Saturday, November 30, 2019

What it REALLY is

"You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Exodus 20:3-6 NASB

In the New Testament, Paul shares an experience when visiting a city. Acts 17:16 "Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols."

As I let go of the ones in my life, the more I find myself sharing his thoughts and experiences in this passage in the book of Acts. 

How do you identify what is an idol in your life?

Read the passage in Exodus again.  Remember, this is the Lord Jesus speaking.  These are His words.  So if anyone wishes to argue, your argument is with God, not me.

Are you offended at all when something or someone you intensely like or love, that is not of God, is maliciously spoken of? Do you take offense at whatever it may be gets trash talked?  Do you participate in the negative remarks of others to ridicule, mock or argue concerning that thing or person that is not of God?

If you do...then have an idol in your life.  You are participating in idolatry. 

Truth is what it you carry images of whatever it is with you to show your allegiance to it or them?  Then you have an idol problem. 

Do you spend hours on end immersed in whatever it is or whomever it is, and do not spend near that time with Jesus?  Then you neef to see if that person or thing is an idol. 

As I wrote about above, the more the Spirit identifies in my life for removal the more I see idolatry all around me.  I still struggle but to be truthful, it hurts, when I am confronted. 

We live in a nation of idolatry of every kind.  From the stuff in Hollywood to Disney.  From MMA fighters to boxers to football, baseball you name it, there's an idol for it.  People spend billions dollars per WEEK on subscription services and cable tv soaking up idolatry.  The state of the Church shows where people are not.  They are not on their knees in prayer nor are they in the Bible.  They are online or at places to keep WITH their idols. 

Do you have other gods before God?  

Do you have images of whatever gods you are attached to?  Read the first two commandments again. 

What did Jesus say? You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and Spirit.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  

I am not asking you questions for my health.  I write what I am told to write. 

The questions come from God. 

Even work can become an idol if it consumes your life. Family can be an idol. 

If you value a person higher than God then they are an idol. 

Really look at the story of Abraham and Isaac.  The test for Abraham when he put his son, his only son, on the alter tied up to be sacrificed had to do with whom did Abraham love more. God or his son?  He passed the test.  Because he believed that even if God had him follow through with sacrificing his son that he could being him him back to life.  Some would agree with that interpretation some may not.

Jesus somewhat spoke to this when He said in Matthew 10:37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."

Look at what's in your life. 

Do you spend hours doing stuff or hours with people that rob you of time you could be spending with Jesus?  

Answer this question of yourself.  How is it that you are to be His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that He prepared beforehand that we might walk in them if we aren't spending time with Him either in prayer or in our Bibles?

When will there be time for the word of God to transform your inner man if you aren't spending time in it?

We are born into idolatry.  We are sensory blind to the stench of it from birth. 

Jesus wondered if He would find the faith when He returns.  Now you can see why He would ask. 

The things of God aren't important to people. 

Examine your heart.  Look at how you dress.  Look at what you spent your time, energy and money on.  Is it in Godly pursuits or spent on you or -let's be real here- your idol?

If you aren't spending time with Jesus you are spending it somewhere.  Choose wisely.  Look at your life. If you feel guilty after reading this, talk to Jesus. I have a feeling He's been waiting for the call. 

The Peace you cannot Find

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”Matthew 11:28 

If you find that Christianity exhausts you, draining you of your energy, then you are practicing religion rather than enjoying a relationship. Jesus said that a relationship with Him would bring rest to your soul. Your walk with the Lord will not make you weary; it will invigorate you, restore your strength, and energize your life. Hard work or lack of sleep can make you tired. This fatigue can usually be remedied by a good rest. But there is a deeper fatigue that goes beyond physical tiredness. There is an emotional exhaustion that comes from experiencing heavy burdens and draining crises. There is a tiredness deep within your soul that comes from carrying the weight of the needs of others. You can go on a vacation, but your soul will not be restored. This condition can only be rectified by finding rest in Christ. Some zealous Christians want to do all they can to serve Christ, and they exhaust themselves in the process. It was to these that Jesus extended His invitation to go to Him and learn from Him. Jesus spent most of His earthly ministry surrounded by needy multitudes. He faced relentless opposition, He often prayed throughout the night, and He rarely had any privacy; yet He always received the rest and strength that came from His Father. It was not that Jesus did not work hard but that He knew the path to spiritual rest. Are you weary? Go to Jesus and let Him give you His rest. His rest will restore your soul as nothing else can. - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day 

It's been an interesting lesson, this past year has, in part because of this idea.  Rest.

There have been many challenges in this part of my life, but if I had to be honest, finding rest was up there in the top ten. 

But, that having been said, upon following through with what I was told to do - by God's direction - I almost find myself doing a lot more and am no where near as stressed or tired. 

There in it seems that God ties in obedience with Him keeping His promises.  He spoke to the Jewish leaders saying go and understand what this means, that He desires obedience over sacrifice.  

It really doesn't matter what we give up in life if we aren't replacing it with something that is right in God's eyes.  You can quit a bad habit and if you don't replace it properly, you will just pick up another bad habit. 

This obedience thing goes far in regards to rest.  It is essential to it.  Our obedience means casting aside our wants, desires or wishes.  Our emotions, our feelings as it is, need put aside in regards to obedience.  Why say that?  Because, look at all who Jesus healed.  They had to let go of everything in obedience to be healed.  They were ready to obey in whatever Jesus required to get the healing He offered.  The Disciples, in being taught, had to set aside themselves in obedience in order to be taught of God.  The lives of the Apostles, after these men were empowered by the Spirit, lived lives that set aside themselves in order to obey their calling. 

Are we any different?  In this, no, we are not.  It's never about us in the Christian life, it's about people seeing Jesus.  What Jesus had done and is doing.  It's not about empowerment or entitlement.  If you are claiming to be a Christian and people see you and not Jesus, you have a problem.  A big problem.  God says He will not give His glory to another. 

As Blackaby says, you will indeed burn yourself out trying to live your way for God.  Live how God wants you to live and THEN you will find peace and rest.  Obey. 

My favorite hymn is Trust and Obey.  You can't have Jesus on the Throne of your heart if you aren't absolutely doing both. 

If your rights matter...
If your position in society matters...
If your wants matter...
If your status matters...

Then you need to question who is on the Throne of your heart. 

You will not find peace and rest if anyone but Jesus is on the Throne of your heart. 

Re-read that first part from Blackaby.  Is God speaking to you?  

There's a song out with a line in it that says "Give me Jesus, give me Jesus!"  He is what is to matter in your life.  

When we put ourselves above others, then by that very act, you have put yourself above Christ. 

If any part of you means more than what Jesus says should be evident in you, then you need to look in the mirror and seek repentance.  

You want to truly live?  You want peace and rest? You will never find it in this world without Jesus on the Throne of your heart.  If people see you and not Jesus, yes I am repeating that, then YOU are your own problem.  Your achievements will always be meaningless if what is done doesn't include Jesus. 

