Beholding the SHEKINAH GLORY

God's  GLORY Revealed

God’s GLORY Revealed

Seeing JESUS–experiencing His presence, becomes very important during the Christmas Season–in our gift buying, house decorating. cookie making, house straightening, church activities, etc…  But how about God’s GLORY, His manifested presence everyday?  Do I really want a spiritual change, a GLORY ATTITUDE in all that I do?

The Attitude of Change During the Christmas Season–

BUT…we are not changed by what we do, but by what we see.  Evidently not many of us have seen Him, because there’s something that certainly happens when you are changed from one degree of GLORY to another.

Something dramatic happens when we come in contact with the King of kings, Lord of lords, the real living JESUS.  The word “CHANGE” lets me know there’s something better to be had or there’s no need for a change.

OUR “first birth”…

At Christmas, believers reflect on the birth of Jesus in the manger.  But do we reflect on our “first birth?”

“Among these we as well as you [I’ll insert my own personal name–“MEL” for the word “you”] once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh  [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings].   We were the by nature children of  [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind”  (Ephesians 2:3 AMP).

Wow, that really sounds harsh in the reading:  “Totally depraved, dead in trespasses and sin.”

The NATURE we received at our natural birth, the NATURE of father Adam, is corrupt, unable to do a thing to please God.  In order for this to CHANGE, there must be a NEW BIRTH–John 3:6-7:

“What is born of [from] the flesh is flesh [of the physical is physical]; and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Marvel not  [do not be surprised, astonished] at My telling you,  You must all be born anew (from above).”

THE “NEW BIRTH”…

Our new spiritual birth

 

The “NEW BIRTH” is not a “rebirth.”  The TWO are totally distinct and separate and always will be.

It’s hard to understand the fact, even after we have been “BORN AGAIN”, there’s the deception of the FLESH remains in the believer.  He doesn’t do away with the “old man” but now there are TWO NATURES within me.

The apostle Paul confirmed this in Romans 7:14-17:

[14] We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am a creature of the flesh  [carnal, unspiritual], having been sold into slavery under [the control of] sin.

[15] For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered].  I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [which my moral instinct condemns].

[16] Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire,  [that means that]  I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and I take sides with it.

[17] However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me.

WE ARE NO MORE OF THIS WORLD WHEN….

When… we RECEIVE Christ Jesus.  But the FLESH is still with us and must be dealt with.

In my own life, there has not been one single spiritual experience; but a series of burials and succession of funerals.  About the time I think I have the OLD MAN buried, he seems to have the ability to RESURRECT! – “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”

GOD CALLED MOSES – Exodus 24:12-18:

In EXODUS 24 is where an invitation is given to Moses; calling him up into the mountain (Mt. Sinai) for orientation to teach the LAW.

“There they saw the God of Israel.  Under His feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself” – Exodus 24:10 (NLT).

“And the GLORY of the Lord settled down on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days.  On the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from inside the cloud.  To the Israelites at the foot of the mountain, the GLORY of the LORD appeared at the summit like a consuming fire” – Exodus 24:16, 17 (NLT).

MOSES is taken closer while others remain at a distance.  MOSES is instructed on Sinai for 40 days and nights.

Preparation Before Entering God’s Presence…

MOSES prepared himself carefully…before he left the people, he repeated God’s instructions to the people who were all too ready to agree and obey.

But WE are NOT sustained, held up by PROMISES of obedience we make but by His grace.  That at first glance may seem to be hard to grasp.

MOSES MADE SACRIFICES…

In a different light from the OT, Hebrews 13 in the NT, refers to a SACRIFICE the believers are to offer constantly and at all times:

“Through Him (Jesus), therefore let us

constantly and at all times offer up

to God a SACRIFICE of praise,

which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and

confess and glorify His name.”

(Hebrews 13:15 AMP)

MOSES made sacrifices because…you and I should make sacrifices because… you don’t approach a holy God without acknowledging His holiness and our sinfulness–FLESH.

Exodus 24:4-8:  The 12 Pillars and the Sprinkled Blood

[4] Moses wrote all the words of the Lord.  He rose up early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve pillars representing Israel’s twelve tribes.

[8]  And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said,  Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.

Our PRAYER should begin before every Sunday AM, “Lord, on this Sunday’s worship and praise, bring to my mind anything that stands between me and You so that I can confess it with my lips to You–acknowledge the forgiveness You have given me through the blood sacrifice of the Cross.”  

And YES, there is still plenty of time for fellowship AFTER…the morning services.

APPROACHING CLOSER TO GOD ON THE MOUNTAIN–

As the people approached closer, they see Him without being zapped out of existence.

-  The people remained at a distance.

-  Moses, Joshua, Nadab, Abihu, Aaron and 70 elders (Exodus 24:9-10) went further up the mountain.

-  The Moses and Joshua went up even further!

-  Then only Moses went into the cloud of God’s presence!!

GOD invites us to draw near to Him right now! As close as you choose to go.

God won’t direct your steps, your path to glory, unless you get up and start moving.

“Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are]  sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery].    [As you draw near to God] be deeply penitent and grieve, even weep [over disloyalty].  Let your laughter be turned to grief and your mirth to dejection and heartfelt shame [for your sins].    Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant]”  (James 4:8-10 AMP).

The Time is Now to Change If We Are to See His Glory…

“It doesn’t matter where you are, you are nowhere compared to where you can go.”  ~ Bob Proctor

“Show me Your Glory” (Exodus 33:18).

We’ve all witnessed someone going forward in church, kneeling and praying for a CHANGE of direction; really feeling like ones had touched God in a moment of praise.  Only to get up and go right back into the same sinful lifestyle they had been praying about.  They had not been CHANGED.

When Moses was granted his request to see GOD’S GLORY and the change that took place, God shielded him from the strongest part–HIS GLORY, HIS MANIFEST PRESENCE:

Cleft in the ROCK

Cleft in the ROCK

“And while My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.  Then I will take away My hand and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen”  (Exodus 33:22-23).

By putting His hand in front of the place Moses stood, all he saw was the afterglow of His glory and change took place.

GOD tells His church the same as He spoke to Moses:  “You shall stand upon the rock”  (33:21).  

“…and the Rock was Christ”  (1 Corinthians 10:4 (b).)

MOSES was so changed to the point that his face had such a GLOW he had to wear a Veil (Ex. 34:29).

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him as He is”  (1 John 3:2 NIV).

The AMPLIFIED BIBLE says it this way: “when He comes and is manifested…”  We will see His GLORY! 

So How Close to God Would You Like to Get?

If we are wanting the CHANGE to take place in our lives, we’re going to have to go beyond just being in His presence.

“THE MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION” –  (Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2):

We’ve found in looking at the OT, a CLOUD that was the visible token of God’s presence; He came down upon Mt. Sinai in a thick cloud; But we are now come, not to the MOUNT covered with thick blackness and darkness, but to the MOUNT covered with a bright cloud (Matthew 17:5).

Both the OT and the NT had tokens of God’s presence; but that was a DISPENSATION of darkness, and terror, and bondage of the Old Testament.  This CLOUD was intended to break the force of that great light (GLORY) that would have overcome the disciples, and have been intolerable; It was like the VEIL which Moses put upon his face when it shone

There came a VOICE out of the cloud…

This was the VOICE of God, who now, as of old, spake in the cloudy pillar (Psalm 99:7; Matthew 17:5).

There was no thunder, or lightning, or voice of a trumpet, as there was when the Law was given to Moses, but only a VOICE–a still small voice.  

Not ushered in with a strong wind, or an earthquake, or fire, as when God spake to Elijah.  Moses then and Elijah were witnesses that in these LAST DAYS…God will speak to us by His Son in a different way.  This VOICE came from the SPLENDID, EXCELLENT, MAJESTIC GLORY:

“For when He (Jesus) was invested with honor and glory from God the Father and a voice was borne to Him by the [splendid] Majestic Glory [in the bright cloud that overshadowed Him, saying],  This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased and delight”  (2 Peter 1:17 AMP).

Although Jehovah showed Himself to Moses in some peculiar form of manifestation, He never appeared in His own essential GLORY, but only in such a form human weakness could stand (2 Corinthians 3:16).

Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the VEIL is taken away:

“And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the GORY of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for the comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit”             (2 Corinthians 3:18 AMP).  *[Note: I capitalized the word GLORY for emphasis.]

So if you are wanting a change to take place in your life–a real presence of Christ and not a pretend presence, it’s evident that you (we) are going to have to go beyond just being in His presence at the foot of the mountain.

A DESIRE that Begins at the Foot of the Mountain

With a desire to prepare, and to know, when you ask to enter God’s GLORY, you will reflect on Moses’ experience on top of the mountain:

“And when the LORD saw that he (Moses) turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the bush and said, Moses, Moses!  And he said, Here am I”  (Exodus 3:4).

Is this your answer on during the  Christmas Season and beyond?  “Here am I.”

AND God said,

“Do not come near; put your shoes off your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground”  (verse 5).

ASKING YOURSELF THE QUESTIONS:  “Here I am Lord. What’s Next?”

“Am I tired of stale bread crumbs on the church floor as I enter into worship and praise on Sunday mornings?” 

“Am I content, comfortable, satisfied at the base of the mountain, or do I want to prepare myself for the climb to the top?”


Credits:

Bible Translations:  New Living Translation (NLT); The AMPLIFIED Bible (AMP).

Photos:  Photo Pin

There’s Another Day Beyond This One–and It’s A GIFT!

The GIFT is already here!

The GIFT is already here!

During the Holiday Season, so many people like to emphasize the GIVING experience.  We even quote Scripture to punctuate our giving experience:  “For God so greatly loved and clearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son…” ~ John 3:16.

But what I want to discuss in this particular blog-Post is,  how we can we thoroughly partake in what God has already given?

The GIFT – God gave to us all and now… we need to reach out and receive.  We’ll never know what’s on the inside unless we RECEIVE!

Scriptural Text:

EXODUS 15:22-27 AMPLIFIED BIBLE:

[22] Then Moses led Israel on-ward from the Red Sea and they went into the Wilderness of Shur; they went three days [thirty-three miles] in the wilderness and found no water.

[23] When they came to Marah, they could not drink its waters for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah

Oasis of Marah (Bitter Waters)

Oasis of Marah (Bitter Waters)

[bitterness].

[24] The people murmured against Moses, saying,  What shall we drink?

[25] And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree which he cast into the waters, and the waters were made sweet.  There [the Lord] made for them a statute and an ordinance,  and there He proved them,

[26] Saying,  If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God and will do what is right in His sight, and will listen to and obey  His commandments  and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I brought upon the Egyptians, for I am the Lord Who heals you.

[27] And they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they encamped there by the waters.

HOW GOD REVEALS TO US HIS CHARACTER, HIS NATURE IN THE BIBLE:

GOD has revealed Himself in various ways in the Bible for us to better understand His character–who He is by indication in His name.  [See Footnote [i]- source for the following names listed.]

*  ELOHIM=Creator, Preserver, Keeper of His Covenant.

*  EL-SHADDAI=Almighty God, Our all-sufficient supply, Restorer of power, gifts, and the One Who makes us fruitful.

*  ADONAI=Lord–Owner of all!

*  JEHOVAH=LORD–holiness (Truth Revealer), righteousness, redemption.

After being married to my dear wife for over fifty years, our relationship has grown even closer; utilizing the names we have for each other: honey (sweetness), sweetheart (character; heart), babe (physical attraction), and other descriptive qualities that will go unmentioned.  The names we’ve chosen shows the endearing relationship we have for one another.

GOD REVEALS HIS NATURE IN SCRIPTURE:  (*Footnotes [i].)

The names of God which He progressively reveals Himself in the OT is a response to His people’s progressing needs:

*  ABRAHAM in his test to offer up his son Isaac on Mt. Moriah.  JEHOVAH- JIREH=The God Who provides.  God provided a SACRIFICE.  And there, caught in the thorny bushes, a ram.  The GIFT had been provided and Abraham gladly received.

*  The PASSOVER LAMB, who would be slain so God’s people could go free (from Egypt) and Christians could be set free from the power of sin through “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world”.

And from this experience came the expression “on the mount of the Lord it will be provided.”  And so it was, 2000 years later (Now 2000 years ago!) – on Mt. Moriah, which is, geographically CALVARY–“That’s where Jerusalem was built.”

These stories are all lessons to us.  In fact…the whole of the OT is!

