SANCTIFIED: To Be Set Apart As New Creatures

How often do we find ourselves trying to get a handle on religious vocabulary thrown around in Christian circles?  In this study, the words to “sanctify”; “sanctification” will be addressed.

In the generic definition, to sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer [Bible Study Tools- Dictionary].  The pencil was designed by its maker for the use of writing down information.  I used to chew on my pencils all the way through my school years with my mom pointing out…” that’s not what pencils are used for!”  In the theological sense, a human being is sanctified therefore when he or she lives according to God’s design and purpose, set apart for His service.

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  

For all you Word Detective followers, YES, I did a study in these verses in 2018. [THE QUESTIONS about WORLDLY ASSOCIATIONS]

Since some topics of conversation have come up recently in my own family regarding worldly associations, I’m re-visiting the Apostle Paul’s second letter to the Church in Corinth.

Paul’s Second Letter to the Church

Paul wrote this second letter because of continued strife and tension over social issues and false teachers who had infiltrated the church attacking him as an Apostle.

Do we struggle in the church today concerning social issues?  Are we hearing messages from pulpits around the globe addressing the moral changes occurring all around us; touching each and every one of us in some way?  Or is “compromise” the word of the day?

The Word Is Constantly Changing

Many changes in society are necessary because we as human beings are not perfect.  For the same reason, much “development” goes in completely the wrong direction.  God’s Word, however, is perfect, and never changes.  Sin remains sin, even when it becomes widely accepted.

The Silver Ladle Story:

Helen was a wonderful Christian woman.  A single mother raising her only son Tom as best as she could to love God.  Helen became very worried when Tom told her that he was moving to the Big City.  A year went by and all seemed well.  Tom called his mother and told her, his friend Sarah was moving in with him.  He told his mom not to worry, they were just roommates, strictly platonic.  Helen knew if she could spend just a little time with them together she would know just how “platonic” it was.  She soon got the chance when invited over for dinner.  All went well until about two weeks later.  Sarah came to Tom and said, “Tom, I’m not saying she took it and I’m not saying she didn’t.  The fact of the matter is, my silver gravy ladle has been missing ever since your mother left.”  So Tom called his mother and left a message on her machine:  “Mom, I’m not saying you took it and I’m not saying you didn’t, but ever since you left two weeks ago, Sarah’s silver ladle has been missing.”  The next day Tom’s mother called and told him:  “Tom, I’m not saying you are sleeping with Sarah and I’m not saying you’re not.  The fact of the matter is, if she were sleeping in her own bed she would have found that gravy ladle.”

We are chosen people (1 Peter 2:9)

As believers in Christ Jesus, we are different.  We are not like any other, we are not supposed to be!

2 Corinthians 6:17 (NIV Bible)

Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate…”

As Christians, we are told by the Bible to live holy lives to reflect the nature of God.  We are to SEPARATE ourselves from actions, influences, or people who hinder our service to God.

True believers are to live differently from those in the world. 

Sounds simple, but there are a lot of people who think they can come to Christ–SAVED–and still hang out with the same crowd.  They think they can still go to the same places, but you can’t.

Being Separate–SANCTIFIED.

The Bible tells Christians to be separate from the world.  SEPARATED means when you are SAVED, you change your life, change your friends, and you change your hangouts.

But that said, that doesn’t mean you abandon your lost friends.

When I came to Jesus at the age of thirty, most of my friends abandoned me.  They thought I was a religious nut talking about how my life had really changed since I came to Jesus.  Their reaction was “The proof is in the pudding.  We’ll just keep an eye on how you’ve really changed.”

You still talk to your old friends, you just change the topic of your conversations.  You can still hang out with your old friends but change the locations.  Instead of going out with them, ask to bring them with you to church.

My point is, you don’t abandon sinners, but you don’t join them either.  As a Christian, you are to bring them up to your level, not let them bring you down to theirs.

A Christian is directed by God’s Word to apply the biblical principles of SEPARATION and avoid a few things:

1.  We are to steer clear of anything that attacks biblical standards. 

If the Bible said it was a sin 2000 years ago, it’s still a sin today.  The Bible doesn’t change to fit the changing culture.

2.  Avoid any association that will hinder your spiritual life. 

So, teenagers, that means if your boyfriend or girlfriend won’t come to church with you, then find a new one that will.  Not only boyfriends and girlfriends but any of your friends.

2 Corinthians 6:14, 16 (NIV Bible)

[14]  Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?

[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.”

3.  Avoid any situation that you are unsure of:

There are some sins that are plainly spelled out to us in the Bible, and there are sins that are your own personal convictions.  If you have any doubts as to whether or not something is a SIN, then for YOU…it’s a SIN.  Because of God’s word in Romans 14:23   that “whoever has doubts…for whatsoever is not of faith is a sin”.  In other words, if you aren’t sure if it’s a SIN, then for YOU…it’s a SIN.

JUST DO THE RIGHT THING!

James 4:17 says “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”  (NIV Bible)

If you are not living a life separate from the world, then how does the world know you’re different?  If you can still go out and commit the same sins as before you were SAVED, then I hate to tell you, you didn’t get SAVED!  I’m not saying a Christian is never going to sin, for God saved my soul. but I still live in the flesh until I go home to be with the Lord.  So anyone who says that they never SIN is calling God a liar, according to 1 John 1:10.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.  But I’m not talking about ‘slip-ups’ here.  I’m referring to instances where we intentionally sin.  Paul says in Romans 6:15 that Christians are under GRACE (God’s mercy and unmerited favor) and no longer under the law.  So does that give us the freedom to sin at will?  Paul said, “Certainly not!”  Even though Christians are no longer in danger of God’s condemnation, we will still answer to Him for the sins we commit.

Romans 6:12 says not to let sin reign in our bodies.  There’s a big difference between intentional sin and daily struggles of the flesh.

Paul says in Romans 7, that there is none of us who are perfect, that we’ll never be as long as we’re on this Earth.  And even though we aren’t perfect, we are to strive for excellence with the leading of the Holy Spirit.

If you think you can have it both ways, you’re wrong!  Once you accept Christ as your Savior, life will change. and you’ll want to SEPARATE yourself from the old life you had.  Will you completely change?  Of course not, but you will change!

You may ask, I know I’m SAVED but I still have a problem with SIN in my life, so how do I avoid those SINS?

As a Christian, when you sin, it is not the spirit that sins, but the FLESH and Paul said…

Some of the LUSTS of the FLESH are listed by Paul in verses 19-21:

  1. Adultery – any sexual contact outside the bonds of Holy Marriage is a sin – PERIOD.  There’s been a lot said to teenager’s conduct; about keeping their hands off each other, well the same goes for the adults.  If you aren’t married to them, keep your hands off them.
  2. Idolatry – anything that comes between you and your worship of God is an idol – your job, your family, your favorite football team, ANYTHING!
  3. Witchcraft – Harry Potter.
  4. Jealousy
  5. Wrath
  6. Envy
  7. Murder abortion.
  8. Hatred racism.
  9. Drunkenness

“And those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” 

Avoidance of the lusts of the flesh.

Any sin you commit that gives the devil ammo he needs to shoot your spiritual life down, and the ONE WAY to avoid this is to apply the words of Galatians 5:25 -If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]  Amplified Bible.

Can we walk in the Spirit and the World too?  Not a chance, and that’s why we are to be separated from the sinful world.

Remember you can’t serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).

Is Jesus your Master, or are you a captive to the world; a SLAVE to this world and its master?  You can’t have it both ways, so get off the fence and choose today which master you’ll serve.

Remember the words of Joshua chapter 24, verse 15…

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CREDITS –

Commentary:  Come Out And Be New, contributed by Joseph Nordyke, December 12, 2008 – Sermon Cntral. [The Silver Laddle Story]

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), or as mentioned in the text.

 

 

 

And I Saw God’s Glory!

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  Isaiah 6:1-3 (NIV)

[1]  In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

[2]  Above him were seraphim, each with six wings:  With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.

[3]  And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;

the whole earth is full of his glory.”

It’s difficult to know when reading passages of Scripture in the Bible whether God’s GLORY refers to His actual glory or to human recognition of it.  This is true, for example, when Scripture speaks of the earth being full of the GLORY of the Lord.

In Isaiah 6, we see the call and commissioning of Isaiah, the prophet.

We don’t know for sure, but we assume that Isaiah was in the earthly temple.  However, the temple described in verse 1 is the Heavenly Temple.

In the year King Uzziah died it may be like saying the year Pearl Harbor was bombed, in the year JFK was shot, or in the year the Bomb was dropped.  This was a time in the nation of crisis and change that the prophet came face to face with the King of Kings.

HOLINESS tells us that Jesus is the exact representation or image of God.  What many have lost is the holiness of God.  God has become “the man upstairs”, or “the God next door”.  Max Lucado said it well:  “Immanuel, God with us.”

In Jesus Christ, God came near.  Something of the awesomeness and greatness– His GLORY has been forgotten.  The church culture has so allowed the culture around us to shape the way we do things.  The customer satisfaction mentality has invaded our churches we have to be sure not to offend anyone– WORSHIP is all about them.

Here in Isaiah, we see that WORSHIP is all about God.

When we see and sing the words on the Big Screen in church or out of a hymn book, we need to remember the songs are all about Him.  When you read History in the Bible, you need to remember, it’s His story.  What Isaiah got was probably more than he bargained for in a worship service.

God’s High Position (6:1) – Beholding His Glory

[1]  IN THE year that King Uzziah died, [in a vision] I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and the skirts of His train filled the [most holy part of the] temple.  [John 12:41]  (Amplified Bible).

Isaiah was reminded that God is sovereign.  When God showed up, Isaiah saw God high and lifted up.  He saw God in His greatness and holiness.  With everything that was happening, God was in complete control while sitting on His throne in heaven.

