“Soul Fasting” (Part Two)

“SOUL FASTING” or “TRUE FASTING” (Part One continued) :

CONTINUING in Jeremiah 58 verses 6-7 (NIV).

[6]  Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  [7] Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood? 

With the title, as The WORD Detective, I like to break down sentence structures in the Bible while I study and meditate on God’s Word for a perspective blog-POST.  Verse 6 & 7 is but one example.

INFINITIVE VERBS–

An infinitive verb is a verb with the word “to” in front of it (eg. “to loose”, “to set”, “to share”, etc.) showing action.  (See Footnote [i])

In Verses 6 and 7, I learned through and by my investigation, the importance of TRUE FASTING and the desired outcomes of my actions.  Yes, there should always be an outcome from FASTING!

My whole outlook into God’s desires  has changed my point of view towards the practice of FASTING.  Not of my desires, or the churches desires, or someone elses, but God’s desire through my fasting can and will be accomplished.

We cannot be saved by deeds of service without FAITH IN CHRIST; but our faith lacks sincerity if it does reach out in compassion.

The PURPOSE of Soul Fasting–

The FOUR INFINITIVE VERBS in Verses 6 & 7, all pertain to LIBERATION.  God says He wants our service to go beyond our own personal growth to acts of kindness, charity, justice, and generosity.  FASTING should be more than what we don’t eat.  It is obvious that this type of FAST is not a ritualistic one but for spiritual strength, bringing liberation to God’s people (the Church).

Have you ever felt “liberated” after you’ve fasted? The few times that I have fasted, LIBERATION never entered my mind.  Counting the hours so I could end my fast was all that I desired.

THE FIRST DESIRE OR PURPOSE–

The first desire of “soul fasting,” which honors God, is to loosen the bonds of wickedness (“chains of injustice”); while in our FASTING, that God would open the wicked bonds that have been placed upon you or someone else or a congregation.

Unchain the binding yoke
Unchain the binding yoke

The SECOND CLAUSE, to “untie the cords” or undo the bonds of the yoke, indicates the people who are mutually beneficial to one another, are to FAST that this oppressive yoke of burden, misguidance or direction over us is broken.

God tells His people, “If you want to FAST the way that pleases Me, start getting right with your brothers and sisters that sit next to you, in front of you, and across the aisle from you every Sunday.”  [“I don’t smoke and I don’t chew. And I don’t associate with people who do!”].

The NEXT CLAUSE, to let the oppressed go free while we are FASTING; to pray for those who are oppressed in whatever form (socially, culturally), will be set free to serve God.

The statement “break every yoke” pictures the complete destruction of the means of oppression.  Those who are then freed by God can then spread the freedom to others.

The results of “soul fasting”, pursues and continues in VERSE 7

Not only does it require God’s POWER to enact justice, it also enacts God’s POWER to enact FAVOR, BLESSING, BENEVOLENCE to those around us.

“NO NEGLECT HERE!”

God’s people were not to neglect each other.  When someone shared with one in need, it was a reminder of everything one owned belonged to the LORD.

FASTING THAT CHANGES THE HEART:

“SOUL FASTING” changes the heart and make it compassionate.

“YOU” is singular.  The statements in VERSE 7 are directed to each person, to each of us.

Notice that you are to DIVIDE YOUR BREAD with the hungry of the same food that you are eating.  We must deny ourselves, that we may SHARE with that person that’s hungry.

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Dividing your BREAD with the hungry

Second, you and I are to provide lodging to those that do not have a house–provide shelter for the cast out poor, forced from his/her dwelling, turned out of house and home.

Third, we are to provide clothing for those who lack them.  “OUR OWN FLESH” probably refers to close relatives (Gen. 37:27).  God expects us to see the situation of our family and to take care of them.

My son once told my wife and I, that in our old age, if we can’t take care of ourselves, we could come and live at his house.  Now I don’t know how our daughter-in-law feels about that proposed idea, but the compassion of family is there.

God’s people SHARE with those who lack the basic needs of life.  Those who know in their own lives the compassionate blessing He brings, should in turn extend it to others.

These acts on behalf of others becomes the outward evidence of inward faith and righteousness (Job 31:17-20; Ezek. 18:7, 16).  JESUS identified with the hungry and naked (Mt. 25:36).

