Our Church “Behavior” Should Be An Extension of Worship

THE PROPER ATTITUDE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD: 

A Study In FIRST TIMOTHY.

Over the past several years I have noticed a certain casualness that has become prevalent on Sunday mornings.  Our culture seems to be dictating the attitudes of church leadership in responding to the change.  Is it just me, or has this become a fulfillment of biblical prophecy?  So in searching for answers, I, of course, turn to God’s Word in the bible and was led to First Timothy.

STUDY TIME –

At the beginning of Paul’s letter to a young pastor, Timothy, this letter had a central purpose behind it.

Paul’s Instructions – 1 Timothy 3:14-15

[14]  “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that,  [15] if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar, and foundation of the earth” (NIV).

IS THE APOSTLE PAUL REACHING JUST A BIT IN THE ABOVE VERSES?

I don’t think so.  He’s telling not only the church in Ephesus but to today’s CHURCH as well:

The proper and orderly BEHAVIOR within the body of BELIEVERS in the house of God should always be an Extension of WORSHIP.

The given instructions by the Apostle to Timothy (and consequently, all who will follow in the Faith) know what conduct is pleasing in the sight of the True and Living God.  This Letter to Timothy is Paul’s effort to remind the young pastor, and through him to remind the Church at Ephesus the fundamentals of church life.

These fundamentals appear to have been forgotten in this day and age.  And from my own observations of behavior in many churches today, the foundations are being attacked by an infestation of ‘cultural termites’ and are crumbling before my eyes.

The Apostle tells us the reasons for his letter to the Church.

He’s not merely informing Timothy that he intends to come to Ephesus; he wants to ensure that Timothy has in hand information vital for congregational health.

Paul uses three descriptive terms, all referring to the CHURCH.

To really appreciate the CONDUCT AND CONFESSION required of the congregation there’s a need to understand the apostolic view of the Church.  Keep in mind, Paul’s not writing about some unorganized body that is difficult to understand–he’s writing to Timothy about the congregation in Ephesus, the church Timothy pastored.

The first term Paul uses is “the Household of God.”

This phrase is more common for Paul than one might think.  For instance, writing to the saints of the Galatian churches, Paul insists, “Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers]” (Galatians 6:10, AMP).

Then again in his letter intended for general circulation, the Apostle has written, “You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household” (Ephesians 2:19, NIV).

WHO IS THE “CONGREGATION”?

It should be obvious that in the mind of Paul, “the household of God” encompasses ALL the saints gathered in an assembly as a CONGREGATION.  In this instance particularly the Church in Ephesus is identified as “the household of God.”  Just so, the CONGREGATION you associate with as seen as “the household of God.”

THE CONGREGATION IS A FAMILY–

God is the Father and believers are His children.  Therefore, believers are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Leadership Responsibilities-

The elders and deacons are given as LEADERS to assist the FAMILY to fulfill the Father’s will and purpose.

“Woah.  I thought they were there to help serve communion and pass the plates for the tithes and offerings!”

NO, it more than that.  It’s all about FAMILY–the “household” of God.

“Family” CONFLICTS –

I know on occasion in our own physical families, family members have conflict and the same can occur within the church family.  However, in Heaven, it will be redeemed, perfected “household” in entirety then.

J. Vernon McGee used to quote a couplet that speaks to this challenge:

To live above with the saints we love

Oh, that will be glory.

To live below with the saints we know,

Well, that’s another story.

The next term the Apostle uses is “the church of the Living God”.

Twenty-seven times in Scripture God is identified as “the Living God.”  Fifteen of those times occur in the O.T. and twelve times the term is applied to God in the N.T.

Whenever I see the Lord God identified as “the Living God,” my mind turns to the knowledge that He is eternal and He is immortal.

The title testifies that He is the source of life.  We LIVE because He has given us life–we are alive in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.

Knowing this to be TRUE, the child of God must not associate with that which is identified as DEAD or DYING; we must not embrace if you will, that which is dying.

The ATTITUDE of this world are the ATTITUDES of DEAD PEOPLE.

John, the apostle testifies that “As the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever”  (1 John 2:17, AMP).

So if we are identified in the community as “the Church of the Living God,” then we’re responsible to avoid embracing that which contaminates that which speaks of death.

Paul has written,

IDOLATRY today comes in many forms.  It extends beyond the worship of graven images.

Our modern IDOLS are many and varied.  Even for those who don’t bow down physically before a statue.

IDOLATRY is a matter of the HEART–pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony, a love for possessions… sports heroes, music legends, etc.  Ultimately, it’s REBELLION against God.  Is it any wonder that God hates it?  And if God hates something in my life, I should recognize it and hate it too!

In Christ Jesus, the CONGREGATION is being built.

AND…

When we gather for WORSHIP on a Sunday morning, or at other times, we are not just another organization registered with the government–we are the CONGREGATION of the Lord.  We don’t go to church–we are the church.

The church of the Living God is not an organization; it’s an “organism”-  

A breathing, living entity, indwelt by His Spirit.  When we meet together, we don’t just sing songs and listen to sermons.  We are and should be energized by His Spirit by offering sacrifices of praise.

As a significant aside, a COMMUNITY is only as strong as the churches of the community.  If the community is religious, though unchanged by the preaching of God’s Word, then it has no depth or stability to permit it to stand.  The same holds true for a NATION or a CULTURE.

The Psalmist is correct when he writes:

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance.

[Psalm 33:12, NIV]

Whenever a people no longer WORSHIPS the True and Living God, that PEOPLE have placed their trust on a flimsy thread that must soon fail; they’re stepping onto a slide from which they may never return as they plunge into insignificance and ultimately into ruin.

THE CONDUCT EXPECTED–

The Word of God, God’s TRUTH given in written form, serves as a FOUNDATION for our lives as a CONGREGATION and it’s to be the MESSAGE we deliver to the world around us.

The WORD is to saturate our lives, to be central to every activity in which we engage as a CONGREGATION.

Note in our passage of Scripture, Paul is addressing Timothy, not the congregation.  The reason for this is that the ELDERS are responsible to teach these things faithfully while the CONGREGATION should and must know these things, it’s the responsibility of the Elders/Deacons to teach them.

If your church leaders excuse error in the midst of the Assembly and fail to hold the line on biblical truth, you should be questioning their adherence to all other truths.

What were the criteria to qualify as the Church of the Living God?

In answering the proposed question, we need to review what has already been laid down in Scripture.

  • FIRST, the Church of the Living God is a place of PRAYER. (CHECK)
  • Seeking God’s MERCY for ALL people.  (CHECK)
  • The body of Christ, the CONGREGATION, should be marked by holy living!  (???)

Here’s what the Apostle wrote [1 Timothy 2:1-6]:

So the CONGREGATION (that’s you and me) will endeavor to qualify as the Household of God should remain focused on glorifying the Son of God through winning others to FAITH and that CONGREGATION (that’s you and me) will PRAY for God to bless civic authorities so that the CHURCH is free to evangelize.  Moreover, that Congregation should labor to ensure that men assume the position in leading such prayer.

Paul wrote, “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing”  (1 Timothy 2:8, NIV).

