“This Will Stir Up Feelings!” SPIRIT of HARLOTRY IS ALIVE!

“LovelyLadies” from Les Miserable

 “For the spirit of harlotry has led them astray

and they have played the harlot,

withdrawing themselves from subjection

of their God.”

(Hosea 4:12)

Are we being lulled to sleep in the church regarding the Jezebel spirit; the “SPIRIT of HARLOTRY” today?  I’ve been reading and studying God’s Word in THE BOOK OF HOSEA.  This message was given to Israel through the prophet Hosea. It pertains to God’s love for a backsliding nation.  The infidelity of Gomer, Hosea’s wife, portrays the apostasy of Israel in her covenant relationship with God.

We don’t hear messages from the pulpit regarding the spirit of Jezebel or a spirit of harlotry, of prostitution because…well, it might stir up negative feelings in the church; “Not in our Church!”.  Remember, Jezebel is not a person but a spirit and as a prophet I can say, ” It is here in the church today.”  Maybe NOT in your church but the “spirit” is here never-the-less!

REJECTION OF BIBLE DOCTRINE

HEAR THE word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy (a pleading contention) with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no faithfulness, love, pity and mercy, or knowledge of God [from personal experience with Him] in the land”  (Hosea 4:1–Amplified Bible).

And because the relationship between the people and God was strained…okay, it was non-existent; the people and the animals were suffering (Hosea 4:3, 10).  There was a loss to economic prosperity; they didn’t have enough to eat and because of the lack, the population didn’t increase, the nation didn’t grow because they had “forsaken the Lord for harlotry” (Hosea 4:10).

LIFESTYLE OF INDULGENCE

“Harlotry and wine and new wine take away the heart and the mind and the spiritual understanding”  (Hosea 4:11).

New wine is wine in the beginning stages of fermentation, barely able to make a person inebriated; dulling the senses.

Harlotry enslaves a person of “reversions“; causes a loss capacity of life and love.

NOT ABOUT THE “LADIES OF THE NIGHT”

The “harlotry” that Hosea is referring is not about prostitutes, not about street walkers, it’s about the spiritual condition of the believers. 

God is referring to any spiritual infidelity on our parts.  We were once married to sin and when we became born again believers, we are now married to Christ Jesus, to our new husband.  James says to compromised Christians, “You adulteress (feminine in the Greek text).  Do you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever is a friend of the world (system) is expedient to the world’s celebrations; makes himself an enemy of God.”

I believe expediency has become rampant in the church today! 

What is an expedient church or expedient doctrine?  An expedient is a tool, an aid, or method that is profitable for achieving a goal; personally or corporately.  Webster defines expedient as something “useful for effecting a desired result; suited to the circumstance or the occasion; advantageous, convenient.” 

IS IT GOOD OR BAD TO BE EXPEDIENT?

The first rule of lawful expediency is anything we use to fulfill a command of God.  It must abide with the limitations of His word.  If an aid does or includes anything that goes beyond or contradicts God’s Word, it isn’t lawful.  We in the church have no authority in using it as expedient.  2 John 9 illustrates the point:

“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.”

Are you perhaps still unclear about expediency and what it has to do with the Spirit of Harlotry?  Let me give a simple explanation:

Some people believe it’s acceptable to lie if it helps turn a sinner to God.  Their argument is, lying can be used as an expedient to fulfill the command to go and teach the lost.  However, in Revelation 21:8, we are told that all liars, not some, will have their part in the Lake of Fire.  Since God condemns lying, it is impossible to lie and still be pleasing to God, no matter what the purpose is.  Can you lie to your spouse and say that you did so because you didn’t want to hurt their feelings?  Since the church is the bride of Christ, how do you think He feels when the “spirit of harlotry” has entered into our way of being in the relationship?

THE SPIRIT OF HARLOTRY–What Jezebel Hates is,  *

“Their doings will not permit them to return

to their God, for the spirit of harlotry is

within them and they know not the Lord

[they do not recognize, appreciate,

give heed to, or cherish the Lord]”

(Hosea 5:4-Amplified Bible).

What the spirit of harlotry hates is humility“But the pride and self-reliance of Israel testifies before his [own] face” (Hosea 5:5).

Jesus taught greatness in the kingdom is not measured in what it seems to be, but a childlike honesty of the heart.  A true ministry is willing and eager to be submitted and accountable to other ministries.  It is typical of those who are servant minded.  We must learn that spirituality is measured in meekness and not power.

SPIRITUAL HARLOTRY “HATES PRAYER” *

Intercessory prayer is prayer that changes things.  It pries the spirit of Jezebel’s fingers off hearts and souls of man.  It sets people free in the spirit to worship.  when you pray against immorality, it cripples her.

My wife and I attend a local church, which on Thursday nights, opens the worship center for prayer.  Not prayer circles, not a formal meeting but a special time alone to pray and worship the living God.  The pastor emphasizes the importance of prayer in the church (a church that prays together stays together) and has labeled this time, IGNITE.  Worship music is played quietly during the hour while some people are lying on the floor, standing, sitting, no formality at all.  JUST WORSHIPFULL PRAYER!  “Spiritual harlotry” hates this time and will try to prevent the gathering every week.  “It’s just too cold tonight” or “I am too tired to go tonightI’ll go next week, for sure!” and so on and so forth.  I can say those things because I have said them to myself before.

SPIRITUAL HARLOTRY “HATES PROPHETS” *

The prophets in the church are her worst enemies.  When she wars, it stirs people up against the message of the prophetic church.  More than that, she hates the prophets themselves and hates the words they speak.  Her real enemy is the spoken Word of God. 

THE HARLOT CHURCH SYSTEM

Jesus said to the believers at Thyatira, “I have a few things against you“; that should get one’s attention.  Why did He say that?

Because you have suffered [allowed] that woman Jezebel, who calls herself prophetess to lead and seduce my servants”  (Revelation 2:20).

Who was “that woman Jezebel” and what did she do that Jesus would have had such contempt toward her?  It could have been a real person among the called-out-ones who was engaging in sexual immorality.  There is that problem in the church today at times but I think it’s something far more engaging; far more spiritual significant.

The “Jezebel spirit” or the “spirit of harlotry” as Hosea the prophet calls it, represented a spiritual condition in the hearts of the people.  In 1 and 2 Kings in the Old Testament, Ahab’s Jezebel defines what the “Jezebel spirit” was by her life and reputation: (1) She was controlling and manipulative and (2) She practiced witchcraft and harlotry [manipulation is a form of “witchcraft“].

