HEAVEN IS MORE ABOUT A PERSON THAN A PLACE

Bible Text:  Philippians 3:20, 21

Setting out on a Summer Vacation has always been a special occasion in my life. Although I don’t travel on long road trips as much as I used to, I still love planning vacations.

When our children were young, some parts of the journey on a family vacation were much enjoyed…while other parts, not so much (He’s touching me…No, I’m not…She’s touching me!).

I remember going on family vacations with my brother, mom, and dad and on the way we would stop for a fresh peach ice cream cone on a hot Summer day in Bakersville, California, but that wasn;t our destination…our destination was Yosemite National Park and the RESERVATIONS were long in place at Camp Curry.

And if you remember Family Vacations as I do and find after arriving at your destination there are NO RESERVATIONS available and you wind up spending the night in a car with a family of five…behind a park ranger’s cabin…hearing strange noises in the dark….you might want to punch a night prowling racoon on the nose!

Arriving At The End Of The Journey

Our loving Father, who wants us to make it to the end of life’s journey posted many road signs designed to get us and keep focused on the road.

It’s why the Apostle Peter writes… “Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you were unpitied, but now you are pitied and have received mercy. Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles [in the world] to abstain from sensual urges (the evil desires, passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul.  Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers,  [yet]  they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God on the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you Wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock]”  (1 Peter 2:10-12AMP).

The Apostle Paul and Apostle Peter are in complete 100% agreement. 

OUR HOME ISN’T HERE!  OUR CITIZENSHIP IS IN HEAVEN, NOT HERE ON EARTH.

We are on a JOURNEY, not to see and taste ice cream or punch a raccoon in the nose, but “We eagerly wait to see our Savior, from heaven.”

We long to glorify God here, because, through that, others might also glorify Him on the day He visits us.

As we look towards the end of the JOURNEY it’s important we realize that HEAVEN IS MORE ABOUT A PERSON THAN A PLACE.

Got whatever the reason we’ve been bombarded, saturated with pictures of heaven showing white fluffy clouds, Angels with halos, and a lot of singing and strumming.

George Bernard Shaw wrote these somewhat cynical words about HEAVEN:

If heaven is nothing more than a place where we sit on white clouds and play a harp day after day, frankly, it’s not a place to really get excited about…

It’s better than HELL–to be more comfortable than being ‘burnt toast’s-but it’s not a great motivation to keep on the narrow road until the end, especially when Satan offers all kinds of side-excursions on the journey.

Behavior and Hearts Will Never Ever Be Changed Spiritually by Viewing Heaven As A Place.

Don’t get me wrong!  I believe HEAVEN to be real, tangible, rock solid!!

Here’s the problem viewing HEAVEN in a place.

1 Corinthians 2:9, 10  (Good News Translation – GNT)

However, as scripture says, “What no one ever saw and heard what no one ever thought could happen, is the very thing God prepared for those who love him–but it was to us that God made known his secret by means of his Spirit.”

I had to re-read the above verses several times before I really understood.  Don’t try to present or understand HEAVEN as the end, your earthly, non-glorified eye, ears and mind are not capable.  But you have a RELATIONSHIP with God through His Spirit.  His spirit made Him “Abba” Daddy to you, and this relationship reveals the PROMISE of HEAVEN, not as a place, but as His people.

I want to share Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:21 with you:  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’  will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  

When you think of HEAVEN as a place…trying to be good enough to get there, to keep the Law–the 10 Commandments–do church stuff, and Jesus says “you have to know my Father’s WILL (and the only way we know it is through the Holy Spirit), don’t just do STUFF…have a relationship with Me…know Me…and then HEAVEN isn’t a place you go, it’s a family reunion.

It’s Paul’s understanding that his CITIZENSHIP IS IN HEAVEN…

VERSE 20:  “But our citizenship is in heaven…and we eagerly WAIT…

And it’s Peter who is excited to give glory to God on the day He visits us.

THE WORK OF GOD can only be carried on by the POWER of God.

The CHURCH isn’t an organization (or it shouldn’t be), but it’s a spiritual organism–a living, breathing thing fighting spiritual battles…and only spiritual POWER can make it function as God ordained.

THE KEY…

It’s not money, organization, cleverness or education, the KEY is God, His Spirit and His POWER moving us forward on the journey.

Romans 8:14 reads “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

“Sons of God”…This is exactly the RELATIONSHIP Paul is talking about.  

God has made us spend eternity in relationship with Him…and we severed that relationship.

How is it RESTORED?

He calls us back…

He pays for our misgivings, our SINS through the BLOOD of His own Son.

We REPENT and ESTABLISH the relationship through the DEATH, BURIAL, AND RESURRECTION.

The Holy Spirit enters this earthly tent…

Lives within…which is God’s down payment for an external RELATIONSHIP.