Here in Isaiah 6:1, looking at several different Bible translations, you can see Lord spelled in all caps–i.e., LORD; and others, Lord.  I just had to dig deeper here.

LORD (all caps or small caps) reflects the original term “YHWH”, while Lord (standard capitalization) is the English rendition of the Hebrew Adonai, meaning “to be”; “the Lord God Almighty, the sovereign or supreme one.”  It suggests that God simply is i.e., He possesses an underived existence; He is the eternal “I AM”.  This name became a special designation–emphasized in God’s relations ship to the nation of Israel.  [“LORD and Lord – What’s the Difference? by The Christian Courier] 

John 12:37-40 clearly tells us that Isaiah was seeing Jesus on the throne!

Isaiah saw God on the throne with His hand on the throttle in complete control.

  • When it says DISEASE–God is on the throne!
  • When the boss says you’re FIRED–God is on the throne!
  • When our children DISOBEY–God is on the throne!

Isaiah saw God high and lifted up, but he also heard the Seraphim cry “Holy, Holy, Holy”

THE HOLINESS OF GOD

The Holiness of God is, His being in a class by Himself with His perfection and greatness and worth.  All His perfection and greatness and worth are distinct and separate–we’ve been taught that HOLY means separate–His in a class by Himself.

HIS HOLINESS IS WHAT HE IS AS GOD THAT NOBODY ELSE IS –

His quality of perfection can’t be improved upon, can’t be imitated, and that determines that He is all of that and nothing is determined from outside Him.

Now when Isaiah 6:3 says that angels are crying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty”–the next thing they say is this:  “The whole earth is full of His”…and you might think “holiness” would be the next word.

But he doesn’t say holiness, he says GLORY!

Essentially, “holy”, essentially holy, and the whole earth is full of His GLORY.

I stab a definition here by saying the GLORY OF GOD is the manifest beauty of His holiness.  It’s the going public of His Holiness.  It’s the way He puts His holiness on display for people to apprehend.

Read the words from Leviticus 10:3:  God says He will be shown to be HOLY among those who are near Him and before all the people He will be honored.

I will be shown to be holy,” He says.  “And among ALL the people” — say it another way–“I will be glorified.”

The Worship Connection of His Holiness and Glory –

What on earth does all this have to do with our worship?

EVERYTHING!!!

If you divorce or separate God’s holiness from worship, all you have is entertainment.  Why start on time, why do things in order, why not distract others during the song service and preaching?  Because we should be focusing on the greatness of God!!!

WHY THE CROSS?

The cross was ultimately the result of God’s Holiness.  Sinful man can’t stand in the presence of a Holy God.  God took care of the ‘sin problem.’

2 Corinthians 5:21 (AMP)

[21]  For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness].

This God that’s HOLY and separate is the God we need to see in our worship–in our everyday living.

Isaiah’s Posture of Humility in God’s Glory and Holiness –

“Woe to me!  I am ruined and undone…”  (6:5)

To Isaiah’s peers, he was upright. a righteous man, a man of unmatched integrity.  AND then just one glimpse of God’s greatness changed his whole self-perception.

It took God to reveal his guilt, it took a picture of deity to reveal Isaiah’s filthiness–his sin.

Have you ever seen God in such a way that revealed who you really are?

Have you ever recognized that you are a sinner that’s separated from God without hope?

That’s what the VISION did for Isaiah.  It revealed reality to him–God sees us as we are, where we are in life right now!  He sees your heart!!

What happened when Isaiah saw this VISION of God?

CONVICTION –

“Woe is me!  I am undone and ruined.”

The Hebrew word for “undone”:  to come apart at the seams.  Isaiah was totally exposed for who he was before a holy God.

CONFESSION –

A vision of the holiness of God that brings true conviction of sin is always followed by the confession of sin.

I love Billy Ricks’ slant of this fact:  “Regardless of excuses, sin is a prison from which you can never be freed until you admit it’s your own fault that you were thrown in the slammer.”

CLEANSING –

Because Isaiah came clean he was made clean.  The cleansing power of God went to work on Isaiah’s behalf.

God is HOLY and also merciful.  When we confess our sins to Him, God goes to work.  He cleanses us with the Blood of Jesus (1 John 1:9).

What is the big deal about WORSHIP in Christian America today?

To me, it’s about seeing God in all of His manifested GLORY.  Let me break that down just a bit.  When someone says, “Look at the wind blowing outside,” and when you peer out the window you can’t actually see the wind.  What you see is the effect that the wind has on the objects it’s blowing on–the trees, a flag, a hat blown off one’s head.  So when God breathes, you can’t visibly see His breath, but you can see His GLORY manifested in your surroundings.  Just look around you!

In seeing God for who He is we can see ourselves as we truly are.  The church culture of today has so allowed the culture around us shape the way we do things.  The customer satisfaction mentality has infiltrated our churches.

Here is a heavenly worship service where Isaiah saw a fresh vision of God.  From this vision of God’s HOLINESS, Isaiah was inspired to pen words like Isaiah 40:8.

What churches and Christians in America desperately need is a fresh vision of God’s holiness and His Glory.  We don’t need a new revelation because all that God is and has for us is revealed in Christ Jesus.

We give God the GLORY!!!

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CREDITS

Commentary:  John Piper’s “What Is God’s Glory” at desiringGod.org.

Music Video:  “I SAW THE LORD” by Dallas Holmes – YouTube.

Images:  Google Image search.

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

Let the Church be the Church

Bible Study in 1 Peter 4:13-19

It has always been God’s plan to have a holy people; those that would stand for Him no matter what happened in their lives.

JUDGMENT BEFORE CORRECTION AND REVIVAL – 

In my last three blog-posts, I dug into the Book Of Micah and looked into God’s judgment of Israel some 700 years before Christ was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).  And as we enter the upcoming Christmas season we should all look at ourselves closer as the Church in our communities of who we are representing in Christ Jesus.

Where Judgment Begins (1 Peter 4:17)

[17]  For it is a time of judgment, to begin with, God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  [New International Version – NIV]

This passage of scripture seemed to me at first reading a little strange.  And as a student of the Bible, I looked in my commentaries to see what theologians had to say about this verse and I was surprised at how they addressed this verse.  This is why context is so valuable when studying God’s word regarding any Bible’s verses.

1 Peter 4:13-19 (NIV)

[13]  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.

[14]  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

[15]  If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even a meddler.

[16]  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

[17]  For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

[18]  And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 

[19]  So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Peter is obviously talking to those born again Jews that would have to go through suffering for their faith.

The church in Jerusalem was already under heavy persecution and would suffer even worse before it was over.

Verse 14 tells us that to be happy–to have joy in the suffering for the cause of Christ, is knowing that in your persecution God is glorified!

Peter also wants us to know that the Christian life is hard enough without coming under God’s hand of discipline.  That’s why he says in verse 15, “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal or even a meddler.”  It has always been God’s plan to have a holy people.  Those who would stand for Him no matter what happened in their lives.

One day God will take unto Himself a Bride to be without spot or blemish.

So where does this purification process begin?

It Starts With His Church.

“For the time has come that judgment must begin at the House of God”  verse 17.

It has always been God’s plan…

Jeremiah 25:29 (AMP)

“For behold, I am beginning to work evil in the city which is called by My Name, and shall you go unpunished?  You shall not go unpunished, for I am calling for a sword against all inhabitants of the earth, says the Lord of hosts.”

Amos 3:2 (NIV)

“You have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins.” 

Then the churches of Asia Minor 

  • Jesus said to the Church in Ephesus:

“Consider how far you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first.  If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”  (Revelation 2:5)

  • The Church at Pergamum:

“Repent therefore!  Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”  (Revelation 2:16)

  • The Church at Thyatira:

“So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely unless they repent of her ways.  I will strike her children dead.  Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.”  (Revelation 2:22-23)

  • The Church at Sardis:

In case you will not rouse yourselves and keep awake and watch, I will come upon you like a thief, and you will not know or suspect at what hour I will come.  (Revelation 3:3 – Amplified Bible)

  • The Church at Laodicea:

“So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.”  (Revelation 3:16 – AMP)

Purification is always done for a purpose–a reason for discipline.

  • Ephesus – Lost their first love.
  • Pergamum – Teaching false doctrine.
  • Thyatira – Condoning immorality.
  • Sardis – They were spiritually dead.
  • Laodicea – They had become apathetic.

The Bible tells us, the church, that we are the light of the world.

In the case of each church mentioned in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, the light had gone out.  They were no longer a lighthouse for the lost souls and shed no light at all to those around them.

It’s always done to God’s people

Hebrews 12:8 (NIV)

[8]  If you are not disciplined–and everyone undergoes discipline–then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.

God cannot and will not tolerate unconfessed sin in the life of the believers–His children.

Discipline.  Who Needs It?

Godly discipline is to refine us (vs. 11) –

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it”  (NIV).

  • Godly discipline to reestablish us (vs. 11)
  • Godly discipline to reaffirm His love to us (vs. 6) “because the Lord disciplines those he loves, punishes everyone He accepts as His son.”  

God’s discipline sifts out contamination (1 Corinthians 5:11-13) –

  • The Church cannot condone SIN (1 Corinthians 5:1-2) –

[1]  IT IS actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, an impurity of a sort that is condemned and does not occur even among the heathen; for a man has [his own] father’s wife.

[2]  And you are proud and arrogant!  And you ought rather mourn (bow in sorrow and in shame) until the person who has done this [shameful] thing is removed from your fellowship and your midst!

  • The Church must not compromise scripture (1 Corinthians 15:1-2) –

[1]  Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken a stand.

[2]  By this gospel you are saved if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

  • The Church should confront the SINNER (Mathew 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5:2, 5, 13).

QUESTION:  Why Does JUDGMENT Begin At The House of God?

I hope this brief study helps you understand, as it did for me, why God wants His church to be holy and pure.  I’m afraid that if the church won’t stand up and be the church, that God’s judgment is going to fall on her.