SPIRITUAL HARLOTRY

Spiritual harlotry is simply put as “seeking anything for self“.  It is the flesh hungering to enhance ourselves in position or recognition by others around us.  We all have harlot hearts that are easily deceived.  When idolatrous harlotry is brought into our assembly life as the body of Christ, we have the Jezebel spirit in operation.  Our idolatry and spiritual harlotry may not be as blatant as hers but is just as much a hindrance to having an intimate relationship with our Lord.

The Jezebel-harlot spirit will seek anything for selfish reasons.  It is the idolatry of Self–self-love.

“For the others all seek [to advance] their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ (the Messiah)”  (Philippians 2:21).

The harlot spirit is always present, anytime we try to build something in the flesh for Self; church ministries, growth in church attendance, prayer meeting participation.  In contrast, the Holy spirit is present when we set our hearts to build only for Him and by Him.

As our pastor said in church this week, “We don’t build the church, Christ builds the church.”  There are many well-meaning but ill-informed Christians who try to exploit the Holy Spirit to advance themselves.  Many even fake the presence of the Holy Spirit to make their church or their services look good and this is wrong!  ‘Faking it until you make it’ might fool some but God sees the heart of man.  We have not been given the Holy spirit to make the “harlot” look good.

IN CONCLUSION–The Defeat of the spirit!

The Book of Hosea begins with a great, great love story of Hosea’s love for Gomer.  It is the story intended to portray the love of God for His people and His Church.

The last chapter of the Book starts with these words:

O ISRAEL, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled and fallen, due to your iniquity.  Take with you words and return to the Lord.  Say to Him, Take away all our iniquity; accept what is good and receive us graciously; so will we render [our thanks] as bullocks [to be sacrificed] and pay the confession of our lips”  (Hosea 14:1-2–Amplified Bible).

After reading the above verses, perhaps you are asking yourself this question:  “Is this addressed to lost sinners?  Is God speaking to those who do not know Him or is He speaking to believers?”  The answer is “Yes”.  It is God’s word to you and me in the Church; the body of Christ.

Like it or not, we belong to God!  He will never give up His property.  He is our…

.  Great Creator!

.  Merciful Benefactor!

.  Mighty Preserver!

Let us never forget the Lord God is the Lord our God, distinctly, personally by His own distinguishing grace.  He is our God by

.  His special Choice

.  His Covenant Grace

.  His Blood Atonement

.  His Savior Operations

Though we may be knowingly or unknowingly partakers in the spirit of harlotry, He is still our God!  He is ever ready to be gracious, to receive us and to embrace us back into the fold.

“turn to the Lord” fully and completely with all of your heart.  The Lord wouldn’t have us merely recite words before Him:  “…I am sorry Lord for my unfaithfulness.”  Yet He does demand confession of sin and faith in His Son as expressions of our hearts before Him.  ‘Come on Church!’  The “Jezebel spirit” must be acknowledged first, then repentance must be declared; faith must be confessed (I John 1:9). 

Say to Him,Take this spirit away–all our iniquity…

.  The Guilt of it!

The Curse of it!

The power of it!

The Being of it!

REPENTANCE

Repentance is more than most imagine.  It is a change of heart

.  A Change of Masters

.  A Change of Motives

.  A Change of Manners

.  A Change of Mind

Only then can the “spirit of Harlotry”; the “Jezebel spirit” be defeated!

*from Discerning the Jezebel Spirit by Francis Frangipane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“BINDING” and “LOOSING” can be like Eating Soup with a Fork!

The WRONG Tool!

 If you were to pick up a fork, how much soup do you think you will be able to eat with it?  Not too much.  You could try–but it wouldn’t work!  Put down the fork, pick up a spoon by using the right utensil and you will be able to eat the soup.  It sounds simple, but because of stubbornness, and that someone has told us it will work, we keep trying…and trying…and trying.

“BINDING” AND “LOOSING” –“TRYING TO EAT SOUP WITH A FORK”

But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you (before you expected it).  Or how can a person go into a strong man’s house and carry off his goods without first binding the strong man?  Then indeed he may plunder his house”  (Matthew 12:28, 29–Amplified Bible).

“Whatever you bind on earth must be what is already bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth must be what is already loosed in heaven”  (Matthew 16:19).

“Truly I tell you, whatever you forbid and declare to be improper and unlawful on earth must be what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit and declare proper and lawful on earth must be what is already permitted in heaven”  (Matthew 18:18–Amplified Bible).

Until a few days ago, my understanding–or misunderstanding–of “binding” and loosing” was entirely based on how I heard others pray in the church: Lord, we bind Satan and his demons from interfering with our performances in the play tonight.” 

My spiritual mentor over the last five or six years says, “binding” and “loosing” is the authority we have in Christ Jesus; we have been given authority in Jesus’ Name, with no doubt!  And then two days ago, I was praying to the Lord, regarding what I should be looking for in the truths of Scripture next.  This is how I begin searching as a WORD Detective for His next teaching.  Then it happened!  Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit in saying, “The church has a misunderstanding about bonding and loosing in the Bible.  This is to be the subject matter in the next blog.”  Where did that come from?  I knew the Lord was speaking to me, but why on this subject matter?  My thought process in return went something like this: “I never had an opinion about this topic; whether it was right or wrong do so.”   And immediately came His answer back:  “That is a good reason for wanting you to write about it–no prejudices built up, and no stronghold to bring down.”  I have learned over the years, if God’s Spirit asks you to do something, you better do it or there will not be peace in your thoughts.

TO “BIND” OR “LOOSE” DEFINITIONS

To “bind” is to obligate; to “loose” is to remove obligation.  In the verses in Matthew, the future perfect tense in the Greek is used (“Shall having been “bound” or “loose“).  This shows the authority is only valid when used in submission to Christ’s word or teaching.

It doesn’t give the church the authority to make up new teaching later in church history.  Binding in this context has nothing to do with speaking words to Satan or demons.  Christians who practice this form of “spiritual warfare“; the verbal “binding” of Satan himself, demons, principalities and authorities have been given wrong information from other believers, as I have in the past.  Christians who practice this form of spiritual warfare hope to forestall calamities, sickness, convert loved ones, turn cities, states and even nations to righteousness.  If binding Satan will do all of this, we should put this new spiritual technology into practice today.

However, if this practice is not Biblical, it might be more harmful than helpful; taking Matthew 16:19 combined with the Matthew 12 passage, the conclusion is drawn that we as Christians have the authority to bind Satan.  The church supposedly, therefore, has the opportunity to take world power away from the devil and deliver it to ourselves.  When studying and meditating in your Bible, the number one rule to unveiling the truth is always context.  Always read the verses in context!