“Now these things befell them by the way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax (their consummation and concluding period)”  (1 Corinthians 10:11 amp).

I hope this study will speak to you as you’re reading and meditating on the application in your life.

JEHOVAH-ROPHE:

GOD REVEALS something else of His nature.

*  That He is the HEALER.

*  The LORD who HEALS.

In the verses above from Exodus 15, basically, God’s people have made it out of Egypt through the Red Sea.  After 400 years captive in slavery, and God providing the way of escape, they came out with Excitement, Expectation, and Energy!  This carries them on day one into the desert (they don’t notice the heat or thirst at this point).

Then comes day TWO…and their throats become progressively dry and parched.

Then comes day THREE…and they really start to moan!  I wonder in the story who or what was bitter here!

Then they see the water!  Yippee!!  An Oasis!!!  “God, you’ve done it!”  UP! – But the water taste foul.  DOWN – Undrinkable, Bitter, Frustration, Disillusionment.  They get more bitter from the experience and decide to take it out on Moses.  He then takes it out on God.

“Bitterness” -

Bitterness described in the Bible as a spiritual poison (Hebrews 12:15).  It can be tricky to recognize because it’s NOT a symptom that’s visible on the surface like anger.  Bitterness is an underlying problem that often goes unnoticed in the believing Christian.  It doesn’t manifest on the outside and yet it sours the inside spirit of man.

“BITTERNESS” IN THE DESERT:   

It becomes a test–

Not of them to God (as they think: “will He come up with the goods?”), but God to them.  He has a lesson for them to learn.

“GET…(receive)THAT TREE…THE WOOD”

‘Throw the tree in the water and you’ll be okay.’  In fact: follow the LORD’s commands and statutes (decrees) and NONE of these diseases will hit you, for I AM JEHOVAH-ROPHE:

ROPHE meaning in the Hebrew language:  “Restore to heal, to make healthful – in body, mind and spirit”  (*See Footnote [ii].).

HEALING is in the Name and Nature of God–

Psalm 103:1-3:

“BLESS  (AFFECTIONATELY, gratefully praise)  the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!  [2] Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] ALL His benefits–  [3] Who forgives [every one of] ALL your iniquities,  Who heals [each one of] ALL your diseases,…”

So if this is so in God’s nature, why is there so much sickness?

It boils down to why God’s first name was revealed–SIN.  I’m not saying specifically because I, you, have sinned (though that may be the case and the cause)  Cf John 9.  BUT because of the PROBLEM of sin in the world.

-  The world going away from Him.

-  Us going away.

-  The pollution of power of sin.

That is the real problem!

THE SOLUTION TO SICKNESS:

It’s the hand out–

1.  For reaching out and taking and receiving…

2.  It’s the wood nearby…

3.  The tree.

The PROBLEM just might be “Bitterness”–

-  Of heart, of life.

-  Within you.  Your name is “Marah.”

-  Maybe a death in your family that goes unexplained.

-  Perhaps what you’ve done to others…or what they’ve done to you.

-  And there’s a need for forgiveness–one way or another.

-  Your experiences, memories?

-  Who did what?  Who hurt you?  It’s all tied together.

-  And so is the SICKNESS:  spirit, sin and unforgiveness affects the mind, which affects the body.

And the ANSWER is there to RECEIVE–THE WOOD–THE CROSS.

THE "WOOD" of the CROSS

THE “WOOD” of the CROSS

FORGIVENESS from God through repentance releases God’s hand in your life.  What WATER has flown through your life?

“You have made me drink bitter waters!”

The ANSWER IS JESUS:

JESUS answering the Samaritan woman at the well when He was asked, “You being a Jew, how is it that you are asking me for a drink of water?”  Jesus answered her,

“If you had only known and had recognized God’s gift

and Who this is that is saying to you, Give Me a drink,

you would have asked Him [instead] and He would have given you

living water.”

~ John 4:10~

If you find yourself with a dry, parched throat and DOUBT of the OUTCOME…

5583389970_d676214c49

John 4:11-12:  “She said to Him, Sir,  You have nothing to draw with [no drawing bucket] and the well is deep; how then can You provide living water? [Where do You get Your living water?]  [12] Are You greater than and superior to our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well and who used to drink from it himself, and his sons and his cattle also?”

John 4:13-15:  “JESUS answered her,  All who drink of THIS water will be thirsty again.  [14] But whoever takes a drink of THE water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more.  But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling)  [continually]  within him unto (into, for) eternal life.  [15] The woman said to Him, Sir, give me THIS water, so that I may never get thirsty nor have to come  [continually all the way]  here to draw.”

John 7:37-39:  “Now on the final and most important day of the Feast, Jesus stood, and cried in a loud voice, If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink!  [38] He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said,  From his innermost being shall flow  [continuously] springs and rivers of living water.  [39] But He was speaking here of the Spirit, Whom those who believed cr(trusted, had faith) in Him were afterward to receive.  For the [Holy] Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (raised to honor).”

Revelation 22:1-3:  “THEN HE showed me the river whose waters give life, sparkling like crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and of the Lamb  [2] Through the middle of the broadway of the city; also, on either side of the river was the tree of life with its twelve varieties of fruit, yielding each month its fresh crop; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing and the restoration of the nations.  [3] There shall no longer exist anything that is accursed (detestable, foul, offensive, impure, hateful, or horrible).  But the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall worship Him [pay divine honors to Him and do Him holy service].”

Revelation 22:17:  “The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say, Come!  And let who is listening say, Come!  And let everyone come who is thirsty [who is painfully conscious of his need of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened]; and whoever [earnestly] desires it, let him come,  take,  appropriate,  and drink the water of Life without cost.”   

IN GOD’S WISDOM, THERE’S A PRIORITY LIST TO FOLLOW:

#1.  Getting right with God comes first (and getting right with others).

#2.  The healing of the Spirit.

#3.  Then the healing of the mind.  PEACE!  How often is that mentioned in the Bible?  365 times!

#4.  The body.  Because that does matter to God.  The Israelites in the desert needed a DRINK, here!  And, God knew that.

#5.  Look at all the physical healings of Jesus.

All Christians get HEALED 100%–

Healing of the spirit comes first and if that’s true, and Scripture backs up the percentage, there should be no more fear.

It’s when we get taken to be with the LORD.  The Lord’s GIFT has already been given.  It is time to reach out and RECETHE ACTION COMES WITH THE GIFT:

Every man and woman must have their MARAH moment to drink; sour or bitter tastes in the mouth.  Life is full of disappointments, trouble, stress, losses, conflict, sickness…

But GOD had a remedy for Moses.  God told Moses to get that tree over there, toss it in the water and the act of God created SWEETNESS out of BITTERNESS.

BUT THERE’S MORE!

The Elims of Life–“And they came to Elim…” (VERSE 27)

ELIM WILL ALWAYS FOLLOW MARAH

ELIM WILL ALWAYS FOLLOW MARAH

What every one of us must realize, just as there are the “MARAH’S”, the bitterness of life, there are also the “ELIMS” of life.  “Elim” will always follow a “Marah”.

“…where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they encamped there by the waters”  (Exodus 15:27).

The LIVING WATER is there for you to partake of.  Now you need to go and RECEIVE the sweetness and encamp there in the midst of your doubt.

LIVING WATER

LIVING WATER

 


FOOTNOTES:

[i]  Names of God/Bible.org – https://bible.org/article/names-god/

[ii] Expository Dictionary Of Bible Words.

PHOTO CREDITS:

- Photo Pin.

- Unknown (Wood Cross)

- Lessing Images.com

- The Exodus Route: Marah/Elim @ www. bible.ca/archeology/bible-archeology/-exodus-route-marah

CREDITS:

AMPLIFIED BIBLE translation.

VINE’S COMPLETE EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT WORDS

Young’s Bile Dictionary by G. Douglas Young, PhD

 

 

 

“Feeling Stuck In Life With Just Watching the Sheep?”

"Do I really have to...?"

“Do I really have to…?”

The Phoebe Knapp Story–[*See Footnote [i]]

In 1873, those who probably knew Phoebe Knapp as nothing but an organist at her Methodist church in NYC.  She was a wealthy enough woman–her parents had left a large estate.  But much of it was tied up in her husband’s company National Union Life and Limb.

Nowadays, that company takes its name from the Metropolitan District of New York City, which eventually became successful and know as MetLife.

“Phoebe who?”

Phoebe Knapp

Phoebe Knapp

But in 1873, Phoebe wasn’t all that special.  During The Great Financial Panic of 1873, a similar version to The Great Depression, businesses were failing and the insurance market was in jeopardy.  But Phoebe and Joe felt called to providing insurance.  They stuck it out, and with God’s providence were able to continue their business.

Then in the 1880’s, comparative wealth rolled around.  With hard work and being in the right place at the right time, defining most businesses, Joe and Phoebe Knapp were able to gain wealth and fame running an American icon like MetLife.

But the Knapp’s most enduring legacy came in the depths.  In 1873, Phoebe was just an organist at church, she and her husband were best known for their piety.  But the KEY to who they were was their TRUST IN GOD and letting Him work through them through their circumstances.

THE SIMILARITY TO MOSES’ LIFE:  “I KNOW I’M A PRINCE, BUT I FEEL STUCK JUST WATCHING THE SHEEP!”

[Scripture Verses: Exodus 3:1-16; 4:1; 10-13]

God Had A Plan for Moses – Exodus 3…

When MOSES set out to accomplish righteous ends using his own methods, things didn’t go well.  When he set out to accomplish righteous ends using GOD’S METHODS…things worked out better.  But still, Moses was stuck out in the desert.  Casually reading the story in Exodus, for all practical purposes, MOSES was a nobody.

He was a man who was prince of Egypt, and now he finds himself watching sheep (Exodus 3:1).  Talk about a waste of potential. But GOD had a plan for Moses.  If God wants to do something, it’s going to happen!

God wanted Moses to be…THE MAN…the man who gave Israel His deliverance.  So God did something He doesn’t often do.  He called Moses directly (Exodus 3:2-4).

2818620403_263a50e67a

We all have some image in our minds of the BURNING BUSH.  It’s a famous encounter when God calls man, asks man to join Him in what He’s doing or about to do.  God still calls us today, even if He is less dramatic about it.  I’m not saying we can’t have a “burning bush” moment is life, because I’ve listened to others testimony.

Our sometimes responses…

I love looking at the JOY in peoples faces serving in ministry of the church by responding to God’s call.  For whatever reason, when God calls, their response is more like that of MOSES–Here I am, Send him/her.  

I have often heard the statistic “20% of the people in church do 80% of the work.”  Why is that the case?  One answer, one that I’ve found to be true in my own personal Christian walk is illustrated by the QUESTIONS of Moses, and more importantly, the ANSWERS God gives.

When God Calls Us to Join Him…

It’s pretty natural to have questions.  After all, He’s God, and well…we’re not.  How we answer these questions determines what part we’ll have in His work.

The Call from a Burning Bush – (Exodus 3:2-11)

6284178236_e6cacb55d2Notice in these verses Moses has a very natural reaction to God’s call in his life.

Here is GOD ALMIGHTY, calling out of a “burning bush, telling MOSES you’re to act on My behalf as Israel’s Deliverer.  That’s no easy task.  Moses’ track record already shown he can take God’s call and mess it up.  So what’s Moses’ first question?

“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  (Exodus 3:11 AMP).

In this age where SELF-ESTEEM is so important to teach our children, God has an interesting answer:

“I shall surely be with you…”  (3:12)

Notice God doesn’t say, “Oh, Moses you’ve been trained” or “Moses you’re good man.”  No, God says, ‘Who you are isn’t important.’

“IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER” 

Lacking in self-confidence during my teenage years, as most teenagers do, especially in the case of asking girls out on a date, I tried to build up my courage while in front of the bathroom mirror.  While getting ready for the big evening, I began singing loudly a lyric from Peggy Lee’s hit…“Mr. Wonderful” [ii].  However, I modified the words “Mr. Wonderful, that’s you'” to “Mr. Wonderful, that’s ME.”  Although it didn’t work too often, I enjoyed irritating my 7 year younger brother as he walked down the hallway.

Acting without CONFIDENCE…

I know people like that–venturing out into life with little or no confidence in what they have been asked to accomplish.  And yet, what is God’s answer?

It doesn’t matter who you are–what experience you have, or lack thereof–I’ve called you, and there’s only one thing you need to know–I’m with you.