Our text in Philippians 3 tells us something so important about the relationship at the end of the journey.

The Greatest Miracle…

The most amazing aspect of ETERNAL RELATIONSHIP is guaranteed by Holy Spirit.

JESUS CHRIST THE ALL POWERFUL WILL TRANSFORM US TO BE LIKE HIM!

VERSE 21:   Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty, by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself.  [AMP]

WHAT KIND OF AUTHORITY DOES JESUS HAVE?

“ALL AUTHORITY,” ACCORDING TO MATTHEW  28:18-20 –

Empty tomb with three crosses on a hill side.

WHY?  Because He made Himself a servant, was made in human likeness, came to earth in the appearance of man…and then humbled Himself completely in obedience to His Father, even dying on a Cross.

As JESUS prayed before His crucifixion in John 17, look closely at His request:

This PLAN, this RELATIONSHIP, existed before the world begun as did God’s PLAN for SALVATION through Jesus!

Jesus knew this SALVATION would be presented through the DISCIPLES.  Here’s what Jesus wanted more than anything else while He approached the Cross.

But He wasn’t just thinking about the 12…

John 17:11-19

HE WAS THINKING ABOUT THOSE WHO WOULD BE SAVED THROUGH THEIR MESSAGE.

LISTEN TO THE HEART OF JESUS!!

 

Powerful Stuff, don’t you think?  The RELATIONSHIP that Jesus has with the Father and the Father has with Him, flows powerfully into the lives of His followers through the Holy Spirit… 

Not just for the TWELVE, but even those who would be SAVED by their message,

Those who have been ADOPTED into the Family of God.

You see it’s the Spirit that’s transforming us into the IMAGE of Jesus.  Holy isn’t His first name, it’s the work He performs in us as believers.  He’s molding (as we surrender) our hearts, minds, attitudes into being shaped like Jesus’ heart, mind, attitude…

CROSS SHAPED!

So while this is occurring, our inward TRANSFORMATION through the Holy Spirit taking place in a body that’s wasting away, a TENT, inwardly we are hopefully becoming Holy – H.O.L.Y.

But our earthly bodies are becoming Holey – H.O.L.E.Y. …

  • Holy=filled with Jesus
  • Holey=filled with holes.

“Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

I can probably bet that Paul wasn’t focusing on clouds, harps, and golden streets.  He was looking straight at the face of a Savior Who reversed His blasphemous, violent, persecuting hide!  The One Who pulled him out of the angry dust on the Damascus Road one day and redirected his path towards home.

And in that place, we call HEAVEN, in the presence of Jesus…spiritual perfection is attained, and our satisfaction becomes GLORIFICATION.

And then folks, that perfect Spirit will then be housed in a perfect body…

“Transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”

Spending A Day Or A 1,000 Years On My Face…

Telling Jesus how much I love Him, how grateful I am for His grace, my salvation, and I’ll get up to my feet, and look for my Dad and ask “Want a fresh peach ice cream cone?”  And he’ll say, “You know, you look great without all your scars.”  And then we’ll both fall at the feet of Jesus again for a day or 1,000 years, it really doesn’t matter, does it?

REUNION

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CREDITS –

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV);  Amplified Bible (AMP) and others as noted in the text.

PHOTOS:  All Photos used for this post were found on Google Image Search, Advanced Search settings.

DICTIONARY:  VINE’S COMPLETE EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY.

 

Walking, Talking and Chewing Gum

Colossians 4:5-6 (Amplified Bible – AMP):

[5] Behave yourselves wisely [living prudently and with discretion] in your relations with those of the outside world (the non-Christians), making the very most of the time and seizing (buying up) the opportunity.

[6] Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you].

Colossians 4:5-6 (New King James Version – NKJV):

[5] Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.

[6] Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Sitting Around the THANKSGIVING Table with Family and Friends

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After enjoying a scrumptious and thankful meal my daughter had spent the whole day preparing, my wife and I sat around the table, listening to the diverse conversation.  Every topic, from future vacations, work related issues, current events, and what ingredients went into the “bread pudding,” to…“There are ghosts that live in my barn.”

As my wife and I looked at each other, I whispered in her ear,  “Where is JESUS in all this?”

I had asked God’s blessing on our family prior to the Thanksgiving Feast, but where was JESUS at our table? What could I have said that could have been “seasoned with salt,” yet with grace and wisdom at the same time.  It almost seemed like ‘walking, talking and chewing gum, at the same time and not spitting out the gum.  Is that even possible to accomplish?

So what did I do?  I tucked the wad of gum, my unspeakable thoughts, to the back of my cheek…and just listened; not commenting, not wanting my speech to fall on deaf ears.

