“Hey Jude? What is SIN, really?”

THE DOCTRINE OF SIN:

THE PURPOSE of Jude is a call for all Christians to DEFEND the Faith.

Jude is a tough, sobering, book in the Bible to read.  So get ready!

WHO WAS JUDE?

Jude 1

“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James…”

He was the brother of James, who presided at the Jerusalem Council and wrote the epistle of James, and was the half-brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3).

The Perversion within the Church

[Verse 4 ]  For certain men have crept in stealthily [gaining entrance secretly by a side door].  Their doom was predicted long ago, ungodly (impious, profane) persons who pervert the grace (the spiritual blessing and favor) of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality and disown and deny our sole Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  [AMP]

Jude talks about APOSTASY, basically a turning away from the Faith.  We learn that they are sneaky, ungodly and pervert the Grace of Jesus.  They deny that Jesus is Master and Lord.

And they stand condemned!

The media today is influencing the church.

The politically correct police are on high alert!  You can mention God as long as you don’t mention His absolute truth.  You can mention Jesus as long as He was just a good teacher.  Pastors are required to be politically correct rather than biblically correct to be accepted.  The trend in churches today is to be welcoming, but primarily affirming.  Sermons are designed to tickle the ear and not convict the heart.

God help us!

It’s sobering and it makes me sad to think of those I know who could very well fall into this category of being apostate.  Understand the APOSTASY is false teaching, its false living.  It is the Christian form of hypocrisy.  It’s saying you are a Christian but in truth, you are not.  Your action, your attitude, bear the lies that come out of your mouth.

So Jude gives a WARNING to the apostates, the enemy of the TRUE CHURCH.

He begins by giving us some examples of people who are exposed to the truth, to the grace, and totally reject it and face eternal punishment.  It truly squeezed my heart when rereading this passage of scripture because there are many I know today that could very well experience this punishment.

The LORD delivers people from bondage, but sometimes people fall back.

One Example:  God’s chosen nation (vs. 5)

[5] “Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the LORD at one time delivered His people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.” [NIV]

Jude says here that Jesus (more accurately translated LORD) saved a people in the land of Egypt.  That is the Hebrew people, the future nation of Israel.

Later, He destroyed those who rebelled and didn’t believe.

The word DESTROY literally means to abolish; to destroy completely.  [See footnote [i]]

Understand that God didn’t DESTROY the nation, but He did destroy many within the nation all because of their unbelief and disobedience.

It was continued unbelief and disobedience. 

This was an outward circumcision but not an inward circumcision of the heart.

A person can go through all the outward hoops and identifying with Jesus, but the only thing that really matters is your heart.

Does your heart belong to Him?

Are you TRUSTING Him alone to forgive you of your sin?

Are you TRUSTING Him for your SALVATION?

Are you TRUSTING Him in your life?

Are you denying Him, Master and Lord?

If your answer is “NO” to any of these questions, you fall under the same destruction.

BE WARNED!

God’s Chosen Servants–Messengers–Who were they? (vs. 6)

Judgment is coming. Hebrews 9: Jude 1:6. Acts 17: Timothy 4:8. John 12:48. Jude 1:6.

We see here that even ANGELS, heavenly beings, are subject to the great day of JUDGMENT.

Many commentators take this verse and its parallel in 2 Peter 2:4 to be a reference to the primordial fall in the bible of wicked angels under the leadership of Lucifer.  This creates somewhat of a dilemma.  Clearly, not all the dethroned angels are “cast into hell and committed to pits of DARKNESS”, reserved for judgment as Peter writes.  This same Peter says that Satan is still somewhat loose, and prowls around like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8).  

The simplest way to resolve this questioning is to take the “angels” in this passage of Jude is referenced to the Godly line of Seth in the Bible; the “sons of God.”

The Background of the “sons of God” in Genesis 6.

The angels portrayed here forsook what God ordained them to do.  They chose their own thing!  [i.e.  They became their own god.]

Numerous interpretations I have read suggested that the “sons of God” were fallen, angels who married earthly women and produced children…Giants in the land, although how “angels” could intermarry has never been explained.  Jesus clearly states that angels don’t marry (Matthew 22:30), and there’s no evidence that angels have gender or genitalia.   A few have suggested that “demon-possed men.” as an alternative theory, but this is still rather unsatisfactory, and neither of these interpretations offers anything of relevance to the historical evidence of Genesis 6.  [See footnote [ii] ].

The result was eternal punishment. 

They forsook being in God’s presence to follow their own path.

Bringing this all back to Jude, those who are APOSTATE are the ones who choose to be their own God.

I believe that the biggest ACT OF APOSTASY in our day is….you are a Christian, continuing to live like the world, or even worse than the world!  This type of SIN denies Lordship over one’s life.  It cheapens the GRACE that believers are supposed to live under.

If my understanding of the passage of Scripture is right, then that type of living is APOSTASY; to be judged by God just like the Hebrew people in the wilderness, just like the angels who denied their rightful place, just like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The LORD delivers people from bondage today as He did when the Hebrews were delivered out of Egypt from bondage.  But sometimes people fall back into bondage. We’ve all probably done this, but Jude lists some who didn’t and was punished.

  • Angels who left home.
  • People who left morality behind.

Whatever it is, God can deliver us!

BUT…but we must not turn back.

No Turning Back into our old ways will get us into trouble every time.  And for some people, it could mean eternal trouble.

GOD SAVE US!

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i]:   The word, DESTROY – Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words

Footnote [ii]:  “Who Were the Angels of Jude 6?” by Biblical Horizons (Copywrite).

Photo Images:  Google Image search.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or as noted.

Commentary:  Restoration, Sermon by Jeff Strite, Jude 1:1-7, Sermon Central.

 

The Misconceptions of SLAVERY and FREEDOM

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  Jeremiah 34:8-21; Romans 6:15-23

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF, AND SLAVERY ISN’T AN EXCEPTION

A study of history shows that great civilizations of the world averaged about 200 years and the people of the world have followed this timetable:

The people go:

From slavery to spiritual faith.

From spiritual faith to courage

From courage to liberty

From liberty to abundance

From abundance to selfishness

From selfishness to apathy

From apathy to dependence

From dependence back to slavery.

–The Bible Friend

FREEDOM IS PART OF GOD’S NATURE [Jeremiah 34:13]

At the beginning of Israel’s history, God made a COVENANT with His people to make them FREE.  He would be their God and they would be His people,  There would be times of slavery, but He would always be there to free His people.

And today, God expresses Himself as a God who wants us to live in freedom.

He said this in Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth:

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom).”  (2 Corinthians 3:17 Amplified Bible)

So part of God’s nature is the idea that He wants us to be FREE!

Freedom should be a characteristic of God’s people.

Jeremiah 34:14

God made it part of Israel’s social connection.  God instituted a “Year of Jubilee”.  

God provided a way for Israel to keep from hurting one another financially.  When used properly, no one became more important than God.  Everyone would be cared for properly.  [See Leviticus 25:10 for reference]

The terms of God’s covenant, or agreement, allowed service of one Hebrew to another but never slavery.  God also specified a six-year limitation of that service with the seventh year jubilee release of further obligation.

Finally, the king and the people during Jeremiah’s day agreed to the letter of the law. 

