SPIRITUAL “Sclerosis”

Before going on in this POST, I thought it important to give you first, definitions of the word “Sclerosis” –then, explain how it fits in with our spirituality in life and in the Church as a whole.

“SCLEROSIS” or “hardening”:  (See Footnotes [i] and [ii])

#1.  Medical Definition – A pathological hardening of tissue, especially from overgrowth of fibrous tissue or increase in interstitial tissue.

In the GREEK, “hardening or “to harden” – 

#2.  porosis denotes “a hardening,” a covering with a poros, a kind of stone, indicating “a process” and is used metaphorically of dulled spiritual perception.

With the above definitions in mind, lets take a deep look into God’s Word and investigate a principle set forth for us all to ponder in our Christian service.

CAUGHT UP IN “RITUALISM”?  (Zechariah 7:1-7 AMP Bible)–

[1] AND IN the fourth year of the reign of King darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, Chislev.

[2] Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and regem-melech and their men to pray and entreat the favor of the Lord.  [3] And to speak to the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and to the prophets, saying,  [Now that I am returned from exile] should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself as I have done these so many years [in Babylon]?

[4] Then came the word of the Lord of hosts to me [Zechariah], saying,

[5] Speak to all the people of the land and to the priests, saying,  When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months, even those seventy years you were in exile, was it for Me that you fasted, for Me?  [6] And when you ate and when you drank, did you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?

[7] Should you not hear the words the Lord cried by the former prophets when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity with her cities round about her, and the South (the Negev) and the lowlands were inhabited?

According to the Scofield Bible, “Religious Externalism”:  “The whole matter, like much in modern pseudo-Christianity, was extra-Biblical, formal and futile.”   RITUALISM appeals to the FLESH and helps people feel “religious.”  

In my opinion, I don’t think Christianity needs any help in being “religious” in today’s society and I find it a sign of spiritual decline.

How so?

Zechariah 7:1-3 – “What about FASTING?”

The question seems to imply a readiness to discontinue the practice, the ritual of THE FAST.  That question may have been going through their heads at the time, but was not asked…”Would discontinuing the FAST be evidence of a false sense of security or would it add to the displeasure of the LORD?  All good questions.

In their present SPIRITUALITY, the people were still in distress, under the Lord’s displeasure.  From the human viewpoint, there might be something said in favor of discontinuing the fasts–and in case you’re wondering by now, is this blog-Post about “FASTING”?  Yes and no. I’ll get to that as we move along

The LORD has changed His method of dealing with His people; returning to them in the way of MERCY!  So, would it not be proper to change their method of performing their duties?  [NOT just "fasting" as required by the clergy].

It seems as if the MAIN CONCERN of the delegation was the FAST held on the fifth month; the remembrance of the burning of the first TEMPLE.  At this point in time, the NEW TEMPLE was almost completely restored [See picture below of model].

So why FAST?

Having kept the ritual of fasting for 70+ years in exile, the delegation members felt it wouldn’t be a good idea to discontinue something they had grown accustomed to without approval from the PRIESTS and the PROPHETS.

The 2nd Temple Model

The 2nd Temple Model

 Some Questions Arise…

Should a good and productive method of RELIGIOUS SERVICES, which we find beneficial to ourselves and others, be simply abandoned or altered because of the changes taking place in society and the world?

What then, should OUR PURPOSE be in coming to church on Sunday, or during the week in “service”?

In this portion of Scripture,  Zechariah 7, the delegation’s PURPOSE for coming was to PRAY and SEEK God’s will in the matter of the continuance of the FASTS.

Our PURPOSE for coming to the House of the Lord…

It should be to pray and seek the LORD’s will for our lives; to WORSHIP HIM.  It’s NOT for entertainment.

When we present our requests, our petitions to the LORD, we should be in a READINESS TO RECEIVE instructions from Him.  If we refuse to listen, we can’t expect the LORD to accept our prayers.

The QUESTION we should bring before our LORD and Savior is not, what will You do for me, but what can I do for You, even though You don’t need my help.

In God’s answer to the LORD of hosts asked question,  “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months, even those seventy years…was it for Me that you fasted, for Me?”  – (verse 5).

“CONSIDER YOUR WAYS”  

Consider what you’re doing and why; WORSHIP WITH PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING, PRAYING IN PUBLIC, TITHING IN CHURCH, SERVING IN MINISTRY, etc., etc.

The question posed in VERSE 5, not only does it involve the delegation, but to ALL the priests and the people of the land.  And in case you are wondering…we too are included in the answer…”was it for Me…, for Me?”.

The LORD of hosts asked this question because the delegation’s question seemed to be more concerned about the ceremony, the ritual, than about the SUBSTANCE or the spirit of it.  They seemed to be BOASTING of their fasting, believing they should have been returned to the LORD’s MERCY sooner than it did.

A similar question was asked by the people in the prophet Isaiah’s day:

“Why have we fasted, they say, and You do not see it? Why have we afflicted ourselves, and You take no knowledge  [of it]? Behold [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins], you find profit in your business, and [instead of stopping all work, as the law implies you and your workmen should do]  you extort from your hired servants a full amount of labor”  (Isaiah 58:3 ).

What the priests and people were doing wasn’t bad, not done in the right way.  The LORD wasn’t charging them with OMISSION or NEGLECT of their duty.  He was charging them of WRONG INTENT!

He was saying,  those who come with a good intent, to SEEK GOD’s MERCY, must be willing to admit their FAULTS, a hard thing to do.  We can sometimes be so zealous in our approach, in performance of our worship on Sundays, we set aside our need to faithfully examine our attitude or motives for even being there.  Don’t wait for the Worship & Praise team to motivate you on Sundays!

We should ask ourselves in service and duty,  “WHY AM I DOING WHAT I’M DOING?”

The LORD appeals to the conscience…

If the people had not been sincere in the performance of duty and their worship, they needed to understand, we need to understand, there is One who is far greater than their consciences.

PhotoBucket

PhotoBucket

In their FASTING and WORSHIP, a form of godliness, they lacked life, soul, and power.  The stress of their doing was laid upon the REPETITION of the rituals, instead of upon the worship of the LORD.  Even those who were seeking to please their heavenly Father, to obtain His favor, who are sincere in their intentions, were wanting.  This is why, in the sight of the LORD, their FASTS were a mockery.  They were using FASTS as a covering; a covering for their SIN, as Jezebel’s fast, or as the Pharisees’ fasts, resting in outward expressions of humiliation [false humility], while in the process, their hearts were unhumbled.

Nothing New in Zechariah 7:7:

The people and priests are told what the LORD of hosts has said, and it’s nothing new.  The question seems to imply they have forgotten.  The GOOD THING the Captives should have done…was left undone!

On their FAST DAYS, the captives went and separated themselves from daily activities; being a sign of their sorrow for the judgment they were under.  This wasn’t enough.  What they should have done was to search the Scriptures and they would have seen what was the reason for God’s controversy with their fathers, taking a warning by their miseries, not going down the same pathway.

The AFFLICTION that rested on their shoulders was to WAKE THEM UP!  Bring them to REPENTANCE!

A Warning!!!

The disobedience of others and the consequences should be a WARNING to us!  God’s judgements upon Israel of old for their sins were written for a CAUTION to Christians today:

“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).

So Church, Why do we do what we do on Sundays?

In my reading for this study, I ran across a story that directed my thoughts to the above question.

A story is told about a wife who was cooking a roast.  She cuts the end off of the roast, puts it on a pan, then into the oven.  The husband asks,  “Why did you cut the end off?”

She replies  “Because my mom always did.”

The next day the wife asks her mom  “Why did you cut the end off of the roast before putting it in the oven?”  Mom replies  “Because my mom always did.”

So both of them went to Grandma and asked the same question.  “Grandma, why do you cut the end of the roast off before cooking it?”

Grandma replies  “So it would fit in the pan!”

Mark Batterson says  “All of us develop hypotheses about everything all the time.  Then we look for evidence to support our hypotheses and ignore evidence to the contrary.”    GUILTY! 

Questions to ask ourselves before, during and after the Sunday Service–it’s more than about “fasting”:

Why do we take COMMUNION–How many of us are partaking in the way God desires us to participate in the Lord’s supper?  What is it that you WORSHIP?  What is it that you get excited about?  Why do we TITHE, why do we FELLOWSHIP (meet and greet time) right after worship and praise?  Why our we FASTING?  Does GOD want me to, or is it just at the pastor’s request?  Why do we do what we do?

And the answer to the many questions…”Was it for Me?”

“WAS IT FOR ME that you fasted, for Me?  (Zechariah 7:5 b.)

“WAS IT FOR ME” that you are taking the Lord’s Supper?

“WAS IT FOR ME” that you are singing and worshiping?

“WAS IT FOR ME” you put in your tithe and offering?

Or is the condition of our SPIRITUALITY in a state of “Sclerosis”?  You’ll have to answer that question.

 

 

Photo Credits:  2nd Temple – Wikipedia Israel Museum;  “Sorry I’m Fasting” T-Shirt–PhotoBucket

Footnote References:

[i] – Merriam Webster Dictionary

[ii] –  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words–page  466 NT Words.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Get Stuck In A “WRINGER”!

Zechariah 3:1-7  (MSG):

(1-2)  Next, the Messenger-Angel showed me the high priest, Joshua.  He was standing before God’s Angel where the Accuser showed up to accuse him.  Then GOD said to the Accuser, “I, GOD rebuke you, Accuser!  I rebuke you and choose Jerusalem. Surprise!  Everything is going up in flames, but I reach in and pull out Jerusalem!”

(3-4)  Joshua, standing before the Angel, was dressed in dirty clothes.  The Angel spoke to his attendants, “Get him out of those filthy clothes,” and then said to Joshua, “Look, I’ve stripped you of your sin and dressed you up in clean clothes.”  I spoke up and said, “How about a clean new turban for his head also?”  And they did it–put a clean new turban on his head. Then they finished dressing him, with GOD’s Angel looking on.

(6-7)  GOD’s Angel then charged Joshua, “Orders from GOD-OF-THE-ANGEL-ARMIES:  ‘If you live the way I tell you and remain obedient in my service, then you’ll make the decisions around here and oversee my affairs.  And all my attendants standing here will be at your service.’

The "Little Old Wringer" Washing Maching

The “Little Old Wringer” Washing Machine

 

I still remember a little old wringer type washing machine my mother would used every Monday when I was a child.  MONDAY, was WASH DAY. Period!

It was an all-day ritual; washing clothes, wringing them as dry as possible, and hanging the wash outside on a clothesline.

I know most of you would wonder how anyone could remember that far back.  Wasn’t that before the days of radio?  No, it wasn’t that far back but it was before the days of 4- track and 8- track players, cassettes, color TV (most couldn’t afford a black & white TV), and the internet.

It was the early to mid-1950’s, when I remember mom pulling that old wringer washer out from the closet beneath the stairway, then pushing it on its wheels into the tiny apartment kitchen.  What a job wash-day must have been.

I was too young to do much work but, I’m certain that I was a drain on her energy level as she had to watch me too.

There’s one image that still remains about that old washing machine.  The image of those flat pressed clothes as they came out of the wringer and into the clothes basket before hanging them outside to dry.

And on one of those days, in my enthusiasm to help mom on wash-day, I decided I could and would…feed the clean, wet sheets through the wringer.  My thoughts must have been”,  I wonder if those sheets are in any pain?”  

