JUDGMENT is Good! (Last in the series)

Micah 6-7

Corruption, it seems, is alive and well.  We hear stories of bribery in other parts of the world all the time–India, China, and Russia, typically repeat offenders–but it’s not something we expect to find here in the United States,  We’re better than that, right?  I’d like to think so, but that doesn’t stop people from making stupid decisions,  When people make stupid decisions, and over a lifetime of 76 years, I’ve made plenty–they have to face the consequences.

Nowadays, that typically means a trial in a courtroom, but in Bible times it meant something more harsh, like maybe fire and brimstone?

Usually, yes; that is unless you count the time that God brought Israel to court for immorality in the Book of Micah.

Let’s look now at the last two chapters in Micah.

Micah 6:1-8

These 8 verses read like a courtroom drama:  “Law and Order: Jerusalem Crimes”.

THE SCENE IS SET –

I can just hear a lawyer yelling this now–“God is demanding that the people explain their actions.”

At this point, the Israelites were extremely corrupt.

A REVIEW OF MICAH –

Chapter 2:8-9  (NIV)

[8] Lately my people have risen up like an enemy.  You strip off the rich robe from those who pass by without care, like men returning from battle.

[9] You drive the women of my people from their pleasant homes.  You take away my blessing from their children forever.

Chapter 3, God calls out the leadership specifically:  verses 1-3

In chapter 7, God lists more specifics!  verses 2-3

[2] The faithful have been swept from the land; no one upright person remains.  Everyone lies in wait to shed blood; they hunt each other with nets.

[3]  Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire–they all conspire together.

So in Micah 6:1-8, the prosecution starts by asking the mountains and hills to listen.  They are the JURY!

[1]  “Hear now what the Lord says:  Arise, contend and plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice.  [2] Hear, O mountains, the Lord’s controversy, and you strong and enduring foundations…”

The book of Luke in the Bible says that if we’re all silent the rock themselves will cry out in praise–so I don’t think it’s a reach that they could serve as a jury if asked by their Creator.

He then begins to list off what he has done, when it says in verse 5, God wants to make sure that the Israelites “know the righteous and saving acts of the Lord” (AMP).

What comes next is such a human action!  The people want to jump to the extreme!

They got from not listening to God’s Word at all to wanting to go overboard with burnt offerings, thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of olive oil and their first-born child (vs. 7)?

Really?  That’s a bit dramatic, don’t you think?  But this is how they thought!  They were like the criminal when, overcome with guilt, tells the cops to throw him in jail, and let him starve to death in a dark pit because he did something wrong.  And in my opinion, the Israelites deserved every one of those things.

They disrespected the creator of the universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  God would be well within His rights to simply point His finger and ZAP THEM with lightning bolts, or rain down fire and brimstone.

But He doesn’t.

In verse 8, God tells them what He wants:  That’s it!

Micah 6:8 (AMP)

“…to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God”

God doesn’t care about these huge outward displays of guilt.

He’s God!

He knows how you’re feeling, and whether your guilt is legit or not!

All He wants is for you to follow Him in all of His ways.  That’s the very definition of MERCY.

Going back to the courtroom for a moment…

This would be like the district attorney telling the judge, “We’ll drop all charges so long as the defendant comes back to us and does the right thing.”

What if in the military trials, with suspected terrorists, ended like that?  “Your honor, let this terrorist go free, so long as he promises not to do it again.”  That would never happen, right?

But God’s MERCY is so much greater than ours that we can’t really understand how far it really goes.

God promises that Israel will rise again!

That’s right–after all this, after the courtroom, the lawyers and the jury, God says, “It’s OK!  I’ll continue to bless you, and this is how.”

Micah 7:11-12 (NIV)

[11]  The day for building your walls will come, the day for extending your boundaries.

[12]  In that day people will come to you from Assyria and the cities of Egypt, even from Egypt to the Euphrates and from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.

So what does this mean for us today?  It means if you sin, if you do anything to disrespect God, to anger God, He doesn’t expect you to flip a little switch and become a SuperChristian to make up for it!

All God wants is for you to follow Him–the rest of it will take care of itself if you do that.

When you do sin–and let’s face it, it will happen–don’t wallow in self-pity and make absurd promises to God that you know you can’t keep.

Just be honest with God–admit you’ve sinned–and go back to following Him.

THAT’S ALL HE WANTS!

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CREDITS –

Credit:  Law and Order (1990-1991) Theme – Youtube video

Images/Photos:  Google Image Search – settings, advance search.

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

 

 

 

Living Our Lives With The “Two Minute Warning” In Play

SCRIPTURE:  1 Peter 4:1-11 (NIV)

In football, the manner of play I’ve noticed over the years changes when the “TWO MINUTE WARNING” has sounded.  And in VERSE 7 in our study together, Peter says “The end of all things is now.”

I think that thought gives meaning to the whole passage as the Holy Spirit is saying through the Apostle that we should live our lives on earth as if Life’s TWO MINUTE WARNING has sounded.

The question becomes…we should ask ourselves while investigating this passage of Scripture, the same one Peter asks his readers (2 Peter 3:11)–“What kind of people ought you to be?”

So with that in mind, let’s look for ANSWERS to that question:

First, as Christians living in a lost world at the end of time, we should be ARMED with an ATTITUDE.  By the way, I didn’t steal that idea from Dr. Laura–it comes right out of this passage of Scripture (1 Peter 4:1-2).

Peter is giving us a picture of putting on our ATTITUDE as part of a suit of armor.  Very similar to the passage Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesian church–“Putting on the whole ARMOR of GOD” (Ephesians 6).

So What is ATTITUDE?

The English Oxford Dictionary:  “A settled way of thinking or feeling about something.”

Referring to “ATTITUDE”, Peter is saying it’s the same one that Christ took towards suffering–ARMED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE that He once had, completing the task, never again to wrestle with sin or temptation–that would all be over with, “It is finished!”

What it’s not saying is that if you suffer once, you’ll never suffer again.  It’s saying that we should “understand” suffering for what is right and it sometimes part of life in the body.

BIG PICTURE…as a result, you won’t live your life as if you must satisfy your earthly appetites–your desires, your pleasures, for a little suffering here.  It can’t be compared with an eternity FREE from SIN & SUFFERING.

ILLUSTRATION:

The ATTITUDE we should arm ourselves with is like that of a quarterback in the Superbowl who gets injured in the 4th Quarter of the game and the TWO MINUTE WARNING begins.  He would be willing to play through a great deal of pain for the sake of that victor’s ring because he know’s everything is at stake and the end is in sight.

We who are Christians, who stands on the edge of history should arm ourselves with the ATTITUDE that says, I can see the goal line and it’s worth any price to obtain it!

