SANCTIFIED: To Be Set Apart As New Creatures

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

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

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  

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

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

Paul’s Second Letter to the Church

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

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

The Word Is Constantly Changing

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

The Silver Ladle Story:

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

We are chosen people (1 Peter 2:9)

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

2 Corinthians 6:17 (NIV Bible)

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

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

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

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

Being Separate–SANCTIFIED.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 6:14, 16 (NIV Bible)

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

[16]  What agreement is there between the Temple of God and idols?  For we are the temple of the living God.  As God has said:  “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

3.  Avoid any situation that you are unsure of:

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

JUST DO THE RIGHT THING!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avoidance of the lusts of the flesh.

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

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

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

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

Remember the words of Joshua chapter 24, verse 15…

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CREDITS –

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

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

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

 

 

 

And I Saw God’s Glory!

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  Isaiah 6:1-3 (NIV)

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

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

[3]  And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;

the whole earth is full of his glory.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE HOLINESS OF GOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Worship Connection of His Holiness and Glory –

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

EVERYTHING!!!

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

WHY THE CROSS?

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

2 Corinthians 5:21 (AMP)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happened when Isaiah saw this VISION of God?

CONVICTION –

“Woe is me!  I am undone and ruined.”

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

CONFESSION –

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

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

CLEANSING –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We give God the GLORY!!!

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CREDITS

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

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

Images:  Google Image search.

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

Eternal Security GUARANTEED!

At the core of every human being is the desire to be APPROVED–to be liked.  Our self-esteem is often set by the opinions of others around us.  And from those opinions, so many of us feel bad about ourselves.  That deep down inside our soul we have a sense of failure–failed either to please those around us, ourselves or our heavenly Father.

The Apostle Paul seems to reinforce our own notions of failure in the first seven chapters of the Book of Romans in the Bible.

In my flesh, that is my old nature, Paul tells us,  “dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:5).

Paul sums it up at the end of the chapter by saying, “What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:24)  Then he answers his own question without taking a breath:  “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vs. 25).

So it’s not through our own efforts, through our family line, through our associations or deeds that we receive acceptance–but it’s through the efforts of Jesus Christ on our behalf that we are rescued, cleansed and loved and then empowered and changed by that relationship.

Acceptance Brings Security Forever!

“I DON’T WANT TO GO!  DON’T MAKE ME LEAVE!”

One of the saddest stories I’ve read was about the biological mother of this young boy who had won a bitter legal battle to reclaim her son from his adoptive family.  When she arrived with her lawyer to take him from the only home he had ever known, the terrified 4-year-old little boy pleaded with those he knew as Mommy and Daddy not to give him up to this complete stranger.

“Don’t make me go,” he begged.  “Please, please don’t send me away!”

Without an understanding of the courts, lawyers and legal codes, the boy was removed and left to wonder what he had done to be banished from those who had always said they loved him.

Some Christians live with the terrifying insecurity that in God’s mind lurks a willingness to send them away if they fail or disappoint Him.  Despite their love of God, they fear that God will withdraw His love from them and remove them from His heavenly home forever.

In the Bible, however, God promises His children that once He sets His love on them, we can be secure in that love forever!

The place to begin to understand a believer’s security with God is with God,–for a believer’s security is not rooted in the believer, but in the believer’s God.

The Believer’s Relationship with the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:1 (GNT)

“There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus.”

This one verse should be tattooed on everyone’s hand–printed on paper and posted on your fridge, and memorized by every believer.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, how you’ve acted, who you are–how much you think you’ve failed–if you are truly in Christ, you are NOT condemned anymore.  Think about that, let it settle in.

God isn’t sitting in heaven with a big hammer in His hand, waiting for you to mess up so He can whap you on the head.  That’s hard for us to accept–quick to judge ourselves–so Paul goes on to tell us why this is a reality.

Romans 8:2-4 (AMP)

[2]  For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and death.

[3]  For God has done what the law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Slirit].  Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice].  [Lev. 7:37]

[4]  So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit].

We are under a new authority–jurisdiction now–it’s like when you leave your residing country, you are no longer under your country’s laws, but the law of whatever country you go to.

By believing in Jesus Christ, you left the country called “the world” and have joined God’s kingdom–and are now under a new law–a law called “the law of the Spirit of life.”

So, in Christ, we are not condemned because we’ve been set free–[in verses 1-4]. 

Set free from what?

Romans 8:5-8

So set your mind on the Spirit–

That’s easier said than done–but it’s important to see the distinction.  I think one of Paul’s points is that we have been empowered and set free–the chains have been broken–so we can now choose which mind will control us.