Was that the correct reaction?

good-at-maths-lets-see-9-638

I NEEDED WISDOM!

Our “CONDUCT” Our “BEHAVIOR”…

Conduct (Behavior), is in the present tense (v 5), meaning a continual action.  Not just for ‘special occasions’, but our behavior is to be continual–calling for believers to continually walk in WISDOM and TRUTH, no matter where they might be in place and time.  And for most of us, that can seem almost impossible as “walking, talking and chewing gum” at the same time.

Paul is not commanding us to do anything that GOD’S POWER has not provided the potential for us to accomplish ahead of time.  The apostle is calling us for a continuous, supernatural walk, which demands continual reliance on a Supernatural Source (The Holy Spirit).

Our responsibility then, is to continually work at our salvation with truth, fear and trembling as God in us, continually gives us the DESIRE AND POWER.

Philippians 2:12:  “work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ)” ~ AMP bible.

So Paul is writing about the PRACTICAL; how we, as disciples of Christ, are to WALK & TALK before the skeptical watching world.  And yes, that does include members of our families and friends who are unbelievers and who need our compassion.

As the old saying is true, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

WALKING THAT “WISE WALK”…TALKING THAT “SALTY” TALK

God calls all of us to LIVE lives of LOVE amongst each other.  To HELP our neighbors…to become a family, a community church of believers, that helps one another.

We must strive to always “be holy for He is holy” and “do all as unto the Lord.”

  • Walk in WISDOM toward them that are without.
  • Speak words of GRACE in LOVE.
  • We are the SALT OF THE EARTH – Without “salt” we will lose our savor (effectiveness), our essence to the unbeliever.

To Speak With Words That Are Full of Grace

The phrase “gracious” means ‘always with grace’ – ‘to be full of grace’ – overflowing with grace!  Grace also means “Favor”.

The word also carries with it the idea of the Lord’s influence upon our hearts…His unmerited favor (GRACE) and its reflection in our own life.

We Also Know the Tongue Has Incredible Power…(the power of life & death) For Good or Evil (Book of James is full of these words about the “tongue”).

A “KIND” Word Can Go A Long Way –

Think of a young boy with his first try at baseball and someone speaks words of encouragement as he steps up to the plate:  “Way to go, slugger!”

Proverbs 10:20-21 (AMP):

[20] The tongues of those who are upright and in right standing with God are a choice silver; the minds of those who are wicked and out of harmony with God are of little value.  [21] The lips of the [uncompromisingly]  righteous feed and guide many, but fools die for want of understanding and heart.

  • Love to give COMPLIMENTS.

ie. – Drive up window at McDonald’s…(mean) or (nice_loving).

A MEAN or HURTFUL WORD CAN BREAK YOUR HEART!

James 3, tells us that a TONGUE used wrongly…

The Message bible (verses 5-6):

“It only takes a spark, remember to set off a forest fire.  A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that.  By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.”

That’s pretty powerful!

Speaking With Grace Has A Requirement

To SPEAK with GRACE we will need GRACE in our hearts.

Colossians 3:16 (AMP):

Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts.

Why do we need GRACE in our hearts?

Luke 6:45 (AMP):

The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright, and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.

  • A person who says kind things, has a kind heart.
  • A person who says negative things, has a negative heart.
  • A person who says mean things, has a mean heart.

What’s on the INSIDE, is likely to come out!

Colossians 3:17 tells us what happens when you have GRACE on the INSIDE:

“And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.”

DO ALL IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS!

This means with His Approval!

Do it His way!

Would the Lord approve of your SPEECH around others?

No one who CURSES, SWEARS, LIES, GOSSIPS, RUNS OTHERS DOWN…is letting the Word of Christ dwell in them richly.

** You’ll have a hard time yelling at another driver…in Jesus’ name.

** Saying unkind things to your husband or wife…in Jesus’ name.

** Saying negative things in the positive Name of Jesus.

Proverbs 12:13:  “The wicked is [dangerously] snared by the transgression of his lips, but the [uncompromisingly] righteous shall come out of trouble.”

Proverbs 16:13:  “Right and just lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right.”

Proverbs 23:16:  “Yes, my heart will rejoice when your lips speak right things.”

Something is NEEDED first, before we can have GRACE in our Hearts…

STEP 1. True Salvation!  

STEP 2 Complete Submission!  [Oh, how I fall short here]

FOUR TESTS TO TAKE OF “GRACIOUS SPEECH”:

IS IT TRUE???

“…seasoned with SALT…”

Seasoned With SALT
Seasoned With SALT

SALT was used for preserving and purifying.

SEASONED SPEECH is truthful.  Ephesians 4:15…tells us to SPEAK the truth in love.

Before you repeat a statement, make sure it is TRUE!!!!  Someone said, “I believe half of what I see, and nothing of what I hear!”

