Living the Quiet Life

The Quiet Man

A 1952 film directed by John Ford, and one of my personal favorites, starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond, and Victor McLaglen.  The story takes place in Innisfree, Ireland.  John Wayne’s character Sean’s quiet manner is attributed to a tragedy he experienced prior to his return to Ireland.  As a heavy-weight boxer in America, he had accidentally killed an opponent in the ring.  Devastated by the death, Sean quit the sport, vowing never to throw a punch again.  Although the movie is considered an American romantic, comedy-drama, I was personally drawn to the man’s character whose past had relegated him to a life of quietness.  The movie does the transition from the gentle and quiet man to a man who falls in love with Maureen O’Hara’s character and the interaction between the rest of the cast.  And of course, the ending is the typical Hollywood, happy ever after conclusion.  Whatever happened to that trend today?

SCRIPTURE READING: Living the Quiet Life – 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

Today, the phrase “quiet life” suggests one of rest or silent in nature.  But as Christians, we are to exude zeal and passion for the Christ we serve, right?  Taken literally in our terms, being “quiet” is in conflict with proclaiming the gospel message.  In our language, the word “quiet” refers to sound.  However, when I began to investigate the Greek meaning, it had a much broader meaning.  When you look at the ways that the Greek word is used, you see an underlying theme of tranquility of spirit.  So quiet doesn’t mean that we sit in our pews becoming nothing but bumps on logs.

We must remain faithful to Christ and serve Him however we can, not destroyed by our idleness.

The Greek language uses three words that are generally translated as “quiet” or “silent”:

  1. phimao – literally “to close the mouth with a muzzle.”  (Matthew 22:34; Mark 1:25; Mark 4:39).  
  2. sigao – normally translated “silence.”  It’s not necessarily that speech is forbidden, but that discussion should be ceased, such as in Luke 9:36.  Also in 1 Corinthians 14:14, the problem was aggressive women who were told to keep silent, since their conduct was contrary to biblical principle.
  3. And the third is our word for “quiet”, or “silence”, hesuchago.  It refers to an absence of internal disturbance, tranquility arising from within, and is used most of the time in regard to tensions and conflicts.  It’s not necessarily an absence of words but the absence of controversial speech.  [See footnote [i].]

This brings us back to our verse, 1 Thessalonians 4:11, “to lead a quiet life.”  It is a one-word verb in present tense form, meaning a continual, ongoing habit of life.  Who better than Paul himself to demonstrate this quiet life in action.

In Acts 17, Paul went to speak to the Jews of Thessalonica and several formed a mob to get him.  Rather than fight, he went on to the next city.  Look what happened (17:10):  As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea.  On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.

Not once, but twice, the very city he’s writing to about the quiet life attacked Paul.  Notice that Paul doesn’t slam them around, call them names, point fingers, or attack their character.  In love, he demonstrates resolve that more Christians need to demonstrate in this modern time.  Instead of undermining them, Paul seeks to build them up and motivate them to action.

Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit and when exercised, our lives will be characterized by inner strength and peace that Paul is referring to here.  

People should be able to see Christians as being at peace in times of conflict, not given to outbursts of anger, criticism, or violence.  Love will always (and I’m still learning this) opens more doors than anger or exorbitant emotions.

Passion is essential if we are to be solid Christians, but there are also three little letters that come before the word that make a world of difference.  When Jesus saw the multitudes, what did He feel?

COMpassion!

When we seek the quiet life, we must first seek compassion for God’s desire in our life, the needs of others as well as for our own needs.  Does this give us free rein to correct everyone we see making mistakes?  Paul warns us to …

MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!

I need to paraphrase the above:  “Keep your nose clean and keep it out of other’s lives!”  That first sounds a bit contrary to the gospel.  How can we tell others that they’ve got a sin problem if we don’t get into their business?

There’s a difference here between showing concern for an individual’s spiritual needs and becoming a “busybody”; seeking nitpicky excuses to get involved in the lives of others.  And yes, we should watch out for one another’s welfare.  Yes, we should also seek to help each other overcome our weaknesses.  And no, we can’t make these words sound like we shouldn’t seek to admonish, rebuke or restore an erring brother or sister in Christ.

Just as in the case of Paul and the Thessalonians, he saw that a spiritual need was there and it needed to be corrected, and thus he writes them in the church.  Did he try to intimidate them or embarrass them?  Did he go to a committee to back up his actions?  No!  He confronted them on his own and in the Spirit and reproofed them accordingly in love.

Now I know that most of the time, we don’t look to cause problems and blast someone.  But, I know in my own case, I’ve been guilty of this as well.  If we get too involved or to passionate about service over self-control, we wind up pushing people further away than when we started.  This goes for Christians as well as the lost.

What happens when someone who works for the kingdom makes a mistake?

If it’s the first time, do we A) bring it before the Church publicly,  B) talk about it behind their back, or C) pull them aside and privately speak about the problem?  According to Matthew 18:15 and Acts 18:24-28, the answer is “C”.

The Bible refers to the tongue as a double-edged sword for a major purpose.  The tongue is the human body’s most deadly weapon.  In a single word, you can damage your testimony in Christ–Not just temporarily, but for the rest of your life here on Earth.

Always think before you speak!

Because this double-edged sword can also be one of God’s greatest healing instruments.  When LOVE is used to explain our position instead of our own desires for what we think is right, then not only are there no hurt feelings, but there is PEACE– the very tranquility that Paul is talking about here.

The PEACE & QUIET that we desire in our lives and in our Church cannot exist unless we maintain a proper distinction between a true loving concern for our brother’s and sister’s welfare and pure opinion-based busybodyness.

If we are to be beacons of truth, and show the world we seek peace (rest), then all of us should be able to present our lives as examples of that PEACE.

From my own experience in helping raise three children, I found that you can’t teach patience to a child while losing your mind.  You can’t teach them to save, budget, and spend wisely, while “rewarding yourself” with MasterCard.  You will not teach them to be sincere and kind, while you unmercifully gossip about the flaws of others behind their backs.

Likewise, to live in this quiet life is to be an example of those lost children of the world who might be looking for a further reason to rebel against their heavenly Father, or who might be looking into finding out what’s in store if they seek a closer relationship with Him.

There’s one more point that Paul expresses in this quiet lifestyle:

WORK WITH YOUR OWN HANDS (4:11)

old wrinkled hands.