“TRUE FASTING” is to be concerned with more than our physical and spiritual benefits.  God wants us to go beyond concern of our own spiritual growth.

“SOUL FASTING” is more than NOT eating.  It is the emptying of SELF in order to find what we need in Christ Jesus, in order to please God with word and deed.

THE PRECIOUS PROMISE, Verses 8-12:

VERSE 8 begins to set forth some BLESSINGS upon a life that becomes right with God:

“Then your LIGHT will break forth like the dawn, and your HEALING will quickly appear; then your RIGHTEOUSNESS will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard” (NIV).

God offers PRECIOUS PROMISES for those who FAST in TRUTH--“Soul Fast”.  To be changed and have the situation changed to those in need of change.

God wants me to know that He will honor those who TRULY FAST in order to honor Him.

FOUR BLESSINGS ARE PROMISED–

LIGHT, HEALING, GUIDANCE and PROTECTION.

I don’t know about you, my desire is to have these four blessings in my life.  It’s not a wish, but a PROMISE to us who observe the TRUE FAST.

The FIRST PROMISE of LIGHT that comes is when we are focusing our life on SELF, resulting in DARKNESS.  Unless JESUS is the center of our interest, LIFE, in and of itself, is heading towards darkness.

The next BLESSING is…your recovery will speedily spring forth.  This recovery indicates to us HEALING or RESTORATION when unconstrained speed of LIGHT is accentuated.

The peoples RIGHT BEHAVIOR causes the righteousness of God to protect and guide them on their way.

The Advance Guard and the Rear Guard is in Place–

As the advance guard and the rear guard provide protection, so the RIGHTEOUSNESS and the GLORY OF GOD (revealed in the manifested presence), will guard against whatever came against God’s people.

Thus, REPENTANT people are surrounded by divine protection.

If the people had inner RIGHTEOUSNESS (revealed in outward acts of justice and mercy, vv 6 & 7), then…the LORD would BLESS them (Deut. 28:1-14) with LIGHT, HEALING (spiritual restoration), RIGHTEOUSNESS (high standards), and PROTECTION from trouble.

OTHER CONDITIONAL PROMISES, Verse 9:

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say; Here am I.

Under these conditions, the FAITHFUL BELIEVER could call upon God and expect answered prayer.

They had been trying to use God while at the same time, oppressing the weak and needy.  God thus was holding back His response (the COMPLAINT of vv. 1-3).

Selfish Religious Activity…

Our “selfish religious activity” will certainly have a hindrance to our PRAYERS (59:1-2).  God is ACTIVE for His people when they are ACTIVE for others.

Other Problematic Areas, (Verse 9 b.)–

If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk.

The FIRST of the problematic concern is the need to remove the yoke.

Pointing a finger of accusation and blame at another or gossiping maliciously (speaking wickedness) about another is SINFUL and it pushes God away from the accuser–the one who is doing the “finger-pointing”.

Having a critical spirit towards others during my life has been a spiritual burden over the past years.  All my “trying not to…” hasn’t worked.  So when these feelings overcome me today; criticizing others and pointing a finger, I REPENT, letting the POWER OF JESUS who is inside of me, live through me.

The Conditions for the BLESSING to continue, Verse 12:

Living as a BUBBLING SPRING!
Living as a BUBBLING SPRING!

And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the DESIRE of the afflicted, then your LIGHT will standout in the darkness of your gloom as midday.

In verses 11 & 12, the BLESSINGS are continued:  Our LORD promises GUIDANCE, SATISFACTION, STRENGTH, and REFRESHING (like a spring).

Oh, to be GUIDED continually by God through the decisions of life; to be SATISFIED  when the world around us is on fire with thirst.

To be PLEASING and ATTRACTIVE like a well-watered garden to those around us.

To be FOUNTAINS OF JOY and COMFORT to the dry and weary soul around us.

All this and more for fulfilling certain conditions God gives us through the prophet.

And, there is even more, Verse 12.

RESTORATION and the REBUILDING of the RUINS OF MAN–

God promises to His compassionate people, that RUIN and DESTRUCTION can be overcome from His Blessed People.

Though the SIN of the fallen race eventually destroys everything it touches, God is greater than our sin.  He gives us the POWER to restore and repair what has been ruined (friendships, family, new relationships, etc.).  [See Footnote [ii]].  Oh, to be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets where people dwell.  God will enable us to put back together that which was ruined and broken.