Are we a church that tolerates and promotes unholiness?

Do we tolerate and promote sin in our own lives?

Let me mention again.  God will not and can not tolerate sin in the lives of His children.  Oh, that we the Church might walk worthy of our calling.

Let the Church be the Church!

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CREDITS –

Commentary:  “Where Judgment Begins” by Michael Goodwin – sermon on July 20, 2005.

IMAGES:  Google Image search.

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

“Giving $20 Explanations to a 50 Cent World” Is Difficult!

SCRIPTURE – 1 PETER 1:13-20

Be Holy…How is this even possible?

I have had difficulties over the years just being a decent husband and father to my three kids.  How am I supposed to be as HOLY as the One True Living God?  I’m just human.  I make mistakes, many of them.  So does HOLY mean I just need to follow a bunch of rules?  A list of things I’m supposed to do and things not to do?  Like, be nice to others?

I’m a good person, mostly, so does that make me HOLY?  Great questions!

1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV)…

[15]  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;  [16] for it is written: “Be holy because I am holy.” 

Peter isn’t introducing a new concept here.  He’s repeating a principle laid down by God in the Covenant [See footnote].

With all that in mind, let’s see what the Bible says in Psalm 14:2-3 (AMP)…

[2]  The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any who understood, dealt wisely, and sought after God, inquiring for and of Him and requiring Him [of vital necessity].

[3]  They are all gone aside, they have all together become filthy; there is none that does good or right, no, not one.

And in Isaiah 64:6 (NIV)…

[6]  All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind, our sins sweep us away.

Both Psalm 14 and Isaiah 64 are in the Old Testament from the time before Jesus’ birth. 

But even in the New Testament, after Jesus, the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:1-3 (AMP)…

“O YOU poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galatians!  Who has fascinated or bewitched or cast a spell over you, unto whom–right before your very eyes–Jesus Christ (the Messiah) was openly and graphically set forth and portrayed as crucified?  Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing its works, or was it by hearing [the message of the Gospel] and believing [it]? [Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith?].  Are you so foolish and so senseless and so silly?  Having begun [your new life spiritually] with the [Holy] Spirit, are you now reaching perfection [by dependence] on the flesh?”

There were believers in the early church who were trying to be HOLY; trying to be acceptable to God based on their human efforts.  They believed that they had to continue living up to all the rules; the list of all the “do’s” and “don’t’s” in the Old Testament Law.

The Apostle Paul’s Reminder…that HOLINESS is not just based on our OWN EFFORTS of being good–HOLINESS is WHO WE ARE, based on our RELATIONSHIP with Christ Jesus!

We CAN’T earn God’s favor…

We CAN’T earn His love and mercy…

We CAN’T earn HOLINESS through our own efforts, it’s a FREE GIFT being offered to you right now!

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

[8] For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–[9] not by works, so that no one can boast.

HOLINESS isn’t just who we are…it’s how we live.

1 Thessalonians 4:7 says…”For God did call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”

Let me go back to 1 Peter 1:17 again…

[17]  And if you call upon Him as [your] Father Who judges each one impartially according to what he does, [then] you should conduct yourselves with true reverence throughout the time of your temporary residence [on the earth, whether long or short].

2 Corinthians 5:9 explains it more plainly by saying…“So we make it our goal to please Him. whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”

I don’t want to confuse anybody on this point. This has nothing to do with whether or not you are accepted by God.  He offers you a position in His kingdom, in His family, as a “FREE GIFT”… you just need to place your faith, your acceptance, your commitment to His Son Jesus to become accepted by God.

For most of us, growing up in a loving family brings back memorable times.  Our parents loved us and we loved them not for what they did for us materialistically, but because of who they were in our lives.

In appreciation of that LOVE, we, in turn, wanted to please them, respect them, honor them by our actions in response to that LOVE by our obedience.

As a child of God, we should want to please our Heavenly Father on how we live out our daily lives.  But how do we do this?

I’ve already mentioned how being HOLY is not following a list of rules, a lost of do’s and don’t’s. What I did discover in reading and studying God’s Word in this passage of Scripture are THREE things that Peter gives us in helping us to live in HOLINESS:

#1.  PREPAREDNESS

First, we are to prepare our minds for action.  Look at 1 Peter 1:13 again:  “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming.”

I’ve been glued to my TV, watching every afternoon and evening of late the Winter Olympics in Pyongyang, South Korea.  I particularly noticed how the athletes prepared beforehand to compete.  The visualize what they are about to do…they prepare their minds to intently focus on what needs to be done.

As Christians, we are to do the same thing.  In fact, the Bible says in 1 Timothy 4:7 (b) “…train yourselves to be godly.”

A lazy athlete will never perform well…neither will a lazy Christian.

When we allow our minds and hearts to be filled with the world’s garbage, then we won’t be prepared to live in HOLINESS.

We MUST prepare our minds, folks!

#2.  IMITATION

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”  (Quote by Oscar Wilde).

I think a better way to phrase that quote would be is that God much rather us to resemble His Son, than “flatter” Him.

Then, in verse 14, Peter says…“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.”

So, the SECOND thing we are to do is to be OBEDIENT.

We are to IMITATE Christ: We turn away from the temptations the world presents to us and we live in OBEDIENCE to our Heavenly Father and His Word.  We won’t know how to IMITATE Jesus unless we do the first thing of preparing our minds.

When we study God’s Word (our bible), we will grow in understanding of Jesus Christ which makes the second thing possible, because the Holy Spirit develops us…makes us more mature…changes us to be more like Jesus.

But it’s still A CHOICE…

We must choose to turn away from temptation and instead turn to God.

Ephesians 5:1 says,  “Therefore be imitators of God (copy Him and follow His example), as well-beloved children [imitate their father]”  (AMP).

We should ask ourselves, “Is this something God would say?”  “Is this something that I would be comfortable in watching if Jesus was sitting next to me?”  “If I do this, will it PLEASE my Heavenly Father?”

We IMITATE Christ in everything we think…everything we do…everything we say.  And as we grow in maturity as “sanctified” (set apart, made HOLY) believers, then we will become better and better at imitating Christ and not the world.

This is the path of HOLINESS!

“you also be holy in all your conduct” – 1 Peter 1:15

KEYWORD is “ALL”- “in ALL your conduct.”  

NOT some of your conduct…

NOT when you feel like it…

NOT just on Sunday when you come to church…

ALL your conduct!

WHY?  Because as believers, we are CALLED TO BE LIKE HIM!

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

#3.  LOVING ONE ANOTHER IN CHRIST JESUS

And the THIRD thing…living our lives in HOLINESS we must LOVE each other…regardless!

Boy, that can be hard to do sometimes.  But you see, you alone can’t do it without the prompting of the Holy Spirit!!!

1 Peter 1:22 reads in the Amplified Bible…

[22]  Since by your obedience to the Truth through the [Holy] Spirit you have purified your hearts for the sincere affection of the brethren, [see that you] love one another fervently from a pure heart.

Jesus says it Himself in the Gospel of John…

John 13:34-35 NIV)

[34]  “A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

[35]  By this [LOVE] everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Living our lives in HOLINESS isn’t easy.

There’s a story I read this week about an artist who was making a statue of an elephant out of a huge chunk of marble.  Someone asked him, “How do you do it?  How do you turn this piece of rock into a beautiful masterpiece?”  The artist answers him and says, “I just chip away, chisel the pieces that don’t look like an elephant.”

Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

[10]  For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), created in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].

LIVING THE “GOOD LIFE” IN HOLINESS!

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

FOOTNOTE:  Note:  Also read Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2 and 1 Thess. 4:7-8.

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

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Sermon Notes:  “Sanctified Saints” by Jeff Strite on July 16, 2016 – Sermon Central.

UNDER UMBRELLAS OF PROTECTION

 

NAHUM 1:1-7 (NIV BIBLE):

[1] An oracle concerning Nineveh: The book of the vision of Nahum the El-ko shite.

[2] The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.  [3] The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; he will not leave the guilty unpunished.  His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.  [4] He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry.  Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade. [5] The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away.  The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.  [6] Who can withstand his indignation?  Who can endure his fierce anger?  His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.

LIVING ‘UNDER THE UMBRELLA’ – (verse 7)

[7]  The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him.

AN UNINTENTIONAL DECEPTION –

We live in an age when even the CHURCH has tried to become politically correct.

We have tried to candy coat God into a nice little good God who loves and never hurts anyone.  He never gets angry at sin, or judges or condemns anyone–let alone sends them to hell.

In our efforts to sell God to the world we have often sugar-coated the awesome reality of God, then question why people don’t take God in the Bible seriously.  In our efforts to bring in proselytes through the hallowed doors of our buildings on Sunday…telling only of God’s LOVE and avoiding His burning HOLINESS and His fearsome WRATH.   We have left it in the Old Testament as if God has changed (evolved) over time to a kinder, gentler God, who overlooks our sins and just wants to bless us all.

All of that’s fine and dandy, but CHURCH…we are in for a rude awakening.  We can’t keep avoiding the bible passages that speak of God’s WRATH, pretending they don’t exist.  If we do, we are spiritually and morally negligent.

THE FACT OF NATURAL DISASTERS (rarely can they be blamed on man directly) –

It is rare for a single generation in a given locale to be spared at least some kind of natural disaster.  Without warning, tornadoes sweep down from the afternoon sky and destroy in moments fury what it took decades or centuries to build.

HISTORIC FLOODING FAR FROM OVER…

I was reading the headlines in the paper while in a doctor’s waiting room this past week:  Nine deaths have been blamed on flooding in several states across Midwestern and Southern United States this past week.  More than 270 roads remain closed across the state of Missouri, with some 200 homes have been impacted by the floods and another 1,500 are in danger (Associated Press).

Do these types of natural disasters represent merely isolated, infrequent events? Hardly.