This is a two-pronged statement by Paul.  In Thessalonica, some people within the Church quit working altogether to be ready for Christ’s immediate return, or they had given up looking for work because of the persecution that came with being a Christian.  This was going against Jesus’ teaching because simply put, if a man didn’t work, he didn’t eat.  [2 Thess. 3:10]

Failing to provide for one’s family makes one worse than an unbeliever (See 1 Tim. 5:8).  God rewards hard work and diligence with His blessing, and although from time to time, we may need assistance from our brethren (or even our government), we are not to rely on this exclusively.  Remember to be content with what you have.

The second part of this statement involves the work of the Church.  It’s important for each of us to do our part building up the body of Christ, but it isn’t important to get into the details and specifics.  We don’t need to tell the congregation or an individual that I’ve given out the “X” number of Jesus Saves pamphlets, “X” number of Bibles, witnessed to “X” number of people.  That’s not what Christ seeks.  He wants people to know who He is and how they can become involved in a relationship with Him, and not about numbers or experiences we might have within the work.  Why else would Paul write and tie all this in together?

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1 that he was glad he didn’t baptize many in the city, because of the divisions it was causing, and stated that he hadn’t been crucified for them!  He didn’t seek to brag, as the people did.  It wasn’t about the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, or HOW’S that people came to know and obey Christ.  It was that they obediently sought the Kingdom of God.

Through our work, Jesus is building, but why be proud and pound your chest saying, “I brought them to Christ!”  NO!  They came to you, you planted the seed, and Jesus was there the whole time.  You didn’t deliver them!  He did, and we should quietly respect and revere the fact that He can do that, just as it was done for us.  If I can’t bring myself to salvation, how can another person?

We must remember to be diligent in HIS work and not work for our own ambitions.  Seek a quiet life and it will all work out for His greater Glory.

Remembering how our first verse started off on how we should make it our ambition to SEEK a Christ lead life.  Ambition requires diligence and determination, not to mention patience, understanding, motivating, and persistence.

Not too QUIET.  It’s definitely a lot more than sitting still and saying nothing!  But not enough to cause us to stress over.

God will meet our needs IF…we are obedient to His will (His Word) in our lives.

The Lord wants us to practice PEACE as much now as He did back then.  Division can come from many angles in the church and be started with the tiniest of words, but if we truly seek to be still, listen and know the Word of God over our tongues, then the words that divide us will fall down and peace will create solid unity.

1 Thessalonians 4:12 reads…

We should live in PEACE with one another…live in tranquility with one another…live in Christ with one another.  We have to be willing to call Him the sole Lord of our life and be obedient to His will.

A Moment Of Quietness ~

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Commentary:  Inside Outside – Sermon by Ed Vasicek on Aug. 31, 2007.

Music Video:  Word Of God Speak – Mercy Me.  YouTube 

Bible Translations Used in the Text:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New Living Translation (NLT); English Standard Version (ESV).

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Movie Research:  The Quiet Man, Wikipedia.

Footnotes:  [i] Greek Word Studies – Friday, March 30, 2007.  The word, “Quiet”.

 

The LORD Never Changes, and the Results?

Malachi 3:6

[THIRD IN THE SERIES ON THE BOOK OF MALACHI]

We saw in Chapter 1 Malachi reminds the people of God’s love.  Many times it’s the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.  But Malachi condemns their half-hearted attempts to worship God with “leftovers.”  They saved the best for themselves and then gave God the crumbs.

In Chapter 2 we see the priests (“spiritual leaders”) that they were no better than the people because they viewed their ministering as drudgery that they had to put up with.  They were just going through the motions to get a ‘paycheck’ (my term); they lost the heart and the passion for worship.

My Commentary on MALACHI 3:1-18 

Some things never seem to change.

The politician who promises the most before an Election and delivers the least afterwords.  Teenagers are always sure they know more than mom and dad till they get kids of their own.  Your paycheck almost increases as much as the tax rate.  Some things never change.  We’d like politicians to keep their promises, teens who listen now instead of later, and my Social Security benefit staying ahead of the tax rate.  Change can be a good thing.

On the other hand, I’m glad some things never change,  I’m glad the sun rises every day.  I’m glad for my wife’s unfailing love.  Most of all, I’m glad that in the midst of all that changes in this world, Malachi 3:6 says, “For I am the LORD, I do not change…” – God’s changelessness – what theologians call, His immutability–is comforting to me, no matter how my circumstances or feelings change, I always find Him to be sure and certain, faithful and loyal!

Malachi 3 breaks down 3 areas of God’s relationship with us that never changes–3 areas that will challenge and comfort our hearts.

HIS PASSION FOR PURITY (vv. 1-7)

I don’t like to peer into a glass of milk in the morning for breakfast and to my wondering eyes should appear, but black floaties in the glass.  If my dog, Ollie, somehow gets to the TV table to lick my plate when I left the room, and on my return, I catch him, I’m not going to eat from it!  And, in my humble opinion, water that’s not clear, isn’t fit to drink!!!  Purity will always be important in my life.

Malachi tells us PURITY is important to the Lord–so important that He is always passionate about our purity in worship and our obedience to His Word.

Back in Malachi 2:17, Israel asks the question, “Where is the God of Justice?”  They’re not just asking where He is–they’re asking God to show up and set things right.

VERSE 1 declares God answers with a personal appearance.  Jesus identifies the Messenger as John the Baptist in Matthew 11:7-10.  

But the main attraction is the LORD, whom you are looking for, whom you desire, suddenly comes to His temple and God Himself comes to His people, and Malachi says they get more than they bargained for.

VERSE 2:  But who can endure…who can stand?

The ANSWER is…Nobody!  He doesn’t come to put them on their backs–He comes to purify them, a refiner’s fire, like a launderer’s soap!  He comes to PURIFY His people like a metal worker, to clean His house spick and span.

He begins with their worship (vv. 3-4)

He will purify the sons of Levi that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.

The Levites were in charge of worship in the Temple.  God says their worship had degenerated into meaningless, mindless ritual, instead of thoughtful, adoration of their Lord.  God will purify them by bringing them back to worship Him in spirit and truth as they did in the old days (v. 4).

From the Temple, the Lord moves in verse 5 to purify the people in their obedience.

[5] “So I will come to put you on trial.  I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers, and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear Me,” says the LORD Almighty.”

God will judge those who don’t fear Him.  He will purge the land of rebels instead of just wiping them all out only because of His unchanging mercy (v. 6).

“I the LORD do not change.  So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed”

He invites them to return to Him, even though they act as if they have done nothing wrong (v. 7).

