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.

 

 

 

Our God Is So Awesome!

I received a message on Facebook Messenger a few weeks ago from my great grandkids with a question for their great grandpa.  Well, it was actually from their mother since Jaxon is 5 years old and Talon is only 3,

THE QUESTION:  “I challenge you to answer the boy’s question in your next blog:  Why is God so cool?  And what about Jesus too?”

It has been a long time since I’ve used the slang word, “Cool”, so before answering their questions, I decided to go to the internet to see if the definition of the word had changed over the years:

“COOL is an acronym abbreviation or slang word meaning AWESOME, GREAT.” (thesaurusyourdictionary.com/cool/awesome – slangs]

Now I’m sure there are many books and commentary written to answer the question of why God is so awesome, so great, so “cool”, but the best book ever is written gives exhaustive reasoning to my great grandkids question is the word of God, the Bible.

SCRIPTURE:  Isaiah 38:4-8; Isaiah Chapter 40:3-8 (9-24); 1 Samuel 17:36; 2 Peter 3:8-13; Psalm 34:18-19.

The Book of Isaiah tells us that God described himself to the Israelites because their king (Hezekiah) was a fickled king who couldn’t make up his mind whether to be loyal to God or not, consequently, the people were questioning their relationship with God.  It was then that God thundered to the people who He really is.

Isaiah 40:9-12 (Amplified Bible)

[9] O you who bring good tidings to Zion, get up to the high mountain.  O you who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with strength, lift it up, be not afraid; say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

[10]  Behold, the Lord God will come with might, and His arm will rule for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.  [11] He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arm.  He will carry them in His bosom and will gently lead those that have their young.  [12] Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, marked off the heavens with a [nine-inch] span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?

The largest seas in the world are nothing but a handful of water in God’s hands.  That’s AWESOME!  And really “cool” to a five and three-year-old.

Yet, have you ever been in a ship out in the ocean where you can’t see land?  Makes you feel rather small and helpless.

But to God, all those seas are like water in the palm of His hand.

The distance between planets and stars is far in our observance.

How far are galaxies from other galaxies?  If you are traveling at the speed of light as Luke Skywalker was able to accomplish in the Star Wars movie series, you couldn’t reach the end of the universe in your lifetime.

But the Bible tells us that God measures the diameter of the universe with the span of His fingers.  Yet God knows how many grains of sand that are on that beach you collected shells on last Summer.  Now that’s really “cool’!

Verses 13-14 asks:  “Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor?  Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way?  Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?”  [NIV Bible]

These verses tell us about God’s omniscience.  He’s ALL-KNOWING!

Where did God get His knowledge?  

Sometimes we’re impressed by people’s Ph.D.’s or those whose IQ is more than 200, but God’s IQ is infinite.  And here we are trying to make God fit into our prefabricated boxes instead of just opening ourselves up, dispensing with our vanity, and just asking Him to tell us about Himself.  Now that may be difficult to explain to a five and two-year-old boys, but reading out loud verses in the Bible with children about what an awesome God He is a good place to start.

Verse 15 declares:  “Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.”  [NIV]

Our God governs the universe and yet, He’s intimately involved in each of our lives.

Be careful not to think too highly of nations or those who govern.  Some people are tempted to elevate their leaders or governments to the level of God.  But the Scriptures tell us that they’re DUST particles on a scale–or found on a dust mop.

There are some educators today who relate God to the laws of science.  But God’s not a scientist who obeys scientific laws.

He’s the author and finisher of ALL laws and more.  This we see in Isaiah 38:1-8.

In case you don’t know what it means, turning back the sundial ten steps, it’s the same as adding two degrees–or forty minutes–to the length of day.  How “cool” is that?

In other words, our God not only created the universe, but He’s still actively in control of the universe.

He controls the movement of the planets and of time itself!  As it says in Luke 1:37, “For nothing is impossible with God.”

I think that’s where many Christians get stumped.  We know, in the abstract, that God can do anything, but we run into a problem that He’ll do anything for us.

The God of the Bible is a living Being–and a very personal one at that.

The Philistines worshipped gods as made of stone or wood.  The Israelites had forsaken God.  But to David, the Lord of all creation is a living God.

In 1 Samuel 17:36, David said to King Saul,  “I, your servant have killed both a lion and a bear!  Goliath the Philistine who is not circumcised will be like the lion or bear I killed.  He will die because he has stood against the living God!”  (International Children’s Bible).

The idea that God was real and alive had not entered the minds of the Philistines and most of Israel either.  They were worshipping gods of stone and wood; god’s devised by their own imaginations.

Isaiah 40:18-20 asks the question:

Maybe you’re thinking we don’t see Christians doing these things.  Wouldn’t it be a little weird to see your neighbor praying to his apple tree?  Or watch him peel an apple then offer it to a rock?  But that’s exactly what Isaiah’s talking about in ancient idolatry.

Today, there’s a different kind of idol worshipping.  Anytime you or I make a person, a god, an institution or anything else that’s equal to or higher than the LIVING GOD in our loyalties, our priorities, then we’re committing idolatry.  

That’s what IDOLATRY is; giving to anyone or anything the loyalty and devotion we should render to God and this includes anything that we feel deserves our time and resources more than our worship of God.

Did you know, we’re all born to be worshippers–even so-called atheists?  They may claim that they worship no god, but in God’s eyes they worship themselves or whatever it is that gives them pleasure.

If you think about it, Isaiah has a real sense of humor.  In verse 20 for instance, he’s saying, “Some of you are poor and you say that you don’t have gold to cover your idol.  Well if that’s the case, be careful of the wood you choose!  Your god may be eaten by termites.”  [paraphrased]

Then he says, “And by the way, be sure to nail your gods down or they may just fall off their pedestal and break!”

Well, God can’t be compared with a physical or human icon–a politician, movie star, or musician (the”American Idol”).  He’s very much alive, and He’s without faults, imperfections, or with failures.  All that He declares is accomplished.  And anything or anyone we put ahead of Him is bowing to deaf and dumb idols of ancient times.

Nevertheless, we do tend to put material things ahead of God.  Every time we make our jobs, our leisure time, our worries or our friends more important than our WORSHIP of God, we show that our view and estimation of God is lacking.

Isaiah 40:21-24 tells us,

  • Don’t you know? …Hasn’t it been told to you from the beginning?
  • It is HE who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants like grasshoppers (READ to your children the verses with “awe”!), (HE) who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them like a tent to live in…

God is not only incomparably “awesome” compared to idols, but He’s incomparably great in His relations with the rulers of this world!

  • …Who makes princes into nobodies, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing  

How “cool” is all that, Jaxon and Talon?

Let me wrap up my observations with THREE POINTS:

#1.  God is all Powerful, all Knowing and He’s everywhere! 

“His arm rules for Him.”  

God’s arm, His Son Jesus Christ, shows us God’s power.  With Jesus, nothing is impossible – be it mountains moved, problems to solve, or bodies to be healed.

He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.  Big words for a 3 and 5-year-old.  It means ALL powerful; Knows everything; He’s present everywhere, all at the same time.

#2.  God is a very personal LIVING Being.

“His reward is with Him.”

God is a very personal God whose greatest desire is a RELATIONSHIP with you.  He knows every pain (“owie”) you will have and sorrow as well as every joy and triumph that you’ll experience.  And He even listens to you–even if you don’t make sense.

#3.  God is the perfect loving Shepherd.

“He tends His flock like a shepherd.”

He shows you that He’s powerful…yet tender as a shepherd who will not abandon His sheep, and wherever He leads you, take you to His perfect PEACE.

 

 

 

Psalm 34:18, 19 reminds us,

Recognize that God is an AWESOME God in your daily lives.  And when you continually recognize and demonstrate His care for you, your children will follow.

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CREDITS:

Photo/Images:  Google Image search.

