follow). These days, there is no shortage of those who would try to intimidate us into silence and isolation. For Christians to speak the truth, we face the backlash of public scorn and ridicule, threats from governmental entities (such as the IRS), or threats of physical violence from groups, organizations, and religions who would terrorize us. Yet, we are not to cower in the face of opposition. We are not to remain silent during such threatenings. Recently, I wrote a book called The Unraveling of America. I didn’t write it because I was trying to make friends… I wrote it because the truth had to be told, regardless of how hard a truth that was.

So why should any of us take such risks? Why should we declare the truth? Because we are called to be salt and light. We are called to a life of faith, for it is only by faith that we can please God (Heb. 11:6). But we can also rest assured that, when we speak the truth, and live according to God’s direction, He shows up. Look at verse 31 of Acts 4…

And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

God is not going to leave you hanging.

In Him is truth.

In Him is power.

In Him there is no lack.

That is Good News for me and you!

Pastor Ron

Law and Order

Chalk outline - personBack a few years ago, a very popular television show saw the end of a successful 20-year run. Law & Order was a drama, often based on actual police and judicial cases, in which a crime was committed, followed by courtroom drama in the prosecution of the accused. The show was so popular, it produced an offshoot series — Law & Order: SVU.

So… if Law & Order was so popular on TV, why is the rule of law and order not popular in today’s culture?

We live in a society based on laws. When people enter into public office, in most cases, they put their hand on a Bible and swear to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. As Americans, our allegiance is not to a person… it is to a document that embodies the laws of the land. Article 2, Section 1, Clause 8 of the Constitution reads…

“Before he [President] enters the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—’I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'”

First_amendment_engraving,_Washington_DCIn a nation built on the rule of law, it is unacceptable for those in authority to allow those laws to go unheeded, ignored, and disobeyed. Yet, in recent years, we have seen our laws be ignored time and again, both by criminals on the street, and powerful individuals in the halls of government. Whether it is private citizens breaking the law, or a President of the United States ignoring the law, both will lead to anarchy if left unchecked.

In the midst of so much societal unrest in our nation right now, we hear much talk about the First Amendment. Again, referring back to the Constitution, the First Amendment states…

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As a Christian, I believe in freedom of religion. As an American, I believe in freedom of speech. I do believe The First Amendment  guarantees the right to protest peacefully.

However…

When protests turn into the lawless chaos that we have seen over the past few years, resulting in looting, damage and loss of property, personal injury, and even death, this is not the definition of peaceful assembly. And when those in authority set the wrong example and precedent by blatantly ignoring laws, it creates an atmosphere of “anything goes” and a vacuum of absolution from personal responsibility. How can one hope to maintain a semblance of law and order when the laws you are tasked with upholding are berated and ignored… by the one tasked with upholding them.

Paul addressed the subject of authority in Romans 13 when he wrote…

 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.

Paul understood that submission to authority is not a burden, but a blessing, because by honoring authority, we honor the One who put that authority into place. There is blessing in obedience (1 Samuel 15:22).

Peter wrote that by honoring and submitting to authority, we silence “the ignorance of foolish men.”

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. ~ 1 Peter 2:13-17

Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” Sounds like solid advice for a country that suffers from a crisis of leadership.

Keep calmIf we, the Church, can be a model of humility, integrity, and consistency, we can point people, not just to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but be a shining example of the peace and blessing that come through submissive obedience. Often in the past, the church has abdicated its God-given responsibilities, taking us further down the road to governmental dependence. It is time for the body of Christ to once again be salt and light, and make a difference in a society that is flying blind. It is time for us to be an example of what a return to Godliness, law, and order looks like on a national scale.

I’m in.

How about you?

 

Pastor Ron

Justice or Judgment?

Silence in the face of extreme danger is cowardice and treason.

About two weeks ago, Iran successfully test-fired a ballistic missile that can reach all of our bases in the Middle East and Europe, as well as the nation of Israel. It is bad enough for Iran to do this since the Obama Administration-hailed nuclear agreement was enacted in January. However…

This is the third time.