The problem was that the people misused this, enslaving people economically.  God never wants us to use our freedom to abuse someone else’s freedom.  Instead, we should be in the business of “setting people free” by using our God-given FREEDOM as our responsibility.

The Bible warns us that we shouldn’t use our liberty to sin.

1 Peter 2:16 (NIV)

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

Charles Kingsley said,  “there are two freedoms–the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where a man is free to do what he ought.”  If we are to be truly free we must follow the latter, not the former.  [Footnote [i].]

The trouble comes when we take the liberty and freedom which God has given us and abuse it. 

In the case of God’s people, they were taking their repentance back and were showing repentance only to get God’s favor.  They never truly wanted a change.

They wanted the benefits of freedom without the responsibility that comes with it,

Jeremiah 34:16 (NIV)

[16] But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished.  You have forced them to become your slaves again.

God doesn’t like it when we take the FREEDOM which He has given us and we misuse it.

Look at what He tells His people:  They aren’t truly changed people and as a result, they reap the consequences:

THE LORD WILL SET US FREE!

He released us from the penalty of every sin in our life.  Therefore, we are to forgive others as He has forgiven us.  And sometimes we do that…for awhile.  But then we remember what he said about us, what she did to us and, like king Zedekiah we change our minds and back into our debt they go.

So how can we have true FREEDOM–the real deal?

 


“What then [are we to conclude]?  Shall we sin because we live not under the Law but under God’s favor and mercy?  Certainly not!” (verse 15 – Amplified)

(*See v. 14) – For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy].

To live “under grace” means FREEDOM to do not what we want but what we ought!

It means FREEDOM for obedience, not an excuse for disobedience.

SIN DOES MATTER!

Freedom doesn’t mean the absence of rules.

We live in a free country, but I’m not free to go into your house and take your television.  There are laws in a free country.  People come to live in America because it offers an opportunity to a better way of life (not lack of laws).  The same is true about living for God.

Romans 6:19

“I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations”  (vs. 19a).

Paul admits that SLAVERY is an imperfect illustration of Christian life (God is not like the slave master’s of Paul’s day), but he uses it because it helps us (who have “weak” minds) understand a basic principle–

  • God is our Master to whom we owe total commitment.

So here’s the challenge:  Let God–NOT SIN–rule your life (vs. 19b).

“Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.”

Christians who live as SLAVES of SIN, must no longer live as SLAVES to SIN!

The Big Idea:  Since everyone is a SLAVE–either to SIN or to GOD–it’s best to choose the slavery that gives the best results.  It’s an either-or situation.  Either you’re a slave to sin or a slave to God.  There’s no middle ground.

The question is not if we bow down before a master, but before which master will we bow to?  There’s no such thing as an uncommitted Christian!

The Truth About Freedom:

WRONG THINKING #1:  Many people think serving ONESELF is freedom.

The TRUTH is that “freedom” from God is SLAVERY

Romans 6:16 (AMP)

[16] Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God).

John 8:34 (NIV)

[34] Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

WRONG THINKING #2:  Many people think serving GOD is a loss of freedoms.

The TRUTH is that “slavery” to God is FREEDOM from the power of sin (vv. 17-18).


The second word of the Book of Romans is “doulos” (Romans 1:1).  But Paul was happy to be a slave, a servant, a “doulos” of Jesus Christ.

“Righteousness”  the conduct pleasing to God.

“the standard of teaching to which you were committed” – We are committed (handed over) to the teaching of Christ Jesus like a slave is handed over to his master.  The teaching doesn’t belong to us, we belong to it.

Believe It Or Not, Our Freedom Comes With Consequences

  • Slavery to sin leads to SHAME (vv. 20-21a).

[20] When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.   [21a] What benefits did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?

  • Slavery to sin leads to ETERNAL DEATH (vv. 21b, 23a)

[21b] Those things will result in death!

[23] For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

ETERNAL DEATH – The eternal separation from God in hell begins after death.

  • Slavery to God leads to HOLINESS (v. 22a).

[22a] But now that you have been set free from sin and become slaves of God…

HOLINESS can mean either the state of holiness or the process of sanctification (living that’s increasingly God-centered and world renouncing.

  • Slavery to God leads to ETERNAL LIFE (v.v. 22b, 23b).

Eternal Death is a “wage” earned; Eternal life is a “gift” received.

THE SLAVERY OF CHRIST – (Matthew 20:28)

Christ, in a sense, became our slave.

He gave His life as a “ransom” for us so that we could be free.  He now asks us to give our lives to Him.

What Jesus has done leads us to what to do:  Become SLAVES of Righteousness.

FREEDOM doesn’t mean the absence of rules.

“I am using as example from everyday life because of your human limitations” (v. 19a.).

Paul admits here that slavery is an imperfect illustration of the Christian life, but he uses it because it helps us understand a basic principle:

God is our Master to whom we owe total commitment

The Big Challenge:  LET GOD–NOT SIN rule your life.

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Commentary:  Proclaiming Freedom by Jim Erwin, July 6, 2013.

Footnotes:  My Favorite Illustrations by Herschel H. Hobbs, Nashville, TN: (Bradman Press, 1990).

Dictionary:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words by W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White Jr..

The Interlinear Bible: Romans 1:1 (Strong’s Concordance 1401.  Greek Word, “doulos”.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or were noted in images.

Images/Photo:  Google Image search.

 

 

 

 

BLESSINGS OR CURSES FOR THE NEW YEAR–It’s Up to You!

SCRIPTURE VERSES – Deuteronomy 28:1 – 29:1

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“Because of the Truth which lives and stays on in our hearts and will be with us forever;  Grace (spiritual blessing), mercy, and [soul] peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ (the Messiah), the Father’s Son, in all sincerity (truth) and love”  (3 John 2-3 AMP).

“Do you believe this? Oral Roberts once asked his wife.  

“Does God wants to BLESS us spiritually,” she said yes, “physically,” she said yes, “and financially? he said, “that you prosper when God wants to bless us in our finances too?”

He said, “On this day I realized that God wants to prosper us in every aspect of our lives,” and that is when his ministry took off!

I don’t know about you, but I believe God wants to BLESS–Prosper our lives in every way possible.

I also believe our attitude about BLESSINGS will determine the amount and measure of BLESSINGS that God will be able to pour out in our lives.

God’s intention and desire is to BLESS humanity, a central focus of His covenant relationships.  For this very reason, the CONCEPT OF BLESSING is spread throughout the biblical record–over 600 times in the Old Testament alone.

I discovered TWO distinct ideas that are present: 

First, a BLESSING was a public declaration of a favored status with God.  

Second, the BLESSING supplied POWER for prosperity and success in our daily lives.

In all cases, THE BLESSING served as a GUIDE & MOTIVATION to pursue a course of life within the blessing.

I find the parallels between the Old and New Testament usages are striking.  

TO BE BLESSED (“favored”) is to be granted special favor by God, resulting in JOY & PROSPERITY [See Footnote [i] ].

In the New Testament, however, the emphasis is more on the spiritual, rather than on material blessings.

DEUTERONOMY 28– 

blessings & cursings

A little background before diving into Scripture.  God promises Israel that He would BLESS them “IF”…they would walk out their lives in OBEDIENCE.

