Life’s Encounters In A “Passionate Church” Enviornment

SCENE from the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind

In 1962, ‘folk music’  filled the airways and in my opinion, The Kingston Trio exemplified the craze.  Half of my vinyl record collection celebrated their music: M.T.A., Good News, All My Sorrows, and of course my favorite, Tom Dooley; first recorded in 1958.  So when I got the news that this famous trio was going to be in concert at Russ Auditorium in San Diego, California…I had to get tickets!

So when I got the news this famous trio was going to be in a live concert at Russ Auditorium in San Diego, California…I had to get tickets!

After the concert, I asked my date if she wanted to go back stage and see if we could get autographs, or at least see them up close.  I was especially bold that night, most likely trying to show off a little in front of my date. Alright, it wasn’t “a little.”

As we walked backstage, I saw two giants of men standing at the foot of some stairs.  “They surely wouldn’t let us climb those stairs,” I thought to myself.  But they parted, like the Red Sea, and we went to the top and into a small dressing room.  And there, standing in their boxer shorts, was Nick Reynolds, Dave Guard, and Bob Shane.  Our mouths dropped.  How did we get this far without being escorted through a back door into the alley?  Could I actually get an autograph from the Kingston Trio members?

Well, we didn’t.  But Nick (right side of photo) did wave at us over the tops of the news cameras and that made it an evening to remember!  ‘Nick really knows me!’

THAT WAS AN ENCOUNTER.  

However, if Nick…I thought I was on a first name basis seeing him in his “shorts”… had invited us over to his dressing table and invited us to dinner in getting to know us better, my encounter would have given way to CLOSE ENCOUNTERS.   That is a huge difference.

I submit to you that most church folks attending Pentecostal churches I’ve attended over the years have become accustomed to ENCOUNTERS with God.

Too many of us have been attending church for years, faithfully, religiously, and we have been experiencing encounters.

  • We SETTLE for weekly ENCOUNTERS with God.
  • We see Him at a distance.
  • We see physical evidence of Him in our life.

But I want to put a CHALLENGE out front–We need more than just AN ENCOUNTER.  We need a CLOSE ENCOUNTER.  CONTACT!

Close Encounters Are Different.

One of the best examples I found is the story of the 10 lepers;  10 get healed, 10 lives are changed!  10 destinies are forever reshaped and marked by the POWER of God!!

However, only ONE had a close encounter while NINE settles for just an encounter.

9 SETTLED for ‘spiritual pornography’

Cheap thrills with no relationship or intimacy. While 1 has a close encounter with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords [Luke 17:11-19].

So the challenge for most of us as a church body and as individuals is whether we’ll SETTLE for an encounter time to time or will we call it a “good church”; we get goosebumps, get to shout out the AMEN’s, get to show off our spiritual gifts a little.

Or, will we hold out and hold on to a life changing, world wrecking, city shaking, addiction-breaking, marriage restoring, teenager rescuing close encounter with our God?

In order for us to see these events happen, we have to make a CHOICE and a DECISION–we have to determine the type of CHURCH that we are attending will be.

After my personal bible study this past week, I believe there are TWO OPTIONS available that can be found in Scripture.

The FIRST CHURCH is found in Ezekiel 44:11-14:

[11]  They [the priests] may serve in my sanctuary, having charge of the gates of the temple and serving in it; they may slaughter the burnt offerings and sacrifices for the people and stand before the people and serve them.  [12] But because they served them in the presence of their idols and made the people of Israel fall into sin, therefore I have sworn with uplifted hand that they must bear the consequences of their sin, declares the Sovereign Lord.  [13] They are not to come near to serve me as priests or come near any of my holy things or my most holy offerings; they must bear the shame of their detestable practices.  [14] And I will appoint them to guard the temple for all the work that is to be done there.  (NIV Bible)

The MESSAGE Bible says in verses 13-14:  “They’re fired from the priesthood.  No longer will they come into my presence and take care of my holy things.  No more access to The Holy Place!  They’ll have to live with what they’ve done, carry the shame of their vile and obscene lives.  

[14] From now on, their job is to sweep up and run errands.  That’s it.”

You can have a church like this–

  • We can come in and have charge of the house!
  • We can minister in the house!
  • We can offer sacrifices in the house!
  • We can sing in the house, praise in the house, and do church in the house!!!

BUT never come near Him.

We can have the things of God and never really have God.  That is an OPTION.  We can settle for an ENCOUNTER.

Or we cam make up our minds that it is more than that.  We can make up our minds and determine in our hearts that as members of the body of Christ we aren’t about to SETTLE for sweeping and running errands. There’s got to be more than that.

We have to set our face like a flint and fight for our place of meeting God on Sunday’s like the church described in 2 Chronicles 5:11-14: 

We can have a CHURCH, where regardless of your rank or assignment, 

  • You can be an usher,
  • A janitor,
  • An Elder/Deacon,
  • Or, the Pastor…

And it won’t matter.  You can experience the same amount of GLORY as the next person.

The GLORY will be just as strong in the church parking lot as it is in the SANCTUARY.  Just as powerful in the nursery as in the Home Bible Study.

What really matters is that we are all after the same thing.

We can have CHURCH where the GLORY of the Lord is so strong that none of us can stand it!

We can have a CHURCH where the close encounter is so close…all we can do is stand in AWE!

We can have a CHURCH where the move of God is so profound and so pronounced that A CITY will have to sit up and take notice, sinners will flock to find out what is happening–that the STARVED will find spiritual food as well as physical food, that the DRUG ADDICT will fall short-changed, that the UNLOVED will find the LOVE for which they have so longed for.

WE HAVE A CHOICE

We can SETTLE for the brief encounters that have satisfied us for so long.  

BUT as for me and my house, if we are going to have another Ezekiel 44 church we might as well shut all the doors at church. 

If the people on Sunday Morning or on any day of the week are going to walk in and leave exactly how they entered, broken, devastated, addicted and sick…then take all the equipment back!

My personal choice is to have a church where I have, and hopefully, you will have, a close encounter with God and that stuff will fall off and stay off!

I like when this man said in a statement:

“A church is not a church until God decides that it will become a place of divine visitation.  The building may seem one of architectural splendor and exquisite design, but it is not a church until God issues a certificate of divine occupancy and takes up residence there.”

**[See Footnote [i] ]

So, I present a challenge to all of us where we are.  

Will we stop at an encounter?  Will we be satisfied with a little taste here and there?  Will you wink and say “yeah they have a cool church” or will you make a commitment with me to pursue His presence at all costs.

My hope and prayer are that we will press in until God issues a “certificate of divine occupancy” in a fellowship of believers.  How does this happen?

Ask yourself, as I have asked myself on numerous occasions, are you willing to settle for an encounter or will you ask for more?  

When was the last time YOU had a “close encounter”?

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CREDITD & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i]:  On Jordan’s Stormy Banks: Leading Your Congregation through the Wilderness by H. Beecher Hicks.

PHOTOS:  All from Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) unless stated in the text.

HEAVEN’S LAST CALL!