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

 

JUDGMENT is Good! (Part One in Series)

A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF MICAH

Scripture:  Micah 1:1-9; 1 Peter 4:17-18

Micah 1:1 (NIV)

[1]  The word of the LORD that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah– the vision saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.

The word here translated as “came” speaks of the Word ‘happening’ to Micah.  It was a ‘happening’–as unplanned and spontaneous.  It was a revelation!

Has that ever happened to you?  God speaks to you and a revelation occurs.

A PERSONAL ‘God-moment’ STORY:

Several years ago, the pastor at a church I was attending called me and asked if I could write a play, a skit, for the upcoming Easter season.  I tried to explain to him that my experience in stage productions was acting in a limited fashion, but writing a play?  His reply, “Do the best that you can,” and hung up the phone.

So for the next three days, I fervently prayed for direction and guidance from the Lord but my prayers seemed to go unanswered.  Until one very early morning, around 3 A.M., I felt a hand on my shoulder.  A clear, soft voice said, “Mel, wake up.  I’ve heard your prayers.”  Thinking I was dreaming, I rolled over to my other side.  Again, the hand and the voice,  “Get up and go into the dining room with paper and pen.  I have heard your prayer.”  Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I put my feet on the floor and quietly proceeded to the God designated room with paper and pen and sat down at the table in obedience.   Was all this a dream, was this really happening?  Time passed by quickly and at 6:30 A.M., “Mercy On Trial”, a three-act play on Christ’s death sentence, death, burial, and resurrection was written down in a draft.  Also, a clear picture that I could sketch on paper for the set design, costumes, and props.

What was absent to my dismay was a script.!  “What now, Lord?” asking out loud.

Silence.

And then a thought was placed in my spirit.  My daughter-in-law graduated from college with a major in communication and theater. Thank You, Lord.

I called her later that morning with my vision, God’s creation with directions and asked her if she could write God’s play with a script?  Her answer:   “How can I refuse?  When do you need it?”  ”

Would next week be too soon?” I asked sheepishly.  She giggled and answered,  “I’ll try.”   One month later after casting, set building, costuming, “Mercy On Trial” was performed for the first time on Easter morning.

Not everyone thinks in tidy terms, nor in a form of Systematic Theology that’s suppose to bring the orderliness to the Bible.  [*See https://www.theopedia.com/systematic-theology]

Micah not only had the Word of God “come” or “happen,” to him; it was the Word of God “which he saw.”

It’s not just that he heard God’s voice, but he was enabled to see into God’s mind.

The origin of the word describes the impact of pictorial thinking.  What Micah has now experienced and visualized, he now must translate into words to convey God’s message to man.

Micah’s prophecies began during the reign of three successive kings of Judah.

So in seven short chapters, we can see a summary of some fifty years of ministry.  I’d call that a ‘study in brevity’!

Micah’s prophecy concerned Samaria and Jerusalem, two capital cities in divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  However, Micah isn’t limited to time and space.  God’s Word never is.

The prophet goes on to address ALL people on the whole earth (verse 2).

[2]  “Hear, you peoples, all of you, listen, earth and all who live in it, that the SOVEREIGN LORD may bear witness against you, the LORD from His holy temple.”

According to 1 Peter 4:17-18, Micah seems to say that if the LORD deals with His own people, what shall the end of those be who oppress them!

Who does God call as the witness against the peoples?

He calls Himself, even the LORD from His holy temple (Micah 1:2-3).

He comes out of His place in heaven, from His holy temple, and treads upon the earth–the towering places of the earth where idolatry is widespread.

What is Idolatry?  Is it something that was just practiced in the Old Testament of the Bible?

“Idolatry” is “anything that is placed before or above the One, True God” [Footnote [i].]

Martin Luther is right; our hearts are idol factories, mine included.

At the time of Micah’s writing, the Assyrian armies were on the march.  As the instruments of God’s judgment, the whole earth shook before them.

Samaria would surely fall, her idols would be beaten to pieces.  The enemy reached even to the gates of Jerusalem, which the prophet vividly described to Judah’s high place.

The Reality of God’s Judgment.

God’s judgment on the world can be comparable to the verdict of a judge in a courtroom.  God’s universal position entitles Him to act as JUDGE.  And when God acts as JUDGE, it takes powerful and decisive actions (verse 4) –

Micah 1:4 (AMP):  And the mountains shall melt under Him and the valleys shall be cleft like wax before the fire like waters poured down a steep place.

These images portray God who comes to judge His people at His command ALL the powers of the universe.  From the beginning of Israel as a nation, God demanded absolute obedience to Him.  He prohibited allegiance to idols (Exodus 20:3).  Even in a casual reading of Samaria’s history, it discloses allegiance to idols.

Israel kept some idols of Canaan and they also utilized some of the idols of their foreign neighbors.  The LORD wouldn’t tolerate rivals; He responded in judgment.

IDOLATRY IS NOT OUTDATED!

It doesn’t belong to the superstition of ancient people.  Anything…and I mean anything that takes the place of God is an idol and the cause of God’s judgment of sin (verse 5).

[5]  All this is because of the transgression of Jacob and the sins of the house of Israel.  What is the transgression of Jacob?  Is it not [the idol worship of] Samaria?  And what are the high places [of idolatry] in Judah?  Are they not Jerusalem?  (AMP)

God’s people had committed sins against the LORD.

Micah didn’t name the specifics; he simply accused both Israel and Judah of offending God.  They deliberately rebelled against the LORD and failed to live up to His expectations.  Failing to attain God’s goal and plan for their lives made the people liable to the prosecuting action of the Judge.

God’s judgment isn’t simply an outburst of rage; one that we sometimes display as parents when our children are disobedient and rebellious.  God’s judgment is a settled disposition that resolves the issue of rebellion.  When we rebel and choose to go our own way, we can expect judgment from the LORD.

Learning from the Tragic Effects of Judgment (verses 6-7)

God’s judgment brings destruction

Micah referred to the destruction of the impressive city of Samaria in verse 6:  “Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble”

This impressive city, the reputation for its beauty and military strength, became nothing more than a hill.  The city wall toppled.  Future generations used the site to plant vineyards.

Human beings must beware of what they call security.

Feeling secure in wealth and military might lead to destruction.  Armies can be bested and cities can be destroyed.

God’s JUDGMENT can bring disappointment

The Israelites gave their allegiance to the idols of the day, and the idols were destroyed by the Assyrians.  They then had no place to turn.  They were not only defenseless but bitterly disappointed in their so-called gods.

God’s great grief in His judgment (v.v. 8-9)

God discloses His aching in judgment in verse 8:

“Therefore I [Micah] will lament and wail; I will go stripped and [virtually] naked; I will make a wailing like the jackals and a lamentation like the ostriches.”  [AMP]

God’s is portrayed by Micah as one distraught with grief by vivid pictures such as jackals howling and ostriches crying in the night to illustrate intense grief.  Micah draws back the veil that allows us to see God’s great grief over sin.

God discloses His sadness over one person’s failure and to learn from another person’s mistake.  (v. 9)

“For [Samaria’s] wounds are incurable and they come even to Judah; He [the Lord] has reached to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem.”  [AMP]

Not only was God hurt over Samaria’s failure, but He was also sad that Judah failed to learn from their neighbor’s mistake.

JUDGMENT WAS ABOUT TO COME!

Jerusalem was to face the consequences of judgment in the same way as Samaria.

God’s people stand at a unique place and time in history.  We possess the story of former generations.  The lesson is obvious; we ought to learn from the errors of their ways.

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i] :  “What Does dolatry Mean?” by Jack Wellman, The Christian Crier.

IMAGES:  Google Image Search, Settings advanced.

Youtube:  Law & Order theme music from television.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV), or where noted.