That’s the ATTITUDE that free’s us to do God’s will in our lives.

That’s NOT the Way We Used to Live, however.

VERSES 3-4

VERSE 3 actually is a direct contrast to Verse 2,  It literally says enough time has been spent doing the will of nations (worldliness) in CONTRAST to our NEW ATTITUDE which frees us to do the “will of God”–we used to live our lives to PLEASE the World and ourselves; not anymore.

And now the World doesn’t understand this new attitude of ours; why we don’t plunge into a life of SENSUAL PLEASURE–drunkenness, sensual immorality, worshipping money and fame.  The will of the WORLD summed up in the phrase “If it feels good, do it!”

Secondly, as Christians living at the end of times, we should have…AN AWARENESS OF ACCOUNTING.

To live as followers of Christ we need to understand that AN END IS COMING!

Coaches begin to watch the clock very carefully inside the TWO MINUTE WARNING.  It’s important to know where they stand in the time they have left.

Peter says that we need to understand the end is near and living in this time requires clear headedness, self-control, allowing us to keep in communication with the Coach.

It is important as well that we understand what “the end” means–that it means there will be an ACCOUNTING…whether we are LIVING when that time arrives, OR…whether we have already passed on, that we’ll give an account to our lives.

Even those who have gone before us will be judged and this is why they needed the GOSPEL too–it’s not just for those who will be living when the ACCOUNTING comes.  And when those who have gone before us put their TRUST in Christ Jesus, thought by human standards being judged GUILTY, in the spirit, they live everlasting because of the work of Christ.

As we sit on the edge of history’s end, we must be aware that Christ will judge the living and the dead.  We then must consider how we will be judged on that day.  Our DEEDS will be laid before Him.

Woe unto us on that day if our SINS are not covered by the BLOOD of Jesus.

Those who trust the SAVING GRACE of Jesus whose BLOOD was shed on Cross, understanding that only HIS BLOOD can cleanse them; that nothing we could ever do or say will make us worthy.

Those who have put their TRUST in Him alone…ALSO, commit their lives to Him–to live for Him, not to earn His affection, but to demonstrate our affection–because we have been ARMED with the ATTITUDE of Christ.

And because we are aware of an ACCOUNTING…

Third, as Christians living during the “TWO MINUTE WARNING” we should be…

ABOVE ALL AFFECTIONATE (Verses 8-9)

[8] Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  [9] Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  (NIV)

More important than anything else is LOVE.  

JESUS’ top TWO LIST was this:  Love God, Love your neighbor–everything else, He said, All of the Scripture is tied up in those TWO!

Church tradition says that when the Apostle John, the beloved disciple, became too old to even walk, used to ask to be carried to the local church meetings, go before the assembly of believers and say only this:  “Little children, love one another.”  Well, that sounds sweet enough but after a while, it started to get on people’s nerves.  Finally, the elders of the church went to John and asked him why do you keep saying that?  His reply was short and to the point:  “Because it is our Lord’s command and because it’s enough!”

LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF SINS.

The Lord knows as well as my wife, I have a multitude of sins.  That said, my wife also knows that I LOVE her.  Sometimes I hurt her feelings and I’ll demonstrate that LOVE in a tangible way–in an exercise that some have said is a “suck up gift”.  But that “suck up gift” works NOT because I spend money, but because she knows that I genuinely care deeply about her!

But it works the other way too.  Our LOVE for others covers a multitude of OUR sins toward them but our SIN should also cover a multitude of THEIR sins.  About 70 times seven I’d say.

There’s one last thing I want to mention that we should do as Christians while living at the end of time.  That’s ADMINISTERING GOD’S ANOINTING (vs. 10-11 a).

Each one of us should use whatever GIFT he/she has received from the Holy Spirit to SERVE others, faithfully administrating God’s GRACE in its various forms (verse 11).

Here is this passage of Scripture, Peter urges us to be “faithful stewards” of the GIFTS God has given to each one of us.  And as ADMINISTRATORS (Stewards) of God’s GRACE in various forms, that is of the gifts that God has given YOU (put your name in place of the word “you”), NOT for your pleasure but for His, to SERVE OTHERS.

And notice also that emphasis is given here as it has in the passages found in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, to the fact that these Spiritual Gifts are exercised not in our own strength BUT in the strength of the Lord.  And this is the part that makes it important for us who live in History’s TWO MINUTE WARNING…to OPERATE in the GRACE (the FAVOR) God gives to us through SPIRITUAL GIFTS.

So as the BUZZER, the whistle approaches (or actually, as the TRUMPET sounds),  we must work in God’s strength, FAITHFULLY ADMINISTERING as good stewards, God’s Anointing in its various forms.

Conclusion:

ARMED with an ATTITUDE that says I have my eyes on a prize above and I can’t be distracted by the pleasures below.

AWARE of the ACCOUNTING–keeping our focus and ready for that day!

Above all AFFECTIONATE–because it’s the Lord’s command and because it’s enough!

And ADMINISTERING faithfully God’s Anointing that through HIS STRENGTH we might accomplish ALL that He has for each one of us as the day approaches!

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CREDITS –

VINE’S COMPLETE EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY of Old and New Testament Words.

PHOTOS:  Advance Settings–Gooogle Image Search.

Bible Translations:  The New International Version (NIV), EXCEPT WHERE NOTED.

 

 

 

AN UNCROWNED AND POWERLESS NATION

JUDGES 1:1-7 (NASB)

[1]  Now it came about after the death of Joshua that the sons of Israel inquired of the LORD, saying “Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?”

[2]  The LORD said, “Judah shall go up; behold, I have given the land into his hand.”

[3]  Then Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me into the territory allotted me, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I, in turn, will go with you into the territory allotted you.”  So Simeon went with him.  

[4]  Judah went up, and the LORD gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hands, and they defeated ten thousand men in Bezek. 

[5]  They found Adoni-bezek in Bezek and fought against him, and they defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites.

[6]  But Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and big toes.

[7]  Adoni-bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and their big toes cut off used to gather up scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me.”  So they brought him to Jerusalem and he died there.

AMERICA AND ISRAEL ARE MUCH ALIKE…

They remind me of each other.  Both remind me of those 70 kings in verse 7:  UNCROWNED AND MADE POWERLESS, reduced to settling for scraps.

AMERICA used to sit feasting at the table of the KING of kings, but we are descending rapidly to the role of the beggar at the Beautiful Gate.

THE BOOK OF JUDGES is a book about incomplete VICTORY…

It stems from incomplete OBEDIENCE.

Another word for “incomplete obedience” would be DISOBEDIENCE.