R-E-S-P-E-C-T In the House!

How we dress, how we dress our children, how we instruct our teenagers to dress, says far more than we might imagine.  I’m not suggesting that we must be ‘flashy,’ or try to attract attention in our dress; but we must bear in mind that we are coming into the presence of the Lord God.  It’s not about you!

This brings to mind the instructions Peter wrote at one point with his first letter directed to WIVES, the principle should apply to each Christian.

“Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes;  But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God”  [1 Peter 3:3-4, AMP].

It’s a serious challenge to us living at what appears to be the twilight of the Age of Grace to question whether we hold CULTURE accountable to the Word of God, or, whether CULTURE now holds the Word of God accountable to whatever silly fad happens to have captured the popular imagination of the moment.

Looking at the CONDUCT…

In the CONGREGATION of the Master, it is sufficiently important to the Apostle in the entirety of chapters TWO and THREE regarding our conduct.

PAUL admonishes Timothy and all those who stand behind the pulpit, that the task assigned is to provide instruction of godly CONDUCT in the Household of God–holy behavior, prayer led by godly men, modest dress, a biblical order in the service of the Assembly and ELDERS and DEACONS being marked by righteous lives that reveal His work in them and through them.

Note carefully the next two verses in Acts 20:28-31 (NIV)

[28]  Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.  [29]  I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  [30]  Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.  [31]  So be on your guard!  Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

Soon after Paul’s WARNING, a half-brother of Jesus penned a warning to the CHURCHES.  Jude opens with these pointed words.  Jude 3-4 (GNT)

“For some godless people has slipped in unnoticed among us, persons who distort the message about the grace of our God in order to excuse their immoral ways, and who reject Jesus Christ, our only Master, and Lord…”

The danger was not potentially, it was indisputable; the DANGER to the churches was piercing!  What Paul foresaw, Jude recognizes as already happening–an ongoing assault against the Faith.  Tragically, the churches across the land appear to have become complacent, as though accepting what I like to call, a paradigm shift of the church practices that somehow honors God.  Has the condemnation of the Prophets been pronounced on us today?

Has our CASUALNESS in God’s House become the post-mortem of our WORSHIP?

HOLINESS–things are done in and about the worship service must be done for GOD’S GLORY, not ours.  We cannot allow cultured shifts or norms to dictate out the manner of WORSHIP.  We just can’t!

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~ CREDITS ~

Sermon Central:  Proper Attitude And Order in The House Of God, contributed by Duane Smith on April 11, 2011.

Photos & Images:  Google Image search, Advance settings.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); other translations used are noted in the text.

 

Our Perception of Divine Sovereignty

BIBLE STUDY:  AMOS 9:1-15

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY

The FIRST question before getting into this study is to ask ourselves the question “What does it mean that God is sovereign?”

God is described in the Bible as ALL POWERFUL and ALL KNOWING (Psalm 147:5), outside of time (Exodus 3:14; Psalm 90:2), and responsible for the Creation of everything (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1).  These divine traits set the minimum boundary for God’s Sovereign control in the universe, which is to say that nothing in the universe occurs without God’s permission.  God has the POWER and KNOWLEDGE to prevent anything He chooses to prevent, so anything that does happen must, at the very least be allowed by Him. [From gotQuestions?org. ].

After studying in the Book of Amos, you might begin to wonder, “Is there any good news?”  It seems as if all Amos can talk about is death and destruction.  So many ways Amos tried to get his message to the Israelites, the talk, the sermons, and finally, the personal visions he had for himself.  In all of this Israel wouldn’t listen–in one ear and out the other ear.  The people of God had wandered so far away from God, they couldn’t find their way back.  And even worse…they had deceived themselves into thinking that because they were God’s people who He would threaten JUDGEMENT but not carry the threat through.  How mistaken they would be.

They forgot that one of the recurring themes of the book was the Sovereignty of God.

And frankly, over the last few years, I have the same fear about the churches in America than anything else.  With the loss of REVERENCE of the power of God, comes a loss of dependency on Him.

We think we can go about our lives and do it on our own.

We devise our own IDOLS, our own centers of worship.

We decide that on Sundays, instead of actually worshipping God, we’re going to go to a ball game instead.  And whats worse, we’re making a public witness that it’s all right to do.  The center of our WORSHIP ceases to be in church but rather at the ball field or wherever.

There are similarities between the people of Israel and the people in America today.

If the people of Israel were to see JUDGEMENT of their transgressions, how can the churches in America fail to expect the same judgment?

So how can taking a book that’s so negative and find the roses that are planted in it?

I believe we’ve forgotten the element of JUDGEMENT.

Judgement and punishment traditionally have been seen as negative.  We want people not to do a certain activity, so we PUNISH them for doing so.

Children may be able to recognize that we LOVE them when we punish them but their view of PUNISHMENT is still not to do a certain thing.  There is an element of restoration that happens as a result of the punishment and judgment.  Just as parents, God disciplines or judges His people to bring them back into a good relationship with Him.

So God’s Judgment in His SOVEREIGNTY can correct the political, the religious, the cultural conditions that allowed for the people to turn from God and shows that He still wants a RELATIONSHIP with His chosen people.

WE ARE THE CHURCH!

Amos knows why the judgment is to come.

It’s a vision that God shows Amos the extent of the JUDGEMENT,

The very foundations of Israel are to be destroyed.

All of the people were involved.

Their land, their buildings, all were involved and destroyed.

WHY?

One reason is that it establishes the sovereignty of God.

Just as a child challenges his parent’s authority.  When the PARENT doesn’t answer the challenge by discipline, then the CHILD doesn’t fear the AUTHORITY of the parents.  How the parent exercises that DISCIPLINE affects the challenge.

When my first-born daughter was a child, a good strong word or a timeout on the couch would be good enough.  For my other two children, that would do no good at all!

For some, nothing but a spanking will do.  They see that type of discipline as either a strength or weakness on the part of the parent.

If DISCIPLINE is to be effective it must present the PARENT in a sovereign position over the child, and not visa-versa.

The same is true of God.  He doesn’t send judgment just for the sake of judgment.  He sends it to exert His SOVEREIGNTY on a people who have challenged it, or no longer believes it.  He allows us to know who is really in control of this world; that it is the Creator, not the created.

Amos Chapter 9 begins by establishing the SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD in the first four verses.

AMOS begins to show God’s sovereignty as pictured by the altar with a sword in His hands.

There is no defensive armor mentioned.  He would not need it!  He was to attack as the sword is only an offensive weapon.

After He destroys the Temple, God then continues His JUDGMENT on the survivors.

  • They couldn’t hide in the center of the earth, or in caves.
  • They couldn’t hide in the mountains.
  • They couldn’t hide in the depths of the sea.

The SOVEREIGN GOD would find them wherever they hide.

AMOS continues to describe God’s SOVEREIGNTY in VERSE 5:

[5]  The Lord, the LORD Almighty–he touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn; the whole land rises like the Nile, then sinks like the river of Egypt;

Amos identifies God as the LORD, THE LORD ALMIGHTY.

God who can control the actions of the earth and the water.  We’ve seen this before with Noah and the flood and Moses and the Red Sea.