MOSES’ SECOND QUESTION–

So, if it doesn’t matter who Moses is, then Moses asks the next logical question “OK, God, then who are you?”

The way Moses asks this question, I get the impression Moses is perhaps thinking back in time why he fled Egypt in the first place.  Notice his words in Exodus 3:13:

“When I come to the Israelites and say to them,  The God of your father has sent me to you, and they say to me,  What is His name?  What shall I say to them?”

In Exodus 2:14, Moses remembering what the Hebrew said when trying to intervene in their fight…”Who made you prince and a ruler over us?”  “What gives you the right?”

You see, people DON’T like being in charge and still are stuck on the first question of “Who am I?”  They’re the type who wants God’s ‘help’, yet not His leadership.

“GOD IS GOD, AND WE’RE NOT!”

That’s why Moses gets God’s name.  God isn’t the God of some particular thing, He’s just God!

“And God said to Moses,  I AM WHO I AM and I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE; and He said,  You shall say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you!”  (Exodus 3:14).

THAT statement alone is MYSTERY in and of itself–nothing can be added to it.  When people ask,  “Who does God think he is anyway?”  The answer is simply,  “I AM.”

God is allowed to be in charge, because He is God.  He was GOD yesterday, He is GOD today.  And when we’re dead and gone, GOD will still be GOD.  He is always a present tense God.

Before Abraham was,  I AM.  When He is ALPHA and OMEGA,  I AM.

Even when He hides His face, look up!  God is not dead,  “I AM”.

You see, it doesn’t matter who WE ARE.  GOD “IS”.

It’s NOT who I am, it’s who He is.

THE THIRD QUESTION OF MOSES–The TRUTH isn’t always easy to accept:

“But behold, they will not believe me or listen to and obey my voice; for they will say, The Lord has not appeared to you”  (4:1).

So Moses asks another question and…he raises it as an objection–he says…

‘Okay, I realize it’s not about me, I realize it’s who you are Lord.  But what if the people don’t believe me?’

That’s reasonable response.  I’ve imagined the same question as I sit down to write a new blog: ‘What if the people don’t believe what I’m writing– what truths am I trying to get across in my words?’

People in general like PROOF.  People want PROOF.

Our PROOF today comes from the written Word, the Bible–

For over 2000 years, eyewitness testimony and acts of God are right in front of us, so we can show consistency in what God has called us too, with what He has done in the past.

But in Moses’ time, most of them probably wouldn’t even been able to read.  So GOD talks to them in their terms.

God uses MIRACLES in His calling…

God gives Moses a MIRACLE to show that he, Moses, has been called by God.

Reenactment of MOSES holding his STAFF

Reenactment of MOSES holding his STAFF

I wondered in reading here, why doesn’t God just use a miracle and miraculously move all His people out of Egypt… without Moses?  And, why doesn’t He do the same for us today?  It would be so much easier!  But that’s not God’s style.

Following the Staff of Moses:

God gives Moses a staff–a sign to follow, but leaves the following of to the people.  You’d think that would be enough.  But Moses finally runs out of excuses.  He just lays his lack of confidence on the line:

“And Moses said to the Lord, O Lord, I am not eloquent or a man of words, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and have a heavy and awkward tongue”  (4:10).

To paraphrase Moses’ words here…‘LORD, PLEASE SEND SOMEONE ELSE.  I don’t want to do it!’  I know You made me; I know You care for me.  Moses is saying, “That’s just not who I want to be.”  

And so God says, “Okay.  Have it your way, I’ll give you Aaron.”   

Aaron isn’t always a helper–think about the Golden Calf, the grumbling and complaining.  But God says to Moses “You insist on doing it your way?  I can use that too.”  

It might not be PLAN “A”, but I’m God.  I can work with it.

GOD CARES FOR HIS PEOPLE…

But God doesn’t care about their own “self-images.”  He simply wants us to realize, it doesn’t matter who we are.  God is with us.

THE MIRACLES, the GREAT BIBLE STORIES that inspire us, that’s not what we aspire to; there is only a finite number of miracles, only so many stories to read.  Ultimately, GOD allows us to join Him.  He pleads with us to join Him.  But if we are to be God’s people, eventually we have to put up or shut up.  If we’re going to do God’s work here on earth, we must do it in HIS POWER.

THE FANNY CROSBY–[*See Footnote [iii] on the Fanny Crosby story.]

Doing God’s work in His power…

I’m sure you’ve heard this godly woman’s story before and doing the work of God in her own circumstances.

When Fanny was only six weeks old, she came down with a cold that affected her eyes.  Since the family doctor was out, a man who stood in his place; though he knew what to do, he ended up blinding the little girl instead.

Fanny  Crosby

Fanny Crosby

But God hadn’t given up on Fanny Crosby.  She was a smart girl and by the age of 10, she had memorized the entire New Testament.  When she was in her 20 s, she became a teacher and a well-known poet.

She became good friends with another school teacher at the time, a man by the name of Grover Cleveland who later became the President of the United States.  On several occasion in his Presidency, he would call Fanny to write a poem for a special occasion.

She truly was something of a wonder to behold, but even she was missing something.  When she was 30, a cholera epidemic swept through her town.  As she watched love ones die all around her, she realized even with all her great accomplishments, she only lived because of the POWER and the GRACE of God.

God had given her an amazing ability to put beautiful words down to pen based on the truths of God’s Word.  If you’ve ever sung ‘To God Be the Glory,’ you’ve sung one of her songs.  Or, ‘Jesus is Tenderly Calling’ and nearly 8000 other hymns came of this godly blind woman.

And so, in 1873, Fanny J. Crosby was living in God’s POWER, and doing His work.  At her church, the organist wanted a part in that too.  Her name was Phoebe Knapp.

Phoebe eventually could have been successful being the wife of an insurance tycoon.  But that’s not what Phoebe Knapp is known for today.  She composed a tune that she believed, had faith enough, to be of God and she wasn’t a POET.

Going to the home of her fellow church-member and friend, Phoebe asked Fanny Crosby, what does this song say to you? Phoebe played the notes on the keyboard and Fanny spoke these words:  “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.”

Having a lack of confidence in your ‘self-worth’ right now?

So it doesn’t matter if you are a farmer, a wealthy woman, a blind poet or even a “sheep watcher.”  It doesn’t matter who you are, but only who He is and what He will do through you.

You can have that BLESSED ASSURANCE, but only if JESUS is yours.  Or more importantly, that you are His.

I love the way the Amplified Bible’s reading of a verse in Philippians 4:

“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]”  ~ verse 13.

blessed-assurance_t

 SO WHAT IS YOUR STORY?

WHAT IS YOUR SONG?


FOOTNOTES:

[i] Phoebe Knapp story @ christianheritagefellowship.com/phoebe-palmer-knapp.

[ii] Title, music and Lyrics from Peggy Lee’s “Mr. Wonderful, That’s You.”

[iii] Fanny Crosby story from christianitytoday.com/Fanny Crosby/Christian History. 

PHOTO CREDITS:

Phoebe Palmer Knapp – Courtesy of the Christian Heritage Fellowship.

Fanny Crosby – Courtesy of Wikipedia/Fanny Crosby-religion.

“Burning Bush”; A man holding his “STAFF” ; and a child watching sheep- by Photo Pin.

BLESSED ASSURANCE – Courtesy of Google Images for Blessed Assurance.

BIBLE TRANSLATION USED FOR THIS POST:

Amplified Bible Translation – Published by Zondervan – http://www.zondervan.com 

 

 

 

The MYTH of “Supersessionism”

BLOG TEXT:  Amos 9:11-15 in the Amplified Bible

1292737244_68bbf41b9e

Destruction of the Temple

[11] In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David, the fallen hut or booth,  and close up its breaches; and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.  [12] That they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that are called by My name, says the Lord Who does this.  [see Acts 15:15-17.]

[13]  Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine and all the hills shall melt [that is, everything heretofore barren and unfruitful shall overflow with spiritual blessing].  [14] And I will bring back the exiles of My people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat the fruit of them.

[15] And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be torn up out of their land which I gave them, says the Lord your God.

WHAT IS SUPERSESSIONISM/REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY?

REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY (also known as “supersessionism”),  essentially teaches the CHURCH,  as we know it, has replaced Israel in God’s plan.

Supporters of this theology believe Jews are no longer God’s chosen people; and God doesn’t have specific future plans for the nation of Israel.

All the different views in the relationship between the church and Israel are divided into TWO CAMPS:  Either the church is a continuation of Israel (replacement/covenant theology), or the CHURCH is completely different and distinct from ISRAEL (dispensationalism/premillennialism.)  *[See Footnote [i].]

PROBLEMS ARISE IN “SUPERSESSIONISM”:

Replacement Theology was very popular up until the time ISRAEL was ‘reborn’ as a nation.  Before this event, it appeared impossible for PROPHECY concerning Israel to be literally fulfilled, therefore ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS were sought. Although this belief isn’t as popular today as it was prior to 1948, it is still a fairly common belief.  Those who are holding on to this belief face a three-fold problem of allegorizing Israel.

THE FIRST PROBLEM…they must explain away Scripture in the Old and New Testament.  

In the same passage found in Amos 9, God forewarns Israel will both be scattered and gathered.  Is there a conflicted meaning found here in Scripture?

Passages that are plainly stated are said to be symbolic.  When you start ALLEGORIZING Scripture, you face a bigger problem determining where to stop.  If certain passages found in the Bible we DON’T AGREE WITH are figurative, then how are we to know that passages we DO AGREE WITH aren’t figurative or metaphors?

Starting at the beginning of the Bible–

People who try to allegorize Genesis do so because they are not at odds with the doctrine of evolution.  Hell is allegorized so people aren’t offended by the thought of judgement;  Satan is allegorized because people don’t look at superstitions to the world. God’s JUDGEMENT of SIN is allegorized so people can feel OK about their lives without being challenged to live HOLY.

In the end we have watered down Scripture to the point where it’s just a book of moral stories instead of the claim the Bible makes itself in 2 Timothy 3:16:

“Every Scripture is God-breathed  (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience,  [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action).”

If we don’t believe this passage, all other doctrinal beliefs are baseless.  ALL (“every”) Scripture is an inspiration from God–or literally translated,  ALL SCRIPTURE IS ‘GOD BREATHED’, allowing the Bible to determine was is figurative and what is literal.  

“LET THE BIBLE EXPLAIN ITSELF!”

THE SECOND PROBLEM…

Those who discount Israel, by default, are claiming that God’s PROMISES have failed–the PROMISES have never been fulfilled.

Because of DISOBEDIENCE of the nation of Israel, they have been deferred, but because God gave the nation to them, without conditions, they have not and cannot be cast away.  That said, it certainly doesn’t negate individual accountability.

GOD’S GIVEN COVENANT–

ISRAEL was called by God for a PURPOSE!  Abraham and David’s promises were based on God’s COVENANT and not based on individual merit.

GOD’S COVENANT is always based on God’s character and not on man’s.  Don’t confuse PROMISE of BLESSINGS given for obedience with the PROMISES of God’s plan given by covenant.

God called ISRAEL and made it very clear that His call cannot be revoked (Romans 11).

And there’s more PROBLEMS arise in discounting ISRAEL…

IT MAKES GOD’S GRACE DEPENDANT ON MERIT.

ISRAEL is a living picture of the GRACE of GOD.  Look at your own life.  The Bible says that before we received Christ, we were at WAR with God and says that we individuals were ENEMIES of God and DEAD in our sins.  Yet, while we were enemies and spiritually dead, JESUS JUSTIFIED us by nailing our SINS with Him to His cross.  Even as ‘born-again’ Christians, many turn from God’s ways and pursue the world.  If we are truly His, the Bible says God will punish us, then lead us back to Himself.

Even though we are in DISOBEDIENCE, God still loves us.  

How many times did my parents in the raising of their two boys, punished us for our disobedience, then gave us hugs because they loved us.

And as children of God, our Father will deal with us based on our RESPONSIVENESS to His correction.  With the CHURCH and ISRAEL, the same principle applies today.

God’s Children–

We (the CHURCH), are called the Children of God, but so is ISRAEL.  Exodus 4:22 reads, “Thus says the Lord, ISRAEL is My son, even My firstborn.”

ISRAEL is the Prodigal Son–the son who left home, yet not any less than the son who stayed.  Unlike the prodigal, Israel didn’t leave with its inheritance but instead was driven away from their inheritance.