All who were touched by, and trusted in, Jesus found peace and rest.   All.

Just as in the physical world, so it is in the Spiritual world.  You aren't what's important.  Look at the end of the 7 year Tribulation.  For a thousand years the only important thing in the lives of the world will be Jesus.  In Ezekiel, the Lord Jesus mentions a restoration of the hearts of the people to Himself.  

Where is your heart today?

Friday, November 29, 2019

Soon and Very Soon

“But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”Matthew 24:8 (NASB)

 When will Christ return? This question has been pondered much through the generations. The imminence of His coming provides the backdrop for everything the Christian does. Christ has not revealed exactly when He will come, but He has told us signs to watch for. The time of His coming is unclear; the fact of His coming is certain. Jesus said that certain events would signal the nearness of His coming: There will be wars and rumors of wars; there will be famines and earthquakes; Christians will suffer persecution for the sake of Christ; false prophets will come and teach heresy, leading many astray; lawlessness will abound as people do what is right in their own eyes; the authorities will be unable to control crime. Because of lawlessness, people will become cynical and fearful, and their love for others will grow cold (Matt. 24:6–12). Jesus said that the signs of the end times will be like birth pangs. The pain of childbirth increases in frequency, and it increases in intensity.
- Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day 

The evidence is mounting.  Do you see it?
The proof is palpable. Are your eyes open to it?

People in the news, scientists today, do whatever they can to dismiss it.  But the fact that the events in this world are accelerating.  There are indeed many earthquakes and famines in various places.  The volume is increasing.  A key reason is 'on-demand' buyers.  They strive to not have a surplus.  Surplus is now viewed as wasteful. 
Earthquakes are increasing.  It has nothing to do with drilling, fracking or anything of the kind. The Bible is clear, the Earth and all that is in it belong to the Lord Jesus.  He causes the sun to rise and set on the righteous and unrighteous.  He governs the Sun, Moon and stars.  Tidal forces have long been linked to the Moon and Sun.  Sunspots are increasing.  They impact our communication systems in orbit.  They impact our growing seasons.  
The Bible mentions pains like childbirth and the Earth.  Watch any video on childbirth and you will see the similarities. 

Wars and rumors of wars.  In our day and age it's near impossible to have a rumor about a war.  Instantaneous communication makes showing anything practically immediate.  So we see the wars that are escalating everywhere in a moment.  Those same news agencies are pawns of their governments, hiding events as well as showing them.  The Bible, again, is clear.  This world is heading for a one world government.  To achieve that, regardless of what you believe, there will be wars to bring it about. 
Lawlessness will increase.  Man vs man.  To the point where the government's of this world will not be able to control or contain it.  The sheer irony that the government's desire to silence a person's right to free speech or remove their right to defend themselves had only added fuel to lawlessness.  It's made it worse everywhere they have been successful in silencing or disarming people.  

The evidence is clear.  Everything Jesus said to look for is happening.  The one who restrains as mentioned in the Bible is the Holy Spirit.  Until He steps aside in doing so these pangs will continue and increase in frequency.  

Meanwhile, the enemies of God continue to try to either water down the Gospel or teach outright falsehoods about God and the Church.  Saved people help to find others who aren't.  The enemies of God do not want this.  It's no wonder that so many so-called churches look no different than the world.  The warnings of being wary of wolves in sheep's clothing were never heeded. 

Evidence is there to be seen.  Jesus is very close to coming back to take home those who have placed their faith and trust in His finished work on the cross.  

The Bible tells of the nation's desire to eradicate Israel.  Read the headlines.  Look familiar? 

Are you ready?  Or is your world more important than God's calling for you?  Is your wants and desires more important than the mission that God has for you?

Are your things more important than what God had for you to do?

I can't answer for you.  But I can tell you there will be countless millions surprised by His return that shouldn't have been. 

Be honest between you and God. 

If you are a believer who is unhappy.  Ask the Spirit why it is.  Is it your disobedience in not doing what you have been told or ate you clinging to idols?  Consider carefully before you dismiss those questions.   How will you answer Jesus when He asks you about your life and what all you were given to do for Him?

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Painting a Picture

My Bible reading takes me to the Old Testament and the New Testament.  What was very interesting to me has been the passage today from the New Testament. 1 Peter 5.  Verse 2 has a word in it: sordid.

The dictionary definition: involving ignoble actions and motives; arousing moral distaste and contempt.

Peter was writing specifically to the Elders of the Church.  Of how they should and shouldn't be.  Read in other places from Jesus Himself about Him being the Chief Shepherd.  The wow of this morning was the complementary section to read in Ezekiel 34.  Where the Lord Jesus spoke of practically the same thing.  About so-called shepherds.  About how they used and abused those they were to watch over.   He gives an example of how a Shepherd ought to be in Ezekiel.  It certainly is what Jesus was in His earthly ministry.   Ezekiel 34 was a prophecy and it was fulfilled in Jesus. 

Earlier in Ezekiel, where I have been reading, the Lord Jesus makes it clear, He is unwilling that even the evil should perish.  But that they turn around and repent. 

So why do people still go to Hell?  Because my dear reader the choice is in your hands.  You choose life in Christ or you choose life apart from Christ.  There is but 1 door to enter Heaven.  Jesus.  He has said it and it's been proven as true.  He is THE way, THE truth and THE life.  No one comes to the Father but through Him. 

You can choose to live your life the hard way, apart from God or live it in the power of the resurrected Christ.  You choose.

I firmly relate to Ezekiel 33 that I also read today.  "Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life."

I believe that in May, God had called me to something like this.  That is at the core of this blog.  He speaks and I write.  Now, I get it that many may not agree with what I post.  That's between you and God.  I cannot do anything apart from repeating what I am told.  It's been an amazing experience that every single day, sometimes like yesterday it's 3 times in a day, God speaks and I type.  I have said before also that I don't consider myself a great writer. What you read and understand isn't from me.  I give God all the credit in how these posts turn out. 

If your mind and heart strings are affected, then Praise the Lord. If you are irritated at what you read, again, Praise the Lord.  It means that something was said you were meant to read and consider. 

As to where this post today began, it was along the lines of others where as I have experienced many kinds of Churches in this town where we live.  In them we have seen the very types of Pastors that Peter was warning about in 1 Peter 5.  Men who use their positions for sordid gain.  Who personally are doing what they are to personally profit from it. Likewise we have seen Pastors who have the servants heart.  Who lead but do so as to serve rather than be served.  As Jesus spoke of being like. 

When we don't bring our ideas of who and what God is to be like to the world, but share what He had shown Himself to be...then our light is shining. It's reflecting the light of Christ to the dark world around us.  Some say it's dangerous to think like that.  I honestly have been told that recently.  I compare Scripture with Scripture.  It's what the Berean Church did in the New Testament.  I ask God, "What does this mean?"  I mean, really, the Bible isn't a dead document. It's alive. We can ask the author all about it.  It doesn't need to be guesswork.  It says of itself that it's not a matter of ones own interpretation.  But of men moved by God.  You can be moved by God in reading His book. Ask Him!  I was once told by a Pastor, as well as the whole congregation.  "Don't you dare take my word for it! Look it up for yourself!"

