Just Because You Say It Enough Times Doesn’t Make It True

Scripture Study:  Matthew 7:21-23

A Powerful Jesus Straight Talk Moment:

“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

Saying that Jesus is LORD doesn’t make it so.

Let me say one thing very clear as I begin this study in Matthew,  Neither Jesus or I am talking about a works theology of earning His grace and salvation.  In fact, there may be some reading this who’ve tried that method.

Jesus indicates on the Day of Judgment…

Clearly, these are individuals who believe they’ve done a lot…

They believe that the stuff they’ve done is going to gain them entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.  And it’s not little stuff either…it’s preaching…teaching…blogging…engaging in spiritual warfare with demons…it’s miracles!

Jesus isn’t talking to the crowd here, He’s talking to the Church.  He’s talking to people who defend themselves with these words:

  • “In Your name we prophesied!”
  • “In Your name, we cast out demons.”
  • “In Your name, we performed miracles!”

It sure seems to me that the problem here is the statement, “In Your name.” 

Jesus uses this statement 3 times in Verse 22.

My point is that doing stuff in “the name of Jesus” makes you feel good, but if you have no real relationship with Him…if He doesn’t really know you and you don’t really love Him…it’s worse than doing nothing at all, because it leaves you in a state of deception.  In my opinion, and it’s just ‘my opinion, it’s one of the most heretical and damning teachings of the Church today.  Its certainly one of the greatest tools that our enemy, Satan, uses to deceive people who have a loose association with Jesus in the Church today:

“Let the stuff you do become more important than the Leadership of Christ.”

“Let Him just be a name you speak and not a Savior you personally love and serve.”

David Platt, in his book “Follow Me” writes this:

I have a friend – let’s call him John – whose first experience to the concept of hell was during an episode of Tom and Jerry when he was young.

During one particularly vivid scene, Tom was sent to hell for something bad he had done to Jerry.  What was intended to be a humorous cartoon scared John to death, and he later found himself at church talking with an older man about what he had seen.

The churchman looked at John and said, “Well, you don’t want to go to hell, do you?”

“No,” he responded.

John paused.  After an awkward silence, he realized he was supposed to repeat after the man, and so he hesitantly responded, “Dear Jesus…”

“I know I’m a sinner and I know Jesus died on a cross for my sins,” the man said.

John followed suit.

“I ask you to come into my heart and to save me from my sin,” the man said.  John echoed what he had heard.

“AMEN,” the man concluded.

Then the nice, old gentleman looked at John and said, “Son, you are now saved from your sins, and you don’t ever have to worry about hell again!”

Surely what that man told my friend John in the church that day was not true.  Surely this isn’t what it means to respond to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him.

And yet, this story represents the deception that has spread like wildfire across the contemporary Christian landscape:  “Just ask Jesus into your heart and repeat this prayer after me and you will be saved!”

Should it alarm us that the Bible never mentions such a prayer?  Should it concern us that nowhere in Scripture is anyone ever told to “ask Jesus into their heart” or to “invite Christ into their life”?

Yet this is exactly what many professing Christians have been encouraged to do, and they’ve been assured that as long, as they say, certain words. recite a particular prayer, and with every head bowed, every eye closed, (‘no peaky’), told to raise their hand, check a box, sign a card, or walked an aisle, they are Christians and their salvation in eternity is secure.

IT’S NOT TRUE!

We’ve taken the lifeblood out of Christianity and put Kool-Aid in its place so it looks and tastes better to the masses, and the results…are catastrophic.

According to Jesus, “Many…” scores of men and women believe they are saved when they are not.

In Matthew 7, Jesus isn’t talking to atheists and pagans.

He’s talking to people who are associated with Himself and His ministry.  They assume their eternity is safe and will be shocked one day that it’s not.  Even though they professed their belief in Jesus…even did all kinds of works in His name, they never really knew Him…and He never really knew them.

I don’t know about you but His response is heartbreaking.  It sometimes keeps me awake at night and it burdens my soul.

“I never knew you…depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”

The New International Version (NIV) of the Bible uses the word “evildoer” for “lawlessness.”

Maybe this straight talk reveals the truth of real SALVATION…and the real issue.  Remember, Jesus is using the word “EVILDOER” toward people who thought they were “good”…because they did good things.

The word Greek word “kakos” [bad, evil, wicked] reveals the inner character of a person.  The iniquity, the sin, the wickedness lives in us all.

The inner wickedness and sin cannot be cured in a name association with Jesus or by doing “good works”, that would be like putting running shoes on a corpse.

In Luke’s gospel, someone asked Jesus. “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

And here’s His answer:

The narrow door (the gate) is the only way in, and once the owner of the house shuts it, it’s too late.

Here’s the picture:  The door’s shut, but people are knocking and pleading to get in.  But, it’s too late!

And the owner’s response to all the knocking…Luke 13:25 b.

“I don’t know you or where you come from.  Away from me all you evildoers.”

“We hung around you Jesus…we listened to your teaching…we ate and drank your meals.”

“Away from me…you never dealt with your sin…you never knew me…I never knew you.”

No wonder verse 28 records:

“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth.”

The heartbreak is basing your life on the false hope that “Hey, Jesus is my friend”…but you never died to your sin, you never surrendered your life to His ownership, you never accepted His grace, and now it’s too late!

It all comes down to the truth:  If your heart isn’t open to understanding how much we need God’s grace, you can say a thousand prayers, be baptized over and over again, work your fingers to the bone in Church and you’ll still be lost.

Remember this scripture that the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians:

What Jesus is addressing in His straight talk in Matthew is the difference between those who know about Him and those who live in Him.  It’s the difference between working for Jesus to earn His favor and walking with Jesus out of an overflow of faith.

When you or I…or anyone else is “in Christ”, we haven’t “received a get out of Jail free card.”  We haven’t been redeemed because we just believe in something.  We’ve died to self and we now have Christ “IN” us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

If you are no different than you were before or you are no different than the rest of the world around you…

You’ve been DECEIVED and you are not a Christian.

The Barna Study Group Research, published on Agust 4, 2011 is revealing!

Almost half of all Americans claim to be “born again” Christians (I don’t know of any other kind! ).  Out of this group of “born again” Christians, researchers found that their beliefs and lifestyle weren’t indistinguishable from the rest of the world.  Many believe that “works” can earn them a place in heaven, others think that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, and an ever-increasing number describe themselves as only marginally committed to Jesus.

After reading the study, I think the one thing that’s abundantly clear from these statistics:

There are a whole lot of people in the world that think they are Christian but are not!  There are a whole lot of people who think they’ve been born again, but are dangerously deceived!!

Now I understand the concept of different levels of spiritual maturity…babes in Christ versus grown-up followers, but Jesus didn’t come to make good people better, He came to raise dead people to life, and that can’t happen in someone’s life and it not be noticeable in attitudes and actions.

Here’s is an illustration I came upon in my reading this week that I think really fits here:

Imagine you and I set up a meeting for lunch at a local restaurant, and you arrive before I do.

You wait, and wait, and wait, but 30 minutes later, I still haven’t arrived.  When I finally show up, completely out of breath, I say to you, “I’m so sorry I’m late.  When I was driving over here, my car had a flat tire, and I pulled over on the side of the highway to fix it.  While I was fixing it, I accidentally stepped into the road, and a Mack truck going about 70 mph, suddenly hit me head-on.  It hurt, but I picked myself up, finished putting the spare tire on the car, and drove over here.”

If this were the I shared, you would know I was either deliberately lying or completely deceived.  

WHY?  Because if someone gets hit by a Mack truck going seventy miles per hour, that person is going to look very different than they did before.

Jesus isn’t a pussy-cat…

He’s the Lion of Judah and if you come face to face with Him, the Word of Creation, the Sovereign Lord of the Universe and He reaches down into the depth of your heart, saves you from the slavery of sin and transforms you to follow Him…you are going to look different…very different!

So what happens when the Mack truck of God’s glory and forgiveness hits us?