Scripture:  Hebrews 9:27-28

You’ve probably heard the old saying– “The only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes.”  I’m not so sure that statement is absolutely true, however.  With enough deductions, loopholes, and “creative” accounting [one man I know, deducted his “dog” as a dependent], some people avoid paying most, if not all, of their taxes.

So, there’s NO GUARANTEE there, about taxes.  But that still leaves with DEATH to deal with.

God Doesn’t Give Guided Tours to Heaven or Hell.

There have been many who claim to have been to Hell and Heaven. They came back or were sent back to tell us all about it.  

  • Atheists have been to Hell and Heaven.
  • Professing Christians also have been to Heaven or Hell.

Are these valid experiences or things to distract people from the real Gospel and look to second chances or adopt an attitude of FATALISM?

The only sure word concerning “life after death” is the Word of God.

The Apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:15:

[15] For this we declare to you by the Lord’s [own] word, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede [into His presence] or have any advantage at all over those who have previously fallen asleep [in Him in death].”  (Amplified Bible)

Now obviously the term “fallen asleep” is softened term to refer to those who have already died.  Paul is concerned for the church at Thessalonica not to be misinformed about what happens after death.

I’ve had discussions about DEATH with people who think when you die, you simply cease to exist.  But that isn’t true according to the Bible.

The Bible says in Genesis 2:7 “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  This implies an existence after death.

Yet that this body is a temporary dwelling place is a universal truth, instinctively understood by all, until as Ray Stedman says, “They are educated beyond their intelligence and they start denying it.”

Some folks say that when a person dies, they are “reincarnated” into something or someone else.

If you ever see reincarnation in its rawest form such as in India where Hinduism has a firm hold, you will understand that they see reincarnation as a hopeless cycle of endless misery.  Reincarnation, as it is presented today, has been “Americanized”; that means changed to suit the needs of the American culture.

Reincarnation, as it is presented today, has been “Americanized”; that means changed to suit the needs of the American culture.

East Indians understand reincarnation to be an endless cycle whose only HOPE is to finally enter into Nirvana–the place of nothingness.  Now isn’t THAT encouraging.

But looking closely at the words in Scripture, (Hebrews 9:27) you get just one run in life and that’s it!

Some folks think they will “get their life together before they die” or somehow there is a “second chance” given after death.

Although it may sound feasible to “get our life together” first–wouldn’t it be great if we were given a 30-minute warning buzzer, but unfortunately we are not.

DEATH almost always catches us by surprise.  Sometimes death comes when it’s generally expected–after we have lived a long and full life.  My dad died two years ago at the age of 100.  His constant reminder to the family of his 100th birthday celebration was “I’m ready to go!”

But at other times death comes abruptly–far too soon in our way of viewing things.

And by the same token, the person who says “NO” to Jesus in this life, thinking that they’ll be given another chance in the life to come, banking on nothing more than wishful thinking.

The Story of The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).

Both men died as the story is told by Jesus; Lazarus was carried away by angels to Abraham’s bosom [paradise, heaven] and the Rich Man was buried and finds himself in Hades, a place of torment [Hell] – (verse 24).

When the Rich Man is told there are no second chances and he pleads that Lazarus be sent to his father’s house with five brothers residing, to warn them.

The Chasm Between the rich man and Lazarus

The answer is given in VERSE 31:  “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

One day we will die and unless we have accepted Christ as our personal Savior we will face JUDGMENT after we die.

The only opportunity we will ever have to get right with God is the opportunity God gives us in this life.  As the Rich Man learned, there is NO second chance after DEATH.

After dealing with a few misconceptions about DEATH, I want to point to what will occur when we die.

FIRST, Death is A Certainty!!!

Medical science has dome wonders in extending our lives.  New medical procedures–bi-pass clogged arteries, as I personally found out several years ago.  New procedures to filter impurities from our blood, to fight cancer cells and to replace worn out joints.  Vaccines that have eliminated diseases such as Polio and other dreaded diseases of the past.

But no one has discovered a CURE for DEATH.

Despite all the advances that have been made in medical science, it is still true that the DEATH RATE remains exactly as it always has been:  a flat 100%.  Everyone will die.

In Hebrews 9:27 we are told, “Just as people are destined to die once…”, and in Ecclesiastes 7:2 Solomon wrote, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.”

The question is not HOW can we remain but WHAT AWAITS US when we die.

Death Is Permanent.

A Clipping in Newsweek magazine:  From a letter to a dead person from Greenville County (S.C.), Department of Social Services…

“Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992, because we have received notice that you passed away.  May God bless you.  You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.”  [See Footnote [i] ]

The fact is, that DEATH when it comes, is irreversible.  When you cross over, there is no coming back.

Not only is DEATH a certainty but…

SECOND, Judgment Is A Reality.

The Word of God tells us that after DEATH each one of us will certainly face JUDGMENT.

God’s word speaks of TWO entirely different Judgments.

The first is for BELIEVERS – The Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10 – Amplified Bible):

“For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing].”

This doesn’t concern salvation, for this judgment is for BELIEVERS, that has already been settled.

This JUDGMENT determines REWARDS [“pay”] for service given to the Lord.

THE SECOND judgment is for UNBELIEVERS – The Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15):

It is obvious that NO ONE would wish to be a part of that JUDGMENT, but all those who have REJECTED Christ Jesus in this life on earth, will face Him as Judge in the next life.

It will be a horror beyond description standing before Jesus and hear him say,  “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”  (Matthew 25:41).  But on that day it will be too late! Decision-making time has passed!!

Not only is JUDGMENT real but thank the Lord…

THIRD, Salvation Is A Possibility (9:28).

[28] So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

The DEATH OF CHRIST on the Cross, according to this verse applied to “many.”  I underlined “many” in my Bible.

You see Christ’s death doesn’t take away the SIN if everyone.  Not everyone receives the SALVATION that is available through Jesus’ death on the Cross.  Not everyone BELIEVES and RECEIVES, and that’s why ETERNAL SALVATION is only a possibility.  But if we have never done so, there is still time.

HEAVEN IS CALLING!!

TODAY CAN BE THE DAY OF SALVATION!!!

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Footnotes & Credits –

Footnote [i] :  Food Stamps – Parrix.

Additional Commentary:  “Does God Give Tours of Heaven and Hell?” by Dr. Ronald Shultz.

Photo Credit:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and the Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

Don’t Mess With God’s Kids! – PART 3

The Nation of Egypt And Their Judgment (Ezekiel 29)

egypt-in-the-bible

EGYPT was a large nation south of Israel.  They looked upon the land of Canaan as being part of her own territory and in doing so, she reluctantly gave the land to other nations temporarily till she could re-claim it.  And as you know, the Israelites were SLAVES.  They lived there for over 400 years and were greatly influenced by the Egyptian culture.

EGYPT never learned its lessons from the pain it received during the period of the Exodus.

The SIN of Egypt and its ACTIONS lead the Israelites away from El-Shaddai- All sufficient supply.  Bestower of power, gifts, blessings, and the One who make all of us fruitful–ALMIGHTY GOD!

Egypt’s influence had never been acceptable to Jehovah Mekkaddishkem, the Lord who sanctifies.  They led the Hebrew people into IDOL WORSHIP.

Like other nations, the king of Egypt–PHARAOH–saw himself as a god.