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

Making A Name For Oneself

As I was exiting a grocery store’s parking lot with my wife at the end of an exhausting day, I particularly noticed the car in front us had abruptly stopped.  Politely, they were allowing space for a car to enter traffic.  I mentioned to my wife what a nice, courteous gesture that was: “You don’t see that very often!”

At that point, noticing the welcoming offer of entering the busy road, it was either being rejected or the other driver was confused.  It reminded me of a TV commercial I often laughed at of “You go, no, you go!”

But on this trying day, my reaction was less humorous, saying  “What a Nimrod that guy is!”  for not entering the traffic.  With that regretted outburst, I sheepishly asked my wife where that expression comes from and the meaning behind it.  We left the question with puzzled looks on both our faces for a later time discussion.

And the Study Begins in Genesis 10:8-11; 11:1-9

The Etymology of Words

In some English-speaking countries, Nimrod is used to denote a hunter or warrior, because the Biblical Nimrod is described as “a mighty hunter”.

In American English, however, the term has acquired a derogatory meaning of “idiot”; “stupid”.

The Looney Tunes synonym.

In 1932, Looney Tunes accidentally portrayed and transformed the word Nimrod into a synonym for an idiot but nobody got the joke that sarcastically compared Elmer Fudd (the “hunter”) to the Biblical figure Nimrod (“a mighty hunter”).

 

The Religion of Nimrod

.

You can notice in the above verses that Nimrod’s very name means “rebel” or “we will rebel!”

Notice also the words in verse 9 “before the LORD”.  This phrase literally means “against God!”

Nimrod rebelled against the Lord and disregarded the past of the family.

Nimrod would have nothing to do with the faith of his ancestors.  Instead of learning from their experiences, he rebelled against their practices.

Family History of Nimrod

His grandfather Ham and great-grandfather Noah along with the others who survived the great flood left a great heritage for him to emulate.  Out of all mankind, they were the only ones who believed God.  They had found grace in the sight of Almighty God!

After the floods receded from the earth, the first thing his great-grandfather Noah did when he came from the ark was to build an altar, offer a sacrifice to the Lord, something that pleased the Lord.

Nimrod’s Actions…

His actions became the subject of a saying back in those days that Nimrod became a “mighty tyrant in the face of Jehovah.”

He was a “hunter” in the sense that he was relentless in searching out and persuading men to obey his will.

He was powerful in hunting and in wickedness before the Lord, for he was a hunter of the sons of men, and he said to them “Depart from the judgment of the Lord, and adhere to the judgment of Nimrod!”  Therefore is it said:  “This Nimrod the strong one, strong in hunting and in wickedness before the Lord.”  [See Footnote [i].]

When I was rebellious as a child, my mom would say…Mel, you’re stubborn as a mule or when I tell you something it goes in one ear and out the other.  But imagine if you can in Nimrod’s day…they might have said to a rebellious child…“You’re rebellious as Nimrod the mighty hunter who turned against God!”

I can see a bit of the “prodigal” in Nimrod.

He wanted to take care of himself.

He reminds me of the song of Frank Sinatra…“I did it my way”

Nimrod DISOBEYED God’s Principles.

God commanded Noah and his family when they stepped from the ark that they had a responsibility.

“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”

This didn’t just mean that God wanted the earth repopulated, but I believe also that He wanted to replenish the earth with people of faith.

Nimrod was content in making a name for himself.

He cared nothing for the kind of faith that his family before him had.  And as far as replenishing the earth…  I find no records in the scripture of Nimrod ever having any children of his own.

Nimrod’s Rulership (Genesis 10:10-11)

[10] The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad, and Kalneh, in Shinar.

[11]  From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah–which is a great city.

Nimrod made quite a name for himself upon the earth.

He was a selfish person whose desire was to prove that he didn’t have to depend upon God as had his family!  He would make it on his own!

The idea of “mighty hunter” shows his great skill and also his ambition.

He was a great sportsman but his greatest sport may have been that of hunting men.  If you have ever seen the movie series, “The Hunger Games”, where we may have a picture of his participation in the games.  Nimrod was no doubt a conqueror of men.

He established a kingdom (verse 10) rather than replenishing the earth.

Nimrod is determined to rule over his own domain, to make it as large as possible.

And what a kingdom it was!

Nimrod was the founder of the place called Babylon and surrounding areas which is modern-day Iraq.  All the cities mentioned in the above verses became major worship centers of many pagan deities including the “moon god”…”Allah”.

In Verse 11, we see a person whose main ambition, objective, and purpose in life is to be above others, to have more than others, and never satisfied.

Those who will make pleasure, power, and prestige their goal is never content no matter how much control they gain.

Nimrod isn’t content with what he established (verse 10) but goes forth now to Assyria (verse 11) and beyond building cities in Nineveh, Rehoboth, Calah, and Resen.  They all became worship centers for pagan deities.

Moving on to Chapter 11 we see furthered domination.

Genesis 11:3-4 (NIV)

“Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.”  They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.  then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

The person who would be a dictator can only be a dictator if the people below him are willing to follow.

Nimrod had quite a following!

Nimrod had been given quite a legacy to follow, but he rebelled against the idea and have no part in it.

His family had found grace in the eyes of the LORD, but he preferred trying to make it on his own merits.  His ambition…” to make a name for himself.”

GRACE glorifies the LORD while religion glorifies man!

Notice the drastic contrast between Noah and Nimrod.

Noah, Nimrod’s great-grandfather, built an ark so that his family might be saved!

Nimrod built a tower so that he could make a name!

We can see these two attitudes even today and at work in our society.  Some are concerned about the family structure, and the salvation of their family…children.  While others only concerns are about making a name.

Nimrod’s Religion was secular.

  • Genesis 11:3 –  And they said one to another…let us make brick.
  • Genesis 11:4 – And they said…let us build us a city.
  • Genesis 11:4 – and let us make a name.

God comes down to mankind that we might be lifted up to Him.

Nimrod and his religion say…let’s build our own way and let’s just do it on our own!  Sounds a bit like a commercial advertisement in today’s secular society.  “Just Do It!”

Nimrod’s religion was sinful.

We don’t often think of “religion” as being sinful.  There’s a common saying…”It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe something!”

That’s one of the most foolish concepts in the world.  It’s also what is one of the most destructive.

What we believe is important because it influences our behavior and most important it decides where we’ll spend eternity!

Nimrod’s religion was sinful because it was an utter rebellion against God!

His religion was sympathetic.

Nimrod’s religion was the beginning of the Universal Church movement.  It’s a religion that prevails in our society today.

It’s a religion that says, let’s put aside our beliefs and all come together.

It’s the religion that will embrace any type of belief and any form of behavior.

The most politically correct term of our day is “tolerance”.

It’s a word used and spoken in our kindergarten classes, from America’s pulpits, from the sidewalks and from the governmental buildings in Washington, D.C.

I want you to understand where I’m coming from in my writing.  We should be loving people and care that our attitude doesn’t come across as being hateful, and bigoted.

I GET IT!

And yet, at the same time we need to take a stand on what’s right and against what’s wrong.  we can and should be sympathetic toward the predicament of sinners, to those of other beliefs, but to embrace their beliefs and behavior is to put a blessing on the very thing that may lead to their destruction…both here and in eternity!

Nimrod’s religion is the harlot mentioned in Revelation 17.

The True Church is one that’s a bride without a spot and without a blemish.

The World’s Church is one that is a harlot–prostitute.  One that is filled with blasphemy, abominations, and filthiness!

Revelation 17:5  (AMP) – “And on her forehead, there was inscribed a name of mystery  [with a secret symbolic meaning]:  Babylon the great, the mother of prostitutes  (idolatresses)  and of filth and atrocities and abominations of the earth.”

NOTICE verse 6:

Revelation 17:6 (NIV) – “I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.”

