Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Bon Appétit

Proverbs 23:2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.

      Whenever we hear or read about some pathetic or extreme case of unnatural human deviance that cause us to shudder, we often wonder how did they get to that particular point of grossness in their life. Where did the appetite for binge sinning begin? 
      Appetites come in all sizes and for all things. Overindulgence, gluttony, ravenous cravings, wanting more and more of whatever it is. This type of behavior should not be a surprise to us and yet it always stuns our human emotions and psyche when outrageous deviance is seen as normal by some. 
      The Apostle Paul warned us this would happen. 2 Tim. 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 
      What is interesting about the above list of short-comings is that if anyone starts tasting these sins and keeps eating away at this menu, it will eventually turn into an appetite for more. The problem with appetite is that it can get out of control. Before you know it you are snared by its demanding need to be fed continually and addictions, obsessions, and fetishes become commonplace.
      In context, the proverb that says, "And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite." is telling us to get a strong control over what we are being controlled by. The little quirk or problem in control of your life right now may be as small as a mustard seed but can grow into a massive and overwhelming deviant behavior that will cause great hurt and loss later on in life. James 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.15 Then when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. 
      Jesus taught that it was important to deal severely with what had control of your heart, other than God Himself. Jesus uses an extreme example. Matt. 5:30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 
      Ouch! That seems drastic. The Lord was saying, "Cut off, stop doing what is causing you to sin over and over again. It might be uncomfortable and hard going, but on a scale of eternity it is well worth it." One of the weapons of our warfare is that we can say, "By the grace of God I will overcome this recurring sin." Having the power and grace of God working with us is the only way we will have victory in our lives.
      Developing a good appetite for the things of God is what we are moving toward. 1 Cor. 12:31a But earnestly desire the best gifts. We are to develop taste buds for what brings us closer to God in relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit helps us grow a good appetite for the things of God by helping us develop the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Gal. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
      My friend Monique Levesque says, "The more of the Holy Spirit we have permeating every inch of our inner-being, the less likely there will be room for any evil spirit to move in and raise havoc. The greater the capacity the Holy Spirit has in our hearts, the less influence the demonic will have on us because the fullness of God will be our appetite and desire. Only God can feed our eternal hunger and that is with the bread of His life, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord." 
      Yes, put a knife to your throat if you are a person given to unnatural and lewd appetites. Deal severely with that bondage and come out from that mess by asking God for His help. Therefore, if it is God we really want giving our souls the spiritual nutrition needed to live a vibrant and blessed life, then we should develop an appetite for the truth of God's word and become the sons and daughters He created us to be. 
      In Jesus name. 2 Cor. 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. So I say to you all, "Bon appétit."

Friday, 22 May 2015

Quo Vadis

Proverbs 29:18 When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful. 

      Quo Vadis. Where are you going?
      Good question. Where are we going in this fast and ever-changing world? What is our ultimate destination? How can we get there? How fast can we get there? Many are looking for the magic bullet or pill that will help them arrive at that place of satisfaction, wherever that place is regardless of the cost to soul and pocket-book. 
      We want more. More of what? Just more, and we want it now, packaged so we can have immediate gratification without the effort of intimate or emotional connection. Another good question might be, "Where are you?" Gen. 3:9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” Where are you right now in this life? Where are you going and what have you done with the life God has given you so far?  
      Every once in a while we all come to a place of wondering where are we going? We ask ourselves this question with a sense of vague assurance. Do the things I do, and in most cases do automatically, have any worth? Do they have any spiritual, emotional or intrinsic value? Am I living or just existing? 
      We plod along in zombie-like routines that seem meaningless and aimless as lost people wandering through a desert while asking, "Where am I going? What am I looking for?" At this point many people throw up their hands in surrender to the statement of "I quit, I want out of this empty existence." That's nice, but if you quit that existence where will you go and exist differently? Prov. 29:18 When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.
      Someone said, " A man without a vision will always return to his past." So, it looks like you might end up right back in the place of your frustration. There has to be an answer and a purpose. Living has got to be more than a mortgage, car payment, and the acquiring of never-ending stuff.
      The disciples of Jesus had to answer a hard life question one day when Jesus asked them if they would leave Him as the others had because of the deep doctrines He was teaching. John 6:67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. That's it, isn't it? If God asked us, "Where are you going?" We would have to say, "To you Lord, you have the answer to our eternal life." 
      I do not know where you are at in your walk of life right now, but God has the road map you need to get there. Yes, God has a plan for your life and He knows how to bring His plan into fruition. Many will feel hemmed in and restricted thinking they are losing their personal rights because God is leading. That is a bald-faced lie from the enemy of your soul. Maybe that is why Jesus said the road was narrow because not many are asking God for His directions to get to where God wants us to eventually arrive. Matt. 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.
      Don't let the tides and winds of this world determine your final destination. Stop and smell the heavenly roses per se. Seek God with a full heart and see what He has planned for your life. You might feel like your life resembles a ride on a roller-coaster with no brake within reach. However, giving God control at this point is not too late of a decision for your life, regardless of your age. 
      God can fix in a day what you have ruined in a lifetime. The enemy of your soul might say that you are stuck on a highway to hell. Psalm 3:2 Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. The devil is a liar and God can change our circumstances in the twinkling of an eye. We just have to want it and want it with all our heart. Jer. 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
      The next time someone says to you, "Where are you going?" You can smile and start singing that old song: "♫ ♪ Well, I'm on my way to heaven. My journey gets sweeter every day.♪  Well, I'm walking with Jesus.♫ ♪ Talking with Jesus all along the way♫ ♪♫." Yup! That's where I'm headed, Saints. The Lord has the words for my life here on earth and for my eternal life. I receive them gladly. I pray the same for you. Blessings to you.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