To Fast or Not to Fast?

I hope that you just might have a better understanding of the FASTING pleases God.  The TRUE FAST, the “Soul Fast”.  So ask yourself before you deny yourself food, and that is what the Hebrew word som means: “abstaining from food and drink in the ritual sphere of Israelite worship.” [See Footnote [iii]].  Remember, JESUS own “FASTING” in the wilderness prior to the beginning of His public ministry is noted in Matt. 4:2. 

So the question isn’t “To fast, or not”, but what is the condition of our heart, mind and spirit (our souls) before, during, and after we FAST?

 

FOOTNOTES:

[i]     http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/infinitive_html.

[ii]   Oswalt, NIC, 507.

[iii]  Expository Dictionary Of Bible Words.

Photo Credits:

All from Photo Pin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Soul Fasting” (Part One)

TRUE FASTING–

Is there a difference between REGULAR FASTING and TRUE FASTING for the Believer?  When pastors call for a church to fast during the year, do we understand the differences, or are there differences?  Is the idea of FASTING an Old Testament practice and not for todays Church?

Isaiah 58:3-12 NIV translation:

“Why have we fasted, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.  Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists.  You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.  Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself?  Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?  Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?”

A Bending Reed
A Bending Reed

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood?  Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear, then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say:  Here am I.  If you do away with the yoke  of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will become like the noonday.  The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” 

GOD’S CHOSEN FAST:

I’ve been re-reading a terrific book written by one of my favorite authors, Mr. Don Nori: SECRETS OF THE MOST HOLY PLACE.  He asks a question that really caught my attention (pg. 175),  “Are you content to fast food, or is your desire to become God’s chosen fast?”

He goes on to say “Most of us know what the Scriptures call the true fast,” but few of us know the power and significance of this most unusual form of fasting.”

Now I don’t know “most Christians,” but I know I was unfamiliar with this form of fasting.   So, the Word Detective investigation into God’s Word began.

Over my Christian life, I’ve heard many times by different pastors who call for an annual “CHURCH FAST”; not a mandatory ritual, but a strongly suggested activity for a week or two in January.

Being a DIABETIC for over 56 years, ‘doing without food’ and adjusting my insulin wasn’t an option, so I just passed.  Now my actions might be an excuse or just a misunderstanding of the term FASTING, in either case I simply ignored the pastor’s request (I do pray!).

FASTING FOR WRONG MOTIVES:

In Isaiah 58:1-2, we can see the seriousness of the people’s self-absorbed religious practices.

[1] CRY ALOUD, spare not.  Lift up your voice like a trumpet and declare to My people their transgression and to the house of Jacob their sins!

{2] Yet they seek, inquire for, and require Me daily and delight [externally] to know My ways, as [if they were in reality] a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinance of their God.  They ask of Me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God [in visible ways].  (Amplified Bible)

The people delight in the nearness of God; they thought of themselves as righteous–right with God.

THE PEOPLES PRESSURE (3-5):

In Verse 3, the people now voice their complaint in difficulty, though they were doing what the Law required.

Why have we fasted, they say, and you have not noticed?  Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.  (NIV translation)

The people present how they view their RELIGION.  They were observing the activities as laid down by the religious leaders (priests), even engaging in FASTING (Lev. 16:29; Zech. 7:5-6).  They thought their FASTING in and of itself was humbling before their Lord.

Their FASTING though, was thoughtless or done as an attempt to obtain a selfish conclusion.  It was employed only for RELIGIOUS SHOW or to engage God to act on their behalf (See Mt. 6:16-18).

THE ACT OF SELF-DENIAL IN OUR FASTING:

Self-denial is a process to draw us closer to God, allowing us to hear Him better.  The prescribed annual fast, the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29) was to afflict one’s soul for the purpose of mediation on the seriousness of one’s sins and the greatness of God in making ATONEMENT for them.  (See Footnote [i]).l

They saw FASTING as denying themselves of God so they might gain something worldly from God in return.  Neither FASTING nor REPENTANCE should be to get something from god in return.  REPENTANCE nor FASTING should be to get God to do anything.  They are expressions, the conviction that my ways are wrong and God’s ways are right whether He does anything for me or not.