Two dangerous attitudes in the churches:

“Don’t offend anyone!”

“Don’t get involved!”

THE RUIN OF NIMROD (Genesis 11:5-8)

The LORD Saw!

[5]  But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.

The LORD sees and knows everything, but when the scripture speaks…the Lord coming down to see for Himself, it denotes the seriousness of the matter!

There’s something we need to clearly understand.  God knows what’s going on both on earth and each of our hearts.  He knows whether our religion is sincere or whether it’s a substitute.

The LORD spoke!

[6]  The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”

He spoke out against their desire for a one world religion.

“Indeed the people are one, and they have one language”

He spoke out against their enterprise.

“This they began to do”

He spoke out against their evil.

“…nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined doing”

COMPARE this to Genesis 6:5 (NIV)

The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every indication of the thoughts of the human heart was deeply troubled.

The LORD scattered!  (verse 8-9 – AMP)

The phrase used in the Amplified Bible reads “scattered them abroad” is translated   “to dash onto pieces”.  The Lord dealt with them by confounding their languages where they could no longer communicate by dispersing them.

The LORD shattered!  (verse 8-9)

“…they gave up building”

The religion of man is doomed.  God shall one day scatter, and shatter the ‘New Order’.

For further reading on the topic, you might compare how God deals with the Great Harlot Babylon (Rome) in Revelation Chapter 18.

_____________________________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [I] :  The Jerusalem Targum.

Video:  4-Way Stop:  You Go, No You Go – Youtube.

Entymology of Words:  The term “Nimrod” in American slang:  “What is the meaning of the slang term “Nimrod”?  by Quora.

Images:  Google Image Search.

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

 

 

 

 

Planning to Fail (PART TWO)

SCRIPTURE STUDY – JAMES 4:13-17

Although there might be more, I discovered THREE words in this passage of Scripture that will help in finding God’s plan for every area of your life.

The FIRST word begins with the letter “C”.  CONFESSION.

CONFESS your sins.  Get your heart right with God if you want Him to lead you.

Psalm 66, VERSE 18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” 

In other words, you are wasting your breath if you PRAY unconfessed, unrepented of sin in your heart and in your life.  If you’re remembering and talking about the Great Prayer Promises in the Bible–that’s one of them.

1 John 1:5, 6 goes on to say, “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you:  God is light; in Him, there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet you walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.”  [NIV]

You see, if there’s SIN in our lives, rather than walking in the Light, we are stumbling in the dark.  Let me put in this way.  Do you have an IDOL in your life?  You say, “No, they worship ‘IDOLS’ over in foreign countries.  We don’t worship idols here.”

Really?

An IDOL is anything you love more than God.

An IDOL is anything you serve more than God.

An IDOL is anything that you fear more than God.

Here’s a verse of Scripture to ponder:

Ezekiel 14, VERSE 3 [AMP]

[3] Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and put the stumbling block of the iniquity (sin) and guilt before their faces; should I permit Myself to be inquired of at all by them?

That is, can these men who have IDOLS say, “God lead me?”

God says, “Look.  These men have idols in their hearts.  What right do they have to come to Me and ask Me to guide them?”

So, if you want to know God’s WILL for the future, number one, CONFESSION.  Make certain there’s no unconfessed, unrepented SIN in your life!  If that sounds strange, it’s not!  It’s normal living.

Number TWO is CONSECRATION.

The word “consecration” sounds a bit churchly to most.  In the Bible, the word means “the separation of oneself from things that are unclear, especially anything that would contaminate one’s relationship with a perfect God.”  [See footnote [i].]

It’s not enough to be CLEANSED; you need to be CONSECRATED!

Proverbs 3:6 READS, “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (NIV).

Do you really want to know God’s WILL in your life, or do you just want God to help you with your plans?

“In ALL your ways,” not some of your ways, acknowledge Him!

Number THREE – Listen.

You see, there’s a VOICE behind you.

I feel this is the most important.  Well, not the most important, but a vital thing and that’s concentration!

  • Confession, Consecration, Concentration.

LISTEN TO GOD!

There’s a Voice behind you.

There’s God GUIDING you with His eye.

The Holy Spirit is spoken of as a gentle dove, as a still, small voice.  That’s why we need that quiet time alone, away from the worldly noise, alone with Abba Father.

You might say, “Well, God never speaks to me!”  One would have to be foolish to deny that there’s no music in the air just because you have the radio turned off.

God is speaking.  Are you listening?  Or do you keep interrupting the conversation with all the “Yeah, but’s”?

BEWARE of this godless planning.

BEWARE of self-centered planning, okay?

Not only should you beware of self-centered planning, but you need to be aware of self-confident presumption.

Our lives are but a VAPOR.

The words, “…what is your life…you are but a mist [a vapor]…”; it’s the word atmos.  It’s where we get the English word, Atmosphere from. It’s like that foggy breath you see when you [the Word Detectivie] walk the dog on crisp, cold air, days in the Fall.  It’s there for a little while, and then it vanishes.

We don’t know what the FUTURE holds.

This may be the year you check out of here.  You may be going to heaven, or this may be the year you’re going to hell if you don’t know Jesus as your Savior.  This may be your final year on earth.  You don’t know.

Now I know what you’re probably thinking right now.  You think “Well, I’m in good health.  I’m young, I’m this, I’m that.”  But you don’t know, do you?

What is your life?

It’s but a VAPOR that appears for a little while then vanishes away.  And what we all need to be aware of is not only self-centered planning, but being AWARE of self-confident presumption–thinking we’re going to do this, or we’re going to do that before we leave this old earth and we get frivolous with our use of time.

Proverbs 27:1 says “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

So as you PLAN THE FUTURE, you should say, “Lod God, I don’t know what the future is, I don’t know how much more time I have.  So Lord, help me to apply my days unto wisdom.  And Lord, may I live out the rest of my days, whether they be few or whether they be many, may they be used for You.”

To Kill Time is Suicide by Degree.

Don’t presume upon the time that you have.

Here’s the THIRD thing you need to beware of in your planning.

Not only self-centered planning, not only self-confident presumption BUT perhaps the most dangerous of all…you NEED to beware of SELF-COMPLACENT PROCRASTINATION.

You got to notice where James is headed here in the passage. [verses 15-17]

[15] You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that [thing]. 

[16] But as it is, you boast [falsely] in your presumption and your self-conceit.  All such boasting is wrong. 

[17] So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin.  [AMP]

Now, here’s a man who knew what he should do, BUT…he didn’t do it.

He’s boasting in himself all that he’s done.  He became complacent.  

He’s AWARE of God’s WILL, but he doesn’t want to do it.

PROCRASTINATION MAY BE THE BIGGEST PROBLEM THAT MOST OF US HAVE TODAY. 

It’s a very deceptive SIN.  Many of us think we’re doing good if we don’t do the ‘dirty dozen’ sins.  You know, we have our own little list of sins, and we say, “Well, I don’t do any of those things, thank God!  I’m fine.”

But most of us don’t think of Procrastination as a sin:  [17] So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it,,, it’s a SIN.

Now most of us don’t believe that, but I believe it with all of my heart.  The Bible teaches it.  The Bible teaches that the sins of OMISSION are greater than the sins of COMMISSION.  Let me try to explain.

The SIN of OMISSION, the SIN of PROCRASTINATION is such a dangerous and deceptive sin.  It’s the reason that so many people are lost.

Why do people go to HELL today?  Because they steal, commit adultery? NO!  Oh, those are sins worthy to damn us, but those sins have been PAID for!

The REASON a person is LOST today, simply put, is because he’s FAILED to do what he ought to do.

John 3:18, Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”  [NIV].

No longer is MAN condemned to hell because he’s a sinner, because those SINS have been paid for.  “He that BELIEVES in Him [Jesus] is not condemned, but he that does not believe is condemned already…”  WHY?  Because he has NOT believed.  It is the SIN OF OMISSION now that sends a soul to hell.

