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The Fullness of the Fruit

I remember in my teen years, my folks planting a lemon tree at the back of their property, next to a fence bordering an alley.  This wasn’t an ordinary lemon tree, this was a MEYER LEMON tree.  A cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange.  In my opinion, the tastiest lemon ever!

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Now this tree was a special tree to our family, for it bore fruit almost year round.  It wasn’t suppose to, but it did!  It always seemed filled with bright, round yellow lemons.  So much so that it seemed many of the tree’s branches were on the verge of snapping under the weight of the fruit.

Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV):

[9] And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,  [10] so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,  [11] filled with the FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS  that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.  [ I capitalized “fruit of righteousness,”  only for illustration]  

This letter of the apostle Paul to the church at Philippi, a church that he established, is a letter of thanks for their GIFT.  Also, it is a letter of encouragement, to stand firm in the faith, to exhort them in humility and unity.

This particular church was a special delight to Paul.  He had developed a bond of love and mutual confidence with this church unequaled elsewhere.  Consequently this is the most personal of Paul’s letters not written to individuals.

“And this I pray” (vs. 9), his prayer for this church comes to a crescendo in verse 11:  

May you be “filled with the fruit of righteousness…”

The word “FILLED” (pleroo – Grk.) means “filled to all fullness.”  Sort of like the Thompson family Meyer Lemon tree.

Paul is seeking spiritual fruit for the true believers at this church; he earnestly PRAYS for them to be “filled to all fullness”, and the “fullness of fruit” only comes “through Jesus Christ”.  

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, he says “none but a good tree can bring forth good fruit, so none but a tree of righteousness can bear fruits of righteousness.”

It is only as Christians abide in Jesus, allowing Christ (John 15:4-5) to live His resurrected life through us (Galatians 2:20) can we be fruitful and glorify God.

So how do we, the CHURCH bring forth SPIRITUAL FRUIT?

stock-photo-blooming-almond-trees-in-the-garden-259285685Well, returning to my ‘love of gardening’ roots…before FRUIT can appear on a tree, it must BLOSSOM FIRST.  Following the natural progression of a fruit bearing tree, not only does the tree blossom first–then leafs out in the Spring–then the FRUIT follows.

In my study this past week, I discovered that believers in Christ are called “oaks [trees] of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3, AMP)

By nature, we are barren; not one good blossom growing on us; but when by FAITH, grafted into Christ Jesus (like the lemon tree ingrafted to the mandarin orange tree), then we are able grow and bear fruit.

Here’s a good word to add to your vocabulary: Plagiarism; meaning the belief that original sin do not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good and evil without special divine will”  [See footnote [i] ].

In other words, we have sufficiency of ourselves that brings forth good fruit; but what’s wrong with this claim?  Doesn’t the ROOT contribute to the branches?  Is not Christ’s precise FULLNESS what we receive?

“For out of His FULLNESS (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift”  (John 1:16 AMP).

JESUS then is that ROOT which shoots up that sap of grace, His branches.  THAT’S US CHURCH!

IT’S HIS GRACE!

“I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice…”  (Song of Songs 5:1 – NIV).

Christ doesn’t say, “your myrrh,” but “My myrrh.”  If Christians are to bear FRUIT, we are indebted to Christ Jesus for it; it’s His myrrh.

And in Hosea 14:8:  “…I am like a green fir or cypress tree; with Me is the fruit found [which is to nourish you].”

“None but a good tree can bring forth good fruit, so none but a tree of righteousness can bear fruits of righteousness”  [Found in John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible].

What is that FRUIT which a sincere Christian brings to the table?

fresh-fruit-plate

I love the fresh fruit that’s available during the Summer months.  They’re fresh, juicy, and beautiful to look at.

And like the plate of Summer Fruit, what we as followers of Jesus should bring to the table year round, should demonstrate the quality of the fruit as well:

  • Inward FRUIT
  • Outward FRUIT
  • Kindly FRUIT
  • Seasonable FRUIT

Bringing forth the Inward FRUITGalatians 5:22-23:

“The FRUIT of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness,   Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence)…”

The FRUIT listed is sweet and mellow, growing under the Son of righteousness.

Outward FRUIT – Proverbs 15:4:

“A gentle tongue is a tree of life…”

A Christian who is full to the brim with righteousness brings to the table the FRUIT of good speech.  

He also brings forth the FRUIT of Good Works (Colossians 1:10):

“…bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God…”

God will say on the Last Day, “…you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can] and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith”  (James 2:18).

Kindly FRUIT – Psalm 1:3:

“…ready to bring forth its fruit in its season”

That is, one brings forth that FRUIT which is proper for one to bear.

PROPER FRUIT means when we, as Christians, are living holy in our callings and relationships.  As an example, in a JUDGE, Justice is the kindly fruit:  Deuteronomy 16:19 says,

“You shall not misinterpret or misapply judgment; you shall not be partial, or take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.”

PROPER FRUIT ON THE TABLE:

…in a pastor, ZEAL (Acts 17:16).

…in a parent, INSTRUCTION (Deut. 4:10).

…in a child, OBEDIENCE (Ephesians 6:1).

…in a husband, LOVE (Ephesians 5:25).

…in the wife, SUBMISSION (Ephesians 5:22).

Lastly, SINCERITY brings Seasonable FRUIT

Psalm 1:3 says, “bring forth its fruit in its season”;

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that “everything is beautiful in His time”.

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 There is a great amount of discernment that comes in to play in the right timing of a thing.  Consider that the seasonableness of a thing, puts a value on it.

For an example, our COMFORTING others must be seasonable.  

Proverbs 15:13 says,  “A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken.

When the spirit is broken, a word of comfort spoken in season is putting it in joint again.  

The words that we can say in season in comfort. or sometimes, just being there with someone in time of brokenness to comfort them with a hug, without speaking any words, can be of great value.

Job’s friends pretended to comfort him–but instead of pouring oil into the wound, they poured vinegar.

“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul.”

Let all the trees of righteousness bring forth seasonable fruit.  

  • In prosperity, be thankful.  
  • In adversity, be patient.  “To everything there is a season.”

 Consider that the seasonableness of a thing, puts a value and preciousness on it.

In summary, RIGHTEOUSNESS doesn’t come from our good works, but is credited to us according to our FAITH.

The same is true for the Fruits of Righteousness.  

By FAITH we must earnestly seek to complete the GOOD WORK God has already prepared for us; but the FRUIT of our labor comes through Jesus–only by His strength do we have strength.  

Only through Jesus will we have the power to run the race set before us with endurance; and only Jesus can produce fruit in our lives. Only Jesus can bring forth increase.  By our own power we can do nothing.

Jesus said,  “If you live in Me and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.  When you bear much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine”  (John 15:7-8).

Living a consistent lifestyle in Christ and His words abiding in us, in order to produce perfect knowledge and discernment, gives us the foundation to build upon.

So our purpose is to be a man or woman who God can use to bear FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS that God can be glorified.

“RIGHTEOUSNESS is the action and positive result from a sound relationship between God and men” (Quote by John Harvey, pastor of Life Quest Church).

