“Mercy” Came Running because…

HOW DOES THE BIBLE DEFINE “MERCY”?

A commonly used word in the language of the church today, but it will not be as churches change to a more “positive” image;  refuse to preach on the subject of “hell” and “judgement.”  No one wants to hear their pastor preach on such topics!

“For a time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, have ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold,    And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions”  (1 Timothy 4:3-4 AMP).

The “law of first mention”.

When studying the Word of God, when the “law of first mention” arises, it means that we should take a special note of how a word is used; first mentioned in Scripture.  Genesis is a good place to start looking:

“But while he lingered, the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, for the Lord was merciful to him; and they brought him forth and set him outside the city and left him there.    And when they had brought them forth, they said, Escape for your life! Do not look behind you or stop anywhere in the whole valley; escape to the mountains [of Moab], lest you be consumed..    And Lot said to them, Oh not that, my lords!    Behold now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your kindness and mercy to me in saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest evil overtake me, and I die”  (Genesis 19:16-19).

This was the “first mention” of the word “mercy”.   Lot is spared from the judgement of God falling upon the wicked of Sodom and Gomorrah.

– mercy = “The act of sparing or the forbearance of a violent act expected.”  [Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary].

EXODUS 25:22

THE “MERCY SEAT” WAS WHERE GOD MET MEN:

“There I will meet with you and, from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the Testimony, I will speak intimately with you all.”~ Exodus 25:22

Te Hebrew word for “Mercy Seat” is KAPPORETH and the Hebrew word for Mercy is CHECED.

There isn’t a correlation between the two words.   KAPPORETH has nothing to do with Mercy.  The Mercy Seat wasn’t made to sit on; Mercy Seat means atonement.  Without God’s plan of redemption man would have no mercy; God would have to judge every sin in our lives immediately.  The Mercy Seat along with the other furniture in the Tabernacle, was a picture of how God has put our sin under His Mercy Seat and covered it with the blood of Jesus instead of the blood of animals.

Once a year, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holy s  where the ark of the ark of the testimony rested behind the veil.  He would sprinkle the Mercy Seat with the blood of animals, making an atonement for the sins of the children of Israel.

New Testament “MERCY” – The Veil Was Torn, Top Down.

Mercy is when we are spared from judgement or harm.  But when churches refuse to preach “hell” and “judgement” and less and less talk about “mercy”, the word is being gradually phased out of sermons.  God just becomes the “Good Guy” not thinking of harming or judging anyone.  So the subject of “mercy” never arises.  What we are hearing today is, “God loves the Sodomite just like he is.”  Is that what God said to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah?  “Hi, all you people of Sodom–I Am God!  I just came down to let you all know that I love you, and I will accept you just the way you are!”  NO, that is not how the Lord came.

Genesis 18:17-21:  “And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham [My friend and servant] what I am going to do,    Since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all nations of the earth shall be blessed through him and shall bless themselves by him?    For I have known (chosen, acknowledged) him [as My own], so that he may teach and command his children and the sons of his house after him to keep the way of the Lord and to do what is just and righteous, so that the Lord may bring Abraham what He has promised him.    And the Lord said, Because the shriek [of the sins] of Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is exceedingly grievous,    I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether [as vilely and wickedly] as is the cry of it which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”

The angels that God sent on, didn’t go with the message,  “Hi, everyone, we are angels!  We have come with the message that ‘God loves you!’ and that He will accept you just as you are!”  No, that is not how the conversation went down as they spoke with Lot.

“And the [two] men asked Lot, Have you any others here–sons-in-law or your sons or your daughters?  Whomever you have in the city, bring them out of this place.    For we will spoil and destroy [Sodom];  for the outcry and shriek against its people has grown great before the Lord, and He has sent us to destroy it”  (Genesis 19:12-13 AMP).

There was “mercy” with the Lord regarding the Sodomites–but only if they repentedEzekiel 33:11 says,

“Say to them,  As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live…”

But if we are unwilling to preach “judgement”, no one will be seeking for “mercy”; they will only justify their sin and see no need for mercy.

The Hebrew word CHECED is God’s Character; it combines the twin ideas of “love” and “loyalty” in a covenant relationship.

Israel’s continual waywardness made it inevitable that God is never going to let her go.  His relationship with His children must be maintained; His loving-kindness; His “mercy”; His goodness is all undeserved.  For this reason, the predominant use of the word Checed, including mercy and forgiveness is a main constituent of God’s determined faithfulness to His part of the bargain.

A Dilemma; “Which comes first, mercy or justice?”

Rashi(11th Century AD Jewish commentator) said that God gave ‘precedence to the rule of mercy’ and joined it ‘with the rule of justice.’  There is no reference in Scripture to any sentimental kindness and no suggestion of mercy apart from repentance.  God’s demand for righteousness is always insistent; it’s always at the maximum intensity of His Character.

“MERCY” Came Running:

The Biblical meaning of “mercy” is: “to be spared or rescued from judgement, harm, danger or trouble.”  Notice how “mercy” is used in the following Bible verses:

Psalm 4:1 says, “You have freed me when I was hemmed in and enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me and hear my prayer.”

Psalm 6:2 reads,  “Have mercy on me and be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am weak (faint and withered away); O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.”

1 Timothy 1:12-13:  [v.13]  “Though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and was shamefully and outrageously and aggressively insulting [to Him], nevertheless, I obtained mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief.”

Titus 3:5:  “He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by [the] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy spirit.”

*[See also Psalm 9:13; Jude 1:21]

The “Prodigal Son” Analogy or Parable–Luke 15:11-32.

I think most of us know the story that Jesus tells in the form of a PARABLE of the “prodigal” son; leaving his father with his premature inheritance, and leaving his home and family where he winds up ‘wasting his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living.’ (verse 13).

After a famine hits the land where the younger son had journeyed to, he gets a dose of ‘humble pie’ or in his case, ‘pig pie’; he was “sent into the fields to feed hogs where he would gladly have fed on and filled his belly with the carob pods that the hogs were eating, but [they could not satisfy his hunger and] nobody gave him anything [better]”  (verses 15-16). 

“Then when he came to himself…”; his confession was given: “I have sinned against heaven and in your sightI am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants”  (verses 18-19).

That is true repentance with the companion character of humility.  So read on to what the son does and more importantly how his father responds to his son’s repentance and humility:

“So he got up and came to his [own] father.  But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he RAN and EMBRACED him and KISSED him [fervently]”  (verse 20).

Now after seeing his father’s reaction, he once more repeats his confession once more, only with a surprised expression with his father’s words:  “Bring quickly the best robe (the festive robe of honor) and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet.  And bring out that [wheat-] fattened calf and kill it; and let us revel and feast and be happy and make merry,    Because this my son was dead and is alive again: he was lost and is found!”  (verses 22-24).

The son’s father did not look out his window while watching television as his son was walking down the path to the house; his head hung down in repentance and humility.  But he girded his garments in his loins (running bare legged with joy) and “MERCY” CAME RUNNING to the repenting son.

I co-wrote a play several years ago that was performed in a local area church on Resurrection Sunday entitled “Mercy On Trial”.  After the drama was over that Sunday, as the people mingled and left the building, I had the Philips, Craig and Dean song played over the sound system “Mercy Came Running”.  Here are the lyrics to the chorus:

Mercy came running

Like a prisoner set free

Past all my failures to the point of my need

When the sin that I carried

Was all I could see

And when I could not reach mercy

Mercy came running to me.