And at that moment of “wondering”, being somewhat distracted, I inadvertently let my fingers and hand follow the sheets through the wringer. The clothes weren’t the only thing in pain.  By the time my mom could release the rollers, she found me up to my elbow, with my little toes barely touching the floor–frozen in time as tears flowed down my cheeks.

To this day, I still think of that old wringer washer and how much of our lives are spent going through a wringer, and I can definitely say…it does hurt when you’re going through it.

The problem is, if you didn’t put those DIRTY CLOTHES through the process, of washing and wringing them out at regular intervals, then the clothes would become useless, or, if you did wear them anyway, no one would want to be around you very much.

IN THE OLD TESTAMENT BOOK OF THE PROPHET, ZECHARIAH 3:1-3:

Who Was JOSHUA?

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.  The Lord said to Satan,  “The Lord rebuke you, Satan!  The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you!  Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”  Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.  (NIV translation)

The GARMENTS of the High Priest

The GARMENTS of the High Priest

At the end of the Babylonian Captivity, Nehemiah and a number of Jews were released and sent back to REBUILD Jerusalem and the Temple.

At the end of the work, one of the HIGH PRIESTS who ministered in that rebuilt temple was JOSHUA.

This man, Joshua, was typical of the priesthood and its condition in Israel at the time.  He had little or no rule over his own house.

His sons had married outside the faith, polluting the nation with idolatry.  And, because of Joshua’s SIN, the sin of his family, Zechariah was given a VISION that spoke of Joshua’s life.

The Similarities…

But in a greater sense, that VISION spoke of the condition of all of us.  JOSHUA may have worn the outward robes that signified righteousness and holiness, the ephod of the High Priest, the golden mitre on his head with the words, “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD” on a gold band around it, and the robe he wore under the outer garment made of pure, white linen.  But Joshua’s life was far from the holiness he tried to display to those around him.

God Knew Joshua’s Heart…and so did Satan

We see in Zechariah’s vision, Joshua, Israel’s High Priest standing before the courts of Heaven; standing before the Angel of the Lord, which is no angel at all, but is one of the Old Testaments names given to Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Angel of God’s very presence.

Here then is an unholy priest standing before a Holy God in pure guilt and shame from the SIN in his life.

His self-righteousness was shown for what it was now–“FILTH!”:

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.  No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.  Yet, O Lord, you are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand”  (Isaiah 64:6-8 NIV).

It wasn’t bad enough Joshua stood there in sin and shame facing almighty God, but he had some company.  Right beside Joshua, on his right hand, was the one that Revelation 12:10 calls “the accuser of the brethren”, Satan.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need the devil pointing out my sins to God.  I do a good enough job on my own to condemn myself.

Nevertheless, there he was, Satan, standing there with his outstretched pointing finger, accusing Joshua right in his face–every failure, every sin, every doubt, every fear, and every disobedience before the Bar.  He was there for one purpose only.

Satan’s One Purpose…stealing this soul from God’s hand…

Destroying any chance of Joshua’s survival of High Priest in the land, but of Israel’s right to be a nation.  Satan’s PURPOSE was to steal, kill, and destroy Joshua and Israel once and for all (John 10:10-a).

The Evidence…

Satan had eye-witness accounts, even though he didn’t need any, because God already knew how sinful that Joshua was.

As Joshua stood there that day, his filthy garments and the SIN that was on him was evident.  The evidence was so outstanding in court against Joshua, Satan must have believed he had this case in the bag.  CONVICTED!!!  That’s how we are in our own righteousness too.

Right now, before the court in Heaven, the “accuser of the brethren” is standing there pointing his finger of accusation, making known every sin that you and I commit.  He has proof from the way we are dressed–in filthy clothing of the flesh that stinks to ‘high heaven’ with B.O. (‘bad odor’) of sin.

Satan is still attempting to snatch us from the very presence of God.  What a terrible thought it is, to be that close to God’s holiness, yet never know Heaven’s glories.

That’s what it will be like for those who will face God on judgement day without JESUS in their heart.  So close, and yet so far away.

Are you wrestling with sin in your life?

Do you wrestle with the “accusing finger” of the devil, who says to you…”You don’t PRAY ENOUGH, STUDY ENOUGH, AREN’T COMMITTED ENOUGH…and there is no way you will ever be “GOOD ENOUGH” or “HOLY ENOUGH” or “RIGHTEOUS ENOUGH”; at least not in your own power.

The apostle Paul said in Romans 3:10,  “There is no one righteous, not even one;”

So, is there any chance we can be holy and righteous…any way that our filthy garments of sin can be taken away and new clothes place upon us making us more presentable to our Holy God?

Yes, there certainly is, but not by might or power of our own hand.  Too many people keep trying to make themselves more presentable–righteous and holy–and all it does is backfire, proving themselves more sinful and unholy; back through the “wringer” and squeezed once more.

Most of the time we are sorry for being “filthy” but refuse to allow the cleansing POWER OF THE BLOOD OF JESUS to wash away the stain of sin. Instead, we try to find ways to soothe the guilt and pain:

–  We may continue in our sin but we will at the same time, try to spend more time in prayer.

–  We get down on the scrub board, turn on the agitator, bounce around for a while, hoping that somehow what we do… will play a part in our depth of sin.

We can cover the outside with good works (“whitewashing” – Matt. 23:27; Acts 23:3) all we want, but if JESUS isn’t in your heart…the center of your life, then you are still clothed in “filthy rags” of self-righteousness and that’s how you will stand before God.

A WHITER, FLUFFIER LOOK!

“A WHITER, FLUFFIER LOOK!”

Every time we try these the little ‘gimmicks’ ,trying to cover over the iniquities, we’re actually throwing ourselves in the washing machine ( “soft water makes a whiter, fluffier wash”), agitate the contents for a while and go through the WRINGER one more time…and find ourselves  come out, still as filthy, or find ourselves up to our elbows, caught once more in the wringer with our toes barely touching the ground.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t like going through my mother’s WRINGER when I was young, nor going through GOD’S WRINGER now.

HOLINESS:

In the Hebrew, the word is gadash, and in the Greek, the word is hagios (Footnote [i]).  Their similarity in meaning is almost identical:  “Those persons and things that are “holy” in the sense of being SET APART for divine redemptive purposes.”

We should be tired of trying to be holy enough or righteous enough.  I want to have TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS!  I want to live in TRUE HOLINESS!

BUT HOW?

Looking back in Zechariah 3:2-5, Joshua represented you and I.

I love the way God answers Satan.  It’s as though God says to the devil,  SHUT UP! I AM GOD!  I am the One who has chosen this one, who stands before Me!  [Put your name in the place of the word "JERUSALEM".  The meaning is still the same].

God saved us! God chose us!

God did the choosing and He won’t let go; no man can pluck us out of His hand!  Yes, Joshua had on filthy clothing!

– You and I have no righteousness with ourselves.

– We have no holiness within us.

– We have no power to deliver our soul from sin…

BUT JESUS DOES!

God speaks out to the angels who had gathered around…

Listening and watching for His commands-GET HIM OUT OF THOSE FILTHY CLOTHES!  GIVE HIM A NEW GARMENT AND A CHANGE OF HEART!  CLOTHE HIM IN RIGHTEOUSNESS!

Joshua didn’t deserve to be clothed in righteousness but neither are we.  None of us will ever be WORTHY enough.

It has nothing to do with WORTHINESS but everything to do with FOLLOWING JESUS, allowing Him to give us His righteousness by His own choice.

GOD took away Joshua’s SIN, then gave him robes of righteousness–placed a pure mitre of white linen upon his head with the words, “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD,” written across them.

JESUS stood by us when the work was finished because, when He purchased our salvation on the cross, His work was completed.  In other words, GOD takes away our sin, washes them away in the Blood of the Lamb, while clothing us in RIGHTEOUSNESS for His own name’s sake and changing our way of life and thinking while writing His Holiness upon our lives.

Zechariah 3:6-7, then says,

God’s Angel then charged Joshua,  “Orders from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:  ‘If you live the way I tell you and remain obedient in My service then you’ll make the decisions around here and oversee My affairs.  And all My attendants standing here will be at your service.

I love all the “IF s” and the “AND s” in Scripture.  “IF” we will walk in the ways of the LORD, keep His commandments, obey His Word, judge righteous judgements, not judge one another, and keep close to JESUS…then God promises we would walk among those who stood by.

WHO ARE THOSE WHO STOOD BY?

The Holy angels of Glory!  We will be there, right along side of Michael and Gabriel, the archangels.  We will walk and talk with JESUS, living eternally in the presence of our Father God without filthy garments but clothed in the pure righteousness and holiness.

HOW DO WE RECEIVE THESE CLEAN, PURE WHITE LINEN CLOTHING – THE ROBES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS?

HOW DO WE GET RID OF THAT OLD, GREASY, FILTHY BASEBALL CAP WE’VE BEEN WEARING DAILY AND REPLACE IT WITH A NEW TURBAN WITH THE WORDS “HOLY UNTO THE LORD”?

HOW ARE OUR SINS ALL BE WASHED AWAY?

By ACCEPTING and CONFESSING that Jesus as your Lord and Savior–SACRIFICED for your sins.  By BELIEVING in His death, burial and resurrection.  By BELIEVING that He is ALIVE FOREVER, and by ALLOWING HIM to RULE and REIGN in your life.

So the question becomes, are we willing to allow Jesus to enter our lives and give Him the control, or are we ready to go through the WRINGER one more time?

The choice is yours!  What will it be? 

 

Footnotes and Credits:

[i]  Definition of Holy or Holiness is from EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF BIBLE WORDS by Stephen D. Renn.

High Priest Photo by http://www.robertmock@biblesearchers.com

Other Photos by Photo Pin.

Referenced Bible Translations:

The Message Bible; The NIV Bible; Amplified Bible. 

 

 

ISRAELS’ “Title Deed” Has Already Been Issued!

293170964_6790e9ec90“TITLE DEED” Definition:

A deed or document evidencing a person’s or people’s legal right or title to property constituting evidence of ownership.  [See Footnote [i]]

Joel 3:1-14:

I will gather all nations and enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land Multitudes in the Valley of Decision!  For the day of the LORD is near in the Valley of Decision.

TAKING A STAND

“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”  (Genesis 12:3 NIV).

I won’t speak to or about other countries in “taking a stand”; although I’ve recently been in discussion on Social Media regarding feelings and attitudes regarding what’s going on in the conflict of Israel and Palestine/Hamas.  But I’ll leave that discussion for a later time.

AMERICA IS AT A MOMENTOUS CROSSROADS!  WILL WE BELIEVE GOD AND STAND BY ISRAEL?

Or, will we “waffle” and give our sympathies to Israel’s enemies?  Having already turned our back on God in America, we are feeling the sharpness, the bite from His restorative judgments.  I know, GOD IS LOVE!  But He is also righteous and holy and a “jealous” God!! (Deut. 32:16, 21; 1 Kings 14:22; Psalm 78:58; 1 Cor. 10:22).

Yes, we still  have a form of religion, but we have lost the moral and spiritual power we once possessed.  Where we find ourselves today is in an unprovoked, worldwide WAR with militant Islamist terrorists and our homeland is vulnerable.