Throughout history, man has recorded many such tragedies:

  • In 526, an EARTHQUAKE hit the country now known as Turkey and left 250,000 dead.
  • A similar EARTHQUAKE in China in 1556 killed over 830,000 people.
  • In 1889 the famous “Johnstown Flood” occurred in Pennsylvania.  Over 2000 people were killed when the South Fork Reservoir dam burst during heavy rains.

Each time natural disasters happen across the world humanity suffers.  And each time there are those who ask “Why?”  Why them and why now?

The struggle to understand a Good God and the fact of natural disasters is common.

ORIGINAL SIN CURSED THE WORLD (Genesis 3).

MAN’S PERSISTENT UNCONFESSED SIN opens the way for disaster to strike giving Satan a place to establish a STRONGHOLD.

So…MAN’S SIN takes him out of God’s Protection.   

AN UMBRELLA can show us something of God’s Protection and to be covered and protected we must walk close.  If we walk out from under the UMBRELLA we are no longer protected.

  • God is not in every STORM – (He allows them–in that He doesn’t stop them from happening).
  • God is in some storms (He causes some).
  • Time and Chance happen to all (Ecclesiastes).

We blame a lot of DISASTERS on the devil, but the biblical record shows very few times when he was personally responsible (example Job).

However, very often God says I SENT THIS DISASTER AND HERE’S WHY:

GOD IS ON RECORD –

  • Joseph in Genesis 41 (God’s plan to enlarge His people in Egypt) – FAMINE in Egypt–Psalm 105:16 caused by God.
  • David’s 2 Samuel 21:1 – Saul’s sons the reason.
  • David’s Choice 2 Samuel 24:13 – Because of SIN.
  • 1 Kings 18:2 – Elijah-Ahab- Because of Ahab’s SIN.
  • Jeremiah 24:8-10:  (vs. 10)  “And I will send the sword, famine, and pestilence among them until they are consumed from off the land that I gave to them and to their fathers.”

EARTHQUAKES, PLAGUES, AND DISASTERS –

God has POWER & AUTHORITY over the earth, so why does He allow all the destructive storms, plagues, and disasters to occur?

THE ANSWER is found in the first chapters of Genesis.  God created everything perfect and beautiful.  When Adam and Eve SINNED, He placed a CURSE on the earth and everything became broken and degraded.

Although the CURSE brought about CONFLICT, DISEASE, AND DEATH, much of the original beauty can still be seen in God’s Creation.  It continues to show His Power, Wisdom, and Design ability.

But why do Christians suffer?  Couldn’t God protect us from the powers of evil?

The ANSWER is YES, He will.

He protected the nation of Israel in Egypt from most of the PLAGUES and could still do the same today.

Some Reasons Why God Allows Natural Disasters…

ONE reason is to make us realize we are totally dependent on Him:  Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread” (Mt. 6:11). With all that we have and need, we tend to forget this prayer and God’s ability to answer it.  This is a reason why God keeps many of us poor.  If we had all we wanted we would become independent and turn from a close relationship with our Father.

To Cause Us to Call Upon God in the Day of Trouble:

Our TROUBLES give God an opportunity to keep His PROMISES, otherwise, we forget we are dependent upon God for everything.

God says, “And call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you and you shall honor and glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15 AMP).

To Sort Out Our Priorities:

During times of DISASTER, we realize that RELATIONSHIPS are more important than things–especially our Relationship with our heavenly Father and belief in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul said, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

A Call to Repentance:

DISASTERS serve as a wake-up call to REPENTANCE for mankind.  Disasters can have a sobering effect upon the human mind.  When WAR breaks out, or an EARTHQUAKE destroys countless lives and property. or a DROUGHT burns the crops and dries up the water supply, or an EPIDEMIC DISEASE victimizes millions of people, many call out to God either in a curse or in prayer.

It was C.S. Lewis who penned “pain is God’s megaphone to a deaf world.”

 

The DROUGHT in California

 

  • It was an earthquake that caused a Philippians Jailer to cry out “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 17:30)
  • It was a famine that sent king Ahab searching everywhere for the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18:10).
  • It was a plague that brought Pharaoh to his knees confessing before Moses: “I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you.  Now, therefore, forgive my sin, I pray you, only this once, and entreat the Lord your God only to remove this death from me.”  (Exodus 10:16, 17)

The manifestation of divine judgment through calamities is intended to summon people to repent. 

AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE COMING FINAL JUDGMENT:

God’s final judgment is called the Day Of The Lord in the OT.  It reminds us that the Day of the Lord is nearing (Joel 1:15).  They are also to remind us that the Judge of all mankind is standing at the door! (James 5:9).

TO SHOW GOD’S POWER TO RESTORE:  (All Natural Disasters are Redemptive in Nature)

Our Father wants what is best for us.  We don’t know the future.  God does and will shape events to bring true the promise:

“All things work together for good to them who love God”

That’s our UMBRELLA folks.  Knowing that our heavenly Father will work out for us the best deal in town and we do not need to worry when bad times come.

“EACH TIME GOD SENDS HURRICANES, FLOODS OR OTHER CALAMITIES HE IS SPEAKING TO HIS PEOPLE”  by Henry Blackaby.

While not expecting unbelievers to connect anything with God because they don’t think He exists.  Blackaby goes on to say he “expects God’s people to be paying attention and for the most part they aren’t.”

GOD IS IN CONTROL OF WORLD EVENTS (ISAIAH 28:2):

NATURAL DISASTERS are a humbling reminder that there is a God:

Isaiah 13:13:  “Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; the earth shall be shaken out of its place at the wrath of the Lord of hosts in the day of His fierce anger.”  (AMP Bible)

Joel 2:31:  “The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and terrible day.” (AMP)

Amos 4:13:  “He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, whom turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth–the LORD God Almighty is his name.” (NIV)

Is God Judging the Nations Today? YES.

HIS JUDGMENT IS BASED UPON OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM!

WHAT’S YOUR CHOICE?

Feel free to add your comments and observations in the REPLY section at the bottom of this page on God’s control of world events whether NATURAL or manmade.

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CREDITS:

QUOTES BY Henry Blackaby, Founder of Blackaby Ministries and author of Experiencing God.

Photos:  Google Advance Image Search.

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

God Is NOT An Emasculated, Mushy God!

EZEKIEL 9:1-11 (Amplified Bible – AMP):

[THE SPIRIT] cried in my ears [in the vision] with a loud voice, saying, Cause those to draw near who have charge over the city  [as executioners], every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.  [2] And behold, six men came from the direction of the Upper Gate, which faces north, every man with his battle-ax in his hand; and one man among them was clothed in linen, with a writer’s ink bottle at his side.  And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar.  [3] And the glory of the God of Israel  [the Shekinah, cloud] had gone up from the cherubim upon which it had rested to  [stand above]  the threshold of the [Lord’s] house.  And [the Lord] called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s ink bottle at his side.  

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[4] And the Lord said to him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in the midst of it.  [5] And to the others He said in my hearing, Follow [the man with the ink bottle] through the city and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have ant pity.  [6] Slay outright the elderly, the young man and the virgin, the infant and the women; but do not touch or go near anyone on whom is the mark.  Begin at My sanctuary,  So they began with the old men who were in front of the temple [who did not have the Lord’s mark on their foreheads].

[7] And He said to [the executioners], Defile the temple and fill its courts with the slain.  Go forth!  And they went forth and slew in the city.  [8] And while they were slaying them and I was left, I fell upon my face and cried.  Ah, Lord God! Will You destroy all that is left of Israel in Your pouring out of Your wrath and indignation upon Jerusalem?  [9] Then said He to me,  The iniquity and guilt of the house of Israel and Judah are exceedingly great; the land is full of blood and the city full of injustice and perverseness; for they say,  The Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord does not see [what we are doing].

[10] And as for Me, My eye will not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their wicked doings upon their own heads.  [11] And behold, the man clothed in linen, who had the ink bottle at his side, reported the matter, saying,  I have done as You have commanded me.

THE UNSEEN IDOLS (Ezekiel 8:5, 10, 14, 16).

When EZEKIEL 9 begins, God is instructing His angels of destruction, to KILL!  And so I must ask myself the question,  WHY?

In EZEKIEL 8, it is obvious that God shows Ezekiel in a VISION the extreme idolatries that were going on in Jerusalem.

FIRST, was the image of JEALOUSY (v. 8:5)

SECONDLY, was the leadership of Israel worshipping animals” (v. 8:10)

THIRD, the women weeping for Tammuz [ a Babylonian god, who was supposed to die annually and subsequently be resurrected] at the temple.

FOURTH, finally, the leaders of Israel, were at the inner court worshipping the sun-god with their backs to God.

And then the climax, “thumbing their noses” at God, even more, they then returned to God in order to have the appearance of GENUINE RELIGION.

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“IDOLATRY is worshipping anything that ought to be used or using anything that ought to be worshiped” – AUGUSTINE.

WHAT IS YOUR GOD?

“Whatever you LOVE most, SERVE most, SEEK OUT most, GIVE to the most, WORSHIP the most, and CARE about the most is your god.”

Your “god” is whatever you allow to control you, to be the ultimate guide in decision-making.

God doesn’t take IDOLATRY lightly!

Let me get personal here.  Most of my “idols” are what I think, as good things.  I have no intention of making idols out of them.

Mark Driscoll says, “We take good things and make them God things, and thus they become bad things.”

ALL SIN is actually worshiping issues (sex, food, appearance, attendance, smoking, internet–functional saviors).  And to put any of these “things” before God Himself is IDOLATRY.

In Chapters 8 & 9, the recurring phrase is, “the Lord does not see, and has forsaken the land,” which is wrong, but fulfills Deuteronomy 31 to the letter!

So what are your IDOLS? Not do you have any, but what are they?

What do you VALUE more that Christ according to your checkbook, your date book, your friends, your clothes?