Through the blood of  the Lord Jesus Christ, we have “mercy” granted to us through all of eternity.  The withholding of judgement against us because:  His pure blood cleanse us from all sin.

JESUS  was the final sacrifice; His blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, the Cross at Calvary for our sins; not once every year but once for all.  “Mercy” came running to us because God loved us so much that He gave us His One and only begotten (unique) Son, so whoever believes in (trust in, clings to, relies on [MERCY] shall not perish but have eternal (everlasting) life. ~ John 3:16.

JESUS, [“MERCY”] came running to us because…when the sin that I carried was all I could see, I turned from my sin in repentance; “I was dead and now ALIVE again!

Human and Spiritual Wisdom, Understanding and The Differences

Spiritual Understanding

  THE “WISDOM OF SOLOMON”:

“The beginning of Wisdom is:  get Wisdom (skillful and godly Wisdom)!  [For skillful and godly Wisdom is the principal thing.]  And with all you have gotten, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation)”  ~ Proverbs 4:7

“A stated purpose of this book of Proverbs is to impart skillful and godly Wisdom.  Proverbs is a practical book dealing with the art of living, and it bases Wisdom solidly on the fear of the Lord (1:7).  WISDOM in the Proverbs has a broad base of meaning, covering such things as practical knowledge in discerning between good and evil in the ordinary affairs of life; the discernment between truth and error or that which is lasting and makes for success in life; and the insight of man beyond the human to the divine realities discerned and deduced from that which God has revealed”  [Taken from the Amplified Versions introduction to The Book of Proverbs].

This blog is not a study about The Book of Proverbs but an introduction to human and spiritual wisdom with understanding.

For the past few days, my morning reading in the Bible  has been in the book of Ecclesiastes; the author being king Solomon.  I came across a verse in CHAPTER 3, that somewhat puzzled me at first about the WISDOM OF SOLOMON:

“For that which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts; even [in the end] one thing befalls them both.  Yes, they all have one breath and spirit, so that a man has no preeminence over a beast; for all is vanity (emptiness, falsity, and futility)”

I thought, where in the world did Solomon come up with the idea that a man has no preeminence over a beast?  Does the Bible really teach that? No!  Ecclesiastes gives a startling picture of how fatal it is for even the wisest of men to substitute man’s “wisdom” for God’s wisdom, and to attempt to live by it.  King Solomon’s reign began with God, gold, and glory.  It ended with bafflement, brass, and bewildered acceptance of man’s having “no preeminence over a beast”!–man, who was made “in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27) and “but a little lower than God”! (Psalm 8:5).  Also that man was given “complete authority over all the earth” (Gen. 1:26).

THE WORD “SOPHIA” Greek Word for Wisdom:

The Three Meanings.

1.  In the usual meaning of wisdom, understanding; 


“And Jesus increased in wisdom (in broad and full understanding)”  (Luke 2:53 AMP).  “But wisdom is proved right by all her children”             (Luke 7:35 NIV).

2.  In the meaning of the wise economy of God in the creation of the world; in His Providence over the world and in the salvation of the world from sin:

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!    For who has known the mind of the Lord and who has understood His thoughts, or who has [ever] been His counselor?”  (Romans 11:33-34 AMP).

“But rather what we are setting forth is a wisdom of God once hidden [from the human understanding] and now revealed to us by God–[that wisdom] which God devised and decreed before the ages for our glorification [to lift us into the glory of His presence]”  (1 Corinthians 2:7 AMP).

3.  In relation to the Son of God (Jesus) as the “Hypo-statical Wisdom” of God:

“But it is from Him that you have your life in Christ Jesus, Whom God made our Wisdom from God,  [revealed to us knowledge of the divine plan of salvation previously hidden, manifesting itself as] our Righteousness”  (1 Corinthians 1:30 AMP).

How Do You Use Godly Wisdom rather than Human Wisdom?

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle).  [It is willing to yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity)    And the harvest of righteousness (of conformity to God’s will in thought and deed) is [the fruit of the seed] sown in peace by those who work for and make peace [in themselves and in others, that peace which means concord, agreement, and harmony between individuals, with undisturbness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts]”  (James 3:17-18 AMP).

Questions to ask ourselves:

1.  How do you resolve issues in your life?

2.  How do you get your point across to others around you?

Most of us would like to think we are wise in our understanding.  We speak eloquently enough so the other person would understand what we are saying and that said, life would be great!  Unfortunately it doesn’t work out that way.  Many times there is a ‘blip’ in our communication and understanding, then an argument on whose right or wrong.

The Bible States What Godly Wisdom Really Is!  First, lets look a little deeper into what wisdom is and how to recognize it:

INSIGHT;  The ability to see things from a different perspective that many times others don’t see.  When we think of someone wise, we think of someone who’s scholarly; with much education.  But the Bible states that God will frustrate those who consider themselves wise and intelligent (those with human wisdom).

“For it is written, I will baffle and render useless and destroy the learning of the learned and the philosophy of the philosophers and the cleverness of the clever and the discernment of the discerning; I will frustrate and nullify [them] and bring [them] to nothing.  Where is the wise man (the philosopher)? Where is the scribe (the scholar)? Where is the investigator (the logician, the debater) of this present time and age? Has not god shown up the nonsense and the folly of this word’s wisdom?”  (1 Corinthians 1:19-20 AMP).

Why would God want to frustrate those who are educated and wise?

Human wisdom is limited and can only see and understand so far; where godly Wisdom transcends the limitations of the mind; it comes from someone much higher than ourselves; from One who knows more, sees more, understands more…God!

Humans make mistakes, misunderstands but God makes no mistakes and understands all things and yet…we who have been deemed righteous still are attracted by human wisdom.  I noticed a post on Facebook the other day that certainly was incredulous:

“Attended a lecture at Western Washington University tonight on philosophy & religion,

specifically about the problem of evil & suffering in the animal world (like animals killing each other).

The speakers were a biology & philosophy professors.  It was an enjoyable challenge to follow their lines of thought.”

Why would mature Christians go to a college lecture to answer questions about what the Word of God so aptly explains in Scripture? That is a rhetorical question: spiritual immaturity!  Since human wisdom comes from a limited mind; because man can become selfish and boastful claiming all thoughts as his own.  With godly Wisdom, though it is given, take no credit in their understanding of things…give glory to the One it came from…God.

With human wisdom, man only understands the physical, that which he can see.  But godly Wisdom is able to understand past the physical; to things that are unseen.  All because God gives up the wisdom to see things that are unseen to see things more clearly…what we are seeing in front of our faces.

“There is no [human] wisdom or understanding or counsel [that can prevail] against the Lord”  (Proverbs 21:30).

“He who leans on, trust in, and is confident of his own mind and heart is a [self-confident] fool, but he who walks in skillful and godly Wisdom shall be delivered”  (Proverbs 28:26).

“For I [Myself] will give you a mouth and such utterance and wisdom that all your foes combined will be unable to stand against or refute”  (Luke 21:15).

Where are you in your Christian walk regarding godly [Spiritual] Wisdom and understanding?

You might ask yourself right where you are, “I know I depend too much on human wisdom and understanding…so how do I obtain a greater understanding and wisdom in my life?  I certainly desire it!”

The Letter of James gives one of the best answers I could find in Scripture and hold close in my thinking:

“If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him”  (James 1:5 AMP).

