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What I Call Good Isn’t Necessarily What God Calls Anointed!


00020013_h Today’s Scripture: 1 SAMUEL 16:1-13

VERSE 13:  Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed David in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward…”

TRANSFORMED FROM A NOBODY TO A SOMEBODY

[10] Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel.  And Samuel said to Jesse,  “The Lord has not chosen any of these.”

[11] Then [he] said to Jesse,  “Are all your sons here?” [Jesse] said,  “There is yet the youngest; he is tending the sheep.”  Samuel said to Jesse,  “Send for him; for we will not sit down to eat until he is here.”

In some Pentecostal circles we talk or refer to the “ANOINTING” a great deal, almost with exclusiveness.  And that’s not true.  There are many non-Pentecostals that have an understanding of the anointing.

What is missed within the conversations of the anointing is having a good understanding of it.  I think the first thing we all need to do is to get a clear picture of what the Bible says about “anointing”.

So to get a better understanding of what anointing is, we should first attempt to understand what anointing is NOT.

In much of today’s church world, we don’t always get a clear idea of what God’s Anointing really is.  The anointing of God has been reduced to a Pastor’s performance in the pulpit: “Oh, wasn’t pastor’s message this morning anointed?”  

In some circles, large attendance numbers and a wealth of programs are considered as clear evidence, that particular church has God’s anointing upon it.

If a song brings goose bumps on your arms during the church service,,,then it has to be anointed.

If after leaving the morning/evening worship services and you feel good about your experience, then surely it was “anointed.”

I want to make a clear point right here.  I like good preaching and good singing as much as the next person, but I’ve come to the understanding, what I call “GOOD” isn’t necessarily what God calls “ANOINTED”!

I think it’s safe to say, not everything we see and hear in today’s church world is ANOINTED, and you can fill in your own blanks.  Suffice to say, not everything is set apart for the purpose of bringing glory and honor to God.

GOD IS PARTICULAR WITH HIS ANOINTING –

In reading the verses in 1 Samuel 16:1-13 this week, I found that God is not “willy nilly” in placing His anointing on everything that simply looks good to the natural eye.  One of the greatest threats to God’s work today is the supposed anointing that people and ministries have, based on who they are and what they are doing.

christian-poetry-by-deborahann-what-god-sees-doorpost-verses-comGod clearly doesn’t look on the outside as man does but rather God is most interested in what a man looks like on the inside.

It’s the INSIDE of the HEART that hold all the secrets of man (Psalm 44:21).

The Bible mentions the human heart almost 300 times.  In essence, this is what it says:

“The HEART is that spiritual part of us where our emotions and desires dwell”  [See Footnote [i] ].

Since God also has emotions and desires, He too can be said to have a “HEART’.

What may appear to be PERFECT on the outside of man, can be quite putrid on the inside.

God tells the prophet Samuel in VERSE 7 “Look not on his appearance or the height of his stature, for I have rejected him.  For the Lord sees not as man sees,; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” —  [the intent]

God is particular in His Anointing!

Although Eliab was the eldest son, probably the strongest and most fit for the job as king, God overlooked him along with 6 others for the one that was the youngest.

Things aren’t always as they appear.

It’s all to easy to do as Samuel did.  Mistakenly over the years, I too have thought of others, including myself, in thinking “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before me.”  It’s easy to do, to ANOINT someone or something that God has not himself anointed.

God considers the HEART, always!

Notice God already knew which of these 8 sons of Jesse that He was going to ANOINT king of Israel.

He said to Samuel in verse 1,  “… Fill your horn with oil; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite.  For I have provided for Myself a king among his sons.”

God’s task seems to make certain Samuel knew who He would ANOINT as king in the process.

“Things aren’t always as they appear to be”!

God understands this better than anyone, so He looks in the place of human beings wherein lies the true nature of a person…

THE HEART!

God’s Impression.

God will never be IMPRESSED with what we are impressed with.

God is NOT impressed with an “impressive” resume.

God is NOT impressed with our talent.

God is NOT impressed with our strengths.

God is NOT impressed with our abilities.

God is NOT impressed with our good looks.

God is NOT impressed with our position.

God is NOT impressed with anything other than what is impressive in our hearts!

The Psalmist said, “Let my heart be sound (sincere and wholehearted and blameless) in Your statutes, that I may not be put to shame”  (Psalm 119:80).heart

Proverbs 14:20 states,  “A calm and undisturbed (SOUND) mind and heart are the life and health of the body…”

Most of us will agree how important a “healthy heart” is to our physical body.  And, as with our physical nature. a healthy heart is just as important to our spiritual nature. 

According to God’s standard of ANOINTING, a healthy Heart is the first and foremost requirement in receiving His Anointing!

THE HEART WON’T LIE!

Matthew recorded Jesus as referring to “false prophets” saying, “You will fully recognize them by their fruits.”  WHY IS THIS?

Because the HEART will always tell on itself!

THE HEART, being the truest representation of who a person is, is the very reason God looks upon it always!

God’s Anointing Can Cause Others to Dislike You.

Several times in Scripture, we see incidences of those God anointed for specific reasons; seeing those that despised the ones God chose to ANOINT.  And DAVID is no different.

