A PASSION FOR A “HEART RELIGION”

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IN ROMANS 10:1, the apostle Paul says “Brethren, [with all] my heart’s desire and goodwill for [Israel], I long and pray to God that they may be saved” (AMP).

What is your heart’s desire?  

I think every person has desires in life, and often, intense desires.  I’m not sure its knowledge or wisdom, however, like Solomon asked for in 1 Kings 3:7-14.

My heart’s desire?

There are certain days when I want wisdom and knowledge, especially when reading God’s Word and preparing a bible study lesson.  But for the most part, it is probably not my greatest desire.  I seem to instead, get in my own way with selfishness.

THE “HEART” ( Hebrew lablab/lab, Greek cardia):

The word “heart” occurs over 1,000 times in the Bible, making it the most common anthropological term in Scripture.  It denotes a person’s center–physical and emotional-intellectual-moral activities (See footnote [i] ).

I want to focus here on the HEART as the Center of hidden emotional-intellectual-Moral Activity in this bible study.

  • In 1 Samuel 16:7, the LORD says to Samuel that the Lord looks at the heart.
  • The king’s heart is unsearchable (Proverbs 25:3), but the LORD searches all hearts to reward all according to their conduct (Jeremiah 17:10).
  • In the time of judgment, God will expose the hidden counsels of the heart (1 Corinthians 4:5).

JESUS says that the HEART’s secrets are betrayed by the MOUTH, even as a tree’s fruit reveals its nature (Matthew 12:33-34)–“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth,” says Solomon (Proverbs 16:23).

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE ROMANS –

One deserved criticism tossed at me over the years in my ministering has been not being tactful at times.  But I saw how carefully thought out and tactfully worded Paul was in his letter to the church in Rome.  I’m still learning the lesson.

He spoke of UNITY in the body of Christ, and how we as members of that body belong to one another as he spoke of living in harmony. 

In the land of the Jews, it was the beginning of unrest and ultimately leading to rebellion, the destruction of Jerusalem.

Paul spoke of the different groupings within the Church, as the “weak” and the “strong.”  Some Jewish Christians had problems about what they might and might not eat.  Some kept particular solemn days in accordance with their Jewish traditions.  Paul encouraged the strong to be patient with the weaknesses–the spiritual immaturity of the weak.

Paul made it a point of the IMPARTIALITY of God and His dealings with JEWS and GENTILES.  ALL were under SIN, so what right had one group to feel superior to the other?

I found it amazing to see the passion of Paul in his words; the Apostle to the Gentiles, on behalf of his people Israel.  There was no doubt in his mind the HISTORY OF THE CHURCH bound up with the HISTORY OF ISRAEL.  It was “to the JEW first” that the gospel was preached.  As Jesus said, “salvation is of the Jews.”  

Paul’s own missionary procedure on arriving in a new city was to go first to the synagogue with the gospel and only after that to the gentiles.

However, the other nations would in time take part in the BLESSINGS of the GOSPEL MESSAGE.

Paul spoke of the UNITY of the Jew and Gentile within the church (Romans 15:8-9).

PROMISES WERE MADE –

The PROMISE to Abraham was…in him, ALL the families of the earth would be BLESSED!

In the meantime, Paul saddened by the fact that many Israelites had refused the GOSPEL.  He taught the Gentile Christians in Rome to bear with the infirmities–the shortcomings–of their Jewish brothers and sisters since the CHURCH wouldn’t exist without them.  Paul fervently prayed that ISRAEL might be SAVED!

The TRAGEDY of his people?  

They were seeking their own RIGHTEOUSNESS by the works of the Law.  Yet God’s LAW is impossible to keep; we are ALL sinners and fall short of the glory of God.

We cannot cancel out sin, our rebellion against God by multiplying our good deeds.

The ONLY WAY is….through Christ Jesus, who is “the end of the law” (Romans 10:4).

If we are to be made RIGHTEOUS before God, it’s only through RIGHTEOUSNESS of our LORD JESUS.  We RECEIVE righteousness by FAITH in Him alone!

Moses envisioned a place in time, that the children of Israel would have broken the LAW and been driven from their land.  Yet God still addresses His ancient people by calling them back to Himself, not through WORKS but in the spirit and in FAITH.

According to Paul, the OBJECT of the FAITH can only be the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10):

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No longer able to fulfill the LAW by works of righteousness, we are called to A HEART RELIGION.

WHOEVER BELIEVES in Christ JESUS will not be ashamed.  

WHOEVER CALLS upon His name will be SAVED!

I’ve never understood why, when pastors ask at the end of a church service for hands raised in accepting Christ, then asks that every head should bow (‘no peeking, please!’).  The bible says, “If you  CONFESS with your mouth”…THAT’S WORDS spoken with lips. 