MissilesThree times since January, Iran has thumbed its nose at the feckless world community, and openly continued testing its weapons of war. To add insult to injury, one of the missiles that was fired in March had the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” written on the side of it in Hebrew. The missile testing ban (in place since 2010) was lifted by the U.N Security Council as a part of the nuclear deal, being replaced by a resolution “calling on” Iran not to participate in missile testing. It would seem that the idea is, if we ask nicely, they’ll stop testing.

So how’s that working out for everyone?

D-DayOur active military forces have been diminished to their lowest point since prior to the end of World War 2. While our enemies mock us, terrorists attack us and our allies, and our economy continues to languish, President Obama and national leaders are busy wringing their hands over transgender bathrooms. It is no wonder that the American people — both Republican and Democrat — are choosing outsiders to overthrow establishment and career politicians. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan doesn’t know if he can support the Republican party’s nominee, political outsider and businessman Donald Trump. Speaker Ryan might want to take a page from history: In 2014, Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor ignored the will of the people and lost re-election to Tea Party candidate Dave Brat, in spite of a 30-point lead in the polls, and outspending Brat 40 times over.

The good will of the American people has reached a tipping point. People are fed up and disgusted with a Congress that has done little-to-nothing in the face of the disarming of America, ISIS terror, the lowest middle class income in 18 years, the worst conditions for minorities in 3 decades, $19 trillion in debt, the attack on the 2nd Amendment (gun rights), the erosion of religious liberty, and Islamic aggression.

Where is the hope and change we were promised?

In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama ran on a platform of hope and change. So where is it? Why have we diminished ourselves in the name of progress? Why are we no longer respected by our friends, and feared by our enemies? Our nation is in grave danger and we need a turnover and turn-around in Washington DC.

We need reform now.

  • When Bible-believing American churches are rendered mute by political correctness and cowardice, and Biblical standards are waived for cultural compromise, we need a change.
  • When a political candidate is applauded for declaring that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed” to accommodate abortion-on-demand, we need a change.
  • When the rights to privacy and safety of women and young girls is forced to take a back-seat to the “rights” of a man dressed up like a woman, we need a change.
  • When Christians are being slaughtered in other countries while America stands silently by and does little, we need change.

No amount of new community centers will help when daddies are not home, and the family unit is continually undermined. No amount of legislation can satisfy the corruption and degradation of the human heart. Political correctness and “common core” are not substitutes for the values of Judeo-Christian ethics and common sense. Liberalism, like any disease, will progress until it kills the body… there is no such thing as enough. Liberalism is slow-motion suicide for any nation.

Yet…

IMG_1304In spite of the dark clouds, I sense an uprising of Americans who are fed up and will pray, act, and bring our nation back from the brink. I see a movement that understands the beliefs that truly did make America great. I hear the voices that echo the call to freedom — physical and spiritual —  that can put us back on the rails of goodness, truth, justice, and sanity. Judgment is at the door. Our God is a God of love, compassion, and patience. However, He is also a God of truth, righteousness, and justice. In Romans 2, Paul warned the Christians in Rome…

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”:  Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. ~ Romans 2:4-11

America cannot continue to follow the unrighteous path she is on without severe consequences. We say we are one nation under God,  but our actions don’t show it. In the face of so much disdain for His Word, God has given us time and again to repent and return to Him. This could be Americas last hope. Amos 5:15 says…

Hate evil, love good;
Establish justice in the gate.
It may be that the Lord God of hosts
Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

We His people must not be silent. We must declare His goodness and mercy to this generation. We must refuse to back down in the face of compromise. We must decide if we will establish justice at the gate, or face judgment at the gate.

It’s up to us.

Moving Forward In Favor

It is hard to put into words all of the amazing things God did at this year’s Fresh Oil New Wine conference. Instead of a normal re-cap, I thought I would take you inside the walls of Abba’s House, and let you experience a little Fresh Oil for yourself.