Having established His SOVEREIGNTY, we then look at VERSE 7:  “Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?” declares the LORD.

In this VERSE, God establishes the fact that He considers Israel to be the same as the idolatrous Cushites, the Philistines, and the Arameans.  God has in the past delivered countries not His chosen people out of captivity.  They wouldn’t recognize it, but AMOS does here.

But in VERSE 8, there seems to be a dimmer of HOPE for Israel.  God’s SOVEREIGNTY is established in His righteous JUDGEMENT.

[8]  “Surely the eyes of the Sovereign LORD are on the sinful kingdom.  I will destroy it from the face of the earth.  Yet I will not totally destroy the descendants of Jacob.”

God also is to destroy Israel from the face of the earth as Israel is recognized as EVIL by God.  The people also show no signs of REPENTANCE by the leaders.

But in His destruction, God makes a PROMISE not to totally destroy Israel or the house of Jacob.

You can’t just talk about the destruction of Israel without looking at its RESTORATION.  In fact, the only time we can speak of JUDGEMENT without restoration is the great white throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).

It is here that I can see the ROSEBUD start to develop.

The RESTORATION of ISRAEL:

God had promised in VERSE 8 that He will not destroy the house of Jacob.  This means that while a great number will be destroyed, as we learn from verses 1-4, that not all the Israelites will be destroyed.

In my Bible investigation, this brought up some interesting questions:  Who will be destroyed and whom will be the remnant? And why?

To find some answers to understanding the reasons for destruction in JUDGEMENT I needed to turn back the pages of history at what led up to this JUDGEMENT.

It goes back to the death of Solomon and the division of the 12 Tribes into two countries.

Jeroboam, the king of the northern country, Israel, wanted to make sure that the countries stayed divided.  So he introduced IDOL WORSHIP to Israel so they wouldn’t go to Jerusalem to make sacrifices to God.

From then on, things went downhill.

The series of successive kings didn’t look to God for leadership but trusted rather in their own power to lead.  This was the foundation of their problems.  They challenged the SOVEREIGNTY of God and in essence, were saying that we can lead God’s people better than God can.

So all matters of EVIL enveloped Israel for literally hundreds of years.  God wouldn’t stay His JUDGEMENT forever in light of all this.

It’s important to note–not all the Israelites bowed to Baal.  They would all be a part of the JUDGEMENT, but God would protect them.

God also left an opportunity for individual repentance, even though the country would be judged.

With what we know, we can tell who is to be judged:

  1. The religious leaders for their allowing idolatry.
  2. To the political leaders who wouldn’t look to God.
  3. To the wealthy for how they abused the poor.
  4. To the judicial leaders for abusing the system of justice.
  5. To the people who followed these leaders.

VERSES 11 and 12 tells us that God will RESTORE the fallen tent of David.

[11] “In that day I will restore David’s fallen shelter–I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins–and will rebuild it as it used to be,  [12] so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear My name.” declares the LORD, who will do these things  (NIV).

God will repair the broken places and restore its ruins.  He will bring out a NEW NATION that is stronger and more powerful than what was there before.

This is a NEW DAY of the LORD. 

One that isn’t a day of judgment but one of restoration.  A day when the people of the House can once again enjoy the goodness of the relationship with the Lord.

Looking at VERSES 13 and 14…

The reaper will overtake the plowman…

The planter with the one treading grapes…

New wine will flow from the mountains and hills…

They will rebuild their cities…

They will make gardens and eat their fruit.

All of the talk of JUDGEMENT at this point now turns to RESTORATION and HOPE!

The Agent of Restoration is Revealed –

It’s not enough to know that RESTORATION was to take place.  We must know HOW that restoration will take place.

The restoration for Israel came in TWO ways.

One is immediate:

This would be their return from captivity and the rebuilding and leadership headed by Nehemiah and Ezra.

The other is or future RESTORATION when Christ comes back:

The future restoration that God brought about was even more reconstructive than just returning to an existing form of worship.  The form of worship had to change for throughout Israel’s history, they showed that they repeatedly turned from God under the Law.  They couldn’t keep ALL the Law, therefore they could keep none of it.

For Israel’s RESTORATION to be complete, they would have to have a NEW WAY to worship.

That NEW WAY OF WORSHIP would come with Jesus

He came to complete the Law.

With Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, God completed the RESTORATION of the Law.  The restoration of the Law became the DOCTRINE of GRACE.

The doctrine of grace wrestled control of religion from the hands of men and placed God in control.  It was no longer a “system”, a bunch of rules and regulations that mere mortals could follow, like directions on a roadmap.

SALVATION was now a GIFT open to everyone.  It was based on what God in His SOVEREIGNTY can do for a man, a GIFT that God and God alone could give.

Whit Christ, the RESTORATION of Israel was complete!

CHRISTIANITY was to become the new Israel.

Israel was restored to worship under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We are part of the RESTORED Israel.

One day we will be in the land never again to be uprooted as we join Christ in glory.  Oh, what a day that will be for those who are part of the RESTORED KINGDOM!

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CREDITS ~

Commentary:  “What does it mean that God is sovereign?”  gotQuestions?org.

Photos:  Google Image search.

Video:  YouTube time-lapse of a rosebud.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted.

 

The “High Places” Can and Will Prevent REVIVAL

BIBLE TEXT FOR THIS BLOG  – 2 KINGS 18:1-8 

I love Bible detective investigation, especially when uncovering hidden truths that were there all the time.  They were never HIDDEN, just ignored.

This week’s BLOG is no exception when it came to looking for the significance of ‘HIGH PLACES”.

HIGH PLACES is mentioned 117 times in the Old Testament of the Bible.  They were centers for Canaanite idol worship that God had commanded the Jews to tear down.  But instead, these places became IDOLS that subtly seduced God’s people year after year–they couldn’t stay away!

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The HEBREW word is bamah – a mountaintop, open-air altars on elevated knolls near towns.  (*Footnote [1] )

In 2 Kings 12:1-3, we read and notice Joash’s promising reign fell short of its promise; for he failed to get rid of the high places.

In this week’s Bible Text,  2 Kings 18:1-8, we are treated to the example of Hezekiah, a king who the Bible says,  “did right in the sight of the LORD”

What then went wrong (king JOASH), and What went right (king HEZEKIAH)?

#1.  What was it about Joash’s reign that kept the LORD from sending REVIVAL to the land?

#2.  What was it about Hezekiah’s reign that found favor in God’s eyes and led to REVIVAL?

The answers to the questions seem straightforward to me, but then again, I’ve been spending time in study lately in The Book of Kings!

Uncovering Evidence –

I see some very specific things in this eight verse summary of king Hezekiah’s reign, giving a clear indication what it was about Hezekiah that PLEASED GOD.

THE FIRST is found in verse 4 and it is his completed…

  • TURNAROUND

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JOASH failed to tear down the HIGH PLACES–

He wasn’t willing to make the effort to confront those STRONGHOLDS of sin and idolatry, and the consequence was the momentum toward REVIVAL; which was overcome by the EVIL of those strongholds, both in the nation and in Joash himself.