We have God’s Promise–if we love God’s Word and do these things. we will succeed and will bear fruit.

 


Credits & Footnotes:

Footnote [i] : Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search and Photo Pin.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

Commentaries used for in this study:  Howdy Partner! (Philippians 1:1-11) by Keith Krell @ Bible.org;  John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible – Philippians 1:11 @ BibleStudyTools.com

 

 

 

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LIVING AS A WANDERER vs. AS A PILGRIM

GENESIS 4:13-16 (New International Version – NIV):

hiding-from-god-theme-2Cain said to the LORD,  “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

But the LORD said to him,  “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.”  Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.

So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

In 1952, John Steinbeck wrote the novel, East of Eden.  It’s a book that wanders through the subjects of depravity, beneficence, and yes, love.  It goes to great lengths to detail human struggle for acceptance, greatness, and freedom.  Also, it relates to man’s capacity towards self-destruction.

Despite being considered a great book, East of Eden hasn’t come close to the total number of sales of the BIBLE, nor lasted through thousands of years like the GENESIS account has.

As The Word Detective, I’m always curious to the origin of unfamiliar words; their meaning and sometimes, the geographical significance to the story.

Gordon-MacRae-Falsely-Accused-Priest-Land-of-Nod-East-of-EdenThe Land of Nod  (Hebrew: eretz – Nod) a place mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, located “on the east of Eden,” where CAIN was exiled by God after Cain had murdered his brother Abel (Gen. 4:8).

“NOD” is the Hebrew root of the verb “to wonder”–therefore, to dwell in the Land of Nod is usually taken to mean that one takes up a wandering life.

In English, to “nod”  is to fall asleep suddenly.  Consequently, in the United Kingdom, to go to the Land of Nod is to go asleep.  [Footnote [i] ]

CAIN was worried, in despair, about the PUNISHMENT that had been handed down by God.  Based on our laws today, the sentence was less than it deserved perhaps.

In his anger, Cain kills his younger brother over jealousy:  “…And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering,   But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed”  (Genesis 4:4-5 AMP).

Ah, that old SPIRIT OF JEALOUSY and ENVY had gotten hold of Cain that day.

JEALOUSY is a feeling of discontent because of what others possess.  Jealous people view someone else’s success as a threat to their success–their existence.

ENVY on  the other hand, is proof that the SPIRIT OF JEALOUSY is present in your life and as a result, there will be negative consequences.

In CAIN’s future, he certainly faced in his wandering, negative consequences, spiritually and physically.

Although JEALOUSY is a tool the devil uses in our lives at times, there are ways in which you can open the door to that spirit.  I’ve been down that road myself too many times before.

James 3:14-16 – AMP:

[14] If you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth.  [15] This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, even devilish.  [16] For wherever there is jealousy and contention, there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices.

[See also, Philippians 2:3; Proverbs 14:30]

And what was Cain’s outcome, his punishment from God regarding his selfishness?

He was left aimlessly to WANDER the earth as a vagabond; even the ground wouldn’t yield for him.  Whatever he sowed…would fail!

Our bibles make a contrast between the sowing of unrighteousness and the harvesting of FAITH.

Cain sowed the ground with BLOOD of his brother as the result of his JEALOUSY.  

It was because of Abel’s FAITH that his offering was acceptable to God.  [See Footnote [ii] ].

Cain’s lack of FAITH, instead of being converted–a change of mind–through the lessons God had presented, led to the murder of his brother resulting in NO HARVEST at all, even for the duration of his life.

We have exactly the same thing going on in the world today.  Christians are murdered in large numbers for their FAITH by the modern spiritual successors to Cain–the “peaceful” religion of Islam.

But in the end, those faithful Christians will stand in JUDGMENT over those who kill the body but can’t harm the soul.

The WAY of Cain leads to DEATH whereas, the FAITH of Abel last for eternity.

After his sentencing, Cain cried out “from Your face I will be hidden”  (Genesis 4:14).

The greatest honor that can be placed upon a person is to have the face of God shine on their life.  For this reason the High Priestly Prayer found in Numbers 6:24-26 not only includes it, it states it twice–

[24] “The LORD bless you and keep you;

[25] the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;

[26] the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

In 1 Peter it says the reciprocal is true for Evildoers –

“For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,  And His eyes are open to their prayers;  But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil”  (1 Peter 3:12).

CAIN understood this in his limited way and cried out at the loss–a loss which he had brought upon himself.

The very first thing I noticed Cain doing AFTER God banished him from His presence, was to continue to defy God after He said, he would be a fugitive and a vagabond.  (4:14).

BUT verse 17 tells us Cain “built a city”.  Apparently Cain still didn’t believe that God’s Words were true.  Cain was attempting to establish a permanent place of settlement, a place for him to find residence after God had declared that he would never find such.

Some Bible Scholars believe that because of God’s punishment, CAIN only started building a city, leaving a legacy, letting his son Enoch to complete his unfinished work.

Despite of CAIN’s SIN, his murder, we see a great demonstration of the LORD’s MERCY.

In order to protect him, the LORD said  “…if anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.” 

Just so you know, CAIN was given a mark to protect his earthly life, but those who call on JESUS, the last chapter of the Bible says we too will have a mark.

The MARK will be on our foreheads and will be the very name of God–an eternal reminder that we have been purchased with the most precious substance in the universe–THE BLOOD of Jesus Christ  (Revelation 22:3, 4).

Revelation 22:3, 4

Revelation 22:3, 4

If you find yourself “wandering” aimlessly…staying away from God’s presence and a rewarding life because you think you’re living under God’s punishment, you are a vagabond in the Land of Nod.

BUT…there is a way to ESCAPE!

Wandering vs. Pilgrimage –

A TRUE BELIEVER’s life is at its very heart a PILGRIMAGE–LIFE on this present earth is not the final goal.

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To be sure, the Christian Pilgrimage, unlike the WAY OF CAIN, while coming with difficulties, can none-the-less be productive and filled with assurance.

God is with us and the best is yet to come!

As BELIEVERS, we must neither wander for the presence of God nor His standards.  In fact, to live a lifestyle of a WANDERER, invites His righteous response in JUDGEMENT.

If we are tempted to do so, let’s be quick and earnest in seeking our Heavenly Fathers’ COMPASSION from a living God (Psalm 103:1-18).  

For He will TRANSFORM our earthly desires into even better ones.  Moreover, to begin WANDERING could lead to further Wandering and take us even farther away from God’s BLESSINGS in our life.  And of course, this could lead to even more punishment, chastisement.  A vicious cycle indeed.

Rather than Wandering, wasting our productive life away from God and following one’s own selfish, worldly desires, BELIEVERS should keep in mind…this earth is not their true home and final destination.  Ours is a PILGRIM’s JOURNEY while we work out our salvation.

Therefore, as the apostle Peter admonishes his readers, 

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us”  (1 Peter 2:11-12 – NIV).

BELIEVERS therefore should remember and honor the fact that living as PILGRIMS, we should put away selfish lusts and desires, for it only causes their condition to worsen further.