SPIRITUAL WARFARE EMPHASIS

The Lord has given us lots of weapons, strategies, battle tactics and the right utensils to achieve things we are called to do.  Today you will find people using wrong weapons to deal with the subjects of the flesh, the devil, and the world.  You would think after a few minutes of eating soup with a fork, people would have the sense to realize something is wrong; this is not working, something must be wrong!

Many areas of the church, we are trying to use biblical teaching of “binding” and “loosing” as an instrument to deal with something that could never possibly be achieved in what we are thinking or hoping for.  Principalities?  Powers in the heaven’s?  Sin?  Wickedness in high places and in the world?  “Binding” and “loosing” was never designed to deal with those things.  We’ve been “trying to eat soup with a fork!”  The wrong utensils.

BINDING and LOOSING  -CONTEXT!

As always, let’s go to Rule #1 and look at the context of the passages in Matthew.  When Jesus spoke about binding and loosing in context, He wasn’t talking about demons at all.  Think about it.  Did Jesus really mean that we have the power to loose demons as well as to bind them?

The Bible consistently ties the conquest of Satan’s kingdom of darkness and the liberation of its subjects to the Incarnation which leads ultimately to the cross.  When the author of Hebrews says that it was “through death” that Jesus would render the devil powerless to hold his captives, He can only be referring to the cross, where Jesus paid for our sins.

Colossians 2:13-15 sheds further light on this:

“And you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions,    Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force  and stood against us (hostile to us).  This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross.    [God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross].”

Christ triumphed over the forces of the darkness through the cross.  Back in Matthew 12:29, it talks about the “goods“.  If the “goods” are people held in bondage, then the “binding” of the strong man that accomplished their release was through the cross.  The way christ was ultimately to “bind” the strong man [human bondage–the “Fear of death”–Hebrews 2], was to plunder his goods.  It was to die a substitutionary death on the cross, paying the penalty for us.

Now liberated by faith from spiritual death, we walk in victory because of the power of God.  Christ’s victorious encounters with demons before the cross were demonstrations of His Messianic mission and His power over evil.  However, they were not an end in themselves.  Had Jesus not gone on to die on the cross for our sins, the “houses” (Matthew 12:43-45) “swept” clean would have remained empty; inviting places for evil spirits to return.  Those delivered from particular spirits during the public ministry of Jesus were still spiritually dead like everyone else.  They still needed to have their penalty of sins paid for on the cross and by no other way.

BINDING and LOOSING  -CHURCH DISCIPLINE?

What was Jesus really talking about in Matthew 18:18What He did not mean here was we could “loose” wealth and health, or “bind” poverty and sickness.  Jesus was clearly talking about church discipline.  Those members of the church who sin and repent to be “loosed“; restored to fellowship.  To those members who are unrepentant to be “bound“; removed from fellowship (Matt. 18:15-17).  Sickness, poverty, and demons are foreign to the context.

BINDING and LOOSING  – NO AUTHORITY TO BIND DEMONS

But you might ask, is there perhaps some other biblical basis for binding sickness, poverty or demons?  As The Word Detective, I asked myself the same question before coming to any conclusions.  The answer is, a resounding no.  There are clearly biblical principles that promote good health, material success, with finding many examples in The Book of Proverbs.  There are things we can do to protect ourselves and others from things of demonic interference and oppression.  For example, we can get back to the basics:

1.  PRAY and MEDITATE on God’s Word.

2.  RESIST the Temptations of the evil one.

But clearly, we as human beings, are NOT authorized anywhere in scripture to bind demons.  Nor do we have the power, conversely, to control our health and wealth by mere confession.  As always, when interpreting the Bible remember Rule #1 –CONTEXT–CONTEXT–CONTEXT.

PASSING IT ON!

Passing on an issue of doctrine or ethics doesn’t equal shooting a verbal barrage at Satan.  It is also quite different from “loosing” the money needed for the job wanted as some are now prone to pray.  Did the apostles ever say “I bind you satan?”  Not once is such an utterance recorded in the New Testament.  It is not credible to assume they understood Jesus’ teaching as an instruction to “bind Satan” through prayers and verbal declarations, then never followed the instructions personally.

The church in the 21st century should not understand and practice the teachings of Jesus differently than the church of the 1st century.  If it does, the authority of Scripture is depreciated.

The authority to bind and loose is the authority to declare what is on God’s mind on a matter, doctrine or practice.  This is what the early church did in Acts 15.

EXTRA-BIBLICAL THEORIES

Bob DeWaay calls it “Star Wars” Theology.  The popular ‘spiritual warfare’ teachers urge us to fly by “revelation“.  Into the heavenly realm to “duke it out” with the forces of darkness! 

In the attempts to do this sometimes, Christians unwittingly find themselves spending more time speaking (although negatively) to Satan and his henchmen than to God.

“For the story and message of the cross is sheer absurdity and folly to those who are perishing and on their way to perdition, but to us who are being saved it is the [manifestation of] the power of God”  (1 Corinthians 1:18–Amplified Bible).

This TRUTH needs no embellishment with extra-Biblical theories; the “Star Wars Theology“.  Modern binding and loosing theories are binding and “losing” because they mislead the saints.  The time spent verbally “binding” Satan could have been spent praying to God and preaching the Good News, the gospel.

Perhaps you have been of my belief, thinking about binding and loosing in Scripture.  Before my obedience to the Holy Spirit took place on the subject, I had NO opinion.  I found myself guilty of praying like others; thinking if I “bound the enemy” and “loose” God’s angels, it would give more impact to the prayer.  Was I trying to impress God or the people around me in that kind of prayer language?  Why did I do so? “Wrong words lead to wrong thinking” as Creflo Dollar says.  My prayer before writing today, “Father, forgive me for my selfishness and my misunderstanding.  I repent and thank You in Your forgiveness. Amen.”

 

 

A Husband’s LOVE for His Bride! — (PART 2)

The Husband’s Bride
 “The odor of your ointments is fragrant:
your name is like perfume poured
out.  Therefore do the maidens
love you” (Songs 1:3).
 
 
 THE “OINTMENTS”
 
The ointments are the perfumes that give off an enticing aroma.  In The Revelation of John, fragrant spices and gums; ointments  for burning filled the golden bowls which are the prayers of God’s people (Rev. 5:8).
 
Ah, the refreshing aroma of a sweet-smelling fragrance!  It will draw you into it, your attracted to it, it stirs your soul!  2 Corinthians 2:15 takes it a step further:
 
“For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which exhales] unto God, [discernible alike] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
 
We all have our favorite fragrance that we wear; some more than others.  When I sniff the fragrances at the department store, the strength and potency is sometimes overwhelming at first,but it eventually fades away.  And yet your spouse can still smell it on us for sometime; that’s a good thing!  Does God have a special fragrance that He enjoys on us?
 