What is the footstool of God on this earth?

What is the real location of the temple?

Can demons possess a Christian?

What does it take to have supernatural favor in your life?

These and other questions were answered during Fresh Oil New Wine 2016. Below is just a small sample of the hours of teaching and revelation that happened over these past 5 days.

I hope you will take the time to watch and be blessed.

Pastor Ron

FRESH OIL NEW WINE 2016 IS UNDERWAY!!!

We are off to a great start at this year’s Fresh Oil New Wine Conference! God is moving, and I am looking forward to the great things He is going to do in the lives of His people this week.

Here are a couple of clips from yesterday’s meetings. Find out more at abbashouse.com

You can watch live online during service times at abbashouse.com/live

Living In A World Of Extremes

WorshipIt is pretty apparent that we live in a world of extremes…

Over the past few years, we have witnessed some pretty extreme weather.

We have seen the rise of extreme violence and terror — unlike I have witnessed in my lifetime — because of groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.

On a daily (hourly) basis this year, we are exposed to the extreme rhetoric of political candidates, vying for the highest office in the land.

We see it all… extreme poverty, extreme hatred, extreme division…

Wouldn’t it be nice to get some extremely good news? Wouldn’t it be great to learn how, in spite of all of the bad news society throws at us, to walk in EXTREME FAVOR?

This year at our Fresh Oil New Wine Conference, we are going to learn how to walk in EXTREME FAVOR! I invite you to register now, and join me as I welcome my friends  Perry Stone, Rabbi Curt Landry, Tommy Bates, Randy Caldwell, Ronnie Phillips, Jr., Dwain Miller and a few more. There will be a Women’s Luncheon on March 9 with Susanne Cox. So much to look forward to! I hope you will join us, and find the EXTREME FAVOR you need to live a Kingdom Life!

Pastor Ron

Election 2016: In Search of The Perfect Candidate

One has only to watch the news, drive down the street, or look at social media for 2.7 seconds to realize one singular fact…

It is an election year in America.

KS77849That’s right, folks. Election Year! Placards wallpapering the roadside, political television and radio spots with the flip of every channel, unbridled rhetoric filling the walls and news feeds of Facebook and Twitter. We seem to have about every conceivable viewpoint, every imaginable ideology, and every possible position covered. We all have in our minds the perfect candidate; the one that we agree with on 99.9999% of the issues important to our nation. And while the Democratic side of the nation has far fewer candidates to choose from than the Republican side, it would seem that just about every possible ideology is represented.

Everything except, perhaps… reality.

Candidate XThe reality of the situation, particularly on the conservative side of things, is that we are looking for someone who does not exist: The perfect candidate. We want to believe that we agree with a certain candidate about everything when we really don’t because he (or she) is “our guy”. We want to not agree with a certain candidate because they are not “our guy”. The fact of the matter is that there is not really that much that separates most of the candidates on either side. Most Republicans agree on most issues. Most Democrats agree on most issues.

So how do we pick? How do we choose the best person for the job? How do we make peace with ourselves and our ideology when “our guy” is not our nominee of choice?

There is the saying that “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And while we view the Bible from a theological standpoint, we sometimes forget the fact that it is also a book of historical events. In reading the Bible, we learn that God oftentimes used unlikely people to accomplish His purposes.

Cyrus II, King of Persia

“Cyrus the Great” was king of Persia, and was what most of us would consider “a heathen”. He was brought up in the worship of the idols of the Medes and Persians. Yet, here is what God had to say about Cyrus in Isaiah 45…

Thus says the Lord to His anointed,
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:
‘I will go before you
And make the crooked places straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
For Jacob My servant’s sake,
And Israel My elect,
I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
There is no God besides Me.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting
That there is none besides Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create calamity;
I, the Lord, do all these things.