As Grant Osborne’s commentary on 1 Peter 2 advises,  “We…can trust our lives to our Creator, but we are also at war with our ‘worldly desires’.  Every part of our life is involved–the physical and spiritual, the internal and external–and when one gives in to sinful behavior, Satan is waging WAR against us.”  [Footnote [iii] ]

As PILGRIMS in this world, abandoning self-centerness and personal wandering (not focused) becomes a daily exercise, not a one time experience (Romans 12:2).  

BASK in the full light of God’s abundant grace.

May we be careful in our living and keeping His standards; be living testimonies as His redeemed people, glorifying the LORD by experiencing the BLESSINGS of His presence and His guidance,

I still love singing Old Hymns that used to be sung in the church but not so much today.  I rediscovered the words to a hymn, I think best sums up my thoughts:

‘O Jesus I have promised to serve Thee  to the end,

Be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend;

I shall not fear the battle, if Thou art by my side

Nor wander from the pathway, if Thou wilt be my guide.


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Footnote [i] : Land of Nod – Wikipedia. 

Footnote [ii]: See OUR “OFFERINGS”; The “Why’s” and “How’s” of Our Giving – at https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/our-offerings-th…ws-of-our-giving/

Footnote [iii]:  Grant R. Osborn, “1-2 Peter,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort (Carol Stream, Ill. Tyndale House, 2011; 18 vols.).

Photo’s:

Land of Nod Map: In the Land of Nod, East of Eden – These Stone Walls.com – All other photo’s obtained from Google Image Search.

 

 

 

Genesis 2:25 Unashamed Nakedness

OUR NAKEDNESS REVEALED

Several years ago, as an adult Sunday School teacher, I was asked this question during a bible study in Genesis 3: 

Genesis 2:25 Unashamed Nakedness

Genesis 2:25 Unashamed Nakedness

“Why was it, that after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, the first thing they noticed was that we’re NAKED?  Weren’t they ALWAYS naked?”

“Well yes,” I answered.

“But before they ate of the tree…they didn’t think about it.  They were innocent; their hearts were pure.” 

Genesis 2:25 (AMP):  

“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence.”

Have you ever noticed little children?  Sometimes they strip off all their clothes and begin running naked all through the house.  They’re not worried about being naked, one bit.

They have no shame.  But why?

One commentator noted:

“Two-year-olds don’t see any difference between (their) face, (their) knees, and the parts of (their) body which we adults insist that (they) cover. Only adults feel that certain parts of the body must be covered. Because those parts are connected with physical lust and passions”  (Chaya Sarah Silberberg, Chabad.org).

You see, before Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, their hearts were PURE–nothing needed to be covered.

But once they ate of the FRUIT…that all changed.  Their HEARTS–MINDS were now tainted by sinful thoughts they had never considered before.

JESUS said “…out of the heart come evil thoughts (reasonings and disputings and designs)…”

You see, there were NO evil thoughts inside them UNTIL…they ate of the FRUIT.  

But afterwards, the KNOWLEDGE they gained…SHAMED them.

But it gets worse!

The couple’s new-found knowledge separated them from God.

THE FINAL PUNISHMENT from their disobedience of God’s command (Gen. 2:17) upon Adam and Eve was for them to leave His presence (Gen. 3:23,24):

23  So God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt of which they’d been made.  24 He threw them out of the garden…

Yep! God kicked them out!!!  He evicted them from their home.

But God didn’t completely turn His back on them.  Before God sent them away, He gave them a SPECIAL GIFT:

Genesis 3:21:  “…the Lord God made long coats (tunics) of skins and clothed them.”

Now when I read the words here, I thought this was interesting:

 1st, Adam and Eve ALREADY had clothes–FIG LEAVES.

Genesis 3:7 tells us that “…they knew they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves”  (English Standard Version – ESV)..

You know, I’ve seen many different kinds of leaves over my lifespan; I even once tried toFigLeaf grow a FIG TREE in the backyard BUT I have yet to see any LEAF that I’d feel very comfortable with wearing out in public.  And apparently, these particular leaves didn’t do much more for Adam and Eve.

When GOD comes walking in the Garden and finds the couple hide themselves…and when GOD calls out and asks Adam where he’s at, look at how Adam replies:

“I heard the sound of You [walking] in the garden, and I was afraid because I was afraid because I was NAKED; and I hid myself”  (Genesis 3:10).

Think about that!

Up until that moment they thought their fig leaf aprons were doing the job.  But suddenly the LEAVES…leave them feeling NAKED…EXPOSED.

SO WHEN did Adam realize his fig leaves were not enough; making them feeling NAKED?  (when God came visiting)

It was when Adam found himself in God’s Presence that he realized his man-made coverings were not enough.

NAKEDNESS has been the symbol of our sinfulness ever since the Garden.  

Whenever a person’s SINS are discovered, we say they have been EXPOSED/REVEALED.

JESUS warns us NOT to be found “naked and exposed” when He comes again:

“BEHOLD, I am going to come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake (alert)  and  who  guards  his clothes, so that he may not be naked and [have the shame of being] seen exposed!”  (Revelation 16:15 AMP)

I think most people understand this reality of “being exposed”.  

They know their “nakedness”…they know their own sin/shame personally.  They even may be merrily living their lives, working out in the garden one day, doing something in the house, or working at the local grocery store and suddenly…it hits them out of the blue; A THOUGHT will overcome them reminding them of a something they’d said, done or thought in the past that brings a sudden wave of SHAME over their lives.

Genesis 3:11:  And GOD SAID,  “Who told you that you were naked?”

I just love that verse, which brings me back to the peruvial “THE GENESIS QUESTION” presented in Genesis 3:1:

And he [Satan] said to the woman,

“Can it really be that God has said…?”

In Henry M. Morris’ book, The Genesis Record, he writes this commentary:

The approach of Satan (through a serpent) to the woman was a masterpiece of effective subtly.  Catching her when she was alone, without Adam to counsel and warn her, probably one day when she was admiring the beautiful fruit trees in the garden, he first insinuated something which neither she nor Adam had even imagined before, namely, that it was possible for a creature to question God’s Word, “that God has said?”  In other words, “Did God really say such as that!”  Note the slightly mocking superior condescension to Eve’s “naive” acceptance of God’s command, a technique followed by Satan and his human emissaries with great success ever since. This first suggestion that God could be questioned was accompanied by an inference that God was not quite as good and loving as they had thought.  “He has not allowed you to eat the fruit of every tree, has He?  Why do you suppose He is withholding something from you like that?

If one studies each situation closely, you will find that SIN always begins by questioning either the Word of God or the goodness of God, or both.

So the 1st thought-provoking thing that came to me about the story of ADAM & EVE was that they ALREADY had clothes; they just weren’t very good clothes and were man-made.

The 2nd thing that’s thought-provoking here was God supplied their clothing.  He gave them clothing that He made for them.  GOD DID IT ALL–they did nothing.  All they did was to put on the clothes and even more interesting was the KIND of clothing God supplied–ANIMAL SKINS.