The REASON that people have WRONG THINKING is that of the sin of omission.

The reason that homes break up, THE SIN OF OMISSION.

The reason that churches fall, it is THE SIN OF OMISSION, failing to do what needs to be done.

You say, “Well, one of these days I’m going to do such and such.”

You have SIN in your heart!  “…to him that knoweth to do good and doeth not, to him it is a SIN” (KJV).

Thinking about your FAILURE –

No one likes to FAIL, so ‘planning to fail’ must seem to be out of the question in your life.

While thinking about your future, BEWARE of self-centeredness, don’t leave God out of your plans.

BEWARE of self-confident presumption.  You don’t have a promise of tomorrow.  Your LIFE is but a VAPOR, a MIST!

What you are going to do, DO!

If you think about your future, BEWARE of self-complacent procrastination, saying, “You just wait and see. One of these days I’m going to do it!”  “So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin” (AMP).

So, do you want to face your future with positive results?

“NO FAILING HERE!”

Face your future then by giving your HEART, MIND, and SOUL to Jesus Christ and letting the Holy Spirit be in you to GUIDE, SHOW you and give you a HOPE that is wonderful and glorious.

If I had a thousand lives to live, I’d give them ALL to Jesus.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i]:  “What does the Bible say about consecration?” @ GotQuestions.org.

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search, Settings, advanced search.

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

 

 

 

 

Our Church “Behavior” Should Be An Extension of Worship

THE PROPER ATTITUDE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD: 

A Study In FIRST TIMOTHY.

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

STUDY TIME –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHO IS THE “CONGREGATION”?

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

THE CONGREGATION IS A FAMILY–

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

Leadership Responsibilities-

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

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

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

“Family” CONFLICTS –

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

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

To live above with the saints we love

Oh, that will be glory.

To live below with the saints we know,

Well, that’s another story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul has written,

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

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

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

In Christ Jesus, the CONGREGATION is being built.

AND…

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

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

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

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

The Psalmist is correct when he writes:

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

[Psalm 33:12, NIV]

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

THE CONDUCT EXPECTED–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking at the CONDUCT…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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~ CREDITS ~

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

Photos & Images:  Google Image search, Advance settings.

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

 

People Show Up In Unexpected Places Doing Unexpected Things!

Scripture Study:  Amos 1:1-2; 7:10-16

Have you ever noticed how sometimes people arise out of the strangest corners of society, making a great splash, getting involved in things you never expected, and doing quite well at it?

Take for example Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest men in the world, who in his 30’s, soft-spoken, came out of nowhere, a college drop out and started “Microsoft”.

It happens with political figures and it happens in sports.  When people like this show up on the scene making a big splash, and succeed, generally it’s a pleasure to watch it all unfold.  It also makes good fodder and coffee shop talk.

But sometimes, it can be quite annoying, as well.

People show up in unexpected places doing unexpected things, and we don’t like it.

They can be intimidating. They’re a nuisance.  It rubs us the wrong way; it goes against the grain.

Take AMOS, in the Bible –

A PROPHET who came out of nowhere into a Nation going along quite smoothly at the time, speaking a MESSAGE that was…quite disturbing?  And doing it rather effectively.

The people didn’t appreciate him!

The authorities certainly were irritated!!

Understanding Conditions In The Time of Amos –

HE PROPHECIED…

Amos 1:1-2 (AMP) –

[1] THE WORDS of Amos, who was among the herdsmen and sheep masters of Tekoa, which he saw [in divine revelation] concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.  [Zech. 14:5.]

[2] And he said, The Lord roars out of Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem; then the pastures of the shepherds mourn and the top of [Mount] Carmel dries up.  [Isa. 42:13; Jer. 25:30; Joel 3:16].

GOD’S WORD OARS LIKE A LION

AMOS began prophesying during the reigns of King Uzziah and Jeroboam II around 760-750 BC.

It was a time of great prosperity in the land.

If Israel and Judah had the Stock Market back then, it would have been breaking all previous records.

Economically, politically, and militarily, things were going well for both Israel and Judah.

However, all that said, it was also a time for IDOLATRY…extravagant indulgences in luxurious living, immorality, corruption, and oppression of the poor.

ISRAEL, God’s chosen people, were living high on the hog.  They knew it and were smug about it.

Now the GLORY was present alright and the Israelites figured by looking around at all their successes, God was on their side.

They deserved the BLESSINGS they got.  Nobody and nothing would ever take it away!

Into that kind of cesspool of SIN & ARROGANCE stepped Amos, one shepherd of Tekoa.

Don’t think of Amos in the same breath as the shepherds of Bethlehem–a lowly bunch of farm hands, rejected by the population at large.

The word used in chapter one for “shepherd” is also used with the reference to the King of Moab–2 Kings 3-4.  There its translated as “raiser of sheep”.  [footnote [1].]

Amos, like the King of Moab, was a sheep dealer or trader, one significantly more wealthy than a mere shepherd or hired hand.

Amos was a man of means.  That’s also verified in chapter 7 of Amos (Amos 7:12-14).  

He is not into it for the cash.  “I was a herdsman and took care of sycamore-fig trees.”

A Shepherd Gone ‘NUTS’? …

In study and putting things together about Amos…it appears that he was a man of diversity; rather a wealthy agriculturist of sorts.

Now it is this man, who knew his livestock, who had diversified his interests of fruit-growing, that was CALLED BY GOD and compelled by the Holy Spirit to speak to Israel.

Into a nation with a well-established system and hierarchy of prophets and priests and kings, a nation of wealth and power and terrific esteem wanders this merchant from Judah–an unlikely man with an unlikely MESSAGE in an unlikely way!

“Are you nuts, Amos?”

Why, do you think, he does it?

I had to ask the question myself.

Why lay aside a profitable business to head north and then rip a strip off of the people who could easily ruin him economically, or even kill him at the drop of a hat?

Let’s face it.  Being a PROPHET coming out with guns blazing on God’s behalf as Amos does, was no small matter.  It wasn’t without considerable risk!

Amos was quite aware and acquainted with the culture of the day from all his business trips within the borders of Israel and her surrounding heathen neighbors.  The practices and injustices of the day would have been seemingly obvious to him.

And then, as one unknown bible teacher remarked,  “One day the word of the Lord came to him.  Amos heard God speaking to him, just as clearly as one might hear a lion roaring in the wilderness of Judah.  God had a task for Amos; he was to speak to Israel.  He was commanded to bring a message from God as he made his trips to the markets.  In God’s name, he was to protest against the sins of Israel.  He was to announce God’s judgments.”  

Amos 7:15 (AMP)…

[15]  And the Lord took me as I followed the flock and the Lord said to me, “Go, prophesy to My people Israel.”

As had happened before…

Happened again to other men and women in the history of God’s people.

God’s Holy Spirit spoke to Amos’ spirit giving him an unmistakable MESSAGE of what would happen if things didn’t change quick.

It came in the form of thoughts, strong compulsions, and vivid visions.

POWERFUL…Like the ROAR OF A LION!  (Amos 1:2)

And AMOS couldn’t–he just couldn’t–ignore and leave it alone!

If A LION ROARS…who doesn’t fear?

If GOD SPEAKS…who can BUT go out in OBEDIENCE & PROPHECY?

This was a rare occurrence.  Amos lived in the Old Testament era, where the movement of the Holy Spirit within someone was rare.  Only a select few were touched by the LORD.  Only a select few ever received guidance from Him.

Amos lived in the same covenantal age as did Moses, who cried out “Are you jealous for my sake?  I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit on them!”  (Num. 11:29 – NIV)

So this unlikely candidate–a farmer, not a PK (preacher’s kid), not a seminary student or a son of a priestly family, or someone with a prophetic lineage–this unlikely candidate heads out with a message of the Lord, a stern message!