God is waiting for them to come home and then…inherit the PROMISES God has had in store all along.

GOD’S GRACE (His favor) is NOT dependant on Israel’s worthiness anymore than HIS GRACE is dependant on my righteousness.

GOD WILL GIVE THE INHERITANCE AT THE PROPER TIME:

I have been reading and studying in the Book of Amos for the past month or so.  When I finished the last chapter, the Holy Spirit directed me to expand the reading of Scripture regarding the significance of Israel’s inheritance:

 

Our names are written in God's Will

Our names are written in God’s Will

[7] This is what the LORD says–the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel–to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers;  “Kings will see you and arise, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”  [8] This is what the LORD says:  “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you, I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances”  (Isaiah 49:7-8 NIV translation).  

TWO important things to take note here:  The INHERITANCE is AFTER Israel has been judged and gathered again; the inheritance also promises they will NOT be removed from their land.

THE JUDGEMENT DOESN’T NULLIFY THE PROMISE–

Scripture always interprets Scripture; and to come up with a theology, a doctrine, out of context, promises confusion and malcontent in the body of Christ.

So the scripture verses in Amos and Isaiah tells us that the JUDGEMENT didn’t nullify the PROMISE–that it could NOT have been fulfilled in the past because they were removed from their land.

JOEL 2:18-31 reinforces GOD’S PROMISES…

God will drive out the northern army and judge them and give Israel plenty.

No one will be afraid

No one will be afraid

MICAH 4 PROMISES…

Every man in Israel will sit under his/her FIG TREE and no one will be afraid.

These PROMISES are all after God destroys those who hate His people.

ISRAEL is a PICTURE of the Christian Life.

God guided, taught, strengthened and poured out His goodness of Israel.  In spite of all this, ISRAEL was continually drawn to the world.

When PROSPERITY FAILED…God sent prophets to warn them.

When WARNINGS FAILED…God sent unrest.

When UNREST FAILED…God sent enemies.

When ENEMIES FAILED…God sent destruction.

When ISRAEL REPENTED…God delivered them.

CHRIST’S CHURCH…

When we fall away, God draws us back to His goodness!  We may think that He is UNJUST, interfering with our lives, but God sees the end from the beginning.  God looks at the day when we will stand before Him in eternity.

GOD IS GOOD!!!  We can look at the unmerited favor God has shown Israel as evidence of His grace and favor to us.

When all is said and done, SUPERSESSIONISM/REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY is truly a MYTH.  So if that is your churches doctrine–what they’re teaching from the pulpit…STOP IT!  Let Scripture define Scripture!!!

 

 


CREDITS:

PhotosPhoto Pin

FootnotesGotQuestions @ [i] http://www.gotquestions.org/replacement-theology

Bible References - Amplified (AMP) and New International Version (NIV).

 

 

 

 

Discovering Our God-given Destination

Scripture Reading and Text:

[1] THE PLANS of the mind and orderly thinking belong to man, but from the Lord comes the [wise] answer of the tongue. [2] All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits (the thoughts and intents of the heart).  [3] Roll your works upon the Lord  [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed”  (Proverbs 16:1-3 Amplified Bible).

GOD HAS A PURPOSE–A PLAN FOR EVERY PERSON:

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’re going to end up somewhere else.”  [Lewis Carroll]

God does have a PURPOSE–A PLAN for every person.  Discovering this and fulfilling it is the ESSENCE of life.  Most people I think, don’t have any purpose with their lives.  I know, because that’s where I was several years ago.  We hope, wish for, but do so without a plan.  We sit idly by, waiting for a clue, something to happen.

I recently read a story about Albert Einstein [*See Footnote [i]]:

New York City Train Car

New York City Train Car

Some years ago the great thinker was on a train in New York City.  The ticket taker came walking through the train car. As Einstein reached into his pocket to retrieve his ticket, he couldn’t find it.  He frantically searched his coat pockets, turned his pant pockets inside out, but still couldn’t produce the ticket.  The ticket taker said,  “Don’t worry, Mr. Einstein, we all know who you are.  Forget about it.”  Twenty minutes later, the ticket taker came back through the car and by this time… Einstein was on the floor, searching everywhere for the lost ticket.  Again the ticket taker tried to reassure Einstein by saying,  “I told you not to worry about the lost ticket.  We trust that you purchased one, and that’s good enough for us.”  Einstein looked up at the trains employee and said,  “Young man, this isn’t a matter of trust but of direction.  I need to find the ticket because I forgot where I’m going.”

427570295_28a9ae8d99

Sitting in Idleness

 

 

The Cost of Doing Nothing–

Do you have a clear sense of where you want to go in life?  Are you headed toward that destination, moving away from that destination, or simply standing idle?

The SECRET to SENSIBLE LIVING is this:  Wise people have a SENSE of their God-given destination and have made plans of going there.

Nobody arrives at their DESTINATION in life by accident.  The only thing that arrives at its intended destination by accident is airline luggage.  In fact, without a PLAN, we drift away from our DREAMS.

Most people living in Asia, hope in “good fate” or “karma.”  Not many people are into planning.  They just accept whatever comes their way.

The FARMER and the DEVIL–

I recently read a story about a Finnish atheist.  He left his farm to the devil in his last will and testament.  When he died, the legal system was dumbfounded on how to honor his request in the will.

Finally, after weeks of deliberation, the court decided the best way to carry out the farmer’s wishes was permit the weeds and briars take over the farmland, allow the house and barn to remain unpainted and rotting, and let the soil erode and wash away.

The court had declared in its ruling, “The best way to let the devil have possession of anything was to do nothing.”  The best way to allow Satan to destroy your dream is to do nothing.

Living a life without purpose and direction–

Living your life without an ACTION PLAN, without a PURPOSE, you’ll never arrive at the desired destination in life.

WHY?  There’s a LAW that works in the natural world that also operates in our lives:

“THE SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS”:

This law in physics states that DISORDER in the universe always increases.

After your children are told to clean their bedrooms, it always has the tendency to become messy again.  This is the result of The Second Law. Simply put, the physical world is decaying and the direction of all creation is downward, not upward.

Everything eventually runs down. Everything is decaying  [*See Footnote [ii]].

2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV):  “Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

DISCOVERING YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE AND AVOIDING THE 3 “D” s:

Because of the SIN NATURE we inherited from Adam, we do not naturally lean toward God in moving toward His plan for our lives.  If we don’t attempt to ENERGIZE a proactive counter effort, the natural course of events will lead to depletion of financial resources, disintegration of our families, deterioration of our own body, and yes, the destruction of souls.  That’s why it is ESSENTIAL to develop a plan to reverse the natural direction of your life in order to transport you to your desired direction.

The Wisdom in King Solomon’s Career…

And I purpose to build a house to the Name of the Lord my God,  as the Lord said to David my father,  “Your son whom I will set on your throne in your place shall build the house to My Name and Presence”  (1 Kings 5:5 AMP).

SOLOMON had a clear objective, a plan in mind, but he knew that the TEMPLE would not build itself.  He didn’t “over spiritualize” his dream by saying,  “If the Lord wants this temple built, it will happen in His way and in His time.”  SOLOMON already understood the importance of DEVELOPING A PLAN:

Proverbs 15:22:  Where there is no counsel, purposes are frustrated, but with many counselors they are accomplished.

Proverbs 16:9:  A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.

Proverbs 19:21:  Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand.

Proverbs 20:18:  Purposes and plans are established by counsel; and [only] with good advice make or carry on war.

Proverbs 21:5:  The thoughts of the [steadily] diligent tend only to plenteousness, but everyone who is impatient and hasty hastens only to want.  

FINDING CONTENTMENT IN PLANNING:

[13] Now listen, you who say,  “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money,”  [14] Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  [15] Instead, you ought to say,  “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that”  (JAMES 4:13-15 NIV).

JAMES isn’t opposed to PLANNING.  He is WARNING against planning without God.

The foundational question we all should ask ourselves when it comes to establishing our goals,  “Is this PLAN in keeping with God’s will for my life?”

What does it mean to be CONTENTED?

Does it mean I should have my DESIRES limited to that which I already have and achieved?  Or, does being CONTENTED mean, I should have my DESIRES limited to which I am CONVINCED God wants me to have and that which God wants me to achieve (Proverbs 16:9).

The first statement reflects LAZINESS, a sluggard’s philosophy.

The second shows DEPENDENCE on Christ’s Lordship.

GOALS that are within the will of God are designed for the GLORY of God and is pleasing to Him!!

“BUT WHAT IF I FAIL?”

Oh how many times have I asked myself that question.  When those thoughts come to mind, I turn to God’s Word (Scripture) to encourage me in moving ahead:

Sanballat’s words in Nehemiah 4:1-3:

“I have plenty of time, so what’s the hurry?”  Or, “I do not have enough time, so why bother?”

Steve Farrar, founder and chairman of Men’s Fellowship Ministries warns…

“Our continual mistake is that we do not concentrate upon the present day, the actual hour of our life; we live in the past or the future; we are continually expecting the coming of some special hour when our life shall unfold itself in its significance. And we do not observe that life is flowing like water through our fingers, sifting the precious grain from a loosely fastened bag.”

* [See Footnote [iii] ]*

“Instant Coffee Theory of Life” – (“Instant Orange Juice Theory of Life”)  - *[See Footnote [iv]*

Rabbi Harold Kushner describes this theory as similar to our tendency when you open a new jar of instant coffee.  We tend to dole it out generously at first because, after all, you have an entire jar of coffee.  But halfway down the jar, you become more conservative, and by the time you reach the bottom of the jar, you begin measuring your portions more carefully by reaching into the corners of the jar for every last grain.

In the same way, when we’re young, we tend to be careless with our time, thinking we have our entire lives to achieve our dreams.  But by the time we reach the end of our years, we ask ourselves,  “How did it go by so fast?” – We pray the same prayer Moses prayed:

“A PRAYER OF MOSES” – Psalm 90:10-12:

[10] The length of our days is seventy years–or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.  [11] Who knows the power of your anger?  For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.  [12] Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  (NIV)

How To Set Up Meaningful Goals for Your Life–

How can you develop a PLAN that will get you from where you are right now to where you BELIEVE GOD wants you to be…

In your marriage…

In your finances…

In your career…

In your ministry…

And in your spiritual life?

CLARIFYING YOUR PURPOSE:

This is a big question each of us must know:  WHAT ARE WE ON EARTH FOR?  WHY DO YOU EXIST?

The answer is clear:  “We all live to GLORIFY God.”

Clarifying Your Purpose

Clarifying Your Purpose

The “clarifying purpose” involves something that you are passionate about.  My PASSION is teaching God’s Word.  That’s how I got started in Blogging For God several years back, coining the title THE WORD DETECTIVE.

“But what if I don’t have a PASSION?”

Bob Biehl, president of Master Planning Group International, suggest SIX QUESTIONS to help you identify your PASSION:

#1.  What needs that I see in the world are of concern to me?

#2.  If I could meet any need in the world, what need would I meet?

#3.  What are the most urgent needs in my country, my community, my church?

#4.  What age group or type of people naturally interests me?

#5.  What are the major needs among my neighbors, my friends, and my family?

#6.  If I don’t meet these needs, who will?

REMEMBER, your life’s purpose should involve something for which God has gifted you with (Study 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Romans 12:6-8).  And don’t forget about your physical talents: “photography, painting, gardening, cooking, etc.”–All can be used to GLORIFY GOD!

Let me encourage you where you are:  Sit quietly and ask the Lord how you can discover a PLAN in your life in accordance to His purpose, His will; and SHARE WITH OTHERS the results– the gifts of your passion.

“A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure”  (Proverbs 16:9 AMP).

 


POST FOOTNOTES:

[i] - Billy Graham & Albert Einstein Friday Study Ministries – The First Church on the Net.

[ii] – ENERGY and KIDS http://www.kids.esd.bg/basic_principles.html

[iii] – Steve Farrar, Anchor Man (Nashville, Ten.: Nelson, 1998),  91).

[iv] – Harold Kushner, When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough (New York: Pocket Books, 1986), 158-59.

Photo Credits:  Photo Pin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A Match Made In Heaven”

TEXT:  Ephesians Chapter  One.

05JanP05CD800x500

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  [4] For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love [5] He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will”  (Ephesians 1:3-5 NIV).