Perhaps they don’t want the person to be embarrassed.  But if that is truly the explanation–the reasoning–then Romans 10:11 makes no sense:  “No man who believes in Him will ever be put to shame…”

HEART BELIEF –

Heart Belief is a sincere and personal acceptance of the TRUTH which God has revealed.

The WORD OF GOD near to us is in our mouth and in our heart; testifies to our inability to keep the LAW OF GOD; testifies our sinfulness; it testifies that the wages of sin IS DEATH–which is eternal separation from God.

It TESTIFIES of our NEED for a savior…

It TESTIFIES that Jesus Christ is the ONLY SAVIOR of sinners!  He laid down HIS LIFE for our SINS and God raised Him from the dead so that we might live in Him.

Thus FAITH is not merely an arrangement of facts of the Gospel.  Even the demons believe in the TRUTH of the Gospel–and tremble!

SINCERE FAITH leads to public confession of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It is not an easy CONFESSION to make, as the community in Rome during Paul’s stay can attest to.

On one hand, an opposition of those within the synagogue; on the other, the civil authorities and state religions feeling threatened by claims of Jesus’ Lordship.

CONFESSION OF FAITH strengthens the new believer.

It brings with it the ASSURANCE, the confidence that we are on the side of the Victor.  It’s a clear announcement of intent within the spiritual warfare and it is a challenge to those who hear!

BAPTISM–One way in which we CONFESS our FAITH.

With the waters of BAPTISM, we PUBLICALLY & OPENLY say farewell to our old way of life and initiated into the community of believers.

To be BAPTIZED into Christ Jesus is to DIE TO SIN, TO BE BURIED in His death, and to RISE again in the newness of life (Romans 6:3-5).  

“Behold, the fresh and new has come!”  (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Paul was concerned that the GOSPEL–THE GOOD NEWS was heard by both Jew & Gentile.

FAITH comes by hearing, and hearing by the WORD of God, so it is necessary to proclaim the name of the LORD to the world.  His name is JESUS. (10:17)

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QUESTION:  How can one hear unless someone speaks or preaches?

That question certainly puts a lot of responsibility on us as believers–to make sure what we say in person or what we say on Social Media…is what JESUS would say!

The word translated “PREACH”, evangelizo, is a word with rich meaning.  The word can be translated, HERALD.

A HERALD acted as a public announcer, delivering a message from a King.  The MESSAGE was given to the HERALD from the King and the Herald took the message to the community–The HERALD spoke for the King!  When the HERALD was speaking, it was as though the KING himself was speaking.

But there’s a CATCH!

The Herald was simply to proclaim the MESSAGE he was given by the King. The HERALD couldn’t ADD, SUBTRACT, ALTER OR CHANGE the Message in ANYWAY!

So when we PREACH to others, we are speaking for JESUS, but ONLY when we speak HIS Message.

So are we willing, is it our HEART’S DESIRE to be seen as some’s BEAUTIFUL FEET?

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If no one goes, then there is no MESSAGE delivered.

We are living in a dying world that is depending on YOU to let them HEAR Jesus through YOU!  And that should be our HEART’S DESIRE…OUR PASSION!!!

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Footnote [i]:  bible study tools.Dictionary

Photos:  Google Image Search.

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

Bible Dictionary:  VINE’S Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

What Are the Motives Behind Our Serving God?

jehurides SCRIPTURE READING – 2 KINGS 9:1-37; 10:1-35

Before grabbing your Bible and diving into this story, let me give you but one definition for the word MOTIVE:

“An emotion, desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement to action; causing an action.”  [The Free Dictionary by Farlex]

We will be returning to this definition throughout this bible study.

“HOUSE CLEANING” –

My wife’s “desire” for an entire house cleaning, most often, does not necessarily incite action.  It is much like my DESIRE to exercise, knowing it’s physiologically healthy, but almost never causes an action on my part.  I am glad to get that off my chest before getting into this particular Blog Bible Study.

JEHU’S Commission from God –

A PROPHET was sent to pronounce God’s death sentence on AHAB (1 Kings 20:42) because of his DISOBEDIENCE of not killing Ben-Hadad, king of Aram.

Elijah later prophesied AHAB’S doom in 1 Kings 21:19 after he had murdered Naboth and seized his property (vineyard); the results in 1 Kings 22:38. 

Elijah prophesies AHAB’S descendants would be cut off and his wife JEZEBEL would be killed (1 Kings 21:22-24).

Because of AHAB’S subsequent humbling of himself before God, God took notice (as He always does), choosing to bring about these promised disasters during the reign of his son Joram, instead of in AHAB’S lifetime (1 Kings 21:27-29).