THE LION ROARED through Amos…(verse 2)

Mount Carmel would wither.

CARMEL, was, by the way, an important mountain in Israel, a place of great fertility–strategic for agriculture, a symbol of the lands well-being.

Their  ‘well-being’, in other words, was about to come to a screeching halt.

So as you might suspect, Amos’ message wasn’t well received.  That is extremely clear when looking at Amaziah’s response to the MESSAGE in Chapter 7.

Amaziah represented the Israelite establishment, the power-brokers.  He was an office-bearer, anointed as PRIEST, representative of the King.

Here comes AMOS…

Amos’ message condemns the religious life of the people in which Amaziah was in charge of caring for that “religious life.”  Of course, he’d be upset.  I mean, who wants to hear negative things said about you and your people?  If God wanted to speak, let Him do it through the proper, designated channels.

Says Amaziah,  “Go home, Amos.  Take your silly games and pronouncements and go back to Judah.  Quit dabbling in what you don’t know anything about.”

Amos responds, “Sorry.  No can do.  When God says ‘Go’, you don’t say ‘No’.  Oh, and by the way…Your goose is cooked!”

AMOS, A Fellow Colleague of Ours –

Yes, I said that.  A fellow prophet, just as we are PROPHETS!

I mentioned that Amos lived in the time when the Spirit of God came only occasionally to people, the time when few were prophets.

That has all changed!

The CRY of Moses,  “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!”  has been answered.

PENTECOST has come.

The Holy Spirit has descended and indwells ALL who are BELIEVERS in Christ Jesus.

As Peter says in Acts 2:

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall PROPHESY [telling forth the divine counsels], and your young men shall see visions (divinely granted appearances), and your old men shall dream [divinely suggested] dreams”  (Acts 2:17 in the Amplified Bible).

WE ARE IN THAT AGE–every believer a PROPHET.  You and me too!

In many ways we are like Amaziah,  We like things neat and orderly.  If messages of a spiritual nature have to be spoken, let them come in the right way at the right time from only the right people.  Anything else is somewhat irksome…or, we shrug it off as irrelevant.  We read scripture that says, “Always be prepared to give an account of the hope that is within you”;

AND…

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though Christ were making His appeal through us”; and somehow we seem to always manage to discount that.

  • I’m no good at that.
  • That’s the job for the Pastor.
  • I don’t know anyone I could speak to.

We might even mutter under our breath, “Who do they think they are, anyway?  Who gave them the authorization?” — words that echo Amaziah’s words, “Who does this sheep-herder think he is, anyway?”

Do we stand as BELIEVERS more with Amos or Amaziah?

Are we willing to take up the mantel…to accept the fact that being a Christian in the New Testament age means to have the Holy Spirit, and to have the Holy Spirit means that we are Prophets and that we are PROPHETS means, WE MUST SPEAK!!!

We find ourselves in a day and age relatively complacent and comfortable in our beliefs.

In the midst of that COMFORT, there are people wandering in all manner of spiritual directions…

IN DARKNESS, away from a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.  The end result of the wanderings is certain–DEATH.

Though they may not hear it themselves, THE WORD OF GOD ROARS LIKE A LION, searing the top of Carmel.

That WORD has been given to us!

So as Amos replies to Amaziah with a somewhat sarcastic retort,  “How can we BUT prophecy?”  

IT WON’T BE EASY…

The reaction from others is often similar to Amaziah’s reaction to Amos’ message.

And so the question for you and I as we stand in the tradition of AMOS is:

  • To whose DRUMBEAT will we march?
  • Whose CALL will we listen?
  •  For whom will we SPEAK?

It’s going to feel awkward, strange, even out-of-place at first. 

But then, it wasn’t much different with Amos.

And the God who called him, who spoke through him, who cared for him in the entire process, is the same Living Creator God who CALLS US, and who promises to care for us as we walk into our communities as PROPHETS of His, SPEAKING His Word…

– –  At the grocery store,

—  At the coffee shop,

—  In our neighborhoods.

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** CREDITS & FOOTNOTES **

Footnote [1]:  “Shepherd” – Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary – Old Testament words.

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

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

In the Words of Humpty Dumpty… “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean”

A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF JUDGES…Chapters 17-18 –

The Following From “Through the Looking Glass”

Humpty Dumpty and Alice were having an in-depth conversation about birthday presents.  Because Humpty Dumpty’s physical appearance (no neck and no waist), Alice had made a remark about his beautiful belt and was promptly corrected to “a beautiful cravat.”  Evidently Humpty Dumpty was very angry though he said nothing for a minute or two.

Evidently Humpty Dumpty was very angry though he said nothing for a minute or two.  He informs Alice that his “cravat was a present from the White King and Queen.  “They gave it to me–for an un-birthday present.”

“I beg your pardon?”  Alice said with a puzzled air…I mean what is an ‘un-birthday present’?”  

“A present given when it isn’t your birthday, of course.”

Alice considered for awhile, “I like birthdays best.”  

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!” cried Humpty Dumpty.  “How many days are there in a year?” 

“There are three hundred and sixty-five,” said Alice.

“And how many birthdays have you?” 

“One.”

“And if you take one from three hundred and sixty-five, what remains?”

“Three hundred and sixty-four, of course.”

Humpty Dumpty looked doubtful at Alice’s math.  “I’d rather see that on paper,” he said.  

Alice couldn’t help smiling as she took out her memorandum-book, and worked the sum for him.

365

-1

364

Humpty Dumpty took the book and looked at it carefully.  “That seems to be done right.”

“You’re holding it upside down,” Alice interrupted.

“To be sure I was!”  Humpty Dumpty said as she turned it around for him.  “That surely shows that these are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents.”

“Certainly,” said Alice.

“And only ONE for birthday presents, you know.  There’s glory for you!”

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled…”Of course, you don’t–till I tell you.  I meant there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”

“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,” Alice objected.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master–that’s all.”

[See Footnote [i] ]

It seems a bit silly, doesn’t it?  “When I use a word it means whatever I choose it to mean?”  What would life be like with no absolute, no certainties, nothing to measure oneself by.

The Bible tells us that there was a time just like that when people measured themselves…by themselves.  The Book of Judges points this out for us to meditate on:

Judges 17:6 (NIV) –  In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

Sound familiar?

SCRIPTURE FOUND IN JUDGES 17 –

 

Spiritual Anarchy Always Results In MORAL Collapse –

It follows this pattern:

  1. You have a person with no moral compass.
  2. They meet another person with no moral compass.
  3. They multiply their SIN and spiritually bankrupt themselves and a DANGER to others.

A Pathetic Story is unveiled.

Son of a wealthy family…looking for the easy way out.  MICAH didn’t want to wait for inheritance…didn’t want to work for anything…saw what he wanted…and with no moral compass…took it.

JUDGES 17:1o indicates that ten shekels of silver a year was an adequate wage.

[10]  And Micah said to him, “Dwell with me and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver each year, a suit of clothes, and your living…”  (AMP)

Therefore, 1,100 shekels was a great fortune (vs. 2).

But without the true belief in God, Micah fell prey to superstition, feared his mother’s curse and so confessed his sin.  

And it was easy to pick up on how this young man got there…A THIEF.  He learned it at his mother’s knee.  She stole 900 shekels from God.

I see one of the true tragedies of our times where so many parents who are steering through some sort of MORAL FOG of relativism…having no moral bearings or compass to pass on to their children.  So, their children get deeper and deeper into the FOG.

I see my own extended family…PARENTS abandoning the church, the Word, and the faith.  What is left…NO ABSOLUTES…just relativism.

And the grandchildren parents…the relativism doesn’t match the relativism of their friends, so they pick and choose.  There’s no king, no absolute or higher law…so they do what is right in their own sight.