Partial obedience in your MORALS is disobedience.  [I’m not so bad compared to others! / But are you still willfully choosing to do wrong in the same areas?].  If you aren’t FULLY FAITHFUL…you’re UNFAITHFUL!  If you TITHE on about half of your income, you can’t call it a TITHE.  It may be 10% of THAT paycheck but if it’s only 5% overall, it’s not credited by God as partial obedience but disobedience.  I’ll get some emails and comments on that thought.

When it comes to our COMMITMENT to God, let’s not do it halfway.

I especially like a verse in 1 Kings that illustrates that thought  (1 Kings 18:21):

[21]  Elijah came near to all the people and said,  How long will you halt and limp between opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow Him!  But if Baal, then follow him.  And the people did not answer him a word.  (AMP)

You, WE, are either committed or we’re are not!

And AMERICA cannot ride the fence.  Either we’re a Christian nation or we are not!

Yes, we have FREEDOM of religion, but many today are trying to lift freedom FROM religion, trying to tie our hands and gag our mouths in the process.

Our FREEDOM of speech is going down the toilet.

After turning an 11-day journey from Egypt to the Promised Land…

During 40 years of meandering, ISRAEL found itself IN the promised land, but not IN possession of it.  ISRAEL did things halfway.

WANTING TO BE BLESSED BUT NOT WANTING TO PAY THE PRICE.

ISRAEL was commanded by Joshua to cross the river, conquer the enemy and claim the inheritance that God had promised.

They did cross the river, conquered SOME of the enemies, and stopped well short of finishing their conquest and claiming their inheritance.

They certainly wanted the BLESSINGS of the Promised Land but didn’t want to pay the price for complete victory.

They wanted something FREE, much like most Americans today.

They demanded their rights and wanted privileges, but didn’t want to take responsibility.  They were all take and no give!

So, they went back to their old ways of going in circles in the wilderness.

Their progression was:  Sin…Suffering…Supplication…Salvation.  They would sin and naturally suffer for it, then cry out to God and He would come to their rescue.

But God isn’t bound to always be a safety net for His people.

He has come to our nation many times, but like with Israel, His patience may soon wear thin if it hasn’t already.  And He may allow us to fall in order to look up!

THE LAST WAR AMERICA WON WAS WWII.

That was back when generals fought wars to win them.  Today, Congress fights wars according to polls and popular opinion and of course, politics!  No wonder we often lose or end in a stalemate at best.

JUDGES is about a small group sent by God to reclaim a fallen nation, to speak as prophets of JUDGMENT and turning them away from backsliding to repentance, revival, and recovery.

INCOMPLETE OBEDIENCE AND INCOMPLETE VICTORY.

ISRAEL’S first instance of both is right here in chapter one.  They begin with a VICTORY in the first 7 verses, but then FAIL to continue…they stop short…and are satisfied with partial obedience.

IMPORTANT SYMBOLISM:

  • ISRAEL=God’s people and could represent America, or the Church, or us as individuals.
  • CANAAN=Christian victory.
  • Adoni-bezek=  “Lord of Lightning”= Satan.  [See footnote [i] ]

Yes, I believe the king in chapter one in the text is a picture of the DEVIL himself because of a parallel passage in the NT.

LUKE 10:1 – After this, the LORD appointed seventy-two others [Some manuscripts say seventy, also in verse 17] and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go.

LUKE 10:17-20 –

[17] The seventy-two returned with joy and said,  “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”  

[18] He replied,  “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

[19] I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions, and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  [20] However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

JESUS reminded these 70 (or “72”) followers of His that SATAN is a powerful bolt of lightning that fell from heaven, and his power is beyond our own.

JESUS teaches them that although He has given a position of POWER they should glory in the position but not in the POWER as if it were their own.

Another powerful teaching in vv. 6-7 of Judges is RETRIBUTION.

Adoni-bezek was punished for his crimes in the exact same way as he punished these 70 kings.

RETRIBUTION is an aspect of God’s character we seldom think about.  We like to focus on His LOVE and REWARDS in heaven, but we often fail to consider His holiness; His perfect nature demanding justice and a payment for all imperfection.

SATAN’S DAY IS COMING!  He may think he’s getting away with things now on earth but it’s payday someday.

God may not pay weekly, monthly, or annually, but when He pays he pays in full!

We too should take the warning…

  • Numbers 32:23 “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”
  • Galatians 6:7  “Do not be deceived:  God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.”
  • 1 Timothy 5:24  “The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.”

UNCROWNED means to be knocked out of your seat–dethroned from your position of POWER.

Romans 13:1  Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.

It’s like a major demotion…that hurts!

Proverbs 25:26  Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.

What a letdown!

POWERLESS means unable to accomplish work for God–DISABLED!

Some try but find themselves to be ineffective while some have been disabled to the point that they have quit trying.

WITH NO THUMBS they couldn’t hold a sword, no threat…WITH NO BIG TOES, they became unstable, couldn’t stand to fight.

Under his table = OPPRESSION.

They lived off the scraps they could gather under his table and that’s difficult with NO THUMBS!!

Satan DISABLES in many ways but seems to have the most success by using the following ‘BIG SINS’ against us:

  • Bitterness
  • Immorality
  • Greed
  • Guilt

Many Christians Are Defeated Today–

SOME HAVE BEEN OVERCOME–[Ambushed] – 1 Peter 5:8 – “…for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.”

SOME HAVE BEEN OUTMANNED –  We try to go the battle alone and are no match for Satan– Ephesians 6:10 – Be strong in the Lord; draw your strength from Him.

SOME HAVE BEEN OUTGUNNED – Ephesians 6:13 – Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…; 1 Corinthians 15:57 – But thanks be to God, Who gives us victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Remembering THREE THINGS About Satan:

#1.  He is not a mythological character:  Not just a force or influence, but a real person.  He has life, intelligence, a will, and feelings.

#2.  Satan is a destructive force:  He’s out to defeat you!

  • In Christianity
  • Christian America
  • Church
  • Family
  • Person

#3.  Satan is a defeated foe.

HOW DO WE THEN GAIN VICTORY?

The only true victory is COMPLETE VICTORY.

America today fights to a stalemate or a draw.

Let’s not make the same mistake in our personal lives.

 

1 John 5:4 – 

Who is it that is victorious over [that conquers] the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on that fact]?

In the above verse, the Apostle John is giving his readers a testimony that in Christ there is VICTORY!

  • VICTORY doesn’t come by regretting.
  • VICTORY doesn’t come by resolving.
  • VICTORY doesn’t come by renouncing.
  • VICTORY doesn’t come by rededication.

VICTORY COMES BY RECEIVING THE VICTORY ALREADY MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH JESUS.

Outside of Christ, there is no victory.

In John 16:33 we read, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence.  In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]!  For I have overcome the world.  [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”

This KING is just like the devil and he wants to oppress you and rob you of the benefits of your SALVATION.