When Samuel anointed David, it wasn’t a private religious ceremony–it wasn’t conducted secretly.  No, it was done openly and in the presence of all those that had been “overlooked.”

VERSE 13:  Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed David in the midst of his brothers;  and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward…

Imagine for a minute, that you have just been interviewed for the position of King of Israel. You’re strong, talented, you’ve abilities that are unmatched…AND, you are overlooked!

AND…to pour rubbing alcohol in the open wound, your younger, weaker, scrawny brother gets the job!

My first reaction, and by the way, I have a younger brother that wasn’t “scrawny”…might be, “What just happened here?”

The Bible goes on to say, from that day forward, the Spirit of the LORD was upon David.

A Matter of the Heart.

God’s ANOINTING is particular, a matter of the heart and can be confrontational.

God will never ANOINT just anything or just anyone.  The anointing of God is much too valuable to simply make it available to anyone or anything.

God is the One Who chooses who walks in His anointing, not Pastors, Elders, church leaders or anyone else.  No one can declare God’s Anointing is yours except… the One Who ANOINTS!

God will look on the HEART, always.

First, If the HEART is not PURE, you’ll not have God’s anointing upon it.  God doesn’t anoint PRIDE, ARROGANCE, JEALOUSY or HATE.

He does ANOINT HUMILITY, KINDNESS and SERVITUDE.

And yet, even God’s Anointed can make mistakes.

In study, we can look at David’s life and rule as King of Israel in the bible, and even this great man, a man after God’s own heart, is not immune from making mistakes.

We are not perfect, and that’s why the apostle Paul tells us:

“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing to full completion in you”  (Philippians 1:6).

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THANK YOU JESUS!!

We are all a work in progress.  But the GOOD NEWS is, unlike the Spirit of the Lord in the Old Testament, that came “upon” God’s ANOINTED, the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant, SEALS and INDWELLS God’s ANOINTED PEOPLE.  (John 2:27; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22). 

 

 

 


Footnote(s) & Credits –

Footnote [i]:  Got Questions? .org

BIBLE TRANSLATION:  The Amplified Bible (AMP).

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

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Be Careful What You Ask For (PART TWO)

460768101_1280x720 THE PROPHET –

The Bible says that the matter displeased ‘Vice-President’ Samuel.  But instead of carrying a protest sign outside a Town Hall Rally, Samuel prayed and called on the Lord.

  • Samuel PRAYED because he feared for the future of his nation.

He wasn’t being unpatriotic because he went against the status quo, no, Samuel was in love with his country–LOVED HIS GOD!

  • The Lord told Samuel, don’t take it personal.

In fact, God said, “they are not rejecting you, but they are rejecting Me!  

That’s a word for the child of God who would speak for God.  Many times it will seem as if we are being rejected, when in reality, God is the One being rejected.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus had “chosen and appointed seventy others and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to come (visit)”  (Luke 10:1).  

Then in verse 16, Jesus reminds His followers who are going out in the world to reap the harvest,  “He who hears and heeds you hears and heeds Me; and he who slights and rejects you slights and rejects Me slights and rejects Him who sent Me.”

GOD SAID, “the people don’t want Me as King!”

The evidence had been in view for ages past.  God said, ever since My children came out of Egypt, they’ve done nothing but forsake me and serve other gods.  It’s time for Me to CONCEDE–It’s time for me to admit that they don’t want me anymore.  

Don’t fight them Samuel, you are going to give them what they want.  He said, tell them the procedures for having a king.

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PERMISSION GRANTED (v. 10-18):

Understand today that just because God PERMITS some rulers to be in an authority, that doesn’t mean that He approves them.

Psalm 103 can be nicely tied in with the verses here, because it shows how people can want something so bad…GOD gives in, not to bless them but reprimand them.  He does it to bring RESTORATION to His wayward children.

  • Vice President Samuel now stood before the leaders and the people and uttered God’s CONCESSION SPEECH.

He told them in verse 11, that the king would take your sons and place them in front of his chariots.  Chariots were used in battles.  Since he says, “take”…it wasn’t a volunteer army, they were initiating the DRAFT.

Samuel told them in verse 12, that the king would have many people to do his plowing and to take in the harvest.  In other words, you’ll worker harder, longer for less money in your paycheck.

He said in verse 14, he will take the BEST of your fields and give them to his servants.  In other words, the ruler king will use the people, not only to make himself wealthy but his crony friends as well.

Verse 15, states that the king will take “a tenth of your seed”; in verse 17, “and your flocks”, until you have to borrow in order to survive, ultimately becoming his servants.  In other words, he’s going to use his executive order to put a “flat tax” upon all the people.

  • Then the Lord said that you will cry out and He will NOT LISTEN!

Then people refused to listen to the prophet Samuel and still demanded a specific leader for the nation.

GOD’S CONTINGENCY PLAN!

I’m glad that we can still look to the Hills whence comes our help (Psalm 121).

Isaiah PROPHESIED when he wrote:

“for unto us a child is born, a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government there shall be no end.”