Just because someone said it doesn’t make it true!

It is easy to jump to a wrong conclusion.  PROVERBS 14:25 says  “A truthful witness saves lives, but a deceitful witness speaks lives [and endangers lives]”  (Amp.)

Before you BELIEVE something…Before you REPEAT something…Make sure it’s true!!!!

IS IT COMPLETE?

It is easy while sitting with family and friends at the dinner table, to get half of the Story.

What is said may be true, but it is not COMPLETE!

Before you swallow your “gum” while listening to the conversation; before you say something, make sure you get ALL the story!

IS IT NECESSARY????

What you say may be TRUE, it may be COMPLETE, but is it NECESSARY???

Ephesians 4:15  “Speaking the truth in Love” !!!!  

(1 Peter 4:8):  “Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].”

Some of the most hurtful words I’ve heard over time have been preceded by the words, “it’s the truth” or, “it’s real!”

Just because it is the TRUTH, doesn’t make it necessary!  There are times when silence is golden!

IS IT KIND???

(Rom. 12:10) –  “Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another.”

(Eph. 4:31-32) –  “Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment and quarreling and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind).    And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you.”

I hope this blog-POST has been an encouragement to you as it certainly has been for me in study.  I needed WISDOM on my ‘gum chewing’ thoughts.

My Pledge, and I Hope Yours in the Upcoming Day…

  1. Determined to control my tongue!
  2. Say only good things about others!
  3. Remember my accountability! (Matthew 12:36)
  4. Ask the Lord to Help me!

(Psalm 141:3)  “Set a guard, O Lord, before my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.”

REMEMBERING THE POINTS OF INSTRUCTION FROM COLOSSIANS 4:5-6:

BE WISE  (Prov. 4:5, 7; 9:10; 11:30; 14:27) –

  • The principal thing is to GET WISDOM.
  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of WISDOM.
  • Seeing souls saved around you is a result of and our evidence of WISDOM.

BE READY  (1 Peter 3:15-16) –

  • A good heart.
  • A good conscience.
  • Good CONDUCT.

BE KIND  (2 Timothy 2:24-26) –

  • Be gentle.
  • Be patient.
  • Be humble.

BE RESPONSIBLE  (2 Tim. 4:1-5; James 2:14-17, 5:13-16, 16-20; Mark 12:28-37; Galatians 6:10) –

  • Preach the Word.
  • Fulfill your ministry, whatever that may be.
  • Respond to others needs.

Oh, make me Lord, so much like Thee,

My life controlled by power diving,

That I, a shining light may be,

From which Thy grace may ever shine. ~ Robertson

 


 

Credits for this BLOG:

Colossians 4:5-6 Commentary by Preceptaustin.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP) except where noted in the Text.

Photo Credit:  Google Images

 

 

 

 

 

Everything In Life Has Terms Attached to it

STUDY IN AMOS 4:11-13 –

Terms-and-Conditions

 

HAVE LAWYERS TAKEN OVER THE WORLD?

It seems like everything I do these days has some type of TERMS I have to agree to.  I just opened today’s mail and with no surprise, plenty of JUNK MAIL.

Somebody will send a credit card application and all over the front page, in big 2-inch letters–tells me about all the money they’re going to give me.

But then at the bottom or on the back, it gives the TERMS & CONDITIONS.  Of course, you have to have a magnifying glass to read the print.  The only reason they put the terms therein the first place is because the LAWYERS make them.  That said, they still try to hide them as best as they can.

Whether you’re buying anything, getting a job, or entering a contract–TERMS have to be agreed to.

Did you know that God has “terms” as well?

Except, God isn’t a lawyer–He sets His terms up front.

The problem comes in when we try to meet God on our own TERMS instead of on His.

That’s what ISRAEL did in our study in AMOS.  God’s chosen people wanted a RELATIONSHIP with God, but wanted it on their TERMS.

God speaks through AMOS and reviews His case against ISRAEL.

AMOS reviews the ways ISRAEL tried to meet God on their own TERMS, in spite of His continual persuasion.

Even though times have changed, human nature hasn’t and neither has God’s CHARACTER.

There are still TWO WAYS to prepare to meet God–

Either try to do it on our terms or His.  We’ll meet Him either way.  Either we’ll meet Him in JUDGMENT or in ETERNAL RELATIONSHIP.

MEETING GOD ON OUR TERMS –

ISRAEL tried to meet God on their terms because they BEHAVED on their own terms.

AMOS 4:1:

“HEAR THIS word, you cows of Bashan who are in the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to their husbands,  Bring and let us drink!”

GOD’S description called them “COWS”, not “BULLS.”

BASHAN is a hilly area overlooking Samaria and was known for its cattle.  If McDonald’s had been around back then, they would have marketed “Bashan burgers” and not “Black Angus.”