There’s repentance and baptism and resurrection of new life by the Holy Spirit.  And, we begin to look like Jesus in this world, according to 1 John 3:1-10.

DON’T BE DECEIVED!

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CREDITS:

Sources:  Interlinear Bible; Vinne’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words by W.E. Vine.

Images/Photos:  Google Image Search.

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

 

LIVING In An Anti-Christian Culture

VERSES 1 thru 8 –

[1]  I lift up my eyes to the mountains–where does my help come from?

[2]  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

[3]  He will not let your foot slip–He who watches over you will not slumber; [4] indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

[5]  The LORD watches over you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand;  [6] the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

[7]  The LORD will keep you from all harm–He will watch over your life;

[8] the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.                    (The NIV Translation).

We live in scary times, to say the least.  During my lifetime I remember a time when America was what might be called “Christianized.”  When Evangelism was prominent in churches and ‘going out to witness’, beginning the conversation with statements like, “You believe in the Bible, don’t you?” or “Where have you been going to church?”

Then in the 80’s and 90’s our country moved in the direction of being “Post-Christian.”  No longer could you assume that people accepted the BIBLE was inspired or that they believed in God or were familiar with the basic teachings of Christianity.

Now that we’ve moved into the 21st century, I’ve seen our country become increasingly “Anti-Christian”.

In “The Supreme Court With Hobby Lobby, But Your Neighbor Probably Doesn’t” book, Trevin Wax writes, “A generation ago, a person’s religious observance was a public matter, a defining characteristic of one’s identity, while a person’s sexual activity was something private.  Today, the situation is reversed.”  [See footnote [i].]

According to research done recently in our country by a group called the First Amendment Center, 1 in 3 Americans says the first amendment to the Constitution (which guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of speech) goes too far.  Additionally, their research shows the group most likely to believe that the First Amendment goes too far are Americans under 30 years of age.

All this points to difficult days ahead for God’s people in the United States.  But we shouldn’t be surprised.  Jesus said, “In this world, you will have tribulation.”  But He also said, “Take heart!  I have overcome the world”  (John 16:33).

Psalm 121 begins with: “Where does my help come from?”  – (Vs. 1)

But the Psalmist expands upon the answer in verses 3-8, as he tells us about the kind of help God gives to enable His children…that’s us, born-again believers, living victoriously in this SCARY WORLD.

A Description – verses. 3-8

The Psalmist describes the help God makes available to us.

He will help me with the problem of WEARINESS – (vs. 3-4).

In an anti-Christian culture, sometimes it’s difficult to “not become weary in doing good.” (Gal. 6:9)

Admittedly, I do grow weary in my walk through this world with all the barricades, bombshells exploding all around my ministry.

God never does!

He’s watchful over His children.

He will help me with the problem of WEAKNESS – (vs. 5-6).

[5]  “The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand [the side not carrying a shield]”  (Amplified Bible).

Referring to our susceptibility to faint, dropping our sword of God’s Word to shield our eyes. 

The Psalmist speaks of God’s help with our weaknesses in battling in a godless culture.

God will provide the help we need to compensate for our weakness.  In fact, God tells us with His Word that “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

He will help me with the problem of WICKEDNESS – (vs. 7).

This is a wicked world we live in, ruled by a wicked adversary (1 Peter 5:8-9).

The devil roams around like a lion, seeking our downfall.  But God promises His help so that we might overcome and not be overwhelmed in our doing (1 John 4:4).

He will help me with the problem of WANDERING – (vs. 8).  [Read Proverbs 2:8; 3:6]

If we are not careful in our “going out and coming in,” we can have said of us what Paul said of Demas: “because he loved this world, has deserted me…” (2 Timothy 4:10).

Today, devout Jews keep a metal cylinder fixed to the right-hand doorpost of their homes.  The cylinder contains a parchment inscribed with the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-20.  As they go in and out of the house, they touch the cylinder and recite the last verse of Psalm 121.  Through this, they seek to lift up the prayer to God that they might be kept from wandering from Him.

Obviously, this ritual hasn’t produced the desired results, for the Jewish people of today have wandered from God in their rejection of Christ.

So how do we, as the children of God, take advantage of the help God offers?

A PRESCRIPTION – verses 1-2  “A Psalm of ascents” Psalm 121

I must look to the LORD – vs. 1 (a).

One of 14 “psalms 0f ascents” (Psalm 120-134),  is a PSALM recited by pilgrims journeying to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem where the temple of God was, where the ark of the COVENANT was a symbol of God’s presence.

In other words, in SEEKING GOD’S HELP, I must SEEK His presence and preeminence.

“SEEK”:  “to try to obtain; to go to; to ask for; to ‘plea’.

“PREEMINENCE”:  “excellence”; “to be first place”…“That in all things, He (Christ) might have preeminence” (Colossians 1:18).

If I DESIRE to see God’s hand, I must SEEK His face if I’m concerned about saving my face!

As John, the Baptist declared, “He must increase and I must decrease!” (John 3:30)

In seeking God’s help for us, we must focus our lives on Him!

I must learn to lean on the Lord (vs. 2).

An old gospel song from the past that I used to love to sing in a men’s trio was Learning to Lean On Jesus.  Here is the music and lyrics to the song that illustrates the process of “leaning” on the LORD:

The One who offers to help us deal with life in this world is the creator of the universe.

Knowing this absolutely, I must trust in His POWER & PROVISION.

Depending on our influence or resources leads to discouragement, BUT TRUSTING in the POWER and PROVISION of our creator God brings VICTORY!  When we try to work things out on our own, we are helpless and foolish.

Instead, let’s TRUST in the POWER &PROVISION of the One who made it all.  And as we do, we’ll be able to testify with the Apostle Paul, who said:

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong. –                          [2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ] – (NIV).

I must LIVE for the Lord – (verse 2)

[2]  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

God has a PURPOSE for all creation including you and me!  And as the Maker of heaven and earth, God is providentially at work.

What does that mean, “providentially at work”?

He is keeping the universe in motion.  In other words, God has a definite PURPOSE and PLAN in each of our lives for attaining that end.

He’s also providentially at work on our behalf to fulfill His purpose in our lives.

Therefore, I must surrender to His purpose and providence.  This is really important, as we think about this day we’re living in.  To remember that God’s PURPOSE is not to provide for our comfort, but to develop our character to use us to bring others to Christ Jesus.

In an article that appeared in the Christian Post, written by Delores Liesner, “Growing Intolerance For Christianity in the U.S.” [see footnote [ii]], the writer conducts an interview with Brannon Howse, author, anfounder of Worldview Weekend.

Mr. Howse speaks in the interview how American Christians have largely been sheltered from persecution.  Consequently, he says, “too many are only committed to a cotton candy Christianity, and that many American (believers) are wimps who don’t want to suffer and don’t want to be uncomfortable, while elsewhere in the world during the 20th century, 45.5 million Christians were martyred for their faith.  “Our CULTURE,” he says, “is doing what Scripture said – getting worse and worse.  The books of James and 1 Peter tells us not to be surprised at fiery ordeals [when they come – not if] as though some strange (or foreign) thing were happening to you.  Suffering, intolerance and persecution are building us.”  It’s though having our FAITH refined and we get our PRIORITIES straight to make sure our WITNESS draws others to Christ.

I, like others, personally believe God is allowing things to change in our country so that His CHURCH might be moved to embrace the same kind of PRIORITIES and give the same kind of response to the opposition as did the early church (read Acts 2:23-31).

One thing is for sure, we cannot do anything effectively without the LORD’S help.  So for our sake, for our church’s sake, let’s look to the LORD in our coming in and going; LEAN on the Lord, and let’s LIVE for the LORD!

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FOOTNOTES & CREDITS

Footnote [i]:  Trevin Wax (June 30, 2014) https://www.thegospelcoalition.or/…/trevin-wax/the-supremecourt-agrees-with-hobby…

Footnote [ii]: Article by Delores Liesner, Christian Post:  https://www.christianpost.com/news/growing-indifference-for-christianity-in-us-49588/

Dictionary:  Bible Study Tools; PROVIDENCE.