Genesis 3:21 says, “…the Lord made long coats (tunics) of skins and clothed them.”

Now where would God get skin off an animal?  It’s got to die!

When God called these animals to cover Adam and Eve’s NAKEDNESS–their Shame–it became the beginning of animal sacrifices.  Animal Sacrifices were made throughout the Old Testament to pay for SIN.

The LAW OF MOSES repeatedly taught the Israelites that every SIN that they committed was punishable by DEATH.  But since everyone sinned, God allowed them to PAY for their sins by OFFERING UP a Sacrifice a pure and spotless animal in their place.

Hebrews 9:22 tell us  “..without the shedding of blood there is neither release from sin and its guilt nor the remission of the due and merited punishment for sins.”

Leviticus 17:11 taught  “…for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life [which it represents].”

In order for God to give mankind forgiveness…something had to die.

But why would God have an animal die for ADAM & EVE?  Well, God had created the animals FOR them.  One of these gentle companions God had given them had to DIE to cover their NAKEDNESS.

A PRICE had to be PAID for their SIN and BLOOD, which is the life of the sacrificial animal was the dearest price that could be paid.

And so, the animals that God used to make Adam and Eve’s garments are the FIRST DEATHS on earth.  Nothing else had ever died before this.  They were literally the FIRST SACRIFICES ever made in man’s history.

One person has rightly noted that God made the FIRST and the LAST Sacrifices for man’s sin.

Here in the Garden of Eden, God sacrificed the FIRST innocent animal to cover sin.

And it was on Mount Calvary, God made the LAST sacrifice, His sinless son, to COVER sin. 

In the garden, God supplied Adam and Eve with garments.  His GIFT to them involved the DEATH of an innocent animal.

His GIFT to us, involved the GIFT of His Son…a PURE & SPOTLESS OFFERING to cover our NAKEDNESS.

Genesis tells us that God sacrificed those first animals to cover man’s NAKEDNESS. And today, the SACRIFICE of Christ on the Cross covers our NAKEDNESS.

BUT HOW?

The answer is found in Galatians 3:27:

“For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ  [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah]  have put on (CLOTHED yourselves with) Christ.”

When we were buried in the waters of our BAPTISM, we were literally wrapped in JESUS and His righteousness COVERS us like a garment.

BUT THE GARMENT we received through Jesus Christ is far better than the ones that Adam and Eve were given.

  • Their garments would eventually wear out.
  • Their garments would eventually be torn and stained.
  • And their garments would ultimately become shabby and not worth wearing.

But worse than that…the GARMENTS God had made for Adam & Eve would never allow them back into God’s presence.  No matter how long they wore them, they would never be allowed to re-enter the beautiful Garden that He had prepared for their home.

But when you and I put on JESUS, that all changed.

Hebrews 10:14-23:

“…by one sacrifice (Jesus) has made perfect forever those who are being made holy…Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more…Therefore brothers, since we have the confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the BLOOD of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having out hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful”  (NIV Bible).

Unlike Adam and Eve, the GARMENT Jesus supplied us with gives us the privilege of BOLDLY COMING to God’s presence and enjoying His love and compassion on a personal level.

No more NAKEDNESS–no more SHAME!  We have been made innocent in God’s eyes by the BLOOD COVERING of His One and only Son, Jesus Christ.

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CREDITS:

The Genesis Record by Henry M. Morris – Baker Book House Grand Rapids, MI 49506 – Copyright 1976

Photo Images:  search Google Images; Shutterstock.com

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

 

 

 

 

We-Have-Seen-Glory-to-Shine-Glory.-730x547

Getting A Hold of God’s Glory

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In my study time in the bible this past week, God directed me by His Spirit, to a couple of verses in the Old Testament:

“And the GLORY of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it”  (ISAIAH 40:5).

“But [the time is coming when] the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the GLORY of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”  (HABAKKUK 2:14).

I thought to myself, if “the time is coming when” (Amplified Bible), is right now…then we all better get a hold of what God’s Glory is, what it means, and what we are to do with the glory.

In some past study notes, I found this description, meaning of what GOD’S GLORY is:

“GLORY is what has been revealed; it can be seen”  [See footnote [i] ]. 

The GLORY is like the FRUIT OF A TREE that originated from a SEED.

An example:  When you plant an apple seed, the “GLORY” of that tree is the apples.

In 1802, John Chapman carried sixteen bushes of appleseed down the Ohio River.  He had two canoes lashed together to transport the seeds.  Most of the time he carried the seeds in leather bags or horseback, or on his own back.

He planted acres and acres of appleseed.  It was estimated that during his lifetime, Mr. Chapman, we’ve come to know him as Johnny Appleseed, planted enough trees from the seeds he carried to cover an area over 100,000 square miles.

It was all about seed-time and harvest which is what God, His Word and His GLORY is all about.  It’s Biblical if you think about it, even though it’s a folk-lore of a real person, it still applies in theory.

Two centuries later, some of those trees are still producing good fruit that is God’s GLORY!

An Artist's Rendition

An Artist’s Rendition of Johnny Appleseed

“GLORY” is what comes out of something.  An apple is the GLORY of an apple seed.

The WORD of God is a SEED, and when planted in your heart, mind, and soul, the seed produces tangible results, or GLORY, in your life.  When you can see the FRUIT of the WORD manifested in your life, that is seeing the GLORY in your life.

I often tell the story of a conversation between my wife and I on a very windy day:  “Wow, look at the wind blowing outside,” she exclaimed.  As I silently stood next to her, looking out our kitchen window, I said “We can’t see the wind.  We only see the trees moving because of the wind.”  God speaks…allowing the wind to blow, and we see His GLORY manifested by the swaying of the tree’s branches, limbs, and leaves.

That’s my spiritual explanation and I’m sticking to it!

God has given us a book of seeds so that we can have the potential to experience GLORY, but we can’t experience the GLORY of God without first planting the SEED.

God spoke the EARTH into existence; He said and then He saw what He said (Genesis 1:3-31). 

GLORY sent by the Church to God – (Galatians 1:3-5):

[3] May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.  [4] Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from the evil world in which we live.  [5] All GLORY to God forever and ever! Amen  (New Living Translation  NLT).

The circle is completed:  “GRACE, PEACE and then the GLORY”.

God bestows GRACE upon us and our response is GLORY to Him.  Of course our PRAISE to Him is a response to His glorious GIFT OF SALVATION and is part of the way that we give Him Glory–that is conveyed by the progression of the sentence here (and notice that vv. 3-5 is one sentence); going from GRACE to us from God because of the work of Christ Jesus.  GLORY to God from us…because of the WORK of JESUS!

So we are praising Him for His marvelous deeds to be sure, but there is so much more here. 

GLORY is not simply what we say, but it is also what we do, what we become because of the WORK OF CHRIST in our everyday lives–by His GRACE.  Our lives should continue to bring Glory to God for we are “TROPHIES” of the Grace of God.