Before I was a Christian my sinful nature controlled my mind.  There was a little tract being passed around at the time by the Billy Graham organization during his Crusades around the country called “Have you heard of the Spirit-filled life?”  Inside it showed the life of a person who doesn’t have Jesus–priorities, hope. actions–all out of whack with no order or purpose.  We are controlled–either by the sin nature or by the spirit nature–the Spirit of God.

A life controlled by Jesus has order and purpose.

The order becomes more evident the more time you spend in the relationship in Christ.  There’s a wonderful promise here in that even though we continue to live in bodies we live with a nature that’s opposed to God–one day our perishable bodies will put on an imperishable nature.  Like Jesus, we will have a perfect, indestructible body without a flesh nature–won’t that be wonderful?

So where then does our loyalty lie?

Romans 8:12-13 (NIV)

[12]  Therefore, brother and sisters, we have an obligation–but it is not to the flesh to live according to it.  [13]  For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

We have an obligation Paul says–it’s the idea of owing a debt to someone–like a mortgage to a bank.  God gave us life through the Spirit, so we are in debt to Him, He owns us–it’s a spiritual reality we need to make in an outward reality in our lives.  We are no longer indebted to our sinful nature–in fact, we need to put to death the flesh.  [vs. 12-13]

In our Godly relationship, closeness to God means we lose control but given a new nature (verses 14-17).

There is so much here in the above verses and the main point is this: the fleshly nature leads to death and fear–fear of punishment and condemnation.

But when we come to Christ Jesus, we don’t get condemned and we are welcomed into a special, close relationship.

“Abba” was the cry of a child to its daddy.

Not only that but we are now heirs to God’s riches–and boy does He have riches–not the kind you spend in a store, but the kind you live off of for the rest of eternity!

Also, looking at the end, there’s something to sharing in Christ’s sufferings that’s part of the process of becoming a child of God.  [vs. 17-b]

Look at what Paul says about it:

Having this new relationship with Christ Jesus means we will be changed.  Right now, creation itself has been waiting since the fall of mankind for the day when we receive new bodies.  It hasn’t happened yet–but it’s coming.

In the meantime, “eagerly wait for it with perseverance”, Paul says.

How–when we seem to be in constant battle with the flesh and spirit? 

Keep reading on:

There’s a lot of theology in these verses–“predestination and foreknowledge”–commentary, books, etc..

It’s at the bottom of an argument between Calvinism and Arminianism:

Calvinist believe God chose who He was going to save and we had little to do with it.  Armenians believe that we chose God and God had little to do with it,  My position, like a few others, is in the middle–I believe God knew beforehand those that would choose Him and so predestined them–that there is a balance between actions of God and actions on man when it comes to salvation.  What I want to focus on here is in verse 28.

Do people really believe this?  A more literal way to translate this would be:

“to them that love God, all things work together for good according to His [not our] purpose.”

In that case, this Scripture is true:

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises, as some understand slowness.  Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Once that repentance happens, ALL THINGS work together for good.

The word, “work together” is a good one–it’s where we get the word synergy.  

Synergy is where more than one thing works together well–“the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”  [Dictionary.com]

An isolated event in ones’ life might seem bad at the time–like my visit to the hospital for four days last January from an acute respiratory infection.  But because my illness brought me to a hospital bed, I was able to share and comfort the hospital chaplain intern who came to tears sitting in a chair next to my bed over a rebellious daughter who was living in sin.  Through my sickness, God gave me the wisdom and confidence to be of some comfort.  It “worked together for good”

The word “good” means:  “BENEFIT”.  It’s not “good” like “virtue.”  

God isn’t saying “well you’re going to suffer but it’s a good thing to suffer.”  “No pain, no gain!”

There’s an actual benefit that God works through circumstances–yes there will be pain and suffering at times, but know that part of this relationship we have with Jesus means in the end, God will work even the bad to our benefit.

Now we might not see that benefit till we get to heaven–and that leads to Paul’s final major point in this chapter:

Belonging to God’s family means facing death, but receiving a rich inheritance.

God is on our side and we need fear no enemy–losing our job or sickness, or hardship or even death and taxes.

What a wonderful picture God is building–accepted into a new family (the family of God).  For ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD,  and God, who was our enemy, is now on our side–but it gets better!

Romans 8:37 (NIV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

So we can CONQUER in God.

The base word for “conquer” means “a means of success.”  Not only that but it’s a “super success.”  An individual, a group of people, can’t be a “conqueror” and be a failure at the same time.