Yet, while our President has often remarked, to act against TERRORISTS and those who harbor them…at the same time pressed ISRAEL not to retaliate against the Palestinian terrorists.  And, the center of his Middle East policy is to divide the land of Israel and to create a terrorist-ruled, Islamist Palestine state in the center of the Promised Land.

GOD’s Word speaks to this issue (Joel 3:1-17).  And because there will be sobering consequences if we fail in disobedience to Him [*SEE Jer. 12:14-16; Zech. 2:7-13].

TWO ABSOLUTES IN OUR “STANDING” WITH THE JEWS CLAIM TO THE LAND:

GOD Himself gave THE TITLE DEED to the land of Israel to the Jewish people!  Unlike historic claims that other nations might have to their land, the Jews have an overriding, stronger claim.  “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”

Any human ownership of land is but a lease.

I remember one area of Orange County California I lived in, who established homeowners to LEASED the property their homes sat on,  for ninety-nine years.  Their thinking I suppose was, “Who would still be living on that property for 99 years?  God never stipulated in His promise in the TITLE DEED, that His covenant land was to be leased–that Israel would have to parcel up their right to ownership to any “squatters”.

GOD does the “establishing” and not man (Deut. 32:8-10; Num. 34:10-15; Josh. 11:16-22; 14; Acts 17:26).

Knowing the Promises of GOD…

HOW MUCH LAND DID GOD GIVE ISRAEL?

HOW MUCH LAND DID GOD GIVE ISRAEL?

Every Christian should know God’s PROMISES, what God says about the Jews and His Covenant land, especially in this day of decisions.

Each of us should be as the Bereans, SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES; NOT ALLOW OUR UNDERSTANDING TO BE CLOUDED by doctrines with strained and skewed conclusions, nullifying the plain PROMISES OF GOD (Acts 17:11-12; 1 Peter 1:19-21).

God’s Warning to the Nations…

“All who try to move [Jerusalem] will injure themselves.”

GOD PROMISES to punish the nations (people) who come against Israel:  “…and whoever curses you I will curse” ~ Genesis 12:3 b.

America, the Arabs, the European Union, Russia, China, all the nations, are in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14).  Every nation that presumes to interfere with God’s plan for Israel, including the U.S., STANDS NOT only against Israel, but against God Almighty!  GOD is rising to JUDGE THE NATIONS  (Ezek. 38:1-39; Zech. 2:8-9; 12:2-9).

“Why ISRAEL Has the Right to their Land and Others do not”–

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) gave an important speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on March 11, 2002:

 —  SEVEN REASONS WHY ISRAEL HAS THE RIGHT TO “THEIR LAND” –

Six of his reasons which are simple truths apply to common sense.  If you are interested in reading the entire document, it can be viewed on-line –(http://www.senate.gov/~inhofe/fl030402.html).

The seventh, his most important, is an appeal to FAITH IN GOD of the Bible and His covenant with the Jewish people.

We must support Israel’s right to the land because God’ said so!

In Genesis 13:14-17, the Bible says:

The Lord said to Abram, “Lift up now your eyes and look from the place where you are for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever…”

Only God Can solve the Middle East Crisis…

America must concentrate doing what is right.  I’m not saying we should give blind approval on anything Israel may do.  But Israels restraint toward its Palestinian enemies, so far, has been admirable–a model for all nations, and our pressure on Israel not to retaliate against a terrorist run state, to endure endless assaults against their own civilian population all in hopes of bolstering negotiations with terrorists leaders in Egypt, is foolish and immoral (Prov. 19:27; Ps. 1:1-2; 2:2-12; 33:10-22; Is. 1:16; Jer. 23:32).

The Problem Goes Far Beyond the Palestinian People

The HEART of the Muslim faith and its opposition to Scripture begins with belief that the Land of Israel belongs to the Arabs through the lineages of Ishmael and Esau.  The Muslims reject the Bible record of God’s covenants with Isaac and Jacob, believing that Ishmael and Esau, the first-born sons of Abraham and Isaac, were the legitimate heirs.  THIS IS A LIE!

The problem can never be resolved apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and/or the return of Jesus, Himself!  God’s Word provides for law-abiding Arabs and other non-Jews who live in Israel (See Ezek. 47:22-23 – Christians and Muslim Arabs would enjoy for greater political and economic prosperity under Israel than under Muslim terrorist leaders).

But this doesn’t mean Israel should accept the immigration of millions of self-proclaimed refugees or to divide up Israel and Jerusalem, forever compromising Israel’s security.  God holds Israeli government responsible, as He does all governments, to protect its people to bring criminals to justice, especially those guilty of shedding innocent blood (Gen. 9:6; Dt. 19:11-13; Rom. 13:1-4).

That the world (U.N.) community interprets Israels use of military authority in self-defense (Romans 13) as morally inferior to Palestinian/Hamas suicide (homicide) bombers, rockets, and other terrorist acts, simply reveals the worlds ill will toward the Just and Righteous God of the Bible.

President Obama cannot both appease the nations and serve the God of the Bible.  AMERICA is in the valley of decision.  Will we simply do what’s right and just (as defined by God’s Word), or yield to the political circumstances and threats against us?

A Worldwide Resurgence of Anti-Semitism–

Psalm 35:19-20 NIV translation:

[19] Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.  [20] They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land.

The pleasure of savagery, Palestinian/Hamas rockets (3500+), against the Jewish civilian population has elicited sympathy and support for the Israelis in the U.S., but sleeping demons of anti-Semitism has raised its ugly head once more around the globe.

Pro-Palestinian propaganda, broadcast by the liberal media, has fueled an international resurgence of Anti-Semitism, especially in Europe, Russia and the Arab world.

Denunciations of Israel by the U.N. once more, many nations have fueled the fires of protests by tens of thousands, boycotts of Israeli goods, and other political efforts to punish Israel.

 The Church s Contribution–

Some Christians believe the natural Israel was permanently cast off by God and wholly replaced by the New Testament Church (Replacement Theology); that the rebirth of Israel as a nation today has no part in God’s plan for our spiritual well-being.

But they completely ignore or twist a lot of Bible promises to the contrary.

THE DESTINY OF NATIONS:

All Nations, not just America, are tied to their responses to God’s will as revealed in Scripture.  God holds NATIONS uniquely accountable to their actions for or…against the Jews and His covenant Land.

How will He deal with America, or your country, if we look away from the demonically inspired anti-Semitism that’s growing around us?  We cannot keep silent when forces are working day and night to turn our political leaders against Israel.

My son accidently poked his finger in my eye once. 

Who hasn’t had someone accidentally POKED you in the eye?  I sure have.  It was clearly accidental, but never-the-less, it didn’t hurt any less.

A POKE in the EYE

A POKE in the EYE

Your EYE is sensitive to touch and the center of your eye, your “iris”, the “pupil” of your eye–the APPLE, is the most sensitive part.

When my son accidentally poked me in the eye years ago, my first response was anger!  My aggravated, uncontrolled words in response to my pain…“You’ve got to be more careful with your fingers, it can ‘poke’ someone’s eye out!”  I don’t know what that meant to him at the time, but he replied to my outrage by saying, “I’m sorry dad. I didn’t mean to. It was an accident.”  And of course, I accepted his apology as any loving dad would because of his repentance.

But what if the POKE IN THE EYE had been on purpose with the intention of doing harm?

“For this is what the Lord Almighty says:  “After he has honored me and has sent me against the nnations that have plundered you–for whoever touches you touches the apple [the "iris"; the "pupil", the "center"] of My eye”  (Zech. 2:8 NIV). *NOTE: Bracketed words were inserted for emphasis.

American Christians must pray and act to be sure that AMERICA stands by Israel!

 

 

FOOTNOTE (s):  

[i] Title Deed – Dictionary.com

PHOTOS:  

Map of Israel – Files From Toni: How Much Land Did God Give Israel? at filesfromtoni.blogspot.com/how-much-land-did-god-give-israel-html

Photo Pin

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS: 

NIV Translation

Amplified Bible

 

 

“Latter Rains” Are Great! But A Flood?

A Southern California Lifestyle…

Living in California for over 38 years, one of my pleasures during the year was taking road trips to the desert--Borrego Hot Springs State Park.

Borrego Hot Springs After The RAINS

Borrego Hot Springs After The RAINS

My folks liked to go right after the winter rains, when the desert was in full, or almost in full of  cactus bloom.

And our going always depended on the RAIN.  No rain, no desert floor flowers!   On the 1st of March, without latter winter rains in any given year, my plea, my cry, was always… “LET IT RAIN!”

“LATTER RAINS” – [See Footnotes – [i] ]

RAIN in the Middle East varies greatly from thirty inches per year in the hill country of Palestine-Syria, to zero to four inches in the southern part of Palestine, the modern Negev Sinai peninsula and Egypt and in the desert area east of the Jordan Rift, south of Syria.

THE HEAVY RAINS come in late November to early March.  Before and after this period come usually lighter rains.  The former coming in October-November and the LATTER RAINS–March-April.

The Absence of Rain in the Bible…

Lack of RAIN always produced famine in a country so completely dependant upon it and its withholding by GOD was terrible punishment (Deuteronomy 28:22-24).

Could the ABSENCE OF RAIN in many areas of our own country be more than just “Global Warming”?  What can we do, if anything?

Crying Out in Fervent, Earnest, Prayer for God to Open the FLOODGATES OF HEAVEN!

“The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send RAIN on your land in season and to bless all the works of your hands”  (Deuteronomy 28 :12 NIV).

In PREPARATION for God’s Glory…

Every Sunday morning before leaving the house for worship and praise in the fellowship, I put a CD in the player of worship and praise music.  It sets a spiritual tone for me while doing my everyday morning activities [Walk & Feed the dog, put the coffee on, check the computer for messages, etc.].

A Plea from God…

Last Sunday was no exception; but with a twist.   My wife decided to change things up a little by picking out something  to hear from the past.  If you haven’t guessed already, her chosen CD was recorded by Michael W. Smith – See Footnote [ii].

We want to see Your Glory, God!

Do you want to see His Glory?

Lift your voices, lift your hands!

Let it rain, let it rain.

Open the floodgates of Heaven.

[Repeat]

Do we really want to see a FLOOD of  God’s GLORY–for Him to send a Spiritual Rain onto this world in which we live?

OPEN THE "FLOODGATES"

OPEN THE “FLOODGATES”

“The effective prayer [the earnest--heartfelt, continued-AMP] of a righteous man can accomplish much.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on earth for three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit” (James 5:16-18 NAS).

WHAT IS “GLORY” ?

Religious people very often have a vocabulary that is intermingled in society that has meaning to some, but little understanding by most.  So at this point in my blog, I decided to go to some old notes I’ve kept from a spiritual mentor of mine.  Dr. Creflo A. Dollar:  [See Footnotes [iii]] 

THE GLORY OF GOD is simply the manifestation of His Word.  It is the thing you have desired, confessed and prayed.

THE GLORY is like a fruit tree that originated from a SEED.  Ex.: When you plant an apple seed, the “glory” of that apple tree is the apple.

THE WORD OF GOD is a seed that, when planted in your heart [soul and spirit] will produce visible results, or GLORY in your life.

** [I hope this might give you something to think about while reading the rest of my investigation].

Natural Rains provide…

RAIN brings satisfaction of quenching of thirst for plants and animals.  It’s a necessity for life to exist on earth.  When the rain comes to a desert, it gives life in that desert; an opportunity provided to quench their thirst by the life-giving water in a dry and barren land and…the GLORY is revealed.