Their FAST was simply an affliction of body, not an affliction of soul.

REAL MOTIVES BEHIND OUR BEHAVIOR IN FASTING:

VERSE 4 continues to lay open real motives behind the people’s behavior:

Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist.  You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.  (NAS)

The reason for their FASTING was to make their iron-fisted, controversial acts more successful.

Fasting was to be the cause for God to effect or enact their covetous desires.  When it became obvious that their FASTING wasn’t having the desired effect in their lives, they FASTED to know why not.

So God told them that the purpose of their RELIGION was to acquire more and not to improve their closeness, their relationship with Him, as it was originally intended.

VERSE 5 relays that their motives, their purpose for fasting focussed on the external rather than on the realization that they need to be changed:

Is such a fast as yours what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself with sorrow in his soul?  [Is TRUE FASTING merely mechanical?]  Is it only to bow down his head like a bulrush and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him [to indicate a condition of heart that he does not have]? Will you call this a fast and acceptable day to the Lord?  (Amplified Bible)

Because they had been focusing on their selfish ends (even their fasting) rather than a change of heart, attitude, and action…their prayers went unanswered.

The SACRIFICES of God are a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  If they call their bodily sacrifice alone a FAST, they were badly mistaken.

Bowing one’s head like a reed was a sign of humility; putting on sackcloth and sitting in ashes were symbols of FASTING and signs of submission. But unless they go hand-in-hand as an inward submission to God and turning away from sin, they mean nothing!

THE ABSENCE OF THE BLESSING:

During the days of ISAIAH, God’s people were not experiencing the Lord’s Blessing–His favor on their lives.

They went through the MOTIONS OF WORSHIP and couldn’t understand why God wasn’t noticing their religious efforts.  But while they were FASTING, they were also exploiting their workers and fighting among themselves (vv 3-4).

8222922317_2cce0295b3Isaiah condemned their HYPOCRISY and told them they needed to change.  If they would free the oppressed, share with the hungry, house the homeless, and clothe the naked, God would BLESS THEM with…

 

HEALING,

ANSWERED PRAYER,

GUIDANCE,

STRENGTH,

JOY!

RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY is no substitute for an OBEDIENT HEART.

THE PROPER PATTERN, 6-7:

FASTING is to let go of the normal and natural daily nourishment of this world in order to reach out and grab the empowering of God that is needed and to live righteously in this world.

In VERSES 6 & 7, we learn the desired outcome of FASTING:

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:  to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood?

-GO TO PART TWO TO CONTINUE-

Photo Credits by Photo Pin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living in a Moral Fog

Being in a FOG
Being in a FOG

One Helicopter Pilot’s Story:

A helicopter pilot was flying over Seattle and got lost in the dense fog that rolls in from Puget Sound.  He emerged from the fog and had no idea where he was.  He could see a tall building nearby with people working at their desks, hovered the aircraft near one of the windows holding up a sign asking “Where am I?”  One of the workers wrote a response then held up a sign that said,  “You are in a helicopter.”  The pilot nodded his thanks and flew straight to the airport runway.  One of the passengers quipped, “How could that sign ‘you’re in a helicopter’ help you know where you were?”  The pilot said,  “Simple.  The answer that guy gave me was technically correct, but completely useless, so I figured that must be the Microsoft Customer Relations Building, so I knew where I was!”

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How Can We Know Right from Wrong?

Most of the moral advice today is found in magazines or heard on talk-shows which leads to more confusion.  So how about this advice:

“Let your conscience be your guide”

No, that’s not in your Bible.  Can you guess (no Google-ling please) the original source of the saying?  I thought it came from my mother when growing up; and she no doubt coined the saying from the 1940 Disney movie “Pinocchio”.

In the movie, Jiminy Cricket sang a song to Pinocchio in which he said,  “Take the straight and narrow path; and if you start to slide–give a little whistle, give a little whistle and always let your conscience be your guide.”

Darn it.  I’ll have the tune embedded in my head while writing the rest of this post!

Can you let your conscience be your guide?

My answer?  YES and NO.

“YES” when you are really young, you should pay attention to your conscience, but as you grow older, we’re going to see dangerous things in letting your conscience be your guide.

Titus 1:15-16  (RSV):

[15] To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted.  [16] They profess to know God but they deny Him by their deeds; they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good deed.