God anointed King Cyrus to free his people from the Babylonians. Not only did Cyrus allow God’s people to return to Jerusalem to rebuild, but he charged the people living in the lands where the children of Israel lived to assist them with donations of “silver and gold, with goods and with animals, besides freewill offerings…” (Ezra 1)

God used a person of questionable spiritual standing to change the lives and destiny of His people. God didn’t just USE him… God ANOINTED Cyrus for the task. While Cyrus (followed by Darius and Artaxerxes after him) did not have the “desired” spiritual knowledge and background, what he did have were the practical knowledge, ability, resources, and authority to rebuild the temple of God, and eventually, Jerusalem itself. In Proverbs 21:1, we read…

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,
Like the rivers of water;
He turns it wherever He wishes.

 This verse doesn’t say “the Christian king” or “the Spirit-filled king”… it simply says “the king” — ANY king. Take a look at Romans 13:1…

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities,
for there is no authority except that which God has established.
The authorities that exist have been established by God. (NIV)

God puts people into authority for His purposes. Sometimes it is to judge His people. Sometimes to chastise His people. Sometimes to encourage His people. Sometimes to challenge His people. Regardless of His reason or purpose for elevating any individual, You can rest assured He has one.

And while some candidates come across as “Cyrus-like” (which, honestly, is how I view someone like Mr. Trump), still others have unabashedly courted the “evangelical vote”. While each candidate, at least on the Republican side, has expressed their belief in God, some have been more forceful about their commitment to Him. Candidates like Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and Marco Rubio have professed their Christianity in no uncertain terms. Yet even so, we have seen backbiting, personal attacks, and “dirty politics” emerge from some of these camps. We see, on both sides, candidates who have spoken favorably about one another in the past now tearing each other down on a daily basis. However, Galatians 5:15 warns us…

But if you bite and devour one another,
beware lest you be consumed by one another!

In 1980, George H.W. Bush won the Iowa caucus against former California Governor (and former Democrat) Ronald Reagan. Yet, in the end, Mr. Reagan was chosen as the Republican candidate for president. And while during the primary both candidates had their differences, they never went so far afield in their attacks that they were unable to come together, join as eventual running mates, and serve two terms together, with Mr. Bush going on to serve one more term, this time as president.

I have said all of this to encourage you… get out and vote. Be a part of the process. Make your voice heard.

But…

Someone once said, “In the primary, vote your conscience. In the general election, vote your party.” While this idea does hold some exceptions, there is some truth in it. Most every one that has a political ideology is a member of their party — Republican or Democrat — for a reason. Generally, you choose a party because of that party’s platform; the core values of the party itself. Even many “Independents” tend to lean one way or the other for the same reason. So while you go about supporting the candidate of your choice, remember these three things:

#1. Listen beyond the bluster and personalities of the candidates. We all have different personalities. Some are extroverted and loud. Some are meek and introverted. We have a tendency to want to vote for people who are like us. If that is you, just remember…

Abraham Lincoln had no denominational affiliation. Considered to be the father of the Republican party, Lincoln’s name, legacy, and words are invoked probably more than any other politician.

Harry Truman was known for his profanity. Bill Clinton was alleged to be a womanizer. Both of these men were allegedly Baptists.

Regardless of the criticism leveled at a candidate, be careful to avoid extremes in your own criticism. I have seen an amazing amount of rhetoric and vitriol leveled at certain candidates in the media, as well as on social media. You may be forced to have to swallow your pride and eat your words if your candidate is not your party’s nominee. What you should consider heavily is the candidate’s track record of success and failure, and their position on the issues that are important to you and the nation.

#2. Remember we are ALL human. We all make mistakes. We all misspeak, and say things that we wish we could take back the moment the words leave our lips. Candidates, just like the rest of us, change their minds and positions. Personally, I would rather have a leader who recognizes and is honest about his or her mistakes than someone who doubles-down on a bad position or bad decision because of pride. While we should always be wise in our choices of leaders, we need to also recognize their humanity and fallibility as well. Personally, I would love to see a born-again, Spirit-filled person elevated to office of President, but that may not be the person God has ANOINTED for the task (remember Cyrus).