" I "

Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

      I want. I need. I will. I must. I can't. I won't be much help to anyone if all I can think of is me, myself, and I. I am my favorite subject. Tell me more about myself. Why am I always worried about me? Why am I always in the way? In the early 1980's I read a book by Earl Jabay called Kingdom Of Self. One of the interesting factoids he brought out in his book is from the moment we are born we start crying and want to satisfy ourselves and ourselves only. 
      It takes training and resolution of the heart to learn how to share and be willing to give of ourselves from our own personal kingdoms. From Paul Tripp’s book War of Words he writes, "If I sat with you and I listened to a recording of the last month of your words, whose kingdom, what kingdom, would I conclude those words are spoken to serve? Would it be the kingdom of self with its self-focused demandingness, expectancy, and entitlement?" 
      Being honest with myself I would have to say that the kingdom of me, myself, and I would have been mentioned often over the last month. It is most likely that some of our daily rhetoric on building a personal kingdom would sound similar to Satan's pathetic speech. Isa. 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 
      Oh, maybe our fists were not pointed at heaven and our vocabulary was not as repugnant as Lucifer's, but if we are honest with our hearts there are some similar declarations of personal entitled demands. Our tones and vocabulary would have been disguised with religiosity and politeness and our words may have sounded like this: "I was such a blessing to so and so. I went out of my way for that brother in the Lord and I was not thanked whatsoever. I have been serving in this church for years and never have I been recognized, for all the stuff I do, After all, I did bring toothpicks for everyone else at the church picnic. Don't you know Lord that I am he who worships thee?" 
      Prov. 20:9 Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin? No one can say, "Under my terms, I have made myself right and acceptable to God." It is all God and it is all His grace that gives us life in Him and it is Christ's blood only that makes us righteous in the eyes of God. God's terms are clear and generous toward us all. His terms and love are grace. Eph. 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 
      The kingdom of self will be at odds with God's Kingdom. It is the Kingdom of God at work within our lives building the Lord's kingdom and not our own. The kingdom of God has room for every living person on earth. We just have to get that idea into our hearts and remove ourselves from persistently trying to be the front runner of all humanity. 
      I think that can happen by asking God where we fit in His kingdom to bring about the blessing God has planned for our lives. I sometimes find myself striving for acceptance from God, yet He has accepted me in Christ. I think the striving will stop when we realize that our stories have been written by God and that the end is truly happy, blessed, joyful, and fulfilled forever and ever. Psalm 139:16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. 
      We just have to rest in the fact that we, who have accepted God's eternal gift are the apple of His eye. We also have to believe the story that God is writing about us and believe that the story is the best story that could ever happen because God is the author and finisher of our faith. Heb. 12:2a Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross. 
      I and all my idiosyncrasies will be gone from this earth one day. What will be left behind? Only the richness of life that was invested in other people's lives will still be active in this earth and still giving God material to write my eternal story with. Yes, I can sometimes think I am very important and that I matter to me. However, I can only become fulfilled when I am securely in Him who first loved me. Father God, in Jesus name, I need and want more of you so that I can be who I truly am in you. Amen!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Calm Yourself

Proverbs 16:12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.