“And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting to one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became]  a sweet fragrance”  (Ephesians 5:2–Amplified Bible). 
 
When Jesus began His life on earth, myrrh was brought to put on His body[the Greek word for “ointment” is murra or “myrrh-oil”]; there was fragrance in His entire life on earth, from His birth to His death.  Oh, the fragrance of His LOVE for us when He died on the cross!
 
HIS DRAWING POWER
 
“Draw me! We will run after you! 
The king brings me into his chambers!
We will be glad and rejoice in you!
We will recall [when we were favored with]
your love, more fragrant than wine”
(Song of Solomon 1:4)
 

This verse is an expression of the one who is in love with Him; desires close fellowship with Him.  But…then comes the awareness that we can’t reach that state, we can’t attain to it because it’s too high for us.  That is the position from which we say, “Draw me!”

Bonar expressed his love in these lines:

I love the name of Jesus,

Emmanuel, Christ the Lord.

Like fragrance on the breezes,

His name abroad is poured.

What does the name of Jesus mean to you?  If you know you’ve never experienced that wonderful relationship, listen to the bride give her response:  “DRAW ME!”  If you are a child of God, then say, “Draw me!”  Let Him lift you up and bring you to a place you can’t reach yourself, no matter how hard you concentrate your efforts.  God tells us His power is available to us and His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses.

He will answer the heart cry, “Draw me” Lord.  “No one is able to come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me attracts and draws him and gives him the desire to come to Me and [then] I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day”  (John 6:44).  And Jesus said to His own,  “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you”  (John 15:16).

We did not seek after God; God sought after us.  One of my favorite stories written was a story about true love.  It was written by Don Nori and it is called, Romancing the Divine.  It begins where Pilgrim’s Progress ends.  In fact, I was so impressed with the allegory, I communicated with the publisher and received permission to write a stage play, based on the book.  The  permission that was granted said, as long as they had a copy and if the actual play was produced, a video of it would be sent to Destiny Image (Mr. Nori’s Publishing House).

We need the Spirit of God to give us the Water of Life.  If we will drink, we will have rivers of living water gushing up on our insides, then flowing out from us.  “We will run after you!”  That is not the idea here that we ask to be drawn because we are lazy or indifferent.  But we are helpless–“the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”  We want to run after Him [read The God Chasers by Tommy Tenney], but He will have to give us the legs to do so!  He must give us divine enablement; He must draw us:

“But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired”  (Isaiah 40:31–Amplified Bible).

HIS CHAMBER

So when we shout, “Draw me!”  “We will run after you.”  The king responds, “The king brings me in to his chamber”; “his apartments” in the Amplified Bible.

The chamber is the secret of His presence, His pavilion; like the Holy of Holies within the sanctuary; the secret place away from the crowds.  It is a place in the cleft of the rock which He made for us.  It is like Jesus’ invitation in Revelation 3:20:  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and he [will eat] with Me.”  What a privilege it is to fellowship with Him.  Yet, we withdraw and cry out with Isaiah:  “Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone and ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”  (Isaiah 6:5–Amplified Bible).

But “the king brings me to his chamber!”  He is the One who provided redemption.  He took the coals from the altar of incense and touch our lips.  He is the One who made the supreme sacrifice!

WE WILL BE GLAD AND REJOICE IN YOU!”

We need more joy in our lifeJesus says, “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”  (John 10:10).  John writes, “And we are now writing these things to you so that our joy may be full”  (1 John 1:4).  Our Lord means for us to live life to the max!  Let’s quit playing church, quit saying, “I belong to a certain group” ; “I’ve had an experience”.  The point is–Is Christ close to you today, really close?

THE BRIDE’S JEWISH CONNECTIONS

1.  The Bride of Christ (the Church) will be married in heaven.  Heaven is a type of wedding canopy known as the “Chuppah“.

2.  There is a special room in heaven where the marriage between the Bride of Christ and Jesus the Bridegroom, will be consummated.  “Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber” –Psalm 19:5; “let the bridegroom go forth from his chamber and the bride out of her closet”  (Joel 2:16).  The room is called in Hebrew a “Cheder” or chamber.

3.  The Bride of christ will be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.  She (the Church) will keep and teach the commandments (Torah) of God (Matthew 5:17- 19).

4The Bride of Christ will be a remnant of individual believers from among the entire family of God.

5.   The Bride of Christ will be a spiritual virgin to God.

6.  The Bride of christ must be willing to follow Jesus.  Pleasing God the Father in a consuming desire of the Bride.  She must love God with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength.

7.  The Bride of Christ will endure the trials and tribulations of life while remaining faithful to God during the hard times.  She will NOT return to the world and the ways of the world while encountering the trials and tribulations of life.

8.  The Bride of Christ will have God’s loving kindness bestowed upon her life.

9.  The Bride of Christ will fulfil God’s perfect will for her life.

10.  During the time ‘leading up to’ the second coming of Jesus, God will pour out His Holy Spirit upon His Bride and will anoint her with great power and she will be a great light unto a world living in gross darkness.

11.  The Bride of christ will be weaned from the milk of God’s Word and will have grown to spiritual maturity.

12.  God will reward the spiritual faithfulness of His bride by allowing her to be the Bride of Christ Jesus and partake in the marriage supper of the Lamb.

**(Items 1 thru 12 from Eddie Chumney’sWho is the Bride of Christ?“)** 

 

 

 

A Husband’s LOVE for His Bride!–(PART 1)

The Bride of CHRIST
 AN INTRODUCTION FIRST
 
The Song of Solomon is the great neglected book of the Bible.  The reader who is going through the Word of God for the first time is puzzled when he comes to it.  The carnal Christian will misunderstand and misinterpret it.  Actually this little book has been greatly abused by people who have not understood it.  When Peter was puzzled by some of Paul’s epistles, he wrote, “There are some things in those [epistles of Paul] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist and misconstrued to their own utter destruction, just as [they distort and misinterpret] the rest of the Scriptures”  (2 Peter 3:16–Amplified Bible).  I think this is true of the Song of Solomon.
 
This book is actually not a story at all; it is a song.  We read in 1 Kings 4:32:  “And he [Solomon] also originated 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005.”  Solomon wrote three thousand proverbs, but it is quite interesting that if you count the proverbs in the Book of Proverbs and even include the Book of Ecclesiastes, you come up with quite a few less that three thousand.  So we have very few of all that Solomon wrote.  However, we can say two things about those that we do have: first, we have the best that he wrote–surely we would have that; second, we have those the Spirit of God wanted us to have.
 