Video:  Youtube, Learning to Lean, by the Nightingales

Photos:  Google Image search

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

 

 

The NAYSAYERS and SCOFFERS ABOUND!

scoffers-copy1

 

Scripture Text For This BLOG:  2 PETER 3:3-5 

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“ALL MATTERS FOR CHRISTIAN FAITH AND PRACTICE ARE FOUND IN THE BIBLE.”

Any “scoffers”, disbelievers yet?

Peter’s Critical Warning to Christian Believers – VERSE 3

This warning is to the church, of the SCOFFERS & NAYSAYERS that are here already, and the ones who are on their way.

The great turning point that divides mankind in two different groups are those who accept this Book, the Bible, and those who reject it.

It’s critical to know that in the LAST DAYS, there will be mockers of God’s Truth.

12716866_1129933190373473_1572461181_nIn the LAST DAYS, not only will God’s word be rejected, people will mock it!  They will disrespect or mock the TRUTH OF CHRIST JESUS by using their own misinterpretation that they want to be as the truth.

They scoff at God’s Word, not knowing that this very scoffing fulfills Bible prophecy.

Even though these people have always existed to threaten the church from its earliest days, their ungodly activity will increase in “the last days,” that period of time preceding Christ’s second coming.

Peter, John, Jude and Paul all make reference to the increase of false teachers, warning the church with passion not to be alarmed (1 John 2:18; Jude 18-19; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).  

This contempt of the Scripture, God’s Word, and the terrible apostasy [from within the “church”] was also predicted by JESUS.  There was a question put by our LORD Jesus – Luke 18:8:

“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” 

This scoffing at God’s TRUTH is the expected from this world’s system with one heresy leading to another, drawing mankind further and further away from their Creator.

Self-Willed People Will Doubt the Coming Again of Jesus – VERSE 4:

[4]  “Where is the promise of His coming?  For since the forefathers fell asleep, all things have continued exactly as they did from the beginning of creation.”

THE IMPLICATION:

“THERE IS NO SECOND COMING, we can live any way we want.  A loving God will never judge us.”

A Few EXAMPLES of Today’s Mockers and Scoffers of God’s Word:

Since America is right in the middle of a political season, a lot of ‘out of the heart’ statements (Proverbs 4:23) are being voiced.  Let me give you two examples.  One from a POLITICIAN and one from a PASTOR:

Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader (D. Calif.) says,

“Hillary Clinton faces an uphill climb with white men because they are more influenced by hot-button social issues that they are by economic arguments because of guns, because of gays, and because of God, the three G’s.”  [Free Republic – PBS NewsHour interview.]

“Because of God”?  Really?  That’s a bad thing?

Erwin McManus, the lead pastor at Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, gives his views on what today’s Church should be:

“The church must acclimate to a changing world, or she will decline herself to irrelevance or even extinction…One of those dramatic changes in our environment is the shift from words to images.  To do church in a way that is entirely text driven is the kiss of death.”  [Erwin McManus “An Unstoppable Force, pg. 18]

Now that is interesting view, especially since the apostles taught just the opposite {Titus 1:9; Romans 16:17-18].  

Those who mock and reject God’s written word–that our existence is the way it always has been since the beginning of CREATION or, in the case of most, since we evolved.  The intent of their remarks is…there is no reason to be concerned about pursuing righteousness or about God’s punishment for unrighteousness.  

These people pursue their own lusts, scoffing at the idea that  a “loving God” wouldn’t judge them.  They foolishly claim that Christ was never going to return and that there is no such thing as a final accounting of God.

This was the attitude of some people surrounding the churches in the northern part of Asia Minor, the area of the world that Peter had sent his letters to.

Peter’s Validation –

People persistently IGNORE the OBVIOUS!!

VERSES 5 & 6 answers the previous arguments by reviewing ancient history:

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Scoffers, Naysayers reasoning is faulty.  If they don’t believe that EXISTENCE came into being by the Word of God, then all their reasoning is based on unsound evidence.  Here’s an example I found online (Google Image Search – Atheism):

THE SCOFFERS deliberately and “willingly” forget that God’s Word brought creation into existence and that He desires men to acknowledge it.  When the lives of these people MOCK God, willfully forget that God created EVERYTHING that exists.  God’s WORD created the Heavens and the Earth  (John 1:1-3 AMP):

[1]  IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.  [2] He was present originally with God.  [3] All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being.

And yet, NAYSAYERS deny that God CREATED the world in the beginning and deny that God would JUDGE the world at its conclusion.

CREATION though, was all due to the divine WORD of God:  “And God said…and God saw!” (Genesis 1).

There is no evolutionary concept of creation with the events taking place over millions or billions of years.

A DIRECT INTERVENTION BY GOD –

VERSE 6, is a direct intervention by God in the course of human history, “through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.”

The SCOFFERS’ claim is short-sighted and ignorant because they ignore the FACT that things haven’t continued as they were from the beginning.

In the previous verse, PETER stated that the UNIVERSE and all contained within it was created by the Word of God.

Now, PETER informs us that by the same WORD…JUDGMENT was rendered upon every living being in response to humanity’s WICKEDNESS.

He reminds us of the NAYSAYERS, the SCOFFERS, the MOCKERS of Noah’s day–decade after decade by his friends and neighbors as he was building the Ark.

Genesis 6-7 gives us clues that it took approximately 75 years to completion [Answers In Genesis – How Long Did It Take for Noah to Build the Ark?].  So imagine your neighbors laughing, jeering, thumbing their noses at you while working on a special project in your front yard after a few short years, much less 55-75 years!

Eventually, the collapse of the water canopy surrounding the earth caused RAIN to fall for the first time and the bursting forth of the underground water system resulted in a world-wide FLOOD.

2 Peter 3.6

In other words, people shouldn’t rely on false assumptions that God has little or nothing to do with the WORLD He created.  Instead, people must realize that by His WORD, He can create anything that He desires, and by His WORD, He can destroy anything that He has created!

GOD’S JUDGMENT (VERSE 7)

“But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been stored up (reserved) for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly people.”  [Amplified Bible]

“By the same WORD”, meaning the Word of God that brought existence into being (verse 5), and brought the watery destruction in Noah’s day (verse 6), by the same WORD, God also sustains His creation.

Moreover, there is a specific limitation to this world’s existence according to the sovereign will of Almighty God.  The POWER of the WORD which sustains ALL living things will one day release the FIRE of His JUDGMENT upon the world.

Over the years, I have heard people around me make jokes about God’s impending JUDGMENT.  I have seen cartoonist draw their caricatures of prophets of doom. But you can take this to the bank, on the fact that just as the world was flooded with water in days of old, it will one day be burned with FIRE  [Read Revelation 19:20; 20:10-15.  Isaiah 51:6; 66:15-16 and Malachi 4:10]. 

And at that time, the earth as we know it, will undergo a far greater impact of God than water.

The JUDGMENT OF FIRE refers to the day when God will come to judge the earth and destroy ALL evil!  (This is called the Day of the Lord in the Old Testament.)

The Lord Jesus will intervene in history by His second advent (coming) to institute His kingdom on earth.

In spite that the Lord hasn’t yet returned, the HOPE of His return is a present reality for those of us who are BELIEVERS–BORN AGAIN!!

The FLOOD and the future renovation of the earth by FIRE should remind us that God accomplishes what He purposes, and He has declared that Jesus Christ will come again (Acts 1:11). 

Since man lost his RIGHTEOUSNESS and renounced the image of God that created him, there is no way he can escape the horrors of the JUDGMENT DAY.

All will perish because of their own SIN and their defiance of their Creator and rejecting their only Savior.  Only those in Jesus Christ escape this punishment.

Remember, “The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord”  (Romans 6:23).

As surely as there is SALVATION for the believer, there is terrible JUDGMENT for the Naysayer, the Scoffer, scorner, and ungodly.