“To the pure all things are pure” – What does that mean?

Some people would like it to mean that one can engage in some sort of less than pure entertainment and not be adversely effected by it.  For example, some have said that they could view pornography with their own “purity” (?) that make their observations pure.  They suggest the only way one could be adversely effected by such must have a “dirty” heart (mind) to begin with.

So what is the apostle Paul trying to convey in this passage of Scripture?  Does it mean if I am “pure in heart” in every thing I do, will it be construed automatically as PURE?  Does it mean that a person’s lust, greed, immorality, cursing, cheating and lying are all “PURE” if the person committing them is pure within?  I think that anyone who is rational thinking and dedicated to pleasing the Lord knows better than that.

Spiritual Principles of a Pure Conscience:

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary defines the English word “pure” in Titus 1:15 with the Greek word Katharos, “pure”, from the heart.  In the Greek, there are different words for PURE (“hagnos”); WINE mixed with water may be “hagnos” – pure, “not being contaminated”. But “katharos”, as used in verse 15, implies “when there is the admixture of any element even though the later is ‘pure’ in itself.”

Our English word “conscience” comes from two Latin words:  CON meaning “with” and SCIENCE meaning “to know”.  The New Testament word, sunelesis (Greek), means “to know together”.  Both words have the idea of “knowing with ourselves” or “knowing within ourselves”.

When it comes to MORAL DECISIONS, it means to “understand internally”.

Cain’s Conscience–

In Genesis 4, because of Cain’s outrageous anger, he kills his brother Abel.  Although this act was committed long before the Ten Commandments,  “You shall not murder”, Cain knew instinctively what he had done wrong.

Your conscience is to your soul what your nerves are to your body.  When your hand grabs hold of a hot pan’s handle on the stove, the nerves send a message to the brain: THAT’S HOT!  REMOVE YOUR HAND!

The same is true with CONSCIENCE.  Your conscience is like a warning light telling you what you are about to do is wrong…and if you do it, your conscience says, “See, I told you not to do that!”

Having a God-conscience:

People are born with a sense of right and wrong.  The Bible teaches God provided two solid proofs to point out His existence.

THE FIRST…an external witness of creation.

When you understand the amazing ans awesome order of the Universe around us, you are driven to admit to a higher intelligence that designed all this and created it!

THE OTHER WITNESS to the existence of God is an internal witness-conscience.  The fact that we are born with moral equipment called conscience.  It should prove there is Someone who determines the rightness and wrongness of our actions.  You don’t have to read a written law to know that stealing, killing, and lying are wrong; that’s something everyone instinctively knows.

Romans 2:14-15 says,

[14]  When Gentiles who have not the [divine] Law do instinctively what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, since they do not have the Law.  [15] They show that the essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts and are operating there, with which their consciences (sense of right and wrong) also bear witness; and their [moral] decisions (their arguments of reason, their condemning or approving thoughts) will accuse or perhaps defend and excuse [them].  (Amplified Bible).

Your CONSCIENCE doesn’t make you do right, or wrong, but lets you know when your about to do wrong; makes you suffer when you have done wrong.

Moral Guidance is Contorted–

Our conscience is like a piece of sharp metal within our soul.  It has sharp corners when you are considering doing something wrong; corners that can stab you on the inside.

Filing the Edges
Filing the Edges

However, every time you ignore or deny your conscience, it files down the sharp edges of the metal of steel.  The next time you are faced with the same opportunity to do wrong, conscience stabs you again, but this time, the jab isn’t as sharp.  Over time, as you continually resist the words your conscience brings to mind, sharp edges are worn down until you seldom feel them.

The Bible says, “To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted.  They profess to know God but they deny Him by their deeds; they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good deed”  (Titus 1:15-16).  

Have you ever told a lie?  The first time you told a lie you probably felt badly.  But the next time you told it, it became a little easier.  People have convinced themselves that telling a “little white lie” is not actually bad–everyone does it.  Their conscience has become “dulled”.

SO HOW DO WE COME OUT OF THE “MORAL FOG”?

Your CONSCIENCE must be transformed by JESUS.  If you and I could spend our entire lives listening to and obeying our God-given consciences we would live a perfect life.  But God’s Word tells us,  ALL sinned and we fall short of the glory of God.

Have you ever told a lie?