AND THE WORDS OF PAUL, 1 Thessalonians 5:3:

When people are saying,  All is well and secure, and, There is peace and safety, then in a moment unforeseen, destruction (ruin and death) will come upon them as suddenly as labor pains come upon a woman with child, and they shall by no means escape, for there will be no escape.

In other words, there is no ‘political’ plan for PEACE in the world, except through Christ Jesus only!

When the LORD establishes His Kingdom, there will be:

  • UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE – We will be given glorified bodies.
  • UNIVERSAL EQUALITY – All men/women will be treated the same.
  • UNIVERSAL PEACE – We’ll lay down our swords to study war no more.
  • UNIVERSAL WEALTH – Mansions in the sky’ Walk the streets of gold.

And we’ll be able to say,  “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at last.”

 

 


CREDITS:  See PART ONE https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/be-careful-what…ask-for-part-one/

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Be Careful What You Ask For (PART ONE)

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In the past several months, during America’s political process, the world has its eyes on the events as they unfold during the campaign process of nominating a Presidential candidate.  On the way, we will read and hear many concession speeches.  

In 2004, Secretary John Kerry, then a United States Senator, was running a fierce campaign for the highest office in the land; trying to secure his place in history as the next president.  But it was not to be.  The following is his CONCESSION speech  [See Footnote [i] ]. 

“I would not give up this fight if there was a chance that we would prevail. But it is now clear that even with all the provisional ballots are counted, which they will be, there won’t be enough outstanding votes for us to be able to win Ohio. And, therefore, we cannot win this election.”

[Definition, “to concede” :  to confess, admit as being true, or to acknowledge defeat”]

Senator Kerry’s concession speech wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last.

In the Bible, God too gave a concession speech.  One might say that He prefaced His speech when He said back in Genesis 6:3,  “My Spirit shall not forever dwell and strive with man.”

In First Samuel, Chapter 8, we read in the verses that God was no longer popular with the people.  The masses thought He was irrelevant in their lives; unable to meet the needs of their nation.  God had lost the popular vote, failed to secure the electoral votes and conceded by giving a speech through His former running mate, the Honorable Prophet Samuel.

THE PROBLEM (found in vs. 1-3):

[1] WHEN SAMUEL was old, he made his sons judges over Israel.  [2] Now the name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second, Abijah.  They were judges in Beersheba.  [3] His sons did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.

The prophet Samuel had appointed his two sons to become judges over Israel.  It seems as if Samuel was trying to create a family dynasty and placed his sons in a position where they were charged with judging ALL the people righteously, yet they instead had some favorites.

Samuel was a godly man, yet his children went astray.  But you can’t be in a position of LEADERSHIP, claiming to be on God’s side, all the while JUDGING with partiality.

SCRIPTURE says they, “turned aside after gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.”

In other words, only they only supported those who would make them wealthy.  If you didn’t have any money, or any high-ranking social status, then you, unfortunately, were oppressed in the name of God.

One can appear to be in a position of FAVOR, receive BLESSINGS, yet be out of favor with God.

These two young men used their religious positions, backed by the name of God, to gain political and material advantages.  Sound familiar?

They gave perks to the wealthy and if you had a problem with those in power, Joel and Abijah were bought off by the corporate powers that be, so you didn’t have to a fighting chance.

Many confess God but do not serve Him.  And, the last time my Bible defined “AUTHORITY”, YOU HAD TO BE A SERVANT LEADER to ALL the people NOT just to the people in your inner circle.

THE PEOPLE (vs. 4-5):

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah.  They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have”  (NIV Bible).

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The Bible teaches us, when the blind leads the blind, they all fall in the ditch.

Here we see in verse 4, the elders of the people, the Senate, the House of Representatives, came together in a joint session and told Samuel that they wanted a king like all the other nations, all because his sons were not walking with God.  The “theys” saw an opportunity to pursue their endorsement because of the failures and mistakes of others–minimizing God!  They were elders, and instead of them using their influence to unite the people, they told the people a partial truth, okay, a LIE, damaging their unique relationship with God.

All this was a teaching moment to me in my meditation on the verses here.  Neither the LEADERS nor the PEOPLE were praying and seeking God.  Instead, they were trying to get from man what they had available with God.

According to verse 20, they wanted a KING to fight for them, lead them in their frustrations and fears.  No doubt, all because they were a ‘civil religious’ nation; probably all the time thinking they were doing the right thing–suppressing the poor and disadvantaged while demanding that all they needed to have was a LEADER to further their program.

THE PROPHET (vs. 6-9):

[6] But it displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.”  And Samuel prayed to the Lord.  [7] And the Lord said to Samuel, “Hearken to the voice of the people in all they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not be King over them.  [8] According to all the works which they have done since I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking Me and serving other gods, so they also do to you.  [9] So listen now to their voice; only solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them”  (AMP Bible).

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To Be Continued in PART TWO…

 


CREDITS AND FOOTNOTES:

Footnote [I]:  History’s Best Victory And Concession Speeches – November 6, 2012, Northwest Public Radio.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  AMPLIFIED Bible, except where noted.