Some key words spoken here by James:

1.  “any of you”  means exactly that; ‘any’ not just those that are ‘gifted’; church leaders; those who have been Christians forever, your Pastor.

2.  “let him/her ask”.  If you don’t ask you will never receive wisdom or anything else for that matter.

3.  A giving God who gives to everyone…liberally and ungrudgingly, without scolding because you asked Him!

“I came that they [you and I] may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)” ~ John 10:10

Can you imagine having Spiritual Wisdom and Understanding in abundance, to the full, till it overflows?

4.  The “If” s in Scripture are always conditional; IF you ask, IF you will do, IF anyone thinks himself to be religious, IF My people who are called by My name…

In the case of James 1:5, The IF is concluded by 4-words:  it will be given. Wisdom will be given to you in abundance if you asked;’ till it overflow’s!.

HERE’S MY PRAYER AND FOR ALL THOSE SEEKING SPIRITUAL WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING:

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ…Philippians 1:9-10 NKJV.

ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE!


“Do I Need An Attitude Adjustment About Worship and Making Promises?”

Beijing Airport Drop-Off Area

The Bible isn’t a book about happiness, it’s a book about holiness” ~ Keith Krell

My Pickup at the Airport Experiences:

Going to the Seattle-Tacoma Airport to pickup an arriving passenger is a frustrating experience as it might be your experience too.  My goal is always to save money by not parking in the adjacent Parking Garage.  So I want to park as long as I can next to the curb… at the designated airline terminal pickup area.  Soon afterwords, I begin listening to the loudspeaker recording,  “The white zone is for loading and unloading only.  NO PARKING!”

Now, mind you, I am waiting to load up but my passengers are delayed and I’m waiting at the curb too long.  A police officer usually approaches my car, waving his hand at me to move on.  Although my windows are up tight, I can read his lips through the glass, “You can’t park here!”

Being a law-abiding citizen that I am, I smile and oblige him, then make the loop through all the confusing airports access roads and begin this vicious cycle all over again.

Can I be honest here?  I wish there were some way to announce over a loudspeaker system inside every church foyer I have ever attended:

The WORSHIP zone is for learning, listening, and changing only.

NO PARKING!

BE ALERT!

LISTEN CAREFULLY!

Truth will be deposited in your head

that is designed to change you!

But chances are good, even if such an announcement was made from church loudspeakers every Sunday, the same would occur…folks would still “park”; turn a deaf ear to the recording; then give the pastoral police officers the runaround [1]“Do We Need An Attitude Adjustment About and Before We Worship…?”

WHY PROPER WORSHIP IS IMPORTANT? [Ecclesiastes Chapter 5:1-3]

The ability to enjoy the good on one’s behalf is truly a gift of God:

“There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink and make himself enjoy good in his labor.  Even this, I have seen, is from the hand of God.    For who can eat or who can have enjoyment any more than I can–apart from Him?    For to the person who pleases Him God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and heaping up, that he may give to the one who pleases God.  This also is vanity and a striving after the wind and a feeding on it”  (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 AMP).

It is imperative that we please Him in our worship experience; there is no alternative.  There is “vain worship” at times in the house of worship:

“You pretenders (hypocrites)!  Admirably and truly did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said:  These people draw near Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far away from Me.  Uselessly do they worship Me, for they teach as doctrines the commands of men”  (Matthew 15:7-9 AMP).

Therefore, Jesus’ words say that ‘not all worship is acceptableto God.

HOW TO PROPERLY WORSHIP GOD:  (Ecclesiastes 5:1 a)

Both the NIV and the NASB versions of the Bible say, “guard you steps“.  The Amplified version says it this way:  “Keep your foot–give your mind to what you are doing–when you go to the house of God”.  Do I need an attitude adjustment?  When one worships…Solomon tells us to give thought to what they will do and also to be careful what they will do.

Almost a year ago my wife and I started attending a new church that was much closer to our home.  Years before I thought after sitting down in the Sanctuary of the building, it was standard practice to continue with the  fellowship time from the foyer before the ‘worship music’ began.  One Sunday morning, I turn to my wife to ask her a question receiving no reply.  She had her eyes closed and the palms of her hands face up on her lap.  I immediately ceased my talking, apologizing for the interruption.  She explained to me as I sat there, she couldn’t just come and sit down without getting herself ready for worship; ready to receive.

I have always found it amazing how the Holy Spirit sometimes communicate with us through our spouses.  Well, maybe more than ‘sometimes’.  From that moment on, I made an ‘attitude adjustment’; a pledge to be prepared before worshiping my God.  I wanted my worship to be acceptable to my Lord.

Draw near to hear (5:1 b).

“For to draw near to hear and obey is better than to give the sacrifice of fools”.

Being concerned with learning what God has revealed–or what is about to be revealed should be our attitude.  It should be like young Samuel s attitude:

“So Eli said to Samuel, Go lie down.  And if He calls you, you shall say, Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.  So Samuel went and lay down in his place.    And the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, Samuel!  Samuel!  Then Samuel answered, Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening”  (1 Samuel 3:9-10).

Our attitudes should be as the Bereans in Acts 17 ; “entirely ready…with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures (v. 11 b).

“Giving the sacrifice of fools”- (5:1 c).

Do not offer the sacrifice of fools.  Again, not all worship is acceptable.  There is that kind of worship as described in Proverbs and the Gospel of Luke:

“He who turns away his ear from hearing…even his prayer is an abomination, hateful and revolting [to God]” ~ Prov. 28:9.

“Why do you call Me, Lord, Lord, and do not [practice} what I tell you?  For everyone who comes to Me and listens to My words [in order to heed their teaching] and does them, I will show you what he is like…”    “But he who merely hears and does not practice doing…” ~ Luke 6:46-49

Sacrifice can be explained as ‘something given that comes with a cost’.  If your WORSHIP isn’t costing you something, then it’s not a sacrifice!  So coming into the worship experience two seconds before the music starts; as the Praise Team begins to lead in song; or you come in late because you had better get to the restroom facilities before you sit down.  If your preparation doesn’t cost you something, it’s not a sacrifice.  “For to draw near and obey is better”  than being a fool.  That may sound harsh to your ears, but the words aren’t coming from me but from the Lord’s Word.

KEEPING THE VOWS THAT YOU MAKE, REGARDLESS…

“Okay, I am going to change my attitudes about Worship from now on.  I’m going to more prepared next Sunday!”

“Be not rash with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter a word before God.  For God is in heaven, and you are on earth; therefore let your words be few.    For a dream comes with much business and painful effort, and a fool’s voice with many words.”  (Eccl. 5:2-3).

REALLY?  Be careful what you say, what you promise, what you pledge to do before God or others and remember…Jephthah s  foolish vow:

“And Jephthah made a vow (promise) to the Lord and said, If You will indeed give the Ammonites into my hand,  Then whatever or whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it or give him up as a burnt offering”  (Judges 11:30-31).

Now the promise of Jephthah was an honest one, but because of his rash words before God, became haunting to him later in verses 34-35:

“Then Jephthah came to Mizpah to his home, and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances!  And she was his only child…And when he saw her, he rent his clothes and said,  Alas, my daughterI have opened my mouth [in a vow] to the Lord, and I cannot take it back”.