Many of God’s people live a beggar’s lifestyle while they’re the rightful heirs of the kingdom of God.

Satan is holding many of God’s people in BONDAGE to GUILT and SHAME, (slavery) while living like beggars because they don’t know what God’s COVENANT says.

The Syrophenician Woman said, just let me have the crumbs that fall from the children’s table, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs (She didn’t know or have a part in the Covenant).  [Matthew 15:21-28]

But the sad part is that when we are COVENANT sons and daughters and because of ignorance, Satan oppresses us and brings us into BONDAGE, and has us living like beggars.

LAZARUS was a son of Abraham (Yet he was living like a beggar).

HERE’S THE BOTTOM LINE:

You are NOT a beggar and Satan has no AUTHORITY over you if you are truly SAVED!

He has no authority to hold you in a BONDAGE of GUILT or SHAME over your past.

You are a Covenant Son or Daughter of God!

The King is calling you to the banqueting table, and at His table, no one sees what you were, only what you are!  A CHILD OF THE KING!

When you take your rightful place at the table, you RULE AND REIGN as kings!!

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FOOTNOTES AND CREDITS –

Footnote [i] :  Bible Study Tools, Dictionaries – Hitchcock’s Bible Names Dictionary:  Adoni-bezek

Photos:  Google Image Search –  Advance search setting.

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

 

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…

man making a disgusted face
man making a disgusted face

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

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

The Judgment Seat of Christ.

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

2 Corinthians 5:10 makes it even plainer:

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

The Great White Throne Judgment (Unbelievers JUDGMENT).

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

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

bema-vs-white-throne-judgment1

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

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

 


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

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

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

Photos:  Shutterstock & Google Image Search.

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

Unconditional Election

 

Well, here I sit at my laptop computer, television cable news on low volume in my ear, and trying to focus on the message coming from Scripture, all at the same time.

imagesIt is season of ELECTION here in the United States, and between the robocalls, car bumper stickers, political signs placed in front yards, and every television and radio station broadcasting partisan campaign rhetoric…it’s still over two months from election day.

It is hard to accept all the hype of the campaign’s politicians.  But at the same time, the outcome of the election can’t change one’s acceptance of the results–positive or negative.

Accepting God’s Unconditional Election – A Study in Romans 9

My hesitancy, even my personal objections to this topic fell apart as I studied and meditated on God’s Word.  I could no longer explain away Romans 9.

What is UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION?

John Piper, Founder and Teacher of desiringGod.org states the definition as…

“God’s free choice before creation, not based on foreseen faith, to which traitors He will grant faith and repentance, pardoning them and adopting them into His everlasting family of joy.”

My public Prayer:

Father, I need your Spirit to enlighten me in explaining Your word on this sometimes difficult topic.  May I be clear in explanation and stay out of the “rabbit holes.”  Thank You in advance, Amen.

GRACE & ELECTION –

The real question is NOT “Why are only some saved?”, but “Why are any saved?”

Without God’s ELECTION, none could, would or even should be SAVED from His judgment.

The true children of God, God’s election of His family, is not determined by the will of mankind, but by the eternal decree and divine counsel of Almighty God Himself!

Let me state right up front, that there are some hard things to understand in the Bible–like Unconditional Election or the Calvinist approach to predestination.

Here are three passages of Scripture to read and meditate on:  Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 1:11.

Romans 8:29 (KJV):  For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Ephesians 1:5 (NAS):  He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.

Ephesians 1:11 (AMP):  In Him we also were made [God’s] heritage (portion) and we obtained an inheritance; for we had been foreordained  (chosen and appointed beforehand) in accordance with His purpose, Who works out everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His [own] will.

If election is true, what happens to human responsibility?  And, If some are “predestined” to heaven, then why bother with evangelism in the church?  How can people be guilty of sin, since they are doing what they were predestined to do?

This topic of conversation can–has, caused friendships to fracture, churches to split and divide Christians into different doctrinal groups.

Let me give you my understanding, and you can agree or disagree.  I have a simple mind, so this might not be satisfactory to everyone reading this.

God is supremely SOVEREIGN and we are responsible to our response to His calling.

The word “sovereign”, “Sovereignty of God”, is the biblical teaching that ALL THINGS are under God’s rule and control, His authority, and nothing happens without His direction or permission.  [See footnote [i] ]

Romans 9 emphasizes the SOVEREIGNTY of God while Chapter 10 emphasizes man’s foundational response (I’m sticking with Chapter 9 for this blog).

The apostle Paul doesn’t seek to relieve the tension, nor does he fully explain the working out of election and responsibility of his listeners in this chapter.  He seems to be more interested in pointing out the pompous hearts that dares to question the Creator.

Election and Responsibility as taught by Jesus in John 6:37:  

“All whom My Father gives (entrusts) to Me” [divine election]; “and the one who comes to Me” [human response] “I will most certainly not cast out {I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to Me]” (Amplified Bible in italics).

THIS BLOG’S BIBLE TEXT:  ROMANS 9:19-29

In my study this week on the above passage, I found 7 different questions in regards to UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION.  While Paul doesn’t specifically answer each of these questions, there’s at least 3 answers that are given.

God DESIGNS with purpose (vv. 19-21)

[19] You will say to me,  Why then does He still find fault and blame us [for sinning]? For who can resist and withstand His will?”

Paul has given reference to Moses as an example, where he states that God will have MERCY on whom He will have MERCY and COMPASSION on whom He will have COMPASSION (v.15).  Paul further states that the MERCY is God’s gift (v. 16) and not on one’s own willingness nor works.

Paul then contrasts MERCY with STUBBORNNESS, as with Pharaoh’s condition of an unyielding heart (vv. 17-18):

[17] For Scripture says to Pharaoh, I have raised you up for this very purpose of displaying My power in [dealing with] you, so that My name may be proclaimed the whole world over.

[18] So then He has mercy on whomever He wills (chooses) and He hardens whomever He wills.

Paul’s not concerned with the person’s question in verse 19, as much as his concern for the “attitude” behind the question.

Paul’s seemingly agitated response in verse 20 is to the point:

[20] But who are you, a mere man, to criticize and contradict and answer back to God? 

In the New International Version of the bible, it reads “talk back”.  Paul was putting the person’s attitude in his place for “talking back” to God.

It’s not wrong to ask questions of our Father God, but we cannot presume to correct Him.

We should be reminded of what God said in Job 38:2-3:

[2] Who is this that darkens council by words without knowledge?  [3] Gird up now your loins like a man, and I will demand of you, and you declare to Me.

Job is put in his place in 40:2:

“Shall he who would find fault with the Almighty contend with Him? He who disputes with God, let him answer it.”