HEZEKIAH on the other hand, doesn’t fool around in his TURNAROUND.  He takes REFORM all the way to the hills!

He confronts the pagan priests and idolaters–he says, there is no more room for this kind of activity in my kingdom, because my kingdom is really God’s kingdom.

The PROCESS of Experiencing REVIVAL –

If we want to experience REVIVAL in our lives, in our home, in our church, in our community, we are going to have to make the same bold stand.

We can’t afford to have HOLDOUTS.

We can’t allow the HIGH PLACE of SIN to escape the LORD’S AUTHORITY.

We can’t say, “Lord, you can have all my life except…

  • MY FINANCES,
  • MY RELATIONSHIPS,
  • MY ENTERTAINMENT,
  • MY FUTURE PLANS.”

Today we don’t construct idolatrous clay figurines such as Baal, or attend worship services for Asherah.  But our TEMPTATIONS are just so seductive and perhaps even more subtle than in Hezekiah’s time.

Believers today might avoid the obvious “high places” such as THEFT, CHILD ABUSE or EXPLOSIVE ANGER.  But we tend to be casual about what the Bible teacher Jerry Bridges calls “respectable sins.”

We rarely speak of envy, worry, spiritual pride, sexual window-shopping, gossip or strife as SIN.  But these habits are nothing but sinful deeds of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).

Historically, REVIVAL has come to the church when people have allowed the Holy Spirit to take the hammer of REPENTANCE to strongholds we harbor and once those barriers are busted, the river of REVIVAL becomes like a flood.

The second thing I noticed about Hezekiah that pleased God and led to REVIVAL was his complete…

  • TRUST  

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[5] Hezekiah trusted in, leaned on, and was confident in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that neither after him nor before him was any one of all the kings of Judah like him.  (AMP)

The Bible says, Hezekiah TRUSTED in the Lord, the God of Israel.

There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after him.

Hezekiah’s forefather, DAVID declared…

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It must be easy for a king to TRUST in the resources of his kingdom, to try to devise a way to solve their problems of weapons, and wisdom, and wealth the way Joash did.

But Hezekiah TRUSTED in the LORD!

Without FAITH, the Book of Hebrews says, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD (Hebrews 11:6).

But as we see here, with FAITH and TRUST in the Lord, God is genuinely PLEASED!!

CHURCH, if we are ever going to PLEASE the Lord, He will require from us the same that He required of the kings of Judah–REPENTANCE and FAITH–TURNAROUND and TRUST.

That TRUST must mean trusting in Him for SALVATION–believing that the SACRIFICE of Christ upon the CROSS is sufficient payment for your sins to make you righteous before God–this is the FOUNDATION of a God-blessed life!

With the central issue of SALVATION is dealt with, the LORD wants us to TRUST Him with even more–with ALL of our life.  He wants us to RELY upon Him for deliverance from the enemy, for daily bread, for our families, and for our future.

When we can openly give ourselves to God by TRUSTING HIM with ALL of our lives, and when we do that, (here it comes!)…we open ourselves up to His BLESSING, not that He’s been withholding it, but simply said, because we’ve been unable to receive it!

So then with TRUST as with TURNAROUND, we open the floodgate of REVIVAL!!

The last thing I found about Hezekiah in my reading that PLEASED GOD and opened the way for REVIVAL was Hezekiah’s…

TENACITY –

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By definition, TENACITY is “the quality or fact of being very determined”  [Google Word Definitions].

HEZEKIAH CONTINUED–he stuck to it with a ‘bulldog’ mentality!

It wasn’t that he never faced difficulty, he did.  But unlike Joash, who when faced with a CRISIS…surrendered what was SACRED.

Hezekiah plunged forward with unwavering commitment to the task at hand.  

He continued to TRUST, he continued to do what was right even when confronted by the world’s only superpower of his day, even when he saw his Northern neighbor Israel being defeated and sent into exile.  Hezekiah continued to SERVE God in FAITH and in RIGHTEOUSNESS!!!

If we (the church) are genuine in our DESIRE to see God moving in our lives in a new and a fresh way, and if we long to see His BLESSING poured out across our nation, WE must exhibit the same kind of spiritual TENACITY!

So, why aren’t we seeing REVIVAL today as we should?

I’ve seen people over the years anxious for God to move in power; people who earnestly desire to have a new vision, a deeper understanding of the majesty and holiness of God, people who are anxious to see the lost come to faith, people who believe they have a God-given vision of REVIVAL in their community, people who have begun special prayer meetings to ask God to send REVIVAL, but who never seem to get there.  I know all this because, I’ve been there myself!  I don’t mean to say nothing happens–there is always spiritual fruit when people desire to be closer to Jesus.  And yet, the outcome never quite lives up to the expectation.

I don’t know why this happens for sure–perhaps part of it is, simply our inability to box God to define what REVIVAL is going to look like.  I suspect that part of it is the lack of one thing on our part:  TENACITY

After a few weeks of lacking attendance at the prayer meetings…after a few times2173776885_1108b59098 of inviting of friends and neighbors to church, we quit asking.

After a few days of resisting TEMPTATION…we give in.

We have not resisted to the point of blood (Hebrews 12:4).

 

Choosing How We Are to Live –

If we are going to see REVIVAL, we must choose to TURNAROUND, and tear down the “High Places,” giving God the sovereignty over every part of our life, leaving no place for temptation and sin to take root.

AND, we must choose to TRUST in Christ alone, both for SALVATION from sin–to be SET FREE from its penalty and for all matters of our lives.

AND it cannot be just a temporary decision but we must choose to follow hard after the Lord with TENACITY.

WHAT’S YOUR CHOICE TODAY?

Share your decision if you wish in the Comment Section of this Blog.  Your words just might encourage another.

 

 


Footnotes & Credits ~

Footnote [1] : Billy Graham Evangelical Association – Seduced by the High Places by Scott Morton, May 2, 2012.

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search and Seduced by the High Places provided by B.G.E.A.

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

Strange Women and Old Men

1 Kings 11:1-14

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KING SOLOMON –

No man began with more promise than Solomon did.  Yet a good beginning doesn’t mean a good finish.  Solomon drifted and finally defected.  Could the same thing happen to us?

Solomon Became The Wisest Man In The World!

1 Kings 4:31-34 (AMP bible):

[31] For he was wiser *than all other men–than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol.  His fame was in all the nations round about.

[32]  He also originated 3,000 proverbs and his songs were 1,005.

[33]  He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall; he spoke also of beasts, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish.

[34]  Men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.

[“Wiser than all other men,” until Christ came.  Jesus said, “Someone more and greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12:42) – Amplified Bible footnote.]

So What Went Wrong?”

Solomon had a misplaced LOVE (VERSES 1 & 2):

[1] BUT KING Solomon [defiantly] loved many foreign women–the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites.  [2] They were of the very nations of whom the Lord said to the Israelites,  You shall not mingle with them, neither shall they mingle with you, for surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.  Yet Solomon clung to these in love.

I remember when I was in school at an early age–when I would do something wrong, my teacher would shout out my name across the playground and I would pretend not to hear her call.  It was because I knew I’d done wrong and knew I was in trouble.