We have much to be thankful for today.  I am thankful for the peace God has brought to me.  There's a joy that He had brought that passes all understanding.  Much of my life has been hard lessons but I am so thankful that He is faithful to be with me always and continues to teach me.  Jesus had shown me so much, has given so much.  I fail to see where I deserve any of the Grace He has given but He does it anyway.  I am in awe of finding myself used of God in this blog.  I am in awe of His love for me even when I stumble and fall.  He never grows tired of picking me up, cleaning me up, and helping me to walk with Him again. 

These thoughts today may seem random but again it's not from me.  If any part touches anyone I give it all to Jesus. 

I am thankful to be useful to my Master. 
I love you Jesus!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Please don't be a Jonah

There are times in my life when it seems that God grants me a different perspective on situations and people.  A few past examples have to do with what I had somewhat suspected was happening in a situation and He sort of lifted me up to show me a greater picture. Essentially telling me that I was close, but here's more of the story.  There have been some other times when it was clear He was saying run, don't walk, to the door of a church we were going to.

Still other times it was things He was showing me about me.

I may not get it all the time, but for the most part I try to observe people.  Their behaviors and actions.  The words they say, the words they don't say.   In many cases it's kept me from stepping in a minefield of emotions.  I say many cases, because in some cases I stepped in anyways. 

It's been rather interesting to having been drawn deeper into a particular book of the Old Testament.  Jonah.  Most know the story of Jonah.  The Lord wanted him to go and warn the people of Nineveh and he ran the other way.  Was caught up in a storm on a boat, the men on board discovered it was his fault.  They finally, reluctantly, threw him overboard to calm the seas and save their lives.  Which worked.  God provided a whale to care for him until he repented and relented to the Lord's will for his life.  He had a mission to accomplish and he was the chosen one to fulfill it.  

Now we don't know what took place on the rest of day 1, or anything of day 2.  It was day 3 that picks up in Chapter 2.

Digging that deep into Jonah had me wondering some things just as I had wondered some things about the book of Job.

Jonah had a great deal of hate in his heart for the people of Nineveh. He wanted nothing more than to see God wipe them from existence, just as God had done to Sodom and Gomorrah.  But the Lord's plan was to spare. Likely for the same reasons that were given to Abraham concerning how many righteous were found in the city. 

But it made me wonder about Christian's that I know and have met.  Not every Christian is a happy individual. I know that I wasn't for a great many years.  Which made me compare myself with people like Jonah.  Which made me compare people I know with Jonah.  God answers their prayers but they were wanting a wholly different they are mad at God for the answer He gave.  I've done it.  It took me a great deal of time to realize the most important truth in a deeper way:  There's a reason why He's God and I am not.

I can't run the other way and He not take notice and implement a correction in my behavior and actions.
I can't harbor ill towards others and it not take it's toll on me.
There's no room for disobedience in the life of a Christian.  To know better and yet not obey will just mean repeating whatever it is that was the lesson to learn for us all over again.

There's going to be times when God answers a prayer and it's not what I was wanting or expecting.  Again, He is God and I am not.  No man is able to know what God knows about a problem person or problem situation.  It may SEEM clear to us but God doesn't do anything without knowing.  

It is also the crux of what it means to be a Disciple of Christ.  He, being the Master, us, being the Disciple, means that we accept what He has ordained.  We don't tell Him how it should be.  The Disciples got it wrong on many occasions. 

So, before you do a Jonah...make sure that you are not just mad at God because you didn't get what you thought you wanted.  God isn't our personal Genie of the Lamp.  He's not there to answer our every beck and call.  He also is going to answer prayers in the way that's best.  Not just best for us, but best for those we impact in life.

Probably why there's much said about being thankful.  Thankful for what goes right and even thankful for what doesn't seem to go right.  Give thanks in all things.

Don't put God in a box

Don't put God in a box. 

Jesus isn't who your mind sees Him to be.  He doesn't fit in the box of our mind's eye. 

Jesus dealt with the Pharisees and Sadducees. Two of the main groups of His stay on the earth.  Paul, while on trial, perceived the two and pitted them against each other. 

We live in a world where labels are more 'important'.  It's not enough to just be a Christian.  You have to tack on other terms to describe yourself.  The early Church wasn't this way.   They were simply Christ-followers.  Where they met was a different story.  It was more important to them to be grounded in the truth than stuck to legalistic ideas. 

The Word of God, as we have it today, is spread across dozens of translations. It's the work of the Spirit of God to protect it and to teach people of it. When anyone says you HAVE to stick to a singular translation there in is the path of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Being open to the Spirit's teaching is to be open to whatever method He chooses to use.  The Spirit is no more contained in a single translation than the Lord God in the man made Temples of Israel.  His toe couldn't be contained in any Temple.  

Our lives as Christians is in pursuit of God's truth.  We are being transformed by His Word. Renewed day by day in the Grace in which He grants us all who still breathe air. 

It's been quite a few years now, but I have stopped referring to what I believe as Grace Brethren or Baptist.  I strive to be the Christ follower that I was called to be.  Nobody should need or have a label that precedes that distinction. 

There's only going to be Christ followers in Heaven.  There will be multiple trillions more that have no distinction of Baptist or Catholic or any other denomination.  

To be honest it's been immensely freeing to shed those distinctions.  Christianity was never meant to be complicated.  It was meant to be simple enough for a child to understand it. 
The most powerful, gratifying, satisfying, times in my life are after asking God to show me more.   You really begin to see how little all your problems are when you become as Mary and less as Martha...sitting at the feet of Jesus  in anticipation of what you will be shown next.

I am not some seasoned writer.  As it began back in May of 2019 so it is today.   God speaks and I write.  Share what I share with you  has been the message to me this year.   

We carry preconceived notions from family and others as to the truth of God.  Look into it for yourself.

What do people see in You?

“In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”Zechariah 8:23 

God's desire is to fill His people with His Spirit so that others recognize His powerful presence in them. The presence of the Lord in a believer's life ought to be obvious. When the Spirit of Almighty God fills a believer, the believer cannot go on living as before. Others will see God. God told His people through the prophet Zechariah that His presence ought to make a difference in their lives. If God's people walked closely with Him, people from every language and every part of the world would hear that they were a people who knew God. People would come from every nation on earth to find the true God among His people. If the people saw a child of God, they would long to be with him or her because in so doing they would be with God. God gave the vivid picture of ten people clinging to one believer, hoping to find God. Christ's presence ought to be so evident in your life that the people around you are drawn to you. 
  - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day 

Before I began reading this morning, I asked God aloud, "So, what message are you bringing today?"