Over and over again, EGYPT had not left the Israelites alone.  So in order for His ELECT (His “kids”) to finally be FREE from bondage in Egypt, it was time for God to enact retribution.

DON’T MESS WITH GOD’S KIDS!

Ezekiel 29:1-3 (AMP):

[1] In the tenth year [of the captivity of Jehoiachin by the king of Babylon], in the tenth [month], on the twelfth [day] of the month, the word of the LORD came to me saying,  [2] Son of man, set your face toward Pharoah king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all of Egypt.  [3] Say, ‘Thus says the LORD God: Behold, I am against you, Pharoah king of Egypt, the great monster [of sluggish and unwieldy strength] that lies in the midst of his [delta] streams, [boastfully] declaring, My river Nile is my own and I have made it for myself.”

This MESSAGE Ezekiel is speaking the above verses took place a year after the siege of Jerusalem had begun.

EGYPT was partly responsible for ISRAEL’S king Zedekiah’s rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 27:6-15).

The king [Pharoah] of Egypt at this time was Hophra.  Like the king of Tyre, he too thought more of himself than he should.

This human trait was not exclusive to the seven nations surrounding Israel during Ezekiel’s place in history

Look at the warning the apostle Paul gives to the church in Rome – Romans 12:3 (AMP):

[3]  For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have ab exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.

The NILE RIVER was the lifeblood for the Egyptians.  

Hophra started bragging that he, and he alone, was the CREATOR who formed the Nile.  He played a role of a tough guy, who like a CROCODILE dared anyone to come near him.

JEHOVAH ELYON – The Lord Most High –

The LORD announces that He will hunt down this monster dragon and dispose of him because of his claims to be a deity [“My river Nile is my own and I made it for myself” – 29:3]

Catching ‘CROC’S –

EZEKIEL 29:4:

[4]  But I will put hooks in your jaws and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales.  I will pull you out from among your streams, with all the fish sticking to your scales.

The River Nile Crocodile

I used to like watching the “Crocodile Hunter” on TV.  His specialty was catching crocodiles.  It was a special technique he used   He would place a lasso on the upper jaw of the reptile causing a natural instinct of the monster to spin, which would wrap the rope around its jaws.  He would then pounce on it, securing the rope around the jaws, then tie up its legs. Then he would pull it along with a bunch of other men up on the land.

These were mercenaries [“fish”] from other countries (Ezekiel 29:5):

[5] I will leave you in the desert, you and all the fish of your streams.  You will fall on the open field and not be gathered or picked up.  I will give you as food to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the sky.

The CROCODILE is an aquatic reptile with its home on land or in the water.  But it depends more on being in the water.

On some scientific films I’ve watched over the years, I noticed the effects of drought on this creature without a water source when a crocodile will be stranded out of its natural environment.  It will die, resulting in scavengers eating the remains.

GOD’S PROPHECY…Our Righteous God is going to do a similar fate to Pharaoh and his army.

Have you ever noticed today in Egypt the Sphinx’s and the Pyramids? The Egyptians were really into the after-life and a proper burial was a big deal.

Historic records indicate the Pharaoh [Hophra] was strangled by a rival (Jeremiah 44:29) and did not receive a proper burial and was cast aside as Scripture foretold.  [See Footnote [i] for sources]

FAMOUS WORDS that have come back to bite us over the years is when we BELIEVE someone who says to us, “You can count on me!”

Our Lord and Savior wouldn’t fall for these vain promises:

Job 15:15-16:  

[15] If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes,  [16] how much less mortals, who are vile and corrupt, who drink up evil like water!

Psalm 146:3-4:

[3] Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.  [4] When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.

Isaiah 30:1-3:

[1] “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin;  [2] who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge.  [3] But Pharaoh’s protection will be your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace.

PHARAOH had influenced the king of Israel by his promises to be one of his allies.  IT WAS A WORTHLESS PROMISE which wound up costing thousands of Israelite’s lives.

Don’t Mess With God’s Kids!

Nebuchadnezzar went after and destroyed Egypt as he had done to Israel. Holy Adonai Yahweh had first

Holy Adonai Yahweh had first given His people a punishment as the book of 1 Peter tells us,  

“For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  And, if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”  So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good  (1 Peter 4:17-19).

God’s people (Israelites) would be banished from their land for seventy years.   And Egypt would receive a similar judgment.  His land would be left desolate from North [Migdol] to the South [Sevench] for forty years.  

MIGDOL means “watchtower” and SYENE or Sevench means “marketplace”.

All of Egypt would be affected by this war.  The Babylonian army out of the North sweeps by the northern watchtower fortification and destroys everything in its path until it reached the most southern portion of the country.

EZEKIEL 29:13-15 (AMP):  EGYPT’S FUTURE AS A NATION.

[13] Yet thus says the Lord God: “At the end of [their] forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the peoples among whom they were scattered. [Jer. 46:25, 26.]

[14] And I will reverse the captivity of Egypt [as I will that of Israel] and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros [under Egypt], the land of their origin, and they shall be there a lowly kingdom.

[15] It shall be the lowliest of the kingdoms, neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations; I will diminish [the Egyptians] so they shall never again rule over the nations.

This would be the LAST TIME the Egyptian Dynasty would ever be a strong nation.  They will be a lowly [base] nation from now on!

Our Awesome and Great Jehovah Shamma (‘God is there!’ – Ezk. 48:35.), is always there to make things right!

The king of Babylon was God’s agent in dealing with the city-NATION of Tyre.  It took over 13 years for Nebuchadnezzar to ultimately defeat ‘Old Tyre’ on the mainland.

Although technically, Nebuchadnezzar WON the battle, he never was compensated for all those years.  Since the king was unknowingly acting as the Lord’s servant, God would give him EGYPT as his payment for waging war against Tyre.

Ezekiel 29:19-20:

[19] Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will carry off its wealth.  He will loot and plunder the land as pay for his army.  [20] I have given him Egypt as a reward for his efforts because he and his army did it for me, declares the Sovereign LORD.

GOD GIVES STRENGTH AND HOPE TO HIS KIDS YESTERDAY AND TODAY!

God promises His children (Israel) that He will bring forth a new king and son of David to lead His people (Ezekiel 34:22-31).

And He is doing so today.  Not only the Jews but to Christians spread over the earth.

‘KNOW MY SHEEP’–know My people or My church.

John 10:14 (AMP):

[14] I am the Good Shepherd; and I know and My own know and recognize Me.

The word “KNOW” is used as an affectionate regard or love.  It implies such knowledge of their wants, their dangers, and their characters, as to result in a deep interest in the welfare of His ‘kids’.

So as believers in Jesus today, we should know Him as our Shepherd, our Savior, that He will defend and aid us no matter the circumstances.

I hope this three-part study in Ezekiel as not only been informative but also encouraging as we see antisemitism in the world today.  Know that God’s plans don’t change; Don’t Mess With God’s Kids yesterday and don’t mess with God’s family today!

Let me know your thoughts in the COMMENT section.

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i]:  Pharaoh Hophra – International Bible Encyclopedia.

VINES COMPLETE EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT WORDS.

Bible Translations: New International Version (NIV), and the Amplified Bible (AMP).