God has the end in mind and in sight!  God’s judgment is a call for the unbeliever to examine his sinful condition, and for the believer to be consistently obedient to His WORD.

 


CREDITS:

Photos:  Google Image Search, using Scripture verses.

Bible Translations:  Amplified (AMP), unless noted.

Spotting “Out-of-Bounds” Wolves Isn’t Easy

Scripture Reading in Acts 20:28-31 [Amplified Bible]

[28] Take care and be on guard for yourselves and the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you bishops and guardians, to shepherd (tend and feed and guide) the church of the Lord or of God which He obtained for Himself [buying it and saving it for Himself] with His own blood.  

[29] I know that after I am gone, ferocious wolves will get in among you, not sparing the flock;  

WOLVES CAN BE HARD TO SEE SOMETIMES
WOLVES CAN BE HARD TO SEE SOMETIMES

[30] Even from among your own selves men will come to the front who, by saying perverse (distorted and corrupt) things, will endeavor to draw away the disciples after them [to their own party/side].  

[31] Therefore be always alert and on your guard, being mindful that for three years I never  stopped night or day seriously to admonish and advise and exhort you one by one with tears. 

WHAT DO YOU SAY WHEN YOU SAY “GOODBY”?

When an apostle says farewell and addresses leaders in the next spiritual generation for what he thinks as the last time, a  “farewell monologue” is in order.

As Paul reviews his past as a model for the Ephesian elders’ future work and charges them as Spiritual-appointed pastoral overseers, we can be quickly aware Luke intends his message to ALL church leaders in every spiritual generation (Acts 20:13-17).

Spiritual Watchfulness in the Church…it’s NOT a “one-man show”–

In a day when individualism, authoritarianism or simple economic necessity turns the pastoral responsibility so we may promote TEAMWORK in pastoring or shepherding of the local flock.

LEADERSHIP must be spiritual:  “the Holy spirit has appointed you [“overseers” – KJV] to take care of and watch over the whole flock (verse 28).

Paul’s WARNING to the ELDERS…even some wolves will show up from amongst the leadership (verse 30).

The Bible tells us our ENEMY isn’t so easy to spot.

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Where is the WOLF?

When we think of our enemy–we may tend to think, some guy standing around in a red suit with a tail and a pitchfork.  But 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us “…for Satan himself MASQUERADES as an angel of light.”

*  He looks almost righteous.

*  He looks almost religious.

In other words, you’ll not always know he’s evil and how he looks.  Even FALSE TEACHERS don’t always show up with snake oil and a handlebar mustache.

JESUS warned us in Matthew 7:15, they look like the flock and they have wool just like all the other sheep.  And here in Acts 20, Paul warns the church elders, some of those wolves would show up from amongst their leadership:  “Even from among your own selves men will come to the front”  (verse 30 a.).

OBSERVING THE TRUE NATURE OF WOLVES…

“WOLVES” tend to look like everyone else, feeling that they are in the right.   AND…they are willing to destroy anything in their way.  So let me backtrack a bit.

The WOLVES Jesus and Paul talk about look like us.  You can tell who the Jehovah Witnesses are: They’re the ones with the green bibles and the funny looking tracts.

You can recognize the Mormon missionaries:  They’re the ones riding their bikes, wearing white shirts and ties.

BUT these wolves look like us and that’s because they often ARE us.  They’re often “part of the family”; could be an Elder, a Preacher, a Teacher…it could be ME…it could be you.  AND that’s scary.

Often wolves don’t even realize they’re wolves; so convinced that they’re right…nothing else matters.  So we might actually end up being wolves without realizing it.  And THAT’S SCARY!

“Bah-a-a-”

WOLVES may look “cool” in a TV Documentary series, but I don’t want to be one.  JESUS didn’t call us to be wolves…He called us to be SHEEP. [Sheep and wolves by the way, are natural enemies].

BUT…if WOLVES can “get out-of-bounds” by arising from among our number, and IF those wolves could end up being you or me, how do we recognize when we’ve stopped being a SHEEP and become a WOLF???

“Out-of-Bounds”…

FIRST– I’d know I’d stepped over the line (“Out-of-Bounds”) when I find myself consumed with power and influence.

Paul tells us that these wolves will come forward “saying perverse (distorted and corrupt) things, will endeavor to draw away the disciples after them [to their own party]”  (verse 30 b.). 

These folks want the church run “their way” and the rest of the church be THEIR disciples, and IF they’re not… they’re either fools or heretics.  The one phrase often repeated is “This is MY church!”–it belongs to them and should be run THEIR way.

But there’s a big problem with that phrase.  The problem is…it isn’t THEIR church, not your church, it isn’t MY church.  IT IS CHRIST’S CHURCH!!!

Paul tells the Elders from Ephesus:  “Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with His own blood” ~ verse 28 b.

But if WOLVES don’t think that way…if they can’t get their own way…they tend to forget whose church it is.

ILLUSTRATION:  Years ago in one particular church located in southern California, the Pentecostal movement began to take shape within the church body [early 70’s].

It started slowly at first, and then it began to take hold, led by their senior pastor.   Murmurers,  even malcontent also began to take hold in the membership.

One Sunday morning, the pastor decided to inform the body of the new direction and how he was led by the Holy Spirit to do so.  He also said that not all of the leadership approved, but the calling of God was so strong in his spirit, there would be a change in some doctrinal teaching.

In the following weeks of the announcement, over 50% of the church split–leaving and going to more “evangelical conservative” denominations.

The “nipping” and “biting” of WOLVES before the kill…

I’m not saying the reasons for their leaving were right or wrong.  What I am saying is what occurred in the interim.  The people who left tried to get the balance of the church to leave by writing letters of disapproval–notes were passed to the unknowing, all fairly nasty.  And although no one else left and the church grew in number…scars were formed in those who stayed, and those who left that were hard to heal.

Distortion of the Truth…

Paul also tells us the WOLVES “distort the truth” (verse 30).  

TRUTH is often one of the first victims of a lone wolf, or… a wolf pack.  Sometimes that DISTORTION comes in the form of FALSE DOCTRINE…and,  too often that same distortion comes in the form of character assassination.

So, WOLVES seek to have their own way…they often play fast and loose with the TRUTH…AND they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

Notice Paul’s words in Acts 20:29:  “…ferocious wolves will get in among you, NOT SPARING THE FLOCK.”

They don’t care who they hurt.  JESUS said  “…the WOLF attacks the flock and scatters it” ~ John 10:12.

* They send out nasty e-mails…

* They try to peel off church members to follow them as their disciples…

* They’ll find ways to attack the pastor’s character, elders, or anyone else who opposes them.

WHY?  Because the FLOCK isn’t as important to the WOLVES.  Getting their way is what’s important.  They don’t really care who they hurt as long as they accomplish their objective.  They’ll even tell you they LOVE Jesus!–but they don’t.  They don’t because they don’t care for His bride (the CHURCH).

In order to get their way, they drag the BRIDE of Christ thru the streets, shred her wedding gown and throw the pieces in the mud, stomping on it. All because–they’re right…that’s what matters!

The Concern with the “What IFS”…

“But…now wait a minute Mr. Word Detective.  What if the leadership of a church is heretical?  What if they’re teaching false doctrine?  Or, if they’re allowing immorality to run rampant in the local church?”

Dealing with it must be done in a biblical way, and HERESY and IMMORALITY can’t be ignored in the assembly.  BUT you want to be careful how you handle it–because you’re still dealing with the Bride of Christ.

FINDING A “MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART” IS A GOOD START:

That above phrase sounds familiar.  It’s finding someone in Scripture who handled something very similar in their midst.  A man who understood the mind of God.

THE MAN DAVID:

Did David ever have to deal with a leader who was immoral?  Dis David have to deal with a man who directly disobeyed God?  Did David ever have to deal with a man who was tormented by demons?  He certainly did…

A MAN NAMED KING SAUL sought to kill David in 1 Samuel 24:1-13:

NOTICE when you read the referenced verses, David confronted Saul in his WICKEDNESS:

Heresy or Immorality MUST BE CONFRONTED and must be called out for what it is.   BUT, if you are in the position of church leadership, use your position to deal with that SIN with responsibility–perhaps even removing such people from the fellowship.