“Return to Me, and I will return to you”

On one level, this passage of Scripture reading predicts the coming and work of Christ.

Over 400 years after Malachi’s prophecy, God sends His messenger, John the Baptist to prepare the way for Christ.  And the Lord Jesus Christ does come to His temple to clean it out, purifying worship from hypocrisy, and calling out people to be purified as well, through the CROSS, to live obediently in the process.

On another level, this prophecy outlines God’s passion for His people everywhere.  The Lord is demonstrating to the people of His unchanging commitment to PURITY.  He loves them too much to leave them to their polluted worship.  He loves them too much to allow disobedience to corrupt their relationship with Him.

So in mercy, He makes a personal visit to purify them–even though they don’t realize how ‘dirty’ they really are.

The Importance Of Staying Healthy –

I’m told that whenever there’s an outbreak of sickness, one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy is to frequently wash our hands.  Doctors say you can pick up bacteria and viruses off almost anything these days–a doorknob, a telephone, a pen, a magazine in the doctor’s office.  That microscopic impurity can make you sick, and if you get a bad enough case, you can even die.  Purity is especially important to good physical health.

Through Malachi, the Lord tells us that purity is also important to our spiritual health.

It’s vitally important that our worship stay pure–purely devoted to Christ Jesus, not just meaningless rituals.  Worship that comes from the heart that truly adores the Lord, not just from singing a song, or praying a pastor lead prayer, or your pastor’s sermon.  Pure worship comes from a place down deep inside of you from a pure heart!

God is committed to our purity–we need to be committed to being PURE for Him,

Malachi mentions another area where God never changes.

God’s Blessing On Those Who Give To Him (vv. 8-12)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss out on the Lord’s blessing!  So pay attention to what Malachi is going to say regarding our willingness to be blessed!

Malachi Chapter 3 is perhaps the most preached, the most taught Scripture when it comes to the issue of GIVING in the church.  Preachers have been known to use this text to shame Christians who don’t give a whole lot to God’s cause.  And (in many churches) I suppose there’s a reason for the premise–the national average of giving is 3%, with the majority of the support – in any given church – a handful of people.

This passage almost preaches itself because that’s exactly what Malachi was trying to get across to the people.  He was shaming them.  Malachi was basically telling them, if they would put into their relationship with God, they’d get more out.  The Israelites had become lax in their obedience to the law and specifically the part of that law that required them to give a regular tithe to God.  But hey, they were under the Law – we’re not!  They were specifically instructed to give a 1/10 of their income to God -we’re not…at least I don’t think so.  Actually, it’s not quite that simple.

God is the Great Giver!

He gives us life, along with all the joys and pleasure that come with it–from eyesight, to love, to the colors of the sunset.  He’s always giving.  He wants His children to be generous givers.  This may be one reason why He commands us to give to Him–so that we can learn the blessing of giving.  

He is changelessly committed to blessing those who give to Him first.

BUT…Israel had made a trade–the garment of giving for the robes of a thief.

“How can anybody rob God?  No!,” Israel replies.

You might steal from somebody else and get away with it, but how can one steal from God, Who sees and knows everything?

“But you have robbed Me!”  [Nervous laughter].

Lord, how could we do such a thing, robbing You?  [The Lord isn’t smiling]

“You have robbed Me by not giving your tithes and offerings.  That’s why you are under a curse right now!”

What was the CURSE?

Vs. 11 gives the idea where God speaks of the devourer, vines that fail to bear fruit…insects that destroy crops, a blight which keeps the vines from producing a harvest.  God makes a connection they fail to make:  WHEN YOU STOP GIVING TO ME, I’LL STOP BLESSING YOU!

But God has a remedy built-in for their situation in verse 10:

The TITHES mentioned here were offerings given to God – 10% of all they owned. 

They were to be given, not as a duty, but as a way to WORSHIP the Lord, to acknowledge His ownership of everything, out of gratitude for His gifts to them.

The storehouse was the Temple; the Levites and priests.  Give to Me what I have commanded you to give and then I will open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it!

Jesus echoed the same changeless principle in Luke 6:38:

It’s an unchanging truth about God:  He always blesses those who give to Him first!

Whatever you do, don’t limit this timeless truth to MONEY, or POSSESSIONS.  Of all the things God can bless us with, money is the least valuable for one important reason.  Are you ready?  It doesn’t last!

Proverbs 23:4-5 (NIV)

[4] Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness.  [5]  Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

It’s true, often God will bless our giving financially, or give us more stuff. 

But the real blessing that comes from giving is eternal–the JOY of giving back to your Savior Who gave you so much; the peace that comes from not being enslaved to covetousness (keeping up with the Jones), or greed–the pleasure of seeing how God can use what you give, glorifying Him in changing the world.  The GIVING pays off in so many ways other than just more money, more stuff.

And remember this:  If you are not giving from a heart of worship, you’re not really giving to God at all!

Your giving is not a business transaction:  “If I give you this, you should give me that!”  Your giving is an important way you worship the Lord in acknowledging His ownership of everything and your gratitude for what He has already given you and about to give to you!

I remember when I was a new Christian and having a conversation with my wife after listening to our pastor’s message on tithing.  How could we as a family give 10 percent of our income to the church when we were having a hard time even keeping on top of our bills?  But we trusted in God’s provision and have been trusting Him ever since.  And God has always, and I mean ALWAYS, provided for us!

GIVING comes down to two things:

  • Who you love,
  • And who you trust.

Are you robbing God?  Or are you proving the promise of Malachi’s words here?

GOD ALWAYS BLESSES those who give to Him first.  That’s our unchanging truth.

One last thing I want to address about God that never changes is…

God’s distinction between the RIGHTEOUS and the WICKED (vv. 13-18)

“WHO’S THE ‘we’s?” (v. 14)

The Lord quotes the people’s murmuring in verses 14-15:  Does it really pay to serve the Lord?  Look around you at the wicked, evil people living the good life and we have it so hard!  Look at how all these sinners prosper and mock God, and we barely scrape by trying to be faithful followers.  Lord, it’s just not fair!!

Have you ever complained this way?  Maybe you watched all those celebrities who seem to get so much out of life than God-fearing people.  At your workplace, perhaps where the schemers, the liars, the people who don’t care one iota about God, who seem to get ahead, while the folks who love God try to live right and get run over.  It’s always been that way in the world.  The Lord doesn’t deny that’s the way it seems, but He offers a different perspective.

FIRST, He reminds the people:  I keep a close eye on the righteous.