BASHAN COWS were well fed, spoiled and fat!

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THE IMAGE GOD USED TO DESCRIBE THE ISRAELITE WOMEN –

In the original Hebrew language, the feminine structure of the verse makes it clear, God is talking about the WOMEN OF ISRAEL.

Throughout history, in every society, WOMEN are the main stabilizing forces.  The decline of any society can be seen in the way the women act.

WOMEN are typically more stable, more moral, more obedient to laws, more kind and merciful to the poor and needy.

That was what was happening in ISRAEL.  The women had turned away from their values; they had usurped their roles in the home by now demanding to be waited on.

CAUSE & EFFECT–

The words in AMOS 4, are not just a JUDGMENT on the women.  It’s a JUDGMENT on Israel as a whole because women acting that way is an EFFECT– it’s not a CAUSE.

The cause is from men and society as a whole, turning away from God.

The Genie Is Out of The Bottle…

RADICAL FEMINISM will not go away until Christ returns, ushering in proper balance between men and women.

When JESUS sets up His government–“until the times of restoration of all things” will begin (Acts 3:21), then He will declare the eternal end to the “battle of the sexes.”  Then it will not be a woman’s world–but a God’s world!

Look what’s happening in my country…

AMERICA began to turn away from God in the mid 1800s.  The educated elite began to BELIEVE IN DARWINISM and began to question the Bible and tear it down.

THAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE DISEASE–

Now fast forward to today.  Women in America no longer value their KINDNESS and MERCY.  We lift up cutthroat, catty corporate executives and political figures as role models.  And, from an early age, girls are encouraged to be tough and aggressive instead of KIND AND MERCIFUL.

Just like ancient ISRAEL, that’s just one of the first symptoms of a disease that has been eating away at our society for a long time.  It is a DISEASE called… wanting to behave on our own terms.

But not only did ISRAEL BEHAVE on their own terms, they WORSHIPPED on their own terms.

AMOS 4:4-5 (NIV):

[4] “Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years.

[5] Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings–boast about them, you Israelites for this is what you love to do,” declares the Sovereign LORD.

BETHEL and GILGAL –

Both Bethel and Gilgal originally had been wonderful places of WORSHIP for God.

BETHEL was the place where Abraham set up and altar to God–Jacob saw the LORD there and also one of the places SAMUEL judged.

BUT over the years, the people corrupted the place of worship.  Jeroboam set up the golden calf and that marked the beginning of a long history of idolatry and false worship there.

Both BETHEL & GILGAL has historically been places of WORSHIP.  But over the years, the WORSHIP had become empty and even despicable to God.

The people were going through ALL the motions, even going over and above–bringing SACRIFICES much more than required.

They TITHED much more often than was required.

Their outward shows of RELIGION were over and above.

Most would say that would be a good thing.  Well, not if their heart was in the shape theirs was in.

Camouflage Heart/Google Images
Camouflage Heart/Google Images

Because they came to offer sacrifices just as a show, their SACRIFICE didn’t indicate a HEART CHANGE.

THE FREEWILL OFFERINGS were proclaimed and published as mandatory; they were no longer FREE!  They were under obligation.

They were worshipping, but on their own terms–they didn’t worship with a changed and contrite heart or out of a FREE LOVE of God.

They did it for show!

Doesn’t that sound like the church today?  We want to WORSHIP Him on our terms.  We want to come to church to make us FEEL GOOD, or get our batteries recharged.

Or, we come to church out of some sort of OBLIGATION.

We look for a church that will meet our needs or will suit our personal tastes.

If the ‘musk’ isn’t the way we like it, we leave.  We have become consumers rather than worshippers.

And when everything falls in line of our needs, we smile and sing,  “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

ISRAEL tried to meet God on their terms…

They BEHAVED on their terms and they worshipped on their terms and NOT what God wanted of them.

And it’s not what God wants of us either.

But God doesn’t force us to do anything.  Just like He didn’t force ISRAEL to change.  He didn’t force them–He persuaded them to meet Him on His terms.

GOD’S WARNINGS ON HIS TERMS (AMOS 4:2-3):

GOD’S TERMS and ISRAEL’S TERMS–

What our God’s Terms?

051807CARPFISHjc10 Sports photo by Jim Commentucci 5/18/07 A common carp weighing in the mid teens fights at the surface against French teammates Numa Marengo and Frederic Labrousse during the second day of fishing Friday in the American Carp Society's Northeast Regionals tournament on the Seneca River in Baldwinsville. The fish was caught on a flavored dough bait called "boilies." FISHING DERBY

He tells us in VERSE 2:  “The LORD GOD has sworn by His HOLINESS that behold, the days shall come upon you when they shall take you away with hooks and the last of you with fish-hooks.”