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Why Do The “Righteous” Suffer? (PART TWO)

[ Continued from PART ONE – https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/why-do-the-right…suffer-part-one/  ]

“FEAR NOT!” –

Then he [Jesus] called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said:  “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”  ~ Mark 8:34-35 NIV Bible.

We FEAR many things as Christians to this WORLD’s perception of who we are.  We FEAR that somehow, unbelievers will think we are RELIGIOUS fanatics and won’t see us as “regular” people and not like themselves, with goals, and hopes, and mortgages, and dentist bills.

We FEAR being misunderstood, that they will conclude that we think we are better than they are.

Even as a follower of the Lord since 1972, I’ve never underestimated the FEAR that most people have in the need to be accepted.

In the HISTORICAL context of the Scripture passage in 1 Peter 3:13-15: PETER instructs us as mature believers and not to be afraid to assert our LOVE and PASSION for God.  It is worth the risk of being misunderstood and to be a person of FAITH!

When I meditate on the verses given, it really boils down to this:

Am I, as a follower of Christ Jesus, am I willing to allow the Lord to direct MY LIFE; shape my ethics and control my ethics and control my conduct, even if it puts me at odds with the culture in which I live?

The person who lives a godly life is going to face FEAR of rejection and intimidation in a culture that embraces the philosophy that says,

“There are no moral absolutes and all truth is subjective”

In such a culture, God’s Word demands us, “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”

Zig Ziglar, a Christian motivational speaker says:  FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real!

We often run from the imaginary and as Job lived,  “that which I feared the most has come to pass”  (Job 3:25).

There are legitimate fears–FEARS that cause us to be cautious:  FEAR of driving on I-5 at the rush hour in Los Angeles/Seattle [I’ve personally experienced both], or, FEAR of snakes [I’ve experienced this also!].  That kind of FEAR is really more respect that can save us a lot of heartache in the end!

PETER wants us to NOT be afraid and to live for JESUS; to let His life dominate ours.

THE SPIRITUAL ANTIDOTE (v. 14-15):

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[14] But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,  [15] but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;  (NAS bible).

The SOLUTION to FEAR is infallible, meaning it is without error…“but in your hearts…”

Verse 15 gives a very simple solution to obtaining VICTORY over FEAR.

  • SPIRIT-FILLED DEDICATION

“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts”

That simply means, we are to recognize Christ Jesus as OUR LORD, OUR SAVIOR and MESSIAH.

The Apostle Peter, in no uncertain terms, is challenging ALL believers too; that is you and I,  to set apart the LORD JESUS as Lord in our hearts, our being; giving first place to Him in obedience in our lives.

What sounds easy, appears to be a challenge to churches today and perhaps, the greatest problem.  

In a 1999 Gallup Poll, it showed that 78% of Americans expect to go to heaven when they die.  However, less than 30% ever pray, read the Bible or attend church on a regular basis.  And Christians wonder why they are filled with FEAR.

  • SCRIPTURE BASED EDUCATION

“ALWAYS be prepared to give an answer…”

The Spirit-filled life prepares us for education, but doesn’t educate us.  We must APPLY our hearts and minds to God’s WORD under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

The word “ANSWER”  is from the Greek word apologia, (op-O-low-gee’-ah), to make a plea; to give an answer for clearing of self; to make a defense  [Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, page 29 of N.T. Words].  It is where we get our word ‘apologetics’ from.

There is a reason for having a Scripture based education, because Satan is a LIAR– with the attempt to let FEAR overwhelm you with his lies.

It is the Spirit-filled Christian who is filled with the knowledge of Scripture that is able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

“SUNDAY ONLY CHRISTIANITY”, won’t serve in defeating your FEARS!

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COFFEE in the church foyer may fill up your styrofoam cup, but never will it fill the life of the believer with the POWER and KNOWLEDGE of Truth that enables you to give an answer–to stand in the midst of an attack designed to cripple your life with FEAR.

“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions and instructions which you were taught by us, whether by our word of mouth or by letter  (2 Thess. 2:15).

God is looking and waiting for His people to SEEK HIM with Passion; to trust Him with the faith of a child and to make Him Lord of their life.

If your BIBLE is neglected and your spiritual passion is on empty, you won’t be able to STAND when FEAR strikes your heart or home!

SPIRITUAL ENCOURAGEMENT –

I thought I would give you some Scripture references that have encouraged me over the years when FEAR has come to roost on my life.

Exodus 14:13:  Moses told the people, FEAR NOT; stand still (firm, confident, undismayed) and see the salvation of the Lord which He will work for you today.

Deuteronomy 31:6:  Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.

Joshua 1:9:  Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

2 Chronicles 20:17:  You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord [Who is] with you…FEAR NOT nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.

Job 11:13-15:  If you set your heart aright and stretch out your hands to [God]. if you put sin sin out of your hand and far away from you and let not evil dwell in your tents; then can you lift up your face to Him without stain [of sin, and unashamed], yes, you shall be steadfast and secure; you shall NOT FEAR.

1 Corinthians 16:13:  Be alert and on your guard; stand firm in your faith (your conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, keeping the trust and holy fervor born of faith and a part of it). Act like men and be courageous; grow in strength.