I remember growing up and my parents would use the same conditional commands:  “IF” you mow the lawns, “IF” you take out the trash, “IF” you keep your hands in your pockets…  I bet you know where I am heading–“Then, and only then, you can go to the movie–have that candy bar.  Although they never used the word “bless”, my obedience to their words was dependant on receiving the manifestation of what they had spoken.

Today, it is still the same, “IF”…you walk in OBEDIENCE to God’s Word, He will PROSPER–BLESS your life.  

BLESSED “In the city, and in the field” — (v. 3)

What an exciting promise–because God is going to BLESS you, no matter who you are, and no matter where you came from.

GOD’S BLESSINGS aren’t limited to any demographic–If you are in the city, God will BLESS you, If you are from the country, God will BLESS you.  He basically gives this PROMISE…

“No matter where you are at, or where you have come from, My ability to BLESS is still the same!”

Mechanic, C.E.O., a retiree…from a well-known family or an unknown family.  “It doesn’t matter who you are, it only matters who He is!”

From your first step of the day, to the last step, you will be BLESSED–(v. 8)

God’s BLESSINGS wake you up in the morning, and will go to bed with you at night.  The ANOINTING rest on your life.

Ephesians 1:3 tells us, “May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ  (the Messiah)  Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm!”

God is basically saying, to be on the constant look out for BLESSINGS in your life instead of walking around blindfolded, looking for bad things to happen.

Speak aloud the BLESSINGS over ourselves and our children, our family.  

When God blessed man, He spoke words over him (Genesis 1:22).  THE BLESSING is never released without words spoken.

Being BLESSED, even in your battles– (v. 7 NAS Bible):

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“The LORD will cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they shall come out against you one way and shall flee before you seven ways.”

I’m sure that most people would rather be BLESSED with no BATTLES at all.  But God wants to be GOD in your battles–in your storms and struggles in life; for the BATTLE is the Lord’s!!

You are going to WIN in the battles of life.  God wants to BLESS your life by giving VICTORY in every area you face.

If you have areas in life where you always have lost, give God that BATTLE and you will win.  He doesn’t need your help. Your enemies are going to RETREAT, not you!

The word DEPRESSION in a literal sense means, being pressed down.  Many times life presses people down, but with God fighting on your side, you are lifted up!

We are LENDERS, and not the BORROWER’S– (v. 12)

God wants to make a BLESSING out of you for others to see.

In the area of finance, God wants to PROSPER people to be lenders and not the borrowers.

God wants to be involved in every area of our lives, and if we give Him control of every area, He will BLESS every area.  

Give glory due His name!!

I read a testimony the other day, from a pastor, saying “their Assembly had been praying to be BLESSED as a congregation financially.  Some of the members had been so BLESSED, that they had set up a financial institute helping fellow Christians struggling with areas of finance.  He stated in the last 5 years, over 100 families have become DEBT FREE in their church.”

You can boldly ask God to BLESS you–

JABEZ, whose name means “sorrow,” asked God to doubly bless him (1 Chronicles 4:9, 10).

Now in my opinion, that prayer by Jabez, is BOLD–“doubly” bless me God!  Read how specifically Jabez asks to be BLESSED.

[10] Jabez cried to the God of Israel, saying, “Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and You would keep me from evil so it might not hurt me!”

And God granted his request.

He asked God to BLESS him; to enlarge his coast and God heard his prayer and granted that which he requested.  Can our prayers be so bold, that God won’t grant our requests?

I need my prayers to be more like JABEZ on a daily basis.

We need to go before God with BOLDNESS as Jabez, asking Him to BLESS US every day.

The only thing that’s stopping you from receiving more, is a limited mindset; ask God to enlarge your territory!

Head and not the Tail– (v. 13)

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the TAIL.  As one man said, there isn’t much of a view from the back of the pack.

The Bible teaches that God EXALTS, and God HUMBLES.  God exalts people in due time or season.

You need to CLAIM this as your season of prosperity: That God will advance, that God will give you a higher position, that God will grant FAVOR in your life, abundantly.

Jesus said in John 10:10, that He didn’t come to earth to kill, steal, or destroy. He came that we may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

DANIEL was exalted to a higher rank, JOSEPH to second in command, ABRAHAM was known as a mighty man, JACOB gave blessings over his children.  They were more than experiencing the “abundance,” they were all living in the “overflow.”

WHEN CURSES CAN OVERCOME YOU – (v. 15)

After reading the benefits of God’s BLESSING (verses 1-13), I came upon one of my favorite words in the Bible:  “BUT….”

BUT WHAT?

“BUT IF you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command you this day, then these curses shall come upon you and overtake you”  (AMP).

When we become born-again Christians, we initiate the process of operating in THE BLESSING of God instead of THE CURSE.

To live a BLESSED LIFE and remain free from CURSES, we must obey God’s Word; knowing your bible and not putting God’s word into practice in your daily life may leave you wide-open to CURSES.  Sometimes, even self-inflicted.

One example, and there are many, are self-inflicted curses.  

They might sound like this:

‘My mom was always sick, I’m always feeling sickness, and my little daughter, will more than likely live a life of sickness.’

Remember, “words” are things!  As I said earlier in this blog, “When God blessed man, He spoke words…”  A BLESSING is never released without words spoken.  So a CURSE works in the same manner– You reap what you harvest.  So watch what you say!

We need to understand the ways in which JESUS set us free so we can have DELIVERANCE in every area of our lives.

Galatians 3:13, 14 (NIV):

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.”  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.”

JESUS took our place, taking on our curse.  

When Adam sinned in the Garden, ALL MANKIND WAS CURSED in every way (Genesis 3:17-18)

“A CURSE ” is an EMPOWERMENT to fail; and there is a cause for every curse (Proverbs 26:2).

God wants to make A BLESSING out of you this year–

  • In the field or in the city,
  • Rising up and sitting down,
  • In your battles or in your storms,
  • To become a lender and not a borrower,
  • To be the head and not the tail.

Don’t let your negative words, you disobedience to the Word of God be BLESSING BLOCKERS.  Today, let God make A BLESSING out of you.

IT’S UP TO YOU!

 


Blog-POST Credits & Footnotes:

Footnote [i]:  BibleStudyTools.com

Sermon Notes taken from Creflo A. Dollar:  Blessing Blockers

Photo Credits:  Google Search Images

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If God Wrote Your Obituary…

“IF GOD WROTE YOUR OBITUARY, WHAT WOULD HE SAY?”

“OBITUARY” –  “a published announcement of a death, often accompanied by a short biography of the dead person”  (*See Footnote [i]).

Fill in the Blanks
Filling in the Blanks

TEXT:  1 Chronicles 10:1-14 and 1 Samuel

[13]  So Saul died for his trespass against the Lord [in sparing Amalek], for his unfaithfulness in not keeping God’s word, and also for consulting [a medium with] a spirit of the dead to inquire pleadingly of it.

[14]  And inquired not so of the Lord  [in earnest penitence]. Therefore the Lord slew him and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.

Often when I read a great book, I want to read even more by the same author.  My last blog-post was a study in the Book of Ezra in the Old Testament, and since Ezra was the author/writer of the volumes of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, why not dig into 1 Chronicles.  Some scholars attribute the possibility that Ezra may have been the author of Ester as well.