If you promise God that you are going to make an attitude adjustment in regards to your worship preparation from now on, you ‘cannot take it back’ nor should you; a promise made must come with commitment; a pure and honest heart.  Always give thought to what you say in prayer and song.  Do you consider the vows or promises that you give to God or others as a commitment?  Do you intend to keep them?  Along with the rewards that will come from your promises, consequence will follow if you break them.  The worldly concept of ‘fake it until you make it’ approach in worshiping God will never be acceptable to Him for He knows the heart; your honesty; your intentions and desires.

KEEPING THE VOWS THAT YOU MAKE – (5:4-7)

(verse 4):  “When you vow a vow or make a pledge to God, do not put off paying it; for God has no pleasure in fools (those who witlessly mock Him).  Pay what you vow.”

Changing a thought process, in the middle of conversation with people might be confusing; not to me maybe, but certainly to them.  Therefore, I don’t believe King Solomon would be any different not would Holy Spirit want to confuse us in changing direction.  Going from what is acceptable to God in our worship and praise to keeping the vows; promises we make is not a coincidence.  If we are going to make an attitude adjustment in our worship experience; making a promise to God that no more are we coming to Him without preparation, then we need to be committed to that pledge.

God has no pleasure in fools; such as those who make promises and do not fulfill them in worship or any other vow–“It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay”  (verse 5). 

Solomon says in one of his proverbs, “It is a snare to a man to utter a vow [of consecration] rashly and [not until] afterward inquire [whether he can fulfill it]”  (Proverbs 20:25 AMP).  If you say to God one morning, “Father, from now on I am going to dedicate myself to be more prepared to worship You”, that is ‘consecration‘.  If those words do not become a part of you from that point of commitment, you are ‘a fool which God has no pleasure’.

Don’t let your mouth cause you to sin.

Why make God angry and destroy the work of your hands (Ecclesiastes 5:6)?  Many words lead to vanity, and sin.  What is vanity? It is the opposite to humbleness.  An example might be in a dialogue, “Guess what? Last Sunday before worship service began, I told God I was going to stop talking to you until after the service.  You should do the same.”  That my friends is condescension; pride, selfishness and not prudent words.

“In a multitude of words transgression is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is prudent”  (Proverbs 10:19).

THE KEY THOUGHT IN PROPER WORSHIP is to “FEAR GOD” [Vs. 7]:

Approach is IMPORTANT in worshiping our God, our King and Savior with the deepest respect and reverence.  Worship Him as He directs and not as you might wish...”Swift to hear, slow to speak” ~ James 1:19.  This should be our attitude in worship if we truly wish to please God!  If our attitudes before and in worship and praise is not acceptable and pleasing to God, then we just might need ‘an attitude adjustment’!

[1] Story idea came from Charles Swindol’s Living of the Ragged Edge – Coming to Terms of Reality.

“Don’t Mess With My Sacred Cows!”

Is Expediency Permissible?

“Nothing is more curious than the self-satisfied dogmatism with which mankind at each period of its history cherishes the delusion of the finality of its existing modes of knowledge” ~ The Philosophy of John Dewy.

As I get older in life, I have found myself getting more dogmatic about what I am seeing in a lot of churches.  Although I am now in a church environment that feels…more comfortable.  I have lived in this part of Washington State now for 10 years and have been associated with five different backgrounds of doctrine; I am definitely not complaining but stating my desire for  ‘a better way of doing things’ philosophy.  I really hate change, so changing churches really isn’t part of my make-up.  So what is the problem here?

Some people are terrified of change. 

Any deviation from “the way it has always been” rocks the foundations of their own world and mine also at times.  The change removes us from our comfort zones or as I like to call them, “ruts.”  It propels us into the great unknown and becomes more than we can handle.  It’s a preference of “safety”; the status quo; THEIR status quo of course.  Do you know anyone like that?  Might it even be yourself?

We might hear those who resist change say when cornered, “there may, in fact, be nothing biblically wrong with the proposed changes, but why to take the risk, let’s play it safe; stick to the old paths.”  TRANSLATION: “We don’t like it and we’ll work against it.”  Come on Pastors, do I hear an AMEN?

An observable, verifiable fact:

The most resistant to change is the very ones most resistant to any challenge; on the basis of their resistance.  And then a barrage of stones, sticks, and dirt are tossed up from the depths of a well-dug rut.  Do we dare to ask someone why they are down there in the first place; opposed to coming out!

Challenging a legalist to provide a reasoned basis for their position (to even state their position or pattern), you will quickly witness a vicious assault.  Maybe not at first notice, but possibly later on; when you least expect it. OUCH!

One reason for the militancy against those who dare to challenge them or their theology can’t withstand close scrutiny and will collapse under examination.  The religious leaders even will shelter their followers from anyone who dares to challenge them to think; flee from responsible dialogue rather than make a defense.

“Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully”  (1 Peter 3:15).

For those so determined to follow the exact pattern of Scripture often displays a great reluctance to follow the instructions of this passage.  Most of their theology is pick and choose.

There’s A Need For Loopholes:

When the basis of your salvation, even your fellowship with others is preciseness of practice regarding a perceived biblical pattern, there has to be some provision in place for the ‘legalist patternist’.  They avoid those aspects of the pattern that are not comfortable; to adopt extra-pattern practices when its convenient for them.

The Pharisees were experts.

They were experts at binding heavy loads on others and then finding ways to avoid such burden themselves.  One of the ‘loopholes’ for today’s Pharisees is “The Law of Expediency.”  The patternist squeezes themselves through this loophole at every opportunity, yet denies its use to all others outside the narrow parameters.  The exclusivity of expediency becomes a great earmark.  If they engage in some practice beyond the specific patterns, then the practice is declared “expedient.”  However, when anyone else engages in some practice beyond the specifics of “the pattern”, their variance is deemed “unauthorized innovation” at best.  More likely “godless apostasy.”

What is an “expedient” and is it a biblical concept?

Webster’s New World Dictionary; an “expedient” is anything that is “useful for effecting the desired result.”  Does the Word of God ever speak of expediencies?  The answer, of course, is Yes.

The Greek word is sumphero, meaning “that which is advantageous, profitable, expedient.”  Notice a few examples:

Jesus is telling His disciples that because everyone is doing it and it’s legal, doesn’t mean its okay; He speaking to them about divorce in the society:  “The disciples said to Him, If the case of a man with his wife is like this, it is neither profitable [sumphero] nor advisable to marry “But He said to them,  Not all men can accept this saying, but it is for those to whom [the capacity to receive] it has been given”  (Matthew 19:8-11).

Jesus on the night of His arrest told His disciples, “it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away” John 16:7 AMP.

Our Lords imminent departure from His disciples in returning to the Father, while leaving them behind in the world, was certainly not something these men initially thought about with a degree of joy.  Yet there was a great benefit (profit, advantage) in His departure:

“Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you]”  John 16:7 AMP.

His going away was expedient.

The apostle Paul told the church in Corinth:

“Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things)” ~ Corinthians 6:12 AMP.

Again the Greek word sumphero is used.  The apostle Paul clearly recognized the legitimacy of expediency.  However, he also understood expediency is not a license to do as one pleases.  There are additional factors to be considered before an expedient is hired (see also 1 Cor. 10:23).

New Covenant Writings Are NOT Unfamiliar With The Concept of Expediency:

The concept of expediency is biblically sound!  How we employ an expedient often is not.  There lies the major problem that, and what various disciples of Jesus perceived to be “authorized” valid expedient.  “The precise identification of what is, what is not ‘expedient’ remains a point of contention among many congregations” [The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement; page 325].