Sin no longer has mastery, trials no longer hold terror, life is no longer something to be dreaded…BECAUSE we ARE conquerors.

Now that doesn’t mean we are free from suffering and pain, BUT we are always connected to the One who works for our benefit–NO MATTER WHAT!

Paul puts the cap on this wonderful chapter of promises with this:

What more could we ask for that “nothing can separate us from God’s love” (vs. 38-39).

God so wants to convince His children that His eternality of His love for them that He devotes an entire chapter in His Word (Psalm 136) in which every one of the 26 verses repeats the PROMISE:

“His steadfast love endures forever.”

And so, if He ever stopped loving a believer in Christ Jesus, He would be lying about His LOVE of being “steadfast” and “forever.”  If God ever allowed anything to separate one believer from His love, He would be a liar.

What great confidence we have then,  There’s no one, nothing, no event, and at no time that you can be torn from God’s loves in Jesus.  There’s no reason to say, “Oh, God can’t love me anymore after what I’ve done.”

Oh yes, He can and does!    Far from separating from you, He wants to forgive and cleanse you (1 John 1:9).

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~ CREDITS ~

Commentary:  Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc., “Secure Forever” by Donald S. Whitney.

Bible Translations:  Good News Translation (GNT); New King James Version (NKJV), New International Version (NIV). Amplified Bible (AMP).

Images:  Google Image search.

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).

 

 

 

JUDGMENT is Good! (Part One in Series)

A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF MICAH

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

Micah 1:1 (NIV)

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

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

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

A PERSONAL ‘God-moment’ STORY:

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

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

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

Silence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who does God call as the witness against the peoples?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Reality of God’s Judgment.

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

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

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

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

IDOLATRY IS NOT OUTDATED!

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

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

God’s people had committed sins against the LORD.

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

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

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

God’s judgment brings destruction

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

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

Human beings must beware of what they call security.

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

God’s JUDGMENT can bring disappointment

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

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

God discloses His aching in judgment in verse 8:

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

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

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

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

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

JUDGMENT WAS ABOUT TO COME!

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

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

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

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

IMAGES:  Google Image Search, Settings advanced.

Youtube:  Law & Order theme music from television.

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

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

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.

 

 

 

Are “Sanctuary Cities” Supported By the Bible?

TEXT:  THE BOOK OF NUMBERS 35:2, 6, 11-29, 31-34; Joshua 20

By now, I think most of us are familiar with the term “Sanctuary Cities”, in communities which openly pledged a place where undocumented immigrants may be safe without fear of apprehension and deportation by federal officers.  There are even “Sanctuary Churches” that have been established in our communities.

I’ve listened to Christians and non-Christians alike, who claim that they were inspired by or heard from others that the ancient “cities of refuge” found in the Bible substantiate their support.  Supporters argue biblical precedent for sanctuary cities.  As Vogue magazine puts it, “Now approximately 300 American cities are carrying the torch first lit by those sacred altars.”

So are today’s “sanctuary cities” a modern biblical expression of the Bible’s “cities of refuge?”  No, not even close!

HISTORY (Numbers 35)

Just before Israel entered the land of Canaan, God told Moses to choose 48 cities for the Levites’ priestly tribe (Num. 35:7), since they would have no land while all the other tribes did have land, but each of the tribes would supply a place for them.

Though the TEMPLE be in Jerusalem only, the LEVITES would be everywhere to minister the Word of God to the people.

SIX OF THOSE DESIGNATED CITIES would be CITIES of REFUGE.  Three on the east side of the Jordan River and three on the west side of the Jordan River.  They were designed for the people who accidentally MURDERED someone–to save them from being killed by kin of the murdered victim.  They would then live in the city of refuge until the trial where they would stand and be judged.  If a man intentionally killed another, he then could reside in the city, but at trial be charged “GUILTY” and worthy of death by the avenger.

But if a man unintentionally killed a person, after the trial, when he was proclaimed innocent, the man could live in the city of refuge and remain there.  If he went out of the city of refuge, he would risk being killed by the avenger.  The avenger wouldn’t be judged because the “murderer”, though innocent, should have stayed in the city of refuge.  And he would have to live in that city of refuge until the High Priest died.  When the High Priest died, he was free to leave the city and was free of his GUILT.  The AVENGER had to respect the fact that the man was innocent of all that he committed.

REASONING FOR LAW – BLOOD defiles the land.