So for the past week, I’ve been reading and studying 1 Chronicles which brings me to this particular blog-post in Chapter 10.

Verse 13-14 of 1 Chronicles 10 provides a sad OBITUARY of a man who had been called of God but whose life ended in tragedy and ruin.  God cuts no quarters in telling us exactly what brought down this man of God.

In this WORD DETECTIVE investigation into the Scripture provided, I want for us to consider what God has to say concerning Saul that might be a warning for all us to take heed.

SAUL BREACHED FAITH WITH GOD–

What does a person do when they BREACH a thing?  Going to my Thesaurus and Google Search, I came up with this brief definition:

#1. An act of breaking or failing to observe a law, agreement, or code of conduct.  

#2. To make a gap in…

We have a definition, so let’s begin to search out the Spirit of God and dig deeper into the Word.

THE KING WAS SO PRIVILEGED, SO WHAT HAPPENED?

From a natural point he was outstanding:

“…a choice young man and handsome; among all the Israelites there was not a man more handsome than he.  He was a head taller than any other of the people”  (1 Samuel 9:2b AMP).

Saul was given a new heart besides by God–

“The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily…and you will be turned into another man”  (1 Samuel 10:6)

“…God gave him another heart…”  (1 Samuel 10:9).

Saul was chosen by God for a TASK: To SAVE Israel–

“And Samuel said to all the people,  Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen, that none like him is among all the people?  And all the people shouted and said, Long live the king!”  (1 Samuel 10:24).

God touched the hearts of other lives around him–

“Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of valiant men whose hearts God had touched”  (1 Samuel 10:26).

Everything seemed to be in Saul’s favor:

–  Had a good standing in the nation.

–  Distinctly called and commissioned by God.

–  Honored with the friendship of Samuel.

–  Surrounded by a band of men whose hearts God had touched.

Wow!  What privilege Saul must have had and thought of himself in having.  Do you ever feel like a PRIVILEGED one in your ministry?  Not you?

THE CHRISTIAN’S PRIVILEGE–

Believers in JESUS have been chosen by God to take the message of salvation to the world:

“You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting…”  (John 15:16).

God doesn’t want for us to be “Lone Ranger Christians” and provides and touches the lives of others to co-labor with us:

“For we are fellow workmen (joint promoters, laborers together) with and for God…”  (1 Corinthians 3:9).

Saul Disobeyed God’s Command!

Saul OBEYED God’s command but NOT to the letter.

In 1 Samuel 15, we see Saul in obedience to God’s command with his valiant men fighting the Amalekites.  He won the battle, but failed to do everything the LORD said.  Rather, he chose to do it his way.

Some feel that the end justifies the means–that’s REBELLION!  Note what God’s Word says in 1 Samuel 15:23-24:

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim (household good luck images).  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.  [24] And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.”

A Lovely Thought, But Still Disobedience…

While vacationing, a little girl was told not to go by the cliff, and wandered out toward it when her dad fell asleep.  She reached out over the rocks and grabbed a pretty flower and ran back to her dad and said,  “Look what I brought to you.”  He grabbed the flower and threw it down and clutched his little daughter and said,  “You have disobeyed. I’d rather have you than anything you could give me.”  Sound a bit harsh?  Perhaps.  But to DISOBEY God is the ultimate REBELLION–the scowl, the folded arms in position of defiance.

The Regrets From Unfaithfulness–1 Chronicles 10:13:  

So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the LORD.

Verse 13 (ESV):  So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD.

Seeking the Advice of the World–

According to Verse 13, Saul not only ignored God’s Word, but sought out and consulted the world–“…[a medium with] a spirit of the dead…”

WHAT IS WISDOM OF THE WORLD?

“Then Saul said to his servants, Find me a woman who is a medium [between the living and the dead], that I may go and inquire of her.  His servants said,  Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at Endor”  (1 Samuel 28:7).

The apostle Paul warns the BELIEVER to beware of the “wisdom of this world” (1 Corinthians 1:20; 2:6; 3:19).

In study for this blog, I discovered the WORLD SYSTEM is committed to at least FOUR major objectives:  [*See Footnote [ii] ] 

– FORTUNE,

– FAME,

– POWER,

– PLEASURE.

FIRST and foremost: Fortune, money.

The WORLD SYSTEM is driven by money, feeding on materialism.  Remember, the Bible never says “money is the root of all evil”, it reads “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10; 2 Timothy 3:2; Hebrews 13:5).

I ran across this quote the other day in my reading to share–

“I LOVE MONEY.  I love everything about it!  I bought some pretty good stuff.  Got me a $300 pair of socks.  Got a fur sink.  An electric dog polisher.  A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater.  And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too”  ~ by Steve Martin.

SECOND:  FAME –  

That’s another word for popularity.  It’s the longing to be known, to be a somebody in someone else’s eyes.

THIRD:  POWER –  

This is having influence, maintaining control over individuals or groups or companies or whatever.  It is the DESIRE to manipulate and maneuver others to do something for one’s own benefit.

FOURTH: PLEASURE –  

At its basic level, PLEASURE has to do with fulfilling one’s SENSUAL DESIRES.  It is the same mindset that’s behind an all together familiar slogan:  “If it FEELS GOOD, do it!”

God’s System Vs. The World’s System:

“But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then ALL THESE THINGS taken together will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33).

“BLESSED  (HAPPY,  fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly  [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands  [submissive and inactive] in the pth where sinners walk, nor sits down  [to relax and rest] where the scornful  [and the mockers] gather” (Psalm 1:1).

FAILING TO SEEK GOD AND HIS WILL–His Word

In 1 Chronicles 14, Saul,  “He did not seek guidance from the Lord.  Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse”  (English Standard Version-ESV).

Th Jameison-Faussett-Brown Bible in their commenting on the statement given in 1 Samuel 28:6 says, Saul inquired of God alright, but Saul  “…had done so in form, but not in the spirit of a humble penitent, nor with the believing confidence of a sincere worshipper.”

“Whoa!,” I thought when I first read the comments.  At times, I have asked questions of my heavenly Father, just as a matter of form in my prayers, not expecting an actual answer.  Did I really have the “believing confidence” that God would answer?

Saul’s inquiry was, in fact, mere mockery.  His total want was really for all right religious impressions toward others surrounding him in his kingdom manifested by his rushing FROM GOD TO an imposter “in the service of the devil.”

James 1:5 (AMP):

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 fault-finding, and it will be given him.”

Many today who are like Saul, operating in their own kingdom, seeking counsel from everywhere but God and His Word!  Usually, it’s because they don’t really want to hear what God has to say!

Saul Lost Everything God Had Given Him (Vs. 14 b.)

Saul had lost contact with God, lost God’s anointing; an enablement for the task at hand.  Saul lost his character, he lost his kingdom and lost everything that God had given.

Sin has devastating consequences for not only us, but our descendants as well.

Exodus 34:6, 7:

“The Lord!  the Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth.  [7] Keeping mercy and loving-kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, BUT…Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”

1 Chronicles 10:6-7:

[6] So Saul died; he and his three sons and all his house died together,  [7] And when all the men of Israel who were in the valley saw that the army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook their cities and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.