Spiritual Rain provides…

We know the importance of the natural RAIN.

Now living in the American Northwest, the State of Washington, I’m very familiar of the importance of the rain.  Washington wouldn’t have the nickname, The Evergreen State, if not for the natural rain.  I’ve  certainly have become aware of the effects on the life of a resident.  “It is what it is!”

GOD’S SPIRITUAL RAIN:

The rains of heaven promise to quench our thirst if we drink them in.  When we drink from the RAIN of Heaven, we quench our thirst for that missing spiritual water.

The Rain of Heaven, when its being poured out, softens the soil of individuals hearts, so they are moldable to have the ability to plant seeds of eternal life in their lives.

The RAIN helps prepare the soil, but it also is instrumental in getting SEEDS to bud; break open with new life.  Moisture and the sun help this process to blossom and it births new life starting the process of growth and eventually the fruit–THE GLORY.

Cry of the Heart…

In this weeks investigation of the WORD DETECTIVE, I ran across the poem from one person:  [See Footnote iv]

Let it Rain!

Rainbow visions, reflected, refractive…

As I gaze out my window.

Bright skies, only a pane away.

Inside, only pain.

I wish it would rain, and was the iridescence from the streaked, and cracked glass that holds me prisoner.

Here inside my world, of self-induced pain…

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

DO YOU HEAR THE CRY OF THIS HEART?

“Here inside my world of self-induced pain, let it rain.”

She is crying out for the hurt to be washed away.  She wants to be cleansed and to be filled with joy.  She doesn’t want the HURT and PAIN.

LET IT RAIN!

The person here is crying for the type of rain that HEALS PAIN, BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS, and the hurts of life.

GOD’S RAIN is able to accomplish this task!

The “Importance of GOD’S RAIN”:

1 Kings 18:41-46 (NIV):

THE RAINS COME!

And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.”  Do Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant.  And he went up and looked.

“There is nothing there,” he said.

Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”

The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”

So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.”

Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel.  The power of the Lord came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

1.  The area is being cleansed with the HEAVY RAIN.

2.  The soil for plenty is being soften up.

3.  The RAIN comes–and there is refreshment in the air.

4.  There is NEW LIFE being produced.

5.  The old sinful way of drought is being swept away in the FLOOD of God’s rain (1 Kings Chapters 21-22).

The “Latter Rains”…

“So rejoice, O sons of Zion.  And be glad in the Lord your God.  For He has given you the early rain for your vindication and He has poured down for you the rain, the early and latter rain as before”  (Joel 2:23 NAS).

The literal rains were symbolic of a greater truth.  They symbolized times of a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Different versions of the Bible differ in their translation of the phrase,  “He has given you the early rain for your vindication” (NAS).  This is because some Hebrew manuscripts use the words “moreh sedaqah” here, and others use “yoreh sedaqah.”

As I dug deeper, I discovered an interesting point.

“Yoreh” is the word for early rain.  While “Moreh” is the word for teacher.

So the phrase could be referencing to the “former rains”, or… referencing to the “teacher of righteousness–the Holy spirit.”

I don’t think there is unclearness presented here as an accident.  The symbolic meaning becomes even clearer in Joel Chapter 2:

[28] “And afterward I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.

[29] Even upon the manservants and upon the maidservants in those days will I pour out My Spirit.

[30] And I will show signs and wonders in the heavens, and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.

[31] The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood BEFORE the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.  [Revelation 6:12-17].

[32] And whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered and saved, for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the remnant [of survivors] shall be those whom the Lord calls.”

~Joel 2:28-32 Amplified Bible~

Crying Out in a Parched and Dry Land…

“And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD…”

We are asking… the LORD to pour out His spirit on our lives.

We are praying…to the LORD to send His cleansing RAIN, His refreshing RAIN, His life-giving RAIN into our lives and the lives around us.

WE NEED THE RAIN!  A special outpouring of the Holy spirit.

I think we need more than a ‘light sprinkling‘ of God’s Spirit; more than a few “April Showers”–

It’s time for the FLOODGATES OF HEAVEN TO OPEN in our lives–

–  A cleansing touch of the Lord…all 

–  A refreshing touch of the spirit in our souls…

–  A preparation of our hearts and other hearts in planting of eternal seeds…

–  The birth of eternal seeds in our hearts…

–  The growth of the fruit of the Spirit…

–  The ability to experience Abundant New Life…

–  The blessing of having a fruitful life filled with JOY…

In OBEDIENCE to Our Lord and Savior, as Stewards of His Blessings, God Promises Us Even More:

See if I will not throw open the FLOODGATES of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it”               (Malachi 3:10 b. NIV Bible).

Being Filled with JOY

Being Filled with JOY

Some of you who are reading all of this NEED it to RAIN in your personal lives.  Now is the time to CRY OUT…“LET IT RAIN GOD!”

 

FOOTNOTES:

[i]  Young’s Bible Dictionary – G. Douglas Young, PhD Institute of Holy Land Studies, Jerusalem.  [ii] Study Notes from “The Word, The Blessing and The Glory” –  [iii] Michael W. Smith Lyrics with Writers: Carolyn Mitchell, Michael W. Smith, Deborah Smith – Copyright: Sony/ATV Milene Music, Peach Pie Music, WB Music Corp.  [iv] Copyright…Teresa Bess.

PHOTO CREDITS:

Photo Pin and… “Anza-Borrego Desert State Park” at http://desertusa.com/wildflo/ca.absap/html 

 

 

“Consider this an Invitation”

Revelation 19:6-9:

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like a roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns

Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!  For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.

Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints)

Then the angel said to me,  

“Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'”

And he added,

“These are the true words of God.”

 

R.S.V.P.

R.S.V.P.

 

How Important Are Relationships of the “bride-to-be” and  the “Husband-to-be” Before Marriage?

In this passage of Scripture, Revelation 16:6-9, we can picture the RELATIONSHIP of JESUS with His Church, the Bride.

The Bride and Groom…

There is the theme/idea repeated in several places in the Bible, particularly in the N. Testament with Jesus portrayed as the coming groom, and the church as His expectant bride  [Ref:  Matthew 25:1-13].

In the Old Testament, the relationship between the shepherd/king and the Shulamite maiden in Song of Solomon as an allegory; portrays the love relationship between God and Israel.

THE BANQUETING HOUSE – (See Footnotes [i])

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love [Song 2:4].

In this story of the Shulamite girl whose heart was won by a shepherd who later came as King Solomon to claim her and who took her back to the palace in Jerusalem.  Now he takes her to the “banqueting house.”

In this there is a beautiful picture of the church which will be the bride of Christ.  It also reveals the personal relationship which is possible between the Lord Jesus Christ and each individual believer.

Believer’s Anticipation

One day in an event described as the “RAPTURE”…the taking up of the church, Jesus Christ (the Bridegroom) will return for the church (His bride).

In that given moment, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17,  “…the dead in Christ shall rise first and then we which are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

THE GREAT EVENT!!!

The “CATCHING UP,” or the “RAPTURE” will be followed at some point, with the event we just look at together in Revelation 19, called “The Wedding Supper of the Lamb.”

It’s an “Invitation Only” Event…

…but you’ve all received an INVITATION!  “Blessed are those who are invited”

Unfortunately, many who have been invited, received the WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENT, will not be in attendance.  That’s right, the WEDDING is quickly approaching, the arrangements have been made, the guest list is almost finalized, and the Bridegroom is coming soon!

Preparations Made

Preparations Made

PROPOSITION:

Many people who consider themselves part of the “BRIDE OF CHRIST” are not ready for JESUS the Bridegroom to come.

A QUESTIONING SENTENCE:

How do I know that a lot of people are going to miss out on God’s great “WEDDING RECEPTION” in heaven?

Allow me, if I may, to now serve as your “Wedding Coordinator.”  I have briefly prepared a “CHECKLIST” to help the prospective bride prepare for her wedding day.

I know,  “Why is a guy preparing a “checklist” for the ‘big day’?”

I was BLESSED with two daughters who went through all the wedding day preparations.  But to refresh my memory, I decided to ask some general questions to the ladies on my Facebook account about WEDDING PREPARATIONS:

THE QUESTION:  “How does a BRIDE prepare herself before the wedding?  How did you prepare personally for your wedding day, or, did you even prepare?”

I’d like to SHARE some comments:

“Pre-marriage counseling with our pastor”

“Spent time together as a couple discussing the vows, decorations, guest list…relaxed and took a bath.”

“We knew each other for only 1 month, 2 days.  Didn’t have much time to prepare for anything. And then after 14 days of marriage together, the Lord took him home.”

“Sent out R.S.V.P. cards so we knew how much food we needed and the table settings.”

THREE ESSENTIAL ITEMS you must pay attention to if you are going to be prepared: 

These THREE THINGS will keep you out of God’s Eternal Wedding Party in Heaven– So please, for your sake, don’t be unprepared!

#1.  TURNING DOWN THE PROPOSAL…THE INVITATION.

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”  And let him who hears say, “Come!”  ~ Revelation 22:17 NIV

A Public Proposal…

I love it when a guy makes one of those bold public marriage proposals on YouTube; in the middle of a crowded restaurant, at half-time of a big game.

One guy took his girl up in a hot air balloon to see what he had written on the field below:  “WILL YOU MARRY ME?”  It was all caught on camera.  I would hope a guy is pretty sure of himself before taking that kind of risk   (Can you imagine getting turned down on national TV? – “Nah! Not interested” or “Could I have some time to think about it?”).

JESUS’ PROPOSAL TO YOU AND ME WAS A PUBLIC SPECTACLE–

He fell to his knees several different times…on the way to the place where He proposed.

He nailed His LOVE for you and me to the CROSS, signing His intentions with His own blood, spread His arms out wide and said,

“I want you for my own.

I want you all!

Whosoever will may come.”

This official PROPOSAL reads like this,

“For God so greatly LOVED and dearly prized the world

that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son,

so that whoever believes in

(trusts in, clings to, relies on)

Him shall not perish 

(come to destruction, be lost)

but have eternal (everlasting) life.”

-John 3:16-

You can trust me on this:  YOU’LL NOT RECEIVE A BETTER OFFER!

The world will try to sell you the idea that something better will come along; “You can reject God’s offer and still get into heaven your own way.”

That you can SUBMIT YOU OWN PROPOSAL:

…based on good deeds,

…church attendance,

…by giving to charities…etc.

BUT…you can’t BUY your way into heaven!  JESUS already paid the price.  The PROPOSAL is on the table.  He’s already “popped the question!”

WHAT THEN IS YOUR ANSWER TO HIS PROPOSAL?

“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him”  [John 3:35-36 NIV].

#2.  THE SECOND THING THAT WILL KEEP YOU OUT OF GOD’S ETERNAL WEDDING PARTY IS…

Being TARDY for the CEREMONY–

You hear all kinds of crazy stories of people who were late at their own wedding (usually the groom).  They got lost trying to find the church; they overslept; they missed their flight, etc.

READ Matthew 25:1-13: “THEN THE kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom” (verse 1).

“FIVE WERE FOOLISH…FIVE WERE WISE…”

THE “FOOLISH” — “…when the foolish took their lamps (nighttime wedding), they did not take any [extra] oil with them” [verse 3];  “While the bridegroom lingered and was slow in coming, they ALL began nodding their heads, and they fell asleep” [verse 5].