The KILLER, even though innocent, couldn’t return to his land UNLESS the DEBT of Murder was paid even though it was a mistake that the DEATH occurred.  There could be no “satisfaction”, or ransom money paid from some kind of ‘trust fund’, to free the man from guilt.  The only thing that could free the man from GUILT was the death of the murderer.  The BLOOD of the murderer alone cleansed the land of the BLOOD of the victim.  But when the High Priest died, the man could return to the land.

The DEATH of the High Priest REDEEMED  a man from guilt, freed him from the debt to pay for by his own blood.

The Picture of the High Priest Dying is Significant –

Instead of the unintentional murderer, a perfect picture of JESUS, the Great High Priest dying on the Cross instead of us.

The wonderful thing is all of this is that our own High Priest died and then rose again from the dead.  And the unintentional murderer could return to the land where his home is.

And the Bible said that this land where his home was, is also the land where the LORD dwelt.  [Come on!]

Notice the idea presented here of returning to the place of home, or his possession – Numbers 35:28 (AMP)

[28] Because the manslayer should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest.  But after the high priest’s death, the manslayer shall return to the land of his possession.

God gave the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis for the land of our possession.  But our SIN drove out, and the only thing that would pay for the crime is our own blood.  That meant our own deaths.

No other means would PAY for our SIN other than our own blood.  But what good would that do for us?  We couldn’t enjoy the land again for we would be dead!

Numbers 35:31 (AMP)

[31] Moreover, you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer guilty of death; but he shall surely be put to death.

Numbers 35:33 (NIV)

[33] “Do not pollute the land where you are.  Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on  which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it.”

No other “satisfaction” (KJV) or ransom money or ransom payment of any kind would do.  The only other recourse was death by the high priest (Numbers 35:22).  That meant if no other payment besides his death could remove the GUILT OF BLOOD IN THE LAND, and…the high priest’s death accomplished the same thing, then the BLOOD of the high priest was as good as the BLOOD of the slayer.

A Time for Notable Comparisons–

The Cities of Refuge references in our Bible, first of all, were LEGAL–Sanctuary Cities are not!  

Cities of Refuge were authorized under the Mosaic code to serve as part of Israel’s justice system–Sanctuary Cities, in contrast, are ILLEGAL and outside the justice system altogether and do not exist to protect due process.  They exist to enable the GUILTY to escape punishment altogether.  The mere presence of an illegal alien on American soil is an illegal, criminal act subject to proper law enforcement.

Those, no matter how well-meaning they are, who help others avoiding the LEGAL consequences of criminal conduct, are subverting the system of justice by not cooperating with it.

  • A City of Refuge worked with law enforcement.
  • A Sanctuary City works against it.
  • A City of Refuge served to guarantee that a man had his day in court.
  • A Sanctuary City works to prevent the accused from ever facing a day in court.
  • A City of Refuge existed to ensure that every man received a fair trial.
  • A Sanctuary City exists to enable a man to avoid a fair trial altogether.

As you can clearly see by the above comparison there is no similarity supported by the Bible.

BIBLE APPLICATION:  Hebrews 6:18-20 (ESV)

HEBREWS 6, in the New Testament, mentions the fleeing for refuge, which brings us back into the picture the LAW of the City of Refuge has for the manslayer. 

But it mentions something else–the elements from a totally separate LAW in the above verses (Heb. 6:18-20).

The Law of Atonement and the Law of the Cities of Refuge.

ASPECT OF THE VEIL (“curtain”)

The Day of Atonement had a High Priest enter the holiest; the VEIL, where God’s presence dwelt, so long as he had the BLOOD of a spotless LAMB.

Now putting both aspects together, you have a man out of his home where God dwells, but meeting DEATH should he try due to his SIN not having been paid for.  And the only way he can return is when the high priest dies removing his SIN and cleanses the land.

And we have THE HIGH PRIEST, carrying BLOOD past the VEIL into the holiest where God dwells, removing SIN.

Put the two together and you have a picture of returning to the Garden of Eden where Man and God dwelt together in the Garden.

But Man’s sin DEFILED the land and he was driven out (Genesis 3:24).

So the Garden Story brings together the elements of the CITY OF REFUGE LAW AND THE VEIL ASPECT OF THE DAY OF ATONEMENT.

  • MAN became a prisoner outside of his true home, and one who is confined from his home is a PRISONER.

BUT GOD HAD A PLAN!

And that PLAN provided MAN, not just any prisoner, but a prisoner of HOPE!

A man couldn’t return, for he would have died to try.  There standing at the entrance to the Garden was a flaming sword.  Just like the avenger of blood, the flaming sword was there to kill him should he return home.