An expedient, however, properly understood does allow for a significant degree of freedom among even today’s disciples to choose for themselves what they believe as the most profitable method or means effecting the desired result.

Again in The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, this concept is defined better than I could explain:

“Procedures or practices that, while not explicitly enjoined by the biblical text are nonetheless not explicitly prohibited because they are instrumental (or ‘expedient’) to the execution of some other biblical command” [pg. 325].

What does all that really mean?  I was searching the web yesterday and as a good detective might do, ran across this email question by a man living in the U.S., regarding expediencies:

“In studying expediencies I have thought of something that no one has been able to answer thus far–maybe you can share your thoughts with me on this.  Brethren typically justify the use of a church building on the basis of it being an ‘expediency.’  And yet, according to the ‘rules of expediency’ (I realized these are man-made rules), an expediency cannot be specified, then how can we specify how an expediency can or cannot be used?”

Here was the answer was given to this man’s question:  “A kitchen in a church building is sinful.”  Really?  Church buildings are never even mentioned in the NT Scriptures.  So, by what ‘authority’ declares a room in such a structure is ‘sinful’?”

Our various choices in the church; what is or is not “expedient” (and we all make them), have become a source for squabbling and schisms among spiritual siblings.  Why?  Because human nature being what it is, we have the tendency to regard our own choices the most profitable.  Thus we regard the choices of others being less so.  In time, it moves beyond mere profitability or lacks thereof.  It moves to ‘absolute necessity’ for fellowship, salvation even;  AGREE with ME or perish!  When we become this legalistic employing mere expediencies, the satanic spirit of sectarianism captures, enslaves their hearts and minds causing the destruction of oneness in the family of God. They can’t stand in AGREEMENT; ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’

How does one then determine when something is truly expedient?  Has the Bible offered any assistance?

IT MUST BE BIBLICALLY CONSISTENT– In 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:13, Paul regards expedients as falling under the umbrella of “lawful”.

“Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its control” [6:12].

I’ve heard of several stories of young people coming under the influence of the satanic; joining in a satanic cult, then coming out of the influence and giving a testimony of the “lies” they were told; ‘it’s okay to sacrifice a chicken on Satan’s altar. Nobody will even know you did it except those around you and they all believe the same thing.’

Since then, I have not commemorated “Halloween” after hearing about the subtleties of dressing up in “harmless” costumes and calling it something else other than Halloween (see my blog post: HALLOWEEN “Just Harmless Fun, Right?“).  Is that choosing Biblically Consistent or is it ‘My Sacred Cow’?  Should my attitude be more expedient toward such church observations even if they call it by another name?  “A Rose is a rose…”  I’ll address that point later.

IT MUST BE BIBLICALLY UNSPECIFIED— When God specifies something in His Word for or against, we are obligated to obey.  When God speaks we listen and comply.

Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.”  It’s not optional for the Lord Jesus to become “the Author and source of eternal salvation to all those who give heed and obey Him”  (Hebrews 5:9).  Therefore, if something is clearly specified in Scripture, it can’t rightly fall in the realm of expediency.  It must be biblically consistent and biblically unspecified.

IT MUST BE EDIFYING— My choices; your choices must build up and if not…it’s not truly an expedient.

When we demand something resulting in harm to the One Body (the church), we’re not behaving responsibly to the blood-bought church.  Our expediencies must ‘edify’ our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

IT MUST NOT CAUSE STUMBLINGOverriding principles of the New Covenant must exercise our liberty in a responsible way; with consideration for our brothers/sisters less settled in their faith.  Harvest Festivals; HALLOWEEN might seem expedient to most but if it causes ‘stumbling’ to a new babe in Christ, it is not the responsible action.  If my choices good and right as they may cause a brother or sister to stumble and fall in their walk with Jesus, then I have not truly exercised my liberty in a godly and responsible manner.

Romans 14:1-15:2 and 1 Corinthians 8 stresses this principle time and again:  “Do not let yourselves be [hindrances by giving] an offense to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:32.  This would apply to any area of liberty including our choice of what may be perceived to be expedient in accomplishing God’s will.

Expedients are employed by us ALL…on a daily basis.

Let’s cease demanding uniformity as a requirement and more accepting of and forbearing with one another in areas of choice; let us begin promoting unity instead; applying these principles of course.  I believe such a new attitude and course of action will be more expedient in nature.

Is There A FAMINE Coming to The Land?

“THUS THE Lord God showed to me, and behold, a basket of summer fruit”  ~ Amos 8:1

There was a popular Gospel tune by the Imperials – No Shortage in the late 70 s.  I was singing with The Fischermen Trio back then with three of my best friends in southern California.  We sang at any place that would ask us to sing at; churches, men and women’s retreats, anywhere!  One of the most popular songs we were asked to sing, was our rendition of “No Shortage”.  Here are a few lyrics to drink in:

“There’s a shortage on friendship,

There’s a shortage on smiles.  There’s a shortage on neighbors,though there’s millions for miles.

Thank heaven for one thing that there’s no shortage of.  There’s no shortage on God’s Mercy 

There’s no shortage on God’s Love.”

The words to that song was in the minds of everyone then; Christians were no exception.  Shortages of gasoline; long gas lines; food shortages around the world that are still in effect today.  Do we really understand what is means to be in want in America?  Is there a FAMINE about to occur in America?

WHAT DOES “FAMINE” MEAN?

Famine means: starvation, deprivation, a shortage, in need and want.  It means lack, insufficiency, hardship, distress; the opposite of abundance.  In The Book of Amos in the Bible, God shows Amos a basket of fruit which represented the people of Israel.  They were ripe for punishment.  God was tired;  merchants were keeping all the religious festivals and the Sabbaths but not in spirit.  They couldn’t wait for the holy days to be over so they could go back to making money.  Their hearts were not in worship and yet… they put on a religious front for others.

When my children were small, getting ready to go to church on Sundays was chore, to say the least.  For my wife to get them all dressed, hair combed, breakfast eaten and both our efforts of getting all three kids in the car, at the same time…well by the time we got into the Sanctuary to worship, our hearts were far from God.  I often took mental vacations during Pastor’s messages, all because of the mornings events.  My wife knew my heart condition while observing the veins sticking out on the back of my neck in stress.  But I always kept a good religious front for others around me; tried to smile, said, “God bless you” occasionally and on and on.  Yep, I know what you’re thinking:  HYPOCRISY!  I think we’re ALL guilty of hypocrisy on Sunday mornings at different times in our lives.  I just hope, because of our busy lives today, we haven’t lost our appetites for God’s Word as the people of Amos‘ time had done.  They were about to enter a period of FAMINE in the land.

Famines and Droughts in the Bible.

"Behold, the days are coming"

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but [a famine] for hearing the words of God” ~ Amos 8:11.

In this particular Scripture in Amos, the famine spoken of is the absence of God’s Word; an absence, a shortage, a time of hunger and thirst for the Word of God.

“And [the people] shall wonder”, seeking and searching for the Word and not finding it; running “from sea to sea and from the north to the east; they shall run to and fro…but shall not find it.” ~ Amos 8:12.

Can you imagine what the world would be like in a spiritual famine? 

If the Word was not available…and people who were searching but couldn’t find it…if people were searching and seeking the Truth and found nothing…what would the world be like?