JEHU, a commander in the Israelite Army, is anointed king and commissioned to exterminate AHAB’S descendants (2 Kings 9:6-10), fulfilling the prophecies against the house of AHAB.

JEHU’S “ZEAL FOR THE LORD” in Cleaning House–the house (dynasty) of Omri and his son AHAB (2 Kings 10:16) –

The Killing Fields ~

  • JEHU kills Joram, king of Israel and AHAB’S son (2 Kings 9:24-26).  Joram’s body was thrown on Naboth’s plot of ground, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Elijah (1 Kings 21:19).
  • JEHU kills Ahaziah, king of Judah, one of Ahab’s grandsons (2 Kings 9:27; 2 Chronicles 22:7 explains how Ahaziah’s visit to Joram was used by God to bring about his downfall).  He also kills some of king Ahaziah’s relatives who were coming to visit (2 Kings 10:12-14).
  • JEHU has JEZEBEL thrown out of a window.  She is then trampled and eaten by dogs (2 Kings 9:32-37).
  • He incites the officials of Samaria who were rearing 70 sons of AHAB, to kill all the royal princes (2 Kings 10:6-9).
  • JEHU KILLED ANYONE RELATED TO, OR ASSOCIATED WITH AHAB IN JEZREEL (2 Kings 10:11) and ALL his family in Samaria!  (2 Kings 10:17).
  • His final achievement was his killing of ALL THE BAAL PRIESTS, destroying the Baal Temple to the point it became used as a latrine–an outhouse.  (2 Kings 10:25-29)

For all of JEHU’S enthusiastic ZEAL, God rewarded him with the longest dynasty in the history of Israel (2 Kings 10:30).  But, did JEHU have an alternative MOTIVE behind his ZEAL?

JEHU’S MOTIVES EXPOSED and JUDGED!

The prophet HOSEA gives us a glimpse in exposing something I thought was quite interesting.

Hosea 1:4 (NIV):

Then the LORD said to Hosea,  “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel.”

God was going to punish the house of JEHU for a massacre He had sanctioned and rewarded JEHU for (2 Kings 10:30).  

I thought to myself after reading this, “Wait a minute.  Jehu seemed like an obedient servant of the Lord.  What’s the deal?”

Outside Appearances Are Not Always As They Seem! –

2 Kings 10:28-29, 31 (AMP):

[28] JEHU rooted Baal out of Israel,  [29] BUT…

JEHU did not give up the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, by which he made Israel to sin,that is, the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.

[31] But JEHU paid no attention to walking in the law of the Lord the God of Israel, with all his heart.  He did not quit the sins with which Jeroboam made Israel to sin.

At my first reading, I found that strange, being that JEHU had exterminated Baal worship.  What happened to his ZEAL ( 2 Kings 10:16) that alone, should have led him to ridding a nation of every sort of idol worship?

I believe it never was purely there to begin with.  I also believe that JEHU’S AGENDA didn’t really include God.

JEHU, by cleaving, against the will of God, to Jeroboam’s SIN, which served his own political ends, showed that, in the slaughter of his master, he acted not as he pretended, out of ZEAL for God’s will, but served his own will and ambition.  [See Footnote [1] ]

Getting rid of Baal served his interests but getting rid of the Jeroboam calf idols cut in on his own political gains.

A sure sign of God’s immediate JUDGMENT on JEHU is found in 2 Kings 10:32; His reducing of the size of Israel.

[32] “[So] in those days the Lord began to cut off parts of Israel…”

While JEHU might have “slept with his fathers” as V35 says, meaning his physical death, I can assure you, that is NOT descriptive of what has been taking place for thousands of years in hell with his soul.

My JUDGMENT?  No, GOD’S JUDGMENT!

THE MOTIVES BEHIND OUR SERVICE TO GOD –

Some examples of SERVICE with impure motives is serving God out of SELFISH AMBITION.

The apostle Paul gave examples of selfish ambition in Philippians 1:14-18 (NIV):

[14]  Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

[15]  It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.

[16]  The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.

[17]  The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

[18]  But what does it matter?  The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.  And because of this, I rejoice.

Although Paul is speaking about preachers trying to make a name for themselves in his absence,  A. W. Tozer says,

“Many a solo is sung to show off, many a sermon is preached

as an exhibition of talent; many a church is founded as a slap to

some other church.  Even missionary activity

may become competitive and soul-winning’

may degenerate into a sort of brush-salesman project

to satisfy the flesh.”

[*See Footnote [2] ]

Serving God out of GREED –

Paul wrote about FALSE TEACHERS in 1 Timothy 6:3-10, who saw financial opportunity in the Gospel.  Unfortunately, that is still in place in the 21st Century in record numbers.