The Certainty of JUDGMENT (v. 8:18-9:2).

Just like Deuteronomy 31 promised, the anger of the Lord will be stirred up upon the COVENANT BREAKERS, and not only curses of that book come into being, but JUDGMENT & DEATH will come.

GOD PROMISES here in Ezekiel, JUDGMENT without MERCY!

These angelic messengers are instructed to carry battle axes into the city to strike down old and young men, maidens, women, and children.

And there is but one reason: God is a HOLY God that will not tolerate or ignore spiritual infidelity at any level.

And note that JUDGMENT will begin in the house of God with those who are highest in their level of accountability.

A. W. TOZER:  “It was a common thing in other days, when God was the center of human worship, to kneel at an altar and shake, tremble, weep, and perspire in an agony of conviction.  They expected it in that day.  We don’t see it now because the God that we preach is not the everlasting, awful God, ‘mine Holy One,’ who is ‘of purer eyes’ than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.”

Old fashion thoughts?  I don’t think so!

In my bible study this week I was reading the story in Scripture about UZZAH (1 Chronicles 13:6-13).  You know, the story where Uzzah touched the ark, and God “smote him because he touched the ark; and there he died before God” (v. 10).

How can we explain such JUDGMENT?  How can a God of LOVE bring about such things?

I’ve heard those questions asked by many believers over the years, and this is my explanation, although a bit simplified:

LOVE isn’t His only attribute.  We need to get back to the HOLINESS of God in being our foundation in doing everything.

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AND GOD WILL BRING FORTH RETRIBUTION!

We must realize that if we, THE CHURCH, are truly saved, we will be spared “wrath” per se, BUT…the JUDGMENT of GOD upon our stewardship, our servanthood, is sure, and, to harbor IDOLS is sure to bring us the loss.

Where have the lessons on RIGHTEOUSNESS, on HOLINESS, and JUDGMENT of God gone?

Our GOD isn’t the mushy, emasculated god, but a God that will pour out WRATH upon ALL unrighteousness among the nations–active and passive.

The Only Remnant (v. Ezekiel 9:4):

So bad is the JUDGMENT, Ezekiel cries out, “Will you destroy ALL the Remnant?”

But God told the one angel, who is dressed like a Hebrew scribe, and who might be the Angel of the Lord, Jesus Christ, to put a MARK (Hebrew letter “taw”, written like an X) on a small group of people who will escape death.

God says to find the people who sigh, or gasp, or shutter, as well as those who mourn or weep at the abominations of the people of God.

God said to mark those to spare who are truly broken over the sins of the SAINTS.  These are the ONLY REMNANT that will be left.  We are never told how many if any are marked.

*[See Revelation 7:2-3, 9:4, 14:1; Daniel 9:3-5; Neh. 1:5-9; Isa. 57:15; Matt. 5:4].

To MOURN means to have a BROKEN HEART–

In the GREEK, to have a deep inner pain which occurs when something tragic happens, like a death of a loved one.  It also means to have a desperate sorrow over evil and suffering.  *(See Footnote [i] )

What we need today is NOT ANGER but ANGUISH.  The difference being a BROKEN HEART.  

It is easy to get angry, especially at somebody else’s sins; but it is not easy to look a sin, mine included, and weep over it.

stock-photo-an-older-black-woman-mournfully-looks-out-her-window-570396466

The prophet had no time to PREACH a message, to WEEP, or INTERCEDE, BUT we do!  I don’t mean to simply talk about how it used to back in the ‘good old days’.

REPENTANCE IS A LIFESTYLE, AND NOT AN ONE TIME EVENT!

Where are the Daniel’s and Nehemiah’s, whose regular practice was CONFESS their sins and the sins of the people?

Is there ever true sadness on our part when we see SIN in the midst of the church?

Are our HEARTS so hardened that we feel no pain to see brethren caught in the grip of SIN?

“For A Time Is Coming…” (1 Peter 4:17 – AMP):

“For the time [has arrived] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will [be] the end of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the Gospel) of God?”  (v. 4:17)

I am convinced, as Shane Edelman pointed out in an article, that ‘the majority of the churches in America are seeking to please the masses rather than preach the Gospel truth.’

“REPENTANCE is rarely sought and sin often excused.  We want to build a church rather than break a heart.”  *[See Footnote [ii] ]

“If the church today had as many agonizers as she has advisors, we would have revival within years” (Leonard Ravenhill).

You might ask, “What’s the big deal?  We’re doing just fine!”

 BUT… 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says otherwise,  

[1] “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  [2] People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  [3] without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  [4] treacherous, rash, conceited, lover of pleasure rather than lovers of God–  [5] having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with such people.”

Sounds a lot like the conditions in the days of Ezekiel to me.

EZEKIEL 14:6 (AMP):  Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn your faces from all your abominations.”

TRUE REPENTANCE is when by the convicting POWER of God’s Holy Spirit, the sinner finally has a sense of… and Godly sorrow for the condition of SIN in his or her heart and comes empty–un-defensive, without pretension or ceremony, in the most personal and submissive posture he’s ever taken…

man making a disgusted face
man making a disgusted face

from a SINCERE HEART that says, “I’m sorry”, to the only One who can truly claim offense at sin; Holiness Himself, the God of the ages…Who alone can FORGIVE and REDEEM and REGENERATE and RECONCILE?

I want to make it clear here, that the Bible clearly teaches that ALL MEN, both living and dead, SAVED and UNSAVED, must give an account to Christ.  JUDGMENT isn’t saved just for the unbeliever.

The Judgment Seat of Christ.

The JUDGMENT of the believer’s works called the Judgment Seat of Christ, or the Bema Seat; where a judge sat in ancient Greece, not to punish contestants but to present awards to the victors (Romans 14:10).

2 Corinthians 5:10 makes it even plainer:

“For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body,whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing].”  (Amplified Bible)

The Great White Throne Judgment (Unbelievers JUDGMENT).

I don’t want to get away from Ezekiel, so, IF you want to do some “Word Detective” investigation on your own regarding the unbeliever’s judgment, I’ll list some Scripture references to help guide you in your search:

[Revelation 20:11-13; Matthew 12:36-37, 10:15, 16:27; Luke 12:47-48; Rev. 20:12-13, 22:12; Matt. 25:46; John 5:28-29; 2 Thess. 1:8-9; Rev.  3:4-5].

bema-vs-white-throne-judgment1

Have you made a commitment, or will you make a commitment?

**NOTE DISCLAIMER:  Sourced material for this study has been gleaned from many different sources.  I have attempted to credit these sources wherever possible.  [See CREDITS & FOOTNOTES.]

 


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Footnote [i]:  (Strongs #3996) StudyLight.org GREEK THOUGHTS pentheo

Footnote [ii]:  “JUDGMENT Will Start in the House of God” – Charisma News.

Photos:  Shutterstock & Google Image Search.

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

Finding Answers to the 4 “W’s” of WORSHIP and More!

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IS WORSHIP BORING AT TIMES? 

I love stories that can bring out an emphasis in a bible study, and this blog is no exception:

A little boy asked his mother if she could remember the highest number she ever counted to.  The mother didn’t know so she asked him about his highest number.  Without hesitation, “5,372”.  The mother was puzzled and ask him why he stopped at that particular one.  The boy responded, “Well…church was over.”

The Aspects of Worshipping:

The idea of our WORSHIP being boring, to me, is an OXYMORON, or self-contradicting phrase.

The word itself comes from “oxus”, meaning sharp–and “moros” which means dull or stupidity.  [See Footnote [i].]

Some examples of my favorite OXYMORONS would be:

  • Jumbo shrimp.
  • Freezer burn.
  • White chocolate.
  • Plastic silverware.
  • Sanitary landfill.
  • Airline food.

Another self-contradicting phrase is BORING WORSHIP.

I found some interesting surveys in my research this past week, saying when people are asked why they don’t attend church, they often replied church is too boring.

While I recognize that sometimes a church service can seem dull, especially to a non-Christian attendee, my suggestion to all is, TRUE WORSHIP is anything but boring.

The Essence of True Worship –

The very essence of what WORSHIP is, doesn’t allow us to be bored.

When we come before the Majestic God of the Universe, who has created everything and done amazing things in our lives everyday, how can we not break out in adoration?

Most importantly, WORSHIP must lead us to a response.  If we don’t respond, when we don’t rejoice and the reverence of who we are worshipping, we risk becoming hardened before Him.

A PSALM OF WORSHIP – 

I love reading in the Psalms, and because of my long musical background in singing, one Psalm in particular stands out to me presenting the basic criteria of TRUE WORSHIPPING.

PSALM 96 (KJV):

[1] O SING unto the LORD a NEW SONG; sing unto the LORD, all the earth.

[2] Sing unto the LORD, bless His name, show forth His salvation from day to day.

[3] Declare His glory among the heathen [“the nations” – NIV bible], His wonders among all people.

[4] For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.  [See Rev. 14:7; Deut. 6:5]

[5] For all the gods of the nations are idols; but the LORD made the heavens.

[6] Honour and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

[7] Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.

[8] Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts.

[9] O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness; fear before Him, all the earth.

[10] Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth; the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved; He shall judge the people righteously.

[11] Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.

[12] Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein; then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.

[13] Before the LORD; for He cometh, for He cometh to judge the earth; He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth.

A Song of Worship –

PSALM 96 is based upon David’s anthem of ADORATION as found in 1 Chronicles 16; when the Ark of the Covenant is brought to its resting place.

If you take the time to compare the TWO SONGS, you’ll find as I did, there are a lot of repeated phrases.

The Call to SING SONGS and Break Out Into PRAISE (verses 1-3):

The verses can be read here in context of Christ’s Second Coming and glorious reign.

We SING not just because of the past and the present but because we know what is coming in the future.