The Probables of that day:

The mentally ill would be walking the streets; prisons would be filling up; drug addicts going in and out of rehab without a change and without Christ.  AIDS spreading; new diseases; parents killing their children; children killing their parents; children killing children; same-sex marriages; people shacking up; terrorist attacks; losing jobs; senior citizens unable to buy their medicine.  If there were a spiritual famine in this land, then men would be lovers of themselves; men would be lovers of money; people would be proud, unholy, unloving, unforgiving.  I know what you are thinking…Gee it sounds a lot like the world we live in today; like America today.

“But it Can’t Be…”

We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine in America…not with all the churches on every corner.  I live in a small town Washington State, south of the Canadian border named Lynden.  At one time, Lynden held the world record for the most churches per square mile and per capita.

We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine in America, not with all the Christians walking around.  In 1990, the demographics for Christianity in America was 86%, but according to the American Religious Identification Survey of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.; March 2009, the number was reduced to 75%.  In another study, church planting in Seattle, Washington was the hardest to succeed since only 4% of the population was identified as evangelical Christians.

We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine in America…not with all the professing witnesses; ambassadors of Christ.

We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine because it can only happen if no people are hearing from God and we know people are hearing.  They are saying, ‘God told them to tell you how to get a new house or a new car.  You can have the best of everything because your Father is rich and owns everything.’  We can’t be experiencing a spiritual famine in the land.

“I know what it looks like…”  An absence of God’s Word and a shortage of God’s Word in your city:

for the LOST;

for the HURTING;

for the OPPRESSED;

for the DEPRESSED;

for the ADDICTED;

for the UNSAVED;

for the BACKSLIDDEN;

for the CONFUSED and ABUSED;

It looks like those who are looking for hope can’t find it and those who say they have hope won’t share it.

FALSE WORSHIP and a REAL FAST! – Isaiah 58:6-12:

In Isaiah 58, God was addressing the children of Israel as they went to church [the Temple] everyday; making a show of coming to God and asking Him to take action on their behalf.

They told the Lord‘We have fasted before you; why aren’t you impressed?’

And the Lord told them, ‘because while you were fasting, you are still fighting and quarreling; you are still oppressing your workers; you go through the motions, and outwardly you look like you are right, but you ain’t!’

God said, if you really want to please Me, have a real fast that causes change in you and in the world around you.  The fast that the Lord is calling for is to share your bread with the hungry; natural and spiritual bread.  JESUS is the bread of life.  He says, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’  Jesus lets us know the need for natural bread but without the spiritual bread; without Him; without the Word, we have no life: ‘He is the way, the truth and the life.’

We are experiencing spiritual famine in the land…covering the naked.

V.7 …when you see the naked, that you cover him”

Covering him with both natural and spiritual; giving them clothing if needed… but also sharing God’s Word; knowing the Word exposes our sinfulness, our nakedness.  By reaching out, we show the love of Christ, for love covers a multitude of sins; the Word cleanses and delivers us.  Then we will call on the Lord and He will hear us.

God says what we should be doing while FASTING:

– reaching out to others.

– sharing God’s Word.

– sharing God’s love.

– sharing God’s compassion.

– being doers of the Word and not only hearers.

This will bless the land; this is true worship.

Then HE will water our lives when we are dry…we will be blessed, our children will be blessed and they will rebuild the deserted cities.  God isn’t looking for fake worship.  He is looking for people to worship Him in Spirit and truth.  Then He can heal our land.

BUT, there is a spiritual famine in the land…

Either we share the Word, or the rest of the world will experience the famine.  Why?  Jesus said, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed?  Is it not to be set on a lamp stand?If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Our lighthouse has a  purpose.

Our light helps direct people to Christ because they are in darkness; as a lighthouses’  purpose is to guide ships at sea away from sinking during a storm in the pitch of darkness.  However if we do not use what we’ve learned and heard for the kingdom of God, we will lose what we have:

“And [said Jesus,] I tell you to everyone who gets and has will more be given, but from the man who does not get and does not have, even what he has will be taken away”  (Luke 19:26 AMP).

But if we give and apply the Word, we will receive more (with the same measure we use, it will be measured to us).  There is a famine in the land.

Famine comes as a result of resources running out.

Not because there is not water and food available but because we’re not taking the water and food to those who are hungry and thirsty,  A spiritual famine is experienced by those who don’t know Jesus or turned away from Him; become lukewarm or cold Christians; they are empty, experiencing a void and don’t know how to fill it.  They try all types of the world’s remedies; hobbies, new relationships, alcohol, drug addiction and others…but nothing seems to work.  They are still hungry, still thirsty, still void.

Sharing with others what God has given to us.

He wants us to share with the rest of the land; with those in our neighborhoods; with those who we work with; with those people we come in contact with everyday.  If the land is in a spiritual famine, it affects all of us.  If the world is in shambles, though we are not of this world, we’re surely in the world.  We can either make a difference; shed our light; share the Word of God to the hungry, thirsty and hurting land or, we can watch the spiritual famine take place while God watches us and wonders:

…where are My intercessors;

…where are My witnesses;

…where are My watchmen;

where are My people,

There’s a famine in the land.  God is calling for His people today…

He says in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14:

“If I shut up heaven so no rain falls, or if I command locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people,    If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

It seems to me that God is telling us in the church, we have something to do with there being a spiritual famine in the land.  God wants to know who will take a stand for Jesus; who will be a vessel used to supply food in the famine; who will make a commitment to be a doer of the Word and not just a listener only.

God is calling for His people today to make a difference; where He has planted you and I.  To glorify Him.  To stand in the gap and stand on His Word.  Someone who will believe; someone who knows of sharing His Word with others; change their direction, their course, their path.  He is looking for someone who believes:

…sharing His Word with others will save, rescue, recover, revive lives who are starving and dying in a famine of the land.

God says, ‘Who shall I send, and who will go for us?’  Will you answer, ‘here am I Lord send me’, or will you say, ‘send the Pastor’, or ‘send the evangelist’, or ‘send anybody but…ME!’  

IS THERE A FAMINE IN THE LAND; IN YOUR COMMUNITY?  Jesus is calling America!  How are we going to respond?

“Blessing Blockers” Revisited

This past Sunday after church, a  young man said to me as I left my seat, “God bless you.”  In fact, every time he sees me, in greeting or in departure he repeats the same sentence and his intentions are true.

Should we as believers use the word “bless” as a greeting; when someone ‘sneezes’; at meal times or when we sing a patriotic song at a gathering?  Are we all blessed because we live in America?  In my questioning I decided to revisit a past blog of The Word, the Glory, and The Blessing, originally inspired by notes that I took from Dr. Creflo Dollar.  I decided to get a fresh look at the word BLESSING, especially during the economic restraints placed on the family plaguing society and the church today.

The Blessing of God is upon us:

“May blessing be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm”  (Ephesians 1:3).

Say out loud where you sit (no one is listening to you):  “I am Blessed!”  With every spiritual blessing; not with ‘some‘ spiritual blessings but every spiritual blessing.  And there is more!

[13]  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”  [14]  He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.  [29]  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs [of the “blessing”] according to the promise.   (Galatians 3:13-14; 29 NIV Version).

So, the BLESSING, according to the promise of God’s Word,  is  IN me; ON me; and AROUND me.  Then if we truly believe by faith, that we have received the blessing as our root, where then is the fruit on the tree of some believers?

Is there a DIFFERENCE between “The Blessing” and “A Blessing“?