Sin & A Rotten Apple
Sin & A Rotten Apple

We don’t operate in a vacuum and that one person’s sin affects others beyond himself.  It’s like the saying your parents may have referred to when they were unhappy with the crowd you were hanging out with:  “One rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel!”

Saul committed a BREACH OF FAITH that cost him dearly.

When you accepted Christ Jesus, you pledged your FAITH in Him and Him alone.  Have you breached that faith by your actions, or lack thereof?

Thank God for His Word in 1 John 1:8-9:

“[8] If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us  [does not dwell in our hearts].  [9] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].”

 

GOD IS FOREVER FAITHFUL–

THERE IS NO BREACH OF FAITH IN HIM!

 


 Blog Credits & Footnotes:

Photos:  Photo Pin/shutterstock

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted.

Footnote:  [i] The Free Dictionary.com; [ii] Charles Swindoll’s Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, p. 219

 

 

The MYTH of “Supersessionism”

BLOG TEXT:  Amos 9:11-15 in the Amplified Bible

1292737244_68bbf41b9e
Destruction of the Temple

[11] In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David, the fallen hut or booth,  and close up its breaches; and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.  [12] That they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that are called by My name, says the Lord Who does this.  [see Acts 15:15-17.]

[13]  Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine and all the hills shall melt [that is, everything heretofore barren and unfruitful shall overflow with spiritual blessing].  [14] And I will bring back the exiles of My people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat the fruit of them.

[15] And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be torn up out of their land which I gave them, says the Lord your God.

WHAT IS SUPERSESSIONISM/REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY?

REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY (also known as “supersessionism”),  essentially teaches the CHURCH,  as we know it, has replaced Israel in God’s plan.

Supporters of this theology believe Jews are no longer God’s chosen people; and God doesn’t have specific future plans for the nation of Israel.

All the different views in the relationship between the church and Israel are divided into TWO CAMPS:  Either the church is a continuation of Israel (replacement/covenant theology), or the CHURCH is completely different and distinct from ISRAEL (dispensationalism/premillennialism.)  *[See Footnote [i].]

PROBLEMS ARISE IN “SUPERSESSIONISM”:

Replacement Theology was very popular up until the time ISRAEL was ‘reborn’ as a nation.  Before this event, it appeared impossible for PROPHECY concerning Israel to be literally fulfilled, therefore ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS were sought. Although this belief isn’t as popular today as it was prior to 1948, it is still a fairly common belief.  Those who are holding on to this belief face a three-fold problem of allegorizing Israel.

THE FIRST PROBLEM…they must explain away Scripture in the Old and New Testament.  

In the same passage found in Amos 9, God forewarns Israel will both be scattered and gathered.  Is there a conflicted meaning found here in Scripture?

Passages that are plainly stated are said to be symbolic.  When you start ALLEGORIZING Scripture, you face a bigger problem determining where to stop.  If certain passages found in the Bible we DON’T AGREE WITH are figurative, then how are we to know that passages we DO AGREE WITH aren’t figurative or metaphors?

Starting at the beginning of the Bible–

People who try to allegorize Genesis do so because they are not at odds with the doctrine of evolution.  Hell is allegorized so people aren’t offended by the thought of judgement;  Satan is allegorized because people don’t look at superstitions to the world. God’s JUDGEMENT of SIN is allegorized so people can feel OK about their lives without being challenged to live HOLY.

In the end we have watered down Scripture to the point where it’s just a book of moral stories instead of the claim the Bible makes itself in 2 Timothy 3:16:

“Every Scripture is God-breathed  (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience,  [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action).”

If we don’t believe this passage, all other doctrinal beliefs are baseless.  ALL (“every”) Scripture is an inspiration from God–or literally translated,  ALL SCRIPTURE IS ‘GOD BREATHED’, allowing the Bible to determine was is figurative and what is literal.  

“LET THE BIBLE EXPLAIN ITSELF!”

THE SECOND PROBLEM…

Those who discount Israel, by default, are claiming that God’s PROMISES have failed–the PROMISES have never been fulfilled.

Because of DISOBEDIENCE of the nation of Israel, they have been deferred, but because God gave the nation to them, without conditions, they have not and cannot be cast away.  That said, it certainly doesn’t negate individual accountability.

GOD’S GIVEN COVENANT–

ISRAEL was called by God for a PURPOSE!  Abraham and David’s promises were based on God’s COVENANT and not based on individual merit.

GOD’S COVENANT is always based on God’s character and not on man’s.  Don’t confuse PROMISE of BLESSINGS given for obedience with the PROMISES of God’s plan given by covenant.

God called ISRAEL and made it very clear that His call cannot be revoked (Romans 11).

And there’s more PROBLEMS arise in discounting ISRAEL…

IT MAKES GOD’S GRACE DEPENDANT ON MERIT.

ISRAEL is a living picture of the GRACE of GOD.  Look at your own life.  The Bible says that before we received Christ, we were at WAR with God and says that we individuals were ENEMIES of God and DEAD in our sins.  Yet, while we were enemies and spiritually dead, JESUS JUSTIFIED us by nailing our SINS with Him to His cross.  Even as ‘born-again’ Christians, many turn from God’s ways and pursue the world.  If we are truly His, the Bible says God will punish us, then lead us back to Himself.

Even though we are in DISOBEDIENCE, God still loves us.  

How many times did my parents in the raising of their two boys, punished us for our disobedience, then gave us hugs because they loved us.

And as children of God, our Father will deal with us based on our RESPONSIVENESS to His correction.  With the CHURCH and ISRAEL, the same principle applies today.

God’s Children–

We (the CHURCH), are called the Children of God, but so is ISRAEL.  Exodus 4:22 reads, “Thus says the Lord, ISRAEL is My son, even My firstborn.”

ISRAEL is the Prodigal Son–the son who left home, yet not any less than the son who stayed.  Unlike the prodigal, Israel didn’t leave with its inheritance but instead was driven away from their inheritance.

God is waiting for them to come home and then…inherit the PROMISES God has had in store all along.

GOD’S GRACE (His favor) is NOT dependant on Israel’s worthiness anymore than HIS GRACE is dependant on my righteousness.

GOD WILL GIVE THE INHERITANCE AT THE PROPER TIME:

I have been reading and studying in the Book of Amos for the past month or so.  When I finished the last chapter, the Holy Spirit directed me to expand the reading of Scripture regarding the significance of Israel’s inheritance:

 

Our names are written in God's Will
Our names are written in God’s Will

[7] This is what the LORD says–the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel–to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers;  “Kings will see you and arise, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”  [8] This is what the LORD says:  “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you, I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances”  (Isaiah 49:7-8 NIV translation).  

TWO important things to take note here:  The INHERITANCE is AFTER Israel has been judged and gathered again; the inheritance also promises they will NOT be removed from their land.

THE JUDGEMENT DOESN’T NULLIFY THE PROMISE–

Scripture always interprets Scripture; and to come up with a theology, a doctrine, out of context, promises confusion and malcontent in the body of Christ.

So the scripture verses in Amos and Isaiah tells us that the JUDGEMENT didn’t nullify the PROMISE–that it could NOT have been fulfilled in the past because they were removed from their land.

JOEL 2:18-31 reinforces GOD’S PROMISES…

God will drive out the northern army and judge them and give Israel plenty.