I love the way Job responds in verses 4-5:

[4] Behold, I am of small account and vile! What shall I answer You? I lay my hand upon my mouth.  [5] I have spoken once, but I will not reply again–indeed, twice (have I answered), but I will proceed no further.

It is hard for us at times, just to be still when God declares His will.  Many of us want to have the last word with God.

God has the absolute rights of ownership.

By putting together passages from Isaiah 28:16, Isaiah 64:8 and Jeremiah 18:1-6, Paul shows that as Creator, God has the absolute rights of ownership (v. 20 b.):

“…Will what is formed say to him that formed it,  Why have you made me thus?”

He then expands the analogy of the Potter and the clay (v. 21)

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[21] Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same mass (lump) one vessel for beauty and distinction and honorable use, and another for menial or ignoble and dishonorable use?

God Delays punishment (verse 22-23)

God DESIGNS with a purpose and He also DELAYS punishment to some, in order to show His MERCY to others.

[22]  What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction?

[23]  What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory–  (NIV).

Notice the two uses of the phrase “What if…”

Paul states 2 categories of people here.  The Bible often uses extreme terms to separate people into two groups.

  • The SAVED and the LOST,
  • Children of God and children of Satan,
  • Light and darkness.

The last words in Verse 22 make it a tough passage to deal with–“prepared for destruction”.  It is written in the “passive voice” for grammatical correctness.

It shows that people prepare themselves for DESTRUCTION by their sins.  It’s not that God makes people sinful, but that He leaves them in their sin unless they REPENT and receive Jesus.  If people resist and reject God, they end up preparing their own destruction.  If, during the time of “divine delay,” any individual repents and receives Jesus, he or she becomes an “object of His mercy.”

EZEKIEL 18:30-32 SAYS,

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So, who then, are the OBJECTS (“vessels”) of MERCY?

God gets the GLORY either way!  He even uses Israel’s unbelief to further His purposes.  Actually, He uses ALL CIRCUMSTANCES to promote His Glory.

VERSE 23 (AMP):  And [what if] He thus proposes to make known and show the wealth of His glory in [dealing with] the vessels (objects) of His mercy which He has prepared beforehand for glory.

There’s the grammatical construction in verse 23, that’s different–we don’t prepare ourselves for glory because we are “prepared beforehand for glory” by God.

God is delaying His JUDGMENT so that you will repent and receive Jesus.  But He won’t wait forever.

At the beginning of this POST, I made the comment that God is supremely sovereign and that we are responsible for our response to His call.

So SALVATION starts with God and ends with God.  If UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION is true, then it means that we can never claim any credit for our SALVATION, or anyone else’s SALVATION.

We don’t even get points for seeking the Lord, because He sought us before we sought Him.

Someone may say “Why should I bother responding?  If I’m “predestined”, God will save me when He’s ready.”

The Bible says that God SAVES those who place their FAITH in Jesus Christ.

Henry Ward Beecher, a Congregationalist clergyman during the 1800’s, used to say the ELECT were the “Whosoever wills” and the non-elect were the “Whosoever won’ts.”

If you are wondering whether God has chosen you to SALVATION, just answer this question.  Have you ever placed your FAITH, your TRUST, in Jesus Christ–and in Him alone for your SALVATION?  If you answered “Yes,” then you have been “Unconditionally Elected” (“chosen”) to enter Heaven.  But what if the answer is “No”?

One reason God has delayed His punishment is to give you more time to be SAVED. If you go to hell, it won’t be God’s fault.  He’s done everything necessary to make sure you go to heaven.

UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION simply put…God chose you first and if He didn’t choose you first, you would never have chosen Him.

In other words, God so arranged the circumstances, when the moment was right, I had no other choice but to freely choose Jesus.  That occurred in the evening, August 15, 1972.  I was 30 years old, and God had been calling me for an unknown period of time but I was stiff necked in responding to His call.

Our CHOICE is a FREE CHOICE, but it is made possible only by God’s Spirit enabling us to BELIEVE and be SAVED.

 


Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i]:  Definition of God’s Sovereignty from Theopedia.

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

Photos:  Google Image Search. 

Living In The Age of Biblical APOSTASY

THE TEXT:  Introduction to LAMENTATIONS

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

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

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

“GOD BLESS AMERICA”

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

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

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

LAMENTATIONS 3:40-42 (NIV Bible):

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

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

Israel Was Under Judgment From God Because…

HER APOSTASY!

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

Biblical Apostasy Explained:

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

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

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

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

BIBLICAL WARNINGS HAVE ALREADY BEEN POSTED FOR ALL OF US –

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

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

Jude’s WARNING – Jude 1:3 AMP:

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

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

Peter’s WARNING –

But-false-prophets-also

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

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

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

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

The Prophet Jeremiah, the Writer of Lamentations –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lamentation 1:1-2 (NIV Bible):

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

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

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

BUT, the GREATNESS is quickly fading.

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

ISRAEL FINDS ITSELF IN CAPTIVITY TO ITS ENEMIES –

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

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

American Naivety…

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE TEN PLANKS:

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

2.  A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

3.  Abolition of all rights of inheritance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “LAMENTATIONS” Presented –

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

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

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

Lamentations 1:3:

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

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

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

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

Lamentations 1:9 (NIV):

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

ISRAEL’S IDOLATRY –

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

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

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

A PICTURE of Our Society Today –

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

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

And the Recompense? 

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

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

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

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

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

“WORK” HAS BECOME A DIRTY WORD –

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

Lamentations 1:16 (AMP):

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

MY PRAYER–

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

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

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

The EVIDENCE is here!

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

BUT…”JESUS Is Calling America” –

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

Jesus is calling America,

Calling her back to the fold.

Jesus is calling America,

Calling the young and the old.

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

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

This is a great promise from God’s Word!

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

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

AMEN!!!

God loves you and I.

God loves America too.

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

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

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

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

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

OUR MAIN PROBLEM…

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

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

REWARDS WILL COME, BUT…

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

PAR

 


 

FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

.

 

Your BREAKTHROUGH Is Here!

BLOG TEXT: MICAH 2

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A SHEEP GATHERING

MICAH’S DECLARATION:

Micah declares to the people of the day that the JUDGE was coming, referring to God!!

And God was angry because of widespread SIN of Idolatry and…covetousness, abuses, lawlessness, among other things.

And this isn’t just referring to the nation’s leaders, but to everyone who had cultivated a heart of acceptance to do evil in the sight of God.

The CULTIVATION Effect –

In Genesis 2:15, Adam’s job in the Garden was to “tend and keep”–or “cultivate and guard” what God had provided.

To CULTIVATE is the effort a farmer makes to ensure that he will produce a bountiful crop.