His terms are HOLINESS–it’s TERMS He swears by.

JESUS summed up GOD’S TERMS in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:48):

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father

which is in heaven is perfect.”  ~ King James Bible

The AMPLIFIED bible adds brackets to end of this verse.  I believe it clarifies the verse even more:

[that is, grow into complete maturity of godliness

in mind and character, having reached the proper

height of virtue and integrity].

THAT’S GOD’S TERMS–THAT’S WHAT HE DEMANDS

And ISRAEL didn’t even come close.

BUT GOD, in His GRACE, warned them every step of the way.  He WARNED them that their disobedience would bring JUDGMENT.

God changes the picture here…

It goes from picturing the WOMAN OF ISRAEL as fat and happy cows…to picturing them as FISH ON A HOOK.

I know what happens when I’ve gone fishing to a nearby lake and caught fish.  I hooked it and drag it out of the place where it was comfortable (You place the fish in an environment that is harsh and hostile to it).

GOD’S WARNING–

stock-photo-mess-of-catfish-on-a-stringer-lying-on-the-bank-of-a-river-180460181His warning to the people were literally fulfilled by the Assyrians, who led ISRAEL into CAPTIVITY just a few years later.

In a few short years, ISRAEL went from unprecedented economic and military prosperity to being drug into captivity like FISH on a stringer.

Has GOD given us warnings?

GOD’S TERMS OF PERFECTION –

His terms of perfection are the same as they have always been.  Along with His TERMS OF PERFECTION, He has given His PROVISION OF GRACE.

GRACE that our IMPERFECTIONS are covered by the BLOOD of His Son JESUS CHRIST.

He takes away our SIN and gives us HIS PERFECTION–HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.  But He only does that when we TRUST Him as our LORD & SAVIOR!

The Bible is full of WARNINGS when we refuse His warnings and rebel.

  • WHEN WE BEHAVE ON OUR TERMS…GOD WARNS ON HIS TERMS.
  • WHEN WE WORSHIP ON OUR TERMS…GOD WARNS ON HIS TERMS.

GOD ALSO PERSUADES ON HIS TERMS –

AMOS 4:6-11 (NAS bible):

[6] “But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities  And lack of bread in all your places,  Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.

[7] “And furthermore, I withheld the rain from you  While there were still three months until harvest.  Then I would send rain on one city  And on another city I would not send rain;  One part would be rained on,  While the part not rained on would dry up.

[8] “So two or three cities would stagger to another city to drink water;  But would not be satisfied;  Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.

[9] “I smote you with scorching wind and mildew;  And the caterpillar was devouring  Your many gardens and vineyards, fig trees and olive trees;  Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.

[10] “I sent a plague among you after the manner of Egypt;  I slew your young men by the sword along with your captured horses,  And I made the stench in your camp rise up in your nostrils;  Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.

[11] “I overthrew you as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,  And you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze;  Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.

GOD JUDGED the world in a flood and He will judge the world with fire.  Everything in between… is His PERSUASION.

In VERSE 6, He PERSUADED Israel with famine.

“CLEAN TEETH” wasn’t a compliment on their dental hygiene.  It meant they had no food to dirty their teeth with.

In VERSES 7-8, God gave them drought to try to PERSUADE them to turn to Him.

In VERSE 9, He gave them, as the Amplified Bible reads…”BLIGHT”.  

BLIGHT in Detroit, Michigan USA
BLIGHT in Detroit, Michigan USA

DEFINITION OF BLIGHT= [1] “Any of numerous plant diseases resulting in sudden conspicuous wilting and dying and the effects thereof…”  [2] “An agent or action that harms or ruins the VALUE or success of something”  (See footnote [i] ). 

In VERSE 10, He gave them PESTILENCE and WAR to persuade them…

AND in VERSE 11, A Supernatural DEFECT…

Many of the things we see as TRIALS as given to us persuades us, to return to Him.

Look at AMERICA as an example –  

  • After the Civil War there was a national REVIVAL.
  • After the Great Depression, there followed national REVIVAL.

After most great times of TROUBLE & TRIAL, there has been periods of a national return to the LORD.  Until recently.

Even after 9/11, Bible sales across America went through the roof!  But there was a shifting between 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

When Katrina happened, there was a tremendous outpouring from the churches at first. But the people weren’t looking to God–they were looking to government to supply their needs.

God PERSUADED AMERICA to turn to Him, and as a whole…we didn’t.

INSTEAD, we turned to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Assistance).

INSTEAD of REPENTANCE, we saw blame and cast it.

INSTEAD of falling on our knees and crying out for God to SAVE us as a country, the politicians cried out to the Casinos to save them.

God is persuading us today, just like He persuaded Israel in Amos.