THE “WISE” — “…took flasks of oil along with them [also] with their lamps” [verse 4].

The girls we read about, the “foolish” girls, missed the “ultimate” WEDDING BANQUET because the procrastinated.  They were like so many people in the world who think there is “plenty of time” to get things right with God when they’re ready.

So, they keep putting off their INVITATION, keep asking for an EXTENDED R.S.V.P. DATE.

THERE’S ONE LAST THING…

There is one last thing that will keep you out of god’s ETERNAL WEDDING PARTY:

#3.  Two-timing the “GROOM” (II Corinthians 11:2).

For I am zealous for you with godly eagerness and 

a divine jealousy,  for I have betrothed you

to one Husband, to present you as

a chaste virgin t Christ.

Here’s a thought that just might scare some to death:

JESUS CHRIST, the Savior of your eternal soul.  THE ONE who suffered and bled and died for you.  THE ONE you pledged your life to serve. THE HOLY SON of the living GOD…could come for His Bride at any moment…and many of you are off living on “Temptation Island.”

You once made the commitment to Him and said, “no other gods”, and “you’re the only one Jesus!”, and yet, you’ve been caught on camera with other lovers.

The WEDDING DATE is closer than you think and you’re out “two-timing” Jesus.

SIN might get you a “first date” with JESUS, but once you accepted His proposal, you agreed to keep yourself pure until the wedding.  You’ve been FLIRTING with lust; FOOLING AROUND with compromise; COURTING OTHER LOVERS behind His back.

The only way you and I can stand SPOTLESS before the Bridegroom…

Is being washed in the sinless blood of the Lamb and dressed in His righteousness.

“SCOTCHGARD” won’t work.

Scotch-garding or...WON'T WORK!

Scotch-garding or…WON’T WORK!

Some Christians act like their wedding clothes were treated.  They say they love JESUS but… keep rolling around on the couch (or chair) with sin pretending like they’re protected from any stain on them.

The STAIN of sin was removed at a great cost!  So don’t try to sew yourself up in a holy “cover up.”

JESUS is coming for a HOLY BRIDE.  If the WEDDING were held at 1:00 PM, or at Midnight, would you be ready?  You HOPE so or you KNOW so!  

I HOPE it’s the latter!

bride4christ

 

 

Footnotes and References:

[i]  “Banqueting House” – Thru the Bible Commentary Series; Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon, pg. 137, by J. Vernon McGee.

Bible References:

Amplified Bible; New International Version.

Photo Credits:

“Scotch-garding” – Getting Prepared @ http://www.travelblog.org/ 

Invitation Photo by Photo Pin.

 

 

 

 

 

JESUS Loving the Unlovable

REVELATION 3:19:

JESUS is talking to a church and saying,

“Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them].  So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude]”  ~ Amplified Bible.

I seldom hear about the CHASTISEMENT OF THE LORD from today’s pulpits.  In fact, I don’t remember ever hearing about God’s discipline for people in the church.  But it is an issue that all Christians should learn about, and sooner or later, most of us will probably discover what it is to be chastened of the Lord.

The Purpose for Chastening is…?  

“The Lord has chastened me sorely, but He has not given me over to death”  (Psalm 118:18).

The PURPOSE is not to destroy but to LEAD to repentance.

“…You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke; bring me back, that I may be restored, for You are the Lord my God.  Surely after I was turned [from You], I repented; and after I was instructed, I penitently smote my thigh.  I was ashamed, yes, even confounded, because I bore the disgrace of my youth [as a nation]”  (Jeremiah 31:18-19).

And to RESTORE God’s blessing.

“Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct,  O Lord, and teach out of Your law (Word)”  (Psalm 94:12).

I must admit, I’ve never been fond of the idea of spanking–on the receiving end, or the giving end.  Probably because as a kid I received quite a few spankings.  And by the way, hiding under my parents bed to escape punishment never worked [It doesn't work for God either.].

Mom would have an ever-present tree switch nearby, and would shout to me in my hiding,  “If you don’t come out right now, the punishment will be much worse!”

Looking back now, I recognize that the discipline of my parents was necessary in keeping me out of trouble–and in many cases to spare me from greater pain and suffering.  Of course back in those days, because of my immaturity, that reasoning wouldn’t make sense to a youngster.

Furthermore, I realize now what my parents went through during those years.  I too experienced the same in the raising our three children– the ordeals of correcting–not because my parents dislike us, but because they love us.  I don’t think my children understood that reasoning either while growing up, but its application was the same never-the-less.

That realization reminded me of God’s word in The Letter to the Hebrews– 12:9-11:

[9]    Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we yielded [to them] and respected [them for training us]. Shall we not much more cheerfully submit to the Father of spirits and so [truly] live?

[10] For [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for only a short period of time and chastised us as seemed proper and good to them; but He disciplines us for our certain good, that we may become sharers in His own holiness.

[11] For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness--in conformity to God's will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God]. 

God’s Word Exposes the Church’s Hypocrisy…

 “I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold or hot. Would that your were cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing, and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked”  (Revelation 3:15-17).

Though JESUS has just exposed church hypocrisy, and has implied that many are pretending to know Him, yet don’t, His reasons are not because He hates them for falling in such a state but because He deeply loves them; He wants to come into their lives.

He reminds the church that He is impartial, always consistent while confronting and discipline.  That is the way GOD treats everyone He loves when they get off course, and believe me…I have certainly gotten ‘off course’ during my 42 years of Christian Life.

Proverbs 3:11, 12:

My son, do not despise or shrink from the chastising of the Lord  [His correction by punishment or by subjection to suffering or trial]; neither be weary of or impatient about or loathe or abhor His reproof.

For whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.

[Other Scripture to meditate on:  Hebrews 12:5-11; Job 5:17; Psalm 39:11; Proverbs 15:10]

JESUS’ Harsh Assessment…Revelation 3:19.

His harsh assessment of this particular church wasn’t for the purpose of driving them away from Him, but rather serve to put them on notice–YOU MUST BE ZEALOUS–they must be “HOT” (verse 16) and “REPENT” [changing your mind and attitude].

God Wants What Is Best For Us–

He wants us to have SPIRITUAL LIFE, not death.  All this language, the language of LOVE;

-  it’s the treatment of LOVE

- it’s LOVE rebuking, chastising, and exhorting.

JESUS wants to see you restored.

For this very reason, He will discipline us who persist in sin; will even deal out correction if we show signs of APATHY or SPIRITUAL INDIFFERENCE.

“Spiritual Indifference”:

Indifference robs a church of its MAXIMUM WORSHIP POTENTIAL-

It shows itself through…

…NEGLECTED ATTENDANCE…PREPARATION…PARTICIPATION…

Enthusiasm to Worship King of kings, Lord of lords, the Almighty living God will be missing (Psalm 122:1).  Violation of God’s Word will rob the brethren and yourself of EDIFICATION in the body of Christ (Hebrews 5:11-12).

Our interest must increase for our worship to be a blessing– “I don’t get anything out of worship.” — Are you putting anything in?!

AGAIN, Revelation 3:19, [The New Living Bible]:

“I continually discipline and punish everyone I love, so I must punish you unless you turn from your indifference and become enthusiastic about the things of God.”

“I Hear You Knocking…”

Picture of Door by Sarah Langova

Picture of Door by Sarah Langova

Since I’m a product of the 50’s, and  remembering listening to the music of the day on my old Silvertone Radio, the Fats Domino song rang out in my ear.  Although the rest of the lyrics certainly don’t fit the topic, the title certainly does.

“I hear you knocking but you can’t come in”

Revelation 3:20:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and be [will eat] with Me.

JESUS IS THE DOOR! – John 10:7.

Restoration is Made…

What a telling image Jesus gives.  JESUS pictures Himself standing outside the DOOR of the repentive heart.

So often this famous verse is used to invite UNBELIEVERS to accept Jesus into their lives.  And of course, that is the message.  BUT the fact that He needs to ask to be let into the hearts of supposed Christians found in the church of Laodicea is a horrible assessment of their condition.

They, like the unbelievers around them, need to repent and welcome Him to come in and take control of their lives–to RESTORE the relationship they once demonstrated

Proverbs 15:10 says,  “The HEART knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.”

Psalm 39:11:  “When with rebukes You correct and chasten man for sin, You waste his beauty like a moth and what is dear to him consumes away; surely every man is a mere breath.”

Indifference Robs A Church!

Robs it of what?  Of its MAXIMUM WORSHIP  POTENTIAL.

It shows itself through neglected attendance, preparation and participation.  My ENTHUSIASM to worship will be missing (Psalm 122:1):

“I WAS glad when they said to me,  Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

Violation of God’s Word will always ROB the brethren and yourself of EDIFICATION: The meaning “edification” in the sense of “being built up, strengthened in one’s faith” [Expository Dictionary of Bible Words].

Our interest must increase for our WORSHIP to be a blessing;

“I don’t get anything out of worship.” — Are you putting anything in?!   [ [i] Referenced].

While Christ is Knocking at Our Door…(3:20)

He is directing some of us to knock at Him; “knock and it shall be opened.”

He will certainly hear our voice and open the door to us.  He will not be DEAF to our voice, nor bar the door, nor keep us standing in the hallway, nor send us empty away.

Christ’s Church When He Comes…

The body (the church) will be found in different circumstances then, as well as now, and with many kinds of knocking; yet in all, it’s the same earnest desire on His part to be let in.  He will not force the door; but still wants to be let in.

Don’t find yourselves repeating the lyrics to a song that was popular in the 50’s: “I hear you knocking, but You can’t come in!” How much you will lose out on!

In His Absence…

–  NO outward prosperity,

–  NO riches,

–  NOR numbers can compensate…

IF HE IS KEPT OUT–all is sadness, and leanness, and poverty.

IF He is admitted, ALL IS WELL…

–  HAPPY is the church where Christ is daily feasting…

–  HAPPY the soul in which He has come to live…and who, is in daily communion by Faith and ENJOY the TASTES the Bridegroom’s LOVE!.

“I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me.”

 

 

 

 Reference:  [i]  www.bibleanswer.com/indiffrn.htm

Bible Translation Used: Amplified except where noted.

 

 

“Marriage Counseling” Might Be In Order

I have been reading and studying God’s Word in the book of Revelation as of late.  I decided to focus more on God’s LOVE for us all, rather than only emphasize the aspect of PROPHECY–although that issue is also of importance.

EPHESUS - The Church With No Doors by Van Gogh

EPHESUS – The Church With No Doors by Van Gogh

Revelation 2:1-7 (NIV):

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

[1] These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands:  [2] I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.  [3] You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

[4] Yet I hold this against you:  You have forsaken your first love.  [5] Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent,  I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.  [6] But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

[7] He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

Ephesians 5:21-23 (AMP):

“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  [22] Wives, be subject (be submissive and adapt yourselves) to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord.  [23] For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, Himself the Savior of [His] body.” 

My 50th Wedding Anniversary is approaching…

Last year on my 49th Wedding Anniversary, a much younger friend asked for me to give a brief account of the BENEFITS OF A MARRIAGE with such a long duration and I’m sure this year, on our 50th, we will be asked the same question once more:

“Tell us, Mel, just what is it you have learned from those wonderful years with Dianne?”

“Honestly, I’ve learned that MARRIAGE is the best teacher of all.  It teaches you loyalty, patience with one another, meekness, self-restraint, forgiveness…and a great many other qualities you wouldn’t need to know if you were single.”