It’s not clear who verse 16 refers to when it talks about those who feared the Lord.  Could they be the folks mentioned in verses 13-15 (maybe they had a change of heart)?  Or are they others who stayed loyal to the Lord, in spite of doubts and the doubters?  Whoever they are, God tells them, I’ve written your names in My Book and those who fear the Lord meditate,  (honor) His Name (vs. 16-17).  

And yes, Malachi is speaking openly to the Israelites, the Jews of his day.  But since Bible prophecy is multi-layered, like an onion, is the Book of Remembrance (vs. 16) pertain also to NT believers as well?  [See Rev. 3:5; 20:12; 21:27]  That’s a rhetorical question on my part.

We write down names to remember them; God writes down names to show us He never forgets the righteous (Rev. 20:17).

“They are My special peculiar treasure (My “jewels”).  I have special plans for their future.  There will come a day where everybody will realize I always make a distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous.”   (v. 18)

In eternity, serving God will pay off more than the wicked ever received in this life.  God always, always makes a distinction between the righteous and the wicked.

Matthew 13:47-50

It always pays to live in obedience and serve the Lord God Almighty.

It might not always seem to pay off here on earth, but in eternity, everyone who loves and serves the Lord will spend forever glad they did!  Everyone who didn’t love and serve will spend eternity wishing they had!

Some things never change: God’s passion for our PURITY, God’s blessing to those who GIVE to Him first, God’s distinction between the righteous and the evildoers.  Aren’t you glad these things about God never change?

And remember when you get discouraged and are tempted to wonder if it really pays to serve the Lord, bringing Him the glory…when we get home, it will be worth it all! 

Amen?

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CREDITS:

PHOTO/IMAGES:  Google Image Search.

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

Commentary:  “Our Unchanging God” – SermonCentral.com,  by Dean Rhine, Nov. 3, 2016.

 

 

“HEAR NOW WHAT THE LORD SAYS”

BIBLE STUDY:

The Christian View Of Christian Spirituality –

For the entire past century and longer, the Christian view of spirituality has been on trial in my country.  Before Christ was born, Micah saw that his nation and every individual must find their real life, their spiritual life in trusting the Lord Jesus.

GALATIANS 5:16-26

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentlenesses, self-control. Against such, there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. !

AND IN LUKE 17:11-19…

IMMEDIATELY, in our study, THE SCENE CHANGES –

And it’s no longer a nation that must answer, but the individual. Micah.  He asks, “What must I bring – what can I offer God to avert His wrath?”

The LORD’s Case Against Israel –

The LORD speaking through the prophet, Micah here:

Micah 6:1-8 (NLT)

[1]  “Stand up and state your case against me.  Let the mountains and hills be called to witness your complaints.  [2]  And now, O mountains, listen to the LORD’s complaint!  He has a case against his people.  He will bring charges against Israel.  

[3]  “Oh my people, what have I done to you?  How have I wearied you?  Answer me!  [4]  For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

[5]  Don’t you remember, my people, how King Balak of Moab tried to have you cursed and how Balaam son of Beor blessed you instead?  And remember your journey from Acacia Grove to Gilgal, when I, the LORD did everything I could to teach you about my faithfulness.”

[6]  What can we bring to the LORD?  Should we bring him burnt offerings?  Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves?  [7]  Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?  Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins?

What then does the LORD Require?

It is a RELATIONSHIP, not rituals, not ‘things’ the LORD wants.

This is where TRUE WORSHIP begins.

  • True Worship obeys, and to obey is better than sacrifice!
  • True Worship impacts and it changes lives and influences others!

We worship God when we obey Him–when we honor God’s Name, that’s WORSHIP! 

Samuel told King Saul ( 1 Samuel 15:22), 

“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices

as much as in obeying the LORD?

To obey is better than sacrifice 

and to heed is better than the fat of rams…”

Therefore, true worship can only come from a heart of obedience.

In true worship, we become and behave like the One we worship.  It’s not just an act (like bringing sacrifices or coming to church), it’s a LIFE!

I know, it’s not easy for us to remember, because we are so conditioned by the surroundings and by tradition, to think of WORSHIP as an event once a week.  We tend to compartmentalize our lives into different areas–church life, personal life, family life, corporate life, and social life.  That’s what we do!  And when we come through those church doors during the week, we decide…that’s WORSHIP!–an event where we are on our best behavior.  Well at least for some of us.

But WORSHIP is more than that.  Jesus tells the Samaritan woman by the well–it has nothing to do with the PLACE but the PERSON of God.

If WORSHIP is an encounter with Christ, then it happens every day and everywhere.

Each time I choose to OBEY God and do His will in my life…when His Name is honored by my words and behavior, I am worshipping Him!  I’m talking about worshipping Him every day,  It’s not just about songs we sing in the car, but our thoughts, words, and behavior.

My Christian faith isn’t an individualistic faith–it’s not just about me and God, and nothing else.

Israel was BLESSED to become a BLESSING to the nations that surrounded them.  God’s BLESSING isn’t an end in itself–it’s a witness to a lost and dying world.

It changes lives!

The question, in Micah 6:8, “What does the LORD require of you?” showed God’s expectations that God expects Israel’s faith to have changed their society, their surrounding communities.

It’s interesting to read and hear what God said to the prophet Ezekiel about SODOM & GOMORRAH:

The poor and needy are always on God’s radar screen.  People are God’s concern.

Forgetfulness:  It Can Be Hard to Remember Things.

Spanish philosopher Geroge Santayana famously stated the great truth that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

One of the greatest mistakes God’s people made in relatuionship was to forget who they were and lost their sense of identity as the covenant people of God, gradually drifting away from living their lives as God had intended for them.

God had said to them in Deuteronomy 6:12,  “be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

This happened not once, but time and time again.

The writer of Hebrews included a WARNING for New Testament believers not to make the same mistake.  But as I write this blog-study, I sense we are all in need of being continually reminded.  Only then can we fully appreciate the weight and relevance of the question presented by Micah”

“What does the LORD require of you?”

Micah sees a vivid picture of the destruction that will come about of the people beginning with their rulers and reaching unto the women and the children.

WHY?

Because JUDGEMENT was coming because the people of God were no longer living as the People Of God.  Instead, there was corruption, oppression, bribery, and injustice and all the while God’s people weren’t able to see that something had gone radically wrong.

WHAT HAD GONE WRONG?

The people of God neglected their relationship with the LORD–so much so that their hearts’ affections were overtaken by other things.  And this, in turn, was the explanation for the change in their attitudes, the way they were daily living and how they treated others.