What you read above has much to do with it.   The scope of your life covers much. 

What DO people see when they see you?

Honestly, truthfully, they certainly see something.  Do they see a Christ follower or do they see something else?

Some don't believe their life should be looked at so seriously.  Their faults are just part of who they are, of what makes them who they are.  In a sense, they are right, yet they are also wrong.  Our lives as believers should reflect Christ.  Not us.
In us, without Christ, it's darkness and sin.

Do people shun you because of how you are or do they want to get to know you?

Don't be surprised if many shun you.  Most people in our culture and world today hate any form of negativity.  The more common cop-out phrase is being a 'hater'.  It's said to get you to change your beliefs and behavior.  To get you to leave them alone in their level of darkness. 

Jesus faced haters in His ministry. 

He told you to expect the same.  If they, the world, hated Him, they will hate you. 

Question to think about is DOES enough of Christ richly dwell within you that the world doesn't like you?   This isn't to say you shouldn't still show the love of God.  He still did and does.  But it also doesn't excuse us from telling the truth, that without Christ people are going to Hell. 

Don't live in such a way as to be so neutral that people don't want what you have in Christ.   Jesus also had a term for that. "Lukewarm."  Think about that word.  It's not just symbolism, it's truth.  A lukewarm beverage or meal is beyond less than appealing. It's terrible.  Jesus said He would spit that out.  Where does that go? On the ground to be walked on and not respected. 

Jesus spoke along the same lines with regards to salt. If salt has lost its saltiness, it's only good for being tossed out and trampled underfoot by men. 

Do people see Jesus when they see you?
Or do they see an idol worshipper disguised as a Christian?  Do you go about your day displaying your passion for everything BUT Jesus in your life?

Do you spend hours talking to others about worthless things or do you at all talk to others about the things of God?  Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  

Remember that earlier post of when the Lord accused His people of not remembering Him?  In the last week of reading that same book, the Lord showed them just how He was going to remedy that problem. 

Is the favor of the world more important to you than the favor of God?

I live in an idolatry filled city.  Any college or university town is like that.  You are either onboard with holding that team high on a pedestal or you are the enemy.  Most leave no room for anything in the middle.  They will stay up late to watch their team yet will choose not to go worshipping the following morning because that game was more important to them.  'Oh, God will understand.'  Yes, He always does.  He understands your love is divided.  You have forgotten your first love.  Which is Jesus Christ. He spoke on that too.

So be real here.
Be real right now.

What do people see when they see you?

Are you a reflection of the light of Christ or do they see darkness?  Jesus is the light of the world.  There is no other light.  Either His light is shining or there is no light. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Quenching the Spirit

There's this passage and it certainly seems as though God keeps returning it to my mind in recent days. 

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 "Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefullyhold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."

I had been challenged, maybe even provoked, to look at an aspect of what I believe and why.  This passage wasn't the first to come to mind but it was there at the beginning.  I read throughout the book of John, at the very least, concerning the hard heartedness of the Jewish leaders, the Pharisees and Sadducees.  They were in their own rut concerning the Old Testament Scriptures.  Reading on into the letters to the Church's in Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, those in Thessolonica.  It was an underlying message to all since the letters were shared and eventually became the Bible we have today. 

The question that came to the top was this:  Are churches today quenching the Spirit by their rules and doctrines they have established?

The Spirit is known as the Paraclete. Literally "another of the same kind as" Jesus Christ.  He would teach.  Yet there's many who try to put Him in a box because of what it is He's teaching or how He goes about doing it!

It's a grievous error to dismiss a lesson that the Spirit is teaching someone.  To say that even a particular translation is to be revered about all others is literally to do the same as what the Jewish leaders were accused of by Jesus Himself.  They were so stuck on the letter of the Law they had that they failed to see the work of God.  They failed to see His coming.  They failed to see the Truth when the Truth showed up in bodily form.  They quenched the Spirit. 

I have been graced with Biblical learning from many Godly Men.  Some are former Professors from Grace Theological Seminary.  Godly Men as Pastors who taught the value of searching the Scriptures to see if things are so.  To not be limited by one type of translation but to ask the Spirit if what I am understanding is right.  Even if it means going across several translations to get the meaning.

The job of the Holy Spirit also is to protect the Word of God.  Be it New American Standard, New King James, King James, Christian Standard Version, Authorized Standard Version or the many study Bibles that are out there.  The message of the Gospel will be protected by Him.  He has all the power of the resurrected Christ Jesus.  He aided in the creation of this Universe.  

It is through Him that we who have come to Christ are sealed til the day of either when we are called home to Jesus or the Rapture of the Church. 

There were those in the beginning days of the Church who were trying to establish new requirements for believers.  It's quickly evident by what we read that those requirements were shot down.  As it was written that why should they impose on new believers what they and their forefathers couldn't live up to?

You are never in danger when you rely on the Spirit to guide your thoughts and understanding of the Bible.  Remembering that we are using mainly English translations.  It's incredibly rare if you can read and understand the original languages of the Bible to have as your daily intake of God's Word.  Symbolism and taking things literally are parts of what are in the Bible for us to understand.  Trusting the Spirit to teach accurately is part of the Christian life.  The same as trusting in Jesus Christ for salvation. 

Being sensitive to the things of God means being sensitive to the Spirit of God.  

Look at your own understanding of things.  I had to. Jesus loves to teach us through His Spirit. The Spirit loves a tender heart that is teachable.  The Father is pleased by all the above.  There's only one absolute truth concerning truth.  It's that Jesus is THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life.  No man comes to the Father but through Him. 

So what I would suggest is what God did with me.  Ask Him.  Be open to His answer.  It may surprise you.  It did me.
Be ready to learn. Because the Spirit is a phenomenal Teacher when the Students are attentive and ready to learn. 

Monday, November 25, 2019

Do You?

Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 

We cannot prevent God from accomplishing His work in the world around us, but we can quench His Spirit in our lives. God has given us the freedom to withstand the Holy Spirit's activity in our lives. When we ignore, disobey, or reject what the Spirit is telling us, we quench His activity in us. The prophet Isaiah described the result: “Hearing you will hear and not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them”(Isa. 6:9; Matt. 13:14–15). - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day 

Where is your heart directed?  Is your heart divided?  Have you allowed the thorns and thistles of bitterness over past hurts and failures to get what you want harden your heart?

Many have and have fallen away from the faith.  As Scripture has mentioned, some try to use their freedom in Christ as a means for sordid gain.  They use it as a reason to further their own riches at the expense of others.  There's mention of consciousnesses being seared as with a branding iron. 

But it's not just not letting go unwillingly from following Christ, it's also those who have let their disillusionment drive themselves away.  They brought their own expectations and were disappointed so they walked away from God. They willingly walked away. 

Quenching the Spirit is to put out the flame that He is trying to get going in your life. 

It's not just to warm the soul but to expose what's inside a person's heart. 