But one day, in the future, since Adam was driven from home, there was going to be a High Priest that was to die.  And that DEATH allows the SINNER to return to home.

ADAM=MAN

So ADAM waited as a PRISONER OF HOPE for centuries, UNTIL…THE HIGH PRIEST JESUS CHRIST CAME AND DIED…AND MAN COULD RETURN HOME AGAIN.

EDEN means PARADISE or HEAVEN in English.

The Apostle John saw HEAVEN opened and he saw what occurs in Heaven, the true Holiest of Holies:

Revelation 5:6 (KJV) –

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a LAMB as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

Revelation 5:8-9 (KJV) –

[8] And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints.

[9] And they sang a new song, saying,  Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

THE LAMB is the HIGH PRIEST, as well.  His death REDEEMED us ALL to God.

Why Are Two Old Testament Stories Involved In This Story?

The only flaw I see with the Old Testament picture of the HIGH PRIEST was that you couldn’t find a man who could be killed and bring his BLOOD into the Holiest of Holies showing that the SINNER’S BLOOD could be paid for by the High Priest’s own blood.

And in another picture, the DEATH of the High Priest allows the slayer to return home.

Put them together, the High Priest, JESUS, dies, and takes His own BLOOD into Heaven to pay for our SIN, and allows us to go to our eternal home into HEAVEN, behind Him.

And that’s what Hebrews 6 said.

Isn’t it wonderful when all is said and done, God looks at us as PRISONERS away from home, but not only PRISONERS BUT PRISONERS OF HOPE!

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CREDITS & SOURCES –

The American Family Radio (AFA);  “Sanctuary Cities…Cities of Refuge” – March 27, 2017.

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings, Advance search…

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

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

 

UNDER UMBRELLAS OF PROTECTION

 

NAHUM 1:1-7 (NIV BIBLE):

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

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

LIVING ‘UNDER THE UMBRELLA’ – (verse 7)

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

AN UNINTENTIONAL DECEPTION –

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

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

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

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

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

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

HISTORIC FLOODING FAR FROM OVER…

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

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

Throughout history, man has recorded many such tragedies:

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

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

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

ORIGINAL SIN CURSED THE WORLD (Genesis 3).

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOD IS ON RECORD –

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

EARTHQUAKES, PLAGUES, AND DISASTERS –

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

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

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

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

The ANSWER is YES, He will.

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

Some Reasons Why God Allows Natural Disasters…

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

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

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

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

To Sort Out Our Priorities:

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

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

A Call to Repentance:

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

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

 

The DROUGHT in California

 

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

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

AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE COMING FINAL JUDGMENT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is God Judging the Nations Today? YES.

HIS JUDGMENT IS BASED UPON OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM!

WHAT’S YOUR CHOICE?

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

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CREDITS:

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

Photos:  Google Advance Image Search.

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

The SELF-Designated ‘Tripadvisor’

SCRIPTURE PASSAGE:  Jeremiah 10:23-24

julie-vacation-planning-date-day-plan-webready

This next week, my wife and I our taking a trip to Lake Chelan, Washington to celebrate our 52nd wedding anniversary.  

We have never visited Lake Chelan, so this year, we decided to take the 4+ hour trip as an exciting romantic adventure.  And as always, when planning vacation trips, I appointed myself as the designated ‘trip advisor.’  

You know, the person who plans the car stops for photos, picnics, coffee breaks, hotels, lunches and dinner venues, etc.  Of course, I always inform my wife of my [our] plans, and mostly she agrees.

In my studying this week of the passage of Scripture, I came upon this joke a couple relating their vacation experiences to a friend:

“It sounds as if you had a great trip in Texas,”  he observed.  “But didn’t you tell me you were planning a trip to Colorado?”

“Well,: the husband said, “we changed our plans because, uh…”  His wife cut in, Oh, tell the truth, Fred!”

Fred was completely silent.  After a long pause, the wife continued,  “You know, it’s just ridiculous!  Fred simply will not ask for directions!”

I think my wife can show empathy with Fred’s wife.

listening-to-the-voice-of-god-part-1-5-638

Proverbs 14:12 puts it another way:  “There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, BUT at the end of it is the way of death.”

This is so critically important to drink in, in our journey through life.  And at the age of 74, I  can tell you that it is a definite journey!

Mathew 7:13-14 also tells us of the broad way and a narrow way to take on the journey:

[13] “Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it.”

[14] “But the gate is narrow and the way is straightened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.” 