Notice in the verses, how the mother didn’t even correct her son for stealing.  How could she–a THIEF herself!  Not only was she guilty of failing to do right by him…she was guilty of leading him to sin.  She was the one responsible for getting him into IDOLATRY.

EXODUS 20:4-5 (NIV)

[4] “You shall not make for yourself an idol; in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  [5] You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.”

This is what happens when you combine two hearts and minds, both wicked and neither having principles…The SIN is multiplied…IDOLATRY.  That’s the reason God wants us to have Christians friends, partners, and spouse.  Two persons without MORAL COMPASSES combine their SIN and then you become spiritually bankrupt, spiritually malnourished and starving.

God’s ANGER burned against Micah, his mother, and now Micah’s son.

That’s the Nature of Sin…it always takes you farther than you wanted and always keeps you longer than you wanted.  It always involves others.

MICAH consecrated one of his sons to be his Priest.  Sin because ONLY God can consecrate someone as a priest.  MICAH and his mother have now dragged Micah’s son into the quagmire.

But Micah wasn’t finished yet…his SIN would get much deeper, endangering many more people.

Here’s a 2nd Sad Case… we have a person who is a Levite but not a priest (not in the lineage of Aaron) but he is masquerading as a priest.  He’s dissatisfied with his position and his inheritance.

When Israel was divided among the 12 tribes…

The tribe of LEVI is the only one who didn’t receive a territory–they received 8 cities.  They received no land and were to be supported by the tithes of the other 11 tribes.  A LEVITE would never own land or have riches.

But the LEVITE wanted more and left Bethlehem (17:8).

He had determined that he would go whereever…do whatever and make a name and fortune.  He had lost his moral/spiritual compass, what’s right and wrong…resolutions, different from Micah.

MICAH never had a compass, but the Levite did.

The LEVITE and MICAH meet (17:9-13).

This was an accident waiting to happen meeting another accident waiting to happen!

THE RESULT: BIG BANG!

Micah wanted a proper Levitical priest (to get God’s favor) and the Levite wanted fortune and fame.  They were a perfect match…made in Hell!

The LEVITE was a member of the CLERGY…not a priest.

He wasn’t supposed to be a PRIEST…not from the priestly family.  In Numbers 16, God caused the ground to swallow a LEVITE that tried to be a priest.

BUT HE WAS HAPPY!

He had been dissatisfied with his position God had placed him in for his life, and now, he was determined to make his own plans and he was happy…at least for a while.

He was serving an IDOL, sacrificing to an IDOL, leading others in the process to do the same.  The Levite had moved beyond the sins of PRIDE and INGRATITUDE…was now in the big leagues…IDOLATRY.

Now he was spiritually destroyed and in danger to others around him.  But his sin had not reached its peak.

3rd Sad Story (Judges chapter 18)

 

Scripture tells us that the tribe of Dan was seeking an INHERITANCE  ” for themselves”  (verse 1).  They were not satisfied with God’s plan.  And God’s PLAN for them: He had given the land between Ephraim and Judah, stretching to the Mediterranean Sea.

It wasn’t as they claimed, that God had not given them a territory to possess, but rather that they chose NOT to possess it because that would cause them to have to defeat the Amorites living there.  Their FAITH in God’s promises was lacking.

They loved the junk-food of easy living.  

“GOD’S WAY IS TOO HARD…WE WANT AN EASIER WAY!”

That’s what Micah said…that was what the Levite said…now Dan says it.

And today it is the CRY of Society…God’s way is too hard, too demanding…we want a new God.

So the tribe of Dan left their homes in the Promised Land and sought a new, easier place to live.  They left their COMPASS of absolute right and wrong…lost in relativism.  That’s where they were when they met the LEVITE, another one without a COMPASS.

REMEMBER: they are guilty of disobedience, lack of faith, fear, and last but not least…LAZINESS.

They are looking for a god to stamp–validate their plans, and the Levite is looking to move up…BIG BANG!

They took the Levite to be THEIR Priest and the gods of Micah to be their own.

Look how steep the slope has become…

It started with a SINFUL MOTHER with no principles, no king, and she was in danger.

She led her son into IDOLATRY.

MICAH became spiritually bankrupt and dangerous to others.

Micah led the Levite into IDOLATRY.

The LEVITE became spiritually bankrupt, malnourished and dangerous to others.

The Levite led Dan into IDOLATRY.

The Story Is the Same…Only the Names Change Throughout History.

Eve lost her COMPASS…met the serpent with no compass, fell into SIN…danger to others.

Samson lost his COMPASS…met women with none…fell into SIN…danger to others.

David, Solomon, Jacob, the list goes on.

When you get to the point where you are no longer satisfied with God’s way because it’s too hard, it doesn’t give you what you want, it’s NOT fun…then you decide to choose your own way of doing things…you toss away the COMPASS…absolute right and wrong.

You’re bound to run into others like yourself.

Together, you will get more LOST, deeper into SIN.  You too will become morally/spiritually BANKRUPT.  You become a danger to others and you have NO COMPASS.

WHAT’S THE CURE?

You’ve got to hold on to the COMPASS, no matter what!

What is the COMPASS?

The Word…the Holy Spirit.

As long as you have the Word of God in your heart, Holy Spirit in the driver’s seat, and not deceived by the bogus teachings or promises of the world.

But it all starts right here…Satan’s first move is to get you off the straight and narrow; to give up the COMPASS…the ABSOLUTES.  

To accept RELATIVISM…” the doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society…is not absolute” (Google dictionary).

  • All roads lead to God,
  • All religions are the same.
  • Each person must decide for self what is right and wrong,
  • Other religions have their bibles,
  • There are no ABSOLUTES.

With it, he has you!

No matter how good your reasoning and rationale might seem, if God calls it SIN…then it’s SIN.

We need to make sure that as Christians, we never slide into the category of “Doing what is right in our lives.”  

That we never define our actions with the attitude “Whenever I use a word it means whatever I choose it to mean,” said Humpty Dumpty scornfully.

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FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Footnote [i] :  Alice in Wonderland – Wiki – Humpty Dumpty a novel by Lewis Carrol and Who Says It’s Right?  by Denn Guptill, Jan. 5, 2004.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – advanced SETTINGS.

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

 

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.

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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…

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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].

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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)

Where is God when things go wrong?

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TEXT for this Blog: Habakkuk 2:1-20

This weeks blog-post all began with a question my nephew-in-law proposed.  He was commenting on and trying to get a discussion started on Facebook.  Now there’s a challenge.

The QUESTION:  “If God is real, why would he create us to watch us destroy ourselves and the world?”

It was interesting to read some of the comments and answers to his question–which in turn, prompted me to search out answers found in God’s Word: Where IS God when things seem to be deteriorating all around us?

When you ask a question, what do you want?  

I know what I want–I want an answer!  Not only that, I am fussy.  I would like the right answer as well!!

In the Book of Habakkuk, we notice right away, there is a DIALOGUE going on between the prophet and God.  In today’s religious circles, we might call it, CONVERSATIONAL PRAYER (I do, anyhow).

We can plainly see that Habakkuk is looking for ANSWERS from God.  As he watches the faithlessness of his nation’s people, he wonders why God doesn’t change it.

So, HABAKKUK complains about God’s seeming lack of concern.

But…

IN CONTEXT– When the prophet COMPLAINS of God’s INACTIVITY, God gives him an ANSWER that distresses him even more.

JUDGMENT!!!

God is going to send the wicked nation of Babylon as an instrument of judgment.  Now that is definitely NOT the answer Habakkuk was looking for.

In fact, he finds it hard to believe that God would use an even more sinful and evil people to establish His righteousness (Do you know any people, leaders who you think could be evil?).

For Habakkuk, this seems inconsistent.  It doesn’t make sense.  But he doesn’t give up on God.