GOD LOVES MARRIAGE–

Transforming Lives

Transforming Lives

God performed THE FIRST MARRIAGE in the garden between Adam and Eve.  In fact, the main reason God created Eve from Adam’s side was because (as He said),

“It is not good for man to be alone”  (Genesis 2:18)

Some reasons God didn’t want man to be alone…

MARRIAGE changes us!

Marriage improves our lives, transforming us into something we could never become alone.

MARRIAGE can make you wise!

And after being married for almost 50 years, I can certainly testify it can IF…we do it God’s way!

We can learn all kinds of things as we GROW in Love!

Several years before John wrote the book of Revelation, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Ephesus (which we call Ephesians).

In that letter, Paul told the Christians about marriage (Ephesians 5:21-33).

In Ephesians 5, God is telling them, and us, how highly He regards MARRIAGE.  In fact, God regards marriage so highly–He compares a HEALTHY MAN to a HEALTHY CHURCH.

Husbands and wives should do the same things, to have a healthy marriage as you would if you wanted a healthy congregational church.

So, what does a person do when they have an unhealthy marriage?  

How would you go about in healing a relationship between a husband and wife that appears to have gone to the breaking point?

Well, apparently you’d do the same thing you’d do if you had an unhealthy church.

In Revelation 2, Jesus is telling Ephesus that their relationship with Him had become unhealthy, uncomfortable, and strained.  Something needed to be “fixed.”

Jesus diagnoses the problem with Spiritual Advice!

He gives them [and us too] some “MARRIAGE COUNSELING” in Revelation 2:5:

“REPENT (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when you first knew the Lord]“

REPENT means to “turn around”, to “go back”!  Go back to the beginning and do what you did at the beginning-again!  That will bring healing to the strained relationship they were experiencing.

So what had the Ephesians done back at the beginning?

If you haven’t already, you will need to grab your Bible and turn back to ACTS 19:17-20:

When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor ~ verse 17.

Once the assembly of believers in Ephesus began to LOVE JESUS…

–  they openly confessed their evil deeds,

–  they publicly burned their books of sorcery,

–  AND this all resulted in the Word of the Lord spreading widely and powerfully in the surrounding communities.

Another way of putting it:  “they changed their ways”.

Their NEW RELATIONSHIP with Jesus changed them so much that they…THOUGHT DIFFERENTLY…BEHAVED DIFFERENTLY…THREW OUT EVERYTHING standing between them and Jesus!

As a result, everybody around knew of this great LOVE they had for JESUS.

MARRIAGE is never a 50/50 percent relationship.  It’s a 100/100 percent relationship.

 – 40 YEARS PASSES BY IN THE CONGREGATION OF BELIEVERS…

…AND THINGS HAVE CHANGED!

Their LOVE for Jesus had grown stale and empty and their RELATIONSHIP is on life support.  Unless they do something drastic, Jesus is going to take His “candlestick” with Him (Revelation 2:5).

And so JESUS says:

TURN AROUND

GO BACK

LOVE ME LIKE YOU USED TO!

That’s the way to FIX a broken church…a broken relationship.  It is also the way you FIX a broken marriage…before the separation can occur.

Going Back…it’s never to late!

Doing the things you used to do when you first got married can rekindle a closer relationship.

I can remember when I was dating my wife,  how important it was to open car doors, to be well-groomed before picking her up on a date, having the right cologne splashed all over, the one she had mentioned she liked.  I wanted to impress her, to make her notice how interested I was in her and no one else.

As the years passed by all to quickly, honestly, I let things slip.  Now Dianne never said, “How come you never do those things anymore!”  God’s Spirit spoke to my spirit,  “Mel, to show your wife how much you value her, as a suggestion, start opening car doors and build on that.”  I’m still in a daily “building” process even after 50 years.  It never stops.

Redirecting Our Focus…

When your total FOCUS is on pleasing the other person (100%), and if someone asks you about that person you LOVE…you only say good things about them.

It’s NOT about you…

“If only they would”….

“…if only I could get my spouse to do that…everything would be just fine.”

“…if only my husband would say he loved me like he used to, then…”

“…if only my wife treated me the way she did at the beginning we wouldn’t be in this MESS!”

Sharing My Little Secret…

Allow me to let you in on a little secret I’ve learned in 50 years:

GOD NEVER SAID  “Husbands love your wives IF they deserve it.”

GOD NEVER SAID  “Wives submit to your husbands IF they deserve it.” 

A MARRIAGE CAN’T BE FIXED by saying:

“If only they would do this then…”

“If only they would do that!”

You can’t FIX marriages like that.  You can only FIX a marriage by deciding that YOU will do what it needs to be done.

AND it works.  Sometimes–even if you do it for the wrong reasons–it still works!

ILLUSTRATION:  (See References [i])

GEORGE CRANE, a Newspaper columnist and minister tells of a wife who came to his office full of hatred toward her husband.

“I not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even before I divorce him!”

Thinking for a minute, Dr. Crane came up with an ingenious plan:

“Go home and act as if you really loved your husband,” he told her.

“Tell him how much he means to you. praise him for every decent trait. Go out of your way to be as kind and considerate and generous as possible. After you have convinced him of your undying love and that you cannot live without him…then drop the bomb. Tell him that you’re getting a divorce. That will really hurt him.”

And she followed his instructions with enthusiasm.

Two months went by…and she didn’t return to her counselor, so Dr. Crane called her.

“Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?”

“DIVORCE?” she exclaimed.

“Never!  I discovered, I really do love him.”

Without realizing it–in OBEYING God–her marriage healed.  She didn’t realize she’d “REPENTED” and done the things she’d done at first.  But when she did, she fell in love all over again.

This is what JESUS is explaining to the church at Ephesus:  Remember then from what heights you have fallen.  REPENT (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else…(Rev. 2:5 AMP).

“You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling”–

A DEEPER KIND OF LOVE is more than just “feelings.”  It’s a heartfelt, deepened relationship as your marriage progresses and in the same manner, a closer relationship with Christ.

“Your happiness is going to be based on who you decide to share the rest of your life with.”  [ii]

One of the reasons many marriages fail today is they’ve forgotten what the attraction was about.

-  You got bored with the old routine.

-  You’ve become complacent in the everyday things in life.

JESUS says, “I have this one charge to make against you:  that you have LEFT the love that you had at first”  (verse 4).

It wasn’t that the ‘church people’ no longer had any LOVE of Jesus at all, rather it was the QUALITY of their love for Him had weakened; grown stale over a period of time.

The GREEK word translated “LEFT” means “to depart, leave alone, forsake, and neglect.”  It can also be used of DIVORCE and the image it gave me is powerful.  [iii]

When you lose your keys, where are they?  When you lose your sunglasses, they are right where you left them.  I sometimes find them on my head.

That’s the way it is with your FIRST LOVE.  If you’ve lost it, guess where it can be found.  It’s wherever you left it.

Wherever it is, it’s still there because God hasn’t moved!  He’s waiting for you to come back.

Invaluable Relationships…

Imagine ladies, that your husband comes home and says,  “I don’t love you anymore.  But nothing will change.  I’ll still earn a living and pay the bills.  We’ll still sit together and sleep together.  I’ll still father our children.  I just don’t love you anymore.”

Would that reasoning set well with you?  No way!  You’d be devastated.

Yet we say that to the Lord.

“Jesus, I don’t love You like I did in the beginning.  I’ll still come to church every week.  I’ll still serve You.  I’ll still witness for You.  I just don’t love You like I used too.”

That’s NOT good enough for Jesus either.

Overcomers!

This brings back to Revelation 2:7 in conclusion:

“He who is able to hear, let him listen to and give heed to what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches).  To him who overcomes (is victorious), I will grant to eat [of the fruit] of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.  [Gen. 2:9; 3:24.]“

THE “LAMPSTAND’ REMOVAL:

Jesus tells us, unless we rediscover our FIRST LOVE and repent, He will remove the LAMPSTAND (verse 5 b.).  

No way is the Lord saying that the people of the church (we are the “church”) have lost their salvation.  For the OVERCOMERS will be granted to eat of the tree of life, which is in paradise.

Removing the “LAMPSTAND” means that your light, your uplifted TORCH LIGHT, has been extinguished in the surrounding communities.

So if you find that “MARRIAGE COUNSELING” is in order, in your marriage or in your spiritual relationship, you may need to return to a relationship of FIRST LOVE…then REPENT of your negligence, complacency and go back to the beginning.

REFERENCES:

[i]  Tests 1939 “For Husbands and Wives” The chicago Daily Tribune January 1-12, 1940.

[ii]  “Winning in Troubled Times” by Dr. Creflo A. Dollar.

[iii]  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

PHOTOS:

EPHESUS – “The Church With No Doors” by Van Gogh atwww.christimages.org/biblebooks/Book of Revelation.html

Photo Pin – Free Photos for Bloggers.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:

The New International Version.

The Amplified Bible.

Imitators or Impostors?

1 Thessalonians 1:6-10  (NIV):

[6] You became IMITATORS of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.  [7] And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.  [8] The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia–your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it,  [9] for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,  [10] and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

charlescalebcolton203963

 

MAKING AN IMPRESSION:

Sometimes I hear a new song, read a book, or see something that so grabs my attention, I can’t help myself.  As soon as I have the opportunity, I want to tell someone I meet or share my experience on Social Media, “I gotta tell you about this book I’m reading…” or whatever it is.

That’s when it is CLEAR…it really made an impression.

And what happened when Paul and his fellow evangelists came to Thessalonica made that kind of IMPRESSION?  Not only impressing the local church people, but also on people all over the place.

Conversation was “buzzing” all around Greece and neighboring countries.  Nobody had to ask,  “Have you heard about those strange Jews going around talking about someone called JESUS?” because everybody who had heard about them, were telling someone else without being asked.

That’s the meaning of what Paul says in VERSE 8:  “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia–your faith in God has become known everywhere.”

And what people were talking about wasn’t just the new church down at “The Corner of Heartbreak Ridge and New Hope Road” ([i]Footnote). but the way it had come into being.

People were talking about the amazing and instantaneous effect the Gospel had effecting their lives.

At the heart of it all…

At the heart of it all was the call to WORSHIP…of the One True God rather than the surrounding idols.

It would be like asking the people of today, to give up using their cars, computers, tv’s and cell phones.

The gods of Greek and Roman paganism were everywhere.

For example, if you or your son or daughter were getting married this Summer, a serious and expensive worship of a deity would be expected of you.

At every turn in the road the gods were there; unpredictable, possibly mean and dangerous, and sometimes at war among themselves…there was really no way in appeasing them, making sure you had them on your side.

Paul, Silas, and Timothy…

Right smack dad into this wacky world came three unknown Jews: Paul, Silas and Timothy, telling these pagans there was only One True God and this God had a Son, and that Son had been raised from the dead!!! Nobody had ever said anything like that before!!!

And the people in Thessalonica, knowing right from the start, the huge risk they would be taking in the community–turned away from their idols to this Living God, and in doing this…discovered both suffering and great JOY at the same moment!!!

That’s what CONVERSION is all about–

The word “TURNED” in verse 9 of the text, is as close as Paul gets to the technical term of conversion or being SAVED:

“They tell how you turned to God…”

It’s what happens when someone stops going in one direction, turns around and begins going in the opposite direction.