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CREDITS:

BIBLE Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted in the text.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

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Why Do The “Righteous” Suffer? (PART ONE)

1 Peter 3:13-15 (NLT):

[13] Now who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?  [14] But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.  [15] Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.

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Someone asked C.S. Lewis, “Why do the righteous suffer?”  “Why not?” he replied. “They’re the only ones who should be able to take it.”

There is no doubt we live in a changing world, marked by terrorism, wars and rumors of war and the constant threat of nuclear, biological or chemical extinction.  That’s the BAD NEWS!

But praise God, whatever fearful situation we might find ourselves in…there is the biblical unchangeableness of God Almighty that is comforting.

We must fight fear by anchoring our lives in this truth.

  • Our MASTER never changes.
  • Our MESSAGE never changes.
  • And Our MISSION never changes.

What we need today is an anointing of the Holy Spirit to relate our unchanging gospel to the FEARFUL changing world we live in.

EMOTIONALLY BASED FEAR –

FEAR is such a strange EMOTION.  One Bible Teacher/pastor refers to it as the EMOTION QUOTIENT where some “fears” have even been given names:

Aerophobia:  FEAR of drafts.

Peladophobia: And no, that isn’t a city in Pennsylvania.  It is a FEAR of baldness or fear of bald people.

Chaetophobia:  FEAR of hairy people.

Phobophobia:  FEAR of being afraid.

Experiencing FEAR is normal; however, to be paralyzed by fear is an indication that we question God’s ability to take care of us.

The SUFFERING is Inevitable (v. 13-14):

[13]  Now who is there to hurt you if you are zealous followers of that which is good?  [14] But even in case you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, [you are] blessed (happy, to be envied). Do not dread or be afraid of their threats, nor be disturbed [by their opposition].  (AMPLIFIED)

Peter’s question must have hung in the air for a long moment when the Christians first heard the letter read.  They were no strangers to fear and suffering and suffered on occasions for doing good to others.

Peter is NOT addressing the spiritually immature believer here.  He is addressing strong Christians who were “zealous” for the Lord.

Peter goes on to speak about the Christian attitude to suffering.  It is well noted that man is involved in TWO KINDS of SUFFERING:

  • Suffering in which we are a part of because of our humanity–human flesh: physical suffering, death, sorrow, distress of the mind, weariness and pain of the body.
  • But there is also the suffering we may be involved with because of our Christian Faith.  There may be unpopularity, persecution, sacrifice of principle and deliberate choosing of the difficult way, the necessary discipline attributed to Christian lifestyle.

And yet, the Christian way of living has a certain BLESSEDNESS which runs through it all.  IT’S OUR HOPE!

THOSE SUFFERING PERSECUTION WILL BE BLESSED!

Really?

There is something about facing my fears that allows FAITH to be genuine, to shine!  

What good is our FAITH if it is never tested (James 1:3, 4):

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In a book entitled, “Cradles of Eminence”, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development produced a revealing study:

They said,  “413 famous and exceptionally gifted people helped change the world.  And the reasons, the authors spent years attempting to understand what produced such “greatness”; trying to find a common thread.  Surprisingly, the most outstanding fact they found with virtually all of them, 392 of 413, had overcome the personal fears associated with great suffering or failure in order to become who they were.  [See Footnote [i] ]

When a person focusses his/her mind and life on things of this world, those “things” can be taken away in a heartbeat.

You can be stricken with a disease, suffer a heart attack, have an accident, lose everything through an economic slump or stock market crash.  A person of the world can suffer a crushing blow and FEAR destroys them–leaves them hopeless in life.  But that SHOULD NOT BE the case of a TRUE BELIEVER.  We are blessed!  We have victory!!

FINDING VICTORY IN GOD’S PROMISES FROM FEAR –

Here is but a partial list of God’s PROMISES to us as believers in facing our worst FEARS:

  • God will work out all things for good (Romans 8:28).
  • God will provide all the necessities of life (Matthew 6:33).
  • God will give you His glory in the face of insults (1 Peter 4:14).
  • The life of Christ Jesus is best manifested through us in fear and suffering        (2 Corinthians 4:11).
  • God provides GREAT rewards for those who stand in fear and suffering (Matthew 5:11-12).
  • God will preserve us and take us to Heaven as we stand in Him against our fears and suffering (2 Timothy 4:8).

So, what do Christians fear about being a “Christian”?

— SEE PART TWO–

 


 

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Footnote [I] – “Cradles of Eminence” by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development and a Book by Mildred George Goertzel & Victor Goertzel–www.davidsongifted.org/

Photo:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted in the text.

 

 

 

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A CALL TO HOLINESS IN A HOSTILE LAND

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Last week I participated in a political discussion group on social media where the attacks got pretty hot and heavy.  And, I have to confess, my “flesh” got in the way of my heart and I had to repent from my reciprocal reactions.  

Was I right in making a “political” point? Perhaps, but my thought process and reaction to unbelievers wasn’t.  I’ve since disconnected with the group.