  • God tells Israel NOT to have anything to do with these women!!!  (Deuteronomy 7:3-4)
  • God told the kings of Israel NOT to marry many wives!!!               (Deuteronomy 17:17)

Now before we misinterpret God’s word into something racial, let me make it clear.

When God commanded the Israelites NOT to marry foreigners–“strange women”–it is not because they are a different color, or from a different country, or because they look different.  It was simply because they WORSHIPPED IDOLS and pagan gods.

God knew that if His people were to marry those who did not WORSHIP the true God of heaven, that the influences of these “strange women” would influence and eventually poison the house, the husband, the children, and the bloodline.

Solomon LOVED these women (VERSE 1) –

Solomon was like that certain kid in school I mentioned earlier–he pretends NOT TO HEAR God give the command NOT to marry these women because deep down he knew it was wrong.

The LORD tells Israel not to marry these women because they’ll turn their hearts away from God and that’s exactly what happened to Solomon.

Romans 12:1 (NIV Bible):

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.

It is impossible to present your bodies as a living sacrifice if your HEART is not right.  Don’t let the WORLD around you squeeze you into its own mould.

TEMPTATION seems to arise when things start to crop up in our lives; causes us to start missing our personal prayer time in the mornings, and daily Bible reading is skipped over.  How easy it is for Satan to get in and cause us to have a MISPLACED LOVE.

A HINGE VERSE – Things Change From This Point On.

VERSE 4 (AMP):

idol-moloch[4]  For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not perfect (complete and whole) with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

NOTE: “Old Age won’t cure the heart of any evil propensity” – Matthew Henry Commentary.

Solomon had his HEART turned away from God, and as a result of his MISPLACED LOVE, his heart is turned not only away from God, but towards false gods.

The WORSHIP SYSTEMS that Solomon was involved in were sexually oriented and obviously this would appeal to Solomon.  If he wasn’t interested in this kind of thing, he probably would have stuck with just one wife.

Have we had our HEARTS turned away?

Worshipping false gods are just Old Testament stories, right?  Well, let me point out that thousands of churches across the land are EMPTY today because of the WORSHIP of false gods!

  • Sunday is the only day that kids can play football, so we have to take them while church is in session.  Sorry!
  • I can’t read IN my Bible right now, because I would miss too much TV.
  • I go to watch my soccer/football/baseball team play Sunday afternoon.  I could never miss that opportunity for church.

The minute we place more priority on something other than Jesus Christ, then we are in effect, worshipping false gods.

We need to pray and ask God to remove our idols in life.  I don’t want SPORT to be my god or, I don’t want TV to be my idol.  The only GOD I want is YOU!!  I want the TRUE GOD in my life, the only God!!

The Cause of Misplaced Love (women, false gods/money, jobs).

hqdefaultVERSE 5

For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abominable idol of the Ammonites.

What causes us to turn our HEARTS away from God?

Satan will use every means possible to get us as far away from GOD as possible.

That job you’ve been praying for all of sudden requires you to work 12 hours a day and if you don’t do it, then they will find someone who will.

Or, SIN will creep into our lives, and in turn our hearts start to drift away.  I’ve been here before many times and know the results!  Satan makes SIN so attractive and we say to ourselves,  “It will be different for me, that it won’t hurt.”

We have the tendency to justify to ourselves, that it is OK.  How spiritually naive we are to let anything, or anyone, turn our HEARTS away from GOD.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 (NIV):

[14] Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? [15] What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  [16] What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?  For we are the temple of the living God.  As God has said:  “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

I read a story in the Scientific American that most people are familiar with:

Chimpanzees, can seem like cute, hairy iterations of people.  The chimp, Travis, appeared in television commercials, he seemed comfortable at a computer, and in bathing himself, sipped wine from a stemmed glass, all according to the New York Times.  In February 2009, Travis the adorable, almost human, and his owner gained international notoriety after he suddenly attacked and mauled the owner’s best friend.  The owner later told reporters after Travis’ demise,  “I’m like hollow now.  He slept with me every night.  Until you’ve eaten with a chimp and bathed with a chimp, you don’t know a chimp.”

SIN too often comes dressed in adorable disguises, and as we play with it, eat with it…, live with it daily, how easy it is to say,  “It will be different for me!”

SIN won’t be different, it may come in a different disguise, but it will have the same effect.

If we play with SIN, it will not let us stop where we want to stop!  It will take us down further than we wanted to go.

When we CHOOSE not to do what God wants, we have to face the CONSEQUENCES.  Not following God always has its consequences.

The Consequence of Misplaced Love (God raised up an advisory and tore the kingdom in two/things don’t work out!).

VERSES 11 & 14

The consequence of sin will always cost more than the pleasure the sin provides.

Solomon’s motivation had changed; gone from building God’s Temple and serving God, to building ALTARS to false gods that his wives worshipped and he would be serving them as well.

And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon (verse 14):

[14]  The Lord stirred up an adversary against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was of royal descent in Edom.

ISRAEL goes from GLORY to EXILE –

ISRAEL went from the glories of having fellowship with God and walking with God– to having their country split into two and several hundred years later, their Temple destroyed and the people carried off to another country in captivity.

We can miss out on what God wants to do in our lives today.

He wants to have FELLOWSHIP with us, that was the reason He created mankind and SIN keeps messing it up!

You see, we get involved in things that appear to be nice, but at the same time, they are destroying our spiritual lives.

Remember, the enemy is always in the background.

Looking back in Chapter 10, VERSE 14, we see the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year as, six hundred threescore and six talents of Gold (King James Version).  I found it interesting in other translations, that this number just happens to be “666” *[See Revelation 13:1, 7, 17-18].

Now this wasn’t all of Solomon’s income, but this is what has been written down in Scripture.  The ENEMY is always in the background!

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Don’t Negotiate With Satan!

A hunter raised his rifle and took careful aim at a large bear in a clearing.  About to pull the trigger, the bear spoke in a soft tone,  “Isn’t it better to talk that to shoot?  What do you want?  Let’s negotiate the matter.”  Lowering his rifle, the hunter replied “I want a fur coat.”  “Good,” said the bear, “that is a negotiable question.  I only want a full stomach, so let us negotiate a compromise.”  They sat down together and after a time, the bear walked away alone.  THE NEGOTIATIONS HAD BEEN SUCCESSFUL!  The bear had a full stomach, and the hunter had his fur coat!

Satan says,  “Let’s negotiate.”

But there are things that should never be negotiable.  We cannot compromise church with the world.  JESUS and His church deserves our very best and absolute loyalty in ALL things.

SOLOMON WAS THE WISEST MAN ON EARTH!!

Yet, he turned away from God.  Solomon’s problem wasn’t ignorance but rebellion!  

He knew better but did not do better!

We need to keep our eyes open in the world around us.  We need to watch for the enemy, because he is always in the background, waiting to trip us up, waiting to turn our hearts.

It is said that the devil will find things for idle hands to do, so let’s not give him the opportunity.

Matthew 5:8 (AMP):

Blessed (happy, enviably fortunate, and spiritually prosperous–possessing the happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His grace, regardless of their outward conditions) are the PURE IN HEART, for they shall see God.