Serving God without LOVE –

HIDDEN MOTIVES
HIDDEN MOTIVES

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (AMP):

IF I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing.  Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing.

Our SERVICE to God is but an empty service…a service without LOVE for others.

IMPURE MOTIVES –

“It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.”  ~ A. W. TOZER

GOD KNOWS YOUR MOTIVES!!

God is examining your MOTIVES.

Proverbs 16:2 (NLT):

“People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives.

God will reveal your MOTIVES.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV):

[12]  The word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  [13]  Nothing in all of creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

1 Corinthians 4:5b (NIV):

“He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.”

Over the years, I have noticed how some people treat God like a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card that they discard after He gets them out of their problems.

Some people climb the Church ladder of success much like folks climb the Corporate ladder.  They truly don’t care who they step over.

They wear their RELIGION like a cloak over their desires–camouflaged hearts– for 4-x4-camo-camouflage-heart-gas-cap-bumper-sticker-decal-window-stickers-decalsfolks to see them as spiritual.

They may speak in tongues and be used in great gifts of the Spirit, but their lack of LOVE for others reveals a HEART with impure motives.

So, why do we do, what we do, in SERVING our heavenly Father.

Why Are You Serving God?

Are you serving God out of interest in His plan for you, or, are you SERVING HIM to the extent that what He does benefits your plan for your life?

Why we SERVE won’t mean a hill of beans in the end, unless we truly had ZEAL for the Lord, rather than wearing a Cloak of sorts over who we really are.

Therefore, check your MOTIVES FOR SERVING CHRIST…today!!


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Footnote [1]:  Barnes – Notes on the Old Testament – (2 Kings 10)

Footnote [2]:  Draper’s book of Quotations for the Christian World – A. W. TOZER; by Edythe Draper.

 

CREDITS:

Commentary:  Why Did God Condemn Jehu?  By Troy Lacey and Tim Chaffey on April 8, 2011 – The Misconception Series.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP);  New International Version (NIV); New Living Translation (NLT).

 

 

 

 

The “THIRD PERSON” is more than a Ghost! (Part 2 of 2)

A QUICK REVIEW FIRST:

We saw the PROOF of who the Spirit is; the evidence of His “BEING”.  We talked about what He does and what He says.  And although we can’t visibly see Holy Spirit, where He resides (in the HEART; the center of who we are as BELIEVERS), He testifies to our doings and He is definitely REAL!

I left you with a thought in Part 1–a “question”, and will begin Part 2 with the Biblical answer.

“What is the Biblical Definition of Christian Maturity?” – ( 1 Corinthians 2:1-16).

According to the Apostle Paul, it’s having the mind of Christ Jesus (verse 16):

SPIRITUALLY ALIVE, we have access to every thing God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics.  Isaiah’s question,  “Is there anyone around who knows God’s spirit, anyone who knows what He is doing?”  has been answered:  Christ knows and we have Christ’s Spirit.  (Verse 15-16, The Message Bible – MSG).

Having the mind of JESUS CHRIST is NOT…

1.  NOT WISDOM OF THIS WORLD OR PRESENT AGE  (verse 6).

2.  NOT WORDS TAUGHT TO US BY HUMAN WISDOM  (verse 13).

3.  NOT ACCEPTING, NOT WELCOMING INTO THE HEART THE GIFTS, TEACHINGS, REVELATIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT  (verse 14).

We gain the mind of Christ through…the ministry of the Holy Spirit;

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He reveals it to us through the Word of God and only the HOLY SPIRIT KNOWS the mind of Christ (verse 11).

THE MIND OF CHRIST JESUS is the “once hidden” secret wisdom:

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him–but He has revealed it to us by His Spirit.”

THE PROBLEM PRESENTED IN VERSES 13 & 14:

In verse 13, the apostle Paul tells us, since the person with the spirit is expressing spiritual truths with spiritual words–the person without the Spirit of God cannot accept Him.  That is why some people you come in contact with could CARE LESS…about your recent growth in the Lord.

The more we have of the mind of the Lord, the less we have of the blessing of the world around us.

HAVING THE “MIND OF CHRIST” WILL NOT AUTOMATICALLY FOLLOW  PLACING OUR FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS:

We have to make a DECISION–

We have to choose to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, don’t we?  We have to decide, if not already, to have an intimate relationship with a ‘living being’!  Yep, He is more than a Ghost… and of course you can’t see Him.  He’s living on the inside of you.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,

but Christ lives in me.

The life I live in the body, I live by faith

in the Son of God.  ~Galatians 2:20~

No one can comprehend God (Romans 11:34).   But through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, BELIEVERS have insight into some of God’s plans, thoughts, and actions–they, in fact, have the “mind of Christ.”