AND THE CURE?

Not so much dealing with the symptoms but to deal with the cause.  A change in behavior would be the unavoidable outcome, returning to a meaningful relationship with the LORD.

It happens to Christians too!

We can drift away and as soon as we become cut off from the source of our life we no longer are motivated in the same way to be distinctive, nor do we have the passion anymore to do so.

Have you lost your passion?  Maybe your passion isn’t what it once was for the things of Christ!  Your relationship has grown cold; there are holes big enough in your relationship as if moth-eaten.

Micah Tells Them God’s Requirements For Getting Back On Track.  Repairing the Holes.

It’s as we are renewed in our relationship with God our Father, that we not only remember who we are in Christ Jesus, but we also take on His nature.

ACTING JUSTLY –

It wasn’t happening in Micah’s day (Micah 6:11) – “Shall I acquit someone with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights?”

Here was a society that was cheating one another, not God’s way.

In Psalm 51:6, “Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.”

In Proverbs 4:23. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

LOVING MERCY –

This isn’t just ‘having mercy’, but “loving mercy.”

Mercy is a rich and strong word, meaning loving-kindness in action.  There’s an element of unexpectedness about it.

Mercy conveys a sense of LOVE and KINDNESS that’s not expected.  It’s doing acts of kindness to others out of love.  Like in the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible, it was the one considered least likely to offer help who did so.  Or the story of the woman caught in adultery that teaches compassionate mercy scarcely revealed in Old Testament law.  Or the dying thief on a cross who believes.

It’s a way of life that reflects the LOVE of God for us.  It is taking on and living out Godly nature.

WALKING HUMBLY WITH GOD –

I love this quote I came across in my study this week:

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s just thinking of yourself less.” 

by Kris V.

HUMILITY is a theme of the entire Bible.  But God gives a ‘greater’ grace.  Therefore it says in James 4:6,  “But He gives us more grace.  That is why Scripture says:  “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

And in Zephaniah 2:3,  Seek the Lord [inquire for Him, inquire of Him, and require Him as the foremost necessity of your life], all you humble of the land who have acted in compliance with His revealed will and have kept His commandments; seek righteousness, seek humility [inquire form them, require them as vital].  It may be you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.  (AMP)

Have this attitude within yourselves that was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, He didn’t regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

We Walk (in the Spirit), HUMBLY when we come to Him in prayer.

I love the prayer that goes, “Dear Lord, so far today I am doing all right.  I have not gossiped, not cursed, lost my temper, and been greedy, nasty or self-indulgent.  However, I am about to get out of bed in a few minutes, and I will need a lot more help after that.”

To WALK HUMBLY with God is to “live carefully” to acknowledge that we don’t have it altogether, so we go to God for help.

1 Peter 5:6 (NIV)

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.”

To sum it all up, it’s not all about giving “things” to God.

More than “things,” God requires us to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly before Him.  We can give all kinds of gifts to our church, but God is interested in the QUALITY of our lives.

We need to reconsider the way we are living our daily lives.

We need to first acknowledge our sins and then be willing to submit to God’s Mercy.  It’s only through a humbling of ourselves that we will be allowed to walk with God.

The response of a godly heart is outward (do justice), inward (love mercy), and upward (walk humbly) giving Him glory for it.

May the LORD enable us through Christ Jesus Who is our strength to live according to His Word.

AMEN

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CREDITS:

Dictionary:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Ols and New Testament Words.

Commentary:  Sermon Central – Micah 6:1-8 [various contributors].

Photo/Images:  Google Image Source.

Bible Translations:   New International Version (NIV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), Amplified Bible (AMP), New Living Translation (NLT).

 

INTERNAL COMBUSTION

Scripture Study:

  

Jeremiah is an old prophet in this passage of Scripture.  He had not always been listened to by the former kings, but he was somewhat respected.

In chapter 20. just prior to the collapse of the Nation of Judah to the Babylonian Empire. Jeremiah is persecuted and placed in stocks and ridiculed by the people.  I can understand his frustration that may have festered from within.  All of us go through the problems of life that frustrate us.

In Jeremiah’s situation–nobody would listen to him, not even his best friends.  He was angry.

I can understand his despair.  You know that God has called you into ministry, yet, you feel that you are rejected by those who you’ve been sent to minister to.

Jeremiah wished that he had never been born,

He regrets he has been called to preach.

He vows to himself he will never preach again.

He wants to quit life altogether.

Jeremiah 20:9 a. (NIV)

Jeremiah then said,  “I will not mention His word or speak any more in His name.”

When you read this verse in context with the rest of this passage, you can see and understand his frustration, his complaint before God; however, I looked at this verse in another way.  I believe that this verse more than any other statement made in Scripture summarizes who Jeremiah was.

Jeremiah 20:29 (b)

His word is in my heart like a fire shut up in my bones.  I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot!”

One quality that must be present before Internal Combustion can take place in believers is they have completely surrendered everything to God.  Surrender may start with SALVATION, but it certainly doesn’t end there.  Surrender only starts to become complete when we embrace the Cross and fulfill the calling God has for us.

Think about what Jeremiah experienced when he first received his calling from God in Jeremiah 1:4-9.

Then in Luke 9:23,  

Then He said to them all:  “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.”

When Jeremiah answered God’s call, he surrendered everything!  Though he lived hundreds of years before Christ, he certainly knew what it meant to carry the cross!

How God calls us to sacrifice is different for each person.  Many people are eager to embrace the salvation aspect of the Cross but balk at the discipleship end of it.  To embrace the Cross means that we will sometimes have to inconvenience ourselves to answer the calling, but if we didn’t then it wouldn’t be a CROSS.

Sometimes we hesitate at Christian service because we don’t feel that we are gifted enough to serve.  But God doesn’t care about our abilities!  He cares only about our availability!  He only cares if the fire is burning inside of us!

If you are reading this study and feeling that the spiritual fire has dwindled, then ask yourself if there’s any sin in your life.  Sin is like a bucket of water being thrown over the coals.

“Where’s the fire?” 

Jeremiah 1:9 (NKJV)

Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me:  

“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.”

Hebrews 4:12

Ephesians 6:17 (NIV)

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Psalms 37:31 (AMP)

The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.

The verses referenced above speaks of God’s Word as like a sword.  I’ve always been drawn to and fascinated with medieval warfare.  Books like Lochinvar, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and many others.  In the middle ages, knights battled it out with long swords.  You needed a long sword to do battle effectively in the middle ages.