The Holy Spirit directed my repentance, to a study in 1 Peter–and so here I am: A CALL TO HOLINESS IN A HOSTILE LAND–“But as the One Who called you [MEL] is holy, you [MEL] also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living” (1 Peter 1:15 AMP). Now that’s…personal!

A BIBLE STUDY IN 1 PETER 1:13-21 –

PETER begins his letter to the churches, in the northern part of Asia Minor in the first twelve verses to the future of the Christian.

[13] “THEREFORE, prepare your minds for action…” and this is a good place to start from.

I capitalized the word “THEREFORE” for emphasis.  When reading the bible, it can become a tired old saying, but true–and it’s there for a reason.

In the Amplified bible, verse 13 reads “So brace up your minds; be sober (circumspect, morally alert)…”

PETER is about to make a transition from the FUTURE HOPE of the Christian, to the PRESENT HOPE…Peter wants Christians to understand, since God has given us a living HOPE, our incorruptible Inheritance and His promised of PRAISE, HONOR and GLORY, and there is a certain way He expects believers–that’s us–to conduct ourselves publicly, in our homes privately, or anywhere we travel in this life.

This takes us to 1 Peter 1:15, “as the One Who called you holy…be holy in all of your conduct and manner of living.”

So Peter in essence is saying–no, what Jesus said in Luke 12:48,  “For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required; and of him to whom men entrust much, they will require and demand all the more.”

WOW!  Living a holy life in the expectations of a HOLY GOD, can that be a reality in today’s world?  It’s a hostile land out there!

THE CALL TO HOLINESS –

God calls His people today to HOLINESS.  A “HOLY PERSON” isn’t an odd person but a distinct person.

A holy person has a quality about their life that is separate; and their present lifestyle is not only different from the past way of living, but is different from the way of living of unbelievers around them.  They are real, genuine, authentic people and they should be representing the likeness of Christ Jesus to the watching world.

We have been commanded to live a holy life–energetic and blazing with holiness.  

Someone once said, “We may choose a married life or a single life, but it is not left to us to choose whether, or not, we live a holy life.”  It’s what marks us as God’s followers.

Why don’t we then, want to heed the call?

“Wait just a minute,” someone might say, “This holiness thing is just a little bit too much for me!”

The problem becomes, we don’t want to be different–to stand out of the crowd.  We have become an assembly line society…and YES, churches today are part of society in case you forgot.  We’re terrified of being set apart.

We visualize a caricature of “holiness”; we think the whole idea of holiness communicates an attitude and displays actions that become known as “holier-than-thou”.

We discredit spirituality and behavior that puts one on a pedestal of being better than the rest.  Jesus despised this type of mentality and morality that the Pharisees displayed and we agree with Him.

We often misunderstand what it means to be HOLY!

After READING AND STUDYING this passage of Scripture, I found that Peter gives some answers, or KEYS to a holy living that should help us to be what God wants us to be. HOLY.

KEY #1 – VERSE 13 “GIRD UP”:

The King James Version (KJV) reads, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind” and I thought, “Huh?”

gird-up-your-loins-2

In biblical times robes were usually worn–and robes tend to get in the way if you’re doing certain kinds of work or you need to get from POINT A to POINT B, in a hurry.  So “girding up your loins of your mind” is a metaphor for being prepared in your mind…being alert.

Being ALERT mentally–

Is when we see and process the information in the world around us in a different way because of the understanding we should have through the Holy Spirit.

How many times in my life as a Christian, I’ve fallen down by not adhering to this aspect of “holiness.”  Things that others see as the normal way of doing things, or at least the acceptable way of doing things, are not so acceptable when you have a PREPARED MIND–seeing things through the POWER of the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NIV):

[14] The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.  [15] The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment;  [16] “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” (Isaiah 40:13)  But we have the mind of Christ.

“GIRDING UP OUR MINDS” means being ready and able to recognize and reject the worldly influences around us.  My unspiritual banter in a political forum became foolish, just as their argumentative ‘banter’ was foolish.

The 2nd Key to holy living I happened to notice is to LIVE A CHANGED LIFE!

KEY #2 is found in VERSE 14, where Peter tells us to be “obedient children…”

[14]  [Live] as children of obedience  [to God];  do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel].

The word OBEDIENCE seems to raise the hair on the back of one’s arms.

Colossians 3:20:  “Children, OBEY your parents in everything”…

Or, this gets to the ladies sometimes…“SUBMIT to your husbands…Colossians 3:18.

Some of us become rebellious when we hear those words in conversation.  But as those verses in Colossians are brought to mind, the apostle Paul is saying wives, husbands, children…ADAPT to your role in life because it is your service in obedience to not your husband, your wife, your parents BUT…THE LORD!

Peter is telling us that, even though before we knew the LORD, we considered it alright to do certain things, and now, it is no longer acceptable to use our “ignorance” concerning spiritual things.

The apostle Paul gives us a whole list of things that ought not be found in the life of a Christian.  READ 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

DON’T BE DECEIVED; NEITHER THE…

  • impure and immoral,
  • NOR idolaters,
  • NOR adulterers,
  • NOR those who participate in homosexuality,
  • NOR cheats,
  • NOR greedy graspers,
  • NOR drunkards,
  • NOR foul-mouthed…

The list GOES ON!