Being Careful…CAREFUL IN responsibility.  

DAVID in the story refused to destroy SAUL…even when it was in his power to do so.  Even when what Saul was doing was clearly wrong and identified this kind of behavior with EVIL.  As the old saying goes,  “Out of the WICKED comes forth wickedness; but my hand shall not be against you”  (24:13).

DAVID withheld his hand because SAUL was the “Lord’s anointed.”

In the same way, every Christian is ANOINTED by God! (1 John 2:20, 21; 2 Corinthians 1:21).

When we become Christians, the Spirit of God came and resides inside our hearts–spirit, mind and soul.  His presence confirmed our RELATIONSHIP with God the Father.  So IF I hurt or damage another Christian in what I say or do, might I be GUILTY of wrongdoing?

But how could David do that?  How could Davis just stand back and let Saul get away?

Well, he could do that because he TRUSTED GOD (1 Samuel 24:13).  

When David said this, he was quoting Deuteronomy 32:35:  Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, I will repay (KJV). 

Using Our AUTHORITY…

When we have the AUTHORITY to discipline a wayward brother or sister in Christ, we should do so, but being careful how we deal with them and the circumstance… because we may find ourselves opposing God in getting His way.  We might even find ourselves becoming WOLVES in the process rather than who we are supposed to be…the  SHEEP.

GOSPEL OF JOHN 10
GOSPEL OF JOHN 10

 So, are there WOLVES in  your midst, or there but SHEEP?  Keep watch, for they’re sometimes hard to identify!

 

Photo Credit:  Photo Pin.

“Soul Fasting” (Part Two)

“SOUL FASTING” or “TRUE FASTING” (Part One continued) :

CONTINUING in Jeremiah 58 verses 6-7 (NIV).

[6]  Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  [7] Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood? 

With the title, as The WORD Detective, I like to break down sentence structures in the Bible while I study and meditate on God’s Word for a perspective blog-POST.  Verse 6 & 7 is but one example.

INFINITIVE VERBS–

An infinitive verb is a verb with the word “to” in front of it (eg. “to loose”, “to set”, “to share”, etc.) showing action.  (See Footnote [i])

In Verses 6 and 7, I learned through and by my investigation, the importance of TRUE FASTING and the desired outcomes of my actions.  Yes, there should always be an outcome from FASTING!

My whole outlook into God’s desires  has changed my point of view towards the practice of FASTING.  Not of my desires, or the churches desires, or someone elses, but God’s desire through my fasting can and will be accomplished.

We cannot be saved by deeds of service without FAITH IN CHRIST; but our faith lacks sincerity if it does reach out in compassion.

The PURPOSE of Soul Fasting–

The FOUR INFINITIVE VERBS in Verses 6 & 7, all pertain to LIBERATION.  God says He wants our service to go beyond our own personal growth to acts of kindness, charity, justice, and generosity.  FASTING should be more than what we don’t eat.  It is obvious that this type of FAST is not a ritualistic one but for spiritual strength, bringing liberation to God’s people (the Church).

Have you ever felt “liberated” after you’ve fasted? The few times that I have fasted, LIBERATION never entered my mind.  Counting the hours so I could end my fast was all that I desired.

THE FIRST DESIRE OR PURPOSE–

The first desire of “soul fasting,” which honors God, is to loosen the bonds of wickedness (“chains of injustice”); while in our FASTING, that God would open the wicked bonds that have been placed upon you or someone else or a congregation.

Unchain the binding yoke
Unchain the binding yoke

The SECOND CLAUSE, to “untie the cords” or undo the bonds of the yoke, indicates the people who are mutually beneficial to one another, are to FAST that this oppressive yoke of burden, misguidance or direction over us is broken.

God tells His people, “If you want to FAST the way that pleases Me, start getting right with your brothers and sisters that sit next to you, in front of you, and across the aisle from you every Sunday.”  [“I don’t smoke and I don’t chew. And I don’t associate with people who do!”].

The NEXT CLAUSE, to let the oppressed go free while we are FASTING; to pray for those who are oppressed in whatever form (socially, culturally), will be set free to serve God.

The statement “break every yoke” pictures the complete destruction of the means of oppression.  Those who are then freed by God can then spread the freedom to others.

The results of “soul fasting”, pursues and continues in VERSE 7

Not only does it require God’s POWER to enact justice, it also enacts God’s POWER to enact FAVOR, BLESSING, BENEVOLENCE to those around us.

“NO NEGLECT HERE!”

God’s people were not to neglect each other.  When someone shared with one in need, it was a reminder of everything one owned belonged to the LORD.

FASTING THAT CHANGES THE HEART:

“SOUL FASTING” changes the heart and make it compassionate.

“YOU” is singular.  The statements in VERSE 7 are directed to each person, to each of us.

Notice that you are to DIVIDE YOUR BREAD with the hungry of the same food that you are eating.  We must deny ourselves, that we may SHARE with that person that’s hungry.

stock-photo-breaking-bread-close-up-180998312
Dividing your BREAD with the hungry

Second, you and I are to provide lodging to those that do not have a house–provide shelter for the cast out poor, forced from his/her dwelling, turned out of house and home.

Third, we are to provide clothing for those who lack them.  “OUR OWN FLESH” probably refers to close relatives (Gen. 37:27).  God expects us to see the situation of our family and to take care of them.

My son once told my wife and I, that in our old age, if we can’t take care of ourselves, we could come and live at his house.  Now I don’t know how our daughter-in-law feels about that proposed idea, but the compassion of family is there.

God’s people SHARE with those who lack the basic needs of life.  Those who know in their own lives the compassionate blessing He brings, should in turn extend it to others.

These acts on behalf of others becomes the outward evidence of inward faith and righteousness (Job 31:17-20; Ezek. 18:7, 16).  JESUS identified with the hungry and naked (Mt. 25:36).

“TRUE FASTING” is to be concerned with more than our physical and spiritual benefits.  God wants us to go beyond concern of our own spiritual growth.

“SOUL FASTING” is more than NOT eating.  It is the emptying of SELF in order to find what we need in Christ Jesus, in order to please God with word and deed.

THE PRECIOUS PROMISE, Verses 8-12:

VERSE 8 begins to set forth some BLESSINGS upon a life that becomes right with God:

“Then your LIGHT will break forth like the dawn, and your HEALING will quickly appear; then your RIGHTEOUSNESS will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard” (NIV).

God offers PRECIOUS PROMISES for those who FAST in TRUTH--“Soul Fast”.  To be changed and have the situation changed to those in need of change.

God wants me to know that He will honor those who TRULY FAST in order to honor Him.

FOUR BLESSINGS ARE PROMISED–

LIGHT, HEALING, GUIDANCE and PROTECTION.

I don’t know about you, my desire is to have these four blessings in my life.  It’s not a wish, but a PROMISE to us who observe the TRUE FAST.

The FIRST PROMISE of LIGHT that comes is when we are focusing our life on SELF, resulting in DARKNESS.  Unless JESUS is the center of our interest, LIFE, in and of itself, is heading towards darkness.

The next BLESSING is…your recovery will speedily spring forth.  This recovery indicates to us HEALING or RESTORATION when unconstrained speed of LIGHT is accentuated.

The peoples RIGHT BEHAVIOR causes the righteousness of God to protect and guide them on their way.

The Advance Guard and the Rear Guard is in Place–

As the advance guard and the rear guard provide protection, so the RIGHTEOUSNESS and the GLORY OF GOD (revealed in the manifested presence), will guard against whatever came against God’s people.

Thus, REPENTANT people are surrounded by divine protection.

If the people had inner RIGHTEOUSNESS (revealed in outward acts of justice and mercy, vv 6 & 7), then…the LORD would BLESS them (Deut. 28:1-14) with LIGHT, HEALING (spiritual restoration), RIGHTEOUSNESS (high standards), and PROTECTION from trouble.