When singing in choirs years ago, I always loved the words to the Praise Song, “Coming Again!”;  

Coming Again,  Coming Again!  Maybe morning, Maybe noon, Maybe evening and Maybe soon…”

It always made me reflect on the exactness of the lyrics’ motivation to praise–Jesus is coming again!

FIRST OF THE 4 W’s:  What is Worship?

TO WORSHIP means to “fall on your face or bow down,” and is found more than 170 times in the Bible.

All who are true worshippers, must WORSHIP God in “spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).

That is, TRUE WORSHIP must take place on the inside–the HEART & SPIRIT of the worshipper.  WORSHIP pleasing to God must be with sincere feelings and transparent to His “Worth-ship.”  

We then are to recognize our place before God Almighty and acknowledge His worthiness…His “worth-ship” before us.

So, how should we WORSHIP?

  • With MUSIC  (Verse 1).
  • With PROCLAMATION  (Verse 2); The MESSAGE Bible says, “to shout the news of victory”.
  • By GIVING GOD THE GLORY   (Verse 8).
  • By BRINGING AN OFFERING (Verse 8).
  • By COMING INTO HIS COURTS  (Verse 8).
  • By LIVING HOLY LIVES  (Verse 9).
  • And, by WITNESSING FOR HIM  (Verse 10).

THE SECOND OF THE 4 W’s:  The “Why’s” of WORSHIP:

  • BECAUSE God SAVED US  (Verse 2)
  • BECAUSE of His GREATNESS and His FEARSOMENESS  (Verse 4)
  • BECAUSE of His POWER  (Verse 5)
  • BECAUSE of His SPLENDOR, MAJESTY, STRENGTH, and BEAUTY  (Verse 6)
  • BECAUSE God is RIGHTEOUS and TRUE and He is coming to JUDGE.

THE THIRD OF THE 4 W’s:  The “Where’s” of WORSHIP:

  • We are to WORSHIP the LORD among the nations  (Verse 3)
  • We are to WORSHIP in His Sanctuary  (Verse 6)
  • We are to WORSHIP in His courts  (Verse 8)

THE FOURTH OF THE W’s:  The “When’s” of WORSHIP:

VERSE 2 calls us to SING & PROCLAIM (“shout out”) His SALVATION…”day after day.”

So there you have it, FOUR ANSWERS to some common questions that will arise in conversation about WORSHIP.

BUT, there’s more to understand.

FOUR ESSENTIALS OF WORSHIP:

#1. EXALT His Name –

Looking closely at Verses 1-2 above, we are called to SING to the LORD three different times.

When something is repeated in triplicate in Scripture, it is done to get our attention.  Much like “Holy, Holy, Holy” in Isaiah 6:3.

Why Singing & Shouting?

Singing to the Holy Trinity started way back at creation in Job 38:7, where we read

“When the morning stars SANG together and all the sons of God SHOUTED for joy”

There has been singing & shouting from the beginning of time with more singing at the end of the age in Revelation 15:3–The Song of the Lamb:

“And they SANG the song of Moses the servant of God and the SONG OF THE LAMB, saying,  Mighty and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God the Omnipotent! Righteous (just) and true are Your ways, O Sovereign of the ages (King of the nations)!  [Amplified Bible]

In the meantime, we are CALLED to SING to the Lord as we wait for JESUS’ return.

SINGING A NEW SONG –

I also noticed in my investigation, the importance of singing a “NEW SONG” to the Lord.

The word “NEW” can mean something that is brand new and also can mean, “delighted, precious and exquisite.”

When something is NEW, it is fresh.  If all we sing is “Kumbaya” type songs every time we’re in church, then the chances are good, we’re not growing and experiencing fresh insights from the LORD.  Remember, it is NOT our WORSHIP, it is HIS!

New Hymns and New Praise Songs Are ESSENTIAL to WORSHIP –

Nobody I think, enjoys singing the harmonies of the old hymns of the past, more than I. However, NEW SONGS are essential to meet the ever-varying manifestations of God’s character.

In the last part of Psalm 96:1. “all the earth”, we are to break out into song, EXALTING–lifting Him up–for who He is and what He has done.

The Call to Worship…

The call to worship to SING, was not limited to Israel but was intended for all the earth.

The Book of Revelation gives us further insight in Rev. 15:4:

“All the nations shall come and pay homage and adoration to You”

#2. Extend His Kingdom.

Take a close look at verses 2 & 3:

“…show forth His SALVATION from day to day.  Declare His glory among the nations”

Declaring His Glory
Declaring His Glory

We are told HOW to EXTEND His Kingdom and WHERE to PROCLAIM (“Declare”) His SALVATION.  The words in the two verses also tell us how often to do it–“day after day.” And, we’re told WHERE to do it…”among the nations.”

OUR MESSAGE is the GOOD NEWS!

We are given specific instruction during worship, to SHARE the message and our mandate is, to take it to ALL the people (Acts 1:8).

The only MESSAGE we have today is JESUS SAVES!!!

#3. EXPRESS His Greatness.

As we EXALT His name and look for ways to EXTEND HIS KINGDOM, we will be drawn into the THIRD ESSENTIAL of WORSHIP (verses 4-9).

King Over ALL the Nations…He is most WORTHY of PRAISE!

I can’t help but notice how much we praise people.  Even at our worship services; the recognition of our local sports teams in wearing articles of clothing celebrating current and former athletes.

But it isn’t just athletes, is it? We avidly support recording artists, politicians, and yes, even Megachurch leaders.  We love to applaud the attributes of others.

And yet, this Psalm brings us back to what’s most important: Only God Himself is GREAT and most WORTHY of our PRAISE.

He is FEARED above everyone and everything else.

VERSE 5 tells us that.

He has no rivals because He is the Creator.  And as such, we should WORSHIP Him with all that we have.

In VERSE 6, FOUR ATTRIBUTES Are Personified

Personified as if they were attendants surrounding the throne –

“Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary”

A year before I was married, a friend and I, took a trip to Mexico.  We saw the beautiful beaches of Acapulco, the rose gardens in Guadalajara.  But for the real history of the country, we found east of Mexico City. at Teotihuacan (“teh-oh-tee-wa-KHAN”), the place where the AZTECS said the gods were born.

Many IDOLS that had been preserved were gruesome and ugly to look upon.

gohistoric_20319_m

NOT SO with the One Who causes things to exist and where there was nothing before.

Our GOD is not gruesome, but instead, He is BEAUTIFUL, arrayed in SPLENDOR, clothed with MAJESTY and armed with POWER AND GLORY that is brighter than the sun.

A RENEWED URGENCY PRESENTED (Verses 7-9):

THREE TIMES in a row, the Psalmist challenges us to “ascribe,” or give, to the LORD what is due His name.

Recognizing His GREATNESS, His MAJESTY, and STRENGTH First…We then will want to Honor Him.

I found it interesting that even though “the nations” are found earlier in the psalm, here we are called to WORSHIP the Lord, as the “FAMILIES” of the nations; singled out to give (“ascribe”) GLORY AND STRENGTH to the Lord.

God has ordained the family unit to a special and unique creation of His and as parents today, we must do all we can to make sure our families are honoring God.

The last part of VERSE 8 gives us a practical way to do that.  When this PSALM was written, the people would take their OFFERINGS to the Temple.  The King James Version refers to “thank offerings,” or those things that people would give out of gratitude to the Lord for all that He has done.

I was amazed when I looked up the word “ascribe” (to give) in my Concordance Dictionary, finding it listed 689 times!

At least THREE WAYS we can bring and give an offering to the LORD:

  • A Living Sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2).
  • A Sacrifice of Praise (Hebrews 13:15).
  • A Financial Sacrifice (Malachi 3).

Remember, a SACRIFICE isn’t a SACRIFICE unless it costs you something!

Expect His Coming!

While we EXALT His name, we should be looking forward for the ways to EXTEND HIS KINGDOM.

This then motivates us to express HIS GREATNESS.

One last ESSENTIAL to ponder I found in verses 10-13.

The Reign of the Lord and His Coming Judgment…

In VERSE 10, the word “JUDGE” carries the idea that God sovereignly RULES over the nations and will judge everyone with fairness and equity.

In VERSES 11-12, we see that the whole creation, when reflecting on GOD’S RULE, breaks out into JOYFUL PRAISE:

The HEAVENS WILL REJOICE…the EARTH will be glad, the SEA will resound, the FIELDS: the corn and soybeans–will REJOICE, and ALL THE TREES of the forest will SING FOR JOY!

WHY?

Because, The King Is Coming!

In the meantime, we are called to WAIT & WORSHIP.

We are also told to “GO TELL OTHERS,” about the GOSPEL MESSAGE, before it is too late– JUDE 14-15:

“Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men:  See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against Him”  (New International Version).

ONE MORE “OXYMORON” –

Here it is:  A BORED BELIEVER.

If you truly understand what being a BELIEVER, AN OVERCOMER is all about, it is impossible to be “bored.”

If we are EXALTING, EXTENDING, EXPRESSING, and EXPECTING, we’ll be fired up and experience the JOY of what it means to partner with God in His kingdom work here on earth.

So, let’s stop singing the ‘same old song,’ and let’s start singing A NEW SONG OF REJOICING!

 


 

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Commentaries:   Treasury of David – Psalm 96 by Charles Spurgeon; “Why We Sing,” A Sermon on Psalm 96, Sign in the Window; Psalm 96 – Daily Devotional.

Photo Credits:    Google Images; Wikipedia photo of Aztec carvings.

Bible Translations Used:  King James Version, New International Version, Amplified Bible.

Footnote [i] – Dictionary.com -Word; Origin C17: view New Latin from Greek.

Everything In Life Has Terms Attached to it

STUDY IN AMOS 4:11-13 –

Terms-and-Conditions

 

HAVE LAWYERS TAKEN OVER THE WORLD?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God speaks through AMOS and reviews His case against ISRAEL.