If a FARMER is lazy, if he fails to cultivate the ground, to do nothing to promote growth, nature will follow its course and the farm begins to degenerate.

If we don’t “guard” our hearts; we get lazy in reading and meditating on the Word of God, spiritual weeds (lies, excuses, rebellious spirit, lawlessness) will crop up and choke out any spiritual growth (fruit) that should be developing.

And in the place of SPIRITUAL FRUIT, we begin to nourish (cultivate) our fleshly heart, and sin gets a hold of our thoughts and we wind up at the wrong destination.

In place of FRUIT, SIN will reign in its place and our heart will begin to degenerate.

Proverbs 4:23-26 begins with this:  “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life”  (v. 23).

Apathy can let down your guard…

We are often guilty of pointing a finger at our nation’s leaders, our elected politicians, while at the same time being somewhat complacent–apathetic– on what’s tolerated by society–  “Hey, I don’t support “X, Y, Z”, but I don’t want to be judgmental. There’s nothing I can do or say, so why bother.”

It might become THE LAW of the land, but as true believers, we don’t have to roll over and play dead–forget who we are in Christ JESUS.

What is about to happen isn’t going to be a pretty sight!

So God declares through the Prophet some pretty heavy things that were going to happen from their neglect, their laziness, for what they were doing to the people and for their sins!!

What ever they had taken, God was going to take from them!!!  This also refers to their impending captivity to Babylon.

The whole scene is not a pretty sight

Then in Chapter 2:12-13, the scene abruptly shifts to the LORD’S restoration–A “BREAKTHROUGH”!

I think we can all agree, before we were born again, our lives were under JUDGMENT because of our SIN!

Romans 3:23:  Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives.

If we are honest with ourselves, some of us did some pretty ugly things we’re not proud of.

We can look back and remember, some of us were pretty messed up.  Because of that, our SIN brought the JUDGMENT OF GOD on our lives.

Romans 2:5-6:  [5] “But by your callous stubbornness and impenitence of heart you are storing up wrath and indignation for yourself on the day of wrath and indignation, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.  [6] For He will render to every man according to his works.”

Romans 6:23:  “For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Then JESUS came into our lives and changed the course of everything!!!  Whether at the time, we weren’t aware of what just happened to us spiritually.  It still happened!!

RECOGNIZING THE FIVE “R’s” AND MORE!

We were REDEEMED, RECOVERED, RECLAIMED, RELEASED, RESCUED…brought back, purchased, delivered, dis-imprisoned, emancipated, liberated, loosened, set free, SAVED by the Precious Blood of JESUS!!!

1 Peter 1:18-19:

[18] “You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold.  [19] But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.”

JESUS is our Savior, our liberator, our salvager, our salvation, THE MESSIAH!!

TRANSITION TO THE BREAKTHROUGH (verse 12):

In the book of MICAH, the people, as well as the leaders of the land, were under THE JUDGMENT of God.

Then, all of a sudden in Verse 12, a transition…a breaking through the Mist of Deception takes place.

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THE BREAKTHROUGH IS HERE!

It is kind of like SALVATION–

First, you are not saved, then in a moment, you open up your heart to receive Christ and confess Him as Lord.

In that moment…YOU ARE SAVED!

Here in chapter two of Micah, we have the JUDGMENT OF GOD, and then all of a sudden, there’s RESTORATION to those that have survived (“overcomers”) all the ugliness and had been broken.

BREAKING THROUGH THE SHEEP’S’ GATE–

Micah 2:12-13 (N.L.T.) – RESTORATION:

[12]  “Someday, O Israel, I will gather you; I will gather the remnant who are left.  I will bring you together again like sheep in a pen, like a flock into pasture.  Yes your land will again be filled with noisy crowds!

[13]  Your leader will break out and lead you out of exile, out through the gates of the enemy cities, back to your own land.  Your king will lead you; the Lord himself will guide you.”

GOD CAN RESTORE!

God restores, renews, rebuilds, recovers…heals, cures, mends, retouches, refreshes and revives.

He RESTORES LIVES,

He RESTORES HEARTS,

He RESTORES MINDS,

He RESTORES RELATIONSHIPS & FRIENDSHIPS,

He RESTORES FAMILIES & MARRIAGES.

I think we all know and can give many testimonies that GOD is a GOD who RESTORES!

Jesus has the POWER of RESTORATION (verses 12-13)

In the text, there’s a remnant of God’s people spoken of in their land (foretold captivity), but they were broken, wounded, hurt people who were spread out over the land and…the prophet Micah declares to them that God would restore and gather them all together again.

“I will bring them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in the middle of a pasture, they will be so numerous that they will make a lot of noise.”

This is a perfect picture of RESTORATION & HEALING.

The basic understanding here is God wants to restore & heal those who have been BROKEN OR HURT AND WOUNDED!!

As we go to Verse 13, there is something very deep-seated that needs further study.

BREAKTHROUGH!!!

As I studied and meditated on this verse of Scripture, the more I read it, the more powerful it became.  The “Breaker” has come up before them; they have broken up; and…they have passed through the gate and are gone out through it.

It’s like the image I used of the Gathered Sheep in a pen, excited to burst through the narrow gate.

DELIVERANCE!!!

It is a picture of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, sudden and aggressive!  God broke down the gate of their captivity and lead them out of bondage.

It is a picture of deliverance, not conquest.  It’s not just breaking thru a barrier (the obstacle in the way) to get to the other side.  BUT…to BREAKTHROUGH; removing all other obstacles to keep them moving forward…then MOVING FORWARD!!

It’s a picture of being confined, like in prison, and all of a sudden the prison gate was blown open and set the prisoners free!!!

THE OBSTACLE?

And the OBSTACLE which was the gate was removed so they could get out; keep moving forward.

Without getting too heavy here, the basic understanding is God will remove any and all obstacles to get us where we need to be.  It is telling us today that God is the “BREAKER”.  That God is a God of BREAKTHROUGH!!!  He will remove those things that stand in our way of progress.

The Enemy Will Try to Put Obstacles In Our Path…

Satan will try to stop what God wants to do in our lives.  But God the Breaker, the God of Breakthrough, can and will clear a path to overthrow everything that stands in the way that God wants us to accomplish.

I don’t know about your circumstances, but I do know that in my Christian walk with God, when I need a BREAKTHROUGH, He will keep me moving forward.  And He can do the same for you.

We Need Some Breakthroughs Right Now…

#1.  For Our Churches–for souls to be saved and a supernatural move of Holy Spirit to touch the lives of His people.

A BREAKTHROUGH so spirit moved, that it couldn’t be refuted, challenged or denied; you knew, that you knew you were in the Presence of God.