Have you ever heard someone say, “I hope you will have many blessings in all the days of your life”? 

The Difference:

“THE BLESSING of the Lord–it makes [truly] rich, and He adds no sorrow with it”  (Proverbs 10:22)

The Blessing isn’t just any blessing. 

The Church over time has DE-synthesized the meaning over the course of ‘well-meaning’ greetings.  The Blessing is the empowerment; an ability that God puts on you.  His ‘super‘ on my ‘natural; an anointingIt makes“…when the blessing is on you and you won’t stay the same.  The BLESSING will attack lack in our lives.

You might be saying to yourself, “Okay, I think I understand what the Blessing is but what is ‘a blessing’ then?”

The glory is ‘a blessing‘.

GLORY is the manifestation of God; the manifestation of the Word.  In Genesis 1, God spoke and then He saw.  What He saw was His words manifested into His glory.  Therefore, the Garden became The Glory; which became ‘a blessing’.

If you look out your window on a blustery day and the trees are swaying to and fro, you might say, “I can see the wind blowing outside.” You can’t see the actual wind but are really seeing the manifestation, or the glory of the wind; the trees are moving as the result; ‘a blessing’.

John 1:1-5 – ‘Let there be the Light’  The LIGHT is not referring to ‘day and night’.  The Light is the Word and the Glory and out of Jesus came “the blessing”.

We are changed in God’s promise.

“And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever-increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit”  (2 Corinthians 3:18 AMP).

The “Blessing Blockers”:

“Like a sparrow in her wandering, like the swallow in her flying, so the causeless curse does not alight”  (Proverbs 26:2).

Is something BLOCKING the Blessing in your life?

A curse doesn’t come without a cause.  If a definition of the blessing is an empowerment to succeed, then a curse becomes an empowerment to fail at what you do!

A curse is a ‘blocker; there has to be a foundation for it as demonstrated by the inserted photo of the building blocks in today’s blog.  In the Old Testament; Numbers 23:8, 20, it says that ‘no one can curse what God has already blessed’.  But, we who have been blessed can cause a foundation that is not supporting a blessing.  Job 4:8 says, “those who plow iniquity (sin) and sow trouble and mischief reap the same.”  You are supporting a foundation that causes the curseThe Book of Job continues this thought:

“He withdraws not His eyes from the righteous (the upright in right standing with God); but He sets them forever with kings upon the throne, and they are exalted.  And if they are bound in fetters [of adversity] and held by cords of affliction,  Then He shows to them [the true character of] their deeds and their transgressions, that they have acted arrogantly [with presumption and self-sufficiency]”  (Job 36:7-9 AMP).

Revisiting the Ways to Withdraw the BLESSING:

“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse– The blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your god which I command you this day;  And the curse if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God…”  (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).

When you set aside monies in your Bank; checking, savings, etc.; to redeem the money… you are going to have to make a ‘withdrawal slip’ of some sort.  God has already deposited the BLESSING IN you, ON you and AROUND you.  For you to be able to witness the benefits of the deposit you are going to have to make withdrawals.  “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God.” ~ Deuteronomy 28:3;  “The Lord shall command the blessing upon you in your storehouse and in all that you undertake” ~ Deuteronomy 28:8.

We have a ‘fat storehouse account’ that is sitting there for us; and in The Blessing, we are given a choice:

“I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curses; therefore choose life that you and your descendants may live”  (Deuteronomy 30:19).

4 – Ways to WITHDRAW THE BLESSING:

1.  OBEDIENCE to the Word of God in ALL things.

2.  FAITHFULNESS.

3.  A PURE HEART.

4.  THE TITHE EXCHANGE.

THE 4- OPPOSITE WAYS to BLOCK THE BLESSING WITHDRAWALS:

1.  DISOBEDIENCE.

2.  UNFAITHFULNESS.

                                                 

3.  NOT A PURE HEART.

4.  NO TITHE EXCHANGE.

The Choices –  Obedience Vs Disobedience:

Partial obedience and delayed obedience is still disobedience.

Faithfulness Vs Unfaithfulness:

“I am BLESSED!” According to Galatians 3:13-14; 29.  The Blessing deposit has been made, BUT…the BLESSING is blocked; ‘a curse without a cause can’t happen.’ 

Look at you life honestly where you are right now.  “A faithful man shall abound with blessings” (Proverbs 28:20).  Abound means to flow or richly supplied.  Faithfulness requires a test; it takes time of proving.  If we are not dependable through the testing; our hearts, minds, thoughts are not pure, we’re not tithing for whatever reason; that is unfaithfulness, a BLESSING BLOCKER.

Revisiting PURITY and THE TITHE EXCHANGE:

I didn’t want to revisit the Blessing Blockers of a UN-Pure Heart or Not Tithing in this blog; but if you need some encouragement and interest in the BLOCKERS, you might read,

1.  Purity–The Gateway to the Flow of THE BLESSING posted 2011/03/09.

2.  The 4th Key to the Flow of The Blessing – The Tithe Exchange posted 2011/03/11.


The “GATHERING” – The Sheep of Bozrah

The Flight to Bozrah

“I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.    The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it; and their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them”  (Micah 2:12-13 KJV).

I began reading in the Old Testament this week in the Book of Micah.  This was after spending several weeks in the New Testament; The Gospel of John.  I often get direction from Holy Spirit while reading God’s Word, towards a direction for my next blog.

After my devotion and prayer times, I will sometimes re-direct myself to the Comparative Study Bible; containing the King James Version, Amplified Bible, New American Standard Bible and the New International Version.  And that is where this investigation started; the ‘Mystery’ and the connections in Micah 2:12-13 and Revelation 12.

“But the woman was supplied with the two wings of a giant eagle, so that she might fly from the presence of the serpent into the desert (wilderness), to the retreat where she is to be kept safe and fed for a time, and times, and half a time (three and one-half years, or 1260 days)”  (Revelation 12:14 AMP).

THE MYSTERY BEGAN WITH A QUESTION:

Why is the City of Bozrah only referenced in the Comparative Study Bible in the King James Version and not the rest?  Where is the City of Bozrah located?

Bozrah is the ancient capital of Edom and the modern village of today is referenced as Buseirah.  It is located in N. Edom.  Bozrah guards both the Kings’ Highway (major N-S route through Transjordan), and a major route W. to the Wadi Arabah thence the Negev and S. Judah.  It is also within striking distance of the Edomite copper mines.  Also, no water source has been found within the site.  The main water supply is a spring at Ain Jenin which is also a modern village.

Why did I present to you the description of a geographical area in the world that is rarely referenced to in the Bible?  Scripture will answer the question during the reading of the blog.

Several Second Coming passages that I will reference in this investigation, God is seen coming from these regions and adds to the mystery.

The “Strong City” has another name in Scripture:

“Who will bring me into the strong city [of Petra]? Who will lead me into Edom?  Have You rejected us, O God? And will You not go forth, O God, with our armies.  O give us help against our adversary, for vain (ineffectual and to no purpose) is the help of salvation of man.  Through God, we shall do valiantly, for He is Who shall tread down our adversaries”  (Psalm 60:9-12 AMP).

“Who will bring me [David] into the strong, fortified city [of Petra]?  Who will lead me into Edom?…”  (Psalm 108:10-13 AMP).

Amaziah slew Edom in the Valley of Salt 10,000, and took Sela (Greek Petra [rock]) by war…”  (2 Kings 14:7 AMP).