ILLUSTRATION OF GOD’S GLORY:

howmet2John Wesley was a popular evangelist in early America and often rode from one church to another to preach.  On one such journey, stopped by a highwayman who shouted, “Halt, your money or your life.”  Wesley got down from his horse, emptied his pockets to reveal only a handful of coins.  He even invited the robber to search his saddlebags–which only carried his books.  In disgust, the thief was turning away when John Wesley cried “Stop, I have something more to give you.”  Puzzled, the robber turned back.  Wesley then leaned towards him and said, “My friend, you may live to regret this sort of life in which you are engaged.  If you ever do, I beseech you to remember this:  ‘The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s son, cleanses us from all sin.’  The robber hurried silently away, but Wesley got back on his horse and rode on his way praying in his heart that the WORD might be fixed in the robber’s existence.  Years later at the close of a Sunday evening service, a stranger stepped forward and earnestly begged to speak with John Wesley.  Wesley recognized him as the robber who had stolen from him so long ago, but now he was a well to do tradesman and better still, a child of God.  Raising Wesley’s hand to his lips he affectionately kissed it and said in deep emotion, “To you, dear sir, I owe it all.”  Wesley replied softly, “Nay, nay, my friend, not to me, but to the precious blood of Christ which cleanses us all from sin.”

We all must gain experience as Christians in order to see the GLORY manifested in our lives.

Don’t run away from difficult situations, challenges and tests.  As you pass your tests and exercise God’s LOVE you gain valuable experience and spiritual maturity.  The same TESTS won’t stop until you pass thru.

It’s time for Christians to pass their tests.  The level of GLORY you experience is connected to whether or not you pass your tests.

The WORDS you speak in the upcoming days, weeks, months, years…will either stop or cause the GLORY of God to be manifested in your life, such as it did in the story of John Wesley.  

The DEVIL is after your words.

Satan stopped the Glory of Man in the Garden of Eden by speaking words to Adam and Eve that contradicted God’s Word.

SPEAKING God’s Word in order to see His Glory.

The most efficient way of bringing back the GLORY to God is for our lives to be TRANSFORMED by the work of the Spirit.  This brings Glory not only for His benefit but brings Glory to Him as others note His marvelous work in us!

The words you speak will either stop or cause God’s GLORY to be manifested in your life.

THE DEVIL is after your words.  Satan stopped the GLORY OF MAN in the Garden of Eden by speaking words to Adam and Eve and contradicting God’s Word (The Genesis Question: 3:1, 11).

The apostle Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia is written with AUTHORITY; not his own, but of the Christ Who sent him.  By that authority he will consistently remind each one of us of the GRACE from God which transforms our lives and brings GLORY to the Lord.

To God be the Glory!  Amen and Amen!!!

 


 

CREDITS:

Footnote [i] – Creflo Dollar Ministries’ Study Notes

John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) story –  Garden of Praise: John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed).

John Wesley ILLUSTRATION:  Anecdotes illustrative of New Testament texts.

Photos:  Google Search Images.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

blessings & cursings

BLESSINGS OR CURSES FOR THE NEW YEAR–It’s Up to You!

SCRIPTURE VERSES – Deuteronomy 28:1 – 29:1

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“Because of the Truth which lives and stays on in our hearts and will be with us forever;  Grace (spiritual blessing), mercy, and [soul] peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ (the Messiah), the Father’s Son, in all sincerity (truth) and love”  (3 John 2-3 AMP).

“Do you believe this? Oral Roberts once asked his wife.  

“Does God wants to BLESS us spiritually,” she said yes, “physically,” she said yes, “and financially? he said, “that you prosper when God wants to bless us in our finances too?”

He said, “On this day I realized that God wants to prosper us in every aspect of our lives,” and that is when his ministry took off!

I don’t know about you, but I believe God wants to BLESS–Prosper our lives in every way possible.

I also believe our attitude about BLESSINGS will determine the amount and measure of BLESSINGS that God will be able to pour out in our lives.

God’s intention and desire is to BLESS humanity, a central focus of His covenant relationships.  For this very reason, the CONCEPT OF BLESSING is spread throughout the biblical record–over 600 times in the Old Testament alone.

I discovered TWO distinct ideas that are present: 

First, a BLESSING was a public declaration of a favored status with God.  

Second, the BLESSING supplied POWER for prosperity and success in our daily lives.

In all cases, THE BLESSING served as a GUIDE & MOTIVATION to pursue a course of life within the blessing.

I find the parallels between the Old and New Testament usages are striking.  

TO BE BLESSED (“favored”) is to be granted special favor by God, resulting in JOY & PROSPERITY [See Footnote [i] ].

In the New Testament, however, the emphasis is more on the spiritual, rather than on material blessings.

DEUTERONOMY 28– 

blessings & cursings

A little background before diving into Scripture.  God promises Israel that He would BLESS them “IF”…they would walk out their lives in OBEDIENCE.

I remember growing up and my parents would use the same conditional commands:  “IF” you mow the lawns, “IF” you take out the trash, “IF” you keep your hands in your pockets…  I bet you know where I am heading–“Then, and only then, you can go to the movie–have that candy bar.  Although they never used the word “bless”, my obedience to their words was dependant on receiving the manifestation of what they had spoken.

Today, it is still the same, “IF”…you walk in OBEDIENCE to God’s Word, He will PROSPER–BLESS your life.  

BLESSED “In the city, and in the field” — (v. 3)

What an exciting promise–because God is going to BLESS you, no matter who you are, and no matter where you came from.

GOD’S BLESSINGS aren’t limited to any demographic–If you are in the city, God will BLESS you, If you are from the country, God will BLESS you.  He basically gives this PROMISE…

“No matter where you are at, or where you have come from, My ability to BLESS is still the same!”

Mechanic, C.E.O., a retiree…from a well-known family or an unknown family.  “It doesn’t matter who you are, it only matters who He is!”

From your first step of the day, to the last step, you will be BLESSED–(v. 8)

God’s BLESSINGS wake you up in the morning, and will go to bed with you at night.  The ANOINTING rest on your life.

Ephesians 1:3 tells us, “May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ  (the Messiah)  Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm!”

God is basically saying, to be on the constant look out for BLESSINGS in your life instead of walking around blindfolded, looking for bad things to happen.

Speak aloud the BLESSINGS over ourselves and our children, our family.  

When God blessed man, He spoke words over him (Genesis 1:22).  THE BLESSING is never released without words spoken.

Being BLESSED, even in your battles– (v. 7 NAS Bible):

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“The LORD will cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they shall come out against you one way and shall flee before you seven ways.”

I’m sure that most people would rather be BLESSED with no BATTLES at all.  But God wants to be GOD in your battles–in your storms and struggles in life; for the BATTLE is the Lord’s!!

You are going to WIN in the battles of life.  God wants to BLESS your life by giving VICTORY in every area you face.

If you have areas in life where you always have lost, give God that BATTLE and you will win.  He doesn’t need your help. Your enemies are going to RETREAT, not you!

The word DEPRESSION in a literal sense means, being pressed down.  Many times life presses people down, but with God fighting on your side, you are lifted up!

We are LENDERS, and not the BORROWER’S– (v. 12)

God wants to make a BLESSING out of you for others to see.