Many fight the Spirit in His attempt to clean house and prepare such a one to become like Christ. 

Read the Old Testament. For that matter read through the whole Bible.  Look up how many times God mentions the question of striving with man.  Look up how often His patience was pushed too far and He had to deal with Israel and how she treated Him. 

What ways do you quench the Spirit? 

Probably more than you think. 

Look at where your thoughts go. 
Look at what you occupy your time with. 
Look at who you put or what above your walk with Jesus. 

Is family more important than your walk with God? Is your work? Is any aspect of your life more important than your transformation into what the Spirit doing in your life?

What did Jesus say?  If you love anything more than me you are not worthy of Me. 

Some it's work. Some it's games. Some in family activities.  Some it's their hobbies. 
Some it's sports. 

Satan isn't going to show up on your doorstep and advertise that he is there an wants to interfere in your life.  He is a deceiver. He is the father of lies.  Know your enemy.  He will entice you just as he did Eve.  He will twist God's Word just as he did with Eve.  Just as he did throughout history. As he did try with Jesus in the wilderness.  You are no different!

Subtlety is his nature.  You will find yourself excited about whatever is now in the place of God in your life!

It will indeed quench the Spirit.  Your trials in life will get worse and worse because of the distance between you and God.  

So what do you do?  Repent and return.  It's the message in the New Testament.  Jesus tells a Church in Revelation to return to their first love.  It's God's message to you and anyone who drifts away.

You want to see God work in your life?  Stop quenching the Spirit and begin obeying Him.  Let go of what you hold onto that had taken the place of Jesus on the Throne of your heart.  

If you at all think a thought that begins with "But I gotta have..." then my dear Reader you have a very big problem. 
If you at all have a thought of "It's not that bad...I really am ok." Then look again.  If you use words like "..not that bad" then it is.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

"...and you have forgotten Me."

"Behold, the rulers of Israel, each according to his power, have been in you for the purpose of shedding blood. They have treated father and mother lightly within you. The alien they have oppressed in your midst; the fatherless and the widow they have wronged in you. You have despised My holy things and profaned My sabbaths. Slanderous men have been in you for the purpose of shedding blood, and in you they have eaten at the mountain shrines. In your midst they have committed acts of lewdness.  In you they have uncovered their fathers’ nakedness; in you they have humbled her who was unclean in her menstrual impurity. One has committed abomination with his neighbor’s wife and another has lewdly defiled his daughter-in-law. And another in you has humbled his sister, his father’s daughter. In you they have taken bribes to shed blood; you have taken interest and profits, and you have injured your neighbors for gain by oppression, and you have forgotten Me,” declares the Lord God." Ezekiel 22 NASB

Read that list. Read into it well. This says as much about the state of the world in which we live, and within the professing Church as it did concerning Israel. 

Big churches with lavish interiors. Highly paid staff. Embracing the world for its own ends. Not even them. Smaller Churches are just as guilty.  But no, go bigger.  This nation, like all in this world are all guilty of that last charge. "...and you have forgotten Me."

Where are God's people?  Where? 

The question should and needs to be asked because Jesus asked it!  Here? No, not just here.

He asked if He would find the faith when He returns.  Look about you.  60 percent of so-called Churches and Christians believe there's more than one way to Heaven. 

The truth may be proclaimed but it's been watered down for sordid gain.  People profiting from it for their own purposes. 

We have seen it in the Churches in this city in which we live.  Jesus taught the difference between a hired hand and a Shepherd. Yet people go for the hired hand.  Why?  Because it's safer. Far less conviction being preached. More of what it takes to feel better coming from the pulpit. 

Rightly put by someone is that the love of God is poured out so much that we have air conditioned Hell.

This country is guilty of all the same things that brought down Israel.  

We, as a nation, forget the homeless. We oppress the immigrant. We do not take care of the elderly. We murder babies by the thousands. Yet we see money being spent hand over fist on useless things. 

People doing whatever it takes to preserve their status quo. To make their own lives better at the expense of others. 

Jesus was concerned, and obviously, rightly so.  

People can wonder why the United States isn't mentioning in the Bible.  It's because we have turned away from God.  We are beyond buried in idolatry. We as a nation murder the innocent. People will waste hours doing whatever they can to feel better yet won't spend an hour of personal time with Jesus. 

"...and you have forgotten Me."

As if that list wasn't bad enough...the Lord punctuates it with that last charge. 

Look in the mirror.  Is your life plagued with idolatry?  As a matter of confession, mine has been.  It's been a long process but the Spirit is working on removing things from me that have been more important than God to me. 

Have you forgotten Him?

Jesus, in a letter to a Church in Revelation, makes mention of them forgetting their first love.  Have you?  Is your devotion now for something or someone in this world and no longer for Jesus?

Be honest with yourself.  You aren't lying to me, you are lying to God if the truth is that you have been. 

This world is dying. 

You will take nothing you have with you when you die, and you have no idea when that will be. 

How will you explain your idolatry to Jesus when you face Him?  I already can tell you that I will be profoundly embarrassed. 

Look at your life today.  Make changes now.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Me being too extreme? No, on the contrary, obedient.

I couldn't get all the way through my Bible reading when the Spirit stopped me.  A section of Scripture hung in the air and would not let me go farther until it was written about. 

Ezekiel 20:18-21  “I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers or keep their ordinances or defile yourselves with their idols. I am the Lord your God; walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and observe them. Sanctify My sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.’ But the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, nor were they careful to observe My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live; they profaned My sabbaths."

Many professing Christians today have done the same as the Israelites.  They profane God's Word for their own way to live.  They compromise and allow things in their lives by pulling out the 'forgiveness card'.  You know what I am talking about. 

You intentionally do something that God disapproves of with the intent of asking forgiveness of it later. 

How does that honor your relationship with Jesus?

Read again what was said in Ezekiel. 

I do not write from an obsession standpoint against idolatry.  God is the one bringing that up over and over again. 

Why?  Why ask why?  The Spirit isn't in the habit of harping on things unless it's a problem!

We see people wearing their idol worship everywhere.  It's on everything.  Cups, hats, shirts, shoes pants...even underwear.  

It's not 'just for fun' it's not 'just for entertainment'.  When it is what the Spirit says is idolatry!

There's at least two very huge words that were spoken of greatly in the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Idolatry and Adultary.  They go hand in hand.  Jesus spoke against an evil adulterous generation.  

He said what the most important Commandments were.  Look at them. 

Matthew 22:37-40 NASB
"And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”"

Look at them.  They destroy idolatry and adultary in both. 

In Revelation in the letters to the Church's. Jesus tells one Church that they have left their first love.  Where is your heart?

Oh Reader, where is your heart? 

Do you display idols to show the world how well you fit in with them or are you showing them Jesus?

Do you even have an interest in the things of God outside of Sundays and Wednesdays? 

Do you know more about a sports team than you do the things of God?