Have you ever cheated or stolen?

Have you deliberately hurt someone?

That’s why ALL of us end up with a messed-up conscience.

Having a Guilty Conscience–

Samuel Langhorne Clemens–pen-name, Mark Twain struggled personally with his own guilty conscience.  In the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, his struggles with conscience came out of Huck’s mouth:

“If I had a yaller dog that didn’t know no more than a person’s conscience does, I would pison him.  It takes more room than all the rest of a person’s insides, and yet ain’t no good, no how.”

When you have a guilty conscience, seems like it’s hard to ignore–but that’s a good sign; shows your conscience hasn’t been completely deadened.

What Do You Do When You Have a Guilty Conscience?

Hebrews 10:22:

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water”  (NIV).

The Bible teaches a guilty conscience is a dirty conscience.  It is like moral filth that you allow to accumulate and then. pollutes your soul.  And when your conscience becomes dirty, it always affects the way you look at yourself and others.

JESUS can do two important things for a “dirty conscience”:

#1.  Your CONSCIENCE must be cleaned by His blood.

When people have a “guilty conscience”, they do all kinds of things to get rid of their guilt.  Certain areas around the world people crawl on their hands and knees up steep mountains to reach a church altar.  Other people throw themselves into religious activities trying to get rid of their guilt.  But the Bible, God’s Word, teaches only one thing to clean a “dirty” conscience–the Blood of Jesus Christ.

The Bible says in Hebrews 9:14:

“How much more surely shall the blood of Christ, Who by virtue of [His] eternal Spirit [His own preexistent divine personality] has offered Himself as an unblemished sacrifice to God, purify our consciences from dead works and lifeless observances to serve the [ever] living God?”  (Amplified Bible)

I have an old Hymn Book I keep close to my computer out of nostalgia from long days past and for reference in writing my blogs.  In writing this past week on  addressing our CONSCIENCE ISSUES that in living, we need to ask ourselves the questions a Hymn writer by the name of Elisha Hoffman asks:

“Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?  Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?  Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?  Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?”  [from Are You Washed in the Blood].

#2.  Your CONSCIENCE must be corrected by His Word.

When you become a Christian,  “set your conscience to the Bible-Word of God”.

We READ in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that God’s Word ALWAYS points you to JESUS.  He becomes your standard of right and wrong:

[16] ALL SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;  [17] That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”  (KJV).

When you become a “true believer”; a follower of Christ Jesus, born-again of the Spirit–your determination of right and wrong no longer depends on your CONSCIENCE because you can’t “let your conscience be your guide”.  You come out of LIVING IN A MORAL FOG.

You don’t decide what is right or wrong on how you feel, because you have learned that feelings can be unreliable.  Your standard for MORALITY is NOT what the “majority” in SOCIETY are thinking.

THE “DOINGS”, the “DEEDS” PROVE THE LIE (Verse 16):

“They profess to now God but they deny Him by their deeds”

It is rather easy to talk about God.  The phrase “Thank God!” is probably expressed several million times across the land each day.  What a grateful God-fearing nation we must be!

We notice how at the Academy Awards, so many thanked God for their award.  But the fact remains while one may verbally use the name of God, this doesn’t mean they really know Him.  In fact, it is a false claim to say one “knows God” if they are disobedient to His Word by their deeds. John, the disciple of Jesus, inspired by the Holy Spirit had much to say about this (1 John 1:6; 2:4-6).  

The Scripture passage in Titus 1:16 says those who say nice things about God but will not submit to Him are:

“liars”

“detestable”

“disobedient in nature”

“worthless for any good deed”

That’s pretty strong stuff!

The Pure in Christ Come Out of the Fog–

“…in ALL THINGS, show yourself to be an example of good deeds with PURITY in doctrine dignified”  (Titus 2:7).

The godly man or woman teaches the TRUTH and dignifies it with righteous living (1 Timothy 4:12).  

In front of everyone we come in contact with daily, with a clear (PURE) CONSCIENCE, the proof is in the “doing”.  It is because of the HOPE we have in Christ Jesus we’re motivated to take a stand with a “pure conscience”, even if it is unpopular:

“And everyone who has this HOPE [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies) himself just as He is pure (chaste, undefiled, guiltless)”  (1 John 3:3 AMP).