[*NOTE: Capitalizations–“He”, “Him”, “His”–are inserted by this writer out of respect for God’s Majesty.  The original text in the NIV Bible doesn’t capitalize].

 

FIRST of all, this study is NOT about Calvinism or Arminianism doctrines.  It IS a study on BLESSINGS:

BLESSING #1.  God pursued us in the past–called ELECTION and…

BLESSING #2.  He makes us family in the present–called ADOPTION.

BLESSING #3.  GOD will make us COMPLETE in the future–called UNIFICATION.

I could end this blog right here…but I won’t, for there is so much more to learn from Scripture.  My hope is by the end of this study, you will grasp the LOVE of God has for you and the beauty of this BLESSING regarding ELECTION or CHOICE.

WHAT IS “ELECTION”?

The Greek New Testament, the word is eklegomai – “CHOOSE” [See Footnote [i] ].   In the context of DIVINE ELECTION, God is said to “choose” His people – (Mark 13:20; Acts 13:17; 15:7; and of course, here in Ephesians 1:4).

In Ephesians 1:4, Paul begins with “Long ago, even before he made the world…”- long before anything at all was made, God was there–this was the ETERNITY before CREATION.

God was completely sufficient and not needing anything.  But before CREATION, God did something–He thought about you and me with a PURPOSE in His mind.  This PURPOSE included JESUS and us – It says “God LOVED us and CHOSE us in Christ  Jesus…”

This CHOOSING of us by God is called ELECTION, based on “A Match Made In Heaven”. After 50 years of marriage, my wife and I can look back at all the naysayers, the trials, the disappointments along the way, and truly say our marriage was “a match made in heaven!” 

In Eternity–Before time began…

A MATCH was made in heaven where God Almighty matched us together with JESUS in His mind!  He did this because His LOVE–He specifically and purposefully CHOSE you, He chose me.

IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE!

There are some arguments about where the concept of LOVE belongs in verse 4 of the text; actually three different arguments.  But I like the New Living Translation (NLT) talking about God CHOOSING US in relation to His LOVE–and nothing else:

“Even before he made the world, God LOVED us and CHOSE us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”

THE FIRST TRUTH–That God’s LOVE should revolutionize and transform the Christian life.

MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS IMPORTANT TO HIM:

God CHOSE to have a relationship with you–GOD CHOSE YOU!  You were important to Him!  Take a second and PRAISE GOD, right where you are, for that!

We were like a puppy at the local Animal Shelter.  But you know what?  God didn’t need to choose you.  There’re others far more eloquent than you and me–more compassionate–more holy than us that He could have chosen for His service in our place.

But God, who looks out over all of humanity, knows every skill, every weakness, knows every sin and every part of goodness in every person, and out of all those CHOICES, He decided to CHOOSE you and me.

And notice that Paul wrote “God chose us” – It’s NOT about me being chosen (focused on PRIDE)–It’s about God CHOOSING me (focused on humility).

But in LOVE to God and humility, I can say, if you are a CHRISTIAN, you are God’s CHOSEN–His ELECT.

The Concept of Election…

The idea of “ELECTION” plays against what we’ve always thought.  We think that WE need to pursue our relationship with God!  CHRISTIANS DON’T NEED TO PURSUE GOD – He has already pursued you, chosen you, and developed a relationship with you.  The fact is, it’s not all about PURSUIT, but about OBEDIENCE to the call.

In Tommy Tenney’s popular book, The God Catchers:  “God doesn’t hide Himself from you so that He can’t be found; He hides Himself from you so that He can be found”  (page 11).

Your RELATIONSHIP with God is more important to Him than it is to you by a long shot–considering all that He has done in advance through Christ to establish it.  What we need to do is let HIM continue to RELATE to you.

Don’t insult God by acting as if you bother Him, or a nuisance,  or you annoy Him.  He went to great LENGTHS to make you His ELECT, His CHOSEN.  You have the relationship–start honoring God today by letting Him take back control of the relationship.  TALK TO HIM and let Him talk to you…to guide and to love you.

God pursues US!

See, you might not have known this before, and so before…when you WORSHIPED unenthusiastically; before… when you PRAYED, timid and shy; before… when you read your Bible and you didn’t expect anything…that’s where I found myself years ago, so I know…but NOT ANYMORE!

Forget that stuff that’s behind!  Now you know that when you come into the PRESENCE OF GOD, He says “MY CHOSEN ONE!  I have sought you.  I have bought you with the blood of the LAMB.  Come on in!”

But there is more– The “BLESSING OF ELECTION” (Ephesians 1:4):

“God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes”

In the Amplified Bible, it reads “He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ…that we should be HOLY and BLAMELESS”

The words “HOLY” and “BLAMELESS” are two important terms in the BLESSING OF ELECTION–

The first term is “HOLY”:

Back in verse one, Paul addressed this letter “to the saints (the consecrated, set-apart ones).”  If something is set-apart, it’s made “HOLY.”    VERSE 1 and VERSE 4 uses the same Greek word – “hagios” – holy [Footnote [ii] ].

GOD’S LOVE TRANSFORMS OUR LIVES–

God made you HOLY, and HOLINESS is being set-apart for God’s use.  In other words, if you are a “true believer” in Christ, God CHOSE you from the beginning of time so He could USE you today!  God doesn’t just set something apart so it can sit and collect dust.  He has a specific plan for our lives in Jesus’ name.

That idea doesn’t set well with some people–that God would have a different plan for your life than the one you’ve chosen–

“I don’t want to live in a jungle as a missionary!”

Or here’s a personal statement I made when my pastor approached me with a bible study for dementia/Alzheimer at a group home:  “I want to teach Lord, but not here!”  He had a different plan for my life, and full of many blessings.

The fact is, we don’t TRUST God with our lives.  If you’ve never seen that missionary movie, Edge of the Spear, you should.

But God made us HOLY so He could use you and make your life SIGNIFICANT for JESUS’ sake.  Our lives are important to God whether we believe it or not!

But there’s more! – God made us “HOLY” and…”BLAMELESS” in His sight–(without fault).

Paul is making reference to the requirements in the OT system; where lambs were sacrificed.  The SACRIFICIAL lambs represented Jesus Christ–the SINLESS, SPOTLESS Lamb of God who would be SACRIFICED for all of us.

Peter uses the same word:  “But  [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot”  (1 Peter 1:19 AMP).

FACTS DON’T LIE!

MY PURITY IS IMPORTANT TO GOD–

God considers you right where you are now, WITHOUT a blemish, not bearing the effects of sin, carrying no blame because you are “in Christ.”

JESUS paid for our sin on the cross.  If He hadn’t died…we wouldn’t be “blameless.”  But because He did, when we placed our TRUST in the cross of Christ, God looked at us and said “You are spotless.”  It ALL comes back to God making that possible in eternity past through His love.

But what a slap in the face we give God…when we willingly turn our backs and choose to live in sin–when we treat our BLAMELESSNESS dishonorably, sinning without so much as the beat of an eyelash.

Our PURITY is important to God–so important that He gave us the title of BLAMELESS in eternity past–before Genesis 1:1.

THE THREE BLESSINGS I FOUND IN EPHESIANS CHAPTER ONE:

ELECTION is the FIRST of Paul’s’ three blessings in Chapter One.  Or as I like to call it, “A Match Made In Heaven.”

It reveals the LOVE God had for me; it presents me with some truths about God that absolutely revolutionized my own spiritual life.

My RELATIONSHIP with God is important to him and…my life’s DIRECTION is important to my Father, while at the same time, my PURITY is important to God.

A Match Made In Heaven

A Match Made In Heaven

My POST has been directed primarily for those of us who have accepted JESUS as our Forgiver and Lord.  When we understand how BLESSED we are to have been chosen by God as HOLY and BLAMELESS through Jesus Christ, when we realize that our DESTINY is to be part of God’s family; when we comprehend that God has poured out all His grace into our lives; how can we help but humble ourselves before Him and give Him the PRAISE and GLORY!

But maybe after reading this message, you’re asking – “Am I really one of God’s chosen, ‘a match made in heaven’?  

I believe, if that’s your thoughts in asking, it’s the evidence that God is drawing you to Himself.  He’s been waiting for your decision.

SHARE your questions, your decision below in the comment section of this Blog and I’ll try to answer your questions.

 

Bible References: New International Version [NLT]; Amplified Bible; New Living Translation Bible [NLT].

Photo Credits:  Ephesians 1:4-5 – mazmagi.blogspot.com; Shutterstock.

Footnotes:  [i]; [ii] - Expository Dictionary Of Bible Words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotting “Out-of-Bounds” Wolves Isn’t Easy

Scripture Reading in Acts 20:28-31 [Amplified Bible]

[28] Take care and be on guard for yourselves and the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you bishops and guardians, to shepherd (tend and feed and guide) the church of the Lord or of God which He obtained for Himself [buying it and saving it for Himself] with His own blood.  

[29] I know that after I am gone, ferocious wolves will get in among you, not sparing the flock;  

WOLVES CAN BE HARD TO SEE SOMETIMES

WOLVES CAN BE HARD TO SEE SOMETIMES

[30] Even from among your own selves men will come to the front who, by saying perverse (distorted and corrupt) things, will endeavor to draw away the disciples after them [to their own party/side].  

[31] Therefore be always alert and on your guard, being mindful that for three years I never  stopped night or day seriously to admonish and advise and exhort you one by one with tears. 

WHAT DO YOU SAY WHEN YOU SAY “GOODBY”?

When an apostle says farewell and addresses leaders in the next spiritual generation for what he thinks as the last time, a  “farewell monologue” is in order.

As Paul reviews his past as a model for the Ephesian elders’ future work and charges them as Spiritual-appointed pastoral overseers, we can be quickly aware Luke intends his message to ALL church leaders in every spiritual generation (Acts 20:13-17).

Spiritual Watchfulness in the Church…it’s NOT a “one-man show”–

In a day when individualism, authoritarianism or simple economic necessity turns the pastoral responsibility so we may promote TEAMWORK in pastoring or shepherding of the local flock.

LEADERSHIP must be spiritual:  “the Holy spirit has appointed you [“overseers” – KJV] to take care of and watch over the whole flock (verse 28).

Paul’s WARNING to the ELDERS…even some wolves will show up from amongst the leadership (verse 30).

The Bible tells us our ENEMY isn’t so easy to spot.

457243892_04187d4521

Where is the WOLF?

When we think of our enemy–we may tend to think, some guy standing around in a red suit with a tail and a pitchfork.  But 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us “…for Satan himself MASQUERADES as an angel of light.”

*  He looks almost righteous.

*  He looks almost religious.

In other words, you’ll not always know he’s evil and how he looks.  Even FALSE TEACHERS don’t always show up with snake oil and a handlebar mustache.

JESUS warned us in Matthew 7:15, they look like the flock and they have wool just like all the other sheep.  And here in Acts 20, Paul warns the church elders, some of those wolves would show up from amongst their leadership:  “Even from among your own selves men will come to the front”  (verse 30 a.).

OBSERVING THE TRUE NATURE OF WOLVES…

“WOLVES” tend to look like everyone else, feeling that they are in the right.   AND…they are willing to destroy anything in their way.  So let me backtrack a bit.

The WOLVES Jesus and Paul talk about look like us.  You can tell who the Jehovah Witnesses are: They’re the ones with the green bibles and the funny looking tracts.

You can recognize the Mormon missionaries:  They’re the ones riding their bikes, wearing white shirts and ties.

BUT these wolves look like us and that’s because they often ARE us.  They’re often “part of the family”; could be an Elder, a Preacher, a Teacher…it could be ME…it could be you.  AND that’s scary.

Often wolves don’t even realize they’re wolves; so convinced that they’re right…nothing else matters.  So we might actually end up being wolves without realizing it.  And THAT’S SCARY!

“Bah-a-a-”

WOLVES may look “cool” in a TV Documentary series, but I don’t want to be one.  JESUS didn’t call us to be wolves…He called us to be SHEEP. [Sheep and wolves by the way, are natural enemies].

BUT…if WOLVES can “get out-of-bounds” by arising from among our number, and IF those wolves could end up being you or me, how do we recognize when we’ve stopped being a SHEEP and become a WOLF???

“Out-of-Bounds”…

FIRST– I’d know I’d stepped over the line (“Out-of-Bounds”) when I find myself consumed with power and influence.

Paul tells us that these wolves will come forward “saying perverse (distorted and corrupt) things, will endeavor to draw away the disciples after them [to their own party]”  (verse 30 b.). 