Petra [rock
BOZRAH / PETRA:

In the Book of Daniel, the angel of God gives a revealing account of the ‘mystery’ of end times to Daniel while being captive in Babylon.  In the following passage of Scripture, the angel explains that the Antichrist will enter Israel and other nations:

“He shall enter into the Glorious Land [Palestine] and many shall be overthrown, but these shall be delivered out of his hand:  Edom, Moab, and the main [core] of the people of Ammon” 

(Daniel 11:41 AMP).

Edom, Moab, and Ammon are all in Jordan; these areas must escape the Antichrist.  Israel then, can flee to Edom (Bozrah/Petra [the rock]), where she escapes during the last 1/2 of the Tribulation (times = 2 years, time = 1 year and 1/2 time = 1/2 year or total = 3.5 years– Revelation 12:14).

The Gospel of Matthew Gives Us the “kick-off event”:

Matthew is written specifically to the Jews, gives an escape route for the remnant of Israel, which is noted by Jesus, identifying the “kick-off” event of Daniel 9:27 of the last half of the Tribulation period; the Antichrist setting up an idol of himself in the rebuilt Temple of God (Matthew 24:15-16).

During the terrible last half of the Tribulation period, 2/3 of the population of the Nation of Israel falls to the armies of the Antichrist.  The remaining 1/3, the remnant flees this tyranny found in the prophecy of Zechariah (Zechariah 13:8-9).

The “Sheepfold”:

The Hebrew meaning of ‘Bozrah’ is “sheepfold:   “I will bring [Israel] together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in the midst of their pasture” (Micah 2:12).

Sheep Gathered in a pasture

The ‘Sheep pen’ or “sheepfold” is put into play as the Antichrist tries to finish off Israel at Bozrah/Petra in Edom (Jordan).  Jesus returns to save them after the Battle of Armageddon takes place in His clothing reflecting the Winepress of God (Isaiah 63:1-6).

‘The Day of the Lord’ also is pictured in the Book of Revelation where Jesus returns to Earth on a white horse; the Winepress of God in Isaiah 63:3.  Again found in Revelation 19:15.

THE FLIGHT TO BOZRAH–The Gathering of the Jude o-Christian People of the Earth:

Picking up the story in Revelation 12 is a critical passage of Scripture in our story.  John, the recipient of the vision sees a woman flying away on the wings of a great eagle; flying off to a place of exile for 1260 days, 3.5 years.  John saw her escaping the face of the dragon, clothed in glory.

The people of the ‘gathering’ will be exiled to places (or places) to be nurtured in the things of God.  This event, during the Great Tribulation, is told to us in Revelation 12:6:

“And the woman [herself] fled into the desert (wilderness), where she has a retreat prepared [for her] by God, in which she is to be fed and kept safe” 

Here we see  “the flock in the midst of their pasture” of Micah 2:12.  The story is retold in Revelation 12:14 just in case you missed it the first time.  The Bozrah story apparently is the climatic end-time gathering; like sheep in the fold.  A gathering of Jude o-Christian people from around the world.  On board airplanes?  Maybe or maybe not but John’s vision was that of a Giant Eagle.

The drama unfolds as Jesus, the Messiah takes a little visit to Bozrah/Petra.  He will have some business to attend to after He breaks out His people out of the ‘sheep pen’.  This is why the Holy Spirit, writing through the prophet Micah, calls Him ‘the breaker’ (Micah 2:13).

The Jewish Return:

“Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east [where you are dispersed] and gather you from the west.  I will say to the north, Give up! and to the south, Keep not back.  Bring my sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth”  (Isaiah 43:5-6 AMP).

Isaiah lived about 2700 years ago.  The succession of empires conquered the land of Israel, forcing many into exile; a worldwide scattering.  During the past century, millions have returned via Planes, Trains and Automobiles (by sea too!). The “GATHERING”!

“And I will gather the remnant of My flock out of ALL the countries to which I have driven them and will bring them again to their folds and pastures, and they will be fruitful and multiply.  And I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them.  And they will fear no more nor be dismayed, neither will any be missing or lost, says the LordBehold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch (Sprout), and He will reign as King and do wisely and will execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In His days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name by which He shall be called: The Lord Our Righteousness”  (Jeremiah 23:3-6 AMP).

The “Math Idea” – What is it?:

In 8 years, the percentage of Jews living in Israel compared to the percentage of Jews living in the world today, we can use the data to make a prediction.  Most Jews would return to Israel by 2012.

Checking the math, “93.5 % of Jews in the world would end up in Israel by 2012” (Research was done by George and Raymond Konig of http://www.AboutBibleProhecy.com).

From the east:  Many Jews living in the Middle Eastern countries moved to Israel in the 1900 s.  After Israel reclaimed independence in 1948, more Jews moved to their ancient homeland; forced out of various Arab countries by persecution.

From the west:  In the mid-1900 s, hundreds of thousands of Jews from Europe and the United States moved to Israel to escape the persecution of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.

From the north:  Hundreds of thousands of Jews living in the former Soviet Union moved to Israel in the 1980 s post the Berlin Wall being torn down.

From the south:  During the 1980 s and the 1990 s, Israel struck a deal with the Ethiopian’s government, to allow Jews of Ethiopia to move to IsraelOn the weekend of May 25th, 1991, 14,500 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel.  Isaiah’s prophecy was correct in saying that the north (Russia) and the south (Ethiopia) would allow their Jews to move to Israel.

THE “GATHERING” HAS BEGUN!

Prophecy is being fulfilled as I write this blog.  We are arriving at a threshold of  Isaiah’s words through God’s Spirit:

“It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house

shall be [firmly] established as the highest of the mountains

and shall be exalted above the hills

and all nations shall flow to it” ~ Isaiah 2:2

Re-building of the Temple on Mt. Moriah.

Before the final gathering takes place; The Sheepfold at Bozrah, God’s Holy Temple must be rebuilt before Jesus returns.  Although The Dome of the Rock is currently occupied by the Muslim’s mosque, out of sight and with little publicity, the construction plans are underway.

The Sanhedrin has been reformed again; 500 Levites  being trained in priestly duties to serve in the temple.  Golden utensils are being forged and antiquities returned to Jerusalem daily as the search for the Ark of the Covenant goes on.  With the political climate in the Middle East right now, with Israel being threatened from all sides, God’s Holy Temple, the third temple is underway.

There is still an unanswered question that is a mystery to me.  Why is Bozrah/Petra left out of most modern translations in Micah 2:12 and only found in the King James Version?  I even grabbed The Interlinear Bible-Hebrew, Greek, English and read the same verse.  Again Bozrah appears in Micah 2:12  but is omitted in The Amplified Bible, New American Standard Bible and The New International Version.

Although I was able to investigate the location of city Bozrah/Petra, the mystery of omission is not answered.  Was there a reason why the translators, who claim to be in line with Hebrew and Greek language just leave it out?  Maybe you might have an answer to the question.  There is a COMMENT place at the end of the blog.

I do know this, that over and over again the prophets unveiled the full dimensions of God’s judgment and salvation.  God must punish His rebellious people but will afterward redeem them.  Israel will be held in captivity, yet a remnant will return.  The Messiah, the “One”, “The Breaker” (Amplified Bible) will break through, pass through the pasture gateand go out through it, and their King will pass on before them, the Lord at their head” (Micah 2:13).