Has this happened to you?

“Changing Beer Into Furniture”

In preparation for studying and meditating on the verses presented in this blog-post, I ran across a story told of a group of old friends hanging out and having conversation.  One of the men had recently become a Christian:

His old buddies were giving him a bit of a hard time about his conversion experience.

“You don’t really believe all those miracle stories in the Bible, do you?”

In response, his friend replied,

“I don’t know about the miracle stories in the Bible, but I do know about the miracle story in my own life.  Since giving my life over to the Lord, Jesus has changed beer into furniture!”  ([ii] See Footnote)

It’s a sight to see when someone gives their life to Christ!  I did so on August 15th, 1972–my spiritual birthday!!!

Transformation–

As we become more involved in a community of faith,

Volunteering our time,

Learning the JOY of GIVING to God,

Becoming friends–like a family with our brothers and sisters in the FAITH.

[In growing up, I had a brother who was seven years younger than I.  But when I became a BELIEVER, my family grew.  Now I have FAITH SISTERS in the Lord--and my wife, is also my sister in Christ!]

Christian Living in Thessalonica…

Christians had been true BELIEVERS for a very short time; we don’t know exactly how long, but it can’t have been more than a year.

They were very ordinary people doing something extraordinary in response to an unexpected MESSAGE and people from hundreds of miles around were talking about it.

The only explanation…the Living God at work through the MESSAGE of Jesus Christ!

“IMITATORS”/IMPERSONATORS – Verse 6 a.

“And you [set yourselves to] become imitators of us and [through us] of the Lord Himself”  (Amplified Bible).

Even in the face of “severe suffering”, the Thessalonian believers of the day, talked about…

–  GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN OF SOCIETY!!!

–  COURAGE!

–  COMMITMENT

–  ABOUT A MIGHTY GOD!

It wasn’t about them.  It was about HIM!!!

Even in the midst of their suffering and persecution, they were filled with JOY and the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

And so, other people became curious and wanted to know what they had discovered:  “What have they got that I don’t have?”  I wonder myself, if my neighbors are asking the same question about my life:  “Who is he, really?”

Or, is the only thing they notice–my car parked along side of the house on Sunday mornings with the engine at idle–waiting for my wife to get out of the house– then rushing off to Sunday morning services and back home by noon.

“Are the Thompson Family IMPOSTERS or what?”

The people  of First Church of Thessalonica had become Imitators…

 The church as a whole, through their IMITATION OF CHRIST, others began to imitate them…Macedonia and Achaia:

“Your FAITH has become known everywhere” Paul exclaims.

And when something is GOOD…something is REAL, and the word gets around to those who need to hear the Word.

When Christians begin to “LIVE OUT” with…

DEEP CONVICTION,

THE CALLING OF CHRIST JESUS,

THE LIFE OF JESUS,

THE WAY OF LOVE, and

GENEROSITY THROUGH CHRIST, and

the POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT…

…people can’t help notice that THE REAL THING HAS ARRIVED!

Living in a CULTURE engulfed in idols.

We may not call them idols, or call them gods, nor pray to them, but our ACTIONS speak volumes.

When we concentrate our efforts on building a better church buildings for ourselves rather than spending time, talent, money on going out to those who don’t know Christ…we’re WORSHIPPING IDOLS.

But when we give sacrificially so others can eat…

…when we knock on doors and offer a free cup of water or whatever…

…when we become peacemakers and reconcilers…

…when we make an effort in random acts of kindness…

…when we become lovers and not judgers…

–when we seek to heal, help and restore…

…when we offer Christ in these ways…

WE ARE TRULY WORSHIPPING THE ONE TRUE AND LIVING GOD.

And that’s exciting!!!  It’s exciting not only for us, but for those who hear about us.

No wonder the apostle Paul was delighted to write a letter to them,

“We continually remember before our God and Father

your work produced by faith, your labor

prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope”

“Imitators” are Contagious!!!

Bill Hybels says, “God wants us to become contagious [believers]…who will first catch His love and then urgently and infectiously offer it to all who are willing to consider it…”  [See Footnotes - iii]

Are you living your life in such a way as to cause people to want what you have in Jesus?

Paul concludes the opening paragraph in his letter:

“And [how you] look forward to and await the coming of His Son from heaven.  Whom He raised from the dead–Jesus, Who personally rescues and delivers us out of and from the wrath  [bringing punishment] which is coming [upon the impenitent] and draws us to Himself [investing us with all the privileges and rewards of the new life in Christ, the Messiah]”  (verse 10 – Amplified Bible).

Jesus is coming again!

There is no “if’s” in Paul’s wording here.  And being “left behind” as an RELIGIOUS IMPOSTER when He does return… is not a good thing.

“Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”  Charles H. Spurgeon.

JESUS' Social Media Post

AN “IMPOSTOR’S” IDENTITY:

IMPOSTERS have religious activity that is not connected to a living relationship with Jesus Christ.  They love to look religious–in a “form of godliness.”

“FORM” refers to an outward shape or appearance, putting style over substance.  Read what JESUS SAYS about some impostors of His day:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence”   (Matthew 23:25).

The Separating of Christ’s IMITATORS and the IMPOSTERS:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.  Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry…feed you…or thirsty and gave you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

And the IMPOSTERS…the “goats” on the left response?

“Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?”  (V. 44)

“He will reply,  ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did NOT DO for one of the least of these, you DID NOT DO FOR ME”  (V. 45).

The “impostor’s” destiny…

“…they will go away to eternal punishment”

The “imitators” outcome…

“but the righteous to eternal life”  (V. 46).

So where do you belong in your community?

A Imitator…or an Impostor?

Footnotes:

[i]  Gaither Vocal Band Lyrics @ http://elyrics.net > Gaither Vocal Band Lyrics to Heartbreak Ridge and New Hope Road.

[ii] Story from Kenneth Sauer.

[iii]  Bill Hybels, Contagious Christian, pg. 23

 

What We Believe Determines How We Behave

A Lesson Learned From My Grandfather–

When I was young and impressible growing up, my grandfather had a habit when outside–always walking with his head down–as if he was looking for something that he might have lost.

My grandparents lived in a different part of Southern California than my parents, so visiting them on holidays and weekends during the Summer were a real treat for me.  That was where I first learned to ride a  bicycle which was stored in the garage just for my use–and learning to roller skate on the miles of sidewalks surrounding my grandparents home[no sidewalks to skate on where I lived].  All because it was something to do while not getting in someone elses hair.

Eventually, as the Summer days grew hotter and physical activity for even a young became uneventful,  I would watch my “granddad” puttering in his carpentry shop attached to the homesteads garage.

Now I never learned much from watching, because of my impatience.  But it was still a treat to see how granddad could fix anything with his hands!

One day I decided to ask him why he always walked around the yard and side patio with his head down.

“Well son, that’s a good question.”  And I waited, and waited, and waited for his answer.

Keeping my FOCUS set!

Keeping my FOCUS set!

“If you keep your eyes on where you are walking, you will never know what you might find.”

I immediately followed up the question with a question:  “Like what granddad?”

He pointed his aged and well calloused finger to a small crack in the paved walkway.

“Look over there Mel.  What do you see?”

“NOTHING,” I replied.

And then, slowly bending over, he proceeded to pick up an old, weathered copper penny and placed it in his open palm.

“Do you see what you been missing all this time?” he asked.

After our conversation, he walked back to his small little workshop while I wondered if there was a deeper lesson here.

I hesitated for a minute, not wanting him to see what I was about to do.  Getting down on my knees, I began searching intently, in every cranny and crack in the payment.  There must be more TREASURE out here…more COINS hidden… if I just keep looking and watching with my head down like granddad.

What We Believe Determines How We Behave:

The story I shared becomes a good picture of how many people live in our society today.  They are constantly searching for something because they know there’s got to be more to life.   But they never find it if they don’t know what it is they are missing.

Breaking away from the past…

If you want to break away from your past, then where you put your eyes is very important.  Although my grandfather never wanted to break away from his past, at least I don’t think he did.  Where he put his eyes was of importance to him.

Colossians 3:1-4:

Instead of looking down, the apostle Paul challenges us to LOOK UP! :

[1] IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

[2] And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.

[3] For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.

[4] When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [splendor of His] glory.

LOOKING UP! 

Colossians 3:1 establishes the TRUTH…

Since we have been RAISED WITH JESUS…we have a new status and therefore A NEW LIFE.  We now have a POWER SOURCE for living.

I remember at the age of 20, driving home from work after a  graveyard shift; getting out of my car and kicking the rear tire, hurting my foot in desperation cry, “There’s got to be more to life than this!”  It wouldn’t be until 10 years later would I discover the POWER SOURCE.

Being positioned to LOOK UP.

BELIEVERS have died with Christ Jesus, been buried with Him, have been raised with Him, and as Ephesians 2:6 states, we have been seated with Him in heavenly places.  This is our position, but we must assume these truths on a daily basis to break free from the past.

That’s why Paul writes,  “set your minds and keep them set on what is above”–

I’m sure you heard the phrase, “He/she so heavenly minded that he.she no earthly good.”  Personally, I would consider that phrase if directed to me, as a compliment.

It’s more likely that people today are so worldly-minded that they’re no heavenly or earthly good!

IF WE TRULY SET OUR HEARTS AND MINDS on things above…

We will experience POWER and FREEDOM here on earth.

The word “SET” means to seek something out with a desire to possess it [i] Footnote–like a dutiful grandson on his hands and knees while seeking a penny with great desire in the cracks of cement.

The word Paul uses is in the present tense, which implies that we’re to continue to SEEK the things above.  It’s NOT a one-time decision, but a daily activity.

JESUS puts it this way in Matthew 6:21:  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

When I was a youngster, the TREASURE I sought–where my heart was–was to be found with my head downward.  Even as a spiritually immature Christian, my FOCUS was directed to what was in my wallet.

If our FOCUS is on things that will ultimately rust, tarnish, break down, or burn up…our energy and emotions will be misplaced.

If we SEEK JESUS–allow Him to become our ultimate treasure, then our hearts will follow.

Our knowing “where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

This is a reminder to us all.  JESUS is supreme and in control of all we have, all we do, and where we go on earth.  Christ is exalted (lifted up!) and sits at the right hand of the Father; He is sitting down, not standing up.

One of the most often quoted Old Testament Bible verse is Psalm 110:1:  “The Lord says to my Lord:  Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.  The word shows that His redemptive work is now complete.  “IT IS FINISHED!”

BELIEVERS HAVE TWO RESPONSIBILITIES:

Our FIRST RESPONSIBILITY–

To “set our hearts on things above.”

Our SECOND is to…

“set our minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

This literally translates,  “Keep on thinking, as a matter of habit, on the things above, and not on things on the earth.”  Our FEET must be on earth, but our MINDS must be in heaven.

So thoughts can, and will influence our actions…

So, if we place our THOUGHTS ABOVE and not on earth, our BEHAVIOR will reflect those things that matter to our Father in heaven.  This is not an easy thing to accomplish.  We are bombarded by outside influences–the worlds way of thinking about world events around us, material obsessions, etc.

PLACING OUR MINDS ABOVE…

This requires a never-ending effort on our part because by NATURE, we have a tendency to LOOK DOWN as my grandfather’s habit transpired, instead of LOOKING UP!