These folks want the church run “their way” and the rest of the church be THEIR disciples, and IF they’re not… they’re either fools or heretics.  The one phrase often repeated is “This is MY church!”–it belongs to them and should be run THEIR way.

But there’s a big problem with that phrase.  The problem is…it isn’t THEIR church, not your church, it isn’t MY church.  IT IS CHRIST’S CHURCH!!!

Paul tells the Elders from Ephesus:  “Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with His own blood” ~ verse 28 b.

But if WOLVES don’t think that way…if they can’t get their own way…they tend to forget whose church it is.

ILLUSTRATION:  Years ago in one particular church located in southern California, the Pentecostal movement began to take shape within the church body [early 70’s].

It started slowly at first, and then it began to take hold, led by their senior pastor.   Murmurers,  even malcontent also began to take hold in the membership.

One Sunday morning, the pastor decided to inform the body of the new direction and how he was led by the Holy Spirit to do so.  He also said that not all of the leadership approved, but the calling of God was so strong in his spirit, there would be a change in some doctrinal teaching.

In the following weeks of the announcement, over 50% of the church split–leaving and going to more “evangelical conservative” denominations.

The “nipping” and “biting” of WOLVES before the kill…

I’m not saying the reasons for their leaving were right or wrong.  What I am saying is what occurred in the interim.  The people who left tried to get the balance of the church to leave by writing letters of disapproval–notes were passed to the unknowing, all fairly nasty.  And although no one else left and the church grew in number…scars were formed in those who stayed, and those who left that were hard to heal.

Distortion of the Truth…

Paul also tells us the WOLVES “distort the truth” (verse 30).  

TRUTH is often one of the first victims of a lone wolf, or… a wolf pack.  Sometimes that DISTORTION comes in the form of FALSE DOCTRINE…and,  too often that same distortion comes in the form of character assassination.

So, WOLVES seek to have their own way…they often play fast and loose with the TRUTH…AND they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

Notice Paul’s words in Acts 20:29:  “…ferocious wolves will get in among you, NOT SPARING THE FLOCK.”

They don’t care who they hurt.  JESUS said  “…the WOLF attacks the flock and scatters it” ~ John 10:12.

* They send out nasty e-mails…

* They try to peel off church members to follow them as their disciples…

* They’ll find ways to attack the pastor’s character, elders, or anyone else who opposes them.

WHY?  Because the FLOCK isn’t as important to the WOLVES.  Getting their way is what’s important.  They don’t really care who they hurt as long as they accomplish their objective.  They’ll even tell you they LOVE Jesus!–but they don’t.  They don’t because they don’t care for His bride (the CHURCH).

In order to get their way, they drag the BRIDE of Christ thru the streets, shred her wedding gown and throw the pieces in the mud, stomping on it. All because–they’re right…that’s what matters!

The Concern with the “What IFS”…

“But…now wait a minute Mr. Word Detective.  What if the leadership of a church is heretical?  What if they’re teaching false doctrine?  Or, if they’re allowing immorality to run rampant in the local church?”

Dealing with it must be done in a biblical way, and HERESY and IMMORALITY can’t be ignored in the assembly.  BUT you want to be careful how you handle it–because you’re still dealing with the Bride of Christ.

FINDING A “MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART” IS A GOOD START:

That above phrase sounds familiar.  It’s finding someone in Scripture who handled something very similar in their midst.  A man who understood the mind of God.

THE MAN DAVID:

Did David ever have to deal with a leader who was immoral?  Dis David have to deal with a man who directly disobeyed God?  Did David ever have to deal with a man who was tormented by demons?  He certainly did…

A MAN NAMED KING SAUL sought to kill David in 1 Samuel 24:1-13:

NOTICE when you read the referenced verses, David confronted Saul in his WICKEDNESS:

Heresy or Immorality MUST BE CONFRONTED and must be called out for what it is.   BUT, if you are in the position of church leadership, use your position to deal with that SIN with responsibility–perhaps even removing such people from the fellowship.

Being Careful…CAREFUL IN responsibility.  

DAVID in the story refused to destroy SAUL…even when it was in his power to do so.  Even when what Saul was doing was clearly wrong and identified this kind of behavior with EVIL.  As the old saying goes,  “Out of the WICKED comes forth wickedness; but my hand shall not be against you”  (24:13).

DAVID withheld his hand because SAUL was the “Lord’s anointed.”

In the same way, every Christian is ANOINTED by God! (1 John 2:20, 21; 2 Corinthians 1:21).

When we become Christians, the Spirit of God came and resides inside our hearts–spirit, mind and soul.  His presence confirmed our RELATIONSHIP with God the Father.  So IF I hurt or damage another Christian in what I say or do, might I be GUILTY of wrongdoing?

But how could David do that?  How could Davis just stand back and let Saul get away?

Well, he could do that because he TRUSTED GOD (1 Samuel 24:13).  

When David said this, he was quoting Deuteronomy 32:35:  Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, I will repay (KJV). 

Using Our AUTHORITY…

When we have the AUTHORITY to discipline a wayward brother or sister in Christ, we should do so, but being careful how we deal with them and the circumstance… because we may find ourselves opposing God in getting His way.  We might even find ourselves becoming WOLVES in the process rather than who we are supposed to be…the  SHEEP.

GOSPEL OF JOHN 10

GOSPEL OF JOHN 10

 So, are there WOLVES in  your midst, or there but SHEEP?  Keep watch, for they’re sometimes hard to identify!

 

Photo Credit:  Photo Pin.

The ‘god-shaped’ Heart in Every Person

TEXT – Acts 14:11-17  (NIV Bible):

Statue of ZEUS

Statue of ZEUS

[11] When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language,  “The gods have come down to us in human form!”   [12] Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.  [13] The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.  [14] But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:  [15] “Men, why are you doing this?  We too are only men, human like you.  We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.  [16] In the past, He let all nations go their own way.  [17] Yet He has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

LIVING IN AN ILLUSION:

wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Truman_Show/

wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Truman_Show/

There was a movie a few years ago, with the actor/comedian Jim Carey as the lead, The Truman Show.  The storyline was about a man named Truman Burbank who was adopted as a newborn by a large Corporation.

The corporation created an entire city on the movie set with 5000 cameras, then placing Truman in the artificial city without Truman knowing it was all a fake.

Of course Truman goes through life in Seahaven (the artificial city), thinking everything and everyone around him are real.  Truman was perfectly happy and content for 30 years, with a perfect sky, a computer controlled climate, and a wife and friend who are really actors, and so forth.  I think you get the picture.  It is the only REALITY Truman knows!

At least until a series of accidents start and Truman’s questioning of this “REALITY”, and he finally begins figuring it out for himself and walks off the set into the REAL WORLD.

“Is belief in God like Truman in The Truman Show?”  Some people think so.  Critics claim it’s all because… it is the only reality that “religious” people have been presented.

The movie set experience of “organized religion” has meticulously manufactured and manipulated circumstances, causing people to live in the ILLUSION of God.

These same critics point out, there’s no denying that people who say they BELIEVE IN GOD are real, are happy, and content…even as Truman was happy and content in his world.

However, behind the set, there are merely human directors who are pulling the strings, orchestrating all the right circumstances to make BELIEF in God appear real.  Whether that’s true or not, I’m only pointing out what some people are saying about Christianity.

TRUE LIBERATION…

True liberation comes as it did for Truman; to turn our back on our make-believe world and venture into the real world…a world without organized religion pulling the strings.

CHURCHES shouldn’t be an ORGANIZATION in the first place.  They should be considered an ORGANISM–a living, breathing, GOD creative entity.

The American Population Believes that God Exists!

At least 95% do (Gallup and Lindsay 25).  According to George Gallup’s 1999 poll, interest in God and spirituality is on the rise, not declining (10). Yet when we begin to ask what kind of God is that exists, people are less sure.

Some people envisions of God is impersonal, like the FORCE in the movie Star Wars.  Or view God as a benevolent Santa Claus, a God that has no higher goal than our happiness and success.

THE STRAIGHT TALK PRESENTED IN THE BIBLE’S TEACHING:

The Bile clearly teaches that knowing God is for real; that He’s NOT our fulfillment as an elaborate scheme orchestrated by people, like myself.

God’s Calling Cards (Acts 14:15-17):

LystraMap0302In the city of LYSTRA, which was basically an isolated, unimportant, backwoods area of the Roman Empire.  People living there were all illiterate, superstitious, and accustomed to a rural way of life.

When Paul and his friend Barnabas arrive, God enables Paul through the power of the Holy Spirit, to perform a MIRACLE, where a disabled man was suddenly able to walk.  People were so amazed, their superstition takes over and they try to WORSHIP Paul and Barnabas as Greek gods Zeus and Hermes.

Paul and Barnabas are only messengers…ordinary guys bringing the message of the GOOD NEWS (the Gospel) of God.

Now the citizens of Lystra weren’t JEWISH, they didn’t know the Old Testament story of God creating the heavens and earth, of God choosing Abraham in establishing the nation of Israel.

The Challenge…

Instead, they were PAGANS…worshipping the traditional Greek and Roman gods.

Paul’s challenge to the populace was to turn from their “worthless” superstitions, to the LIVING GOD.   In case you’re wondering, the word “worthless” here means: EMPTY, UNPROFITABLE, VAIN , AIMLESS , HOLLOW- the “absences of purpose or ground or failure to attain any true purpose.[See Footnotes [i]].

Their WORSHIP was empty, hollow, because it was just words– Zeus and Hermes and the other gods didn’t exist in reality.  BUT, the LIVING GOD is the God who is SELF-EXISTENT; the God who depends on no one!  All because He is the LIVING GOD; He created ALL life, whether it’s life in the air, life on earth, or the life in the sea.

Lystra, Turkey in today's setting

Lystra, Turkey in today’s setting

God had been working through the nation of Israel up to this point.  He allowed the rest of the nations to go their own way.  God was preparing the way of the birth of His Messiah, His Son, to bring God’s blessing to the rest of the nations.  But until then, God wasn’t directly reaching out to other nations.

Take Heart…God Hadn’t Abandoned the other Nations!

God left a WITNESS of Himself among ALL PEOPLE everywhere.  God had left the nations evidence, “CALLING CARDS” about His existence.

So how can we know GOD is for real?  Where is the EVIDENCE?

Because of His “calling cards” He left us to see.  God’s fingerprints are all over the world we live in…IF, we take the time to investigate.  No one clue is inclusive in itself.  It becomes the cumulative effect of these clues that builds a strong case that GOD IS FOR REAL!

If God made the EVIDENCE His existence so conclusive, every rational person had to BELIEVE.  But God wants people to BELIEVE in Him freely, out of LOVE, so He leaves enough evidence for the seeker to know He’s there.

The EVIDENCE Can be easily Overlooked…

If you’re not looking, not seeking and you don’t want to see it…the EVIDENCE can be easily overlooked.

GOD’S REVELATION:

“For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.  For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made–His handiworks.  So [men] are without excuse–altogether without any defense or justification”  (Romans 1:19-20 AMP).

THE PEOPLE OF ROME:

In many ways the people of Rome were similar to the people of Lystra, except the people of Rome were educated, civilized pagans.

In the context, Paul is describing why God’s wrath against sin was being revealed against ALL PEOPLE everywhere, religious and irreligious alike.

In the verses above, Paul tells us that certain things about God can be known once for all.  Even though God’s WHOLENESS might not be known because human minds are limited and confined–a MYSTERY (Romans 16:25-27).

But there are certain things we can know about God; these things include God’s eternal POWER and the invisible characteristics that make God who He is!

God makes these things “PLAIN” TO ALL PEOPLE!

The word “plain” means obvious, evident, clear and well-known.  God’s attributes aren’t only for the “spiritually” endowed Christian, but according to Paul, they’re evident to everyone.

God is invisible and unknowable, yet God made Himself both visible and knowable through the created world.  [See Footnote [ii]]

Because of this, no one can say, “But I didn’t know.”  So this passage of Scripture in Romans 1:19-20, is taking us a step further than the previous verses given in Acts.

Paul’s not just saying the universe contains the EVIDENCE, but we can know God is real because He reveals Himself …THROUGH THE UNIVERSE. In other words, God is actively speaking through His creation, making His invisible attributes visible and clear.