This verse also tells us that “his songs were a thousand and five.”  Think of that–more than a thousand songs!  That makes him quite a songwriter.  It is interesting to note that the Word of God is very specific when it says that he wrote 1,005 songs.  It doesn’t simply give us a round number.  Probably those which have been preserved for us are those five.  Most of Solomon’s songs, we do not have.  In fact, we generally say that we have but one song and in my Bible it is refered as, THE Song of Solomon or THE SONG OF SONGS!
 
“THE SONG of songs [the most excellent of them all] which is Solomon’s”
(Song of Solomon 1:1–Amplified Bible)
 
THE “JEWISH BRIDEGROOM”
 
The story gives you the idea of God’s relationship to man; similar to the relationship of a husband and wife.  Christ, in the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25), likened His relationship to the church; the Bridegroom coming for the Bride.  In His answer to the Pharisees’ question,  “Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, [that is abstain from food and drink as a religious exercise], but Your disciples do not fast?  Jesus refers to Himself as the Bridegroom saying,  “Can the wedding guests mourn while the bridegroom is still with them?”  (Matthew 9:15)
 
Prior to the time of Christ in the ordinary Jewish marriage processions, the bridegroom, accompanied by his groomsmen and friends went to the bride’s house.  Then, he brought the bride to his own or his parent’s home.  The bridegroom would travel from his home to the home of the bride.  This was done in order to negotiate the purchase price of his bride.  This price was referred to as the “mohar“.  It had to be paid prior to any other events relating to the marriage.
 
Once paid, the marriage covenant was established.  The man and woman were for all intents and purposes considered to be man and wife.  From that moment on, the bride was declared “consecrated” or “sanctified“–set apart exclusively for her bridegroom.
 
In comparison, Christ left heaven, His Father’s house.  He came to earth, the home of His Bride to pay the price for a lost humanity.  The “mohar” was His life’s blood.
 
Christians are redeemed by His blood.  Ephesians 1:7 states, “In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood.”  Peter also mentions that,  “You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold,  But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot”  (1 Peter 1:18, 19).  In the Song of Solomon, the bridegroom says,  “O my love, how beautiful you are! There is no flaw in you!  (Chptr. 4:7); [John 14:18; Eph. 5:27].
 
When the price was paid, the Jewish bride was considered sanctified–set apart for her husband.  The Church too has been sanctified–set apart exclusively for Jesus Christ.  In Ephesians, Paul teaches, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her”  (Ephesians 5:25).   The author of Hebrews says, we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once for all.”
 
As a symbol of the covenant relationship which has been established, the bride and groom drink from a cup of wine (Song of Solomon 5:1), over which a betrothed benediction had been pronounced.  In the Jewish ceremony, a shared cup of wine served as a symbol of the marriage covenant.  In the Church today, the communion cup is a symbol of the covenant established by Christ to obtain His bride: “Do this in remembrance of Me.”
 
SONG OF SONGS–Chapter one:
 
It is also entitled in our Bibles as The Song of Solomon.  It is called The Song of Songs for a reason.  It is an allegory of the marriage between the Shulammite woman and King Solomon.  My emphasis in this blog (PART 1 and PART 2) will concentrate on the representation of the marriage of the Bride (the Church) and Christ (the King).  All through the New Covenant, the Church is called the Bride of Christ [Matt. 9:15; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:23; Rev. 19:7, 21:2, and 22:17].
 
There are four different and important meanings in this Book:
 
1.  The glory of wedded LOVE.
2.  The LOVE of Jehovah for Israel.
3.  A picture of Christ and the Church.
4.  The communion of Christ and the individual.
 
My focus  is on the last two meanings.  In this first song, we find the bride and the bridegroom together in a wonderful relationship“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!  [she cries.  Then, realizing that Solomon has arrived and has heard her speech, she turns to him and adds]  For your love is better than wine!”  (Song 1:2–Amplified Bible].
 
Can any of you ladies who are reading this blog remember a relationship you experienced?  When perhaps you looked out your window and noticed that your lover had pulled up his car in front of your home. 
My wife tells the story about when we were first dating.  I was renting an apartment less than a block away from her house.  She said, “I could hear his car start its engine (a souped-up 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint), then wait for him to show with much anticipation.”
 
HIS KISS
 
A kiss in the day of Solomon was the pledge of peace; Solomon’s name means peace.  He was a prince of peace and he ruled in Jerusalem, the city of peace.  The Shulammite girl was the daughter of peace.
 
The kiss indicates the existence of a very personal and close relationship.  Such as the Lord Jesus has with His own.  He is able to communicate His message personally to you and me through the Word of God.  I strongly believe that there needs to be a return to studying the Word.  More than just learning the mechanics of the Bible; more than memorizing the Word, but a personal relationship with Him.  This is so He can speak through His Word to our hearts; the rhema Word of God.
 
Erskine expressed it poetically,
His mouth the heaven reveals;
His kisses from above,
Are pardons, promises, and seals
Of everlasting love.
 
HIS LOVE–“For your love is better than wine!”
 
In that day, wine typified the highest of luxuries this earth offered.  It was a champagne dinner which included everything from soup to nuts.  It speaks of that which brings the highest joy to the heart.  Paul wrote, “do not get drunk with wine…but be filled and stimulated by the Holy Spirit”  (Eph. 5:18).  To be filled with the Holy Spirit will bring the experience of that excitement and exhilaration.  The belonging to Christ; having fellowship with Him. 
Am I talking about something you nor I know much about?  We play church; we talk about being dedicated Christians because of ourbusinessof doing what we think needs to be done.  What we all need is to come with the attitude which Peter spoke about:
 
“Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy”  (1 Peter 1:8).
 
Habakkuk said it this way:
 
Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,  Yet will I rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my Salvation!”  (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
 
Have you arrived at that place in your life?  No wonder it says, “your love is sweeter than wine.”  Allow the Spirit of God to come into your life.  He will shed in your heart the LOVE of God.  That is one reason we need the Holy Spirit!
 
PART 2 –the next blog will continue with the Song of Solomon 1:3; The Ointment.  Begin practicing Jesus’ habit of meditation ;which I discussed in a previous blog, with some practical suggestions on how to begin.  
 
 
 

Practicing MORE of Jesus– HABITS!

Meditating on the WORD

THE HABIT of MEDITATION/PSALMS

We know Jesus spent His time first on;  “prayer and solitude“.  Secondly on “worship“. Thirdly on “prayer and confession“.  The fourth habit I discovered this week, is the habit of spending time with God; hanging out with God so-to-speak, in meditation.