KS77810#3. Vote. Abraham Lincoln once said, “He has a right to criticize who has a heart to help.” As much as I hate to say this, sometimes voting is not about picking the person who will do the most good. Sometimes, it is about picking the person who will do the least harm. Sometimes, neither candidate is ideal. Sometimes, you may feel like you are just choosing between the lesser of two evils. However, by choosing not to vote, you have voted — you chose not to support the candidate who had the best chance of success.

In Jeremiah 29:7, God told the exiled children of Israel…

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (ESV)

While this world is not our home, and we serve a higher King, we have a responsibility to be good citizens of the place where God has planted us. That means being a good neighbor, caring for our communities, and getting involved in the decision-making process — a big part of which is exercising our right to vote.

I have a friend who is recovering from cancer. In the last three years, he has been diagnosed with three different types of cancer, so it is safe to say he has been through a variety of treatments and procedures. In the last year, he has undergone five surgeries. We were recently discussing the political landscape and the election, and he put it to me this way:

“When you are going through cancer, you choose the treatment that has the best track record, the one that is going to have the best chance of saving your life. None of them are pleasant. Every treatment I have undergone has had its side-effects, pain, and associated misery. However, in the end, I just had to go with the best option, and trust God with the results. Sure, I had the choice to just do nothing, but that decision probably would have cost me my life.”

We as believers have the opportunity to be a part of turning our nation around. The candidate you get may not be the one you want, but may be the one God anointed. The next four years may not fix every ill in our nation, but may simply be a small step in the right direction. If we do our part and vote, there is still the chance we could fail.

However, if we as believers in Jesus do nothing at all, failure is guaranteed.

Why?

Because “… faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” ~ James 2:17

May America bless God once again,
Pastor Ron

Find Extreme Favor

  
This year at our Fresh Oil New Wine Conference, our theme is EXTREME FAVOR. In the tough times in which we live, with political and social unrest in our world, and terror and uncertainty on every side…

What does it take to have extreme favor in your life?

How can we have extreme favor with God?

Join me March 6-10 as I welcome some very special guests… Perry Stone, Rabbi Curt Landry, Tommy Bates, Randy Caldwell, Ronnie Phillips, Jr., Dwain Miller and more.

We also welcome back Susanne Cox for our Women’s Luncheon on March 9.

It’s time to get off the sidelines and into EXTREME FAVOR!!!

You can register online by clicking here.

For more information, please visit http://www.abbashouse.com/fonw

I hope to see YOU at Fresh Oil New Wine 2016!

No Expiration Date on Favor

Recently, at every turn, we are faced with stories meant to incite fear and worry.

ISIS.

Islam.

Ebola.

Political correctness run amok.

Healthcare.

Climate change.

It’s easy to get bogged down in gloom, despair, and depression with so much negativity right now.

That being said, let’s all pause, take a deep breath, and go back to the well of God’s mercy and grace. Today, I want to share with you something I shared back in 2013. It is truth that is just as real, and just as pertinent today as it was then, and I hope it encourages you today to trust in the favor God has for you as one of His favorite children.

got favor?

Gas GaugeIn May of 2002, I was preaching a crusade in Nigeria. After about a week of wonderful meetings, it was time to once again climb aboard a plane and head back across the Atlantic. As we were about to leave, we were praying with our host pastor, Dr. Nick Ezeh, and rejoicing in what God had done in the meetings. After saying our goodbyes, we turned and walked into the terminal only to be confronted by these disturbing words on the flight schedule screen:

Flight #— to Lagos: CANCELLED

Now, in the U.S., this is not really a huge issue. When a flight is cancelled, most of the time, there is another flight within hours. However, since we were in Calabar, Nigeria, and not Cleveland, Ohio, this was not the case. If we missed our connection in Lagos, the next available flight was FOUR DAYS LATER!