Learning to Wait!

WATCHTOWER
WATCHTOWER

(verse 1):  “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the rampart; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” [N.I.V. Bible]

GROWING CONFIDENCE –

Proverbs 3:5  Amplified Bible:  

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

“WATCH” = a military term.

HABAKKUK CONSIDERS HIMSELF A MILITARY MAN THAT LOOKS FAR OFF –

The Need for a Better Perspective–

At this point, Habakkuk is reserving any more comment until he understands.  For as confusing as he thought God’s INACTIVITY was, His ACTIVITY is even more confusing.

So Habakkuk comes to the conclusion that not ALL WORKINGS of God can be understood by our own reasoning.  He would agree with Solomon when he wrote:

“TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART

AND LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING.”

HABAKKUK MOVES TO THE HIGH TOWER –

What a great vantage point in getting yourself above and away from the world’s distractions.  Habakkuk is no longer doing all the talking–he’s listening!  He is no longer arguing–“Why not?”–“What for?”–he is submitting.

So…

God Responds to Habakkuk’s Waiting  (verses 2-3)…

“And the LORD answered me and said, Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by.  For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint.  Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day.”

God wants His ANSWER to be permanently recorded because… of future generations who are going to read it (or, should read it).

God says, ‘Mark my words!  Mark it down!’

I love God’s last statement.  Oh, how impatient we get for answers to our prayers.  God literally says, “Though it delay…it will not delay.”

Simply put; Though the timing is not ours…it is not a delay in God’s timing.  He is in control!!!  There are not random circumstances.

Our CONFIDENCE on Display –

How can we become CONFIDENT in our asking?

GOD IS MERCIFUL:

God gives us a contrast here in Scripture:  BABYLON thinks that they are powerful, but in reality, foolish.

God wants us living by FAITH–

It is not what I do that puts me in right standing with God; I will never be good enough.  But instead, I need to LIVE A LIFE of Dependence on God.

– WE MAKE IT BY FAITH.

– WE MAKE IT LIVING IN ASSURANCE of God’s Grace.

When we are not living by FAITH, God, in His MERCY will go to extraordinary means to get us there!  I don’t know about you, but that sure gives me CONFIDENCE!!

God is always working for our best.  The truth is, however, when God works for our best interest, often we go through a very painful process of acknowledging the TRUTH.

AN “ALLIGATOR STORY” –

It takes DISCIPLINE going through the process…

Several years ago on a hot summer day in south Florida, a little boy decided to go for a 1437516296_0ccededa8aswim in an old swimming hole behind his house.

Being in a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind his shoes, socks, and shirt on the floor.

He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an ALLIGATOR was swimming toward the shore.

His mother–in the house was looking out the window–saw the scene unfolding before her eyes.  In utter fear, she ran toward the water yelling to her son as loudly as she could.

Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed, making a U-turn to swim to his mother.

IT WAS TOO LATE!

Just as he reached her, the ALLIGATOR reached him.

From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by his arms, just as the ALLIGATOR snatched his legs.  The incredible tug-of-war began.

The ALLIGATOR was much stronger but the mother was much to passionate to let go.

A farmer happened to drive by and heard her screams.  He raced from his truck, took aim, and shot the ALLIGATOR dead!

Remarkably, after weeks in the hospital care, the boy survived.  His legs were extremely scarred and on his arms, were deep scratches from his mother’s fingernails that .dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved.

A newspaper reporter interviewed the boy after the trauma and asked if he would show him his scars.  The boy lifted his pant legs.  And then, with obvious pride, said to the reporter,  “But look at my arms.  I have great scars on my arms, too.  I have them because my Mom wouldn’t let go!”

We Have Scars, Too!

Some of those scars are from our own foolishness because they are unsightly, causing deep regret.

But some wounds are because of God, in His Mercy, has refused to let go!  He will go through extraordinary means to get us where we need to be, even if it’s PAINFUL.

WE CAN BE CONFIDENT BECAUSE GOD IS MORAL (verses 5-19) –

(verse 14):  “But [the time is coming when] the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

God desires to REVEAL Himself…

As we know Him better, we discover He is holy!

When we know God, we understand HIS STANDARD.  He is a holy God and rightly condemns SIN.

Throughout this section of Chapter 2, we find the description of SIN as practiced and lived by the nation of BABYLON.

God is telling HABAKKUK that He knows they’re bad–they are evil.  And yet, God’s own people were headed down the same PATH.

God hast to stop them, discipline them. get them back where they belong…LIVING BY FAITH!  They needed to be a people who live by faith!!  (2 Cor. 5:7; Eph. 2:8; Heb. 11:6).

So…

GOD REVEALS THE FAITHLESS PATHS THAT THE COUNTRY IS ON:

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HEADING DOWN THE WRONG PATH IN OUR LIVES:

THE PATH of GREED (5-8):

Babylon is never satisfied.  It is always gathering and collecting for itself; It makes itself rich carrying out material pursuits in a way that shuts out all other concerns.

THE PATH OF INJUSTICE (9-11):

I found it interesting in my studying, the verses that the road from righteousness changed direction to a path of wickedness.  A Nation full of people who are outraged by the SIN around them.  And yet, they’re still characterized by INJUSTICE because they tolerate the SIN that is within them.  They not only sin against others, but also sin against themselves.

This is the type of INJUSTICE that is spoken of here:

It’s the breaking of one’s own MORAL CODE.

A PATH OF SENSUALITY (15):

HEARTS that are adrift in sexual permissiveness–

There exist a carelessness in the society during Habakkuk time; of sexual activity, instead of seeing it in its proper sacred place (Sound familiar?).

Finally, the PATH is one of…

DOWN THE ROAD OF IDOLATRY (18-19):

SIN doesn’t go unpunished (verse 16)–

Babylon was serving the creature rather the Creator.

They sought their own substitute which demonstrated their own ignorance of REALITY–

– It was a god of their own making…

– It was a god in their own image…

Yes, there were deliberate failures made when it came down to God’s standards, but they too would learn.  SIN doesn’t go unpunished.

And this was the message that God has for Babylon (16):

“You will be filled with shame and contempt instead of glory…”

Their own SIN will find them out!  God is going to have the last Word!!

GOING DOWN THE RIGHT PATH gives the confidence we need:

WE CAN FIND CONFIDENCE IN GOD BECAUSE HE IS MAJESTIC (20)

Note the end of God’s  MESSAGE to HABAKKUK in verse 20:

“But the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth hush and keep silence before Him.”

GOD is very present!!!

– IN HIM WE LIVE & MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING!

We may try to shut Him out, ignoring His purposes over our own.  THE FACT remains–GOD IS THE WITH-US GOD!

WORSHIP IS FOR GOD ALONE –

We continue to be creative in searching for the answers we seem so desperately need in our daily lives.

Perhaps, we are more spiritual in following certain preachers religiously.

Perhaps it is PLEASURE that we really worship or the accumulation of things, with the thinking that, “He who dies with the most toys…wins.”

If you wonder in your WORSHIP, and realize that God is in His holy temple–

CONFIDENCE BUILDERS FOUND IN WORSHIP:

The Lord our Creator, our Redeemer, and the self-existing, everlasting, un-caused cause lives…

No one makes Him…

He’s not a conceived and developed concept…

He is not controllable or manipulated…

In Majesty, He reigns.

WORSHIP IS FOR GOD ALONE, EVEN WHEN WE DON’T UNDERSTAND HIM.  

SO…

Where is God when things seem to be going wrong?  When it’s not going the way we expected…

It is time to trust; time to live by FAITH…  

For…this is how the JUST live out their lives, they LIVE BY FAITH and not by sight!

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CREDITS:

Photo Credits by,  Photo Pin & Google Search – Images; Melinda Todd (Isaiah 45:2).

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

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