Photos:  Google Image Search.

[NOTE:  See further resources and credits used for this 3-PART series in PART I of Don’t Mess With God’s Kids! ]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Mess With God’s Kids! – PART 2

No matter how bad things seem to be in the world right now–KNOW THIS:

going-through-a-trial-heres-some-encouragement

ROMANS 8:28 (NIV):

“And we know that in all things God works for then good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

EZEKIEL 26:2-14, 17-18 – The Nation-city of Tyre.

This is a troubling passage of Scripture which I believe has a message for us all today.

The Nation-city of TYRE was a financially powerful seaport located on an island off the coast of Lebanon.

The city was very populous at the time of Jesus and the inhabitants may have numbered larger than Jerusalem.

In the past, relations between Israel and Tyre (Capital City of Phoenicia) had been generally good.  But there had been moments of tension in economic matters.   If the EDOMITES had taken advantages of Judah’s battle with the Babylonians plundering from the south-east(Obadiah 13-14), the Phoenicians (Tyre and Sidon) were guilty of the same thing by over-running Judah from the north-west.

Don’t Mess With God’s Kids!

VERSE 2 – “Son of man, because Tyre has said against Jerusalem, Aha!  She is broken that has been the gate of the people; she is open to me [Tyre]; I shall become full now that she is desolate and a wasteland”  (Amplified Bible)

They laughed (“Aha!”) at the people of God [His kids] and their problems and as a result…

267faa575ccc49bdef0c2761f3868a3d

VERSE 3 – God would bring destruction on TYRE.  Many nations would come against this city-state.

VERSE 4 and 9 – The walls of the city would be broken down as well as their towers of defense they were known for.

VERSE 5 – “Her island in the midst of the sea shall become a place for the spreading of nets, for I have spoken it, says the Lord God; and she shall become a prey and a spoil tom the nations”  (Amplified Bible).

[This eventually occurred in a literal way, however, Tyre has recovered some from its destruction in our time.]

VERSE 6 – Tyre’s “daughters” were her towns and villages she established on the mainland.

VERSE 7 – Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, would attack Tyre and yet the ultimate destruction for the Nation-city came several years later from the armies of Alexander the Great.

Is there Symbolism In Tyre for America?  Has our country turned their backs on Israel in siding with the “Palestinians” claims?  Have our reactions directed by untruths of the Middle East been “Aha!”?

New York City has always been a financially powerful and very populous city situated on an island.  In 2001, the World Trade Center Towers towered above everything else on Manhattan Island and really seen as a symbol of America.

Those towers represented the strengths, the financial power of this country and really of the FREE WORLD with businesses from twenty=five countries having offices in the buildings.

The Towers and the Walls of the City of Tyre Would Be Broken Down’496-7-glass-machine

Babylon would attack the daughter villages of Tyre and bring down the supposedly indestructible towers of this powerful, wealthy city-Nation.

The ‘Babylonian Terrorist’ not only attacked us but the daughter villages of FREEDOM and CIVILIZATION across this world.

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 13, 2001: (SEPTEMBER 11 RETROSPECTIVE) New York City firefighters look at the destroyed facade of the World Trade Center September 13, 2001, two days after the twin towers were destroyed when hit by two hijacked passenger jets in a terrorist attack. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 13, 2001: (SEPTEMBER 11 RETROSPECTIVE) New York City firefighters look at the destroyed facade of the World Trade Center September 13, 2001, two days after the twin towers were destroyed when hit by two hijacked passenger jets in a terrorist attack. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

I believe God has and is giving us a POWERFUL WARNING in 2017.

America has turned away from God for the most part.  As Anne Graham Lotz said her father Billy Graham told her after the September 11th, 2001 attack:

“God has removed His hand of BLESSING from America.”

WHY?

Because AMERICA has been giving ‘lip service’ to God; laughing at God’s kids and shaking their fists at God.

There is not a completely safe place from every terror threat and enemy for us upon this earth.  But there is a TOWER of Strength and Safety available for us to run to:

Proverbs 18:10 (AMP):

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the [consistently] righteous man [upright and in right standing with God] runs into it and is safe, high [above evil] and strong.

The sins of the Nations have not altogether been dealt with yet; for some, their iniquity is only now coming perilously close to the edge.

But soon, and very soon, God will rise and destroy the proud and arrogant; those whose confidence has been placed on the material things in this world.

A Falling From Fame and Fortune (Ezekiel 28:20-26)

SIDON AND ISRAEL:

Sidon was the second largest city of ancient Phoenicia after Tyre and about twenty-five miles to the north on the Mediterranean coast; by New Testament times Sidon and Tyre were often joined together (Matthew 11:21-22; 15:21).

There’s no immediate reason for Sidon’s JUDGMENT, but I am assuming that the city had economically and politically sided with Tyre, perhaps contributing to Judah’s downfall to the Babylonians.

[Additional Scriptures on SIDON:  Acts 12:20; Genesis 10:15, 19; Luke 10:13; Mark 3:8; 7:31; Joshua 13:6].

Have you ever wondered where your parents came up with their ideas in child-rearing and the metaphors we used with our own kids?  “People will judge you by the company you keep”.  

So based on those words, if you keep company or friendships with EVIL, you will also suffer the same consequences as Sidon found out.

The Ever Loving Father’s Reminder to His “Kids” (Ezekiel 28:24-25):

[24] “No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbours who are painful briers and sharp thorns.  Then they will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.

[25] “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of the nations.  Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob.

Although the bible verses in Ezekiel are referring to the nation of Israel, it also a great reminder to the children of God in the world today–HIS KIDS (Romans 11:11-31).

He is reminding ISRAEL…and us, that He still loves them and there is a good future ahead for them.

As today, our Heavenly Father is not through with the Jewish people–He will RESTORE them!

*[“Don’t Mess With God’s Kids!” continues with PART 3, The Nation of Egypt And Their Judgment.]


*NOTE: For Credits and Footnotes see PART 1

PHOTO CREDITS: Google Image Search

Don’t Mess With God’s Kids! – PART 1

ezekiel-25-17-1080x675

As some of my readers know of late, I’ve been doing ‘detective’ investigations in The Book of Ezekiel (Hebrew -“God is strong”).  I was considering naming this study in Chapters 25 thru 32, the ‘Judgment on the Islamic nations.’  However, these verses not only cover SEVEN NATIONS, which happen to be ALL the Islamic nations, but the judgments apply to ALL other countries of the earth as well.  This includes godless or watered down Christian countries.

The SEVEN NATIONS included:

#1.  Ammon  (25:1-7)

#2.  Moab      (25:8-11)

#3.  Edom      (25:12-14)

#4.  Philistia  (25:15-17)

#5.  Tyre         (26:1 thru 28:19)

#6.  Sidom      (28:20-24)

#7. Egypt        (29:1 thru 32:32)

GOD IS STILL THE SOVEREIGN GOD OF ALL THE WORLD!!!

THE FIRST Nation we come across is AMMON (25:2). 

The Ammonites were relatives of the Jews based on being descendants of Abraham’s nephew, Lot.