OTHER CONDITIONAL PROMISES, Verse 9:

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say; Here am I.

Under these conditions, the FAITHFUL BELIEVER could call upon God and expect answered prayer.

They had been trying to use God while at the same time, oppressing the weak and needy.  God thus was holding back His response (the COMPLAINT of vv. 1-3).

Selfish Religious Activity…

Our “selfish religious activity” will certainly have a hindrance to our PRAYERS (59:1-2).  God is ACTIVE for His people when they are ACTIVE for others.

Other Problematic Areas, (Verse 9 b.)–

If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk.

The FIRST of the problematic concern is the need to remove the yoke.

Pointing a finger of accusation and blame at another or gossiping maliciously (speaking wickedness) about another is SINFUL and it pushes God away from the accuser–the one who is doing the “finger-pointing”.

Having a critical spirit towards others during my life has been a spiritual burden over the past years.  All my “trying not to…” hasn’t worked.  So when these feelings overcome me today; criticizing others and pointing a finger, I REPENT, letting the POWER OF JESUS who is inside of me, live through me.

The Conditions for the BLESSING to continue, Verse 12:

Living as a BUBBLING SPRING!
Living as a BUBBLING SPRING!

And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the DESIRE of the afflicted, then your LIGHT will standout in the darkness of your gloom as midday.

In verses 11 & 12, the BLESSINGS are continued:  Our LORD promises GUIDANCE, SATISFACTION, STRENGTH, and REFRESHING (like a spring).

Oh, to be GUIDED continually by God through the decisions of life; to be SATISFIED  when the world around us is on fire with thirst.

To be PLEASING and ATTRACTIVE like a well-watered garden to those around us.

To be FOUNTAINS OF JOY and COMFORT to the dry and weary soul around us.

All this and more for fulfilling certain conditions God gives us through the prophet.

And, there is even more, Verse 12.

RESTORATION and the REBUILDING of the RUINS OF MAN–

God promises to His compassionate people, that RUIN and DESTRUCTION can be overcome from His Blessed People.

Though the SIN of the fallen race eventually destroys everything it touches, God is greater than our sin.  He gives us the POWER to restore and repair what has been ruined (friendships, family, new relationships, etc.).  [See Footnote [ii]].  Oh, to be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets where people dwell.  God will enable us to put back together that which was ruined and broken.

To Fast or Not to Fast?

I hope that you just might have a better understanding of the FASTING pleases God.  The TRUE FAST, the “Soul Fast”.  So ask yourself before you deny yourself food, and that is what the Hebrew word som means: “abstaining from food and drink in the ritual sphere of Israelite worship.” [See Footnote [iii]].  Remember, JESUS own “FASTING” in the wilderness prior to the beginning of His public ministry is noted in Matt. 4:2. 

So the question isn’t “To fast, or not”, but what is the condition of our heart, mind and spirit (our souls) before, during, and after we FAST?

 

FOOTNOTES:

[i]     http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/infinitive_html.

[ii]   Oswalt, NIC, 507.

[iii]  Expository Dictionary Of Bible Words.

Photo Credits:

All from Photo Pin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “PERFECT HATE” Point-of-View

Psalm 139:19-22 (AMP):

[19]  If You would [only] slay the wicked, O God, and the men of blood depart from me–

[20]  Who speak against You wickedly, Your enemies who take Your name in vain!

[21]  Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate you?  And am I not grieved and do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

[22]  I hate them with perfect hatred; they have become my enemies. 

To do a study on the theme of PERFECT HATE, I had to ask myself definitive questions before beginning:

1.  WHAT IS “PERFECT HATRED”?

2.  WHO AND WHAT SHOULD WE HATE AS TRUE BELIEVERS OF JESUS?

3.  WHY SHOULD WE HATE?

4.  WHAT IS THE NATURE OF WHOLESOME, PERFECT HATRED?

5.  DO WE HAVE IT?

6.  HOW CAN WE CULTIVATE IT?

IS “HATRED” ONLY FOUND IN THE PSALMIST?

God Himself claims He HATES the wicked:

“The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong”  (Psalm 5:5 NIV).

You might be thinking to yourself, “Yeah, but that OLD TESTAMENT!  How about Scripture from the NEW TESTAMENT?”  If that’s what you’re thinking, let me point to you what God says in The Book of Revelation:

[6] Yet you have this–in your favor and to your credit–you hate the works [the “deeds”] of the Nicolaitans [what they are doing as corrupters of the people], which I Myself also detest (hate).  [15] You also have some who in a similar way are clinging to the teaching of the Nicolaitans [those corrupters of the people], which thing I hate.” ~ Revelation 2:6, 15 AMP.

GOD HATES SIN…the Doctrine promoted by the wicked!

Who are the “wicked” Nicolaitans?  According to Harper’s Bible Dictionary, the Nicolaitans (ni-koh-lay’i-tahns), were a religious sect in Ephesus and Pergamum whose members made it a practice of eating food sacrificed to idols and for sexual license.  In other words, the idea to get across to other church members, was the perpetual...”It’s okay! Things are changing in the world and everybody has accepted these practices as a new standard in society.”  

BUT…does GOD HATE the “doer” of the deeds?  And what does the word HATE actually mean?

THE WORD “HATE”:

The word HATE is a strong word.  In the Greek language, the word is miseo, means to hate, abhor, or to find utterly repulsive.  It describes a person who has a deep-seated animosity, antagonistic to something or someone who he finds to be completely objectionable.  Not only does one loathe that object, but rejects it entirely.  This isn’t a case of DISLIKE; it’s a case of actual hatred.

“If GOD Hates something…then so do I” –

“Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow”  (James 1:17 NAS).

GOD also commands us to HATE the sinfulness of this world”:

“[Strive to] save others, snatching [them] out of [the] fire; on others take pity [but] with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality”  (Jude 23 AMP).

EVERY TRACE of wickedness of this world should be an abomination to us.

WE ARE TO HATE…YET WE ARE TO HAVE A DEEP-SEATED LOVE:

“God So LOVED the World that…”

Does our sense of WRONG proceed from LOVE?  Does our disapproval of any evil express LOVE?  Is there a HATRED that we should avoid as Christians?

8432828-opened-magic-book-with-magic-lightLets go to the WORD of GOD for some answers:

Anyone who hates (abominate, detests) his brother [in Christ] is [at heart] a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding (persevering) within him  (1 John 3:15 AMP).

Works or doings of the flesh (human nature without God), found in Galatians 5:19-21,  are not only listed by the apostle but he point-blank mentions “those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (verse 21).

THERE IS “RIGHTEOUS LOVE”/”WICKED LOVE”:

We all know that bible verse found in John 3:16.  But does our sense of WRONG proceed from LOVE?  Does our disapproval of any evil express our inward LOVE?

The Perfect UNVALENTINE:

LOVE or HATRED Displayed
LOVE or HATRED Displayed

I can remember when I was in elementary school many years ago on Valentine’s Day, we were to exchange Valentine cards to every fellow student.  My mom would sit down with me at the kitchen table and asked me to decide which cards would go to each individual.

Now it became evident, that the heart cards…the ones that said “I LOVE YOU” would go to special individuals.  Okay, special girls in my classroom.  But when it came to certain individuals, my feelings were much different.  I would ask my mom, “Do I have to give them a Valentine’s card?  Can’t I just give a UN VALENTINE’s card?”  My mother’s explanation to a child, who based their entire life on feelings, good or bad, like or dislike, that everyone would receive a VALENTINE CARD!  There wasn’t such a thing as a UNVALENTINE CARD, so I went along with mom’s suggestion–love it or hate it!

“Love for God and Righteousness is godly, Love for the World is Ungodly” (Tim Hayes)–

“Do not LOVE or CHERISH the world or the things that are in the world.  If anyone LOVES THE WORLD, love for the Father is not in him”  (1 John 2:15).