There is a practice of Jesus’ life, a definite in-between-the-lines kind of practice in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew; both have Jesus saying something while hanging on the cross.  First, Matthew tells the story this way:

“And about the ninth hour (three o’clock) Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani–that is, My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?”  (Matthew 27:46–Amplified Bible).

And Luke tells the story this way:

And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!  And with these words, He expired”  (Luke 23:46).

Do you know that Jesus is quoting something here as He is hanging on the cross?  What is Jesus quoting?  He is quoting the Psalms.  In Matthew it is Psalm 22:1 and in Luke it is Psalm 31:6.  Keep in mind here, that Jesus didn’t exactly have a pocket Bible on hand with a handy concordance listing helpful Psalms while hanging on the cross at Calvary.  No, He would have had these psalms memorized.  It meant a significant time “hanging out” with God; meditating on the Psalms.

When it came to game time, Jesus is in the worst situation He’s faced.  The practice of meditation formed certain habits in Him that were coming out naturally.  Those habits come out as “muscle memory” on the cross.  He prays lines of the psalms because that’s what he spent time on while “hanging out” with His heavenly Father meditating upon.

The first Psalm offers a wonderful piece of wisdom in meditation:  “HOW BLESSED is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,  Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.  And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,  which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and whatever he does, he prospers”  (Psalms 1:1-3–NAS Bible).

To paraphrase the verses, “Those who meditate on the law or words of the Lord, day and night, are blessed; or happy, or fortunate.  They prosper like a tree planted by a stream.  They bear fruit in their life that is godly and their strength doesn’t wither.”  This may not always look like how we expect things to happen, but God sustains those who meditate on God’s words.

So what is meditation exactly?  Popularizations of Eastern religions might say, “the emptying of the mind”.  That’s not what Christian meditation is about.  Christian meditation is “rotating God’s word and God’s creation around in your mind and looking at it from every possible angle; chewing on it, savoring it like a gobstopper from Willie Wonka till it speaks to you.”  The rhema Word!

A “simple picture” of an autumn leaf

Let’s practice meditation on something very simple in the above picture of an autumn leaf found on the ground.  While out walking the dog this afternoon, I couldn’t help noticed all of the leaves that had fallen over the past several days.  I stopped and picked up a leaf very similar to the one in the above photo shot.  What questions did I have about it?  What did I notice?  In the above photo, notice things about the picture and ask yourselves questions about it.

Here’s some things I noticed about the leaf found on the ground today:

.  What kind of leaf is it?

.  How many points does it have?

.  What color red is this?

.  How many veins does it have?

.  Is it all one color or are there variations?

.  What are the small splotches on it?  Some are dark and some are gray. Is it mold or something else?

.  What does it look like on the other side?

.  Where did I find the leaf?  Under a tree?  On a sidewalk?

.  Are there other similar leaves around the one I found?

.  What kind of tree did they fall from?

This little exercise in meditation could go on and on.  God’s words and God’s creation are big enough and deep enough to meditate on the rest of our lives.  Every time we go back we also have new experiences that we bring with us, to help us see new and different things.

Jesus spent time meditating on God’s words.  Find some time to do so your self.

“PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT”

When I was 12 years old, everyone my age in the neighborhood was practicing on their rented accordions.  And of course, I needed to be like everyone else– or so I thought.  After my folks explained that accordion lessons were out of the question, my dad did know someone, who knew someone, who gave guitar lessons–at a reasonable price.  So I began STEEL GUITAR lessons.  The guitar laid across my lap and was plugged into a small amplifier that had a scorched mark on the back of the AMP.  Every day, my grandmother would call to me while I was playing catch in the front yard, “Mel, you better come in the house and practice your guitar.”  The lessons lasted for about a year anda half before I decided, being Les Paul was never going to happen– without PRACTICE anyway!

I didn’t want to practice on my guitar because of my parents reminding me to practice; I had to choose for myself to practice.  It is not any different in practicing more of Jesus’ habits.  You have to choose to choose!

The New Roget’s Thesaurus in Dictionary Form list PRACTICE, v. “train in, train for, become seasoned, drill, exercise, do again, repeat, rehearse (repetition); be in the habit, be addicted, follow.”  It’s a CHOICE!

THE HABIT OF LISTENING

The fifth habit of learning and practicing is LISTENING–sometimes hard to master but practicing can bring a new revelation about yourself.  May we practice these HABITS not just by our own power and strength but by the power of God working in us; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

“People will rarely remember your advice but they will remember you listened“– by Cara Lawrence.  Jesus was and IS the consummate listener.  Imagine all those prayers He continues to listen to from people all around the world.  Everyday all day and night.

In February 1964, I met my wife-to-be and we went on our first date together.  After a movie at a Drive-in theater, we went to a restaurant by the name of Uncle Suzies’; it later became our regular hang-out.  I told her how impressed I was with her on the “first date”.  She replied, “Really, how so?”  “You are a good listener. You gave me exclusive attention by looking at me while I rambled on about my screwed-up life, never looking around to see if you knew someone else in the room.”  Her reply to the compliment was, “That’s just who I am I guess. Thank you.”  Her practice of listening came out naturally in who she was.  Both of us were not born again believers when we met; it wasn’t happenstance either.  Thank You Jesus!

Making the other person your focus takes practice for some of us–alright, most of us.  Begin by looking directly into the person’s eyes as you begin to talk to them.  Don’t be looking around at other people.  Forget your cell phone or the remote for that moment.  Listen for what is not said.

The last HABIT (there’s a lot more to find in God’s Word)that needs practicing, in my opinion and Jesus’ too is LOVE  (1 John 4:8): “He who does not love has not become acquainted with God, for God is love.”

LOVING AS A HABIT

Love is something you choose to do!  Love is not a feeling; it’s not a song either.  Do you remember the song by the Carpenters, “Close to You”?  Have you ever considered the lyrics?

“Why do birds suddenly appear,

Every time you are near?”

You have to ask yourself, “Do I really want to be near somebody who causes birds to appear suddenly?”  Didn’t Alfred Hitchcock do a horror movie about this?

Jesus’ LOVE is, a no matter what you’ve done, no matter where you’ve been, a no matter who you are kind of love.  He wasn’t afraid or embarrassed to express His love to someone.  He simply said, looking into their eyes, “I LOVE YOU!”

If practicing MORE of Jesus’ habits isn’t your thing right now, let me give you some wise advice and counsel.  Why is it wise?  Because someone gave it to me once!  My attitudes began to change because I chose to practice.  Do you need a new attitude?

“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]”  (Romans 12:2–Amplified Bible).