Look at your heart.  Have you left your first love?  That's for you to reflect on.  Look in the mirror.  Do you see ANY vestige of the work of Jesus in your life or do you see a person so into the world that you can't see Jesus?

Look.  Today. Examine your heart today!

Friday, November 22, 2019

You, the Prodigal. Yes, You.

The Prodigal Son

And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”  Luke 15:11-32 NASB

More than one time in my life has this been me.  I would easily hazard a guess that for those reading this, the same goes for you. 

The worst part is we often get deceived into taking wrong paths in life and eventually end up repeating this lesson. 

We are very easily deceived.  People can read the beginning of Genesis and say all kinds of things concerning Adam and Eve.  Of maybe if they were smarter they wouldn't have sinned like that.  Or if they were wiser.  Stop right there.  Adam and Eve had 100 percent use of their brains.  Most today it's barely a fraction of that.

Physically they were in perfect health. 

Mentally they were perfect.  Adam made in the image of God.  Eve from the rib of Adam.  Perfect harmony between them and God.  Satan was the most craftier of all.  He is The Deceiver.  When one third of the host of Heaven fell with him.  Consider that. 1/3rd.  Billions of Angels.  He convinced that many to join him.  Angelic beings who were created to be in the presence of God.  Who knew perfection on a level we have yet to see.  Fell.

We are easily deceived.  Our wisdom is easily a snare at times when it comes to making choices and decisions.  We easily think we are good and have a situation well in hand. Pride comes before the fall. 

We fall...and the way back is hard.

The path back to a right relationship with Jesus is difficult because we keep trying to fix it ourselves or we stay too long in the wrong situation and only realize too late we overstayed our welcome. 

How do we get back?  I had to be brought to the same place as the man in the parable.  A choice to either remain in that situation, end it all or acknowledge it for what it was and turn back to God, regardless of the embarrassment or humiliation.  You look at the first words he spoke to his father.  He didn't care what was to become of him. He wanted to just be near family again.  He wanted the protection of his Father.  To know he mattered again.  His self worth was shot. Self-esteem was gone.  He had nothing to give but himself. 

So where are you?  It's not a difficult road back to God.  The son knew just where to go.  He knew and always knew.  His pride over his failures was keeping him from returning.  Your life...does it stink right now?  Tired of the struggles every day?  Tired of how things are?  Return to the Father.  Before the son finished speaking the Father's forgiveness was being poured out.  The same will be for you.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

No Room for a Rebellion

The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said,  “I called out of my distress to the Lord, And He answered me.I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice. “For You had cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas,And the current engulfed me.All Your breakers and billows passed over me.

These two sections of the first part of Jonah Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 leave a lot unspoken for 2 days worth.   As we read throughout the whole book, Jonah was an embittered soul.  Hatred for his people's enemies permeates his soul. He loathed the idea of them living even another day.  His hatred for the Ninevites ran deep. 

Even blinding him towards obedience.  

Hatred isn't the only emotion to blind people.  There are others, not the least of which is joy or happiness.  Two sides of the same coin. 

But it's not just that it took Jonah 2 days to pray to God about this.  Undoubtedly he was saying quite a bit in those 2 days.  It just wasn't what the Lord was wanting written.  It didn't add to the message of this book.  In our world of instant reporting we have seen and heard the volume and duration that people who are in a crisis of distress go on and on.  Jonah was no different.  

So why was it two days until something significant was written?  Because nothing significant was being said by Jonah. 

It's abundantly obvious a great deal of the rebellion in Jonah was crushed in his near death experience.  I do not subscribe to the teaching that Jonah died. He was not like Elijah or is in the same league as Moses, who will be called upon to live and die at least one more time.  They are the two Witnesses in the book of Revelation. 

Jonah was like that outrageous child we see in public whereby their safety requires them to be restrained.  Jesus was going to use a whale to restrain the rebellion in Jonah. 

Matthew 12:40 also lends credence to the notion that it was the number of days in the whale that were important to Jonah not that he died and came back. 

But what of the turn around?  Yes Jonah was indeed turned around.  Even though he repented he had a ways to go.  As it is with you and I. 

There are things in our lives that, if we are truthful with ourselves, will be seen as God see them...they are rebellious acts.

Now it's happened in recent times of others being swallowed by a whale and surviving, its not likely that God will use one to curb our rebellion. 

Read in Ezekiel.  Read in Jeremiah.  Israel from its earliest days was in rebellion to the Lord.  God had to and still is dealing with their rebellion.  

He deals with our rebellion too.  We often wonder about the why of what we go through in life.  In the life of a believer it's about growing in Christ and removing what won't help that to happen. 

We see Jonah having surgery to remove huge parts of him that would not make him more like Christ.  The interesting thing now is he is with many who did repent and were saved as he had been. 

Look at your life.  Are there areas where you are in rebellion?  Are you embracing things you should not?  In Ezekiel the Lord had a grocery list of things concerning Jerusalem.  Are you embracing something or someone that has taken the place of Jesus role in your life?  If anything or anyone is more important than Jesus in your life then you have a need to correct that.  Scripture says that our God is a jealous God.  Be careful of your heart.  Do you not remember what Jesus said? If you love anything or anyone more than me you are not worthy of Me? Paraphrasing of course. 

Look at your heart. 

Look at how you dress. 

Do you show the world to whom you belong?  Is your life a reflection of Jesus or of someone or something else?

Consider your heart.  Jesus promised that all rebellion will be dealt with.  It's easier on us if we submit now rather than go through the lesson later to remove it. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

What does Jesus See?

I am reading in Ezekiel at the moment. The passage where I am should concern myself and others.  So, what does it say?

"Then some elders of Israel came to me and sat down before me. And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols, in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through all their idols. Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations."

What does the Lord Jesus see when He looks into your heart?  This passage is as much to every person who ever lived as it was for those to whom He was addressing.  

Idolatry is rampant in our culture.  Has been ever since mankind fell into sin.  Satan has wanted to be worshipped.  He wants God's place in the hearts of mankind.  

Don't see idols?  They are everywhere.  If you are near a shopping mall you can't walk through one without seeing the evidence.  If you live near a college or university you are immersed in idolatry.  

No where in the Bible is it ever written that Jesus was just kidding concerned "You shall have no other gods before Me."  No where did He say you shouldn't take Him seriously when He said "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and spirit."

Look at Ezekiel again.  These people saw nothing wrong with their lives. 

You probably don't either. 

Yet what applies to them applies to all of us.   The Lord searches and sees.  

There are more passages that speak to that.  Nobody is good enough to see their own deception.  Read what Paul said in the New Testament.  He said his spirit was provoked within him when he saw the myriad of idols in a city he was visiting. 

Does it bother you at all?  Does it?
It should.  If it bothers God, it's supposed to bother us.  

Personally I took a stand against it in my own life several years ago.  Although at the time it seemed harmless, God began showing me how it caused me to turn on people in anger and resentment.  Bitterness is a seed that nobody should plant.  Don't think you are immune.  