GOD PERSUADES with clean teeth and tragedy.  

The question is, are we LISTENING? Or, are we like ISRAEL?

ISRAEL tried to meet God on their TERMS–and they BEHAVED on their TERMS.

But God didn’t just let them go.  He persuaded them on HIS TERMS…HE WARNED them on HIS TERMS.

FINALLY, We Can See the RESULTS of ISRAEL’S TERMS (AMOS 4:12-13):

[12] “Therefore thus will I do to you O Israel; and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!

[13] For behold, He Who forms the mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what is his thought,  Who makes the morning darkness and treads on the heights of the earth–the Lord, the God of hosts, is His name!”

After I first read those verses in study, I started skimming back through verses 6-11; looking at the last phrase of each verse; looking at each of the five attempts God made to get ISRAEL’S attention.

They were answered the same way,

“Yet you did not return to Me.”

The people were going to come to God on their own TERMS.

  • They wanted to be FAT & COMFORTABLE…
  • They wanted to BEHAVE as they saw fit…
  • They wanted to put an “I LOVE JESUS” T-shirt on and claim to be God’s children.
  • They wanted to WORSHIP God, but they wanted to worship Him in a way that pleased them.
  • They wanted to be ‘pumped up’; going to church, wearing the local professional team’s football jerseys and stocking caps, without any commitment to Christ.

Through ALL of that outward devotion, God leveled the same charge:  “you have not returned to Me.”

ISRAEL’S TERMS were selfish and insufficient to meet God in relationship.

So the question is presented to the Church today.

What are we doing with God’s Grace?

Are you in rejection of it, behaving on your TERMS?  Are you rejecting it by worshipping on your own terms?

Each one of us will meet God face to face one day.  Are you going to do it on YourTERMS or on His TERMS?

If you do it on YOUR TERMS, Hebrews 10:31 says,  “It is a fearful (formidable and terrible) thing to incur the divine penalties and be cast into the hands of the living God!”

BUT, if you meet Him on HIS TERMS, through the BLOOD of His Son Jesus Christ, this is the PROMISE found in Revelation 22:1-4:

f25bd0da97c367834f1ec27f71bbdf1c

 

How do you intend to meet God this day, this week, this month, this year?

ON YOUR TERMS OR HIS?

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Footnote [i] :  The Free Dictionary by Farlex.

PHOTOS:  Google Images.

Bible Translations Used:  Amplified bible except where noted.

Excerpts From Commentaries Used:  Second Covenant Lawsuit – Amos 4:1-13; Cows of Bashan (Forerunner Commentary) – Bible Tools.

 

 

 

 

 

That Hidden Principle of Rebellion (PART 1)

Rebellion in the Streets

Rebellion across the nation is on every headline of major newspapers across our land.  The picture above took place in the state of Colorado in 2008.  The image isn’t a new phenomena, it has been present the world all the time. 

I have been reading 2 Thessalonians over the past several days when I ran across the apostle Paul’s words in Chapter 2.  It grabbed my attention because of the current news on television and on the internet, so I decided to write this blog about That Hidden Principal of Rebellion in Society. The “lawlessness”, the “iniquity” being observed.

“For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is already at work in the world”  (2 Thess. 2:7–Amplified Bible).

Paul wrote this letter to the church in Thessalonica, a seaport trade center from the city of Corinth in approximately 51 AD.  Corinth had a slogan similar to Las Vegas:  “What happens in Corinth, stays in Corinth“.  So rebellion was rampant throughout the world during Paul’s time of ministry as it continues today.

I remember a sermon by my first pastor, right after I came to know the Lord.  He walked up to a wooden stool placed on the platform and sat down with a newspaper.  He began reading the headlines without saying a word, then shook his head and said, “Now that’s bad news”.  He proceeded in turning the pages of the paper and saying, “More bad news”, until finally exclaiming out of exasperation, “There is nothing in this newspaper but bad news!”  His sermon’s message that morning, if you haven’t guessed it already, was “The Good News (the “Gospel”) of God’s Word”.

BAD NEWS FIRST

No one can possible fail to see the lawlessness that prevails in our society today.  From the highest levels of government to the lowliest slum-dwellers in our great cities in America.  That is the reason why none of us dares to walk the city streets after dark.  We see lawlessness, but do we understand?  Jesus foretold this lawlessness of one the signs of His return; the end of the world:

“And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity,    BUT he who endures to the end will be saved”  (Matthew 24:12, 13–Amplified Bible).

These verses in Matthew are a part of Jesus’ answer to His disciples’ question in verse 3:

“While He was seated on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately and said, Tell us, when will this take place, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end (the completion, the consummation) of the age?”