What I found interesting in reading this passage was, if your LIFESTYLE is a LIFESTYLE that is displeasing to God, and you have no desire or intent to change it, you are probably kidding yourself if you call yourself a CHRISTIAN.

As a student of the Bible, I’m not making up the rules for your living, or my living, neither do the church leaders in place, nor any particular church member.

BUT…if you don’t feel the call of God to change from your former way of life to the life of an “obedient child of God,” then you need to see if that once “confession of Christ as savior” in your life is a genuine one.

KEY #3 – KEEPING YOUR HEART, MIND AND SOUL, FIXED ON JESUS TO BE HOLY 

1 PETER 1:17-19 (The MESSAGE):

[17] You call out to God for help and he helps–he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.  [18] It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in.  [19] He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know.  

[Bible Study Tools-the Message bible, 1 Peter 1:17-19]

Keeping your heart, mind and soul, fixed on JESUS–to be HOLY, not only do we need a PREPARED mind and a CHANGED LIFE, what Peter is saying here, as Christians, we are to claim Almighty God as our Father–not simply as our Creator but as our Father.  And, to understand this, it is through the precious BLOOD of Christ Jesus that allows us to call Him, FATHER!

The BLOOD of JESUS

The BLOOD of JESUS

So Peter is telling us, that if we are going to make that claim of God, we better focus on the SACRIFICE of God’s one and only Son, Jesus, and, that knowledge needs to be reflected in everything we do and say.  Even as we share our comments, or others’ comments, on Social Media, “as is right and fitting and your proper duty to the Lord” (Col. 3:18 (b) AMP).

As Christian witnesses, we often misunderstand what it means to be HOLY.

Today, the WORLD has a desperate need for people who are different.  As in Genesis 17, Abraham was to circumcise himself, his household and his slaves as a mark in the flesh of an everlasting COVENANT between God and His people–His children.

Like CIRCUMCISION was a mark of the flesh in the Old Covenant, Christians should have the spiritual mark of HOLINESS.

Like circumcision, it won’t be easy, in fact, at times it will be painful.  But it will make a difference!

We need people who will be JESUS at the office, in Congress, in Society, in the Classroom…ALL in a HOSTILE LAND.

People who live their FAITH in boldness, even though the rest of society thinks we are different.

Will you make a commitment as I have made, to be serious about truly being repentant when we sin, not to take SIN lightly…after all, our SIN is what caused Christ’s death, after all.

THINK ABOUT LIVING A “HOLY LIFE” THIS WEEK, IN CHRIST’S NAME!!!

 


 CREDITS:

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations, as noted in the text:  King James Version (KJV); The MESSAGE Bible (MSG); The Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

Exodus 14:16-31

FIGHTING, WARING, “Contending” for the FAITH

HOW DID GOD DO THAT?

Exodus 14:16-31

Exodus 14:16-31

Most of you know of the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus of the Bible, or do you? Here’s a borrowed version of that story:

It seems Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt–and now had Pharaoh and his armies in hot pursuit.

At their backs, certain annihilation– and, in front of them the Red Sea.  They were trapped. So Moses called his generals and other tribal leaders together and made a review of their desperate circumstances in what they might do.

“DID ANYONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS?” Moses asked.

One of the engineering types suggested the possibility of constructing a pontoon bridge–but as some pointed out, there was no time for that!

All kinds of crazy ideas popped-up in discussion–but none had any merit.

Finally, Moses asked,  “What if I were to pray to Jehovah Jireh (God will provide) and ask Him to send a mighty wind to sweep back the waters of the Red Sea so that dry land would appear?  We could then cross over the dry land and…when safely on the other side, wind could cease and the waters would rush back, drowning the Egyptian army.  What do you think of that idea?”

At this point Moses’ publicity man jumped up enthusiastically:  “Moses Baby, if you can pull that one-off, I guarantee I can get you two full pages in the Bible!”

We believe in the biblical record even though we don’t always understand the implications 

The LORD delivers people from their bondage, yet sometimes, people seem to fall back into that same old bondage (1 Timothy 1:7; Acts 8:23).

In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he writes “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him (Jesus), that the body of sin might be done away with and that we should no longer be in bondage to sin”  (ASV bible).

JUDE was the brother of James, who presided at the Jerusalem council and wrote the epistle of James, and he was a half-brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3).  The LETTER OF JUDE was addressed to Jewish Christians in Palestine and in verse 3, Jude indicates that he planned to write to them concerning their salvation but now changes his appeal in light of certain immoral men circulating among them who were perverting the TRUTH–the message of the gospel of Christ.

“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend [“fight”, “war”] for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints”  (Jude 3 – NIV bible).

Jude’s list of the “fallen backs”, now begins in verse 4 – People who left MORALITY behind.

[4] For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you…godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality…

And just in case you have forgotten–JUDE 5 (NRSV bible):

[5] Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed that the LORD, who once for all saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”

[READ Numbers, chapter 16]

The Pretenders and False Teachers –

Albert Barnes makes an excellent statement concerning men/women who come into churches and lead others astray:

“The apostle (Jude) gives a reason for defending the TRUTH for there were artful and wicked men who had crept into the church, pretending to be religious, but whose doctrines tended to sap the very foundations of TRUTH.”