At this point, our team shifted into overdrive, trying desperately to speak to someone who might have a solution to our dilemma. We quickly discovered that there was a flight to Lagos from another town called Port Harcourt. The flight was scheduled to leave in 3 hours and 45 minutes. Great, right? Except for one small problem…

Port Harcourt was 3½ hours away.

If we left immediately, we would have a fifteen minute margin of error. If we hit traffic, had any mechanical issues, or were in any other way delayed, chances were good that we would not make our connection, and would have to get comfortable for a four-day layover. Our team quickly gathered all of our gear, and got back into the vehicles for the long ride to Port Harcourt.

Now, one thing about Nigeria is that twice a year they shut down all of the oil refineries for a week or two for scheduled maintenance, thus creating shortages, rationing, and gas station shutdowns all over the country. It just so happened that that shutdown fell during our visit. The whole time we were there, we witnessed lines at gas stations that made the U.S. gas lines of the 1970’s look like the express line at Wal-Mart. About an hour into our drive, I glanced down at the gas gauge of our borrowed vehicle, and noticed that the needle was below empty. Our driver, a very nice Nigerian gentleman by the name of A.G. Bright didn’t seem too concerned. I leaned forward and asked him if the gauge was broken.

“No, my brother,” he answered, “but God will provide, for we prayed for mercy on this journey. Also, you and Dr. Ezeh are God’s men… He will surely see us through.”

It is difficult to admit this, but my faithless soul was not comforted. As we drove on, my mind was filled with visions of our stranded team, standing by our vehicles in the middle of the sweltering Nigerian jungle, or worse, being taken captive by rebels or robbers.

As my mind raced through the worst possible of scenarios, all of a sudden, I heard the sound of singing. Mr. Bright had started singing praises to God, and was quickly being joined by others in the vehicle. As the praises went up from our SUV, my faithless heart still continued to fret, expecting our engine to come to a grinding halt at any second. However, after another HOUR of unrelenting driving, we came to a crossroads, with a gas station that stood like an oasis at the intersection. As we pulled in, we questioned whether or not it was even open, since it was without the massive lines we had witnessed everywhere else. Upon discovering that it was open, we soon found out from the proprietor that the station had been closed for a week due to the fuel shortage, but that he had just received a shipment, and was actually re-opening his station AS WE PULLED UP!

A smiling A.G. Bright looked at me and said, “See, Pastor Phillips… God always takes care of His servants. You are in favor with God!”

Now here we are today, and we face challenges like never before. Turmoil in our financial markets, uncertainty and unrest about the state of our nation politically, and chaos and disquiet in various hot-spots around the globe make it difficult to have faith. Yet having the favor of God is not dependent upon who is king, prime minister or president. The favor of God does not hinge on “bull markets” or diversified portfolios. The favor of God is not even affected by our immediate circumstances… our job, our family, or even our gas gauge. The favor of God is about His goodness and His faithfulness. We receive God’s favor, not because we are good, but because HE is good.

Driving down those dirty, pot-hole infested roads of Nigeria that day, Mr. Bright became a shining example of how we get ahold of that favor.

Mr. Bright prayed… He prayed a prayer that said, “God, here is what I am expecting, and no one will be more surprised than me if You don’t come through.” (Contrast this with the prayer that many of us pray: “God, here is my need, and I will be shocked if You actually answer me.”)

Mr. Bright walked by faith… He put his proverbial “money where his mouth was”. He had no choice but to move forward by faith, and he did it with gusto, literally driving into the unknown with nothing but a belief that God is true to His word and to His children.

Mr. Bright worshipped… He didn’t sit there and fret about the gas gauge. He opened his mouthand declared God’s goodness and faithfulness in advance.

What a powerful lesson! I want to be like Mr. Bright. I want to be the one who walks in favor, stands in favor, and lives in favor! I want to be the one whose life is centered in His presence, and in the blessing that God gave Moses for the children of Israel…

“The Lord bless you
and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;

The Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

(Numbers 6:24-27)

That is the kind of favor I want.

How about you?

Pastor Ron