This isn’t a one time occurrence that happens when you are born again.  It has to be repeated.  When Practicing MORE of Jesus–HABITS!, becomes your choice, not someone else s will for your life, a new attitude will surface in a natural sort of way–as Jesus did while in this world.  Practice does make practicing the HABITS of JesusPERFECT!  Being MORE like Him!

The GOOD Habits to Practice in Life!

"That's Terrible!"

Biting one’s finger nails is definitely not a GOOD habit to practice.  My mom use to tell me [my wife too], “Look at the ends of your fingers–that’s terrible!”  As I am blogging right now, I am looking at my finger nails, seeing that habit visualized– after 65 plus years of practicing. 

A Princeton University study claims, “if you do the same thing every day for 28 consecutive days, it will become a habit.”  The key to that study are the words, “do the same thing every day–consecutively”!

So whether you call it good or bad, or someone else says it’s good or bad, it still can be called a habit; a “custom“, doing as you usually do continually.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s quote on habits reads, “The second half of a man’s [or woman’s] life is made up of nothing but the habits he [or she] acquired during the first half.”

We first make or develop habits, then they remain in life.  And, if we don’t practice them, we will forget doing them.  The Letter of Paul to the Roman believers makes the point even clearer:

“For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing”  (Romans 7:19). 

“So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever-present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands.  For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature].  But I discern in my bodily members [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh] a different law (rule of action) at war against the law of my mind (my reason) and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh]”  (Romans 7:21-23–Amplified Bible).  [my emphasis].

The words emphasized; practice, rule of action used in the Amplified Bible, can be applied to GOOD and BAD habits in life.  What habits do you have right now?  Where is your life heading?

BEING “IMITATORS” OR “FOLLOWERS” OF JESUS

In Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, the Greek word for “imitate, imitator” is the verb mimeomai:  “a mimic, an actor” (Eng., “mime”, etc.), is always translated “to imitate“, “to follow,” (a) of imitating the conduct of missionaries, 2 Thess. 3:79, the faith of spiritual guides, Heb. 13:7; (b) that which is good, 3 John 11 The verb is always used in exhortations, and always in a continuous tense, suggesting a constant habit or practice.”

We are constantly reminded to follow Christ Jesus, not only in word but also practice His actions, His doings, and yes, even His habits. “THEREFORE BE”  in the The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians, the church at Ephesus, is an exhortation” and reminder to be imitators:

“THEREFORE BE imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].

My earthly father has “good habits” and “bad habits” to follow over the years and at 96 years old, I’m not going to list them.  But hopefully, I have been an “imitator” of his “good habits” more so than his bad.  We know that Jesus didn’t have any “bad habits”, so lets look in depth atf His habits;  His examples and practices to imitate in our own lives.  

THREE DIFFERENT VERSES ABOUT JESUS’ HABITS

1.  MARK 10:1–  as was His custom

2.  LUKE 4:16– “as was His custom

3.  LUKE 22:39– “as was His habit”

Notice the similarities of the three different verses about Jesus?

He tended to do certain things over and over again.  He taught, “as was His custom”; He went to the Synagogue on the Sabbath, “as was His custom”; He prayed on the Mount of Olives, “as was His habit”. 

As was His custom” or habits, is a very small phrase but in between the lines of the story of Jesus’ life as told by, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, you’ll find the following keys:

1.  Jesus’ habits.

2.  Jesus’ customs.

3.  Jesus’ practices.

Summing up brieflyJesus’ habits: Jesus spent regular time with God; He “hung out with God!”

MARK 1:35:

“And in the morning, long before daylight, He got up and went out to a deserted place, and there He prayed.”

Jesus began the day in seclusion, before His Father, to be recharged–spiritually, physically, emotionally; to be silent, yet still listening for God to speak.  I practiced that example this morning.  Instead of doing all the talking, I talked and then listened.  It’s a dialogue and not a monologue when it comes to prayer.

SOLITUDE AND PRAYER–THE HABIT OF SECLUSION

“Now in those days it occurred that He went up into a mountain to pray, and spent the whole night in prayer to God”  (Luke 6:12).

He got away from the distractions that had occurred around Him; the hustle and bustle of the city and spent the night in the wilderness. 

A note to any Pastors who might be reading this right now–When was the last time you got away from it all; away from study, away from religious seminars and church conferences?  Just you and God alone in a park, on a trail, on a lake, on a beach, or …on a mountain?

Luke goes on to say Jesus didn’t just spend the night by Himself, but He prayed ALL night.  He didn’t spend the evening “day dreaming”;  He spent the time talking to God (conversational prayer).

Communicate with God consistently, as your custom.  Prayer is the most powerful force in the world.  As long as there is prayer, there is hope!  Living in an atmosphere of prayer (a ‘habitat’), is not only praying at a set time but spontaneously anytime and anywhere.

The disciples of Jesus were eavesdropping on His prayers.  They did a connect-the-dot thing, connected to Jesus’ power and back to His prayer life.  That’s why they said, “Lord, teach us to pray…”  (Luke 11:1).

THE “HABIT” OF WORSHIP

Put nothing ahead of or instead of God! 

The Bible teaches us when we put God first, everything else in our lives falls into its proper place.  How can that be true with all that is happening around us today?  That is a promise from God in Matthew 6:33:

“But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides”  (Amplified Bible).

THAT’S A PROMISE!  Become a worshipper, both privately and corporately.  Church is important, but don’t forget God Monday thru saturday.  God is not a Sunday compartment; He desires to be included in every area of your life, everyday!

PRAYER and CONFESSION

I remember when I was in 9th grade, some friends and I decided we would skip school one day; make it a long weekend.  That ‘one day’ turned into more than just ‘one day’.  It became habitual!  A monthly ritual!

My parents were both at work that ‘one day’, so the boys decided my house would be the one where we would all ditch school.  Unfortunately for us in those ‘olden days’, there were Truant officers; the school DETECTIVES, not the Word Detectives.  We were caught red-handed and we were all going to have to face the penalty.  Stood up in front of a firing squad and shot blind-folded, and that was the good news!  The bad news was to face our parents with the truth or ‘sort-of-the-truth’.

When my mom got home from work that night, the first thing she asked me was, “How was school today?”  The school must not have informed her of my escapades and I was stuck with the answer.  Do I tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth or make up a story?  A lie! 

In growing up, my training was quite clear; mom and dad were always truthful with my brother and I, therefore I should be also and the punishment would be less severe if I followed their examples.  Sheepishly I confessed, “Mom, I got caught with some of my friends ditching school today.”  To my surprise she said, “Really.  Was this the first time?”  Mom, please don’t go there, it’s hard enough to admit I was wrong.  “Uh…NO, it wasn’t the first time.”  And then I was totally taken back with her response.  “Mel, I hope you have learned a lesson from all of this. Thank you for being so forthcoming.”  I found out later that night, the school vice-principal had called her at work and revealed the entire happening.  She wasn’t lying, she just wanted to see if all the teaching and training had come to fruition; that I would reveal the truth without her confronting me with what she already knew.