I don't need to name names.  You already know the names of the idols in your life. 
You wear shirts and hats, buy memorabilia to show it off.  You get mad at any opposing team, their fans etc.  You hop on board the bandwagon when you find another like you.  You bash people because of their choices. People get hurt all in the name of 'their' team and nobody really cares.  I know, because I did it!  At the time, I didn't care if people were hurt by my words or actions. 

One day God showed me what He saw me doing.  I was ashamed.  I was putting a thing before obeying Him. 

One by one, starting back then, Jesus has been showing me just how many idols were within me.  Just as He spoke to Ezekiel.  Want personal proof?  Ask Jesus yourself.  Go ahead, ask Him if you have idols set up in your heart. 

You can't turn on a radio, a webcast, a streaming service, a television or go to a movie, let alone a sports event without being immersed in idolatry.  

Oh, no it's not just for fun.
Oh, no it's not that bad, yes, it is.
Oh, no I am not serious! Yes, you are.  If you weren't, you would be spending time, energy and effort, let alone money on it.

You see, Jesus thought about saving lives as the most important thing.  To the point of coming here, living a sinless life, being tortured. Dying on a cross. Going through Resurrection.  Because He thinks your life is that important.  For God so loved the world...doesn't say liked. Says loved.

He was serious throughout His entire earthly ministry.  More so in this age than before people are committing suicide due to bullying.  What do you think harassing someone does to them?  It wears them down in self value.  It isn't all in fun anymore is it?

That's something God showed me.  It's why I will no longer wear shirts, hats or anything that isn't going to point people to Jesus if at all possible.  

I really don't want to find out some day that I pushed someone away from Jesus.  I already know there are people that I have done so with.

So what does Jesus see when He looks in your heart?  That's for you to examine.  Because I know what He shows me.  I finally got wise enough to ask Him. 

Soon He is returning.  Soon this world will go through 7 years of Hell on Earth due to the judgment of God upon mankind and the Earth.  Are you showing people Jesus NOW or are you showing them what or who is REALLY important to you?   You must choose.  I chose to show Jesus. 

The people Jesus addresses in Ezekiel thought they were ok. Thought they weren't in the wrong.  God was there but wasn't that important to them.  

What does your life say about you?

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Make up Your Mind!

"Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word." 1 Kings 18:21 NASB

Elijah asked that question of the people of Israel a few thousand years ago, yet that same question began being asked of countless millions since Jesus arose from the dead.  It's a driving question asked of both believers and unbelievers. 

Of believers because we are constantly being enticed to follow the ways of the world.  We are constantly bombarded with silky strands of deception.  Gently coerced toward chains we were never meant to be confined in.  

Unbelievers, who are on the outside of the will of God looking in, are given the same question for a different reason.  Theirs is to decide if they want to live or die. Theirs is to know eternal life in Christ or not. To believe the world or the true Creator of the world. 

As believers we face those silky chains of deception and are so enticed that we don't recognize them for what they are.  We use excuses such as: Oh, I am not that serious about this!  Give me a break! I deserve a little 'me' time!  It's just a game!  What's really wrong with it?  Other Christians are doing it.  

All the while not acknowledging they have given worship of God to something else. 

If it's unnaturally consuming your time and it's not God honoring, then it's redirected worship.  Most all of us work a job. Either in the home or away from home.  What we do after or before that really tells where our heart is.  

There's other Scripture concerning being double minded.  The one about not serving two Masters.  Again, that was Jesus asking Elijah's question.  

So where are you?  Are you so deceived that you cannot see that you have a divided heart?  There's a really big reason why Joshua made mention of his declaration to follow God.  As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

Can you make that declaration?  Seriously?  The proof is in the pudding.  

Where do you spend your 'me' time?  Television?  Sports?  Movies?  Books?  Hobbies?  I am not condemning nor condoning any of these, but if they have taken the place of God in your heart then yes you are worshipping them.  If you know more about a show than you do of a book in the Bible, you have been deceived. If you have a passion for a sports team and it upsets you when they are maligned or spoken ill of, but you say nothing when it's God or God's Word, then you are worshipping them.  If you do anything that takes the place of Jesus in your heart then you have fallen to deception.  

Why is there no revival in this nation?  Because "they honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me".  

Think about what you do and why you do what you do. 

Be honest with yourself. 

DO you honor God with your lips, but in truth you are far from Him?

Do you?  I have found myself asking this question a lot. I got rid of quite a lot in my life because it was on Christ's Throne. 

I put sports teams on His Throne. 
I put movie stuff on His Throne. 
I put television stuff on His Throne. 

There is no giving Jesus a small amount of your time per day and the rest is for you to spend.   The whole day belongs to Him.  He never leaves you nor forsakes you.  So where is He?  Do you make Jesus walk at a distance while you give yourself what you want?  Or is He walking by your side?

Where's Jesus in your life?

Make up your mind!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Your Life's Work

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:9

for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:23-24

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

I was reading through my Bible Plan and my devotionals this morning and nothing specifically stood out.  Then, one by one, the verses above began coming to mind. 

Our lives are not our own. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body."

We can hardly find a channel on television or watch a movie where people aren't living for themselves.  Advertising is geared towards a person's vanity.  Vague insults to your intelligence if you haven't kept up with the latest fashions or gadgets.

As if that wasn't enough, you are maligned if your views don't meet with supposedly established social standards.  

The goal and aim is to get you to compromise. 

Do you give hours to everything and everyone else in your life but spend mere minutes with God?

Have you even read through the Bible once?

Is your prayer time only about the food you are about to eat?  Do you share your heart with God at all?  Are you interested in what's on God's mind?

Or do you know far more about useless things than you do about the Word of God?

Can you give a play by play of a sport but cannot concerning a story from the Bible?
You know all the rules of a game but not what God has commanded you?

Read those verses again.  I have fought with myself over such things.  I, unfortunately, could indeed quote movies and books and television shows but couldn't quote you one whole story from the Bible.   

If we are to take up our cross Daily and follow Him, it has to mean letting go of what we are clinging to in order to hold that cross. 

Satan wants us immersed in the world and not in the Spirit.  As a song goes that I grew up hearing, life is a highway with all kinds of exits to take you off the path of life.  Every kind of distraction.  Every kind of addiction.  

Now, I would agree this does seem to tie in with what Blackaby was saying for today in that there has to be a balance between sitting at Jesus feet and serving.  Paul mentions working with his own hands to provide his needs so as to not be a burden on others.  Work is a necessity.  In Genesis it is part of the curse.  Man will work by the sweat of his brow to get the Earth to yield its fruit.  

So where are you spending your time?  Do you spend hours and hours watching useless things or are you looking to see if God has something to tell you?  If we believe that the Bible IS living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword then why are we avoiding it?  The answer is simple.  It will show who is on the Throne of our hearts.  Jesus said you cannot serve two Masters.  You cannot have two on the Throne of your heart. It's either you or God. 