The fact that false teachers were able to creep into a church setting, shows the pastor of the church and/or the people who let their guard down, they clearly were complacent and content as gate keepers and asleep on the job.

Churches today are rarely destroyed from the outside.  It is the Devil’s cunningest to send an uncalled man, poorly trained and equipped for the ministry.  These “hirelings”, having no calling from God, aspiring to the ministry as a profession, who are smooth talkers often well versed in modern psychology.  Ring a bell?

sugarTheir MESSAGE is weak and watery, containing no meat.  In order to hold the attendance numbers, they turn and rely on the music and emotion.  NOTE: I’m not against “contemporary music” and heartfelt “emotional responses.”  Just not the service’s whole emphasis.

Titus 1:9-11 (NIV):

[9] Hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrines and refute those who oppose it.  [10] For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group.  [11] They must be silenced because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not teach–and that for the sake of dishonest gain.

ANGELS WHO LEFT HOME BEHIND –

Just because we haven’t seen God or angels, doesn’t mean they aren’t real!

Augustine, an early Christian theologian and philosopher once said,  “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men angels.”

Someone changed that and said,  “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men acceptable before God.”

“Are not the angels all ministering spirits (servants) sent out in the service [of God for assistance] of those who are to inherit salvation?”  (Hebrews 1:14).

Apparently, God sends His angels to minister to us who are truly believing saints in life.

We may or may not know when this happens.  One writer put it this way:  “Angels are spiritual beings created by God to serve Him; though created higher than man.  Some (the good angels) have remained obedient to Him to carry out His will, while others (fallen angels), disobeyed, fell from their holy position and now stand in active opposition to the work and plan of God.”

Jude 1:6 (NRSV bible):

[6] And the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgment of the great day.

I think most of us realize the DEVIL is a fallen angel.  He was so filled with PRIDE and wanted to be god and God cast him out of heaven.  SATAN abandoned his position of Authority.

And guess what’s going to happen to him?

Revelation 20:10:

[10] Then the devil who had led them astray [deceiving and seducing them] was hurled into the fiery lake of burning brimstone, where the beast and false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (through the ages of the ages).

**NOTE: Were ALL the fallen angels bound eternally in chains for eventual judgment? The answer is another study.  [See Footnote [i] for a study choice.]

If angels who are higher than man in creation can sin and thrown in the lake of fire, what about man?

People who left MORALITY in the trash can (verse 7):

[7] In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire  (NIV bible).

What’s the deal with “Sodom and Gomorrah”?

[READ Genesis 19:1-5]

That sounded horrible after reading those verses.  And it was!  Sounds like today!

This Scripture (verse 7), makes things sound pretty dismal for some people and we should believe the Word of God.  The only HOPE for any SIN, sexual sin, sexual perversion, etc. is the LORD!

No one can be SAVED from eternal fire without the Lord’s grace!

In conclusion, MY STUDY’S REFLECTIONS –

Understand that APOSTASY is more than false teaching in the church today, it is FALSE LIVING.

It is the Christian form of HYPOCRISY–SAYING, YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN BUT IN TRUTH YOU ARE NOT.

Your ACTIONS, your ATTITUDES, are bearing the lies that come out of your mouth.

In VERSE 5:  I saw that the Lord delivers people out of their own EGYPTS, but sometimes people wander back into their sin and slavery.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!

JUDE says to us here in VERSE 5, that JESUS (more accurately translated LORD), SAVED a people out of the Land of Egypt.  That is, the Hebrew people, the future nation of Israel.

Later, He destroyed those who didn’t believe (Numbers 16:32-33).  DESTROY literally means to abolish, to destroy completely.

Understand that God didn’t destroy the nation but destroyed many–(250 in verse 35–14,700 later, in verse 49)–ALL because of their UNBELIEF and DISOBEDIENCE to God’s Word given through Moses.  It wasn’t because of occasional doubt and disobedience, but continually doubting, continually disobeying.

There was an OUTWARD CIRCUMCISION, but not an INWARD CIRCUMCISION of the heart.

You can go through all the hoops of Churchianity to identify you with Jesus, but only one thing really matters is your HEART!

Yes, God DELIVERS people from their bondage, even laziness.  Whatever it might be, God can deliver us!

BUT…

But we must not turn back.

Turning back to our old sinful ways get us in trouble every time.  And for some, it could mean ETERNAL TROUBLE.

GOD SAVE US!

If I understand this passage in Scripture rightly, that type of living is APOSTASY and it is to be JUDGED by God… just like the Hebrew people in the wilderness, just like the angels who denied their rightful place, just like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Is that you?

Is God calling you to repentance?

 

 


 

BLOG-STUDY CREDITS:

FOOTNOTE [i] –  Biblical Horizons Newsletter No. 1: Who Were the Angels of Jude 6? by James B. Jordan January, 1989.

Bible Translations used:  NRSV – New Revised Standard Version, NIV – New International Version; AMP – Amplified bible.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Google Images Search.