Family relationships today in our culture can be…ARE at times difficult as well.  Because of this family relationship our Lord watched over and protected the people of Ammon.  The book of Deuteronomy 2 tell us,  “When you come near the territory of the sons of Ammon, do not trouble or assault them or provoke or stir them up, for I will not give you any of the land of the Ammonites for a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession.” (verse 19).

Even though they were blood relatives to the Israelites, the Ammonites turned out to be enemies.  [see Judges 3:13, 10:6; 2 Chronicles 20:23]

Every social and moral aspect of our behavior is under the scrutiny of God’s all-seeing eye.  Just because these nations didn’t carry Bibles under their arms, it didn’t exempt them; their CONSCIENCES were enough to condemn them!

In one of Dryden’s poems, there is a line:  “And because the fury of a patient man” [footnote [i].  Ezekiel would add the thought:  “Beware the wrath of a patient God!”

AMMON and MOAB (25:8-11):

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AMMON: Northern Jordan (Amman) and MOAB: Central Jordan.

AMMON and MOAB, being LOT’S two sons born of his incestuous relationship with his two daughters were regarded as relatives of Israel, though both treated Israel with contempt.

AMMON’S CRIME

The ‘crime’ was the Ammonites delighted in the downfall of God’s kingdom (25:3, 6).  Not from just observing Israel’s destruction from a distance; like coming upon an accident on a freeway, slowing down, rubbernecking the scene, then passing on by–but the people were clapping their hands and stomping their feet with glee!

We all too frequently find amusement in the misfortunes of others.

Ammon’s heartless response to their neighbor’s fate was not only wrong but also blind; they too would fall (25:4).

“DONT’ MESS WITH GOD’S KIDS!”

When reading and studying Scripture there always seems to be a lesson to take in for all us.  The lesson here is one of failure to appreciate that the fall of a neighbor is one that can befall us too, apart from God’s GRACE.

Every time we see another fall into SIN, even if he or she is our enemy, we shouldn’t “clap our hands” and “stomp our feet” with joy, but rather offer compassion and thankfulness:  COMPASSION, for we should LOVE even our enemies, and THANKFULNESSESS that “There go I, but for the grace of God”  (Quote by John Bradford, 1510-1555).

THE MOABITES – Ezekiel 25:8-11:

[8] “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘Because Moab and Seir said, “Look, Judah has become like all the other nations,”  [9] therefore I will expose the flank of Moab, because of Moab, beginning at its frontier towns–Beth Jeshimoth, Baal Meon and Kiriathaim–the glory of that land.  [10] I will give Moab along with the Ammonites to the people of the East as a possession, so that the Ammonites will not be remembered among the nations;  [11] and I will inflict punishment on Moab.  Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

“DON’T MESS WITH GOD’S KIDS!”

So what did the Moabites do wrong?  Look at the indictment:  “Because MOAB and SEIR say, ‘LOOK! The house of Judah is like all the other nations.’

They were in effect saying, the God of Israel is powerless.  He is just like all the other gods.  If Judah’s GOD is supposed to be ‘All powerful’, then why didn’t he protect the Jews from being protected?

They were MOCKING that the Lord is nothing special.

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Moabite Fortress

MOAB would receive the same punishment Ammon their brother received. These desert dwellers would come and destroy the mighty fortresses and notable cities they were so proud of.

Ezekiel 25:12-14 Now it’s EDOM’S turn!

“Don’t Mess With God’s Kids!”

[12] “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘Because Edom took revenge on Judah and became very guilty by doing so,  [13] therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will stretch out my hand against Edom and kill both man and beast. I will lay it waste, and from Teman to Dedan they will fall by the sword.  [14] I will take vengeance on Edom by the hand of my people Israel, and they will deal with Edom in accordance with my anger and my wrath; they will know my vengeance, declares the Sovereign LORD.”

Southern Jordan, Edom, or Mt. Seir are slated for the grimmest JUDGMENT and it shall be rendered in places, utterly uninhabitable. [Ezekiel 35:1-7]

Ammon and Moab were BAD, but Edom surpassed these two others in its brutality against the Jews.

Psalm 137:7 (Amplified Bible):

[7] Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites, that they said in the day of Jerusalem’s fall,  Down, down to the ground with her!

When some of the Israelites tried to escape to Edom they were turned away by the sword.

Where are the EDOMITES today?

In Genesis 27 we read about Isaac’s two sons Jacob and Esau: Jacob received his father’s BLESSING by pretending to be his brother since Isaac’s eye site had failed.

Esau finding the results asks his father, “Bless me–me too, my father!” (vs. 34).

“Do you have only one blessing, my father?” (vs. 38)

[39] His father Isaac answered him:  “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above.

[40] You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother.  But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.”

The “EDOMITE SPIRIT” is alive and well!

Although the land of Edom today is but a desolated and barren land today–the spirit of EDOM is apparently still alive and well.

Isaac’s Blessing on ESAU was very clear.  Isaac prophesied over his firstborn son and he gave him a “left-over” sort of blessing that provided me with some clues.

Isaac told Esau that his descendants…

#1.  They would end up dwelling in rich countries–the ‘fatness’ (KJV); the ‘fruitfulness of the earth’ (AMP).

#2.  He would live by the sword (gun).

#3.  Eventually, he would break free from Jacob’s yoke of civil behavior and run wild!  (Gen. 27:40)

If the Edomites are around today, they might be found in nations such as ours.  The richest nation is to be found in Western civilization.

Let’s face it, thousands of years have passed by and the spirit of Esau (Edom) is now flowing in nations far abroad with anti-Semitism.

The Philistines Enter The Picture!  (Ezekiel 25:15-17):

asshur_map_and_assad

[15]  “This is what the Sovereign LORD says…  

Don’t Mess With God’s Kids!”

‘Because the Philistines acted in vengeance and took revenge with malice in their hearts, and with ancient hostility sought to destroy Judah,  [16] therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says:  I am about to stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and wipe out the Kerethites and destroy those remaining along the coast.  [15] I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath.  Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I take vengeance on them.”

“Philistines” or “Palestinians”?

It is from the term “Philistines” that the name “Palestinians” have incorrectly been taken.

Actually, the ancient Philistines and modern Palestinians DO HAVE something in common: both are INVADERS from other lands.  That’s precisely the meaning of their name, not an ethnic denomination but an adjective applied to the name–Pleshet, from the verb “pelesh”: “dividers” or “invaders”.

The PHILISTINES were a confederation of non-Semitic peoples from Crete, the Aegean Islands and Asia Minor, also known as “Sea Peoples”.

The original homeland was the island of CRETE.

Invaders from Greece took control of the island and the ancient Cretans arrived in Southern Canaan and were known as “Paleshtim” by the Hebrews and Canaanites (they became allied to fight the invaders).

EZEKIEL 25:16-17:

We now see our heavenly Father directs His attention to a non-relative, Israel’s old-time arch-enemy, the Philistines.  Although they were greatly weakened by king David, they continued to exist as a people.

The God of Israel–Jehovah Roi, has finally had enough of these foreigners.  His Mercy and Grace has come to an end!

In the book of Zephaniah, chapter 2, it mentions the Cherethites or ‘Cretans’.