Jesus taught His followers to confess their sins; missing the mark to God in prayer.  The clearest place where Jesus teaches His followers this habit and practice is in the Lord’s Prayer.  Luke tells the story this way:

“THEN HE was praying in a certain place; and when He stopped, one of His disciples said to Him, Lord, teach us to pray [just] as John taught his disciples.  And He said to them, When you pray, say;  Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done [held holy and revered] on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us daily our bread [food for the morrow].  And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us [who has offended us or done us wrong].  And bring us not into temptation but rescue us from evil”  (Luke 11:1-4–Amplified Bible).

Confession is simple telling the truth to God; what you’ve done.  Confession is also taking time to let God show you where you have not lived up to the kind of LOVE God desires of you. 

MORE Good Habits to Practice in Part 2. 

 

 

Better Stay Awake and Watch!

Keep Awake and Watch!

The photo inserted into this post was taken in Boulder, Colorado on a  November morning.

“But take heed to yourselves and be on guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life, and [lest] that day come upon you suddenly like a trap or a noose;  For it will come upon ALL who live upon the face of the earth.  “Keep awake and watch at all times [be discreet, attentive, and ready], praying that you may have full strength and ability and be accounted worthy to escape all these things [taken together] that will take place, and to stand in the presence of the Son of God”  (Luke 21:34-36–Amplified Bible).  The emphasis is mine.

I hadn’t plan to do any detective work today; just read and relax!  But the Holy Spirit had other plans.  I was dividing Dahlia tubers in the garage, storing them for the winter when the utility knife slipped, slicing my left thumb and bleeding everywhere.  After applying pressure to the wound and my wife dressing and wrapping my digit, I decided to stop working on bagging the tubers for storage and start “blogging” instead.

And then the Spirit spoke to my spirit and the investigation began; I’ve been reading and studying the Book of Luke for some time now and Luke 21 was laid wide open this morning.  So here we are, with three Scriptures, verses 34-36; discussing pre-tribulation rapture, pre-millenium, post-tribulation, mid-tribulation?  Let me give you what I believe on the subject and why I believe in the pre-tribulation rapture or “taken away” point of view.

A BRIEF WARNING

First of all, I want to bring up a question that has been imbedded into my mind of late.  Conservative Christians believe in the Blessed Hope (Col.1:27; 1 Thess.5:8) and often talk about the raptureMy question is, ‘Why don’t we hear it mentioned, or seldom spoken about from the pulpits in the churches anymore?  Is it just an “A-S-S-U-M-P-T-I-O-N that the congregation already has a grip on the topic?

I once had church leadership come to me and say, “Your children are all grown.  I don’t want to be raptured to Glory, I want to see my children grow, get married and have grandkids.”  A true story and that’s why we don’t attend that particular church any longer!

GOD HAS NOT “APPOINTED” US TO WRATH!

“For God has not appointed us to [incur His] wrath [He did not select us to condemn us], but [that we might] obtain [His} salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)”  (1 Thessalonians 5:9–Amplified Bible).

That verse is a good start to the Better Stay Awake and Watch! blog.  But there is more to look at!

THE “NOAH and LOT” EXAMPLES

Luke 17:2630 begins with Jesus saying, “And [just] as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the time of the Son of Man.  [People] ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, right up to the day when Noah went into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. [Gen. 6:5-8; 7:6-24].  So also [it was the same] as it was in the days of Lot. [People] ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built;  But on the [very] day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed [them] all.  That is the way it will be on the day that the Son of Man is revealed [Gen. 18:20-33; 19:24, 25].”

Most people argue over the time frame of the events in Scripture; whether Jesus was talking about Pre-Trib or Post-Trib.  The people are missing an important point.  There are two circumstances Noah and Lot have in common:  the removal of the righteous first, then the judgement of the unbelievers.

A “PLAIN STATEMENT” of the PRE-TRIBULATIONAL RAPTURE (Luke 21:34-36)

As it was in the days of Noah and Lot, God is going to take care of us too while He pours out His wrath on the unbelieving world.  He predestined Noah and his family to escape the wrath of the world’s destroying flood; He permitted Lot and his family to escape the fire and brimstone raining down on earth, destroying Sodom and Gomorrah.

All of these things that will come to pass; all the events of the Tribulation period, will affect ALL the people living on earth!  Those who are reading this blog today, those who believe in the Post-Trib are probably saying, “YEP…the events in Scripture are going to affect believers and unbelievers alike!”  “For it will come upon ALL who live upon the earth” (verse 35).  What is coming, is going to happen to ALL those who live on the earth at that time.  But who is Jesus speaking to in the verses of Luke 21?  He is speaking to the unbelieving crowd.

Keep awake then and watch at ALL times [be discreet, attentive, and ready], praying that you may have the full strength and ability and be accounted worthy to escape ALL these things [taken together] that will take place”  (verse 36–Amplified Bible).

The Greek Word used for ESCAPE in this verse is, “ekpheugo”.  It means to “get away from destruction“, destruction that is coming to ALL the earth!  When we see these things begin to take place, then look up,: because redemption is about to happen:

“Now when these things begin to occur, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption (deliverance) is drawing near”  (Luke 21:28).

God’s Word says, if we are worthy, if we are the righteousness of God, believers in Christ Jesus, we are to escape ALL things (get away from ALL things).  If that isn’t the case, instead of the words ALL things, it would have said SOME THINGS.

So by escaping ALL these things, where are we going to escape too?  The only way to escape is by removal from earth; in the ‘taking up’, or the Rapture.  This is not the language of God promising us protection from trouble, for people living in the Tribulation, but escaping from the whole thing.  It is a change in location from dwelling on earth, standing resurrected before the Son of Man in Heaven.

The only way to escape ALL things is Pre-Tribulational Rapture.  If it were a Mid-Tribulational Rapture or a Post-Tribulational Rapture, Jesus would only have talked about escaping some of these things.

He promises us, if we will be ready, we will ESCAPE!  We are not made worthy by our own Righteousness but because we have received righteousness of Christ by faith.

SO HOW CAN WE BE READY FOR THE “RAPTURE”?

PRAY and Receive Christ into your heart.

PROVE the genuineness of your faith by a changed heart.

If you prayed to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, let me know in your comments at the bottom of the blog. and I will give you further instructions in becoming another Word Detective!

Jesus said, “He who has ears, let him hear!”