Here’s my last question:  Has the fog lifted, can you see the landing lights on the airport runway– can you see God?

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”

–Matthew 5:8–

Springtime Coming!

Winter Thaw

ISAIAH 58:11-12:  “And the Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you in drought and in dry places and make strong your bones.  And you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.  [12] And your ancient ruins will be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of [buildings that have laid waste for] many generations; and you shall be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell in.”

Acts 3:19-21:  “So repent (change your mind and purpose); turn around and return [to God], that your sins may be erased (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing (of recovering from the effects of heat, of reviving with fresh air) may come from the presence of the Lord.  [20] And that He may send [to you] the Christ (the Messiah), Who before was designated and appointed for you–even Jesus.  [21] Who heaven must receive [and retain] until the time for the complete restoration of all that God spoke by the mouth of all His holy prophets for ages past [from the most ancient time in the memory of man].”

“The American Church Today is not Healthy”–

Many people have agreed with this statement and other concepts such as:  “Too many churches imitate the trends of secular society.”  One respected researcher said, “Christians in America are hardly distinguishable from unbelievers.”  And on many occasions in the past, I have agreed with the consensus.

But when I was reading the two referenced verses in Isaiah and the Book of Acts, God spoke to my heart saying, Have HOPE, for Springtime is Coming even thought it looks like Winter.  His Word reveals His plans for the spiritual restoration of the Church as we know it today.

“Springtime IS Coming”–God’s Heart for His Church and His People–

NOTICE the key words that God uses:

* rebuilding…

*…the ancient ruins

* raising up…

*…the age-old foundations

* repairing that which is broken

* refreshing

* restoring

If you have fallen into the same trap I’ve found myself in, seeking a bleak future for the Lord’s Church, I want to bring the relief I found from God’s Word in this wrong thinking.

A Heart That Has Found Optimism–A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places.

I want to fill your hearts, as mine was filled by the Holy Spirit–in what you might now be experiencing in your Christian church life.

The 7- Ways the Lord wants to guide us in:

Smith Wigglesworth once said, “The heritage of the Church is to be so equipped with (the Holy Spirit’s) power that God can lay His hand upon any member, at any time to do His perfect will.”   Now that is OPTIMISM!

1.  The Lord wants to satisfy your soul.

2.  The Lord strengthens you = ‘make fat your bones’

3.  Like a well-watered garden…

4.  Rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities…

5.  Lay foundations for future generations…

6.  A Rebuild er of walls…

7.  Restorer of homes…

Spring-water in a place where the waters of the Lord flow:

–to refresh…

–to revive…

–to restore…

–to rebuild…

To make fat your bones and strengthen you for the work ahead!

TIMES OF REFRESHING:

The verses quoted in Acts 3:19-21 clearly show God’s heart for His people and for His Church with spiritual restoration.  Notice the key words and similarities God uses in Isaiah 58 and Acts 3:

* rebuilding...the ancient ruins.

* raising up…the age-old foundations.

* repairing that which is broken.

* refreshing.

* restoring.

HEART-FELT OPTIMISM IN EMPTY PLACES:

If you have fallen into the trap in seeking a bleak future for God’s Church in our time, I want to bring the same relief I experienced from ‘wrong thinking’ in what you might be seeing–to a full life in the emptiest of places.

God intends that His people participate (that’s us!)– in His plans for our lives in rebuilding and raising up age-old foundations; repairing the things that are broken down

“Your people will rebuild…and will raise up…”  (Isaiah 58:12).

“You will be called a Repairer…Restorer (vs. 12).

If you think that the Church in materialistic America lies in ruins today, then know this–GOD intends to “rebuild the ancient ruins and …raise up the age-old foundations (vs. 12).

I believe , as perhaps I’ve never before pondered, spiritual restoration is coming to the Church today!  Let’s look together at some Biblical teaching likely to be seen in God’s time of refreshing and restoration.

–Widespread, heartfelt repentance and a hungering and thirsting for righteousness and personal holiness.

“Brethren, what shall we do?”  And Peter replied, “Repent”… (Acts 2:37-38).

“Blessed and fortunate and spiritually prosperous are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be completely satisfied”  (Matthew 5:6 AMP).

EXPECT TO SEE THINGS IN OUR DAY!

–A renewed, mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit!

Multitudes being baptized in the Spirit, speaking in tongues, moving mightily in God’s power.