How much time you and I spend in the Word determines how long our sword is. 

For some believers, the sword is only a nail file.  For others, their sword is only a pocket knife.  Remember that your enemy, the devil, has a long sword.  Remember that you are daily in a spiritual battle.  Remember that you need to arm yourself daily in order to do effective battle.  Arming yourself with God’s Word keeps you sharp!  It keeps you on fire!

On Fire and Broken

Jeremiah 4:19 (NET)

“Oh, the feeling in the pit of my stomach!  I writhe in anguish.  Oh, the pain in my heart!  My heart pounds within me.  I cannot keep silent.  For I hear the sound of the trumpet; the sound of the battle cry pierces my soul!”

The most anointed ministry is one through BROKENNESS. 

Being broken for the lost means being vulnerable.  This involves evangelism, servanthood, and intercession.  All big words.  We read at the beginning of this verse that Jeremiah is brokenhearted for the lost people of his generation.  Are you willing to be brokenhearted for the lost people you know?

“WHERE HAS THE FIRE GONE TO?”

Although Jeremiah’s spirit was in the dumps and seemed to be broken, he couldn’t stay down.  As soon as he was released from the stocks, he opened his mouth up with another sermon.  He had to get back into the ministry.  He would not be silent.  He had a fire in his bones!

I can completely understand why people get frustrated, angry, and filled with despair in ministry.  I know this because I’ve been there.  What I don’t understand is how a person who calls themselves a Christian can stay down.  Every person who has been born-again in the spirit has a fire in their bones.  It’s the same wind and fire of Pentecost.  It’s the FIRE put there by the Holy Spirit.

The world needs your witness.

The Church needs your help.

There is a Heaven!  There is a Hell!  Wake up!  Come alive again!  Let the Holy Spirit awaken you to righteousness!

On-fire Believers are compelled by the LOVE of Christ

“For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if]  One died for all, then all died;”                                     [2 Corinthians 5:14] – (AMP)

Thinking back to the times when I was dating my wife to be, it seemed like we talked on the phone for hours during the week.  My conversation with my friends was constantly remarking about her qualities as I was consumed with the topic of my beloved.  I was excited about an opportunity to share about her!

What would happen if we as believers fell head over heels in love with Jesus?  What if we chose to make 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 a cornerstone of our lives.

If every Christian did this, we would shake the world!  Love makes us do some amazing things!

Here’s a truth:  What you love the most is what fills your life the most!  It’s also what stands out the most in your life!

Jesus said:  “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  (Matthew 12:34)

And in Matthew 6:21 – “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  

What’s coming out of the overflow of your heart?

When you are in LOVE with God, witnessing for Christ no longer seems like an obligation, but like talking about someone you love!  The Bible is no longer a textbook you bring to church on Sundays, but a love letter!  Prayer is no longer a chore, but a daily phone conversation with someone you’re in love with!  Giving to God no longer is like paying taxes, but like buying a gift for your beloved.  In avoiding sin, it is no longer motivated by fear of consequence, but fear of breaking God’s heart!

Talent is never enough!

Your life has to be fueled by a love for Christ.

What controls our life?  What guides our decisions?

In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul writes about how he and those working with him persevere through trials.  Ultimately, it was the LOVE of Christ that empowered them!

When we become passionate, INTERNAL COMBUSTION will become noticed on the outside by others and ask about the HOPE in us [1 Peter 3:15].  

People will be drawn to us because of our LOVE for Jesus!

We become beacons of light in their darkness!

We become radiant with His presence!

Psalm 34

[5]  Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

Those in darkness are seeking someone with light that will guide them to the ultimate Light!

Are you willing to be that light?  Will your life be one that’s ignited by a burning passion for Jesus?  Are you willing to let your passion shine for all to see?

If you have to find a place on the altar of Faith, then to cry out to God.  Get angry with God if you must.  Make out your complaint.  Cry.  Have tears.  Wait…And let the fire grow within you once again!

Ezekiel 36:26 (AMP)

A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

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CREDITS:

Commentary:  Jerry Depoy’s sermon notes; Where’s the Fire?

Photos/Images:  Google image search.

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

 

Living Out Our Lives In the Anointing

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  AMOS 3:7-8 (ESV)

WHAT WE SHOULD KNOW AND UNDERSTAND –

VERSE 7:  “SURELY the Lord God will do nothing without revealing His secrets to His servants the prophets” (AMP).

We know that we can prepare boldly for what is coming because Jesus gave us the prophetic signs of our time.  He told us what we should look for and because of His words, we know that we’re living in the LAST DAYS because prophetically the Bible has shown us where the CHURCH will be in the future.  We know that it will end in glory and will end strong and not weak.

The Laodicean Church, one of the 7 churches mentioned in The Revelation to John (Rev. 3:14-17).  In this passage of scripture, Jesus spoke about the last days but it will not be the final church because the LAST CHURCH will be united and strong and will grow into the full stature of Jesus.

God is equipping and preparing us for great and mighty things so we will finish strong!  We will take the NATIONS for Jesus’ sake by PREACHING the Gospel of Christ to the ends of the earth!!

The DEVIL has already been defeated and although he will exert great power on the earth, his reign of terror will end in the lake of fire.

THE ENTIRE WORD OF GOD IS PROPHETIC…meaning “foretelling,” and “forth telling.”

But it is also apostolic because the word “apostolic” is a DOING word.

James 1:22 (The Message Bible)

“Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other.  ACT on [or “DO”] what you hear.”

To be apostolic means we must be “doers”: acting on what you hear!  And what we do should extend beyond the four walls of our church by extending to the ends of the earth.

An APOSTLE is a person who performs the Word IN DEED.

At Pentecost, the disciples became apostles because they were ANOINTED to do ministry.

Jesus’ ministry was apostolic because of what He did (Acts 10:38).

[38] How God anointed and consecrated Jesus of Nazareth with the [Holy] Spirit and with strength and ability and power; how He went about doing good and, in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil, for God was with Him  (AMP).

And since Jesus gave us the command to “go then and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19), as fellow disciples we are ANOINTED to do ministry.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (AMP)

[21] But it is God Who confirms and makes us steadfast and establishes us [in joint fellowship] with you in Christ, and has consecrated and anointed us [enduing us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit];  [22] [He has also appropriated and acknowledged us as His by] putting His seal upon us and giving us His [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as the security deposit and guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise].

The definition of an APOSTLE is, “one who is sent forth” to represent another.

And as the ANOINTED, we, as believers are sent by God to represent heaven on earth.  We are to be the answer to a distressed world.