#2.  We need a BREAKTHROUGH of the Holy Spirit Fire!

th_FIRE-1Like the AZUSA STREET REVIVAL.  It began with a meeting on April 9, 1906, led by Wilbur J. Seymour, the one-eyed 34-year-old son of former slaves.  [See Footnote [ii]].

A BREAKTHROUGH so awesome, that men and women would rise up to any occasion and do the work the Lord has called them to do!!

#3.  We need a BREAKTHROUGH in our VISION…

To look further than we’ve ever gone before.  To enlarge, to stretch, to lengthen, to strengthen and not hold back.

A VISION that goes beyond our borders–“Jerusalem” first, then Judea, Samaria…and the World!” (Acts 1:8 – paraphrased). 

This not only applies to the CHURCH as a corporate body, but also as an individual Christian.

You might need A BREAKTHROUGH in your VISION because right now, it’s dull and blurred.

You might need A BREAKTHROUGH so that you can clearly see what God has called you to do.

You might need A BREAKTHROUGH from apathy, indifference, and worst of all…LUKEWARMNESS.

We need a PHYSICAL BREAKTHROUGH!

Some need a FINANCIAL BREAKTHROUGH!

God wants us to know according to the words in Micah,  We don’t have to remain in the sheep pen…in the negative place we’re at, that He can give us BREAKTHROUGH!

God doesn’t want us to stay in captivity to any negative situation we find ourselves in.  He wants to BREAK down the gate and set us free–keep us moving in that direction.

THE GOD OF BREAKTHROUGH –

According to verse 13, God would clear a path for mankind and make a way to Himself.

Thank You Father for Your Son Jesus! 

God makes a way for us to be brought to Himself through His Son Jesus.  Thank God for His wonderful, awesome, amazing grace.

If you are reading this today, right where you are, JESUS wants you to experience A BREAKTHROUGH in your life.

You see SIN has the POWER to hold you captive.

But JESUS has a greater POWER TO SET YOU FREE FROM CAPTIVITY.

He wants to forgive you of all your sins, and come into your heart today.

If you will give Him your old life, He will give you a new one!!!


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Footnote [i] : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azusa-Street-Revival

Photo Credits:  Google Images and computer storage/personal Pictures [“fire”].

Bible Translations Used:  Amplified Bible, except where noted in the Text.

 

“Ready or Not, Here I come”– “But I’m Not Ready Yet!”

A STUDY IN 1 THESSALONIANS 5:

The blog-title for this POST came to me one morning, while remembering my childhood.

The past memories of growing up while living in Government Housing during the late 40’s, early 50’s.

What’s that have to do with a study in 1 Thessalonians?  Let me explain.

A Time of Celebration…

I had just returned from a Texas trip of celebration and joy.  My Dad had enjoyed his 100th birthday, along with a family reunion, and… three weeks later, he went home to be with the Lord.

So during the morning time of bible reading, it also became a time of reflection and memories of growing up in the San Diego area of California.

One thought lead to another as I laid the bible in my lap and closed my eyes, going down the proverbial “rabbit trail,” and finding myself at the end of the trail, as a 10 year old.

All the different games we would play in the neighborhood courts and protected front porches; Monopoly, Flashlight Tag, Kick-the-Can, Marbles in the nearby dirt alley ways.

No video games or “smartphones” to entertain us in those days.

When we got bored, our folks would calmly say, come “Go outside and play.  I’ll call you when to come in.”  Ouch!  But we did so, because that’s what all the kids did!  Sound familiar?

We could hardly wait for the opportunity while impatiently watching out the front door’s side window, waiting patiently for someone, anyone, to be the first outdoors:

“Hey dad…so-and-so is out playing, can I go out now?”

One game that every kid in the court and surrounding neighborhoods loved to play during the Summertime, was Hide and Seek.

The Game of “HIDE and SEEK” –

Hide and Seek
Hide and Seek

I loved playing hide and seek as a child.  Whether I was the one hiding, who didn’t want to get caught, or I was the one trying to catch the unsuspecting.

I remember that the seeker, or “it” as we always called him; who closed his eyes–count to 100, so everyone else could go hide.

Sometimes the seeker would close his eyes and then cheat a little–peep around and then you could hear him count,  “One, two, three, fourteen, fifteen, sixty-one and so on.”

Then you would hear him scream,  “Ready or not here I come!”  Four things I remember were always certain at that point:

#1.  He was surely coming.

#2.  He was coming when…He got ready.

#3.  He was coming whether you were ready or not.

#4.  And if you were not ready, then you would pay the consequences.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING READY- 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11:

The simple Hide & Seek child’s game, how that fun game parallels the second coming of Jesus.

The Apostle Paul exhorted the church in Thessalonica, the importance of being ready and the certain return of Jesus Christ.

(5:1-2a)  “BUT AS to the suitable times and the precise seasons and dates, brethren, you have no necessity for anything being written to you.  For you yourselves know perfectly well that the day of the Lord…”

THE CERTAIN RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST –

The Second Coming of JESUS is one of the most repeated teachings in all of Scripture.

And yet, the LIE EXISTS: “YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO GET YOUR LIFE IN ORDER.”

The Apostle Paul was well aware of this in penning the letter as he explained to his readers in the church.  They should be perfectly aware that JESUS was coming again.

Reminds me of a song sung in churches years ago,

CHORUS:  Coming again, coming again;

Maybe morning, maybe noon, maybe evening and maybe soon!

O, what a wonderful day it will be–

JESUS is coming again!

[Words and Music by John W. Peterson]

Not only did Paul tell them he shouldn’t even have to tell them again of Christ’s return, it should be obvious!

ILLUSTRATION:  A Tourist Driving Through West Texas.

991700f63d9427c720571a481bf68009While driving through West Texas, the driver stopped at a gas station to fill his tank with gas.  He happened to notice a piece of rope dangling from a sign labeled “Weather Forecaster.”

Being curious, the tourist asked the station attendant, “How can you possibly tell the weather with a piece of rope?”

“It’s simple, sonny,” the older man answered with a thick Texas drawl.  “When the rope swings back and forth, its windy, when it gets wet, it’s raining, when it’s frozen stiff, it’s snowing, and when it’s gone…tornado!”

There are some simple things that should be obvious without even asking.  The imminent return of JESUS is one of those things.

THE UNCERTAIN TIMING OF JESUS’ RETURN –

(5:2 b.)  “…as a thief in the night.”

The question is not “if” Jesus will return, but “when” will He return?

And Paul’s answer?  He’s basically saying, “No one knows.”  He describes the time of Christ’s return as a thief in the night.

Just as a THIEF plans his entry with uncertain timing when least expected, so will be the coming of the Son of God.