[4]  Gaza will be abandoned and Ashkelon left in ruins.  At midday Ashdod will be emptied and Ekron uprooted.

[5]  Woe to you who live by the sea, you Kerethite people; the word of the LORD is against you, Canaan, land of the Philistines.  He says, “I will destroy you, and none will be left.”

The world has been tricked into thinking today’s Palestinians are Descendants of the Philistines.  This is NOT true!–

To insult the Jews after the Roman army destroyed the city of Jerusalem in 70 AD, they changed the name to PALESTINE.  There never was a group of people descended from this group of people.  The Philistines as described here in Scripture ceased to be a people.

PART 2– I’ll continue with the nations and the Prophecy Against Tyre–

Ezekiel 26:1-28 thru 28:19.

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS

Footnote [i]:  “Absalon and A. chi top el e-notes”

Credits:  

PALESTINIAN MYTHS – Myths, Hypothesis, and Facts Concerning the Origin of Peoples.

The Edomites Today – End-Time Pilgrim by Gavin Finley, MD

Jordan; Ammon, Moab, and Edom…Islam in Prophesy by Pastor Bill Randles Blog.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “They”[s] of Narcissistic and Entitlement Behavior

Question: WHAT IS NARCISSISTIC BEHAVIOR?

Health professionals agree that it is a lack of feeling loved, which in turn, leads to insecurities, even narcissistic attitudes.  It is also the term in psychology to describe a preoccupation with SELF (Mayo Clinic Study 2013 – Narcissistic personality disorder).

It is a Greek term taken from the mythological NARCISSUS, who fell in love with his own IMAGE; doomed to die because he wouldn’t turn away from it.

Today, the obsession for taking “selfies” could be called narcissism.

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So, in a nutshell, I’m referring to a people who display a high level of SELFISHNESS, VANITY, and PRIDE in their life.  He, or she, sees everything from a “how does this affect me?” perspective.

And when it comes to Christianity–SELFISHNESS, VANITY, AND PRIDE– can lead to a deprived mind and a counterfeit FAITH.

STUDY BIBLE TEXT:  2 Timothy 3:2-8 (NLT):

[2] For people will LOVE only themselves and their money.  They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful.  They will consider nothing sacred.

[3] They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control.  They will be cruel and hate what is good.

[4] They will betray friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.

[5] They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.  Stay away from people like that!

[6] They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires.

[7} (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.)

[8] These teachers oppose the truth just as Jammes and Jambres opposed Moses. They have deprived minds and a counterfeit faith.

 

Smoke Woman Gazes into mirror
Smoke Woman Gazes into mirror

[*NOTE:  I am not going to address every characteristic that Paul addresses in the 8 VERSES listed but will point out ones the Holy Spirit directed me to emphasize in this BLOG.]

THE “BOASTFUL” & THE “PROUD”

A reason people don’t feel they need Savior or forgiveness is because PRIDE tells them they are “good” people or have a “good” heart.

PRIDE also blinds people to their own responsibility and accountability for SIN.  

So, NARCISSISM (pride), makes SIN, whereas the GOSPEL reveals the TRUTH that leads to remorse for SIN!

AND, narcissistic traits can be dangerous because, at their worst, they lead a person to destroy others to satisfy the LUST of the flesh (2 Timothy 3:28).

“IN THE LAST DAYS…” – The Identified Characteristics of Society  

EUGENE PETERSON sums it up:

“As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderous, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addictive to lust, and allergic to God.  They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals.”

OUCH!!!

The Heart of the Apostolic Charge Paul is telling Timothy that people will be “lovers of self” in the last days.

The Apostle to the gentiles had in view the growth of the apostate church which, though bearing the marks of evangelism to the surrounding community would nevertheless be spiritually DEAD.

The church which Paul foretold exalts external religion, yet denies or lacks the interest of the Word of God.  This Laodicean church is indeed coming at the end of the [Church] age! [Rev. 3:14-17]

Whenever SELF is exalted, lifted up to a position of honor, GOD is no longer worshiped.  God cannot be worshiped if we are exalting “self”.

  • SATAN loved himself more that he loved GOD; his self-love was the genesis of rebellion in heaven.
  • ADAM and EVE exalted “self” on the throne of their lives and plunging the WORLD into ruin.

SELF-LOVE ON DISPLAY:

One of the most frightening developments, in my opinion, is many contemporary churches are making enthusiastic declarations of SELF-LOVE, not only as allowable but as being the basic virtue.

SELF-LOVE has many offshoots–

  • self-esteem, self-worth, self-fulfillment, positive self-image…

The claim is made that one cannot properly LOVE God and/or other people unless he loves himself.  That is purely destructive thinking which comes from antibiblical psychology.

GOD MUST BE LOVED SUPREMELY!!!  SELF-ABSORBED people grow overly confident spiritually.

Spiritual Superior, meaning they are SELF-ABSORBED–boastful in their spiritual depth (1 Timothy 1:7):  “They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently confirm” (NIV).

As a bible teacher, I need to take heed to Paul’s words.  Confidence in God’s word is important, but not to the degree of superiority.

“Contemptuous of parents” (v. 2, “disobedient to…) –

Contemptuous of Parents
Contemptuous of Parents

Society will produce children who are “contemptuous”.  

Too many parents think that Bart Simpson is cute when he disses his parents.  But SELF-WILLED children, their “cuteness” will one day come back to the parents of teenagers, with sometimes devastating consequences.  All because you thought it was “cute” when they were small.

And this can lead to the attitude of ENTITLEMENT.

ENTITLEMENT DEFINED: The fact of having a right to something; the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

In America, people feel ENTITLED to abundance, simply because they can claim the title of being a U.S. Citizen.

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ENTITLEMENT can be based on such things as age (The “Millenials”), seniority, credentials, family name, etc…

ENTITLEMENT is demanding something for nothing and permitting laziness.

ENTITLEMENT tells you that you deserve what others have because YOU (Self), deserve what others have because you’re just as important.

ENTITLEMENT lies to you, distracting you with GREED and feelings of JEALOUSY.

ENTITLEMENT can hide behind the guise of EQUALITY, yet they hold nothing in common.

SELF-CENTEREDNESS ABOUNDS –

Self-centered people are “ungrateful”, imagining that they but receive their due whenever a courtesy is shown toward them.  The UNGRATEFUL PERSON despises the idea of GRACE, and because of their ungratefulness, God’s wrath is on display against their behavior.  [see Romans 1:18, 21]

The Unholy…

“Ungrateful” people are “unholy” people, no matter how religious they may appear in society.  The word translated “UNHOLY” isn’t so much the idea of ‘irreligion’ as of extreme indecency.

The UNHOLY PERSON is driven by SELF-LOVE (narcissism) to gratify his/her lust and passions in different areas as fully as possible with no thought of decency.

An “Unbending” Nature, another form of NARCISSTIC BEHAVIOR

The word “unbending” speaks of an individual who cannot or will not come to terms with another.  The word literally means “without a treaty.”

Convinced that they are right, they refuse to be reconciled because they must be seen as right in every instance.  No compromise here, regardless of the consequences, even to the point of destroying their own lives and the lives of their family member.