No one will be afraid
No one will be afraid

MICAH 4 PROMISES…

Every man in Israel will sit under his/her FIG TREE and no one will be afraid.

These PROMISES are all after God destroys those who hate His people.

ISRAEL is a PICTURE of the Christian Life.

God guided, taught, strengthened and poured out His goodness of Israel.  In spite of all this, ISRAEL was continually drawn to the world.

When PROSPERITY FAILED…God sent prophets to warn them.

When WARNINGS FAILED…God sent unrest.

When UNREST FAILED…God sent enemies.

When ENEMIES FAILED…God sent destruction.

When ISRAEL REPENTED…God delivered them.

CHRIST’S CHURCH…

When we fall away, God draws us back to His goodness!  We may think that He is UNJUST, interfering with our lives, but God sees the end from the beginning.  God looks at the day when we will stand before Him in eternity.

GOD IS GOOD!!!  We can look at the unmerited favor God has shown Israel as evidence of His grace and favor to us.

When all is said and done, SUPERSESSIONISM/REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY is truly a MYTH.  So if that is your churches doctrine–what they’re teaching from the pulpit…STOP IT!  Let Scripture define Scripture!!!

 

 


CREDITS:

PhotosPhoto Pin

FootnotesGotQuestions @ [i] http://www.gotquestions.org/replacement-theology

Bible References Amplified (AMP) and New International Version (NIV).

 

 

 

 

My Confession of a “JONAH’S SPIRIT”

I don’t want to give a shameless plug to a book my wife convinced me to read,  The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn,  BUT… I will, because God’s Spirit spoke to my spirit while reading this passage  in Chapter 20, The Things To Come:

The Prophet and Nouriel (character names in the book), were discussing the hope for America and referencing JUDGEMENT rendered by God in times past; Sodom, the kingdom of Judah, who had once known God and yet had fallen.

The king, Josiah, comes on to the scene and attempted to reverse Israel’s spiritual descent.  He banned the pagan practices, destroyed the idols, smashed altars, and sought to restore the nation to God.  He was “on fire” for God!

Now this brings you to where the Holy Spirit gave me a direct message; where He said,  ‘Mel, I want you to  make a confession from your spirit in your next blog-post’.  So try to stay with me in your reading till the end to see MY CONFESSION.

Exert from The Harbinger–

NOURIEL:  “So judgement can be delayed.”

THE PROPHET:  “Yes, even for the sake of one man.  And then there was Nineveh, the great Assyrian city.”

NOURIEL:  “As in the Assyrian Empire?”

THE PROPHET:  “As in merciless, arrogant, brutal, cold-blooded Assyrian empire.  Its judgement was also decreed.  God called the prophet Jonah…

I’ll stop the conversation there before I get in trouble with the “copyright police”.  But I want to give the exact moment God’s message entered my ear; into my spirit…

THE BOOK OF JONAH:

JONAH had been called by God to go to a city to proclaim God’s Word and their destruction.  But JONAH did everything he could do to avoid answering His call.

The character in Mr. Cahn’s book then asks the question, “Because JONAH didn’t want to proclaim the upcoming BAD NEWS?”  “NO,” said the Prophet,  “because he didn’t want them to be saved.  He knew that God’s will was not for judgement but MERCY.”

A “JONAH’S SPIRIT”:

repent-n-turn-to-gods-way

Jonah 4:2 (KJV)

But it [Nineveh’s repentance ] displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.  And he prayed to the Lord and said,  “I pray thee, Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country?  That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that thou art a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repentest of evil.”

Jonah 4:2 (The Message)

“God I knew it–when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen.  That’s why I ran off to Tarshish!  I knew you were sheer grace and mercy not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness.”

Nineveh, an “Exceedingly great city of three-day journey in breath”–

ninevehNormally, a day’s walking distance in ancient times, consisted of twelve hours.  Now in Jonah’s case, when he arrived after his “fish” experience, might have gone up and down all the different streets to check out the lay of the land.  But the Bible doesn’t say that, so I won’t go down that path (no pun intended).

Nineveh was settled as early as 6000 B.C. according to scholars and by 3000 B.C., was an important religious center where they worshiped many gods (polytheism), with the Assyrian goddess Ishtar, the fertility and war-goddess (sexual & warfare) a prominent idol.  Does America have anything that you know of that’s similar?

During my investigation, I discovered a map that showed the great city could have been consisted of several nearby city.

“…Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah–which is the great city”  (Gen. 10:12).

I lived in Southern California for 38 years, and the City of Los Angeles consisted of many smaller cities within the City Limits.

Wickedness and Violence – The Sodom and Nineveh Parallel.

I could go on in length on the cultural similarities and the morality of the “great cities”, but I think 1 Peter 5 lays out the issue of the yesterdays and the today’s similarities:

“…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.    Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time”                (1 Peter 5:5-6 NASB).

Discovering THE IDENTITY:

So in reading in the Book of Jonah, we discover that Jonah’s identity didn’t sound like some random pilgrim; someone who had a primitive idea of who God was and regarded Him as a tribal deity for Israel alone.  No, this isn’t why Jonah wanted to avoid Nineveh.  The answer is…Jonah knew God too well and that is why he didn’t obey God’s calling.

The Great City Was Spared–

Why did the Nineveh’s inhabitants, the non-believers listen to the prophet Jonah’s message?

“…and he [Jonah] cried,  Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

If that message was given in today’s “great cities”–countries–the response would be,  “Just another nut-case”.  But here in Jonah’s time, the people reacted differently to the message:

“So the people of Nineveh believed in God and proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth [in penitent mourning], from the greatest of them even to the least of them”  (verse 5 AMP).

Even the king of Nineveh REPENTS and makes a declaration to all the citizens (verses 6-8), and ends with HOPE:

“Who can tell, God may turn and revoke His sentence against us [when we have met His terms], and turn away from His fierce anger so that we perish not”  (verse 9).

AND THE RESULTS OF THEIR REPENTANCE; THEIR TURNAROUND FROM DISOBEDIENCE TO THE ONLY GOD?

“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God revoked His [sentence of] evil that He had said He would do to them and He did not do it [for He was comforted and eased concerning them]”  (verse 10).

A much different reaction from God than what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah.   God told Abraham that if he could find but 10 righteous people, He would spare the city.  History revealed shows there were not 10 righteous people to be found in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah!

Why did Nineveh’s inhabitants listen to the Prophet’s Message?

JESUS Himself supplies the clues in the answer in the Gospel of Luke, in chapter 11, where our Lord and savior refers to this account:

“For [just] as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will also the Son of Man be [a sign] to this age and generation”  (Luke 11:30 AMP).

JESUS said,  “Jonah–the man, the prophet–was himself a sign to the city of Nineveh, and in just the same manner, I, the Lord Jesus Christ, be a sign to the whole generation.”  After all, Jonah had been inside of a large fish for three days and JESUS in a tomb for three days.  He was referring to Israel but meant the whole race of man beyond that; and as Jonah was a sign to Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation.