The Benefits of Empowerment:

The Holy Spirit empowers us to share our faith and helps us grow in Christian Maturity.  In your spiritual relationship, ask Him to guide you; to make the right decisions for every new day towards maturity in Christ Jesus.

But the most important thing that the Holy spirit does is to bring the opportunity to receive salvation.

Perhaps, as you’ve been reading along in this two-part series,  never heard before that JESUS died on the Cross for your sins.  Perhaps you have never placed your FAITH in what Christ did and instead… trusting in what you might do.  If that is where you are right now, THEN…

TODAY you can know how to be FREE from the penalty of sin.

TODAY you can RECEIVE the Holy Spirit into your life!

TODAY is the DAY!

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If you made these decisions after reading The “THIRD PERSON”  is more than a Ghost, leave me your testimony in the comment section of this POST.  Through the Holy Spirit we can begin to know God’s thoughts–His will for your life–talk with Him, and expect His answers to our prayers.

And if you made the decision to follow JESUS, years ago or recently, are you spending enough time with Christ to have His very own mind in you?

An intimate relationship with Christ comes only from spending time consistently in His presence and in His Word.

“Why Go to Church?” (Part I)

WHY I LOVE THE CHURCH
WHY I LOVE THE CHURCH

*A NOTE: I would like to thank my pastor, Kyle Hopkins for his MESSAGE this past Sunday in the Psalms, for which my detective work was launched from.

PSALM 84:1-4, 10 Amplified Bible:

[1] “HOW LOVELY are Your tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!  [2] My soul yearns, yes, even pines and is homesick for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out and sing for joy to the living God.  [3] Yes, the sparrow has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young–even Your altars, O lord of hosts, my King and my God.                        [4] BLESSED are those who dwell in Your house and Your presence; they will be singing Your praises all the day long.  Selah [pause, and calm;y think of that]!  [10] For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [anywhere else]; I would rather be a doorkeeper and stand at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell [at ease] in the tents of wickedness.” 

“I’m grateful for the DESIRE I HAVE to go” —

I’ve learn over the years of my Christian life, no matter how I feel at the time; disenchanted, hurt feelings, rejection, disappointment–GOD has placed a DEEP DESIRE inside of me; to be a part of the Assembly on Sunday mornings.  Oh, just in case you might be thinking I’ve conjured up all this over time, you’re wrong!  I have always looked for and sought the things that I needed for my journey through life.

I wasn’t raised as child in a CHURCH.  In fact, I didn’t accept JESUS as my Lord and Savior until the age of thirty; my wife also accepted the Lord the same night at the age of twenty-eight.  So HABIT didn’t come into play as a REASON for going to church.  Although, going to church weekly, isn’t a bad HABIT at all!

“So what are the REASONS for going?”

To name a few…

I find HOPE,

I can find HELP,

I find FELLOWSHIP,

I find UNDERSTANDING,

I find WORSHIP.

That is my list, I’ve written down over the years.  Your list may be somewhat different; more items, less… but it helps keep the FOCUS on why go to church at all?

Have I always found the items listed above weekly, or have I just been going through the motions?  REMEMBER, your attitude in “going” can certainly determine your “altitude” after you get there!

THIS IS A PSALM OF THE “TABERNACLE” (Psalm 84):

It is thought by many that this Psalm was written by King David in exile from Jerusalem during the rebellion of his son Absalom.  If that is the case, it plainly reveals the heart, the DESIRE of David.

DAVID was a man who loved the House of the Lord!

There was no place on this earth so special as that ONE PLACE; a place the Lord had chosen to place His Name, to demonstrate His presence.  For David, the TABERNACLE was the place he desired to be.

In Isaiah, we can see the godly desire displayed from the heart:

“…we wait [expectantly] for You; our heartfelt desire is for Your name and for the remembrance of You.  My soul yearns for You [O Lord] in the night, yes, my spirit within me seeks You earnestly…”  (Isaiah 26:8-9 AMP).

I know that the TRUE HOUSE is in heaven and His TRUE TABERNACLE is now in the heart of the believer (John 1:14).  However, the visible symbol of both these things is the CHURCH.

David’s entire being longed to go to “Church”–

David DESIRED to be present at the House of God; his soul, his body and his heart longed to be at the place of WORSHIP!

Maybe David remembered what many believers in God have forgotten, that the House of the Lord can be an OASIS in the desert, in the wilderness of the world, in the storms of life.

WHATEVER thoughts occupied his mind, when he thought of the House of God, his pulse quickened–his eyes brightened–he longed to be there!  All through David’s life he DESIRED to be in the TABERNACLE; the place where God DWELLS:

Psalm 27:4:

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord  [in His presence]  all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty  [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness]  of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple.”