His answer to that question is tied together with verse 11; the rising of false prophets deceiving many people.  The number of the faithful people of God will become smaller and smaller in the end.  One of the reasons for the decline will be the deception of many by false prophets and false teachers.

Another reason will be the abounding iniquity, causing the love of many to become cold.  What does the word “iniquity” mean?  The Greek word is, anomia; meaning “lawlessness” (literally, “without law”).  Jesus told His disciples-and us, a sign of the end will be abounding lawlessness.  The very thing that we are seeing today.  Not just in our own country but also in all the world.

“LAWLESSNESS” IN THE DAYS OF NOAH

Jesus makes a comparison in Matthew 24:37:  “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”  Genesis 6 describes the worlds condition before the Flood.  In the days of Noah, “the wickedness of men was great upon the earth” (Genesis 6:5, 11, 12).  The earth also was corrupt before God and was filled with violence.

The Gospel According to Luke gives another comparison of the world in the last days:

“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”  (Luke 17:28-30).

The Old Testament city of Sodom, God destroyed it with fire and brimstone.  That comparison of Lukes’ is of special significance today.  The world shamelessly practices the same sin.  Sodom was notoriously recognized which gave its name; homosexuality and sodomy.

“LAWLESSNESS” ABOUNDS TO THE END

Scripture says, “Lawlessness is a life of disobedience to the law of God”.  Disobedience of a special kind; the deliberate trampling upon God’s law.

A lawless man is not someone who is ignorant of the law; or someone who breaks the law, whose authority he even acknowledges.  He holds the law of God in contempt; He “owns” no law, he does what he pleases; to “do his own thing”.  The “lawless” man, or woman openly practices the very thing which the law of God forbids as normal, acceptable, right behavior!

“LAWLESSNESS” IN OUR GOVERNMENT

Such a time is NOW!  Such a society is our society in a lawless time and a lawless society.  The government itself, God’s servant is to rule bylaw. Not guilty of “lawlessness”.  I’m not referring to the fact of politician’s occupancy in their offices for their own wealth, fame and their power.  King Solomon says, “There is nothing new under the sun”.  What I am speaking of is the fact that the state legalizes the murder of unborn children in its abortion-statutes.  And at the same time prohibits by law the execution of murders.  Those of whom God says, “Thou shall not kill”; the state murders.  Those who God says, “Punish with death”, the state saves alive, then sets them free in some cases for more mayhem and lawlessness.  The state is showing its radical lawlessness as it takes of its function in society as we know it.

The duty of government is to punish evil doers and protect and reward those who do well; maintaining order in the state.  We now see the state abandoning its fundamental responsibility with ruinous consequences for the country; intruding into areas of life of its citizens with no business whatever.

LAWLESSNESS” CHARACTERIZES THE BEHAVIOR OF THE PEOPLE

They despise authority:

–Children, that of their parents.

–Wives, that of their husbands.

–Employees, that of their employer.

–Citizens, that of their rulers.  Not only do they disobey their superiors, they deny that they have any superiors to honor or obedience that are due.

THE EFFECT OF “LAWLESSNESS” IN THE CHURCH

Jesus had no abstract interest in the crime rate when He was here on earth.  He wasn’t concerned about the ungodly world; what He said in Matthew 24:12 was, “because lawlessness still abounds, the love of many shall wax cold“.  It’s only the people in the churches who profess to be God’s people in the world, that have LOVE; who can wax cold.  The unbelieving world never had any love, except ‘love of self’.

The effect of abounding iniquity and the forsaking of the church by those who once professed allegiance to her and to her God; their LOVE waxes cold on account of “iniquity”. 

Jesus gives us a radically different view of the state of affairs at the end of the age; which looks for the world to become better, the size of churches swelling through conversion of multitudes, even whole nations.  The reality is, the world is ever the world going from bad to worse (more bad news); exhausting the resources of sin.  The churches, according to many surveys say that the church is becoming smaller and smaller in attendance.  Many are deceived by false doctrine, offended because of persecution and many will have their LOVE wax cold because of iniquity.  I have members of my own family that fits into this scenario for whom I pray for reconciliation.

The LOVE that the text in Matthew 24 is referring to is ‘the LOVE of man for God’; ‘the LOVE for Jesus Christ’; ‘the LOVE for the gospel in the Scriptures’; ‘the LOVE for the church’.  This love is “blown cold” by iniquity.  Literally what Jesus said: “The love of many SHALL be blown cold by abounding iniquity”.  He did not say that because people’s love becomes cold, there will be iniquity but that the iniquity cools off people’s love.  I hope you can see the differences  pointed out.  In the last days, an icy wind blows through the churches, cooling the love of many; the icy wind is “lawlessness”.

Are you by now tired of hearing about the all the bad news?  I am myself and in PART 2, will present the hope of the ages: The Good News; “Through It All!”