The true definition of the apostolic ministry is “Someone who is anointed by God [not man] to perform a supernatural task on earth by adding to God’s Kingdom.”  It implies that we can ALL be apostolic through the indwelling Holy Spirit’s power!

But are we really “doers”?

God has always been building His Kingdom or building His church which is the same thing.

Some Terminologies in the WORD May Change.

The first time the word “apostle” was used was in the New Testament.  It was never mentioned in the Old Testament, but its meaning carries the same function in the Old and New Testaments–because God has always sent man and woman to represent Him and to perform work for Him.

There are ANOINTED people who are DOING in the name of the Lord but they are not sent by God to do whatever they’re doing.  If we are not sent by God we will not be acknowledged by Him.  So it is important to DO only what God directs us to DO.  That’s what Jesus did.  He never did anything without God’s permission.

God has called each one of us to work with Him and He is building His Kingdom with us and through us.

GOD IS THE BUILDER!!!

Colossians 1:15-17 –

From this revelation in Scripture (God’s Word), we can see the great apostolic power of Jesus as the Creator and because He created everything, He has POWER and AUTHORITY over everything He created.

Those who have an apostolic anointing are also creative and the things they BUILD for God are a testimony against the kingdom of darkness.

Matthew 16:18 (NIV)

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

What God BUILDS will defeat the devil and the things we BUILD with God cannot be destroyed by the enemy.

To be APOSTOLIC…and I know there are those reading this blog who are uncomfortable using this term…is being sent in BUILDING SOMETHING that exults God and overcomes the enemy.

Anything that was built by God and His workers in the Old Testament, by definition, is APOSTOLIC and anything built by God and His workers since then is APOSTOLIC.

GOD IS NOT YET FINISHED BUILDING HIS KINGDOM!

For example, He has not yet created a new heaven and a new earth which He will do in the future.  That’s part of His future plans and we are part of His present plans.  That is why we need the BLUEPRINT for today.

God has ANOINTED every one of us to BUILD apostolically.

Everything we see in the physical or natural environment responds to WORDS.  That’s the way God’s creation is designed:  “God said…God saw”  (Genesis One).

God has given us the ability and the authority to frame our world with His Words.  Prophetic Words have POWER and can be spoken into our circumstances in order to shape our world so that it reflects the MAJESTY AND POWER of God’s Kingdom.  So watch your words!

When these spoken words are applied to God’s creation, there will be a response.  However, there’s a time to SPEAK and a time to DO things.  That’s why we need both the APOSTOLIC AND PROPHETIC ANOINTING.

Any impressive building has a CORNERSTONE to show that it is valuable.  It usually contains inscribed the names of the Architect, the Master Builder, and the Visionary.

All that God BUILDS is valuable and JESUS is the Chief Cornerstone of everything He builds (1 Peter 2:6-8).  If Jesus isn’t part of the building then it’s not worth building.  And if it is not built by Him, then it’s not His building.

When Jesus is the CORNERSTONE, what we build, whether it is our spiritual life, our marriage, our home life, our career, our businesses, the name of Jesus will always be a stumbling block to those who oppose Him because the CORNERSTONE will reflect heaven.

God wants everything to be built on His apostolic BLUEPRINT.

The reason being that it can EXALT Jesus who is the Creator and the greatest example of the APOSTOLIC ANOINTING.

Hebrews 3:1 (NIV)

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.

God wants every family to have an apostolic blueprint so that they can be built according to His plans with Christ Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone.

When others see the building, not necessarily a physical building…God will be given the GLORY.  God wants to be glorified in our families, our ministries, our businesses, and every other aspect of our lives.  But He can only be GLORIFIED if things are built according to His design.

When His name is on the building, it becomes a stumbling block to the kingdom of darkness, but LIFE and HOPE to the world.

Every Ministry Should Have An Apostolic Blueprint to Succeed.

In order to fulfill our the requirement, we need to find the BLUEPRINT of the cities and nations that God is giving us to REBUILD.  And because anything that hasn’t been built according to how God wants it built MUST be broken down and rebuilt.

AND…there’s nothing wrong with rebuilding.

Rebuilding because there are things that must be redesigned, restructured, and repositioned so that God can be given the GLORY.

If your life, my life, is not offending the kingdom of DARKNESS, that means that Jesus is not the CORNERSTONE because the Cornerstone will be the Rock of offense to everything that refuses to bow to Hum.

The laying of the CORNERSTONES is in accordance with our apostolic built-up anointing because God wants us in our ANOINTED lives to place Christ back in the cities and the nations.  And when the building is complete, Jesus is going to be the CORNERSTONE of that city or nation.

Revelation 11:15 (AMP)

The seventh angel blew [his] trumpet, and there were mighty voices in heaven, shouting, The Dominion (kingdom, sovereignty, rule) of the world has now come into the possession and become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (the Messiah), and He shall reign forever and forever (for the eternities of the eternities)!

WHEN WE BUILD THINGS FOR GOD He places us into the foundation of that building as a TESTIMONY for eternity.

The New Jerusalem – Revelation 21:12 & 14 (NIV)

[12] It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates.  On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

[14] The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The names of the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles are etched on the FOUNDATIONS of the New Jerusalem that contributed to the building.  God advanced His Kingdom through the TWELVE TRIBES of Israel who possessed the Promise Land and laid down the FOUNDATION for the nation of Israel performing their apostolic part.

After Pentecost in the New Testament, God built the CHURCH through the early apostles and they laid down the FOUNDATION of the New Covenant for Believers (that’s us) to build on and they completed their apostolic part.

Ephesians 2:20 (AMP)

You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself the chief Cornerstone.

What we do for God today means something and He remembers the names of those who have worked for Him and with Him.  God doesn’t merely use your life and resources and then forgets about you, but He remembers your name and blesses you and your children up to the THIRD and FOURTH generation.

When we operate prophetically and apostolically in our lives God will make sure that your name is in the FOUNDATIONS for all to see and He will send others to BUILD on that Foundation generation to generation.

You Have An Unique Anointing – 2 Corinthians 6:1 (AMP)

Laboring together [as God’s fellow workers] with Him then, we beg of you not to receive the grace of God in vain [that merciful kindness by which God exerts His holy influence on souls and turns them to Christ, keeping and strengthening them–do not receive it to no purpose].

That unique anointing should express itself in you PASSION.  And as an example, if you have a PASSION for seeing people HEALED…God will use you for healing.