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

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

There are still TWO WAYS to prepare to meet God–

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

MEETING GOD ON OUR TERMS –

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

AMOS 4:1:

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

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

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

BASHAN COWS were well fed, spoiled and fat!

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THE IMAGE GOD USED TO DESCRIBE THE ISRAELITE WOMEN –

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

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

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

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

CAUSE & EFFECT–

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

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

The Genie Is Out of The Bottle…

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

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

Look what’s happening in my country…

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

THAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE DISEASE–

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

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

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

AMOS 4:4-5 (NIV):

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

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

BETHEL and GILGAL –

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

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

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

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

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

They TITHED much more often than was required.

Their outward shows of RELIGION were over and above.

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

Camouflage Heart/Google Images
Camouflage Heart/Google Images

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

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

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

They did it for show!

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

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

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

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

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

ISRAEL tried to meet God on their terms…

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

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

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

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

GOD’S TERMS and ISRAEL’S TERMS–

What our God’s Terms?

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

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

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

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

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father

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

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

[that is, grow into complete maturity of godliness

in mind and character, having reached the proper

height of virtue and integrity].

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

And ISRAEL didn’t even come close.

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

God changes the picture here…

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

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

GOD’S WARNING–

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

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

Has GOD given us warnings?

GOD’S TERMS OF PERFECTION –

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

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

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

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

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

GOD ALSO PERSUADES ON HIS TERMS –

AMOS 4:6-11 (NAS bible):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In VERSE 6, He PERSUADED Israel with famine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

AND in VERSE 11, A Supernatural DEFECT…

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

Look at AMERICA as an example –  

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

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

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

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

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

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

INSTEAD of REPENTANCE, we saw blame and cast it.

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

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

GOD PERSUADES with clean teeth and tragedy.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They were answered the same way,

“Yet you did not return to Me.”

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

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

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

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

So the question is presented to the Church today.

What are we doing with God’s Grace?

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

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

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

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

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

ON YOUR TERMS OR HIS?

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Footnote [i] :  The Free Dictionary by Farlex.

PHOTOS:  Google Images.

Bible Translations Used:  Amplified bible except where noted.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Are We Living Our Lives In A Wall?

When God Tells the Story.

When God tells the story of setting aside a special nation, preparing the way for His Son in the Old Testament, He doesn’t hide the truth; the details are displayed openly for all to read and see.

The Family Tree.

God includes the LIAR, the COWARDS, the CHEATERS, the MESS-UPS, and the street-walker.  Character flaws are never a deterrent to God’s greater plan.

*[See Matthew 1:5 for Rahab’s inclusion]

stock-photo-chiangmai-thailand-march-reading-the-new-international-version-of-the-holy-bible-on-the-262562102

Living In Ancient Cities…

Often cities of ancient times are surrounded by thick, solid walls for protection against invading armies.  And as Christians, we sometimes build walls around our own spiritual lives for the same reasons.  We don’t want to get hurt or criticized by the outside world.  If we stay huddled together, never venturing outside the walls, except for well planned evangelism raids to the surrounding countryside; then bringing the assembled captives back behind closed gates in celebration of our own efforts.  “Oh Lord, it’s so hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.”

God’s Church was never intended to be a walled in community of believers; living inside a wall while peering out of a self-righteous window at the lost sinners; eagerly waiting for the next well planned raid into the outside world by our well-meaning church leaders.

Living In A Wall.

In ancient times, the heavy expense plus the consuming time to build solid walls for protection, led to an alternative city wall design we call a CASEMATE.

A CASEMATE
A CASEMATE

A casemate consisted of two thinner walls; parallel walls with an empty space between them.  It was faster and cheaper to build, and afforded the inhabitants extra living space.

In times of war, the space could be quickly filled with dirt and stones creating a thicker, solid defensive wall.

We too, have a tendency to use our church building as the “inner wall,” and our homes as the “outer wall.”  And in between?

A lot of dirt and stones in between to separate us from criticism, hypocrisy and self-condemnation.

The Conquest of Jericho (Text: Joshua 2:1-24): 

The reading in Joshua 2 suggest that a woman, by the name of RAHAB, was known as a prostitute and occupied her home on the outside wall.

“…for her [Rahab’s] house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall”  (Joshua 2:15 b. ESV).

The house of Rahab in the Old Testament is PICTURE

The familiar story in Joshua 2 brings to my mind a picture of a FULL CHURCH.  Can you imagine the great transformation that took place in-house of two spies, who brought her into a personal relationship with the God of Israel.

Her inn of iniquity became a house of prayer and worship and when the walls of Jericho fell, only her house remained on the wall; everyone within the house experienced salvation and her house was full!

How did this happen?  Could this happen to us in our own churches?  Are the principles laid down in this Old Testament Book be applied today, so we too, could have a full house at the coming of the Lord?

A Genuine Born Again Experience –

The Blood of Christ…

We have this pictured in this story by the SCARLET THREAD placed outside the window rahabof Rahab’s home in the wall (Joshua 2:18):

“Behold, when we come into the land, you shall bind this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall bring your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household into your house.”

All of the children of Israel had been told of the courage and faith of Rahab.  So in their daily march around the city (Joshua Chapter 6), must have taken note of the scarlet thread on the outside wall.

Rahab_PassoverI’m sure this was likened to the days of THE PASSOVER; this was a type of BLOOD on the door post.

There is POWER IN THE BLOOD!

There was enough power in this scarlet cord that two grown men hold on to its safety as they escaped from a sure death.

There was enough power in this scarlet thread to keep the walls of Jericho from falling on this house.

Rahab the harlot had a genuine born again experience.  No longer did she trust in the idolatrous gods of Jericho.  She had placed her new-found faith and trust in the God of Israel.

Is the church of today preaching, relying on, trusting in the POWER of the Blood of Jesus, or are the leaders of the congregation trusting in man devised programs and false doctrine?

A Life Lived In Holiness!

The day that Rahab TRUSTED the God of Israel would be her last day of harlotry.

The red rope [cord, thread]…

The red cord that might have stood for the house of sin, now, became a symbol of the CROSS.  Rehab’s everyday, ongoing business became God’s business.  Right in the midst of living in a wall, she had become a new creation in Christ Jesus, Saint Rehab.

Could churches today…hang a red rope outside the building, symbolizing the power that can happen by simply people grabbing hold?  How would the lost know of God’s saving grace by a simple, uncomplicated, red thread?

THERE’S POWER IN THE BLOOD!

A Passion for Souls!

Rehab’s heart passion was that of her family and friends.  One by one she compelled them to enter in.

It’s not enough that my church preach with the right doctrine.  That alone will not bring souls into the kingdom.

It’s not enough that church members live lives of holiness.  That will not fill up the church seats on Sunday.

THE FIELDS ARE WHITE
THE FIELDS ARE WHITE

The people of God’s Church must have a PASSION to win the lost!  The fields are white unto the harvest.  Where are the reapers?

A Plan of Hope!

The king of Jericho had no plan.  The doomed people within the city hung their heads over the wall while they looked sadly at their coming fate.  Their hearts were trembling from fear of the coming judgment.

Only Rahab had a plan!

Only Rahab had been given the promise of SALVATION.  Her house alone would be the ARK of safety.

As a Church, we have been commissioned by Christ Jesus to SHARE the good news of SALVATION with the lost.  We have a message of hope.  We, the church, know (or should know) the truth of Christ.

RAHAB’S HOUSE IN THE WALL

Rahab’s house is a perfect example of a perfect church.

When we, the Church, become as convinced of coming judgment, and as compassionate as Rahab was of the lost members of her family, we too will have a full church.

I’m disheartened, disappointed in hearing people in the body of Christ say, “Oh, I just love a smaller church!  It’s so much more friendly than a large church.”  Really? More friendly to who?

Can the Old Testament Church RENEW a challenge within our church walls to become the Church of God’s plan?

Remember again the cry of the Father:

So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full’  (Luke 14:23, N.L.T.).

 


Credits:

Bible History Daily – Rahab the Harlot Robin Ngd – 9/23/2013;  The Jericho Scenario – The Open Scroll;  The Sermon Notebook – Tearing Down the Walls; Bible Archaeology, Travel with Luke Chandler.

Bible Translations used: 

Amplified Bible, English Standard Version, New Living Translation.

Images used:

Photo Pin; Google Images

 

 

 

The Door Is Opened With A Glimpse of Heaven – Part Three

The TEXT for PART THREE:  Read Revelation 4:1-11

“AN OPEN DOOR” – Revelation 3:20:

JESUS speaking,  [20]  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me.”

The conversation continues, but with John speaking – Revelation 4:1:

AFTER THIS I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven!  And the first voice which I had heard addressing me like [the calling of] a war trumpet said,  “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place in the future.” (Amplified)

ENTERING THE THRONE ROOM –

Picture-Of-GOD-On-Throne-In-Heaven-Bible-Verse-Revelation-4-2-3-HD-Wallpaper-1024x656

 

Understanding Spiritual Things…

People today have an unprecedented longing to understand spiritual things by going to “mediums” or spiritualists and paying thousands of dollars in attempting to touch the supernatural.

Despite all these claims of going to heaven and the Lord, the person returning with a message from “God” are in contrast with REVELATION 4 and the rest of the Scriptures depicting the THRONE OF GOD.

To claim that someone has gone to see “God” in His highest heaven is not only wrong, unscriptural–NO ONE has seen God at anytime, even those who saw the THRONE ROOM.  They didn’t see GOD in His full glory!

That said, I do believe people can have visions and dreams that should be tested purely with Scripture and not with our own reasoning, or logic, but solely based on the Word of God.

CHAPTER 4 Looking Through the OPEN DOOR…

Past What Was Said In the Letters to the Churches:

The Apostle John’s writing style spins the story ever wider and wider until you get a full picture of what he sees.  He does this throughout his Epistles, and Gospel, and now in this letter of Prophecy as well.  It is so the reader, you and I, can have no disagreement who JESUS is in the midst of our own lives.