1 Chronicles 29:3:

“Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, in addition to all I have prepared for the holy house, I have a private treasure of gold and silver, which I give for the house of my God:”

Even in EXILE, even when David couldn’t physically be there, the king DESIRED to ‘go to church’!  Far too many of us (I’ve been in this spot at times of discomfort) see CHURCH as something either to take or leave.  BUT God’s Spirit will bring us (eventually) to understand “The desires of the heart  reveal the condition of the soul.”

What we long for in life REVEALS what we love and what you love REVEALS WHO’S you are!

THERE IS A VERY GOOD REASON FOR YEARNING, LONGING TO GO:

I’ve come to realize in my life…

It’s a PLACE to meet God (Psalm 84:2 (b)):  “…my heart and my flesh cry out and sing for joy to the living God.”

I REALIZE that the Lord is ALWAYS with His children,

“…for He Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support.  [I will] not,  [I will] not,  [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let  [you] down (relax My hold on you)!”  (Hebrews 13:5 AMP).

I REALIZE  that God dwells in His children,  “I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age”  (Matthew 28:20).

“To whom God was pleased to make known how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ within and among you, the Hope of [realizing the ] glory”  (Colossians 1:27 AMP).

“Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received  [as a Gift] from God?  You are not your own”  (1 Corinthians 6:19 AMP).  

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come [back] to you”  (John 14:18).

I’VE ALSO come to REALIZE…

GOD has promised to MEET with His people when they gather together to WORSHIP Him.

“For wherever two or three are gathered  (drawn together as My followers)  in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them [Exodus 3:14]”  (Matthew 18:20 AMP).

I don’t want to be like Thomas who was absent when the Lord showed up and missed the blessing (John 20:19-24).

*NOTE:  The Bible points out that Thomas was missing!

Just between us, I think He notices it when we’re missing too!

A PLACE WHERE WE CAN TRULY LIVE:

“Really, a place to reside in?”

As David thought of the Lord’s House, how far away from it he was, he began to REFLECT on the little birds making their homes in the small places in the Tabernacle.

Have you ever noticed upon entering a large Box Store to shop, the birds in the rafters high above chirping and fluttering about?  As David must have noticed, he thinks about these birds and mentions two: the SPARROW and the SWALLOW.

If these birds could be labeled, the sparrow would be the “worthless bird” and the swallow, the “wandering bird”.  However, David tells us that both the worthless sparrow and the wandering swallow found exactly what they needed in the confines of the House of God.

It is the place for the UNWANTED (Matthew 10:29)–hospfeeding

The sparrow was worthless and unwanted as they would arrive in great numbers as unwanted guests.  They came needy, looking for a place of shelter and food.  They found what they came after too!

What a picture these little birds are to the sinner!  There are contrasts as well.

The SINNER is invited to come to the Lord–

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you rest”  (Matthew 11:28).

Though there are many, there is room for all:  “For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved”  (Romans 10:13).  

ALL are in need for shelter and food and are promised to find plenty of provision in the Lord for all.

A Momentary Spark in the Shadows of Darkness

[10]  Who is among you who [reverently] fears the Lord, who obeys the voice of His Servant, YET WHO WALKS IN DARKNESS and deep trouble and has no shinning splendor [in his heart]?  Let him rely on, trust in, and be confident in the name of the Lord, and let him lean upon and be supported by his God.

[11]  Behold, all you [enemies of your own selves] who attempt to kindle your own fires [and work out you own plans of salvation], who surround and gird yourselves (surround yourselves with a belt) with momentary sparks, darts, and firebrands that you set aflame!–walk by the light of your self-made fire and of the sparks that you have kindled [for yourself, if you will]!  But this shall you have from My hand: you shall lie down in grief and in torment.

~ISAIAH 50:10-11 AMPLIFIED BIBLE.

Surrounded by momentary sparks!

Making Scripture PERSONAL!

The Lord obviously wanted me to receive and understand His message in the above verses in The Book of IsaiahWhat do I mean by “personal”?  That’s when a Scripture verse, written to the WORLD, suddenly becomes MINE (or in your case, YOURS).

I recognized that the Holy Spirit had something specifically He wanted communicated.  I roughly understood what the verse meant!  As Mrs. Charles E. Cowman said in one of her books,  “It means we are in darkness” (in relation to some situation we do not understand) “and the temptation is to find a way without trusting in the Lord and relying on Him!”  Instead of waiting on the Lord’s plans, we try to figure it out ourselves.

Serving God in the Midst of Darkness–

There are times in our lives that we find it difficult to see very far ahead.  I remember one time driving home from a retreat with my wife in the local mountains near us.  We had a late supper out and on the way home, the headlights of the car went out.  I couldn’t see a thing!