“O you who LOVE the Lord, HATE evil; He preserves the lives of His saints (the children of God), He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked”  (Psalm 97:10).

“The reverent fear and worshipful awe of the Lord [includes] the HATRED of evil…”  (Proverbs *:13).

“The opposite then of LOVE is not HATE…the opposite of both HATE and LOVE is APATHY”  (Tim Hayes)–

“Caring intensely is both LOVE & HATE; the opposite of caring intensely is not caring at all”… and can be an apathetic heart.

GOD HATES THE NATURE OF SINNERS: 

God hates the nature of sinners because He cares about the obedience and the holiness on His creation.  He HATES the way they respond to the world; the very fabric of what they do, why they do it, and how they think.

The HEART ISSUE Comes Into play…

A SELFISH and WICKED HEART hates a man–seeks to destroy him in deed or with words.  Whereas a RIGHTEOUS HEART hates and man seeks his welfare.

What makes HATRED right or wrong is the heart that it springs from, not the hatred or love in and of itself.

THINGS WE SHOULD HATE WITH “Perfect Hate”:

I’m not going to look at what man says “perfect hatred” is or isn’t.  I’m going to search out then answers from God’s Word…the truth of the matter in what we should HATE:

Psalm 101:3 – “I will set no base or wicked thing before my eyes.  I hate the work of them who turn aside [from the right path]; it shall not grasp hold of me.”

Psalm 119:113 – I hate the thoughts of undecided [in religion], double-minded people, but Your law do I love.”

Psalm 119:163 – I hate and abhor falsehood, but Your law do I love.”

Psalm 139:21 – “Do I not hate them O Lord, who hate You?  And am I not grieved and do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

1.  LOVE others by sincerely seeking their welfare…as you LOVE, you HATE.

2.  HATE everything about the wicked…that comprises them, makes them tick, counting them your enemies while hating even the garment spotted by the flesh (Jude 23).

3.  SEEK NOT the lukewarm, “the middle ground” of sinfulness, for that is APATHY.  For GOD will spew (“throw-up”) you out (Revelation 3:16).

4.  RETURN to your FIRST LOVE…and your PERFECT HATRED, as Jesus speaks to the Church at Ephesus:

Revelation 2:4-6 Amplified Bible–

BUT I have this [one charge to make] against you; that you have left (abandoned) the LOVE that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love].  REMEMBER then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove you lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent.  Yet you have this [in your favor and to your credit]: you HATE the WORKS of the Nicolaitans [what they are doing as corrupters of the people], which I Myself detest.

Does Our HATRED Correspond from Our Hearts?

If we HATE without the LOVE grounded in our hearts, then it can’t be “perfect hate”.  

Our response to the HATE ISSUE in our theology, should underly God’s PERFECT HATE.  It should rest on two specific qualities:

1.  HOLINESS.

2.  JUSTICE.

So you and I…and all humanity, may choose to follow in God’s standards; hating anything that hates our Lord and Savior or His standards, set down in His Word–Scripture.

Our response?

As God’s children, we need to mirror our Father’s attitudes toward evil and evil doers (Psalm 26:5), idolaters (Psalm 31:6), the “false way” (Psalm 119:104), falsehood…double-minded people (Psalm 119:113).

Our prayer, when in doubt of showing HATRED in our life–“Is it really PERFECT HATE?”– should be as the psalmist:

Psalm 139:23, 24:

“Search me [throughly], O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there is any wicked or hurtful [*uncaring] way in me in the way everlasting.”  – *(my word).

 

My Confession of a “JONAH’S SPIRIT”

I don’t want to give a shameless plug to a book my wife convinced me to read,  The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn,  BUT… I will, because God’s Spirit spoke to my spirit while reading this passage  in Chapter 20, The Things To Come:

The Prophet and Nouriel (character names in the book), were discussing the hope for America and referencing JUDGEMENT rendered by God in times past; Sodom, the kingdom of Judah, who had once known God and yet had fallen.

The king, Josiah, comes on to the scene and attempted to reverse Israel’s spiritual descent.  He banned the pagan practices, destroyed the idols, smashed altars, and sought to restore the nation to God.  He was “on fire” for God!

Now this brings you to where the Holy Spirit gave me a direct message; where He said,  ‘Mel, I want you to  make a confession from your spirit in your next blog-post’.  So try to stay with me in your reading till the end to see MY CONFESSION.

Exert from The Harbinger–

NOURIEL:  “So judgement can be delayed.”

THE PROPHET:  “Yes, even for the sake of one man.  And then there was Nineveh, the great Assyrian city.”

NOURIEL:  “As in the Assyrian Empire?”

THE PROPHET:  “As in merciless, arrogant, brutal, cold-blooded Assyrian empire.  Its judgement was also decreed.  God called the prophet Jonah…

I’ll stop the conversation there before I get in trouble with the “copyright police”.  But I want to give the exact moment God’s message entered my ear; into my spirit…

THE BOOK OF JONAH:

JONAH had been called by God to go to a city to proclaim God’s Word and their destruction.  But JONAH did everything he could do to avoid answering His call.

The character in Mr. Cahn’s book then asks the question, “Because JONAH didn’t want to proclaim the upcoming BAD NEWS?”  “NO,” said the Prophet,  “because he didn’t want them to be saved.  He knew that God’s will was not for judgement but MERCY.”

A “JONAH’S SPIRIT”:

repent-n-turn-to-gods-way

Jonah 4:2 (KJV)

But it [Nineveh’s repentance ] displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.  And he prayed to the Lord and said,  “I pray thee, Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country?  That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that thou art a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repentest of evil.”

Jonah 4:2 (The Message)

“God I knew it–when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen.  That’s why I ran off to Tarshish!  I knew you were sheer grace and mercy not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness.”

Nineveh, an “Exceedingly great city of three-day journey in breath”–

ninevehNormally, a day’s walking distance in ancient times, consisted of twelve hours.  Now in Jonah’s case, when he arrived after his “fish” experience, might have gone up and down all the different streets to check out the lay of the land.  But the Bible doesn’t say that, so I won’t go down that path (no pun intended).

Nineveh was settled as early as 6000 B.C. according to scholars and by 3000 B.C., was an important religious center where they worshiped many gods (polytheism), with the Assyrian goddess Ishtar, the fertility and war-goddess (sexual & warfare) a prominent idol.  Does America have anything that you know of that’s similar?

During my investigation, I discovered a map that showed the great city could have been consisted of several nearby city.

“…Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah–which is the great city”  (Gen. 10:12).

I lived in Southern California for 38 years, and the City of Los Angeles consisted of many smaller cities within the City Limits.

Wickedness and Violence – The Sodom and Nineveh Parallel.

I could go on in length on the cultural similarities and the morality of the “great cities”, but I think 1 Peter 5 lays out the issue of the yesterdays and the today’s similarities:

“…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.    Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time”                (1 Peter 5:5-6 NASB).

Discovering THE IDENTITY:

So in reading in the Book of Jonah, we discover that Jonah’s identity didn’t sound like some random pilgrim; someone who had a primitive idea of who God was and regarded Him as a tribal deity for Israel alone.  No, this isn’t why Jonah wanted to avoid Nineveh.  The answer is…Jonah knew God too well and that is why he didn’t obey God’s calling.

The Great City Was Spared–

Why did the Nineveh’s inhabitants, the non-believers listen to the prophet Jonah’s message?

“…and he [Jonah] cried,  Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

If that message was given in today’s “great cities”–countries–the response would be,  “Just another nut-case”.  But here in Jonah’s time, the people reacted differently to the message:

“So the people of Nineveh believed in God and proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth [in penitent mourning], from the greatest of them even to the least of them”  (verse 5 AMP).

Even the king of Nineveh REPENTS and makes a declaration to all the citizens (verses 6-8), and ends with HOPE:

“Who can tell, God may turn and revoke His sentence against us [when we have met His terms], and turn away from His fierce anger so that we perish not”  (verse 9).