THE PURPOSE OF REVELATION…as we find ourselves drawing closer to JESUS…we’re not afraid of the images and symbolism portrayed on the pages in the upcoming chapters.  Sure, the events are unnerving at times, even scary, but “the FEAR of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; Psalm 111:10). 

Drawing near to JESUS during our study is the objective, NOT CLOSER to what you want, but closer to who He is!

REVELATION 4 & 5 

In chapters 4 and 5 are found the greatest descriptions of HEAVEN in the whole Bible.  G.K. Beale, one commentator’s scholarly opinion said,

“The main point of chapters 4-5 is God’s punitive and redemptive purpose for the world beginning to be accomplished through the death and resurrection of Christ, through whose reign God’s purpose for creation will be consummately executed and divine glory accomplished.  The pastoral purpose is to assure suffering Christians that God and Jesus are sovereign and that the events that the Christians are facing are part of a sovereign plan that will culminate in their redemption and the vindication of their persecution.”  [See Footnote [i] ]

Our First Glimpse Into the THRONE ROOM – Revelation 4:1:

The Lord specifically commanded John “to come up here,” which refers to heaven.  This is in contrast to the “so-called” visions that people have had today in being transported to heaven.  Scripture clearly teaches, only two human beings have been to heaven while here on earth, the Apostles John and Paul in the third heaven and live to continue their life on earth.

Some may see this “coming up” to refer to THE RAPTURE of the church, however, this verse doesn’t describe the church ascending to heaven in resurrected glorification, but John going to heaven to receive glorification.

Who IS on the THRONE?

John plainly tells us who’s ON THE THRONE–

What is going on around the throne–

What comes from the throne–

What stands before the throne–

Who is in the center and around the throne and…

What is directed toward the throne.

Verse 4:2 Amplified Bible:

At once I came under the [Holy] Spirit’s power, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with One seated on the throne! [Ezek. 1:26 for reference].

Four times in the Book of REVELATION, John says he was “in the Spirit” [1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10].

“AT ONCE I CAME UNDER THE [HOLY] SPIRIT…” means, he was immediately transported from where he was to where he finds himself, at the THRONE in heaven.

This means he stood face to face right in the middle of the throne room, right where our Lord and Savior dwells and someone is sitting on it.

THRONE=Rule and Authority

The THRONE is a symbol of God’s sovereign rule and authority [Psalm 11:4; 103:10 and Isaiah 66:1].  

The use of the THRONE here, emphasizes that although God’s realm is separate from the earthly, He is nevertheless in control over earth’s affairs.  Regardless of the circumstances of how rampant evil seems to run causing God’s people to suffer, they can know that His hand controls everything for their good and His glory.

The Picture Revealed in REVELATION 4:3 NIV:

“And the one who sat there had the appearance of JASPER and CARNELIAN.  A RAINBOW, resembling an EMERALD, encircled the throne.”

GOD SITTING on His throne is in contrast to the posture of REST displayed by Christ (Hebrews 1:3; 10:12; 12:2)–the act of Jesus sitting initiates, while the work of redemption has accomplished judgement and is about to take place.

GEMSTONES and the RAINBOW Significance–

“JASPER”

"CLEAR" JASPER/QUARTZ
“CLEAR” JASPER/QUARTZ

John’s description of He Who is sitting on the throne–as being as brilliant as GEMSTONES–JASPER as clear, because Jasper is used first in the list.  

This is KEY in understanding the importance, because JASPER stone is used in Revelation 21:11 describing the latter-day city as the GLORY OF GOD–JASPER STONE, shining like crystal and reflecting the “unapproachable light”; hence the GLORY surrounding God Himself with light.                (1 Timothy 6:16; Psalm 104:2)

“SARDIS” or “CARNELIAN”

SARDIS, from which the city got its name, is a fiery-ruby red color.  The gemstone expresses the shining beauty of God’s glory, and it may also symbolize God’s blazing wrath about to be poured out on the sinful rebellious world (Chapters 6-19). 

“A RAINBOW”

The RAINBOW is significant and demonstrates God’s serious in showing His mercy, despite the fact the great judgment is rapidly approaching.  This MERCY is undeserved and unmerited on His part, but shows further, how serious He is for us.

The PRECIOUS STONES surrounding the THRONE with the RAINBOW is the initial hint; not only that this vision eventually will issue a NEW CREATION, but it already portrays the beginning of the new creation in heaven: Precious Stone in Revelation 21:10-11, 18-23.  All are part of a depiction, “A RAINBOW” in the first revelation in Genesis of a new creation that emerged after the Noahic flood.

24 THRONES – Revelation 4:4

“Twenty-four other thrones surrounded the throne, and seated on these thrones were twenty-four elders, arrayed in white clothing, with crowns of gold upon their heads.”

WHO ARE THE “ELDERS”?

They are 12 Tribes from Israel in the Old Testament and 12 Apostles in the New Testament.

In this VISION, collectively, probably represents… ALL the REDEEMED of God for ALL time (both before and after Jesus’ death and resurrection).

They represent all those–both Jews and Gentiles–who are now part of God’s family.  The TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS shows all the redeemed of the Lord worshipping Him.

The fact they were clothed in WHITE is also symbolic:  Symbolizes Christ’s given righteousness to believers at SALVATION.

Also, the number 24 in Scripture is used to speak of completion and representation.

REVELATION 4:5 (NIV):

“From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.”

SCRIPTURE and the phrasing in it, without a doubt, identifies God as the source of the later judgments to take place.  This means those who suffer for their FAITH can be rest assured, that those who deal out the punishment here on earth, God has not forgotten them.  He will surely JUDGE them with fire (19:20; 20:9-10; 21:8). 

In Revelation, LIGHTNING and THUNDER are connected with significant events in heaven.  They remind us of the lightning and thunder at Mount Sinai, where God gave the people His Law (Exodus 19:16).

Also, His POWER and MAJESTY are reflected (Psalm 77:18).

The “seven spirits” = another name for the Holy Spirit.

REVELATION 4:6 (NIV):  

At the FRONT of the THRONE–

“Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.”

At the front of the throne is where John finds himself.  A front row seat with no one blocking the view.

The “SEA” is metaphorical since there is no Sea in heaven.

John saw at the base of the THRONE was a vast pavement of glass, shinning brilliantly like sparkling crystal.

REVELATION 4:7 (Amplified Bible):

Four Living Creatures
Four Living Creatures

“The first living creature (being) was like a LION, the second living creature was an OX, the third living creature had the face of a MAN, and the fourth living creature [was] like a flying EAGLE.”

The descriptions view the four CHERUBIM (“four creatures”) in relation to the created world–

THE LION= Strength.

THE OX= Domestic animals.

MAN= The height of creation.

THE EAGLE= Flying creatures.

Symbolically…the LION represents strength; the OX, is service; the MAN, reason and the EAGLE, speed.

REVELATION 4:8 (NIV): 

The FOUR LIVING CREATURES never stopped saying…

“Holy, holy, holy–

is the Lord God Almighty,

who was, and is, and is to come.”

The repetition of holy, holy, represents God’s attitudes.  And it’s at the core of who God is… is His HOLINESS!

HOLINESS is the essence of Who God is–

The theme of God’s holiness, as been displayed in Revelation 4, and is the PRAISE for God’s HOLINESS specifically demonstrated through His JUDGMENT.

Being HOLY, God hates sin and pours out His wrath on it.

The Lord Almighty…

The three words above is a distinction of who He is.  It shows His…POWER, STRENGTH, HIS UNCHANGING CHARACTER, HIS CONQUERING POWER.

Because God IS ALMIGHTY, He effortlessly does whatever His Holy Will purposes to do.

— WHO ALWAYS… was described that He was before time…

— WHO IS…describing that He exists outside of time and out of our understanding.

— WHO IS…still to come; describes the reference to the fact that He is coming again for His people.

GOD IS TO BE GLORIFIED – Revelation 4:9-11 (NIV):

[9] Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and Who lives for ever and ever, [10] the twenty-four elders fall down before Him Who sits on the throne, and worship Him Who lives for ever and ever.  They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

[11] “You are worthy, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for You created all things,

and by Your will they were created and have their being.”

These hymns direct us to the main point of the VISION and the whole of Chapter 4: God is to be GLORIFIED because of His Holiness and Sovereignty.

The bowing down of the elders is significant by the manner in the way they addressed the One on the throne.  And that is significant for us, because they understand that it was not them worshipping them, but the One Who deserved the worship.

The TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS specifically represent the purpose of the redeemed humanity, which is to PRAISE and GLORIFY God, and this purpose is actually carried out not only by them in heaven, but also by the true community of FAITH on earth.

The BASIS OF FAITH is two-fold:  

One, God’s creation is based solely on His will and proceeds from it–and two, God’s POWER is revealed through creation, as demonstrated by the PRAISING recognition of His created beings.

The verses signify once again, depicting ALL that is going to happen in the coming future, and that He is absolutely HOLY; we can WORSHIP Him because He knows all that is going to happen.  As He is under control, we can worship Him in the “right now” as the result of knowing this.

In this case then, express who you are, to Who He is and allow Who He is to radiate who you are.  He created everything for His divine pleasures and that includes you reading this.

This glimpse of HEAVEN should remind all of us today, that ultimately, everything in this life is fleeting away.  But, in pursuit, we come to know that life is everlasting.

*Part Four to follow next week in Revelation Chapter 14:  “Rapture Ready”


 Footnotes, Credits, and Photos:

Footnote [i] – Exposition of Revelation (MP3 Series) by G. K. Beale at http://www.monergism.com

Photo Credits:  “JASPER” the revelation painting journals wordpress.com/; Revelation 4:2-3 God’s Throne Room courtesy of http://www.neverthirsty.org. ; Four Living Creatures, Google IMAGES.

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