 


CREDITS:

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

Photos:  Google Image Search (1 Kings 10, 11).

Commentary:  God’s lessons from history by Philip Smith – About the Books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings – http://www.easyenglish.info

Living In The Age of Biblical APOSTASY

THE TEXT:  Introduction to LAMENTATIONS

“Lamentation” Dictionary Definition:  “the passionate expression of grief or sorrow, weeping…”

Lamentations in the Bible: “a book of the Bible telling of desolation of the nation of Judah after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.”

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It is possible to read the writings of the prophets only as valuable contributions to Old Testament history.  And, the reader may even be enriched by familiarity with their prophecy of events which have been startlingly fulfilled.  But to stop there is by no means to grasp their full and outstanding purpose for today’s living.  Right now, God is speaking definitely and definitively to every nation and every individual.  He wants that we see ourselves as He saw us–a world of nations and individuals rolling down the hill towards disaster [*See Footnote [i] ].   

“GOD BLESS AMERICA”

Psalm 33:12, 18-19 (Amplified Bible):

[12] Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the nation whose God is the Lord; the people He has chosen as His heritage.

[18] Behold, the Lord’s eye is upon those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe], who wait for Him and hope in His mercy and loving-kindness,  [19] To deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

LAMENTATIONS 3:40-42 (NIV Bible):

“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.  Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say:  We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven.”

Although the above Scripture verses are the keys to this Blog study, I believe that God’s dealings with Israel throughout the entire Book of Lamentations is A PICTURE–a perfect example of His dealings with AMERICA, and perhaps your nation, right where you are today.

Israel Was Under Judgment From God Because…

HER APOSTASY!

Israel had played the harlot in her spiritual adultery of IDOLS & prostituting themselves to the SURROUNDING NATIONS.

Biblical Apostasy Explained:

The word itself–APOSTASY– is from the Greek word “apostasia” a meaning very much like renouncing or dissociating oneself from a particular religion or certain religious beliefs.

It is similar to a REJECTION of beliefs that were once held and accepting different beliefs and might even be a rejection of the beliefs that were previously held.

Apostasy can also be considered an ABANDONMENT or defiance of what was previously held to be true and practiced while rebelling against those same beliefs and practices.

Someone or some group (nation) who does this are considered an APOSTATE.

BIBLICAL WARNINGS HAVE ALREADY BEEN POSTED FOR ALL OF US –

The Apostle Paul’s WARNING – 1 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV:

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some shall abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.  Such teachings came through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”

Jude’s WARNING – Jude 1:3 AMP:

“Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contend for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints…”

The word “contend” in this verse comes from the Greek word “agonizomai”:  “To contend about a thing as a combatant.”  [NOTE: “contend” also used in verse 9, but the translation is “to separate oneself from”].

Peter’s WARNING –

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God’s Ultimate Purpose For Bringing Judgment Upon the NATIONS and Mankind…

God wants to turn man from sinning in true acts of REPENTANCE –

The JUDGMENTS that God allows to fall on a rebellious nation or individual is never pleasant and often misunderstood in their purpose.

While our Just, Righteous, and Holy Heavenly Father must JUDGE SIN and cannot allow it to continue, His JUDGMENTS are always tempered with MERCY & A PROMISE of ultimate deliverance ‘IF’…those under judgment would only turn back to Him.

The Prophet Jeremiah, the Writer of Lamentations –

As he weeps in sorrow for the condition of his own people, he is a type of our Lord Jesus Christ as He stood and wept over the sinners of our world.

As JESUS stood on the hill and looked over Jerusalem, crying…

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, murdering the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a mother fowl gathers her brood under her wings, and you refused!  Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate (abandoned and left destitute of God’s help)”  (Matthew 23:37-38 Amplified Bible).

JESUS still stands today looking down from Glory, looking at each person on earth one at a time and at each nation in turn, and America that was so blessed–cries those same words.

How Great is His love for America? For your nation?

With all of His Loving Kindness for every man and woman–so much so that He died on the Cross for each one of us, and YET…He must and has begun to send JUDGMENT because of our rebelliousness–the APOSTASY as a people and nation.

Prior to and after World War II, America was looked upon as the friend of the world, the PROTECTOR of all that was GOOD.

Every nation, even our enemies, held a healthy respect for the BLESSINGS OF GOD and the things that were good about our nation.

Since the 60’s with the Vietnam Conflict, and continuing today, our power, prestige, and will as a nation, has been on the fast track into oblivion.

The secular world has paralleled our slide to destruction similar to the Roman Empire as it began to crumble, not from attacks of outside enemies, but from corruption and sin within.

The Book of Lamentations As An Example What A Nation Experiences As It Faces God’s Judgments –

The stated examples show what I believe America is already experiencing under JUDGMENT from God by its corruption and sin.

Lamentation 1:1-2 (NIV Bible):

[1] How deserted lies the city, once so full of people!  How like  widow is she, who once was great among the nations!  She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.  [2] Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are upon her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is none to comfort her; they have become her enemies.

America has always been known as the “great melting pot” of Humanity.  People from all nations still come to our country with high hopes and dreams of prosperity and freedom.

It is a testimony that the BLESSING of Almighty God, even when America is in trouble, is still GREAT, economically and militarily.

BUT, the GREATNESS is quickly fading.

“America is great because America is GOOD.  If America ever ceases to be good it will cease to be great” – ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE, a French Historian, upon visiting America in the early 19th Century.

ISRAEL FINDS ITSELF IN CAPTIVITY TO ITS ENEMIES –

I believe that America has fallen CAPTIVE to her enemies as well.

Our GREATEST ENEMY is NOT Russia, China, or any other nation or terrorist group. We are our own greatest enemy!

American Naivety…

In the early ’60’s during the days of the “former” Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, the then Russian Premier, pounded his shoe on the podium of the UN and shouted to the West, “We will bury you!”  The words certainly got all of our attention.  Fearing an invasion from Mother Russia, America proceeded to build the most awesome Military Machine in history.

Unfortunately, we forgot something to guard our political homefront being taken over by socialist-communist-liberal activists; who would gain office and destroy American law by the process of gradually installing Communist agenda within our legal system in separate branches of government.

Americans, being the most NAIVE people among the nations, now believe that COMMUNISM is dead.

The real truth is, COMMUNISM has just switched names to become more “politically correct.”  Today it is called “International Democracy.”  America has now become part of the New World Order atheist government.

The TEN PLANKS of the Communist Manifesto – [See Footnote [ii] }

In my Detective investigation over the past week, I found this interesting document by Karl Marx.  You tell me whether we–you, as a nation, have been led down a long road to CAPTIVITY and, we willingly went along and let it happen.

THE TEN PLANKS:

1.  Abolition of private property and the application of all rent to public purpose.

2.  A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

3.  Abolition of all rights of inheritance.

4.  Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

5.  Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.

6.  Centralization of the means  of communication and transportation in the hands of the State.

7.  Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan. 