The BROAD WAY is in yourself–depending on your own efforts to direct your life. The way is considered “broad” because of man’s EGO makes room for it and many walk on this same road.

BUT the Bible tells us that man’s way leads to destruction because we have a disease called SIN.  Notice the middle letter in the word SIN is “I”.

SIN is a mighty opponent because it deceives and distorts our view of direction on the roadway of life.  It makes us think we know where we;re going when we are really LOST!

The Bible gives some great examples of men–Being the Self-designatedTripAdvisors.” while trying to find the way on their own:

Samson found he couldn’t out muscle SIN to find his way.  Solomon found he couldn’t outwit SIN to find his way.  Jonah found he couldn’t out run SIN to find his way.  David found he couldn’t out maneuver SIN to find his way and Saul of Tarsus found he couldn’t out pious SIN to find his way.

But here’s some GOOD NEWS for the Directionally Impaired, who are willing to acknowledge their need for direction concerning the way of life.

The psalmist says:  “He leads the humble in what is right,  and the humble He teaches His way”  (Psalm 25:19).

The prophet Jeremiah knew his condition of directional impairment as he prayerfully understood and acknowledged his need before the LORD and confessed.

JEREMIAH says in VERSE 23:  “O LORD, I know” – the Hebrew word is “yada”.

The same word is used in Jeremiah 1:5:  “Before I formed you in the womb I KNEW [and] approved of you…”  It’s deeper than intellectual knowledge–it’s a personal commitment and intimate experience, a UNION–it’s the same word used in Genesis 4:1: “And Adam knew Eve as his wife…”

JESUS speaks of a similar union in John 15:16 (NIV):  “You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last…”

The focus on FRUIT BEARING seems to me an important emphasis in Scripture.

Notice Jeremiah’s FEAR in VERSE 24:  “O LORD, correct, instruct, and chastise me, but with judgment and in just measure–not in Your anger, lest You diminish me and bring me to nothing.”

The FEAR displayed could be rendered fruitless as I meditated on the verse and thought about the impact on my own journey’s end.  Wouldn’t it be horrifying to come to the end of your life and finding you been on the wrong road–that your life had taken a wrong turn and you’re heading in the wrong direction, from God’s perspective?  Would you have the same look on your face demonstrated in this movie clip:  PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES?

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Jeremiah understood without the LORD in and directing his life, that he could do nothing–that he would be brought to the end of his days with nothing to show from his union–that he would face a DEAD END SIGN and be fruitless.

dead-end-signJESUS also reminded His followers in John 15:5 (AMP):  “I AM the vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.”

GIVE PRAISE TO GOD, that Jeremiah believed this truth and acted in FAITH upon it!

He recognized man’s need and acknowledged and understood a life of OBEDIENCE; to a way which was outside of himself or his life would be brought to nothing!

On a deeper level, SUBMISSIVENESS to God’s will mean I acknowledge I’m Directionally Impaired (a sinner) and I need the Lord’s CORRECTION with on-going direction in my life to be FRUIT PRODUCING.

The word “Correct” in VERSE 24 MEANS, “to set right, penalize, discipline, admonish, instruct (The New Roget’s Thesaurus In Dictionary Form) — “but with judgment” or “with justice.” — which implies that which is proper, fitting, measure to mold and shape your life to be a fruit producer.

To me it’s significant JEREMIAH, perhaps the most religious person of his day, asks the LORD first…for CORRECTION.

Upon realizing and understanding his condition, Jeremiah’s first request is  “O Lord, correct, instruct, and chastise me,” NOT correct the other person, NOT change the circumstance I’m in right now, BUT “Correct me, O Lord.”  

This is up close and personal.  Are you up close and personal with the Lord today? Or, are you just playing games; just going through the motions or living on past accomplishments?  I asked myself the same questions several years ago, so I know your answers.

Are you then willing to SUBMIT to the Lord’s chastening, discipline, instructions, and admonishment as He determines it to be proper and fitting, or…are you overriding His direction?

Global Positioning System (GPS) – For a few hundred dollars, you can purchase a device that allows the directionally impaired to cover up or hide their need to be shown the way.  Even when we have a GPS, we often override the directions from that annoying voice because… we think there’s a better way, ignoring the “recalculating” cry of the device getting you back on the right path.

So do you have God’s GPS device?  It’s called “Christ in you, the hope of Glory!”

If you do have Christ in you, are you submissive to His directions–His will?  Are you experiencing CONFIDENCE in the present and do you have PEACE for the future?

If not, the Lord says to you,  “Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do extinguish and recognize; have knowledge of and understand)”  [Jeremiah 33:3 AMP].