“And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words]”  (Acts 2:4 AMP).

Don’t let the Church be robbed of this blessing.  Contrary to what some might have been told, this is for the Church today just as it was in the first century.  Jesus Christ, the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11), is “the same yesterday and today and forever.”

“Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages)”  (Hebrews 13:8). 

EXPECT IT, BELIEVE IT, AND LOOK FOR IT!

Expect to see the manifestation of the glory of God in the Church–“To Him be glory in the church…”  (Ephesians 3:21).  Expect and believe God for dramatic manifestations and supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit which is the real sense of God’s presence in our midst.

You might be thinking right now, you just can’t believe, to grab hold of and expect that type of manifestation.  And that’s okay.  I once felt and believed in the same way.  And then one day in 2005, I was given a choice by God:  ‘Take the “Red Pill” or take the “Blue Pill” [CHOICE: I Choose “The Red Pill” –The WORD DETECTIVE blog of 05/09/11].

The early church of the Book of Acts was indeed a glorious church.  Believe along with me for the same in our day–(Habakkuk 3:2). 

The gifts of the Holy spirit are for today!   Don’t relegate them to “time has past” or only to the Pentecost recording in Acts 2.

–Anticipate a renewed hunger for the word of God, the Bible!

“Now the brethren at once sent Paul and Silas away…to Beroea…  Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble…they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message...with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so”  (Acts 17:10-11).

In the remarkable charismatic move peaking in the 1970s, millions of young people carried their Bibles with them–to church, to coffeehouses (no Starbucks back then), wherever they went.  They joined Bible studies, many attended Bible schools and they hungered and thirsted for God’s Word.

I expect to see in our current day a restoration, a spiritual hunger renewed for God’s holy word among the youth, the elderly, in every segment of society.  Expect a new generation of “Bereans”, ‘receiving the word with ALL readiness of mind and searching the Scriptures daily.’

A Generation Rising

VISUALIZE A GENERATION ARISING:

Colossians 1:18 says in the NIV translation, “…so in everything He might have the supremacy”.

Picture a nation where JESUS is honored and His name is heard in reverence rather than in cursing and the Church bought by His blood is once again the most influential institution [“organism”, not “organization”] in the land.  “Organism” is a living and breathing thing, where as an “organization” is an “arrangement”; make-up“; “texture”.   These things have happened in time past.  Can you and I believe God to see these transpire once again in the land, our communities?

Expect to See…

Widespread acceptance of, and many moving into the full “fivefold” ministry, as well as biblically qualified elders and deacon.  God has prepared His people:

“And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers.  His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church)”  (Ephesians 4:11-12 AMP).

The Church has been handicapped for too long in rejection of contemporary apostles and prophets.  I know this personally, since this is what I had been taught by well-meaning men and had accepted the information given as fact rather than the Berean Approach: “searching and examining the Scriptures”.

It will take all five of the listed ministries to “prepare God’s people for works of service” He desires that we do.  Now are there false apostles and prophets today?  Certainly.  There were such in the early church.  But don’t let that discourage you from embracing ALL these needed ministries JESUS placed in His church and the duration of the Church Age!

ANTICIPATE A RESTORATION OF TOTALLY “SELLING OUT” TO THE LORD:

[Peter to Jesus] “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee, what shall we have therefore?”  (Matthew 19:27 KJV).

“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”  (Acts 2:42 NAS).

“Revolutionaries”

Christian researchers today–George Barna–in seeing the emergence of a growing body of Christian believers, compared to the complacent with the tabbed “revolutionaries”– who are no more satisfied with the “status quo”; they want A Full Life in Christ.  They have a passion for JESUS; a determination to serve Him fully, no matter the cost.

May a renewed passion for the Lord sweep through ALL our hearts and across this land–our cities, our communities, our churches.

AS IN THE TEMPLE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT:

May it be said of the New Testament “temple” (that is, the church), that “the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former…” ~ Haggai 2:9.

Be looking for; be on watch for; expect the spiritual restoration of bringing the Church of our day back to even surpassing the glory we read of in the first century church.  Springtime is coming!  Let this be our prayer:

“O Lord, I have heard the report of You and was afraid, O Lord,

revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst

of the years make [Yourself ] known!”

~Habakkuk 3:2~