The Last Chapter and the Spirit of Jonah revealed–

In Chapter 4 of the Book of Jonah, we read of the encounter between Jonah and God.  You might think the story would be over in Chapter 3 after ALL the people of the Great City covered themselves in sackcloth and ashes–a true sign of humbleness and repentance before Almighty God.  Repentance meant more than “I’m sorry God”– it was a 180 degree turn in direction from where they were headed–God-lacking, immorality, disobedience, idol worship…

JONAH’S SPIRIT -MAN:

“BUT IT displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was very angry”  (Jonah 4:1).

My spirit-man–

I speak with my mouth how angry I am with what I am hearing from our President, our Congress, local politicians, our Mayor and town council, regarding their beliefs and practices and imposing them on me.   Topics like “same-sex marriages”; the killing of the unborn by abortion; the debt crisis; Law & Order in our inner cities, and on and on.  It’s so frustrating, I get so angry with the situation and I CONFESS with my lips,  “God, bring your wrath down on this godless society I live in!  Enough is enough!”

This is where the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear,  “Mel, you have the same ‘spirit’ as the prophet Jonah.  Pay attention to the Word.”

JONAH was angry with God because the outcome he expected, his plans, didn’t pan out.  The Assyrians, were a brutal and godless people who needed to be damned, not saved.  They deserved God’s punishment.  After all, isn’t that the reason for me being here?

There is a lot of Jonah in all of us I think.  We act as though we would be delighted to turn on the Evening News and hear that Iran, Syria, Russia, China, you name them…lay smoldering in ruins.  But God loves the people of IRAN, SYRIA, CHINA, RUSSIA…anyone who we might consider our enemies…just as God loved the enemies of Israel.

The “Gourd” Above Our Heads–

Jonah had just prayed to the Lord that he was fed up with this whole idea, that when sinners turn to Him and meet His conditions…“You revoke the sentence of evil against them”  (Jonah 4:2).  Then said the Lord,  “Do you do well to be angry?”  (verse 4).

Now Jonah wasn’t ready to answer the Lord’s question and admit to his failings and neither am I.  My grandfather use to say when things reached his “boiling point”; becoming frustrated about the way things were turning out in his life would say,  “I’m going up into the mountains and just eat worms!”

With Jonah’s disappointments,  the mountains were out of the question; so he decided to go to the east of the Great City; make a Tabernacle or “booth”, getting out of the hot sun and into the shade.

“And the Lord God prepared a gourd and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head…”  (verse 6).

Castor Oil Plant
Castor Oil Plant

The Hebrew Word in verse 6 for “gourd” is for the castor oil plant, or literally “the vomit plant”.  If you have ever tasted a spoonful of “castor oil”, you get the picture here.

God is showing us that Jonah’s heart wasn’t in the right place.  He needed to vomit out the evil of his heart; the bitterness, the judgmental attitude toward Nineveh.  When I saw this message to Jonah, it was the same message I was assimilating from God’s Spirit:

“Mel, you need some CASTOR OIL and vomit up your anger towards America’s leaders and the ungodly who are surrounding you.”

Some Choice Words to ‘Chew On’ that follow…

“God prepared a plant, appointed it”.

The plant grew up and covered Jonah’s head, evidence of God’s gracious provision in spite of what it looks like around us.

But on the second day of his pouting in the sun, God prepared a worm:

“…God appointed a worm which attacked the plant so that it withered”  (verse 7).

Jonah 4:7
Jonah 4:7

The WORMS EFFECTIVENESS and Turning the “Heart Lights On”–

“You are the LIGHT of  the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven”  (Matthew 5:14-16 AMP).

We are LIGHTS, not to be covered up, no matter what the condition is of our cities we live in, our state, our country or even our churches we attend.  “Let the REDEEMED say so!”

God has sent us to where we reside in this world to DECLARE the word of Jonah.  Do you see as I have seen how suddenly and subtly the Holy Spirit has insinuated us into the picture?  Around unsaved people–the “godless”, we call them, the “lawless and the disobedient”.  I wanted to dismiss this group from my life saying,  “Revolting, disgusting people who deserve damnation!”.  We sing of God’s tender grace and His mercies and His compassion but avoid saying anything about JESUS to them.  After all, we don’t want to offend anyone.

Some Choice Words Given–

GOD prepared a plant, appointed it.  And the plant grew up and covered Jonah’s head, the evidence of God’s gracious provision in a day of frustration and disappointment.

BUT…on the second day, God prepared a WORM:  “…God appointed a worm which attacked the plant so that it withered”  (Jonah 4:7).

Many times in my long life, thinking that I was defeated in a thing–frustrated, angry and then…God provided some shade in the shadow of His arms.  And then, when perhaps I forgot the blessings, lo and behold…a WORM comes along and I find myself back where I started from.  And that’s a good thing!

A Hot East Wind Blows–

Poor Jonah just sat there sweating, suffering and suffocating until he fainted; he even asked that he might die:

But God said to Jonah,  “Do you have the right to be angry about the vine?”  “I do,” he said.  “I am angry enough to die”  (verse 9).

You know, it’s easy to point a finger at a situation, a condition, a person in your life, but haven’t you ever said to your Heavenly Father  “I want what I want.  I don’t care what You do Lord.  Of course I’m angry at what’s going on in society and in my country.  I don’t like what’s happening!  Take me away.  Take me to heaven and let the trumpet sound!”  

NOTICE WHAT GOD SAID:

Jonah 4:10, 11:

“The the Lord said,  ‘You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work, and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight.” [10]

“And should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” [11]

That is the Hebrew way of describing children; 120,000 little children.  He said,  “You can take pity on a ‘worm-infested’ plant but you can’t take pity upon a great city filled with children and people who don’t know their God.”  And then…the Book of Jonah ends abruptly.  Why?  Because that is where it’s suppose to take us–the revelation of the heart of God.

“MY CONFESSION”:

I have become like Jonah; I have let the “JONAH SPIRIT” take hold of my spirit.  Am I demonstrating to others the heart of God who loves the world, who are staggering on in blind willful ignorance and doesn’t know where they are going?

He has sent me, and you as disciples, as Ambassadors for Christ and to be a sign to this generation.  What is the sign of Jonah?  It is the resurrection, the sign of people who were once dead but who have been made alive in Christ Jesus.  Let the Redeemed say so!

new-york-street-pedestrians

–My Prayer–

Abba Father, Daddy, thank You for directing me

to the Book of Jonah this past week, through it,

a look at my heart-light.  How like the stubborn prophet I am

intent on my own goals, my own comfort, and my unconcern about those

around me whose hearts cry out for You and touch Your heart of compassion.

Lord, grant that I may feel like You feel, to have pity on the people

of this Nation who cannot tell their right hand from their left.

And Lord, help my heart reflect your heart and show them Your 

LOVE and COMPASSION in declaring the Gospel Message of truth, in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

“Going Down A Slippery Slope” – Is it a fallacy?

SLIPPERY SLOPE ARGUMENTS:

A “slippery slope” argument goes like this:  “If you take position A, you run the risk of taking position B; position B is wrong, therefore A is also wrong.”

Politics, national organizations, the media all use the technique to often promote FEAR to the listeners, our thinking.  BUT the reason for this POST is…Slippery-Slopenot to debate the idea or to promote FEAR in the readers, but to bring a FOCUS; to CAUTION–maybe even make you feel uncomfortable in what I see as complacency in society and even in the Church today.