JESUS Himself declared in Matthew 24:36,  “But of that [exact] day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

And He later said in Matthew 24:44,  “You also must be ready therefore, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

NOT BEING READY BRINGS CERTAIN JUDGMENT –

(5:3-5)  [3] “When people are saying,  All is well and secure, and,  There is peace and safety, then in a moment unforeseen destruction (ruin and death) will come upon them suddenly as labor pains come upon a woman with child; and they shall by no means escape, for there will be no escape.  [4] But you are not in [given up to the power of] darkness, brethren, for that day to overtake you by surprise like a thief.  [5] For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we do not belong either to the night or to darkness.

Paul refers to the Second Coming of Christ as the “Day of the Lord”  (vs. 2).

Throughout Scripture, the “Day of the Lord” was the designation of that latter time in history [Old Testament, Joel 2:31; New Testament, Acts 2:20]; God would pour out His wrath on the ungodly.

When the Lord Jesus returns–rapture His people–then soon after our Lord will begin to pour out His judgments upon the earth in a time which many refer to as the Great Tribulation.

The Tragedy of this day is that so many will be unprepared.  Not only unprepared, but actually deceived and actively deceiving others in the process crying out,

“PEACE AND SAFETY.”  Adhering to spreading the LIE… “YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO GET READY.”  

While thinking there is no real danger at all, when in fact, destruction is immediately upon them.

THE CONDITIONS OF WALKING IN READINESS –

(5:6-8)  [6] “Accordingly then, let us not sleep, as the rest do, but let us keep wide awake (alert, watchful, cautious, and on our guard) and let us be sober (calm, collected, and circumspect).  [7] For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.  [8] But we belong to the day; therefore, let us be sober and put on the breastplate (corslet) of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

Living Daily with an Attitude of Watchfulness (vss. 6, 7).

“let us not sleep, as the rest do, but let us keep wide awake (alert, watchful, cautious, and on our guard…”  (verse 6).

As a SOLDIER is commanded to “stay alert” — “keep wide awake” — “WATCH!”, so as true believers, we too are commanded… to have an attitude of “spiritual awakeness” (gregario – Greek. word used).  

So must we as Christians!

Paul’s command to “watch” is in the present tense; meaning this must be a continual practice of the Saints (the true believers).  A matter of ATTITUDE.

A Roman soldier would be put to death for falling asleep on his watch.

The outcome could be just as fatal for the person not constantly looking for the return of Christ Jesus.

DISCIPLINE comes into play at this point.

LIVING DAILY WITH DISCIPLINE OF SELF-CONTROL –

Paul’s warning must not allow anything within our lives to influence our moral alertness…not anything!

Just like alcoholic beverages will greatly influence and inhibit a person’s abilities to focus–to make important decisions; sin (not the ‘drinking’ of spirits, but the results) will affect one’s ability to make moral decisions.  A person doesn’t become drunk with just one drink, but one drink can lead to two and then three.

Slowly, the person becomes drunk without noticing it and all of one’s senses become blurred, making oneself a danger to self and also others around them.

In the same way, if we do not control sin in our lives–not “watchful”–we soon are overcome by its effects and become oblivious to spiritual matters.  Therefore unaware and unconcerned about the imminent RETURN OF CHRIST JESUS.

As a drunkard who has passed out and oblivious to the world, so is the uncontrolled sinner who has spiritually passed out.  It takes daily discipline and self-control.

THE NEED OF HAVING DAILY PROTECTION – 

(5:8)  God’s Armor  “…let us be sober and put on the breastplate (corslet) of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

As BELIEVERS, we are clothed “in Christ” as Paul describes in detail on many occasions in his letters to the churches.

In other words, what Paul is saying, that once we are SAVED…we are battle dressed with the Armor of God, and that ARMOR protects our spiritual organs–spiritual heart and mind.

What is A HAT?  What is its function?

A HAT can be used for decoration as an accent to an outfit; to dazzle those around you and just look good!

It may be used as RECOGNITION; for identification such as a policeman’s hat or a chef’s hat…

It might be used for PROTECTION, such as a football player, or like my Dad wore his Fireman’s Helmet.

The HELMET identifies us with our savior…

It identifies us with JESUS…

It reveals to the world who we want to be identified with…but it also identifies us on how we should be acting and living!

SPIRITUAL PROTECTION –

The ARMOR we are given as a believer in Christ protects us from the enemy who is always out to destroy us…from this evil and broken world…and protects us from ourselves, from the terrible decisions we sometimes make (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

The Blessings that should Come from Being Ready!

(5:9-11)  [9] “For God has NOT appointed us to [incur His] wrath [He did not select us to condemn us], but [that we might] obtain [His] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)…  [10] Who died for us so that whether we are still alive or are dead [at Christ’s appearing], we might live together with Him and share His life.  [11] Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing.”

The PEACE of knowing, of always being READY for Jesus’ return is surely a BLESSING.

Therefore,you will look for Christ’s Coming with excitement and with expectancy instead of Fear and Dread.

THE COMFORT OF KNOWING…that you will be SAVED from the Wrath of God!

Quote:

“God’s people should plan for a VOYAGE of a thousand years, but be prepared to abandon ship tonight!”  ~ Joseph Bayly.

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CREDITS:

Photos– Photo Pin and Google Images.

Bible Translation:  Amplified Bible.

Commentary:  Bible.org – John Walvoord, “The Rapture and the Day of the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 5”; “how does the day of the Lord relate to the rapture?” – whenistherapture.com

The MYTH of “Supersessionism”

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

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Destruction of the Temple

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

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

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

WHAT IS SUPERSESSIONISM/REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY?

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

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

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

PROBLEMS ARISE IN “SUPERSESSIONISM”:

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

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

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

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

Starting at the beginning of the Bible–

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

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

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

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

“LET THE BIBLE EXPLAIN ITSELF!”

THE SECOND PROBLEM…

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

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

GOD’S GIVEN COVENANT–

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

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

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

And there’s more PROBLEMS arise in discounting ISRAEL…

IT MAKES GOD’S GRACE DEPENDANT ON MERIT.

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

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

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

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

God’s Children–

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

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

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

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

GOD WILL GIVE THE INHERITANCE AT THE PROPER TIME:

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

 

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

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

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

THE JUDGEMENT DOESN’T NULLIFY THE PROMISE–

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

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

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

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

No one will be afraid
No one will be afraid

MICAH 4 PROMISES…

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

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

ISRAEL is a PICTURE of the Christian Life.

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

When PROSPERITY FAILED…God sent prophets to warn them.

When WARNINGS FAILED…God sent unrest.

When UNREST FAILED…God sent enemies.

When ENEMIES FAILED…God sent destruction.

When ISRAEL REPENTED…God delivered them.

CHRIST’S CHURCH…

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

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

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

 

 


CREDITS:

PhotosPhoto Pin

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

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