The wisest thing is to take ALL MATTERS to the LORD and ask Him to direct you.  

The Scripture says it best:

proverb-3

 


CREDITS –

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

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

Strange Women and Old Men

1 Kings 11:1-14

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KING SOLOMON –

No man began with more promise than Solomon did.  Yet a good beginning doesn’t mean a good finish.  Solomon drifted and finally defected.  Could the same thing happen to us?

Solomon Became The Wisest Man In The World!

1 Kings 4:31-34 (AMP bible):

[31] For he was wiser *than all other men–than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol.  His fame was in all the nations round about.

[32]  He also originated 3,000 proverbs and his songs were 1,005.

[33]  He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall; he spoke also of beasts, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish.

[34]  Men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.

[“Wiser than all other men,” until Christ came.  Jesus said, “Someone more and greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12:42) – Amplified Bible footnote.]

So What Went Wrong?”

Solomon had a misplaced LOVE (VERSES 1 & 2):

[1] BUT KING Solomon [defiantly] loved many foreign women–the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites.  [2] They were of the very nations of whom the Lord said to the Israelites,  You shall not mingle with them, neither shall they mingle with you, for surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.  Yet Solomon clung to these in love.

I remember when I was in school at an early age–when I would do something wrong, my teacher would shout out my name across the playground and I would pretend not to hear her call.  It was because I knew I’d done wrong and knew I was in trouble.

  • God tells Israel NOT to have anything to do with these women!!!  (Deuteronomy 7:3-4)
  • God told the kings of Israel NOT to marry many wives!!!               (Deuteronomy 17:17)

Now before we misinterpret God’s word into something racial, let me make it clear.

When God commanded the Israelites NOT to marry foreigners–“strange women”–it is not because they are a different color, or from a different country, or because they look different.  It was simply because they WORSHIPPED IDOLS and pagan gods.

God knew that if His people were to marry those who did not WORSHIP the true God of heaven, that the influences of these “strange women” would influence and eventually poison the house, the husband, the children, and the bloodline.

Solomon LOVED these women (VERSE 1) –

Solomon was like that certain kid in school I mentioned earlier–he pretends NOT TO HEAR God give the command NOT to marry these women because deep down he knew it was wrong.

The LORD tells Israel not to marry these women because they’ll turn their hearts away from God and that’s exactly what happened to Solomon.

Romans 12:1 (NIV Bible):

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.

It is impossible to present your bodies as a living sacrifice if your HEART is not right.  Don’t let the WORLD around you squeeze you into its own mould.

TEMPTATION seems to arise when things start to crop up in our lives; causes us to start missing our personal prayer time in the mornings, and daily Bible reading is skipped over.  How easy it is for Satan to get in and cause us to have a MISPLACED LOVE.

A HINGE VERSE – Things Change From This Point On.

VERSE 4 (AMP):

idol-moloch[4]  For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not perfect (complete and whole) with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

NOTE: “Old Age won’t cure the heart of any evil propensity” – Matthew Henry Commentary.

Solomon had his HEART turned away from God, and as a result of his MISPLACED LOVE, his heart is turned not only away from God, but towards false gods.

The WORSHIP SYSTEMS that Solomon was involved in were sexually oriented and obviously this would appeal to Solomon.  If he wasn’t interested in this kind of thing, he probably would have stuck with just one wife.

Have we had our HEARTS turned away?

Worshipping false gods are just Old Testament stories, right?  Well, let me point out that thousands of churches across the land are EMPTY today because of the WORSHIP of false gods!

  • Sunday is the only day that kids can play football, so we have to take them while church is in session.  Sorry!
  • I can’t read IN my Bible right now, because I would miss too much TV.
  • I go to watch my soccer/football/baseball team play Sunday afternoon.  I could never miss that opportunity for church.

The minute we place more priority on something other than Jesus Christ, then we are in effect, worshipping false gods.

We need to pray and ask God to remove our idols in life.  I don’t want SPORT to be my god or, I don’t want TV to be my idol.  The only GOD I want is YOU!!  I want the TRUE GOD in my life, the only God!!

The Cause of Misplaced Love (women, false gods/money, jobs).

hqdefaultVERSE 5

For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abominable idol of the Ammonites.

What causes us to turn our HEARTS away from God?

Satan will use every means possible to get us as far away from GOD as possible.

That job you’ve been praying for all of sudden requires you to work 12 hours a day and if you don’t do it, then they will find someone who will.