HOW FOCUSING ON THE UNIVERSE REVEALS GOD:

The BEGINNING OF THE UNIVERSE REVEALS GOD’S POWER–

10676205_10152749633038426_3880646600123989561_nAll physicists today believe in the “BIG BANG”–that the universe spontaneously came into being by an enormous explosion.  Beyond the “big bang”, physicists are speechless, because that’s delving into an unknown world of MYSTERY.  Yet it makes perfect sense the big bang was generated by a God of ETERNAL POWER in the verses of Romans 1.

The COMPLEXITY OF THE UNIVERSE REVEALS GOD’S WISDOM–

The more we learn about the physical world around us, the more complex we realize it is.  One strand of DNA contains enough information to fill all the textbooks available.  But the COMPLEXITY is so finely tuned…perfectly designed for life to exist.

This REVEALS GOD’S WISDOM designing such a complex world in such a way, enabling LIFE to flourish.

Finally, THE MORAL ORDER OF THE UNIVERSE REVEALS GOD’S JUSTICE–

Our internal sense of right and wrong, that inner moral compass, reveals the fact that we live in a moral universe with the sense of right and wrong.  Growing up as a child, my parents would say “just follow your conscience Mel.”

Since some things are MORALLY right and some things are MORALLY wrong, it points to a LAWGIVER, a morally JUST Being who created right and wrong (Genesis 3).

Now the question immediately arose when I was doing my investigation, if God makes Himself clear that He is the Creator of the Universe, why are there atheists and agnostics everywhere I turn these days?

ATHEISM is a form of denial.  Just like alcoholics who become more and more blind to their problem the more they drink, we become more and more blind to God’s Light the more we sin against God.  Eventually, we reach the point we truly believe God’s not real just like the alcoholic reaches the point he truly believes he doesn’t have a drinking problem.

BEING A SEEKER (Acts 17:26-28):

“From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that man would SEEK Him and perhaps REACH out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”

Paul is saying to the Athenians, we ALL come from a common ancestor.

Now the Athenians were defensive and believed that their race was superior to all others.  They didn’t need another god–they already had plenty to bow down to as it was!

But Paul claims we all share an ancestry that God Himself was responsible in arranging the basic circumstances of our lives.  God did this so we would SEEK Him.

God’s PURPOSE in placing you and I in this time, and this place, this part of the world we reside, and as you are reading this blog-POST, was for you to SEEK HIM!

God designed us to not only SEEK, but to REACH for Him.  The word “REACH” describes the groping and fumbling of a blind person.  Left to our own resources, we are not equipped to actually find God.  But like blind people, we’re trying to hike an unknown mountain trail without a guide and we’ll get lost along the way.  So we if we SEEK without a guide, we are unable to find God.

But the good news is, God is never distant:  “We are His offspring.”

WE KNOW GOD IS REAL BECAUSE we were made to SEEK HIM–

There’s a “god-shaped vacuum” in the heart of every person.  God designed each and everyone to SEEK HIM.

Doing things your way…

IF GOD IS REAL, then the parallel to The Truman Show is correct, except it’s those who reject God’s existence that are living in a manufactured world.

It is those who are in REBELLION against God, who are avoiding Him because they want to live their lives, using a lyric from an old song…“My way” and where they are hiding in a make-believe world of DENIAL.

The Calling as a Church…?

Our calling isn’t to DEFEND God–He is perfectly able to do that Himself–we are to introduce people to a relationship with JESUS so they, like Truman Burbank, walk off their Seahaven set and venture into the REAL WORLD, the world God created and designed to live in.  GOD’S KINGDOM.

 

 

Footnotes:  

[i]  Strong’s Concordance #3152

Photos:

The Truman Show – Wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Truman_Show/

Photo MAPS – Bible History Maps/Lystra-Derbe @ biblehistory.com/Lystra

UNIVERSE – hublesite.org/telescope/

 

 

 

 

Letting The Holy Spirit Have More of You!

ACTS 8:14-17 Amplified Bible:

[14] Now when the apostles (special messengers) at Jerusalem heard that [the country of] Samaria had accepted and welcomed the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,  [15] And they came down and prayed for them that the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit;  [16] For He had not yet fallen upon any of them, but they had only been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.  [17] Then [the apostles] laid their hands on them one by one, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

For years, as a believer in Christ, I struggled understanding the four verses listed above.  And then one day, the “scales” were removed from my eyes [See “Taking the Red Pill”], and I began to understand.  Slowly at first, but then one Sunday morning, it happened.  Not all at once…but a Holy Spirit moment, the realizing empowerment took a hold of my heart.

EMPOWERMENT:

In Acts 8:15, 17, 19; Acts 10:47; Acts 19:12; all refer to the EMPOWERING operation of the Holy Spirit.

Now being saved, baptized and trained in doctrinal values of the Baptist denomination, this idea of EMPOWERMENT ran against everything I’d previously been taught by all the well-meaning church leaders.  I knew what Scripture had to say about receiving the Holy Spirit, even underlining them with side notes in my Bible.  Here are the well-known three proofs:

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, save or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink”  (1 Cor. 12:13 NIV).

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ”  (Romans 8:9).

“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory”  (Eph. 1:13-14).

The apostle Paul clearly taught that we RECEIVE the Holy Spirit at the moment we receive JESUS as Savior.  The above three passages make it clear, the HOLY SPIRIT is received the moment of SALVATION.

“Could there be more?”  – The Inward Justifying and Sanctifying Work of Holy Spirit…

In Acts 8:15  however, depicts the inward justifying and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.  Further, it does not mean, getting more of the Spirit, rather it is a matter of letting the Holy Spirit have more of you!

“And they came down and prayed for them that the Samaritans might RECEIVE the Holy Spirit.”

[ILLUSTRATION – “A Woman Named Norena” – (See Footnote [i]):

Just Getting By…

The story is told of an elderly woman named Norena, who lived in southern Florida.  When a hurricane hit that area, her home was of many that was damaged severely.

Norena received an insurance settlement, and the repair work began.  However, when the money ran out, so did the contractor, leaving an unfinished home with no electricity.

Norena lived in her dark unfinished home–without POWER–for fifteen (15) years.  The astonishing part of this story, the hurricane wasn’t Katrina but Andrew–a hurricane which struck in 1992.

She had no HEAT, no AIR CONDITIONING while the humidity clung to 100%.  She didn’t have one hot shower.  Without money to finish the repairs, Norena just got by with a small lamp and a single burner.  Her neighbors didn’t seem to notice the absence of POWER in her home.

Acting on a tip, one day, the mayor of the Miami-Dade area got involved.  It only took a few hours of work by an electrical contractor, Kent Crook, to return POWER to Norena’s house.

CBS News reported, Norena planned to let the water get really hot, then take her first “bubble bath” in a decade and a half.

“It’s hard to describe having [the electricity]…to switch on”, Norena told the reporters.  “It’s overwhelming!”

After reading this story, I thought to myself, “How many Christian true believers have been living their entire lives without ever knowing what it is like to have the overwhelming POWER of the Holy Spirit operating within them?”  JUST GETTING BY!

In my own personal testimony, I believe that some of us have had that POWER turned off for so long, we would not even recognize it if it came back to us!  In my case, the POWER was turned on almost 9 years ago.

Giving only a little to JESUS–

Most of us only give Christ a little space of our lives.  D.L. Moody once said,  “What could God accomplish with a man or woman who has fully surrendered his or her will to God?”

NO SET FORMULA FOR RECEIVING AND GROWING IN THE INFILLING WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT:

There are some PRINCIPLES to look at, but basically, it is the same as growing in-depth of relationship with Jesus Christ.  There is no set FORMULA!  Only GUIDELINES.  God is sovereign!

The principle represents our human attempt at cooperation in God’s purposes and SUBMISSION to God’s will.  GROWING in having the Holy Spirit upon for POWER…is simply a matter of being in LOVE with Jesus; asking for the equipping of the Holy Spirit,  receiving in FAITH, and then stepping out in OBEDIENCE.

PRINCIPLE ONE -THIRST – John 7:37-39:

EXTREME THIRST

EXTREME THIRST

It is “thirst” that leads us to Jesus, who gives the LIVING WATER, the Spirit of God.

“Now on the final and most important day of the Feast. Jesus stood, and He cried in a loud voice,  If any man is THIRSTY, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me as the Scripture has said,  From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs of living water.  But He was speaking here of the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him were afterward to receive.  For the [Holy] Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (raised to honor)” ~ Amplified Bible.

This is, first of all,a THIRST for intimacy with God - Psalm 63:1.

Second, it is a THIRST that arises with deep-seated awareness in our own inadequacy to do the works of God in our own strength.  Jesus perfectly describes our condition when He said,  “…apart from Me, you can do nothing!”

PRINCIPLE TWO – EXPECT – Ephesians 3:20:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”  ~ NIV Bible.

For many of us, “our God is too small”–our expectations of the Christian life are too small.  We’ve limited God by our FEARS, WORLDVIEWS, LACK OF KNOWLEDGE, etc..

EXPECTANCY is an expression of “untrammeled” [Not derived of freedom of action or expression; not restricted or hampered-[ii]] faith in God, which prepares us to RECEIVE to do all that He has for us.

PRINCIPLE THREE – REPENTANCE – Acts 2:38:

“…REPENT (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the (gift) of the Holy Spirit” ~ Amplified Bible.

That one is already BAPTIZED and GROWING in Christ is already assumed.  What the apostle Peter has emphasized here is REPENTANCE and CONFESSION should be an ongoing part of the Christian life.

SIN blocks our relationship with God, so REPENTANCE is basic criteria to spiritual growth.  Being sensitive to sin is what counts.

Please be careful here.  One doesn’t have to be perfect to have a high level of SANCTIFICATION; to receive the Holy Spirit “UPON” them for EMPOWERMENT.  There isn’t precondition for a “second blessing.”  If there were such a criterion for receiving the INFILLING, then none of us would qualify.  This is given as a FREE GIFT of God’s grace to all in Christ, who in obedience RECEIVE.

The GIFT IS AVAILABLE THE MOMENT WE ARE IN CHRIST.

No Neglect…

Having affirmed…no precondition, we must be careful not to neglect the inward work of the Holy Spirit.  God is very PATIENT, but if a person persists in disobedience, God may and often does, withdraws the Spirit’s EMPOWERING.  Saul is but one example in the Bible (1 Samuel 13:8-14).

Peter, after denying Jesus, went out and wept bitterly.  Later on the beach, he accepted Jesus’ recommissioning in the question and command,

“Do you love me?  …feed my sheep.”

PRINCIPLE FOURASK! – Luke 11:9-13:

If a person is in Christ, he already has the Holy Spirit within him.  BUT…to have the Holy Spirit “upon” for POWER, which is what it means to be baptized or filled with the Spirit, one must appropriate it–ASK!

Asking in PRAYER..

The important thing is to ask in prayer.  Doesn’t matter what words you use; no neat formulas.  What does matter is the intent of the heart.

Many find it helpful to have hands laid upon then.  This has a good Biblical precedent (Acts 9:17, 19:6), which gave me support in my faith when receiving Holy Spirit’s INFILLING; the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in an unknown tongue.

One may ask to be FILLED with the Holy Spirit, not once but many times, and as often as needed, and I’ve personally done so on many occasions.

PRINCIPLE FIVE – RECEIVE in FAITH – (Gal. 3:13-14; 1 John 5:14-15):

RECEIVING THE INFILLING with the Holy Spirit is not subject to our emotions or our experience.  Rather, it is founded in the PROMISES of God received in FAITH.

Pail asked the congregation located in Galatia,  “To purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God’s sons].  And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the [Holy] Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba (Father)! Father!”  (Gal. 4:5 AMP).  

And furthermore, in Galatians 3:14,  “To the end that through [their receiving] Christ Jesus, the blessing [promised] to Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, so that we through faith might [all] receive [the realization of] the promise of the [Holy] Spirit.”

The Key to Appropriating What God Has Clearly Promised Us…

IS IN JESUS!  (Mark 11:22-24; 1 John 5:14-15).

These PROMISES listed in the above verses, gives us the CONFIDENCE to ask for and in faith RECEIVE the infilling of God’s Spirit.  We come to know it’s God’s will and intention… that we are made useful in His kingdom, equipped to witness to Jesus Christ.

Thus, in FAITH, we ASK for it, we TRUST and BELIEVE that we have indeed RECEIVED.  Experience will follow what we have appropriated in faith.