AND THE RESULTS OF THEIR REPENTANCE; THEIR TURNAROUND FROM DISOBEDIENCE TO THE ONLY GOD?

“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God revoked His [sentence of] evil that He had said He would do to them and He did not do it [for He was comforted and eased concerning them]”  (verse 10).

A much different reaction from God than what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah.   God told Abraham that if he could find but 10 righteous people, He would spare the city.  History revealed shows there were not 10 righteous people to be found in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah!

Why did Nineveh’s inhabitants listen to the Prophet’s Message?

JESUS Himself supplies the clues in the answer in the Gospel of Luke, in chapter 11, where our Lord and savior refers to this account:

“For [just] as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will also the Son of Man be [a sign] to this age and generation”  (Luke 11:30 AMP).

JESUS said,  “Jonah–the man, the prophet–was himself a sign to the city of Nineveh, and in just the same manner, I, the Lord Jesus Christ, be a sign to the whole generation.”  After all, Jonah had been inside of a large fish for three days and JESUS in a tomb for three days.  He was referring to Israel but meant the whole race of man beyond that; and as Jonah was a sign to Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation.

The Last Chapter and the Spirit of Jonah revealed–

In Chapter 4 of the Book of Jonah, we read of the encounter between Jonah and God.  You might think the story would be over in Chapter 3 after ALL the people of the Great City covered themselves in sackcloth and ashes–a true sign of humbleness and repentance before Almighty God.  Repentance meant more than “I’m sorry God”– it was a 180 degree turn in direction from where they were headed–God-lacking, immorality, disobedience, idol worship…

JONAH’S SPIRIT -MAN:

“BUT IT displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was very angry”  (Jonah 4:1).

My spirit-man–

I speak with my mouth how angry I am with what I am hearing from our President, our Congress, local politicians, our Mayor and town council, regarding their beliefs and practices and imposing them on me.   Topics like “same-sex marriages”; the killing of the unborn by abortion; the debt crisis; Law & Order in our inner cities, and on and on.  It’s so frustrating, I get so angry with the situation and I CONFESS with my lips,  “God, bring your wrath down on this godless society I live in!  Enough is enough!”

This is where the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear,  “Mel, you have the same ‘spirit’ as the prophet Jonah.  Pay attention to the Word.”

JONAH was angry with God because the outcome he expected, his plans, didn’t pan out.  The Assyrians, were a brutal and godless people who needed to be damned, not saved.  They deserved God’s punishment.  After all, isn’t that the reason for me being here?

There is a lot of Jonah in all of us I think.  We act as though we would be delighted to turn on the Evening News and hear that Iran, Syria, Russia, China, you name them…lay smoldering in ruins.  But God loves the people of IRAN, SYRIA, CHINA, RUSSIA…anyone who we might consider our enemies…just as God loved the enemies of Israel.

The “Gourd” Above Our Heads–

Jonah had just prayed to the Lord that he was fed up with this whole idea, that when sinners turn to Him and meet His conditions…“You revoke the sentence of evil against them”  (Jonah 4:2).  Then said the Lord,  “Do you do well to be angry?”  (verse 4).

Now Jonah wasn’t ready to answer the Lord’s question and admit to his failings and neither am I.  My grandfather use to say when things reached his “boiling point”; becoming frustrated about the way things were turning out in his life would say,  “I’m going up into the mountains and just eat worms!”

With Jonah’s disappointments,  the mountains were out of the question; so he decided to go to the east of the Great City; make a Tabernacle or “booth”, getting out of the hot sun and into the shade.

“And the Lord God prepared a gourd and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head…”  (verse 6).

Castor Oil Plant
Castor Oil Plant

The Hebrew Word in verse 6 for “gourd” is for the castor oil plant, or literally “the vomit plant”.  If you have ever tasted a spoonful of “castor oil”, you get the picture here.

God is showing us that Jonah’s heart wasn’t in the right place.  He needed to vomit out the evil of his heart; the bitterness, the judgmental attitude toward Nineveh.  When I saw this message to Jonah, it was the same message I was assimilating from God’s Spirit:

“Mel, you need some CASTOR OIL and vomit up your anger towards America’s leaders and the ungodly who are surrounding you.”

Some Choice Words to ‘Chew On’ that follow…

“God prepared a plant, appointed it”.

The plant grew up and covered Jonah’s head, evidence of God’s gracious provision in spite of what it looks like around us.

But on the second day of his pouting in the sun, God prepared a worm:

“…God appointed a worm which attacked the plant so that it withered”  (verse 7).

Jonah 4:7
Jonah 4:7

The WORMS EFFECTIVENESS and Turning the “Heart Lights On”–

“You are the LIGHT of  the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven”  (Matthew 5:14-16 AMP).

We are LIGHTS, not to be covered up, no matter what the condition is of our cities we live in, our state, our country or even our churches we attend.  “Let the REDEEMED say so!”

God has sent us to where we reside in this world to DECLARE the word of Jonah.  Do you see as I have seen how suddenly and subtly the Holy Spirit has insinuated us into the picture?  Around unsaved people–the “godless”, we call them, the “lawless and the disobedient”.  I wanted to dismiss this group from my life saying,  “Revolting, disgusting people who deserve damnation!”.  We sing of God’s tender grace and His mercies and His compassion but avoid saying anything about JESUS to them.  After all, we don’t want to offend anyone.

Some Choice Words Given–

GOD prepared a plant, appointed it.  And the plant grew up and covered Jonah’s head, the evidence of God’s gracious provision in a day of frustration and disappointment.

BUT…on the second day, God prepared a WORM:  “…God appointed a worm which attacked the plant so that it withered”  (Jonah 4:7).

Many times in my long life, thinking that I was defeated in a thing–frustrated, angry and then…God provided some shade in the shadow of His arms.  And then, when perhaps I forgot the blessings, lo and behold…a WORM comes along and I find myself back where I started from.  And that’s a good thing!

A Hot East Wind Blows–

Poor Jonah just sat there sweating, suffering and suffocating until he fainted; he even asked that he might die:

But God said to Jonah,  “Do you have the right to be angry about the vine?”  “I do,” he said.  “I am angry enough to die”  (verse 9).

You know, it’s easy to point a finger at a situation, a condition, a person in your life, but haven’t you ever said to your Heavenly Father  “I want what I want.  I don’t care what You do Lord.  Of course I’m angry at what’s going on in society and in my country.  I don’t like what’s happening!  Take me away.  Take me to heaven and let the trumpet sound!”  

NOTICE WHAT GOD SAID:

Jonah 4:10, 11:

“The the Lord said,  ‘You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work, and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight.” [10]

“And should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” [11]

That is the Hebrew way of describing children; 120,000 little children.  He said,  “You can take pity on a ‘worm-infested’ plant but you can’t take pity upon a great city filled with children and people who don’t know their God.”  And then…the Book of Jonah ends abruptly.  Why?  Because that is where it’s suppose to take us–the revelation of the heart of God.

“MY CONFESSION”:

I have become like Jonah; I have let the “JONAH SPIRIT” take hold of my spirit.  Am I demonstrating to others the heart of God who loves the world, who are staggering on in blind willful ignorance and doesn’t know where they are going?

He has sent me, and you as disciples, as Ambassadors for Christ and to be a sign to this generation.  What is the sign of Jonah?  It is the resurrection, the sign of people who were once dead but who have been made alive in Christ Jesus.  Let the Redeemed say so!

new-york-street-pedestrians

–My Prayer–

Abba Father, Daddy, thank You for directing me

to the Book of Jonah this past week, through it,

a look at my heart-light.  How like the stubborn prophet I am

intent on my own goals, my own comfort, and my unconcern about those

around me whose hearts cry out for You and touch Your heart of compassion.

Lord, grant that I may feel like You feel, to have pity on the people

of this Nation who cannot tell their right hand from their left.

And Lord, help my heart reflect your heart and show them Your 

LOVE and COMPASSION in declaring the Gospel Message of truth, in Jesus’ name.

Amen.