THE SLOPE OF DISOBEDIENCE (Matthew 8:28-34)–

Once we take that FIRST STEP towards DISOBEDIENCE, the next step we take becomes much easier.

It was 1956, I was a 14 year old,  a non-rebellious  9th Grader in Junior High School.  Being a REBEL and disappointing my folks was so far away from who I was… the idea of going against the ‘grain of discipline’,  definitely wasn’t who I was–or who I thought I was.

One day, while walking to school as I always did, I knock on a buddy’s door to join me– and to my surprise,  Steve decided he wasn’t going to school that day.  No, he wasn’t sick.  Steve decided, since his parents were at work (no one would know), he was going to “ditch” school.

“Do you want to “ditch” too” Steve asked me.  I thought, how are we going to get away this rebellious act?  I even showed my concern:

“How are we going to keep from being caught? “ I asked.

“Don’t worry, Mel.  I’m good at forging my mom’s signature on an excuse slip.  We can do the same thing for you if you want.”

So the lies began.  Not just once but this went on and off for several months– thrilled because we hadn’t been caught in our lies, our deceit.  We were certainly contented in our disobedience.

And then the day of reckoning came!   We actually got caught by Truant Officers while ditching school…at my house and not Steve’s hideaway.  The math had discovered to many consequences; both 9th graders absent at the same time too many times.

The school contacted our parents at their workplace [my folks waited for me to tell them that night rather than confronting me with the discovery and repercussions].

And then the school pulled us out of first period class the next morning to inform us of  the consequences of our actions.  I remember the VP asking the three of us, what did you do all day?

“We sat at the kitchen table and played poker” we sheepishly answered.

His response at the time seemed quite surprising to the three of us (we had coerced one other student to join in the rebellion), seeing how much trouble we were all in:

“If it had been me ‘ditching’ school, I would have gone fishing, not wasted the whole day hiding in someone’s house”.

That was the “DUH” moment which added stupidity to the embarrassment.

DISOBEDIENCE is always a choice, no matter what age.  And of course, this was no exception.  My parents were of course disappointed and to my pleasant surprise, the only form of punishment needed for me personally was the following statement and it certainly brought home the point:

“You’ve never done anything like this before and I hope you’ve learned a lesson”.

We weren’t TOTALLY off the hook–

One hour of detention in the Vice Principal’s Office, every day for two weeks certainly became a everyday embarrassment when we were excused early from our 1st Period Class to walk down the empty school halls to pay the price of rebellion.

The “slippery slope” began with the idea that just “one time” would be okay–with the addition of our peers cheering silently that we had challenged the system; our own narrow society.  And when discovered, the thrill was over and it all went down hill after that.

THE SLOPE IS STARTED (Verse 28):

“And when He had come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs; they were so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by that road.”

The SLOPE starts at the place where JESUS met these men, in Gadera.  It’s located on the east side of the Jordan River, given to the tribe of Gad (Numbers 32:1-2, 6).

The people of Gad didn’t want to cross the Jordan and were contented to stay right were they were.

Then in reading Numbers 32:13-15, we see the Lord became angry with the people.  There was work to be done, battles to be fought and the promise of the Lord to be fulfilled.  Yet, the people would have been content to stay right where they were.  Well fed, well clothed, one big happy group of people.  There was no need to get involved–they would allow others to fight their battles.

Sin Starts With Contentment–

CONTENTMENT that enough has already been done.  The Lord declared if they wouldn’t be willing and come across the river and fight, they wouldn’t receive their possession in the east.  They would have to come across and fight with the rest of the tribes to receive the land they wanted.

There is no place in the Army of God for contentment.  There isn’t such a thing as “We’ve finally arrived!”  And yet, the forefathers of these two demon possessed men had to be coerced into following the Lord’s commands.

Sin enters the camp a little bit at a time.  Not all at once.  The logic of the Gadites was simple:  we are cattlemen, there is grass and water here.  We need to stay here and get started with our lives.

But the logic fell short of the Lord’s desire for the nation as a whole.  There was a PROMISE LAND, a place of belonging, not only for those who chose to stay but also for all God’s people.  They were in the conquest together, and together they would have to fight.

THE SLOPE GETS STEEPER (verses 29-31):

“[29]  And behold, they shrieked and screamed,  What have You to do with us, Jesus, Son of God?  Have You come to torment us before the appointed time?   [30]  Now at some distance from there a drove of many hogs was grazing.  [31]  And the demons begged Him, If You drive us out, send us into the drove of hogs.” 

NOTICE that the people of Gadera were “pig farmers”.  They abandoned the cattle and sheep business and were now into the pig business.

Pigs were unclean.  Good Jewish families didn’t have pigs.  I believe that the attitudes of the forefathers were still present during the days of Jesus.

SIN crept into the attitudes and began to ‘chip away’ at the morality of the people.  It’s no wonder that there were demon-possessed men living in tombs, chasing away everyone who came near.  The people had allowed sin to become so entrenched in their society that such possession had become possible.

The devil isn’t satisfied with influencing the occasional outburst of sin.  He wants to control the lives of as many people as he can.

These men were the physical embodiment of evil.

They didn’t start out that way.  They didn’t wake up one morning and decided to become possessed.  But it began to take more and more disobedience; more of ignoring of what was around them to get the same thrill they once received.  Soon, they had immersed themselves in Godless behavior and Godless they became.

THE SLOPE SWEPT THEM AWAY (verses 32-34):

” [32]  And He said to them,  Begone!  So they came out and went into the hogs, and behold, the whole drove rushed down the steep bank into the sea and died in the water.   [33]  The herdsmen fled and went into the town and reported everything, including what had happened to the men under the power of demons.  [34]  And behold, the whole town went out to meet Jesus; and as soon as they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their locality”  (AMP Version).

The pigs had more sense than the people of Gadera did.  The hogs had rather die than be possessed and ran down the slope into the sea and drowned.

SIN DESTROYS!

That is always the goal of Satan and his demonic hordes.  The demons thought they would be safe in pigs, but the pigs knew better.

As the pigs were swept away to their destruction, the people swept out of the city and asked JESUS to leave.  There, before their own eyes, a great and powerful miracle by the Son of God had taken place before their eyes, where two men no longer were possessed but were in their right minds.

Did the people of Gadera stop and worship the Lord at His presence?  Did they pause to consider what had just happened in their midst?  No, they were more concerned with their ‘pig ministry’ and that their livelihood was gone as well!

Complacency, Contentment, a Godless Society–

In the verses that follow, we see that JESUS did indeed leave.

JESUS will never go where He isn’t wanted!

He will never stay where He isn’t welcomed!

4723392022_da31abeec0JESUS will never stay where a people are in a “sanctuary of contentment” with their spiritual state.

There are PROMISES to fulfill, not just for some, but for all!  JESUS came to offer eternal life to all who would receive Him.  He came to offer a deeper meaning of our spiritual existence.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you CONTENT where you are?  Are you SATISFIED to let someone else take your place, some other church lead in the fight?

Contented and Satisfied
Contented and Satisfied

We have the opportunity to invite JESUS to stay and to see the miracles of changed lives in our churches.  To see Him do “exceedingly more than we have ever thought or imagined.”

“Sin takes us farther than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay, and makes us pay a price we can’t afford to pay.”