Doing what men usually do in such circumstances, I pulled the car over to the side of the road.  I then raised the hood of the car, pretending I know what I was doing, then proceeded to tell my wife with all wisdom and understanding: “It’s just an electrical short that had caused the headlights to fail.”  Of course after forty plus years of marriage, Dianne knew I had no idea what the problem was–but kept from making her response, making the situation worse.

Going Ahead in the Pitch of Night!

I decided I couldn’t wait there along side of the road all  night and pulled out into the night.  Dianne’s reaction to my fool-hearty decision was, “You can’t drive home in the darkness without light!”  And of course I had anticipated her question in advance and blurted out, “At least the parking lights are working!” 

As I drove down the dark mountain highway, the Lord whispered in my ear “Mel, try turning the knob on the dashboard back and forth,” or something to that effect.  I did so and guess what?  Yep, the headlight’s ‘dimmer switch’ or whatever you call it had been inadvertently been turned off(who did that?).  We got home finally, but with all the car’s lights working.

Dianne asked me a question after we pulled into the garage:  “Would you have driven all the way home in the darkness without any lights?”  And my definitive answer…”We would have been just fine, regardless.  We were in God’s hands and protection.  My answer sounded convincing.

Our DESIRES Can Sometimes Be Confusing–

Are you experiencing a dark time in your life?  Do you have a wayward child?  Have you experienced financial reversal?  Has someone broken your heart or taken advantage of you?  Are you not able to make sense of what’s happening in your life?

As Christians, we DESIRE to be “overcomers”.  We DESIRE to go to heaven but rather mot die to get there.  In its very substance, LIFE is tragic without JESUS CHRIST in our lives.

Questions We Asked Ourselves In Life–

Life as we know it is filled with “sweetness” and misery; high times and hard times.  As Christians, we desire to be “overcomers” but don’t want much to overcome.

–Do you have a wayward child?

–Have you experienced financial reversal?

–Has someone broken your heart or taken advantage of you?

–Are you not able to make sense of what’s happening in your life?

Thinking We’ve Got It All Figured Out!

We’ve studied our lessons, learned our formulas and memorized the promises of God’s Word.  We think that we’ve got it all figured out and suddenly…we are plunged into a deep, deep darkness.  Why does such darkness come to a Christian?

The question we ask more than any other is “Why?”  WHY did God allow sickness to come to me or a loved one?  WHY did God heal that person and not heal me?  WHY?  WHY?  WHY?

What Do We Do When the Lights Go Out?

When we went to school, we received lesson first, then learned the lessons second.  “Premature Deliverance”…from a situation is when man frustrates God’s work of grace in our lives rather than committing the whole situation to Him; willing to abide in darkness, so long as you have His presence.   REMEMBER, “it is better to walk in the dark with God than walk alone in the light” (Mrs. Cowman).  And that’s what it means.  Often, we have prayed prayers and don’t understand at all what happened.  When in fact, God actually has ANSWERED those PRAYERS. 

PRAYERS like, “Oh God, use me”, or “Increase my faith Lord”, and “Thy will be done”.  And of course, He does have a will for your life, as He has for all of our lives.  But His will is likely to go in directions we never anticipated; areas we never ever thought about or desired.  He will answer those prayers, and all to often we haven’t understood His answers.  This is all consistent with His Word:  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).

GOD has directions and plans completely outside-you and that’s the point!  It’s not about you and I.  When He answers those prayers of ours, He begins preparing us for the life and work ahead.  Be abundantly clear here, the work is His and not yours!

THE DEEPEST DARKNESS (ISAIAH 50:10):

This passage of Scripture is not talking about someone who has wandered away from God.  This person fears and loves the Lord: Who is among you who fears the Lord…”

This verse is addressing the person or persons who fears and loves the Lord.  “Fear of the Lord”  MEANS, “love on its knees”.  The person who FEARS God the most–loves God the most.  This person OBEYS God’s voice (v. 10).

There is a distortion of the truth today when a person becomes a Christian–everything becomes like honey and no bees; all sunlight and roses with no rain and weeds.  There is no reason to deny it.

Tens of thousands of Christians across the world fear and love the Lord, yet are experiencing darkness.  More than 150,000 Christians were martyred last year all over the world.

Job said, “Even young children despise me; when I get up, they speak against me” (Job 19:18).

Habakkuk shouted,   “Oh Lord, how long shall I cry for help and You will not hear?  Or cry out to You of violence and You will not save?” (Habakkuk 1:2).

John the Baptist sent messengers from prison and asked JESUS,  “Are you really the Messiah or should we look for another.”

Each one of these men of God came to a “lights out” time on a ‘dark road’ in life and didn’t understand or comprehend why and what was fully happening to them.