Remember, we can’t do anything without Christ because He is the SOURCE OF THE ANOINTING.  ALWAYS!

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CREDITS FOR THIS BLOG:

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

Commentary:  What is the anointing?  What does it mean to be anointed? – gotQuestions?.org.

PHOTOS:  Google Image search, using the referenced Scripture verses.

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

 

 

 

 

Why Do The “Righteous” Suffer? (PART TWO)

[ Continued from PART ONE – https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/why-do-the-right…suffer-part-one/  ]

“FEAR NOT!” –

Then he [Jesus] called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said:  “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”  ~ Mark 8:34-35 NIV Bible.

We FEAR many things as Christians to this WORLD’s perception of who we are.  We FEAR that somehow, unbelievers will think we are RELIGIOUS fanatics and won’t see us as “regular” people and not like themselves, with goals, and hopes, and mortgages, and dentist bills.

We FEAR being misunderstood, that they will conclude that we think we are better than they are.

Even as a follower of the Lord since 1972, I’ve never underestimated the FEAR that most people have in the need to be accepted.

In the HISTORICAL context of the Scripture passage in 1 Peter 3:13-15: PETER instructs us as mature believers and not to be afraid to assert our LOVE and PASSION for God.  It is worth the risk of being misunderstood and to be a person of FAITH!

When I meditate on the verses given, it really boils down to this:

Am I, as a follower of Christ Jesus, am I willing to allow the Lord to direct MY LIFE; shape my ethics and control my ethics and control my conduct, even if it puts me at odds with the culture in which I live?

The person who lives a godly life is going to face FEAR of rejection and intimidation in a culture that embraces the philosophy that says,

“There are no moral absolutes and all truth is subjective”

In such a culture, God’s Word demands us, “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”

Zig Ziglar, a Christian motivational speaker says:  FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real!

We often run from the imaginary and as Job lived,  “that which I feared the most has come to pass”  (Job 3:25).

There are legitimate fears–FEARS that cause us to be cautious:  FEAR of driving on I-5 at the rush hour in Los Angeles/Seattle [I’ve personally experienced both], or, FEAR of snakes [I’ve experienced this also!].  That kind of FEAR is really more respect that can save us a lot of heartache in the end!

PETER wants us to NOT be afraid and to live for JESUS; to let His life dominate ours.

THE SPIRITUAL ANTIDOTE (v. 14-15):

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[14] But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,  [15] but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;  (NAS bible).

The SOLUTION to FEAR is infallible, meaning it is without error…“but in your hearts…”

Verse 15 gives a very simple solution to obtaining VICTORY over FEAR.

  • SPIRIT-FILLED DEDICATION

“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts”

That simply means, we are to recognize Christ Jesus as OUR LORD, OUR SAVIOR and MESSIAH.

The Apostle Peter, in no uncertain terms, is challenging ALL believers too; that is you and I,  to set apart the LORD JESUS as Lord in our hearts, our being; giving first place to Him in obedience in our lives.

What sounds easy, appears to be a challenge to churches today and perhaps, the greatest problem.  

In a 1999 Gallup Poll, it showed that 78% of Americans expect to go to heaven when they die.  However, less than 30% ever pray, read the Bible or attend church on a regular basis.  And Christians wonder why they are filled with FEAR.

  • SCRIPTURE BASED EDUCATION

“ALWAYS be prepared to give an answer…”

The Spirit-filled life prepares us for education, but doesn’t educate us.  We must APPLY our hearts and minds to God’s WORD under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

The word “ANSWER”  is from the Greek word apologia, (op-O-low-gee’-ah), to make a plea; to give an answer for clearing of self; to make a defense  [Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, page 29 of N.T. Words].  It is where we get our word ‘apologetics’ from.

There is a reason for having a Scripture based education, because Satan is a LIAR– with the attempt to let FEAR overwhelm you with his lies.

It is the Spirit-filled Christian who is filled with the knowledge of Scripture that is able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

“SUNDAY ONLY CHRISTIANITY”, won’t serve in defeating your FEARS!

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COFFEE in the church foyer may fill up your styrofoam cup, but never will it fill the life of the believer with the POWER and KNOWLEDGE of Truth that enables you to give an answer–to stand in the midst of an attack designed to cripple your life with FEAR.

“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions and instructions which you were taught by us, whether by our word of mouth or by letter  (2 Thess. 2:15).

God is looking and waiting for His people to SEEK HIM with Passion; to trust Him with the faith of a child and to make Him Lord of their life.

If your BIBLE is neglected and your spiritual passion is on empty, you won’t be able to STAND when FEAR strikes your heart or home!

SPIRITUAL ENCOURAGEMENT –

I thought I would give you some Scripture references that have encouraged me over the years when FEAR has come to roost on my life.

Exodus 14:13:  Moses told the people, FEAR NOT; stand still (firm, confident, undismayed) and see the salvation of the Lord which He will work for you today.

Deuteronomy 31:6:  Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.

Joshua 1:9:  Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

2 Chronicles 20:17:  You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord [Who is] with you…FEAR NOT nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.

Job 11:13-15:  If you set your heart aright and stretch out your hands to [God]. if you put sin sin out of your hand and far away from you and let not evil dwell in your tents; then can you lift up your face to Him without stain [of sin, and unashamed], yes, you shall be steadfast and secure; you shall NOT FEAR.

1 Corinthians 16:13:  Be alert and on your guard; stand firm in your faith (your conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, keeping the trust and holy fervor born of faith and a part of it). Act like men and be courageous; grow in strength.

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CREDITS:

BIBLE Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted in the text.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Are We Living Our Lives In A Wall?

When God Tells the Story.

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

The Family Tree.

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

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

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Living In Ancient Cities…

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

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

Living In A Wall.

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

A CASEMATE
A CASEMATE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The house of Rahab in the Old Testament is PICTURE

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

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

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

A Genuine Born Again Experience –

The Blood of Christ…

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

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

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

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

There is POWER IN THE BLOOD!

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

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

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

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

A Life Lived In Holiness!

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

The red rope [cord, thread]…

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

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

THERE’S POWER IN THE BLOOD!

A Passion for Souls!

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

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

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

THE FIELDS ARE WHITE
THE FIELDS ARE WHITE

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

A Plan of Hope!

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

Only Rahab had a plan!

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

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

RAHAB’S HOUSE IN THE WALL

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

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

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

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

Remember again the cry of the Father:

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

 


Credits:

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

Bible Translations used: 

Amplified Bible, English Standard Version, New Living Translation.

Images used:

Photo Pin; Google Images