8.  Equal liability of all to labor and establishment of industrial, armies, especially for agriculture.

9.  Continuation of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.

10.  Free education for all children in governmental schools. A combination of education with industrial production.

The “LAMENTATIONS” Presented –

None is more hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are FREE…

AMERICA & The NATIONS Have Become “Tributary”; A Slave to its Own Laws –

Becoming a SLAVE to our own laws, that restrains its FREEDOM and “chained” by its own weighty laws restricts every move we make.  There is too much infighting and division to accomplish anything.  Are you listening ‘Mr. Government’?

Lamentations 1:3:

“Judah has gone into exile [to escape] from the affliction and laborious servitude [of the homeland]. She dwells among the [heathen] nations, but she finds no rest; all her persecutors overtook her amid the [dire] straits [of her distress].”

Just as an individual in becoming a SLAVE to SIN in their life, my country has become a SLAVE to its own SIN.

All of our attempts to right every wrong, through Presidential Press Releases, through legislation…instead of REPENTANCE OF THE HEART, created a massive compilation of LAWS which chokes us into servitude.

While most LAWS are meant for our good and for our protection, we’ve overstepped the boundaries between LEGALISM & COMMON SENSE care for ourselves.

Lamentations 1:9 (NIV):

“Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future. Her fall was astounding; there was none to comfort her. Look, O LORD, on my affliction for the enemy has triumphed.”

ISRAEL’S IDOLATRY –

ISRAEL had become so adulterous from worship of idols, they couldn’t remember the days of walking in RIGHTEOUSNESS & HOLINESS before the True God.

Falling so far, so quickly that their younger generation didn’t know the God of their fathers; no recognition of Israel’s BLESSINGS of the past.  They lived with an attitude that was now the NORM for the people.

SIN had magnified itself so greatly, as to hide the fact, a PATH of righteousness was to follow.

A PICTURE of Our Society Today –

e4dc5d58e68f6e6cb4e2f6281d3a3b9cMy Nation, your Nation, is so caught up in gaining wealth…creating a great lifestyle…self-indulgence at all costs, we have forgotten the PATHS of goodness and righteousness presented in GOD’S WORD–your bible.

AND…if you are thinking that the Church is absent from this picture, think again!  I see it repeated in Social Media daily, without thinking about what they’re sharing, or displaying to the world.  Am I being too legalistic?  You will have to decide.

And the Recompense? 

OUR YOUTH in the land don’t understand, and haven’t heard of the SACRIFICES in the Biblical foundations of our country.  They don’t know the price of FREEDOM because they haven’t been taught.

AMERICA is a great nation ONLY…because of the BLESSINGS of the LORD upon it.

We now have a SOCIETY where the MAJORITY of the people believe… they have a RIGHT–

  • A RIGHT to be rich…
  • A RIGHT to live in a good home…
  • A RIGHT to drive a new car…
  • A RIGHT to health care.

All without any of the responsibility and accountability that accompany these RIGHTS.

“WORK” HAS BECOME A DIRTY WORD –

As a nation, we are becoming lazier each and every day.  We give no thought as a nation about God or Holiness at all!

Lamentations 1:16 (AMP):

“For these things I weep; my eyes overflow with tears, because a comforter, one who could refresh and restore my soul, is far from me. My children are desolate and perishing, for the enemy has prevailed.”

MY PRAYER–

Lord, how long will Your LOVE continue to BLESS AMERICA, even in JUDGMENT?  

Let your MERCIES be extended to us as a nation.  Holy Spirit, move in your people.  

Let there be a great REVIVAL UNLEASHED OF RIGHTEOUSNESS & HOLINESS UPON OUR LAND.

The EVIDENCE is here!

America is ceasing, perhaps has already ceased to be GOOD.  How long can God BLESS a nation who has turned its back on God?

BUT…”JESUS Is Calling America” –

John W. Peterson wrote the lyrics to a song in the early 70’s, “Jesus Is Calling America” from the Cantata, America:

Jesus is calling America,

Calling her back to the fold.

Jesus is calling America,

Calling the young and the old.

The title of the Peterson’s lyrics brought me, and hopefully you, to a bible verse in 2 Chronicles:

IF My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require necessity My face, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14 AMP).

This is a great promise from God’s Word!

flag2chron7-14_www-mchenrycountyblog-com

HELP US LORD, as a people, as individuals, and as a nation to fall our face in REPENTANCE of our sins.

HELP US to humble ourselves before You, to seek Your face and pray for deliverance.

AMEN!!!

God loves you and I.

God loves America too.

But God’s LOVE must, one day, give way to justice & righteousness.

Let the body of Christ–the Church, across this nation, cross your nation, CRY OUT to God in REPENTANCE and PRAY for Revival in the Lord.

And REVIVAL always begins in the heart of each and every individual.  Unless we do, there is little HOPE that we will survive as nations enjoying PEACE & PROSPERITY.

For God’s JUDGMENTS will increase.  We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in the trouble to come.

If we, as nations in the world, don’t turn to God in REPENTANCE, social unrest will lead to all out rebellion in the streets and anarchy will reign.

OUR MAIN PROBLEM…

America’s main problem is not social unrest, or lack of health care, inequality of opportunity in the inner cities, poverty or any of these things; although all of these are problems that must be dealt with.

America’s main problem is…we’ve left worshipping the God of Heaven and taken JESUS out of our lives PUBLICLY; removed the Word of God from anything that’s PUBLIC.

REWARDS WILL COME, BUT…

If God’s going to BLESS AMERICA…BLESS YOUR NATION…we all must see those trends reversed.

PAR

 


 

FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Opening Statement –  [i] Exerts used from the Amplified Bible (a).

“THE TEN PLANKS” – [ii] The TEN PLANKS of the Communist Manifesto – http://www.criminalgovernment.com/docs/planks Communist Manifesto-All Ten Planks…In America!!! 

RESOURCE SEARCH:  Jack Wellman @ Christian Crier – http://www.patheos.com

Photo Credits:  BEWARE… found at courting of a kingdom.workers.blogspot.com; Google Image Search.

 

 

 

 

 

Imitators or Impostors?

1 Thessalonians 1:6-10  (NIV):

[6] You became IMITATORS of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.  [7] And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.  [8] The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia–your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it,  [9] for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,  [10] and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

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MAKING AN IMPRESSION:

Sometimes I hear a new song, read a book, or see something that so grabs my attention, I can’t help myself.  As soon as I have the opportunity, I want to tell someone I meet or share my experience on Social Media, “I gotta tell you about this book I’m reading…” or whatever it is.

That’s when it is CLEAR…it really made an impression.

And what happened when Paul and his fellow evangelists came to Thessalonica made that kind of IMPRESSION?  Not only impressing the local church people, but also on people all over the place.

Conversation was “buzzing” all around Greece and neighboring countries.  Nobody had to ask,  “Have you heard about those strange Jews going around talking about someone called JESUS?” because everybody who had heard about them, were telling someone else without being asked.

That’s the meaning of what Paul says in VERSE 8:  “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia–your faith in God has become known everywhere.”

And what people were talking about wasn’t just the new church down at “The Corner of Heartbreak Ridge and New Hope Road” ([i]Footnote). but the way it had come into being.

People were talking about the amazing and instantaneous effect the Gospel had effecting their lives.