So think about who is there. 

Who is on the Throne of your heart?

I can't tell you. You have to decide.  As for me, I struggle daily, and keep having to relinquish it back to Jesus.  But the longer He is on that Throne, the better my life is. 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Gaurd your heart!

Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 NASB

What do you fill your mind with each day?  
You don't?  Oh I would say you do.  Either it's thoughts to do with you or thoughts to do with God.  

Granted a percentage of your day has to do with the day to day things.  Many to do with work. But what about the rest of your day?  

Do you 'make the most of every opportunity'?
Ephesians 5:16

Or are you of the opinion that your time is 'your' time?  Are you aware of the passage that says to avoid every form of evil? 1 Thessalonians 5:22-24 "abstain from every form of evil.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass."

How would you avoid something that you don't understand, if you are not in God's Word to learn?  

Yes, there's a chain of learning here.  To understand what's going on in our Spiritual world we need eyes to see and ears to hear as Christ has said to have.  To have those required time with Him. It still does. 

It's not about what we think we need.  
It's not about what we think we deserve. 
It's take up your's not about you.  It's about what God is doing in your life.  It's about whether or not you are obeying His Word and will for your life.  It's about self examination.  Guarding your heart against things trying to set themselves up as idols in your life.  We live in a world replete with idols of every shape and size and style.  

If we will indeed, as Scripture says, give an account of everything we have done in the body, what are you going to say about yours?
Romans 14:12 "So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God." 
Matthew 12:36 "So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God."

Every careless word spoken.  Every moment of your life.  Think about how you spend your time, your life.  Are you honoring God or honoring yourself in your decisions? Those are the only two options.  The same options that Adam and Eve had.  Honor God and His Word or honor themselves.  You face the same. 

So do you honor God in how you spend your time or are you honoring yourself?  Is your time spent making sure you feel good at the expense of others, or the time you could be spending with Him learning to be as He wants you to be?

Oh you're not that bad!  You go to Church!  You go to Sunday School!  You occasionally read your Bible! You pray!  Really?  If your heart were in the Spiritual life that you are in...wouldn't you try to do more, KNOWING that you will give an account before Him with whom we have to do?

If your toes hurt at this message it's not from me.  I am a messenger that has to examine his own life.  But the question is, what will be seen in the review of your life?  Only the works you have done in the body for Christ will survive the test of fire it will go through. Works do not save anyone but God has works for us to do AFTER we come to Christ.  Is a playback of your life going to be filled with sporting events?  Which will be burned up and accounted for nothing before God? Are you going to be seen as one who obeyed or one who was selfish?

Consider your thoughts, actions and activities. 

What are you spending your time, energy and efforts doing?  A Believer is going to be tempted to spend their time on themselves.  Because in doing so it weakens their walk with God.  The way to learn the manual for the Christian life is to be in that manual, the Bible.  The way to learn it is to be speaking to the writer of it.  The way to live it is to put it into practice.

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Judgement vs Discernment

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”Luke 6:37 

There is a significant difference between judgment and discernment. God sees people's hearts and knows their motives (Prov. 16:2). Only God can accurately judge those who deserve punishment. Ultimately, Christ will sit in judgment upon us all in the day of judgment (2 Cor. 5:10). Our problem is that we like to sit in the judgment seat and pronounce condemnation upon those whom we think have sinned! Scripture commands us not to judge or condemn others, for we cannot be judgmental and redemptive at the same time. It is difficult to pray sincerely for someone while we are judging them. Scripture reminds us that God will treat us with the same grace or severity with which we treat others (Luke 6:38). God commands us not to judge others, but He does want us to be discerning. Jesus said we would know people's spiritual condition by the fruit of their lives (Matt. 7:16). He said grapes are not produced by thorn bushes. If a person's life produces thorns, we can assume that person is not a grapevine! Are we being judgmental? No, we are being discerning. Scripture commands us to avoid associating with scoffers or fools (Prov. 22:10; 17:12). Unless we are able to identify scoffers and fools, we cannot obey God's command. As Christians, we have been instructed to observe the lives of others so that we can help them while avoiding any sinful influence. You will be helpful to others only if you see them as God does. If you have been judgmental of others, ask forgiveness and pledge yourself to let God use you as His minister of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18).

I was going to include a portion of this excerpt from Experiencing God Day by Day, but Blackaby just wrote it so well. 

It's the easiest of things to sit in judgment on someone else.  For that matter it's the easiest of things to do in sitting in judgment on ourselves.  Consider this, just as Blackaby has shown, there is a significant difference between judging and discerning. 

A stove may or may not be on. You SHOULD cautiously approach it until you are sure.  That's not sitting in judgment, that's discernment. 

A man who hasn't faced his accusations on television, enrages you by his purported actions.  You do not have the right to state He needs to hang! He deserves the death penalty!  That, my friend, is sitting in judgment. 

Extremes? Not really.   You drive along and you judge people by how they drive.  That's not discernment.  They weave in and out of traffic.  Must make them an idiot. They deserve a ticket.  Welcome to judgment.  The discerning person sees someone in a hurry for some particular reason.  A judging person pronounces their judgment.  They deserve a ticket.  Well it may be true, doesn't make it our place to pronounce it.  Of this I am eminently guilty.  I, after all, drive in the United States.  

So what should be the reaction?  Jesus wasn't joking when He gave examples.  We certainly should be a discerning people.  You need to know how to approach people.  You need discernment to know if they are a thorn, thistle or something else other than a grape on the vine of Christ. 

We shouldn't mentally watch the news and judge that which we know not the specifics of.  Scripture backs the notion that as long as a person is breathing the hope of Christ is possible in them.  Only death permanently separates a person from Christ who chose against Him. 

I do not wish anyone to die. I am not that good. I do not have the all encompassing knowledge of God to do that person justice. But they killed someone!  Yes, they may have.  But they deserve to die!  Yes, but who was on the cross along side Jesus?  Who STILL was with Him that day in paradise?

God will not allow someone who is a murderer to escape His justice...who never will repent.  Even those who do repent may still lose their lives, He may yet use them to reach someone else.  God is THAT kind of God.  Even in the life of a murderer who repents He causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. 

We do not have the right to deny them Christ!

So as I cringe when someone says "you shouldn't judge!" I know they are imminently wrong.  When I hear someone lash out that so-and-so needs to die!  I know that isn't my call or theirs.  

Show discernment, Scripture says to pray for our enemies.  That's a command of God, not a suggestion.  There is how you should react.  That is how I should react. 

You realize when you don't pray, you give no room for God to work in His Spirit?

Scripture also says to pray expecting God to work.  If we don't believe when we pray,  why pray?  But they hurt you that bad?  Didn't you hurt God that bad?  Forgive, let go, draw near to God and He promises to draw near to you.  Then the peace of God which passes all understanding will gaurd your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.