In the area of finance, God wants to PROSPER people to be lenders and not the borrowers.

God wants to be involved in every area of our lives, and if we give Him control of every area, He will BLESS every area.  

Give glory due His name!!

I read a testimony the other day, from a pastor, saying “their Assembly had been praying to be BLESSED as a congregation financially.  Some of the members had been so BLESSED, that they had set up a financial institute helping fellow Christians struggling with areas of finance.  He stated in the last 5 years, over 100 families have become DEBT FREE in their church.”

You can boldly ask God to BLESS you–

JABEZ, whose name means “sorrow,” asked God to doubly bless him (1 Chronicles 4:9, 10).

Now in my opinion, that prayer by Jabez, is BOLD–“doubly” bless me God!  Read how specifically Jabez asks to be BLESSED.

[10] Jabez cried to the God of Israel, saying, “Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and You would keep me from evil so it might not hurt me!”

And God granted his request.

He asked God to BLESS him; to enlarge his coast and God heard his prayer and granted that which he requested.  Can our prayers be so bold, that God won’t grant our requests?

I need my prayers to be more like JABEZ on a daily basis.

We need to go before God with BOLDNESS as Jabez, asking Him to BLESS US every day.

The only thing that’s stopping you from receiving more, is a limited mindset; ask God to enlarge your territory!

Head and not the Tail– (v. 13)

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the TAIL.  As one man said, there isn’t much of a view from the back of the pack.

The Bible teaches that God EXALTS, and God HUMBLES.  God exalts people in due time or season.

You need to CLAIM this as your season of prosperity: That God will advance, that God will give you a higher position, that God will grant FAVOR in your life, abundantly.

Jesus said in John 10:10, that He didn’t come to earth to kill, steal, or destroy. He came that we may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

DANIEL was exalted to a higher rank, JOSEPH to second in command, ABRAHAM was known as a mighty man, JACOB gave blessings over his children.  They were more than experiencing the “abundance,” they were all living in the “overflow.”

WHEN CURSES CAN OVERCOME YOU – (v. 15)

After reading the benefits of God’s BLESSING (verses 1-13), I came upon one of my favorite words in the Bible:  “BUT….”

BUT WHAT?

“BUT IF you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command you this day, then these curses shall come upon you and overtake you”  (AMP).

When we become born-again Christians, we initiate the process of operating in THE BLESSING of God instead of THE CURSE.

To live a BLESSED LIFE and remain free from CURSES, we must obey God’s Word; knowing your bible and not putting God’s word into practice in your daily life may leave you wide-open to CURSES.  Sometimes, even self-inflicted.

One example, and there are many, are self-inflicted curses.  

They might sound like this:

‘My mom was always sick, I’m always feeling sickness, and my little daughter, will more than likely live a life of sickness.’

Remember, “words” are things!  As I said earlier in this blog, “When God blessed man, He spoke words…”  A BLESSING is never released without words spoken.  So a CURSE works in the same manner– You reap what you harvest.  So watch what you say!

We need to understand the ways in which JESUS set us free so we can have DELIVERANCE in every area of our lives.

Galatians 3:13, 14 (NIV):

Christ redeemed us from the CURSE of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written:  “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”  He redeemed us in order that THE BLESSING given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

JESUS took our place, taking on our curse.  

When Adam sinned in the Garden, ALL MANKIND WAS CURSED in every way (Genesis 3:17-18)

“A CURSE ” is an EMPOWERMENT to fail; and there is a cause for every curse (Proverbs 26:2).

God wants to make A BLESSING out of you this year–

  • In the field or in the city,
  • Rising up and sitting down,
  • In your battles or in your storms,
  • To become a lender and not a borrower,
  • To be the head and not the tail.

Don’t let your negative words, you disobedience to the Word of God be BLESSING BLOCKERS.  Today, let God make A BLESSING out of you.

IT’S UP TO YOU!

 


Blog-POST Credits & Footnotes:

Footnote [i]:  BibleStudyTools.com

Sermon Notes taken from Creflo A. Dollar:  Blessing Blockers

Photo Credits:  Google Search Images

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google Images

What GOD Thinks About War

Scripture Deuteronomy 20:1-20; Ecclesiastes 3:8

Google Images

Google Images

Ecclesiastes 3:1; 8 Amplified bible (AMP):

[1] TO EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven;  [8] A time to love and a time to hate, A TIME FOR WAR and A TIME FOR PEACE .

Many Christians today are saying that there are no circumstances under which we should go to war–or using the current vernacular: “Boots on the ground”.

As a church, and we who trust in God, are the CHURCH, need to understand when that time is and what God says about this issue.

There are many opinions about this subject.  We live in a time of moral relativism; where we hear in public or in private, “I think what I think and you think what you think.”  

So I don’t want to write about my opinion of WAR–

I just want us together, to go to the Bible and find out what God has to say about this subject.  Afterall, His opinion is the only one that really counts.

FIRST OF ALL, GOD DOESN’T LOVE WAR!!  God is not hungry for war.  That’s NOT the God of the Bible.

In some RELIGIONS, you have a god, little “g”, or gods that are WAR LOVERS, but you don’t find that in the Bible.  Look at the lyrics (words) to the Psalm (song) in…

PSALM 68 (NLT):

[30] “Rebuke these enemy nations–these wild animals lurking in the weeds, this herd of bulls among the weaker calves,  Make them bring bars of silver in humble tribute. Scatter the nations that delight in war.”

This says that there are some nations that enjoy WAR.  God says He will punish these nations.

We need to clearly understand that WAR is NOT a good thing.  WAR is simply the result of our own fallen, sinful nature.  At the very ROOT of the way SIN is.

Even though God doesn’t love WAR, we also find in the Bible that God sometimes Commands WAR:  1 Samuel 15:1-9

Verses 1-3:

[1] SAMUEL TOLD Saul,  The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people Israel. Now listen and heed the words of the Lord.  [2] Thus says the Lord of hosts, “I have considered and will punish what Amalek did to Israel, how he set himself against him in the way when [Israel] came out of Egypt.  [3] Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling ox and sheep, camel and donkeys”  (AMP).

So WAR is sometimes necessary.  Why would God COMMAND His people to go to WAR?

Because, there will not be PEACE without WAR!

In his book Fuzzy Memories, Jack Handey writes:

“There use to be this bully who would demand my lunch money every day.  Since I was smaller, I would give it to him.  Then I decided to fight back.  I started taking karate lessons.  But then the karate lesson guy said I had to start paying him five dollars a lesson.  So I just went back to paying the bully.”

Too many people feel it easier just to pay the bully than it is to LEARN how to defeat him.  

In America’s current situation in the world, we can’t afford to pay the bully. We must defeat them!

Sure, it’s easier to just pay the bully’s, but standing for what is right is more important than a life of PEACE & COMFORT.

I also found in my investigation into God’s Word, that God STRENGTHENS HIS PEOPLE for War:  Leviticus 26:7-8 (AMP)

[7]  And you shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.

[8]  Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.

In time of WAR, we don’t have to RELY on our own strength and determination, but we understand that God is on the side of the RIGHTEOUS.

When we STAND together as a nation, as people, for God–I know by the POWER of His Word, He will stand for us.

We see in the Bible that God approves of WAR also because…

He TRAINS His people for WAR.  He is the One who prepared His people for the battle.

2 Samuel 22:35 (NLT):

(God) trains my hand for battle, my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

Whenever God calls you to do something, whatever it is, you can be sure that He will give you all you need to accomplish it.

And when He sent His people to WAR, where was He?  Does He just stay behind?  Does He wait for the soldier to return?

NO!

God involves Himself in War.  He goes with the ARMY!

Deuteronomy 1:30 (AMP):

The Lord your God Who goes before you.  He will fight for you just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes.”

GOD WILL WIN THE WAR!

Proverbs 21:31 (NIV):

“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.”

God has NEVER come in second place.  He is the clear winner of every Battle; God is always the Victor!

And He says, when we do our best and prepare for the worst from the enemy, we can TRUST GOD to bring the victory.  He will WIN THE CONFLICT!!

God doesn’t want us to enter a battle…a WAR blindly.  God gives us His rules, HisGods-Blueprint Blueprint of engagement ahead of time.

There is a RIGHT and a WRONG time for WAR.  

There’s also a RIGHT AND WRONG way to fight a WAR.

God gives very specific instructions which I discovered and listed in Deuteronomy 20.

1.  DON’T BE AFRAID  (Deut. 20:1-4):

(verse 4) –  “For the Lord your God is He Who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to save you.”

Remember, God is with us; there’s no need to FEAR!

2.  ONLY THE BRAVE ARE TO FIGHT  (Deut. 20:5-8):

(verse 8) –  “What man is fearful and fainthearted? Let him return to his house, lest [because of him] his brethren’s [minds and] hearts faint as does his own.”  (AMP)

God says that anyone who doesn’t have COURAGE will be a hindrance and a discouragement to other soldiers, so let them go home.

The God says,

3.  GIVE PEACE A CHANCE  (Deut. 20:10-11):

(verse 10)  “When you draw near to a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace to it.”

The people of a city that surrendered not to be harmed, would become subject to Israel.  In WAR THEORY, this is known as the LAST RESORT.

You should go to WAR only as a “last resort.” 

See if there is anything else you can do, diplomacy or economic pressure or anything else.  And certainly, with America and their allies’ current circumstances, it seems we have tried every means available including “red lines” and it hasn’t made a difference.

4.  DON’T DESTROY THE LAND IN A RAGE OF BATTLE  (Deut. 20:19-20):

[19] When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by using an ax on them, for you can eat their fruit; you must not cut them down, for is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you?

[20] Only the trees which you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siege works against the city that makes war with you until it falls.

I meditated on the words of these two verses for some time.  “Axes”, “fruit trees”, “siege works”…  I asked myself,

“What other country wins a war and goes back in and spends millions of dollars rebuilding that country and helping them back on their feet?”

That is the kind of country I live in, that sees every person as valuable with a potential to repent and live in a peaceful future.

And then fifth, and this is the one that most people have trouble with if they don’t surrender:

5.  DON’T ALLOW THEM TO CONTINUE LIVING (Deut. 20:16-17):

[16] But in the cities of these people which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes.  [17] But you shall utterly exterminate them…as the Lord your God has commanded you,

Did you ever hear your mom, or someone else’s parent say, “I brought you into the world, and I can take you out of it.”  That is true of God:  He brought us in and He can take us out.  He is the CREATOR of ALL LIFE.

LIFE is a GIFT…but SIN is serious business.  We need to understand the seriousness of SIN.

The simple fact is, none of us deserve the LIFE we are living or the next breath we are breathing.  But because of God’s GRACE…He gives us LIFE!

The NATIONS were so corrupted by paganism and immorality that they DESERVED God’s punishment, like Sodom and Gomorrah.  But God was using His people, instead of FIRE from heaven.

Also, complete destruction was the order of the day.  They were to be totally wiped out,

Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshipping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God”  (Deut. 20:18 – NIV bible).

And once again, TIME WOULD TELL that God knew just what He was talking about.

ISRAEL didn’t completely DESTROY the citizens of Canaan.  And generation after generation were led into IDOLATRY and away from God by the people Israel allowed to survive.

This was true of the Nazis during the World War II era.  When people think about the HOLOCAUST, they think only about the crimes against JEWS, but they were also looking to eliminate CHRISTIANITY.

I am seeing similarities facing us today if we allow EVIL to go unchallenged.

We’ll see our children and their children in chains and wondering why we didn’t stand up for righteousness and truth in the face of evil.  That’s NOT God’s will for America.

God wants to continue to use us, as He has in years past, to SHARE the Gospel with our world.  Those who would destroy us, hate us because they HATE OUR GOD–they reject Jesus and they want to wipe CHRISTIANITY off the face of this earth.

But today, God is CALLING US to stand up to this evil.  So as Christians, how then should we respond to WAR?

First, and foremost, TRUST in God.

During these times, when FEAR of terrorism runs rampant, we need not panic, but instead…put our CONFIDENCE in God:

“The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest”  (Exodus 14:14).

Secondly, and this concept may be hard to grasp, is to SUBMIT to the government.

The Bible tells us in Romans (13:1-5), that God puts the government in place to PROTECT the people.

As Christians, we are to SUBMIT to the AUTHORITY of the government.  

Now that said, we need to understand that we are to obey the government unless…it is in clear violation of the Word of God.  Our allegiance is first to God!  

There may be times when we have to OBEY GOD rather than our government, but only if it is clear and direct violation of God’s word!

Third, the POWER released when we PRAY.

I find it difficult to pray for our government leaders.  There, I said it!  But we need to PRAY more than ever before.

PRAY for those in the military and their families.  And yes, PRAY for our leaders as well. Our feelings shouldn’t determine the extent of our prayer lives:

Psalm 112:8 says, “His heart is established and steady, he will not be afraid while he waits to see his desire established upon his adversaries.”

And fourth, we should look forward to the day when WARS will end!

Micah 4:1-3 (NIV Bible):

dreamstime_xs_15945369[1] IN THE last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.

[2] Many nations will come and say,  “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of God of Jacob.  He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.”  The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.  [3] He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.  They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.  [4] Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken. 

There will come a day, when there will be NO MORE WAR, NO MORE BLOODSHED.

Not in this lifetime, but in eternity.  That is our HOPE as Christians; a hope of expectancy…with an outstretched neck.

GOD says that the price we pay for our SIN is death.  DEATH is separation from God.  And when we SIN, what we are saying to God is, “No thanks, I can do it my way.”  And that puts us at WAR with Him.

In Romans 3:23, God says that every one of us has sinned.  

When God JUDGES our sin, it gives us the taste of life without Him–a world full of DEATH, SUFFERING and WAR.

But you can experience PEACE in your life today.  That PEACE comes from a relationship with JESUS.

Put an end to THE WAR in your life by trusting in JESUS today!

 


CREDITS:

Photo Credits:  Google Images

Bible Translations used:  Amplified(AMP), except where noted.

Study Notes: Online Bible Study Guide:  Deuteronomy 20:1-20.

 

A Praying Mantis & A Tree Limb

Things Aren’t Always As They Seem

Looking At The World From A Different Perspective:

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (AMP):

[1] BUT UNDERSTAND THIS, that in the last days there will set in perilous times of great stress and trouble–hard to deal with and hard to bear.  [2] For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate (greedy) desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffers); disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane.  [3] [They will be] without natural (human) affection (callous and inhuman);  relentless–admitting of no truce or appeasement.  [They will be] slanderers–false accusers, trouble makers; intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good.  [4] [They will be] treacherous (betrayers), rash [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God.  [5] For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it–their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession.  Avoid [all] such people–turn away from them.

A Praying Mantis & A Tree Limb

A Praying Mantis & A Tree Limb

Looking at the world from a BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE, it is not difficult to reach this conclusion from the title to this blog-post: “Things Aren’t Always As They Seem”–

Although this planet is inhabited by more than six billion human beings, there are only two types of people: Those who BELONG TO CHRIST and those WHO DON’T.

Now that, at first, may seem like an oversimplification, but the fact is reflected in…

1 Corinthians 10:21: 

You cannot drink the Lord’s cup and the demon’s cup. You cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the demons’ table.”

Unfortunately, in comparison to the rest of the world, the TRUE CHURCH, that is to say, ALL BELIEVERS not willing to compromise, do not compromise their FAITH by following the norms and the evil current running through this world, is a FACT.

It is a sad fact to think that out of more than six billion people, only a small group or percentage will be SAVED.

Look at the words JESUS speaks in clarity–John 14:6:  “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.”

THIS WORLD is full of people who are just like described in our text (2 Tim. 3:1-5), appear to be one thing, but in all reality something very different.

The world is full of people who profess to be “Christians”; people who with their mouths loudly (and some, not so loudly) DECLARE they are men and women of God, but in REALITY are very far from God.

How do I know this?

Because there are numerous doctrines and teachings that appear to be beautiful and good, but when examined against the Truth, the Word of God, quickly find that there are DOCTRINES & TEACHINGS designed to separate men from God’s presence.

The apostle Paul tells us here to SEPARATE ourselves from them–yet way before Paul’s instruction to us in Timothy, Jesus warned us to stay alert, “take heed”; don’t let the world catch anyone napping.

Mark 13:21-23 (NASB):

[21] “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ; or ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him;  [22] For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray.  [23] “But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.”

At this point, I want to take a pause–a “time out”.  I am NOT stating nor implying we should JUDGE and CONDEMN someone.  None of us are worthy to judge anyone!  There is but on Judge!  (John 5:22-23)

I want to make myself very clear on the fact that we are not called to JUDGE or CONDEMN anyone because they may be confused or find themselves trapped in a RELIGION or a SECT.  Let’s always remember when we find ourselves in a situation to EVANGELIZE…our first words must never be “you are going to hell.”  

Our responsibility is to PREACH God’s TRUTH.

So I am NOT implying that we must judge, rather what I am trying to convey to you is we can not trust everything that we see or hear.

The MAJORITY of people, I believe, allow themselves to be led by first impressions, being it positive or negative, and these influence their attitude and behavior toward others.  How do I know this?  Because I am in a spiritual battle as I write–concerning my attitude, my first impressions of others.

If we are honest with ourselves, we are ALL GUILTY of doing just this.  Look at what JESUS tells us regarding our attitude toward others; our judging based on first impressions or otherwise:

Matthew 7:1-2:

[1]  DO NOT judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves.  [2] For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.

But then the question arises in our minds, “How can we distinguish between good and the bad without counting on appearances?”

The LORD tells in Matthew 7:15 (VOICE):

“Along the way, WATCH OUT for false prophets.  They will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but understand that quaint and innocent wool, they are hungry wolves.”

I capitalized two words in this verse, for the KEY to answering the question is to “WATCH OUT” !!!

There are many people in this world who appear to be something that they are not. People that disguise themselves by wearing masks of religions, that seem to speak eloquently with fancy words, but “inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

WATCH OUT!

There is but ONE WAY that we can prevent ourselves from being deceived; to distinguish these persons from the rest.

EXAMINE THE FRUITS that they produce (Matthew 7:20):

“You will fully know them by their fruits.”

In other words, although my first impression may be good or bad, although the appearance of a group or individual is good or bad, as a true believer, I have to start by learning to wait on God.  This “waiting”, many will say, places the BELIEVER in Christ Jesus at a disadvantage.  

But in reality, the opposite is true.

What happens is, that once we receive conviction, we separate ourselves from all of those things that we have learned that displease God; we will be accused by many saying that a TRUE CHRISTIAN is called to LOVE.  That as Christians, we are CALLED TO LOVE GOD and our neighbors.  That we are CALLED TO FORGIVE even those that may have seriously offended us in the past, and because of the “callings”, we can never distance ourselves from, or stop sharing with, a particular group or individual.

I can tell you that there is some TRUTH to these types of accusations; a Christian Believer IS called to love God and to love his neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40).

Therefore, ONE TRUTH IS…Christians are CALLED to LOVE & FORGIVE.

BUT another great truth is that Christians are NOT CALLED to be Accomplices; Doctrines, rituals, and Sects that serve only to drive a wedge between man and God.

Our responsibility is to TEACH the TRUTH, to PREACH the Gospel of Salvation through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

BUT if they are unwilling to HEAR, unwilling to ACCEPT the Truth, wishing to continue in those things that don’t please God as pointed out in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, then we are to SEPARATE ourselves from them.

Look at how this instruction from Jesus is clearly reflected in Matthew 7:6 when we read…hqdefault

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy.  Don’t throw your pearls to pigs!  They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you”  ~ New Living Translation (NLT).

WE MUST BE CAREFUL–WATCH OUT!!!

We must be take care of what God has given us–our “PEARLS” of wisdom and understanding.

Read in Revelations 2:11 at how our Lord tells us,  “Behold I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”

We must AVOID those persons who disguise themselves to confuse us; we must SEPARATE ourselves from this wicked and evil world, no matter the form we see it appear.

But we must also EXAMINE ourselves very closely to find the FRUITS that we are bearing are in fact pleasing to God.  [See Footnote [i] for a reference to read]

We must examine ourselves to find, if perhaps, that we have become so preoccupied with those around us that our life has stopped testifying of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I…we have to examine ourselves closely, because we find that by CRITICIZING, and HATING those around us, we must realize that we are not bearing GOOD FRUIT.  We must be very careful with what we HEAR & SEE, we have to TEST EVERYTHING using the Word of God.

But just as important, is our self-examination; we have to EXAMINE ourselves and discover if our life is truly hidden in Christ, or perhaps just hidden.

APPEARANCES can be deceiving, so let’s be very careful that we may not be deceiving ourselves in the process.

 


Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i] :  https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/its-not-easy-b…ruit-inspector/

Photos:  Google Search Images

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.