At the heart of it all…

At the heart of it all was the call to WORSHIP…of the One True God rather than the surrounding idols.

It would be like asking the people of today, to give up using their cars, computers, tv’s and cell phones.

The gods of Greek and Roman paganism were everywhere.

For example, if you or your son or daughter were getting married this Summer, a serious and expensive worship of a deity would be expected of you.

At every turn in the road the gods were there; unpredictable, possibly mean and dangerous, and sometimes at war among themselves…there was really no way in appeasing them, making sure you had them on your side.

Paul, Silas, and Timothy…

Right smack dad into this wacky world came three unknown Jews: Paul, Silas and Timothy, telling these pagans there was only One True God and this God had a Son, and that Son had been raised from the dead!!! Nobody had ever said anything like that before!!!

And the people in Thessalonica, knowing right from the start, the huge risk they would be taking in the community–turned away from their idols to this Living God, and in doing this…discovered both suffering and great JOY at the same moment!!!

That’s what CONVERSION is all about–

The word “TURNED” in verse 9 of the text, is as close as Paul gets to the technical term of conversion or being SAVED:

“They tell how you turned to God…”

It’s what happens when someone stops going in one direction, turns around and begins going in the opposite direction.

Has this happened to you?

“Changing Beer Into Furniture”

In preparation for studying and meditating on the verses presented in this blog-post, I ran across a story told of a group of old friends hanging out and having conversation.  One of the men had recently become a Christian:

His old buddies were giving him a bit of a hard time about his conversion experience.

“You don’t really believe all those miracle stories in the Bible, do you?”

In response, his friend replied,

“I don’t know about the miracle stories in the Bible, but I do know about the miracle story in my own life.  Since giving my life over to the Lord, Jesus has changed beer into furniture!”  ([ii] See Footnote)

It’s a sight to see when someone gives their life to Christ!  I did so on August 15th, 1972–my spiritual birthday!!!

Transformation–

As we become more involved in a community of faith,

Volunteering our time,

Learning the JOY of GIVING to God,

Becoming friends–like a family with our brothers and sisters in the FAITH.

[In growing up, I had a brother who was seven years younger than I.  But when I became a BELIEVER, my family grew.  Now I have FAITH SISTERS in the Lord–and my wife, is also my sister in Christ!]

Christian Living in Thessalonica…

Christians had been true BELIEVERS for a very short time; we don’t know exactly how long, but it can’t have been more than a year.

They were very ordinary people doing something extraordinary in response to an unexpected MESSAGE and people from hundreds of miles around were talking about it.

The only explanation…the Living God at work through the MESSAGE of Jesus Christ!

“IMITATORS”/IMPERSONATORS – Verse 6 a.

“And you [set yourselves to] become imitators of us and [through us] of the Lord Himself”  (Amplified Bible).

Even in the face of “severe suffering”, the Thessalonian believers of the day, talked about…

—  GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN OF SOCIETY!!!

—  COURAGE!

—  COMMITMENT

—  ABOUT A MIGHTY GOD!

It wasn’t about them.  It was about HIM!!!

Even in the midst of their suffering and persecution, they were filled with JOY and the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

And so, other people became curious and wanted to know what they had discovered:  “What have they got that I don’t have?”  I wonder myself, if my neighbors are asking the same question about my life:  “Who is he, really?”

Or, is the only thing they notice–my car parked along side of the house on Sunday mornings with the engine at idle–waiting for my wife to get out of the house– then rushing off to Sunday morning services and back home by noon.

“Are the Thompson Family IMPOSTERS or what?”

The people  of First Church of Thessalonica had become Imitators…

 The church as a whole, through their IMITATION OF CHRIST, others began to imitate them…Macedonia and Achaia:

“Your FAITH has become known everywhere” Paul exclaims.

And when something is GOOD…something is REAL, and the word gets around to those who need to hear the Word.

When Christians begin to “LIVE OUT” with…

DEEP CONVICTION,

THE CALLING OF CHRIST JESUS,

THE LIFE OF JESUS,

THE WAY OF LOVE, and

GENEROSITY THROUGH CHRIST, and

the POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT…

…people can’t help notice that THE REAL THING HAS ARRIVED!

Living in a CULTURE engulfed in idols.

We may not call them idols, or call them gods, nor pray to them, but our ACTIONS speak volumes.

When we concentrate our efforts on building a better church buildings for ourselves rather than spending time, talent, money on going out to those who don’t know Christ…we’re WORSHIPPING IDOLS.

But when we give sacrificially so others can eat…

…when we knock on doors and offer a free cup of water or whatever…

…when we become peacemakers and reconcilers…

…when we make an effort in random acts of kindness…

…when we become lovers and not judgers…

–when we seek to heal, help and restore…

…when we offer Christ in these ways…

WE ARE TRULY WORSHIPPING THE ONE TRUE AND LIVING GOD.

And that’s exciting!!!  It’s exciting not only for us, but for those who hear about us.

No wonder the apostle Paul was delighted to write a letter to them,

“We continually remember before our God and Father

your work produced by faith, your labor

prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope”

“Imitators” are Contagious!!!

Bill Hybels says, “God wants us to become contagious [believers]…who will first catch His love and then urgently and infectiously offer it to all who are willing to consider it…”  [See Footnotes – iii]

Are you living your life in such a way as to cause people to want what you have in Jesus?

Paul concludes the opening paragraph in his letter:

“And [how you] look forward to and await the coming of His Son from heaven.  Whom He raised from the dead–Jesus, Who personally rescues and delivers us out of and from the wrath  [bringing punishment] which is coming [upon the impenitent] and draws us to Himself [investing us with all the privileges and rewards of the new life in Christ, the Messiah]”  (verse 10 – Amplified Bible).

Jesus is coming again!

There is no “if’s” in Paul’s wording here.  And being “left behind” as an RELIGIOUS IMPOSTER when He does return… is not a good thing.

“Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”  Charles H. Spurgeon.

JESUS' Social Media Post

AN “IMPOSTOR’S” IDENTITY:

IMPOSTERS have religious activity that is not connected to a living relationship with Jesus Christ.  They love to look religious–in a “form of godliness.”

“FORM” refers to an outward shape or appearance, putting style over substance.  Read what JESUS SAYS about some impostors of His day:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence”   (Matthew 23:25).

The Separating of Christ’s IMITATORS and the IMPOSTERS:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.  Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry…feed you…or thirsty and gave you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

And the IMPOSTERS…the “goats” on the left response?

“Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?”  (V. 44)

“He will reply,  ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did NOT DO for one of the least of these, you DID NOT DO FOR ME”  (V. 45).

The “impostor’s” destiny…

“…they will go away to eternal punishment”

The “imitators” outcome…

“but the righteous to eternal life”  (V. 46).

So where do you belong in your community?

A Imitator…or an Impostor?

Footnotes:

[i]  Gaither Vocal Band Lyrics @ http://elyrics.net > Gaither Vocal Band Lyrics to Heartbreak Ridge and New Hope Road.

[ii] Story from Kenneth Sauer.

[iii]  Bill Hybels, Contagious Christian, pg. 23