FAITH BORN IN THE LIGHT IS OFTEN DEVELOPED IN THE SHADOWS:

Someone once said that FAITH is like film:  “It’s better developed in the darkness.”

QUESTION:  When have you grown the most spiritually in your life?  When Mr  Trouble comes and knocks at your front door–becoming more mature in the spirit becomes better developed than other times.

So, How Does God Develop Our FAITH In The Darkness?

God says in Isaiah’s passage, it takes two steps:  We are to look to the Lord first—“trust in the Lord” (verse 10).  The Amplified translation uses, “rely on,” “trust in,” “be confident in”.  I like what Warren Wiersbe said, “We live by promises, not by explanations.”

Just because it doesn’t make sense to us at the time, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense to our Heavenly Father.  We must continue to stand on God’s Word, regardless of what’s going on in our lives.  GOD’S WORD never changes and remains constant in ALL of the seasons of life.

The Second Step:

Lean upon the Lord–“let him lean and be supported by his God.”

When you find yourself in the dark and along side a lonely isolated road, you don’t need an explanation–you need God!  It is more important to be with God in a valley of darkness than to be on a mountain peak in sunlight without Him.

There are some things that I want in life that I don’t need, and some things I need that I don’t want.  Only GOD can really discern between bad and good–good and best.  God wants to develop our FAITH; never to doubt in the dark what you have learned in the light.  The TEST OF OUR CHARACTER is not what we do in a worship service but what we do in the dark.

FAITH’S DANGER:

It is better to be serving GOD in the darkness than to be standing alone in “man-made” light (Isaiah 50:11).

One of the most dangerous temptations is to be tempted to light our own fire in the darkness.  If God has permitted the darkness, then we must wait upon the Lord.  We must never get the idea that darkness can overcome light; darkness will run from light.

If you don’t believe this is the truth, then turn on the light in a darkened room and open the closet.  You will find darkness is hiding in the closet!  The only way that DARKNESS can enter is that the light be removed.

So, if the LIGHT has been removed from the situations of your life, then God in His wisdom has allowed you to be in the darkness.  If God is the One who has allowed darkness to come your way, don’t be foolish and light your own fire.  Don’t try to undue what God is already doing.

A man-made fire is deceptive.  It’s like a man getting up in the middle of the night, hearing a disturbance in the house and grabbing a flashlight beside his bed.  And with his flashlight, he goes over to the sundial to see what time it is.

God says that if we light our own fire–[work out our own plans AMP] in the midst of God-planed darkness, then we will suffer.  For an example, God told Abraham and Sarah they would have a child of their own–God gave them a promise.  However, God didn’t fulfill that promise immediatelyAbraham, in the middle of his darkness of doubt, created his own fire with Hagar.  Ishmael was born.  Think about the suffering that followed Abraham and the world because he did not wait on God in the midst of darkness.

IF YOUR SUN HAS SET, IT WILL RISE AGAIN:

Faith’s Daybreak–Psalm 30:5

“For His anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime or in His favor is life.  Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning.”

Psalm 30:5

“[The Servant of God says]  The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.  He wakens Me morning by morning.  He wakens My ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught]”  (Isaiah 50:4 AMP).

“Come And Light My Fire Jesus”–

God will awaken us in the morning, even though you may be in the dark shadows now, there’s a better day coming!  If you are in darkness, then TRUST GOD, and He will turn every tear into a pearl, every hurt into a hallelujah.

There is a better day coming.

For non-Christians, this is as GOOD as it gets.  And as Christians, this is as BAD as it gets!

A PERSONAL CHALLENGE TO TAKE:

Take a walk and enjoy the warmth of a sunny day.  And while you are lifting your face, enjoying the warmth of the rays, the sun-rays of sunlight are already 8.3 minutes old when they reach you.  Even though you can experience the warmth of the sun, you’ve never seen the full power of the sun.  You have felt its warmth but never really seen the sun.

In a like manner, we can feel the warmth of God’s presence, but we’ve never fully seen the glory of God.  But there is a time coming as a child of God, that we will see the face of JESUS.  We will fully see what we slightly experienced in this life.  Just remember when the lights go out, GOD is still there in the midst of your darkness.

There Are Treasures Of Darkness–

Have you ever heard someone say, “The stars are out tonight”?  The fact is, stars are out in the daytime, but we can’t see them because of the sunlight.

The stars are there for us to praise the Lord (Psalm 148:3).  We would never have a star to praise the Lord without darkness.  GOD wants to give you a star so you can praise Him even more.  Our trials become stars in order to praise the Lord in the light that He gives us.

So, when the lights go out…reflect on our faith’s devotion, development, discernment, danger, and daybreak (Light),  in the POWER of the Holy Spirit’s fire.