The Apostle continues with three characteristics depicting HUMAN PRIDE and HARMFUL DEALINGS with others before summarizing their relationship with God.

VERSE 4:  “TREACHEROUS” – not dependable–here today and gone tomorrow “RECKLESS [rash] – not careful with relationships; instead of valuing them. 

The passage of Scripture concludes with the first of a long list of complaints of the wicked character:  “lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God”  (Amplified bible).

Literally, the people in view have the outward form of true religion [eg. Christianity] even while denying its HOLY SPIRIT POWER.  These people can be church “members”, but they are lost.

Camouflaged Hearts
Camouflaged Hearts

HOW SHALL WE LIVE AS WE AWAIT CHRISTS’ RETURN?

There is little in contemporary society today that deters me from the understanding that we’re living in the LAST DAYS, perhaps even the final days!

The cult of “SELF” has grown so strong and become so ingrained that many professing Christians are oblivious to the pressure towards Narcissistic Behavior except when we look into the mirror of Scripture.

As the Apostle continued his instruction to the pastor of Ephesus, Paul insisted on the way Christians MUST LIVE in the Last Days.

2 Timothy 3:12-13 (NIV):

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

The ANSWER to how we must live is found in the words at the end of this Chapter:

Paul writes,  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  ALL SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”  [2 Timothy 3:14-17 New International Version].

Looking at modern society, it becomes obvious that the dams that hold back destruction are now cracked, now threatening society with a momentary flood.

And no matter how hard “I” try to fix the leaks, it will FAIL every time.

The California Department of Water Resources stopped the spillway flow on Thursday morning to allow engineers to evaluate the integrity of the structure after water had been released at 20,000 cubic feet per second through the night. (Courtesy of the California Department of Water Resources).
The California Department of Water Resources stopped the spillway flow on Thursday morning to allow engineers to evaluate the integrity of the structure after the water had been released at 20,000 cubic feet per second through the night. (Courtesy of the California Department of Water Resources).

INSTEAD of trying to stick fingers in the dike as crack after crack appears, we need to look to God and the POWER of His Word.

We need to realize that ALL fellowship is ultimately based upon doctrine and not upon how we feel about ourselves–how we feel about others or even about the conditions we face.

We are to SHARE our lives through sharing TRUTH; we share our lives through determining to OBEY God and to honor Him.

ECCLESIASTES 7:29 (NIV):

“This only have I found;  God created mankind upright, BUT they have gone to search of many schemes.”  [“but” not capitalized in the original text.]

Either we look to God, or we can attempt to “fix” things ourselves by putting our fingers in the dike.  But be aware that the “dike”, or the DAM in the above photo, is crumbling and springing multiple leaks.

Just as we are seeing the state of culture being overwhelmed by the cult of “me”, so it is impossible to “fix” what is dead.

What is DEAD must be abandoned.  We don’t have enough fingers.

Therefore, look to God!

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!

While Jesus’ popularity grew, John the Baptist friends felt a little slighted for the prophet.  John the Baptist, however, said about Jesus,  “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less”  (John 3:30 NLT).

We all may be tempted to be NARCISSTIC AND ENTITLED in some ordinary circumstances.  It has happened to me way to often and that might be the reason God’s Spirit prompted me to write on the topic.  Okay, forget that I said “might be” and replace it with “is”.

I read a story in my studies this week about a man who was flying from Tampa to Chicago every week on a work assignment.  At the end of a certain week, he was tired and ready for a quiet and relaxing flight home. It wasn’t going to happen.  That day a large group got on the plane who were having a noisy celebration of some kind.  Instead of getting angry and upset, the man who was already tired just sighed and smiled as he told himself, “Apparently today is not about me.”  [Story from William Earnhardt’s – Bible Cures for Narccism]

The CURE may just be that simple.  Remember that “IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME.”

 


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

What Does The Bible Say About Narcissistic Behaviour? The 3 Faces Of Evil by Christine Louis de Canonville.

Narcissism?  gotQuestions.org.

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translation (s): The New International Version (NIV), except where noted.

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

God Is NOT An Emasculated, Mushy God!

EZEKIEL 9:1-11 (Amplified Bible – AMP):

[THE SPIRIT] cried in my ears [in the vision] with a loud voice, saying, Cause those to draw near who have charge over the city  [as executioners], every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.  [2] And behold, six men came from the direction of the Upper Gate, which faces north, every man with his battle-ax in his hand; and one man among them was clothed in linen, with a writer’s ink bottle at his side.  And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar.  [3] And the glory of the God of Israel  [the Shekinah, cloud] had gone up from the cherubim upon which it had rested to  [stand above]  the threshold of the [Lord’s] house.  And [the Lord] called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s ink bottle at his side.  

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[4] And the Lord said to him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in the midst of it.  [5] And to the others He said in my hearing, Follow [the man with the ink bottle] through the city and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have ant pity.  [6] Slay outright the elderly, the young man and the virgin, the infant and the women; but do not touch or go near anyone on whom is the mark.  Begin at My sanctuary,  So they began with the old men who were in front of the temple [who did not have the Lord’s mark on their foreheads].

[7] And He said to [the executioners], Defile the temple and fill its courts with the slain.  Go forth!  And they went forth and slew in the city.  [8] And while they were slaying them and I was left, I fell upon my face and cried.  Ah, Lord God! Will You destroy all that is left of Israel in Your pouring out of Your wrath and indignation upon Jerusalem?  [9] Then said He to me,  The iniquity and guilt of the house of Israel and Judah are exceedingly great; the land is full of blood and the city full of injustice and perverseness; for they say,  The Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord does not see [what we are doing].

[10] And as for Me, My eye will not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their wicked doings upon their own heads.  [11] And behold, the man clothed in linen, who had the ink bottle at his side, reported the matter, saying,  I have done as You have commanded me.

THE UNSEEN IDOLS (Ezekiel 8:5, 10, 14, 16).

When EZEKIEL 9 begins, God is instructing His angels of destruction, to KILL!  And so I must ask myself the question,  WHY?

In EZEKIEL 8, it is obvious that God shows Ezekiel in a VISION the extreme idolatries that were going on in Jerusalem.

FIRST, was the image of JEALOUSY (v. 8:5)

SECONDLY, was the leadership of Israel worshipping animals” (v. 8:10)

THIRD, the women weeping for Tammuz [ a Babylonian god, who was supposed to die annually and subsequently be resurrected] at the temple.

FOURTH, finally, the leaders of Israel, were at the inner court worshipping the sun-god with their backs to God.

And then the climax, “thumbing their noses” at God, even more, they then returned to God in order to have the appearance of GENUINE RELIGION.

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“IDOLATRY is worshipping anything that ought to be used or using anything that ought to be worshiped” – AUGUSTINE.

WHAT IS YOUR GOD?

“Whatever you LOVE most, SERVE most, SEEK OUT most, GIVE to the most, WORSHIP the most, and CARE about the most is your god.”

Your “god” is whatever you allow to control you, to be the ultimate guide in decision-making.

God doesn’t take IDOLATRY lightly!

Let me get personal here.  Most of my “idols” are what I think, as good things.  I have no intention of making idols out of them.

Mark Driscoll says, “We take good things and make them God things, and thus they become bad things.”