But if we fix our eyes on the things above, GOD will change our desires; and if we change our mind, GOD will change our heart.

FIVE REASONS TO “LOOK UP”:

#1.  We’ve died (verse 3 a.).

When looking back at the CROSS where we DIED POSITIONALLY in Christ Jesus, we have no obligation to live like we used to live.

This parallels the verse in Galatians 2:20, where Paul share his current spiritual position by saying “I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…”

#2.  Our life is hidden with Christ (v. 3 b.).

The image I get here is a large BANK VAULT.  My TREASURE is stored away in my account–SECURED in trust for eternity.

#3.  Christ is our life (v. 4 a.).

By realizing that Christ is our life today, we should have a new attitude towards anything that may happen to us.  There should be nothing to fear!

#4.  JESUS will come again! (v. 4 b.).

When I was growing up and getting the news that my grandparents were coming, I would be so excited…I would wait looking through the front screen door with excitable anticipation:  Are they here yet?

Since JESUS is coming again, it makes sense perfect sense we should be looking up continually…not knowing the exact time of His arrival, but knowing that He will soon be here.

The phrase “WHEN” is better translated “WHENEVER Christ appears”.  The FACT of His return is certain but the time is indefinite.

#5.  We will appear with Him in glory (v. 4 c.).

The verb “APPEAR” means to make visible what is invisible – [ii] Footnotes.

When JESUS returns, the real position of the BELIEVER, which has been hidden to the world, will be made known.  Better translated, “whenever Christ appears.”

CREDIT: jonathanselby.com

CREDIT: jonathanselby.com

1 John 3:2 (Amplified Bible):

“Beloved, we are [even here and now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know when He comes and is manifested, we shall [as God's children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is.”

REMEMBERING WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST JESUS:

Paul has been urging us to LOOK UP and REMEMBER:

–  Who we are now…

–  Who we once were…

–  Who we will be when Christ returns.

Some QUESTIONS to ask ourselves after reading and meditation on God’s Word today:

–  “Where am I looking?”

–  “What does my mind focus on?”

–  “What gets my hearts attention?”

READERS, we must all make a conscious effort, a deliberate daily decision to LOOK UP!  Set our minds and hearts on heavenly things.  Our outlook determines our outcome.  Keeping our minds and hearts in the right place will often determine where we end up.

HAVE YOU MADE THE DECISION?

 

FOOTNOTES:

[i]…[ii] Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

PHOTO CREDITS:

 “Keeping my focus set” – Photo Pin  and jonathanselby.com/pg25pics html

SOURCED COMMENTARY:

Brian Hill’s “Breaking Freedom From the Past.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS USED:

Amplified Bible and New International Version.

 

 

 

“Why bother, I’ll Just GIVE UP and QUIT!”

A Study in Philippians 1:12-20 –So grab your Bible.

I have taught a class for many years.

Borne many burdens, toiled with tears;

But folks don’t notice me a bit.

I’m so discouraged

I’ll just quit.

 

Sometime ago I joined the choir

That souls I might inspire;

But folks don’t seem moved a bit,

So why bother to sing?

I’ll just quit.

 

Christ’s cause is hindered everywhere,

And folks are dying in despair.

The reason why?

Just list a bit;

The church is full of folks who quit.  

[See Footnotes [i] ]

Giving up is always a temptation when there is a lack of visible results…

Some of the REASONS WE WANT TO GIVE UP AND QUIT can vary:

1.  FEAR OF FAILURE.

2.  SKEPTICISM I’M NOT THE ONE.

3.  I’M NOT TRAINED ENOUGH.

4.  SOMEONE ELSE CAN DO IT BETTER.

5.  I DON’T WANT TO BE THE FIRST, LET SOMEONE DO IT AND THEN I WILL FOLLOW.

6.  I HAD A BITTER EXPERIENCE.

7.  THIS IS NOT MY CUP OF TEA.

8.  I DON’T WANT TO BE EMBARRASSED.

9.  I’M JUST TOO SENSITIVE TO HANDLE FAILURES.

10.  MY SUPPORT SYSTEM IS POOR.

11.  I DON’T PREFER TO TAKE THIS RISK WHEN ALL IS FINE.

12.  WHY GET IN A MESS?

Some of the reasons I listed are overlapping, but still this is how we can feel and reason out…whether to QUIT & REMAIN A BIT SATISFIED…even though we know we can do it more than we’ve ever tried.

Marilyn von Savant once said,  “being defeated is often temporary, giving up makes it permanent.”

Thomas Edison –  “many of life’s failures are people who didn’t realize how close they were to success when they gave up and quit.”

King Solomon –  “for an upright man after failing seven times, will get up again”  (Proverbs 24:16).

“THE LITTLE SATELLITE THAT COULD”–

In 1972, NASA launched an exploratory space probe named the PIONEER 10.  The primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph its moons, and beam data it collected back to earth.

This was a bold plan.  Up until then, no satellites had gone beyond Mars and scientist feared the asteroid belt would destroy PIONEER 10 before it would ever get to the planet Jupiter.

But the “little satellite” accomplished its mission, and much more!  Flying past Jupiter in 1973, PIONEER 10 continued on its journey to the edge of our solar system.  It passed Saturn, flashed by Uranus, past Neptune and then Pluto, some four billion miles from the Sun.  And it’s still going!  Now, over 8 Billion miles from the Sun, it keeps sending signals.  Despite the distance, PIONEER 10 continues on to beam back signals to Earth.

Commenting on the “little satellite” in Time Magazine, Leon Jaroff says,

“Perhaps most remarkable is the fact that those signals

emanate from a eight-watt transmitter, which radiates about 

as much power as a bedroom night-light, 

and takes more than nine hours to reach earth.”

“The Little Satellite That Could” Wasn’t Even Qualified…

Yes, according to the scientists, to do what it accomplished it wasn’t qualified.  But it kept on going and going.  By simple longevity, its tiny eight-watt transmitter radio accomplished more than anyone ever expected.

So it is when we offer ourselves to SERVE the LORD in any activity, no matter how large or how small the mission seems to be.  God can work even through someone with only “eight-watt” abilities.  [See Footnote [ii] ]

God cannot work, however, through someone who GIVES UP and QUITS. 

Many times we are too quick to blame others, even blame God for our personal decisions.  Many times our personal decisions are based on success or more specifically the lack thereof!

Paul's Stairway to Imprisonment

Paul’s Stairway to Imprisonment

You would think BEING CHAINED to a guard in a Roman prison might make one question if  “God was telling Paul to quit?”  That thought never crossed the apostle Paul’s mind.

What did he do?  He used it as an opportunity to witness to others, to share the gospel with the guards and even took the time to write a letter [today, we would probably TEXT instead of write a personal letter], to the believers at Philippi.

The Christian Life Today…

Though we may never be thrown in prison for our faith in Christ Jesus, there are times in our walk that may resemble imprisonment:

– Those times of difficulty…

– Times of struggle…

– Times of adversity…

– Times of discouragement, disillusionment, and depression.

I’ve been there!  And in those times…I JUST WANTED TO QUIT…to throw in the towel and GIVE UP on my church I was attending, the people who made the decisions, and so on!

FINDING ENCOURAGEMENT:

In reading Paul’s story while writing this letter to the church, Paul says,

“Everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Gospel.”

Here is the Apostle, bound in chains for his preaching and he is REJOICING because the palace guard knows that he is in chains because of Christ.

He goes on to tell his readers that “because of his imprisonment, many other believers have gained CONFIDENCE and boldly speak God’s message without fear.”

Perseverance Prevents Giving Up and Quitting…

Roget’s Thesaurus says to PERSEVERE is to “persist, die-hard (STUBBORNNESS).”  References in our bibles to the perseverance of believers who “stand firm (i.e. endure) to the end”,  [Matt. 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13].

There’s a REASON for where we find ourselves in a given situation:  failures in ministry, a dysfunctional family, ‘stuck’ in your job, etc.

For PAUL….we find the REASON for his imprisonment–

[12] Now I want you to know, brothers, that what happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.  [13] As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.

News Travels Fast…

It was no different in Paul’s time.  Just imagine for a moment the talk of the Imperial guard and those who were present when Paul made his defense for himself known to all  (let me tell what that crazy prisoner just said to the Governor!).

Paul knew, that because of his imprisonment, JESUS was being MAGNIFIED and he was delighted in knowing this!

What if you were put in prison for a crime you had not committed?  Would you be a WITNESS for Christ or would you wallow in self-pity? Whatever your PRISON might be, the principle still applies.

Paul understands the reason for his own predicament he is facing…BUT he also sees in his spirit, the RESULT of this particular situation.

OTHERS WERE ENCOURAGED – v. 14

Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

The BRETHREN that had knowledge of Paul’s imprisonment were ENCOURAGED by his boldness and stand; his not giving up regardless of the ‘stuff’ he was going through.

Our CONFIDENCE can bring about changes…

PAUL was confident – v. 19

“For I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”

The Jews had denounced Paul as an enemy of Caesar.   And yet, he was CONFIDENT that when the fullness of the GOSPEL was known, he would be released.

In their PRAYERS – through your prayer…

Paul knew that they were genuine followers of Jesus and their constant prayers were being lifted up to God for him which in turn…gave him the CONFIDENCE to “stand firm”, “endure to the end,” not to give up and quit!

In 1999, I faced the difficult situation when facing open heart surgery.  I knew before going into the operating room that PRAYERS from all over the country were being lifted up in faith on my behalf.

I can give personal testimony to a JOYFUL CONFIDENCE I received before being rolled down to surgery…GOD WAS IN CONTROL!  And in recovery from the successful 7-way Bypass Surgery, I gave testimony of God’s hand to all who would listen…or not!

In Christ’s Provision…

And the Spirit of Jesus Christ SUPPLIED…furnishing whatever is necessary.

Paul knew that JESUS would supply his needs:  “And my God will liberally supply  (fill to the full)  your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 4:19 AMP).

BEING COURAGEOUS IN DIFFICULT PLACES– V. 20

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Earnest Anticipation…{G} (Apokaradokia) (ap-ok-ar-ad-ok-ee’-ah) – intense anticipation or expectation.

This idea that Paul presents is, there is the idea of WATCHING FOR SOMETHING.  Paul wasn’t ashamed and he was bold in his defense of the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

Paul didn’t care about the CONSEQUENCES.

His GOAL in the midst of his difficulties was to MAGNIFY JESUS, even if it cost him his life.  It is never a SACRIFICE unless it will cost you something (Hebrews 13:15).

COMPLACENCY IN THE ASSEMBLY HAS ITS DANGERS:

Paul’s Counsel from his Jail Cell–

” [13] Brothers [sisters], I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  [14] I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  [15] All of us who are mature should take that such view of things.  And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.  [16] Only let us live up to what we have already attained”  (Philippians 3:13-16).

Paul’s Advice and God’s Promises if…

“…for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap…if we do not give up”  (Galatians 6:9).

I hope you get some understanding from God’s Word–through the apostle Paul’s prison letters.  GIVING UP and QUITTING isn’t an option!

WHY?  Jesus anticipates that question with His answer in Galatians 6:10:

“So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God's family with you, the believers].”

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Footnotes:  [i] Eldorado Evangel – Sermon Illustrations.com  [ii] Craig Brian Larson, Pastoral Grit: The Strength to Stand and to Stay; Bethany House, 1998.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, NIV

Photos:  Photo Pin.