Or, SIN will creep into our lives, and in turn our hearts start to drift away.  I’ve been here before many times and know the results!  Satan makes SIN so attractive and we say to ourselves,  “It will be different for me, that it won’t hurt.”

We have the tendency to justify to ourselves, that it is OK.  How spiritually naive we are to let anything, or anyone, turn our HEARTS away from GOD.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 (NIV):

[14] Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? [15] What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  [16] What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?  For we are the temple of the living God.  As God has said:  “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

I read a story in the Scientific American that most people are familiar with:

Chimpanzees, can seem like cute, hairy iterations of people.  The chimp, Travis, appeared in television commercials, he seemed comfortable at a computer, and in bathing himself, sipped wine from a stemmed glass, all according to the New York Times.  In February 2009, Travis the adorable, almost human, and his owner gained international notoriety after he suddenly attacked and mauled the owner’s best friend.  The owner later told reporters after Travis’ demise,  “I’m like hollow now.  He slept with me every night.  Until you’ve eaten with a chimp and bathed with a chimp, you don’t know a chimp.”

SIN too often comes dressed in adorable disguises, and as we play with it, eat with it…, live with it daily, how easy it is to say,  “It will be different for me!”

SIN won’t be different, it may come in a different disguise, but it will have the same effect.

If we play with SIN, it will not let us stop where we want to stop!  It will take us down further than we wanted to go.

When we CHOOSE not to do what God wants, we have to face the CONSEQUENCES.  Not following God always has its consequences.

The Consequence of Misplaced Love (God raised up an advisory and tore the kingdom in two/things don’t work out!).

VERSES 11 & 14

The consequence of sin will always cost more than the pleasure the sin provides.

Solomon’s motivation had changed; gone from building God’s Temple and serving God, to building ALTARS to false gods that his wives worshipped and he would be serving them as well.

And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon (verse 14):

[14]  The Lord stirred up an adversary against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was of royal descent in Edom.

ISRAEL goes from GLORY to EXILE –

ISRAEL went from the glories of having fellowship with God and walking with God– to having their country split into two and several hundred years later, their Temple destroyed and the people carried off to another country in captivity.

We can miss out on what God wants to do in our lives today.

He wants to have FELLOWSHIP with us, that was the reason He created mankind and SIN keeps messing it up!

You see, we get involved in things that appear to be nice, but at the same time, they are destroying our spiritual lives.

Remember, the enemy is always in the background.

Looking back in Chapter 10, VERSE 14, we see the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year as, six hundred threescore and six talents of Gold (King James Version).  I found it interesting in other translations, that this number just happens to be “666” *[See Revelation 13:1, 7, 17-18].

Now this wasn’t all of Solomon’s income, but this is what has been written down in Scripture.  The ENEMY is always in the background!

1200px-'The_Visit_of_the_Queen_of_Sheba_to_King_Solomon',_oil_on_canvas_painting_by_Edward_Poynter,_1890,_Art_Gallery_of_New_South_Wales

Don’t Negotiate With Satan!

A hunter raised his rifle and took careful aim at a large bear in a clearing.  About to pull the trigger, the bear spoke in a soft tone,  “Isn’t it better to talk that to shoot?  What do you want?  Let’s negotiate the matter.”  Lowering his rifle, the hunter replied “I want a fur coat.”  “Good,” said the bear, “that is a negotiable question.  I only want a full stomach, so let us negotiate a compromise.”  They sat down together and after a time, the bear walked away alone.  THE NEGOTIATIONS HAD BEEN SUCCESSFUL!  The bear had a full stomach, and the hunter had his fur coat!

Satan says,  “Let’s negotiate.”

But there are things that should never be negotiable.  We cannot compromise church with the world.  JESUS and His church deserves our very best and absolute loyalty in ALL things.

SOLOMON WAS THE WISEST MAN ON EARTH!!

Yet, he turned away from God.  Solomon’s problem wasn’t ignorance but rebellion!  

He knew better but did not do better!

We need to keep our eyes open in the world around us.  We need to watch for the enemy, because he is always in the background, waiting to trip us up, waiting to turn our hearts.

It is said that the devil will find things for idle hands to do, so let’s not give him the opportunity.

Matthew 5:8 (AMP):

Blessed (happy, enviably fortunate, and spiritually prosperous–possessing the happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His grace, regardless of their outward conditions) are the PURE IN HEART, for they shall see God.

 


CREDITS:

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

Photos:  Google Image Search (1 Kings 10, 11).

Commentary:  God’s lessons from history by Philip Smith – About the Books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings – http://www.easyenglish.info