The emphases upon APPROPRIATING in faith, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, is it is Biblical; fully respects the SOVEREIGNTY of God and avoids all gimmicks and manipulations of tarrying meetings and the pressuring by people to speak in tongues, so marred by our joyful reception of God’s free gift.

PRINCIPAL SIX – OBEY the Holy Spirit – (Acts 5:32; John 14:15-17):

This last step is the crucial one and the essence of our whole relationship with JESUS.  We are called to OBEDIENCE to the Holy Spirit by receiving in faith…that FAITH must be made ACTIVE and ALIVE!  The way that this happens is through obedience to Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is calling us to obedience and while obeying, that’s when we EXPERIENCE the POWER or see the evidences that we have been EMPOWERED.

AN ILLUSTRATION:

Agitating Dirty Socks

Agitating Dirty Socks

The Holy Spirit, being Holy…His nature doesn’t allow Him to live in a dirty environment.

Does anyone know what that piece in the middle of my washer is called?  The part in the middle that moves back and forth and shakes the clothes back and forth?  I’ll just refer to it as an “Agitator.”

What is the purpose of the “Agitator”?  As far as I have learned [our washing machine and dryer is right next to my study/computer room], its sole purpose is to cause havoc for the dirty clothes; it’s there to SHAKE, SEPARATE, the clothes from all the dirt, grime, and money that may be in or on the clothes.

That said, as soon as we are SAVED, Holy Spirit moves into our hearts…but He doesn’t have our heart to Himself…there’s still a lot of things in there…the main one being our own selfish desires…even though we’ve been saved from our past sins, there still remains some things of the world we still cling on to.

ThesE “THINGS” have a way of attaching themselves to us as DIRT.  So, the Holy Spirit begins to gently and lovingly…AGITATE, to SHAKE…to CONVICT us to the things that need to leave our heart.

You see, God wants us to be FILLED with His Spirit…and only when we come to a place in our lives, is He willing to remove ALL the dirt…can we truly be FILLED with His Spirit.

Until then, many times in our spiritual life, it feels like we are in a washing machine…and the Holy spirit constantly, because He loves us so much, agitating within us, convicting us of sin.

What is the TRUTH?

The truth is God’s will for all to be FILLED with the Spirit…but it is your choice…it’s up to you…TOTAL SURRENDER!

If your DESIRE is to have a casual, nominal Christian lifestyle, in place of surrendering all…seeking to receive will not be your desire.  This is one of the major reasons why many individuals in the body of Christ don’t see the need of surrendering all.

The topic in this BLOG discussion, is often a controversial one because… the ministries of the Holy Spirit are often confused in the receiving/indwelling of the Spirit, occurring at the moment of salvation.

THE FILLING of the Holy Spirit is an ongoing process in the Christian life.  It certainly has been for me.

The Holy Spirit becomes our permanent possession the moment we believe.  To RECEIVE the baptism or infilling with the Holy Spirit is just the beginning…you will not arrived at its end of the journey, but you have only begun!

 

 

FOOTNOTES:

[i]  “Norena” story from UPI.com>TopNews

[ii]  Oxford Dictionaries.

 

PHOTO CREDITS:

Photo Pin for Bloggers.

 

Bible References:

Amplified Bible and New International Version Bible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Soul Fasting” (Part Two)

“SOUL FASTING” or “TRUE FASTING” (Part One continued) :

CONTINUING in Jeremiah 58 verses 6-7 (NIV).

[6]  Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  [7] Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood? 

With the title, as The WORD Detective, I like to break down sentence structures in the Bible while I study and meditate on God’s Word for a perspective blog-POST.  Verse 6 & 7 is but one example.

INFINITIVE VERBS–

An infinitive verb is a verb with the word “to” in front of it (eg. “to loose”, “to set”, “to share”, etc.) showing action.  (See Footnote [i])

In Verses 6 and 7, I learned through and by my investigation, the importance of TRUE FASTING and the desired outcomes of my actions.  Yes, there should always be an outcome from FASTING!

My whole outlook into God’s desires  has changed my point of view towards the practice of FASTING.  Not of my desires, or the churches desires, or someone elses, but God’s desire through my fasting can and will be accomplished.

We cannot be saved by deeds of service without FAITH IN CHRIST; but our faith lacks sincerity if it does reach out in compassion.

The PURPOSE of Soul Fasting–

The FOUR INFINITIVE VERBS in Verses 6 & 7, all pertain to LIBERATION.  God says He wants our service to go beyond our own personal growth to acts of kindness, charity, justice, and generosity.  FASTING should be more than what we don’t eat.  It is obvious that this type of FAST is not a ritualistic one but for spiritual strength, bringing liberation to God’s people (the Church).

Have you ever felt “liberated” after you’ve fasted? The few times that I have fasted, LIBERATION never entered my mind.  Counting the hours so I could end my fast was all that I desired.

THE FIRST DESIRE OR PURPOSE–

The first desire of “soul fasting,” which honors God, is to loosen the bonds of wickedness (“chains of injustice”); while in our FASTING, that God would open the wicked bonds that have been placed upon you or someone else or a congregation.

Unchain the binding yoke

Unchain the binding yoke

The SECOND CLAUSE, to “untie the cords” or undo the bonds of the yoke, indicates the people who are mutually beneficial to one another, are to FAST that this oppressive yoke of burden, misguidance or direction over us is broken.

God tells His people, “If you want to FAST the way that pleases Me, start getting right with your brothers and sisters that sit next to you, in front of you, and across the aisle from you every Sunday.”  [“I don’t smoke and I don’t chew. And I don’t associate with people who do!”].

The NEXT CLAUSE, to let the oppressed go free while we are FASTING; to pray for those who are oppressed in whatever form (socially, culturally), will be set free to serve God.

The statement “break every yoke” pictures the complete destruction of the means of oppression.  Those who are then freed by God can then spread the freedom to others.

The results of “soul fasting”, pursues and continues in VERSE 7

Not only does it require God’s POWER to enact justice, it also enacts God’s POWER to enact FAVOR, BLESSING, BENEVOLENCE to those around us.

“NO NEGLECT HERE!”

God’s people were not to neglect each other.  When someone shared with one in need, it was a reminder of everything one owned belonged to the LORD.

FASTING THAT CHANGES THE HEART:

“SOUL FASTING” changes the heart and make it compassionate.

“YOU” is singular.  The statements in VERSE 7 are directed to each person, to each of us.

Notice that you are to DIVIDE YOUR BREAD with the hungry of the same food that you are eating.  We must deny ourselves, that we may SHARE with that person that’s hungry.

stock-photo-breaking-bread-close-up-180998312

Dividing your BREAD with the hungry

Second, you and I are to provide lodging to those that do not have a house–provide shelter for the cast out poor, forced from his/her dwelling, turned out of house and home.

Third, we are to provide clothing for those who lack them.  “OUR OWN FLESH” probably refers to close relatives (Gen. 37:27).  God expects us to see the situation of our family and to take care of them.

My son once told my wife and I, that in our old age, if we can’t take care of ourselves, we could come and live at his house.  Now I don’t know how our daughter-in-law feels about that proposed idea, but the compassion of family is there.

God’s people SHARE with those who lack the basic needs of life.  Those who know in their own lives the compassionate blessing He brings, should in turn extend it to others.

These acts on behalf of others becomes the outward evidence of inward faith and righteousness (Job 31:17-20; Ezek. 18:7, 16).  JESUS identified with the hungry and naked (Mt. 25:36).

“TRUE FASTING” is to be concerned with more than our physical and spiritual benefits.  God wants us to go beyond concern of our own spiritual growth.

“SOUL FASTING” is more than NOT eating.  It is the emptying of SELF in order to find what we need in Christ Jesus, in order to please God with word and deed.

THE PRECIOUS PROMISE, Verses 8-12:

VERSE 8 begins to set forth some BLESSINGS upon a life that becomes right with God:

“Then your LIGHT will break forth like the dawn, and your HEALING will quickly appear; then your RIGHTEOUSNESS will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard” (NIV).

God offers PRECIOUS PROMISES for those who FAST in TRUTH--“Soul Fast”.  To be changed and have the situation changed to those in need of change.

God wants me to know that He will honor those who TRULY FAST in order to honor Him.

FOUR BLESSINGS ARE PROMISED–

LIGHT, HEALING, GUIDANCE and PROTECTION.

I don’t know about you, my desire is to have these four blessings in my life.  It’s not a wish, but a PROMISE to us who observe the TRUE FAST.

The FIRST PROMISE of LIGHT that comes is when we are focusing our life on SELF, resulting in DARKNESS.  Unless JESUS is the center of our interest, LIFE, in and of itself, is heading towards darkness.

The next BLESSING is…your recovery will speedily spring forth.  This recovery indicates to us HEALING or RESTORATION when unconstrained speed of LIGHT is accentuated.

The peoples RIGHT BEHAVIOR causes the righteousness of God to protect and guide them on their way.

The Advance Guard and the Rear Guard is in Place–

As the advance guard and the rear guard provide protection, so the RIGHTEOUSNESS and the GLORY OF GOD (revealed in the manifested presence), will guard against whatever came against God’s people.

Thus, REPENTANT people are surrounded by divine protection.

If the people had inner RIGHTEOUSNESS (revealed in outward acts of justice and mercy, vv 6 & 7), then…the LORD would BLESS them (Deut. 28:1-14) with LIGHT, HEALING (spiritual restoration), RIGHTEOUSNESS (high standards), and PROTECTION from trouble.

OTHER CONDITIONAL PROMISES, Verse 9:

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say; Here am I.

Under these conditions, the FAITHFUL BELIEVER could call upon God and expect answered prayer.

They had been trying to use God while at the same time, oppressing the weak and needy.  God thus was holding back His response (the COMPLAINT of vv. 1-3).

Selfish Religious Activity…

Our “selfish religious activity” will certainly have a hindrance to our PRAYERS (59:1-2).  God is ACTIVE for His people when they are ACTIVE for others.

Other Problematic Areas, (Verse 9 b.)–

If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk.

The FIRST of the problematic concern is the need to remove the yoke.

Pointing a finger of accusation and blame at another or gossiping maliciously (speaking wickedness) about another is SINFUL and it pushes God away from the accuser–the one who is doing the “finger-pointing”.

Having a critical spirit towards others during my life has been a spiritual burden over the past years.  All my “trying not to…” hasn’t worked.  So when these feelings overcome me today; criticizing others and pointing a finger, I REPENT, letting the POWER OF JESUS who is inside of me, live through me.

The Conditions for the BLESSING to continue, Verse 12:

Living as a BUBBLING SPRING!

Living as a BUBBLING SPRING!

And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the DESIRE of the afflicted, then your LIGHT will standout in the darkness of your gloom as midday.

In verses 11 & 12, the BLESSINGS are continued:  Our LORD promises GUIDANCE, SATISFACTION, STRENGTH, and REFRESHING (like a spring).

Oh, to be GUIDED continually by God through the decisions of life; to be SATISFIED  when the world around us is on fire with thirst.

To be PLEASING and ATTRACTIVE like a well-watered garden to those around us.

To be FOUNTAINS OF JOY and COMFORT to the dry and weary soul around us.

All this and more for fulfilling certain conditions God gives us through the prophet.

And, there is even more, Verse 12.

RESTORATION and the REBUILDING of the RUINS OF MAN–

God promises to His compassionate people, that RUIN and DESTRUCTION can be overcome from His Blessed People.

Though the SIN of the fallen race eventually destroys everything it touches, God is greater than our sin.  He gives us the POWER to restore and repair what has been ruined (friendships, family, new relationships, etc.).  [See Footnote [ii]].  Oh, to be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets where people dwell.  God will enable us to put back together that which was ruined and broken.

To Fast or Not to Fast?

I hope that you just might have a better understanding of the FASTING pleases God.  The TRUE FAST, the “Soul Fast”.  So ask yourself before you deny yourself food, and that is what the Hebrew word som means: “abstaining from food and drink in the ritual sphere of Israelite worship.” [See Footnote [iii]].  Remember, JESUS own “FASTING” in the wilderness prior to the beginning of His public ministry is noted in Matt. 4:2. 

So the question isn’t “To fast, or not”, but what is the condition of our heart, mind and spirit (our souls) before, during, and after we FAST?

 

FOOTNOTES:

[i]     http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/infinitive_html.

[ii]   Oswalt, NIC, 507.

[iii]  Expository Dictionary Of Bible Words.

Photo Credits:

All from Photo Pin.