ALL SIN is actually worshiping issues (sex, food, appearance, attendance, smoking, internet–functional saviors).  And to put any of these “things” before God Himself is IDOLATRY.

In Chapters 8 & 9, the recurring phrase is, “the Lord does not see, and has forsaken the land,” which is wrong, but fulfills Deuteronomy 31 to the letter!

So what are your IDOLS? Not do you have any, but what are they?

What do you VALUE more that Christ according to your checkbook, your date book, your friends, your clothes?

The Certainty of JUDGMENT (v. 8:18-9:2).

Just like Deuteronomy 31 promised, the anger of the Lord will be stirred up upon the COVENANT BREAKERS, and not only curses of that book come into being, but JUDGMENT & DEATH will come.

GOD PROMISES here in Ezekiel, JUDGMENT without MERCY!

These angelic messengers are instructed to carry battle axes into the city to strike down old and young men, maidens, women, and children.

And there is but one reason: God is a HOLY God that will not tolerate or ignore spiritual infidelity at any level.

And note that JUDGMENT will begin in the house of God with those who are highest in their level of accountability.

A. W. TOZER:  “It was a common thing in other days, when God was the center of human worship, to kneel at an altar and shake, tremble, weep, and perspire in an agony of conviction.  They expected it in that day.  We don’t see it now because the God that we preach is not the everlasting, awful God, ‘mine Holy One,’ who is ‘of purer eyes’ than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.”

Old fashion thoughts?  I don’t think so!

In my bible study this week I was reading the story in Scripture about UZZAH (1 Chronicles 13:6-13).  You know, the story where Uzzah touched the ark, and God “smote him because he touched the ark; and there he died before God” (v. 10).

How can we explain such JUDGMENT?  How can a God of LOVE bring about such things?

I’ve heard those questions asked by many believers over the years, and this is my explanation, although a bit simplified:

LOVE isn’t His only attribute.  We need to get back to the HOLINESS of God in being our foundation in doing everything.

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AND GOD WILL BRING FORTH RETRIBUTION!

We must realize that if we, THE CHURCH, are truly saved, we will be spared “wrath” per se, BUT…the JUDGMENT of GOD upon our stewardship, our servanthood, is sure, and, to harbor IDOLS is sure to bring us the loss.

Where have the lessons on RIGHTEOUSNESS, on HOLINESS, and JUDGMENT of God gone?

Our GOD isn’t the mushy, emasculated god, but a God that will pour out WRATH upon ALL unrighteousness among the nations–active and passive.

The Only Remnant (v. Ezekiel 9:4):

So bad is the JUDGMENT, Ezekiel cries out, “Will you destroy ALL the Remnant?”

But God told the one angel, who is dressed like a Hebrew scribe, and who might be the Angel of the Lord, Jesus Christ, to put a MARK (Hebrew letter “taw”, written like an X) on a small group of people who will escape death.

God says to find the people who sigh, or gasp, or shutter, as well as those who mourn or weep at the abominations of the people of God.

God said to mark those to spare who are truly broken over the sins of the SAINTS.  These are the ONLY REMNANT that will be left.  We are never told how many if any are marked.

*[See Revelation 7:2-3, 9:4, 14:1; Daniel 9:3-5; Neh. 1:5-9; Isa. 57:15; Matt. 5:4].

To MOURN means to have a BROKEN HEART–

In the GREEK, to have a deep inner pain which occurs when something tragic happens, like a death of a loved one.  It also means to have a desperate sorrow over evil and suffering.  *(See Footnote [i] )

What we need today is NOT ANGER but ANGUISH.  The difference being a BROKEN HEART.  

It is easy to get angry, especially at somebody else’s sins; but it is not easy to look a sin, mine included, and weep over it.

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The prophet had no time to PREACH a message, to WEEP, or INTERCEDE, BUT we do!  I don’t mean to simply talk about how it used to back in the ‘good old days’.

REPENTANCE IS A LIFESTYLE, AND NOT AN ONE TIME EVENT!

Where are the Daniel’s and Nehemiah’s, whose regular practice was CONFESS their sins and the sins of the people?

Is there ever true sadness on our part when we see SIN in the midst of the church?

Are our HEARTS so hardened that we feel no pain to see brethren caught in the grip of SIN?

“For A Time Is Coming…” (1 Peter 4:17 – AMP):

“For the time [has arrived] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will [be] the end of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the Gospel) of God?”  (v. 4:17)

I am convinced, as Shane Edelman pointed out in an article, that ‘the majority of the churches in America are seeking to please the masses rather than preach the Gospel truth.’

“REPENTANCE is rarely sought and sin often excused.  We want to build a church rather than break a heart.”  *[See Footnote [ii] ]

“If the church today had as many agonizers as she has advisors, we would have revival within years” (Leonard Ravenhill).

You might ask, “What’s the big deal?  We’re doing just fine!”

 BUT… 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says otherwise,  

[1] “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  [2] People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  [3] without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  [4] treacherous, rash, conceited, lover of pleasure rather than lovers of God–  [5] having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with such people.”

Sounds a lot like the conditions in the days of Ezekiel to me.

EZEKIEL 14:6 (AMP):  Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn your faces from all your abominations.”

TRUE REPENTANCE is when by the convicting POWER of God’s Holy Spirit, the sinner finally has a sense of… and Godly sorrow for the condition of SIN in his or her heart and comes empty–un-defensive, without pretension or ceremony, in the most personal and submissive posture he’s ever taken…

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from a SINCERE HEART that says, “I’m sorry”, to the only One who can truly claim offense at sin; Holiness Himself, the God of the ages…Who alone can FORGIVE and REDEEM and REGENERATE and RECONCILE?

I want to make it clear here, that the Bible clearly teaches that ALL MEN, both living and dead, SAVED and UNSAVED, must give an account to Christ.  JUDGMENT isn’t saved just for the unbeliever.

The Judgment Seat of Christ.

The JUDGMENT of the believer’s works called the Judgment Seat of Christ, or the Bema Seat; where a judge sat in ancient Greece, not to punish contestants but to present awards to the victors (Romans 14:10).

2 Corinthians 5:10 makes it even plainer:

“For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body,whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing].”  (Amplified Bible)

The Great White Throne Judgment (Unbelievers JUDGMENT).

I don’t want to get away from Ezekiel, so, IF you want to do some “Word Detective” investigation on your own regarding the unbeliever’s judgment, I’ll list some Scripture references to help guide you in your search:

[Revelation 20:11-13; Matthew 12:36-37, 10:15, 16:27; Luke 12:47-48; Rev. 20:12-13, 22:12; Matt. 25:46; John 5:28-29; 2 Thess. 1:8-9; Rev.  3:4-5].

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Have you made a commitment, or will you make a commitment?

**NOTE DISCLAIMER:  Sourced material for this study has been gleaned from many different sources.  I have attempted to credit these sources wherever possible.  [See CREDITS & FOOTNOTES.]

 


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Footnote [i]:  (Strongs #3996) StudyLight.org GREEK THOUGHTS pentheo

Footnote [ii]:  “JUDGMENT Will Start in the House of God” – Charisma News.

Photos:  Shutterstock & Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP)