ABIDING In The DOCTRINE of Christ

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THE SECOND LETTER OF JOHN – (With an Emphasis on verses 7-11)

When John wrote this letter, there were many false teachers as there are today.

These men and women argue that Jesus was not always the Son of God.  They didn’t think that Jesus was both God and man through his whole life.  So, they taught that Jesus became the Christ only for a short time.

The FALSE TEACHERS thought they had a new knowledge (“Gnosticism”).

The word “Gnostic” comes from the Greek word, “Gnosis” meaning to know. Gnosticism taught that man’s body, which is composed of matter, is evil and that God, who is spirit, is totally good.  Also, that SALVATION is attained not by faith in Christ but by special knowledge.

This new knowledge, GNOSTICISM, had replaced what the apostles taught.  The false teachers said that their MESSAGE was new and different, a really new idea. But it was the wrong idea.  They had added their own ideas to the TRUTH, and thus, the CULT beliefs began and our flourishing today.

In the Gospel of John 14:6, Jesus says He is the personification of the TRUTH:

[16]  “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.”  (Amplified Bible)

Jesus is “the TRUTH” incarnate.

And yet “the TRUTH” is under fire today.  The current fad led by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code is nothing new.  His false information comes from the cultic beliefs that were rejected by the true church long ago.

The same is true regarding the so-called Gospel of Judas.  Those false Gospels written long after the fact were quickly rejected by the church.  So contrary to what Mr. Brown wrote, the church overwhelmingly rejected the Gnostic teachings.

Many of the New Testament letters were written to combat false teachings that threatened the church.  The Epistles of John are no exception.

The letter of 2 John is the shortest letter in the New Testament.  Yet, this little letter speaks powerfully to our generation, especially concerning our relationship to the TRUTH as it is in Jesus.

John begins his 2 letter by telling his readers, 

[1] “…not only I but also all who are [progressively] learning to recognize and know and understand the TRUTH– [2] Because of the TRUTH which lives and stays on in our hearts and will be with us forever” (AMP).

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VERSES 7-11 dealt with the basic Gnostic heresy that was beginning to put a negative influence on the early church.

BELIEVERS in Christ Jesus are to possess the TRUTH (vv 1-3) and practice the TRUTH (vv 4-6) and we are to protect the TRUTH (vv 7-11) as our responsibility.

I have been engrossed in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro this year.  I particularly enjoy hearing  the backstories of the athletes from the nations gathered for one purpose in mind.  To be victorious in representing their country.

Stories of sacrifice, of vigorous and sometimes painful exercise of their sport.  If we, as believers in the TRUTH, can also apply the same unbending dedication to being victorious, not for medals around our necks, but out of LOVE for our God and Savior.  That my friends, is LIVING IN THE TRUTH!

IN VERSE 7, John calls those who follow the Gnostic movement DECEIVERS, or as the Amplified Bible calls as “IMPOSTERS” and the antichrist.

[7]  For many imposters (seducers, deceivers, and false leaders) have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge (confess, admit) the coming of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) in bodily form.  Such a one is the imposter and the antichrist.

Peter Jones is the author of the book,  “The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back” movement, calling today’s church to spiritual warfare.  Mr. Jones points out how gay rights are promoted in popular magazines, public radio and Hollywood.  Feminist spirituality is making inroads into Christianity.  Christian students are being silenced in the name of religious tolerance.  Mystical techniques for achieving well-being and self-knowledge are being adopted in the business world and in the military.

Merely coincidental trends?  No, this is spiritual warfare and are expressions of an ancient heresy reasserting itself today.

IN VERSE 9 John encourages his readers, and that includes us, to “ABIDE” in the Doctrine of Christ.  Don’t panic, when you read or hear the word “doctrine.”

DOCTRINE simply means “the teachings of Christ.”

[9]  Anyone who runs on ahead [of God] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ [who is not content with what He taught] does not have God; but he who continues to live in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ [does have God], he has both the Father and the Son.

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In other words, those who follow the teachings of the antichrist spirit and denies the person and the deity of Christ, is separated from God.  They are lost and destined for destruction in hell, according to God’s Word.

The word “abide” means, “to continue,” “to remain,” “to dwell” in the teaching, or doctrine of Christ.

READ the words of Jesus  (John 15:4-8 NIV translation):

[4] “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  [5] I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  [6] If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  [7] If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  [8] This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

Looking at 2 JOHN, verses 10 and 11 for a moment, John writes [10] “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine [is disloyal to what Jesus Christ taught], do not receive him [do not accept him, do not welcome or admit him] into [your] house or bid him Godspeed or give him any encouragement.  [11] For he who wishes him success [who encourages him, wishing him Godspeed] is a partaker in his evil doings.”

John isn’t saying that we are to refuse hospitality to the lost–unsaved people.  In fact one of the best ways of sharing Jesus to others is to invite lost people into our homes.  John is saying that we are not to show hospitality to false teachers who can, and will, DECEIVE the church.

During the first two centuries and beyond, the gospel message was carried from place to place by traveling evangelists.

Looking back into my family history, I found in the records, on my mother’s side of the Family Tree, a Circuit Rider.  A clergyman who travel on horseback in early America from church to church, especially within a rural Methodist circuit. Believers by the way, were to show them hospitality and allow them to stay in their homes.

The FALSE TEACHERS also had this practice.  They would often visit a believer’s home in pretense of being a Christian.  The believer would unwittingly show them hospitality.  Yet to willingly show hospitality to false teachers was to participate in their actions.  I always remember my parents’ warning growing up:  “Hang around in a bad crowd, and people will believe you’re part of that ‘bad crowd.’

CHRISTIANITY is about TRUTH.

imagesJesus says. “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.”  There is God’s TRUTH and an eternal TRUTH.  We must possess the Truth in receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior of our lives.

WAIT, there’s more!

We also must practice daily the TRUTH by exercising Christian LOVE.  And, we must protect the TRUTH by “abiding”- in the Doctrine of Christ.

What about you?  Have you made your commitment to Jesus as Lord of your life?  Or, are you following after the false teachings so prevalent today?

As for me and my house, we have made our choice!

 


SOURCES & CREDITS:

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

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

Credits:  The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back on the Truth XChange. Preface published by P & R Publishing.

Commentary:  2 John – Free Bible Commentary in Easy English.

Our CONSCIENCE: The Good, the Bad, and the Uncomfortable

LIFE is full of decision-making, whether we are young in life or old.  

I can look back today at my childhood and often wondered in making decisions,

“Should I do this or do that?”  

My mother would say, “Always listen to your CONSCIENCE Mel.”

At the time, I had no idea what a “conscience” was, so mom would explain “It’s that little voice you hear inside of you coming from your heart.”  Now that was confusing at my young age.

Dictionary.com DEFINES Conscience as “The inner sense of what is right or wrong in our conduct or motives, impelling one toward right actions.”

If my mother were alive today and heard this definition of Conscience, she would chime in…”that’s what I said!”

And now, in the twilight of my years, I still have trouble keeping my CONSCIENCE under control.

Managing your conscience is somewhat like keeping Chayote Squash under control in the garden

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My wife tells the story of her distaste for the squash growing up in Southern, California.  She says that her dad loved it so much, that he grew it in their backyard against a wooden fence.  The vines grew uncontrolled and the squash was so prolific, they had Chayote every night for dinner during the Summer months.  Now I like squash, but every night for dinner?

Managing your CONSCIENCE is somewhat like keeping Chayote Squash under control by continually struggling to keep the vines under management.  

Our CONSCIENCES are also a struggle to manage.

THE GOOD CONSCIENCE:

Our CONSCIENCE can uphold us when we struggle spiritually.  

The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to fight the good fight; to keep a clear conscience when facing struggles.

1 Timothy 1:19 (AMP):

“Holding fast to faith (that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence) and having a good (clear) CONSCIENCE. By rejecting and thrusting from them [their conscience], some individuals have made shipwreck of their faith.”

Our CONSCIENCE can also protect us from TEMPTATION.

In Genesis 39:7-12. Joseph was sexually tempted by his bosses wife.  Joseph followed his CONSCIENCE and resisted the temptation.  Because of his decision, he developed a stronger testimony for God.

THE BAD & THE UNCOMFORTABLE CONSCIENCE:

Our CONSCIENCE can also display a bad side which can fuel PARANOIA

Proverbs 28:1 (The Message bible):

“The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off even when no one’s after them;”

Let me give you a few more bible examples of “bad consciences”:

1 Timothy 4:1-2 says,  [1] “But the [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach,[2] Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars whose CONSCIENCES are seared (cauterized)  (AMP).

That folks, is an example of a hardened conscience!

Another example I found in Scripture, was a CONSCIENCE of self-destruction in a disciple, a follower of Jesus (Matthew 27:3-5 NIV): 

[3] When JUDAS, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.  [4] “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”  “What is that to us?” they replied.  “That’s your responsibility.”  [5] So Judas threw the money into the temple and left.  Then he went away and hanged himself.

So by EXAMPLE, our CONSCIENCES are not altogether GOOD or BAD.

Billy Graham said “Most of us follow our CONSCIENCE as we follow a wheelbarrow. We push it in front of us in the direction we want to go.”  So the issue is managing our consciences properly.  And how do we do that?

God has given each one of us the resources needed in managing our CONSCIENCES…which brings me to the BIBLE TEXT FOR THIS BLOG-STUDY, where God’s RESOURCES are revealed to help us manage our conscience.

God’s RESOURCES found in 1 John 3:18-23:

 

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Whatever you do, let your ACTIONS be motivated out of LOVE (3:18)

A good illustration of this Resource can be found in 1 Corinthians 8, where Paul discusses eating food that has been offered [sacrificed] to idols.  The question had been raised:  ‘Is it proper–the right thing to do–to eat meat that was left after the blood was used in sacrificing to an idol?’  Paul’s instruction was that it was okay. There was nothing morally wrong with it.  However, if this practice causes someone else to stumble, then avoid such practices.

LET LOVE BE THE GUIDING PRINCIPLE!

Using this RESOURCE as our guide, we should then apply this principle concerning our actions–

  • Speaking rudely to another person.
  • Social drinking.
  • Cursing.
  • Being critical of another person.

Our words, actions and thoughts should communicate LOVE to the other person.

Paul says in Acts 24:16,  “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

Another RESOURCE noticed in John’s letter was to submit to the TRUTH.

SUBMIT TO THE TRUTH
SUBMIT TO THE TRUTH

Sometimes a GUILTY CONSCIENCE is inappropriate.  That said, there are times when I personally feel guilty because…I AM GUILTY!

The best guide in determining TRUE GUILT isn’t other people.  They may not give you very sound advice.

The BEST GUIDE is God’s Word!  It is always consistent, unlike opinions from others.  It is unchanging.

BUT there is a challenge here in becoming submitted to the TRUTH, God’s Word and accepting what it teaches.

I once read somewhere,  “The TRUTH will set you free but it will make you uncomfortable in the process.”

Here’s but one example to apply:  Maybe you are having trouble forgiving someone.

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive your [own] shortcomings and let them drop”  (Mark 11:25 AMP).

As we submit to God’s Word in the Bible, we will make right decisions in following a consistent pattern that is pleasing to God.

The 3rd RESOURCE John lays before us is to Accept the GRACE of God (3:20):

[20] “Whenever our hearts in [tormenting] self-accusation makes us feel guilty and condemn us.  [For we are in God’s hands.]  For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him].”  (Amplified Bible)

The Bible instructs us to throw your sin into the deepest ocean and leave it there. In addition, God has put up a no fishing sign:

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If you have confessed your sin and asked God’s forgiveness, then REJOICE in the GRACE OF GOD!

GRACE isn’t a pacifier for those who want to continue living in their SIN.  However, if you truly REPENT–change your direction–God’s GRACE will heal your wounds.

Finally, in verse 23, we find the RESOURCE of Putting Your Trust in Jesus.

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“Now, what does JESUS have to do with managing our conscience?”

Good question.

JESUS forgives us when JESUS FORGIVES us when we SIN, thus giving us a CLEAN HEART (clear conscience).

“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins…”  (1 John 1:9).

BUT there’s more!

Besides forgiving you and I for our sins, He will also give you a fresh start!

A lady by the name of Louise Fletcher Tarkington wrote a poem entitled “The Lord of Beginning Again” [See Footnote [i] ].  This poem reflects the desires of many.

I wish that there were some wonderful place

Called the Land of Beginning Again.

Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches,

And all of our poor selfish grief

Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at 

the door And never put on again.

In Jesus this is possible.

We can gain victory over our CONSCIENCE.

We must follow the internal leadings of LOVE, submit to God’s TRUTH, accept the GRACE of God and put our TRUST in Jesus.

Is God speaking to you about your CONSCIENCE right now?  He wants to give you VICTORY.  Will you accept it today?


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i]:  http://fromtroublesofthisworld.wordpress.com/…/the-land-of-beginning-by-lau…

Photos:  Google Image Search

Bible Translations Used:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.

 

 

 

“Is it really you?”

“Is it really you?”

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I want to begin this blog-POST with a story of a businessman and attorney by the name of H.G. Spafford.  He was a wealthy lawyer with a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, a wife and four daughters and a son.  He was also a devout Christian and faithful student of the Scriptures [a man after my own heart].

At the very height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife Ana, suffered a tragic loss of their son.  Shortly thereafter, on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost every real estate investment that Mr. Spafford had.

In 1873, Horatio scheduled a boat trip to Europe in order to give his wife and daughters a much-needed vacation and time to recover from the family tragedy.

He also decided to join Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey on an evangelistic campaign in England.  So he sent his wife and daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago, taking care of some unexpected last-minute business.

Several days later he received notice that his family’s boat had encountered a collision.  The note read, “SAVED ALONE.”  All four of his daughters drowned, only his wife had survived.

The H.G. Spafford’s story, I believe, parallels the story in Scripture; the story of NAOMI found in the Book of Ruth.

Naomi was a pleasant woman.  In fact, that was the meaning of her name.

She was well-loved, and a woman who other women admired.  She was well-known in her community, and recognizable by her cheerful attitude.

But a FAMINE came upon the land.

Her husband, feeling the responsibility for his family’s welfare, decided to uproot them and move them to a more prosperous location instead of depending on God to see them through.

Sometimes, we husband’s have found ourselves in a “FAMINE” of a different sort. A reduction  in income, an unexpected loss of employment [been there] and we decide to figure it all out by ourselves!  [done that before!]

So Naomi said her goodbyes to her BFF’s (best friends forever) and, along with her 2 sons, did what wives do today [my wife can testify to this], followed her husband to a far and distant land [In my case, from San Diego, California to the State of Washington.]  In this case, it was Moab.

Wives, have you ever found yourselves in a MOAB destination?  Well, maybe not Moab.

Her husband’s choice of location was not soundly made.www-St-Takla-org--Bible-Slides-ruth-687  

MOAB was a land settled by the descendants of Lot.  Although relatives of Abraham, they were not part of the “promised people” of God, the Israelites.

Moab was to be placed under a CURSE for their idol worship.

Isaiah 25:10 Amplified Bible (AMP):

For the hand of the Lord shall rest on this Mount [Zion], and Moab shall be threshed and trodden down in his place as straw is trodden down in the [filthy] water of a [primitive] cesspit.

Elimelech had left the land of BLESSING for the land that would be trampled on.

After some time there, he died and Naomi was left with her 2 sons and later, married Moabite women, which was not acceptable to God.

Deuteronomy 23:3 (AMP):

An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation their descendants shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord forever.

After 10 years both her sons died, leaving her with 2 daughter-in-laws.  She must have felt alone.

Then the GOOD NEWS reached Naomi–the FAMINE had ended!

So, Naomi and her 2 daughter-in-laws packed to leave and to return to her homeland.  But as they traveled toward Judah (some 40-50 miles), she decided to send them back.  She thanked them for their loving kindness, she blessed them, she kissed them goodbye, and she wept with them.

At first, they both refused, but after some sound discussion…she convinced one to leave.  The other clung tightly to her.  This one was RUTH.

When Naomi saw Ruth’s determination she allowed her to go.

The Homecoming!

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I love Homecomings;  School Homecomings, Family Homecomings, past-attended Churches’ Homecomings!

Ruth 1:19-20 The Message (MSG):

[19] When they arrived in Bethlehem the whole town was soon buzzing: “Is this really our Naomi? And after all this time!”

[20] But she said, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Bitter. The Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow.”

I find it somewhat interesting in this story that the entire town is excited about Naomi’s return.  It had been more than 10 years since she left, but that pleasant, cheerful, smiling woman was not forgotten.

Now here she is and they can’t believe it.  “Is it really you?”

But maybe they ask because there’s something different about her.  Maybe the smile has been replaced with a frown.  Maybe they sense a coldness in her they have never seen before.  The circumstances and the years have changed her–she has become “bitter.”

What lead her to this noticeable place of bitterness?  At certain times in our lives, how can we arrive at the same destination?

Personally, and unfortunately at times, I have found myself alone on the Island of Bitterness.

The symptoms may not be obvious at first, but they are there.  Withdrawing from those around you.  Becoming indifferent to the problems of others.  Thinking of only yourself.

Naomi only concentrated on her loss.  She gave no thought to Ruth who had loss of her husband to death with no children to comfort her.

Naomi blamed God for the acts of her husband.

She in her faithfulness, followed her husband to a foreign land:  “God made me bitter.  God brought me home empty.  God caused me to suffer.  God has sent tragedy on me.”  (v. 21)

But it wasn’t God who sent her to a land where she would lose everything, where she would suffer, where tragedy would strike.  It was the CIRCUMSTANCES of Life that did so.  What she didn’t give credence to was her statement she made,  “but the LORD has brought me home.”

God’s GRACE in our lives is such a blessing in the midst of our CIRCUMSTANCES.

Jesus’ half-brother James writes “Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations”  (James 1:2 AMP).   

Note, he doesn’t say be “wholly joyful FOR, but “wholly joyful IN” your circumstances.  That’s God’s GRACE at work in your life through your spirit.

Jesus said “In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]!  For I have overcome the world…”  (John 16:33).

Through His GRACE He has given us the COMFORT OF KNOWING in all trials and sorrows that we will become VICTORS.

God protected Naomi by giving her a loving companion in the form of RUTH.  But in her bitterness she rejected His GRACE.

In doing so, she also rejected His PEACE.  She couldn’t see beyond her BITTERNESS to the possibilities of God’s plan for her life.

During my detective investigation into God’s word, I couldn’t help think of the words of Job in Scripture:

“Whereas another man dies in bitterness of soul and never tastes of pleasure or good fortune”  (Job 21:25).

BITTERNESS erases all the good times that you had in your life.  

NAOMI had forgotten her friends’ loyalty and love, although, they in turn had clung to those wonderful memories of past years that God had so richly BLESSED.

She couldn’t remember the dedication of a daughter-in-law that wouldn’t let her suffer alone.  All she focused on was her “bitter poverty.”

Naomi could have been siting and questioning God right alongside of Job when he said  “I AM weary of my life and loathe it!  I will give free expression to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul”  (Job 10:1).

She wasn’t REJOICING in her returning home.  

Others were happy to see her, but she was disgusted with her life and felt like it was her duty to COMPLAIN.

Did you know that God is in the name changing business?  That’s what “Whitestone” ministry is founded on– “helping others discover their victory and true identity in Jesus”.

God changed ABRAM (high father) to ABRAHAM (the father of many nations).  He changed JACOB (the deceiver) to ISRAEL (God contended) and SIMON (God heard) to PETER (rock).

But here, we find a person changing who God has called them to be, to a name reflecting their own self-pity; from”pleasant” to “bitter”.

H. G. Spafford could have gone down the path of bitterness.

He could have been bitter in losing his wealth and his daughters.  He could have tried to get even with the owners of the French steamer by filing a lawsuit.  He could have got mad at God and shook his fist at Him in defiance and all of the above, together!

Instead, at the very place where he lost his daughters on the open sea, Mr. Spafford wrote a song.  The words are as follows:

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way;

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot,  Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul.

It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL
IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

 

 


CREDITS:

H. G. Spafford Story:  Share faith – It Is Well With My Soul, the Song and the Story.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

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

Commentary:  Jesus plus nothing,  A Bible Study:  Book of Ruth Chapter 1 “Counting the Cost{” by I. Gordon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NAYSAYERS and SCOFFERS ABOUND!

The NAYSAYERS and SCOFFERS ABOUND!

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Scripture Text For This BLOG:  2 PETER 3:3-5 

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“ALL MATTERS FOR CHRISTIAN FAITH AND PRACTICE ARE FOUND IN THE BIBLE.”

Any “scoffers”, disbelievers yet?

Peter’s Critical Warning to Christian Believers – VERSE 3

This warning is to the church, of the SCOFFERS & NAYSAYERS that are here already, and the ones who are on their way.

The great turning point that divides mankind in two different groups are those who accept this Book, the Bible, and those who reject it.

It’s critical to know that in the LAST DAYS, there will be mockers of God’s Truth.

12716866_1129933190373473_1572461181_nIn the LAST DAYS, not only will God’s word be rejected, people will mock it!  They will disrespect or mock the TRUTH OF CHRIST JESUS by using their own misinterpretation that they want to be as the truth.

They scoff at God’s Word, not knowing that this very scoffing fulfills Bible prophecy.

Even though these people have always existed to threaten the church from its earliest days, their ungodly activity will increase in “the last days,” that period of time preceding Christ’s second coming.

Peter, John, Jude and Paul all make reference to the increase of false teachers, warning the church with passion not to be alarmed (1 John 2:18; Jude 18-19; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).  

This contempt of the Scripture, God’s Word, and the terrible apostasy [from within the “church”] was also predicted by JESUS.  There was a question put by our LORD Jesus – Luke 18:8:

“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” 

This scoffing at God’s TRUTH is the expected from this world’s system with one heresy leading to another, drawing mankind further and further away from their Creator.

Self-Willed People Will Doubt the Coming Again of Jesus – VERSE 4:

[4]  “Where is the promise of His coming?  For since the forefathers fell asleep, all things have continued exactly as they did from the beginning of creation.”

THE IMPLICATION:

“THERE IS NO SECOND COMING, we can live any way we want.  A loving God will never judge us.”

A Few EXAMPLES of Today’s Mockers and Scoffers of God’s Word:

Since America is right in the middle of a political season, a lot of ‘out of the heart’ statements (Proverbs 4:23) are being voiced.  Let me give you two examples.  One from a POLITICIAN and one from a PASTOR:

Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader (D. Calif.) says,

“Hillary Clinton faces an uphill climb with white men because they are more influenced by hot-button social issues that they are by economic arguments because of guns, because of gays, and because of God, the three G’s.”  [Free Republic – PBS NewsHour interview.]

“Because of God”?  Really?  That’s a bad thing?

Erwin McManus, the lead pastor at Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, gives his views on what today’s Church should be:

“The church must acclimate to a changing world, or she will decline herself to irrelevance or even extinction…One of those dramatic changes in our environment is the shift from words to images.  To do church in a way that is entirely text driven is the kiss of death.”  [Erwin McManus “An Unstoppable Force, pg. 18]

Now that is interesting view, especially since the apostles taught just the opposite {Titus 1:9; Romans 16:17-18].  

Those who mock and reject God’s written word–that our existence is the way it always has been since the beginning of CREATION or, in the case of most, since we evolved.  The intent of their remarks is…there is no reason to be concerned about pursuing righteousness or about God’s punishment for unrighteousness.  

These people pursue their own lusts, scoffing at the idea that  a “loving God” wouldn’t judge them.  They foolishly claim that Christ was never going to return and that there is no such thing as a final accounting of God.

This was the attitude of some people surrounding the churches in the northern part of Asia Minor, the area of the world that Peter had sent his letters to.

Peter’s Validation –

People persistently IGNORE the OBVIOUS!!

VERSES 5 & 6 answers the previous arguments by reviewing ancient history:

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Scoffers, Naysayers reasoning is faulty.  If they don’t believe that EXISTENCE came into being by the Word of God, then all their reasoning is based on unsound evidence.  Here’s an example I found online (Google Image Search – Atheism):

THE SCOFFERS deliberately and “willingly” forget that God’s Word brought creation into existence and that He desires men to acknowledge it.  When the lives of these people MOCK God, willfully forget that God created EVERYTHING that exists.  God’s WORD created the Heavens and the Earth  (John 1:1-3 AMP):

[1]  IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.  [2] He was present originally with God.  [3] All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being.

And yet, NAYSAYERS deny that God CREATED the world in the beginning and deny that God would JUDGE the world at its conclusion.

CREATION though, was all due to the divine WORD of God:  “And God said…and God saw!” (Genesis 1).

There is no evolutionary concept of creation with the events taking place over millions or billions of years.

A DIRECT INTERVENTION BY GOD –

VERSE 6, is a direct intervention by God in the course of human history, “through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.”

The SCOFFERS’ claim is short-sighted and ignorant because they ignore the FACT that things haven’t continued as they were from the beginning.

In the previous verse, PETER stated that the UNIVERSE and all contained within it was created by the Word of God.

Now, PETER informs us that by the same WORD…JUDGMENT was rendered upon every living being in response to humanity’s WICKEDNESS.

He reminds us of the NAYSAYERS, the SCOFFERS, the MOCKERS of Noah’s day–decade after decade by his friends and neighbors as he was building the Ark.

Genesis 6-7 gives us clues that it took approximately 75 years to completion [Answers In Genesis – How Long Did It Take for Noah to Build the Ark?].  So imagine your neighbors laughing, jeering, thumbing their noses at you while working on a special project in your front yard after a few short years, much less 55-75 years!

Eventually, the collapse of the water canopy surrounding the earth caused RAIN to fall for the first time and the bursting forth of the underground water system resulted in a world-wide FLOOD.

2 Peter 3.6

In other words, people shouldn’t rely on false assumptions that God has little or nothing to do with the WORLD He created.  Instead, people must realize that by His WORD, He can create anything that He desires, and by His WORD, He can destroy anything that He has created!

GOD’S JUDGMENT (VERSE 7)

“But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been stored up (reserved) for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly people.”  [Amplified Bible]

“By the same WORD”, meaning the Word of God that brought existence into being (verse 5), and brought the watery destruction in Noah’s day (verse 6), by the same WORD, God also sustains His creation.

Moreover, there is a specific limitation to this world’s existence according to the sovereign will of Almighty God.  The POWER of the WORD which sustains ALL living things will one day release the FIRE of His JUDGMENT upon the world.

Over the years, I have heard people around me make jokes about God’s impending JUDGMENT.  I have seen cartoonist draw their caricatures of prophets of doom. But you can take this to the bank, on the fact that just as the world was flooded with water in days of old, it will one day be burned with FIRE  [Read Revelation 19:20; 20:10-15.  Isaiah 51:6; 66:15-16 and Malachi 4:10]. 

And at that time, the earth as we know it, will undergo a far greater impact of God than water.

The JUDGMENT OF FIRE refers to the day when God will come to judge the earth and destroy ALL evil!  (This is called the Day of the Lord in the Old Testament.)

The Lord Jesus will intervene in history by His second advent (coming) to institute His kingdom on earth.

In spite that the Lord hasn’t yet returned, the HOPE of His return is a present reality for those of us who are BELIEVERS–BORN AGAIN!!

The FLOOD and the future renovation of the earth by FIRE should remind us that God accomplishes what He purposes, and He has declared that Jesus Christ will come again (Acts 1:11). 

Since man lost his RIGHTEOUSNESS and renounced the image of God that created him, there is no way he can escape the horrors of the JUDGMENT DAY.

All will perish because of their own SIN and their defiance of their Creator and rejecting their only Savior.  Only those in Jesus Christ escape this punishment.

Remember, “The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord”  (Romans 6:23).

As surely as there is SALVATION for the believer, there is terrible JUDGMENT for the Naysayer, the Scoffer, scorner, and ungodly.

God has the end in mind and in sight!  God’s judgment is a call for the unbeliever to examine his sinful condition, and for the believer to be consistently obedient to His WORD.

 


CREDITS:

Photos:  Google Image Search, using Scripture verses.

Bible Translations:  Amplified (AMP), unless noted.

There’s Actually Something Else More Important Than Ketchup?

There’s Actually Something Else More Important Than Ketchup?

Carly Simon wrote the song, “Anticipation” in 1971.  I’m hearing the tune play in my head as I begin this blog.  

Carly said she wrote this song about Cat Stevens while she was waiting for him to pick her up for their first date.  

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In the late 70’s…this same song was made famous by a Heinz Ketchup commercial. Heinz Ketchup is thick and pours slowly.  In the commercial, a young boy would be shown waiting patiently for the ketchup to come out of the bottle as the chorus of “Anticipation” played in the background.

Our Bible TEXT:  JAMES 5:7-11

Well, I know something else that is more worth waiting for than KETCHUP.

It’s the day when:

  • In the twinkling of an eye…
  • That trumpet will sound…
  • We will see the One riding a white horse whose name is faithful and true…
  • The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords will return to take us home!

Until that day comes, we must WAIT–BE PATIENT in waiting for the Lord, because it will be worth the wait!

JAMES tells us in verses 7-8,

The Message bible:

A_Little_More_Patience[7] [8]  “Meanwhile friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work.  Be patient like that.  Stay steady and strong.  The Master could arrive at any time.”

 

In VERSE 7, James says, “Be patient, then, brothers, until the LORD’S coming!”  

“BE PATIENT” comes from a compound of “long” and “temper” – [Bible Knowledge Commentary.]  

The idea I received from James’ letter, is Setting the timer for a long run; Focus on the final lap in the race of life; Look ahead to the Lord’s coming.

Even though he doesn’t state it that way exactly, another side of this that I believe James is getting at:

DON’T BECOME IMPATIENT!

In other words, do not lose heart; don’t get discouraged; never give up!

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (AMP):

[7] I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race.  I have kept (firmly held) the faith.

[8] [As to what remains] henceforth there is laid up for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day–and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return).

The world, and yes, even some churches, have tried to tell us Jesus’ return is fiction (the “preterist” view).  But we should know that when God makes a PROMISE…He keeps it!

We know and keep heart, that the RETURN of Christ Jesus is being delayed to give more people a chance to respond to the GOSPEL message.

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV):

[8] But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

[9] The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

JAMES tells us instead to be like the farmer who waits expectantly for the precious harvest from the land.  

(Verse 7) “[See how] he keeps up his patient [vigil] over it until it receives the early and late rains.”  

The early and late rains of Autumn and Spring.

The first germinates the SEED and the second MATURES it.  The farmer may wonder if he is ever going to see the FRUIT of his labor, but he waits patiently until he receives the HARVEST and the financial benefits that come with it.

The Coming of the Lord is at Hand!

JAMES tells us that we should be like a farmer (verse 8).

Believers are to allow the assurance of Christ’s return to help them be PATIENT and take courage.

Whatever the circumstances, JAMES is encouraging us to be rock solid in our FAITH; to have a faith-inspired JOY that interweaves every part of our lives.  Like the farmer, we invest in a long time future HOPE.

  • We need to stand firm; to strengthen; to take courage; to stand firm in one’s mind.
  • We must set our hearts upon the LORD’S RETURN, for His return is near!

The idea is that it is drawing ever so close and it can happen at any moment.  So we must focus, set our hearts upon His return–be looking for it every day just as the farmer looks for the great day of harvest.

Now I am not suggesting that we all just sit around, waiting for Jesus to return, but we should live with the realization, that time is short and we have important work to get done.

Keith Green, a songwriter, singer, during the mid to late 70’s, wrote a song entitled To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice with this beginning lyric:

“You say that I am coming back soon, but you act like I’ll never return”

We must not be like the “wicked servant” who hid his master’s talent in the ground, but until He comes, we must be about the Master’s business.

JESUS is coming soon, so we must be about the business of the kingdom; reaching lost souls for Christ’s sake and not our own!

We Also Must Be PATIENT with one another (verse 9):

LIVING BIBLE (TLB), says it this way:

[9] “Don’t grumble about each other, brothers.  Are you yourselves above criticism? For see, the great Judge is coming!  He is almost here.  Let Him do, whatever criticizing must be done.”

JAMES, in verse 9, says “Don’t grumble about each other”.  Most people, I think, knows what GRUMBLING means, but perhaps a reminder might be appropriate here.

Google’s online dictionary:  [1] “complain or protest about something in a bad-tempered but typically muted way.”

OUCH!

a37f21ba274e26480a1ee3c64c041f67How many times have I used the synonyms associated with “grumbling” about someone, or something within the body of Christ:  bellyaching, beef, bitching, griping…  

“Grumbling” against one another indicates a careless attitude of speech.

Jesus tells us, in Matthew 5:22,

“But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment.  If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court.  And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell”  (NLT)

And as a side-note of emphasis:  If your bible translation uses the word “Raca”– the Jews used it as a word of contempt; it is derived from a root meaning “to spit”.

Finding yourself grumbling after a Sunday morning service? 

“The pastor’s message left me flat”–you just “spit” on your pastor.

“OUCH”, again!!

The JUDGE Stands at the Door –

JAMES tells us that our major concern about this kind of behavior is “the Judge standeth before the door” (KJV).

If we believe that JESUS could come at any minute, in the twinkling of an eye, then we don’t want Him to find us doing what He commanded us not to do!

The JUDGE is not far away, but He’s standing at the front door.

The knowledge of Christ’s presence not only is comforting, it can also be convicting–especially when we begin behaving as if he were far away:

  • When the LORD comes, let Him catch us doing His will.
  • When the LORD comes, let Him catch us obeying His Word.
  • When the LORD comes, let Him catch us doing what is right.

We Must Be PATIENT Like the Prophets of Old (verses 10-11)

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VERSE 10 (AMP):

“[As] an example of suffering and ill-treatment together with patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord [as His messengers].”

Part of JAMES’ point here is that God doesn’t preserve FROM suffering those He has called, rather, He PRESERVES them IN suffering.  

They, the Prophets of old, are an example to all believers because of their obedience and faithfulness, despite the hardships they endured.

PATIENCE OF JOB –

Now Job may have complained, but he did not stop trusting and obeying God [SEE Job 23:10-14].

And the LORD did restore him!

I particularly noticed in study, how James, in verse 11, gives encouragement to his readers–

“…and you have seen the Lord’s end, inasmuch as the Lord

is full of pity and compassion and tenderness and mercy.”

The LORD’S “end” or goal, is for us to grow in FAITH & CHARACTER through it all!

Through, or “IN” our difficulties we encounter.

God doesn’t enjoy watching us going through ‘stuff’–SUFFERINGS.  He allows each one of us to FACE PAIN, physical or spiritual, because a greater good will be produced EVEN THOUGH we don’t always see it!

In the meantime, JAMES is encouraging us to…

TRUST IN GOD,

WAIT PATIENTLY and remember,

GOD’S TENDERNESS AND MERCY!

In what area do you need PATIENCE today?

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV):

[31] But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles;

soaring_eagle_15012

…they will run and not grow weary,

…they will walk and not be faint.


CREDITS:

Bible Knowledge Commentary.

Keith Green – To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice Lyrics @ http://www.metrolyrics.com

Google Online Dictionary.

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations Used:  Amplified (AMP); The MESSAGE; New Living Translation (NLT); New International Version (NIV); King James Version (KJV).

Living With A “Wishy-Washy” Prayer Life

Living With A “Wishy-Washy” Prayer Life

Blog’s Scripture:  James 1:5-8

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ILLUSTRATION:

A young business man went to an executive and asked for his wisdom.

“What is the secret of business wisdom?”

The man answered,  “Wise decisions.”

“How do you make ‘wise decisions’?

“Experience,” the executive answered.

“How do I get experience?”

“Dumb decisions!”

How do we make decisions, in our jobs, in our families, and even choosing a candidate in an upcoming election?

How do we make up our minds?  Do you use common sense?  Experience?

Or, do you see how it lines up with God’s Word in your bible?

We Are Only Human…

We have a great possibility to make mistakes or bad choices in life, and Lord knows, I have made plenty over the years!

We have said the wrong things at times, paid too much for something we desired, been deceived by someone, and let our emotions dictate our decisions–“GUILTY!”

JAMES, Jesus’ half-brother, talks about DECISION MAKING in verses 5-8 –

He tells us if we lack WISDOM, to ask God–God who is no respecter of person and will give to each one of us…IF WE WILL ASK!

WAVERING in our prayers –  (verse 6):

“WAVERING” or “DOUBTING” comes from the Greek word, diakrino.  This verb suggests, not a weakness of faith, but a “lack of faith.”  I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want someone praying for me in a given situation who is “wavering”–“doubting” in their thinking.  James addresses this later in Chapter 5.

James says that “IF” we are going to ask God, we should BELIEVE that He will give us the right answer, not DOUBT, not “waver”; and as the King James Version of the bible reads, we shouldn’t be “double-minded” and unstable in our asking.

The Amplified Bible reads,  [8]  [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides.

“TWO MINDS” – “DOUBLE-MINDED” Definition is two-souled–pulled apart in two directions, divided loyalties, divided priorities.

boys-walking-fence-washington-indiana-date-1941-july-g3adfy

I remember when I was a young boy living in Federal Housing projects during the post world War II era, most backyards were enclosed by picket fences.  People wanted what little privacy they could have while living in court-style living arrangements.

The unwritten PROJECT RULES, given to each kid, was stay out of neighbor’s backyards, unless invited!  Well, to a 8-10 year old boy, that was like a sign on a front porch that read:  Don’t touch!  Wet Paint!!  You just had to do it!!

Now how were my friends and I going to skirt the rules and not get caught by our folks or neighbors, or even God?

And, the thought process of never falling from walking the fence line, especially into a neighbor’s backyard!!

The problem with walking on a fence is, you cannot do it very long and a lot of times you fall off on the wrong side if you are indecisive–doubting in taking the right steps along the way.

Being “double-minded” in prayer will have the same results.

‘Wishy-washy’ doesn’t make a person strong.

We have all been to the fork in the road and had to decide which direction we will go.  That is why it is so important to hear from God to make the right choice.

In the GOD’S WORD Translation of James 1:8, it says “A person who has doubts is thinking about two different things at the same time and can’t make up his mind about anything.”

 ABP Strong, a variation of Strong’s Concordance with an interlinear Greek translation reads:  [man he is a double-minded], confused in all his ways.

  • CONFUSED in relationship
  • CONFUSED because of fear of the unknown
  • CONFUSED because it will involve change.

It becomes like the DRUNK who is staggering around telling his friends that he is capable of making WISE DECISIONS and able to drive.  He/she may think so, but medically proven, our senses are numbed by alcohol and we cannot function properly and make good decisions.

HERE IT IS–

THE PROBLEM:

Indecision, unstable, double-mindedness.

THE CURE:

Asking God for WISDOM!

We will pick up the phone and call someone and ask for an opinion on what to do in a given situation,

BUT…we won’t ask God for His help until everything else is tried.

HANG UP THE PHONE and go to the THRONE!

JAMES, A servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, gives us suggestions concerning DECISION MAKING and DEVELOPING FAITH THAT WORKS –

answers

Remember, the PROBLEM is indecision and bad choices.

The CURE is Asking God–Admit your need:  

[5]  If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.  (Amplified Bible)

WE ALL LACK WISDOM–we need God’s help –

WISDOM is different from KNOWLEDGE –

  • Wisdom is knowledge put into practice.
  • Wisdom is seeing life from God’s point of view and not our own.
  • Wisdom is making Godly decisions.

The world is impressed with KNOWLEDGE but God is impressed by WISDOM.

When was the last time you said that you were wrong?  Thought so.

Admit to God you don’t have all the answers:  “I don’t know God”  “What would You like me to do?”

Admit your need!

  • ASK – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask…
  1.  PRAY to God.
  2.  TALK to Him.
  3.  ASK God.

Proverbs 2:6 (NIV Bible)

[6]  “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

“Out of the mouth of babes” expression.

It come from the simple TRUTH, that sometimes, it takes a child to reveal lasting WISDOM.

For EXAMPLE:

Patrick, age 10, said,  “Never trust a dog to watch your food.”

Michael, 14, said,  “When your dad is mad and asks you, “Do I look stupid?” don’t answer him.”

Naomi, 15 said, “If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse.”

James 4:2 (AMP):

[2 b]  “You do not have, because you do not ask.”

20 times in the New Testament it says “Ask, and it shall be given.”

  • EXPECT IT – James 1:5-6 (The MESSAGE Bible):

{5-6]  If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father.  He loves to help. james-1-6You’ll get his help and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.  Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.  People who “worry their prayers [“Wishy-Washy” in prayer – added to text] are like wind-whipped waves.  Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

Anticipate and expect and BELIEVE that God wants to GIVE the answer you need!

If God asked you right now, where you are sitting, what do you want most in life, would it be WISDOM?

If you had to make an important decision, maybe moving to a different area of the country to take a new job, would God be the first one you talk to?

We do make decisions that affect our lives and we need God’s help.  

FIRST!

God, tell me what to do!

God tell me what to say!

God, show me your wisdom!  Teach me LORD your principles that will apply to this situation!

Bring to remembrance a scripture that will help!

Give me the peace that is found in Your Word and in our relationship!

NO MORE “WISHY-WASHY” PRAYING FOR ME!

 


CREDITS:

Commentary:  7 Characteristics of a Double-Minded Believer by Dan Delzell – CP Opinion & James 1:6 Bible Hub Commentary.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations used:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

 

The “High Places” Can and Will Prevent REVIVAL

The “High Places” Can and Will Prevent REVIVAL

BIBLE TEXT FOR THIS BLOG  – 2 KINGS 18:1-8 

I love Bible detective investigation, especially when uncovering hidden truths that were there all the time.  They were never HIDDEN, just ignored.

This week’s BLOG is no exception when it came to looking for the significance of ‘HIGH PLACES”.

HIGH PLACES is mentioned 117 times in the Old Testament of the Bible.  They were centers for Canaanite idol worship that God had commanded the Jews to tear down.  But instead, these places became IDOLS that subtly seduced God’s people year after year–they couldn’t stay away!

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The HEBREW word is bamah – a mountaintop, open-air altars on elevated knolls near towns.  (*Footnote [1] )

In 2 Kings 12:1-3, we read and notice Joash’s promising reign fell short of its promise; for he failed to get rid of the high places.

In this week’s Bible Text,  2 Kings 18:1-8, we are treated to the example of Hezekiah, a king who the Bible says,  “did right in the sight of the LORD”

What then went wrong (king JOASH), and What went right (king HEZEKIAH)?

#1.  What was it about Joash’s reign that kept the LORD from sending REVIVAL to the land?

#2.  What was it about Hezekiah’s reign that found favor in God’s eyes and led to REVIVAL?

The answers to the questions seem straightforward to me, but then again, I’ve been spending time in study lately in The Book of Kings!

Uncovering Evidence –

I see some very specific things in this eight verse summary of king Hezekiah’s reign, giving a clear indication what it was about Hezekiah that PLEASED GOD.

THE FIRST is found in verse 4 and it is his completed…

  • TURNAROUND

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JOASH failed to tear down the HIGH PLACES–

He wasn’t willing to make the effort to confront those STRONGHOLDS of sin and idolatry, and the consequence was the momentum toward REVIVAL; which was overcome by the EVIL of those strongholds, both in the nation and in Joash himself.

HEZEKIAH on the other hand, doesn’t fool around in his TURNAROUND.  He takes REFORM all the way to the hills!

He confronts the pagan priests and idolaters–he says, there is no more room for this kind of activity in my kingdom, because my kingdom is really God’s kingdom.

The PROCESS of Experiencing REVIVAL –

If we want to experience REVIVAL in our lives, in our home, in our church, in our community, we are going to have to make the same bold stand.

We can’t afford to have HOLDOUTS.

We can’t allow the HIGH PLACE of SIN to escape the LORD’S AUTHORITY.

We can’t say, “Lord, you can have all my life except…

  • MY FINANCES,
  • MY RELATIONSHIPS,
  • MY ENTERTAINMENT,
  • MY FUTURE PLANS.”

Today we don’t construct idolatrous clay figurines such as Baal, or attend worship services for Asherah.  But our TEMPTATIONS are just so seductive and perhaps even more subtle than in Hezekiah’s time.

Believers today might avoid the obvious “high places” such as THEFT, CHILD ABUSE or EXPLOSIVE ANGER.  But we tend to be casual about what the Bible teacher Jerry Bridges calls “respectable sins.”

We rarely speak of envy, worry, spiritual pride, sexual window-shopping, gossip or strife as SIN.  But these habits are nothing but sinful deeds of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).

Historically, REVIVAL has come to the church when people have allowed the Holy Spirit to take the hammer of REPENTANCE to strongholds we harbor and once those barriers are busted, the river of REVIVAL becomes like a flood.

The second thing I noticed about Hezekiah that pleased God and led to REVIVAL was his complete…

  • TRUST  

ssbc-trust-post

[5] Hezekiah trusted in, leaned on, and was confident in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that neither after him nor before him was any one of all the kings of Judah like him.  (AMP)

The Bible says, Hezekiah TRUSTED in the Lord, the God of Israel.

There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after him.

Hezekiah’s forefather, DAVID declared…

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It must be easy for a king to TRUST in the resources of his kingdom, to try to devise a way to solve their problems of weapons, and wisdom, and wealth the way Joash did.

But Hezekiah TRUSTED in the LORD!

Without FAITH, the Book of Hebrews says, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD (Hebrews 11:6).

But as we see here, with FAITH and TRUST in the Lord, God is genuinely PLEASED!!

CHURCH, if we are ever going to PLEASE the Lord, He will require from us the same that He required of the kings of Judah–REPENTANCE and FAITH–TURNAROUND and TRUST.

That TRUST must mean trusting in Him for SALVATION–believing that the SACRIFICE of Christ upon the CROSS is sufficient payment for your sins to make you righteous before God–this is the FOUNDATION of a God-blessed life!

With the central issue of SALVATION is dealt with, the LORD wants us to TRUST Him with even more–with ALL of our life.  He wants us to RELY upon Him for deliverance from the enemy, for daily bread, for our families, and for our future.

When we can openly give ourselves to God by TRUSTING HIM with ALL of our lives, and when we do that, (here it comes!)…we open ourselves up to His BLESSING, not that He’s been withholding it, but simply said, because we’ve been unable to receive it!

So then with TRUST as with TURNAROUND, we open the floodgate of REVIVAL!!

The last thing I found about Hezekiah in my reading that PLEASED GOD and opened the way for REVIVAL was Hezekiah’s…

TENACITY –

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By definition, TENACITY is “the quality or fact of being very determined”  [Google Word Definitions].

HEZEKIAH CONTINUED–he stuck to it with a ‘bulldog’ mentality!

It wasn’t that he never faced difficulty, he did.  But unlike Joash, who when faced with a CRISIS…surrendered what was SACRED.

Hezekiah plunged forward with unwavering commitment to the task at hand.  

He continued to TRUST, he continued to do what was right even when confronted by the world’s only superpower of his day, even when he saw his Northern neighbor Israel being defeated and sent into exile.  Hezekiah continued to SERVE God in FAITH and in RIGHTEOUSNESS!!!

If we (the church) are genuine in our DESIRE to see God moving in our lives in a new and a fresh way, and if we long to see His BLESSING poured out across our nation, WE must exhibit the same kind of spiritual TENACITY!

So, why aren’t we seeing REVIVAL today as we should?

I’ve seen people over the years anxious for God to move in power; people who earnestly desire to have a new vision, a deeper understanding of the majesty and holiness of God, people who are anxious to see the lost come to faith, people who believe they have a God-given vision of REVIVAL in their community, people who have begun special prayer meetings to ask God to send REVIVAL, but who never seem to get there.  I know all this because, I’ve been there myself!  I don’t mean to say nothing happens–there is always spiritual fruit when people desire to be closer to Jesus.  And yet, the outcome never quite lives up to the expectation.

I don’t know why this happens for sure–perhaps part of it is, simply our inability to box God to define what REVIVAL is going to look like.  I suspect that part of it is the lack of one thing on our part:  TENACITY

After a few weeks of lacking attendance at the prayer meetings…after a few times2173776885_1108b59098 of inviting of friends and neighbors to church, we quit asking.

After a few days of resisting TEMPTATION…we give in.

We have not resisted to the point of blood (Hebrews 12:4).

 

Choosing How We Are to Live –

If we are going to see REVIVAL, we must choose to TURNAROUND, and tear down the “High Places,” giving God the sovereignty over every part of our life, leaving no place for temptation and sin to take root.

AND, we must choose to TRUST in Christ alone, both for SALVATION from sin–to be SET FREE from its penalty and for all matters of our lives.

AND it cannot be just a temporary decision but we must choose to follow hard after the Lord with TENACITY.

WHAT’S YOUR CHOICE TODAY?

Share your decision if you wish in the Comment Section of this Blog.  Your words just might encourage another.

 

 


Footnotes & Credits ~

Footnote [1] : Billy Graham Evangelical Association – Seduced by the High Places by Scott Morton, May 2, 2012.

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search and Seduced by the High Places provided by B.G.E.A.

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