     We should remind ourselves that it is okay not to be perfect. There is one who is perfect and He holds us in the palm of his hand. Christ, the Lord is the perfect one and He has our eternal interests at heart. We tend to take ourselves too seriously and judge ourselves harder then God judges us. God's judgement was poured out on Christ so that we could be free of all judgement and condemnation. 
      If we are walking in the obedience of the Lord, before our God, then judgment is a non-issue. Rom. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. So why are we so hard on ourselves? If we, who are in Christ, have been freed from the condemnation of our past sins, why then do we sometimes walk in the judgment of our own personal unacceptability? 
      I'm too fat. I'm too skinny. I'm too short. I'm too plain. I'm just too something or other. On and on it goes with Pavlovian rapidity of self-examination to the point of utter disappointment in our personal being. It may be that we are just too solipsistic and the realization that the world does not revolve around our personal existence is the truth we need to acknowledge and calm down. 
      We need to take a moment and think about what John said. John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease. John the Baptizer was expressing that Jesus must increase in our lives and we must decrease our own position of lordship on the throne of our heart. If we do not make this change in our soul, we run the risk of missing the reason we were created in the first place; always on the outside looking in with longing for personal identity. 
      If we remain in our position of lord of our life, we will never come into a place that our personal creation was meant to accomplish. Haggai 1:6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earns wages earns wages to put it into a bag with holes. 7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Who is in control here? 
      When Christ is on the throne of our heart and living therein, plus has been given full reign as the Lord of our very being, we then will finally find acceptance in who we are. We will even be able to accept all of our flaws and this will be possible because Christ loves us and accepts us, warts and all. Rom. 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 
      We can begin to calm ourselves because we stand in a position of God's blessed acceptance of ourselves while possessing self-worth rather than looking for empty assurance in all the new fashions the world offers. We will no longer be tossed about by every type of spiritual whim that floats abundantly throughout our society. Eph. 4:14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
      In the records of the Kings, we read the story of Rabshakeh who was the king of Assyria's spokesman. With loud threats and a booming voice, he tries to get the king and the people of Israel to surrender without a fight. 2 Kings 18:30 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. 
      Rabshakeh uses logic and points out that they should look at what happened to the other nations that tried to resist Assyria. 2 Kings 18:33 Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? However, the people kept their calm and considered who they were in the Lord. 2 Kings 18:36 But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king's commandment was, saying, Answer him not. 
      Then King Hezekiah did what any God-reliant person would do: he called for the man of God. 2 Kings 19:5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah. God's response is wonderful. 2 Kings 19:6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. This is exactly what ends up happening. Rabshakeh returns to report and finds the army has gone on to another battle. 
      The word of the Lord to King Hezekiah and the people of Israel was "Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard." These people knew they were not perfect and yet God took care of them the way they were. Calm yourself. God is in charge of your life and He will be a blessing to you. 
      We do not have to judge ourselves right out of the love and blessing God has for us. We are not too short, thin, ugly or even unworthy. We are who God made us to be and we need to say, "Thank you, Lord, for all the blessings in my life and thank you for what you are doing in my life. It is true Lord, I am not perfect but with your help, I am on my way." In God's eyes, through Christ, I am just right. I can be calm in the love of my God. Amen!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Thanatophobia

Proverbs 11:19 As righteousness tends to life: so he that pursues evil pursues it to his own death.

      Thanatophobia. The fear of death.
      This is one phobia we are all going to deal with. I am so grateful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, because He has conquered death for us all. Rev. 1:18 I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. 

      In North America, where we have been brought up to believe that death is optional, we are awakening to a reality that it is coming one day. As we get older and find ourselves looking in the bible for those long life promises from God, we seem to be cramming for our finals per se. Gen. 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. Many are betting on the worst thing said about a long life. Psalm 90:10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 
      I believe that all this concentration on the longevity of life is distorting our perceptions of a rich and fulfilled life in Christ. Quality of life comes from having a heart that belongs to God for the purposes of God. The fear of death is magnified when we are not walking in the will of the Lord or just living rebellious lives. When we are at peace with God, then the love of God casts out all fear and that includes the fear of death. 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear hath torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 
      Wow! What a blessing to know that the perfect love of God He has toward us will cast out the fear of death because we are in Him and He is in us. We do not have to fear our coming death because God will be there right alongside of us, guiding us through the door of death. Psalm 48:14 For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death. We will step out of this life right into the next one; with God at our side, guiding us through the death experience. 
      In the presence of our Mighty God, there is no fear whatsoever. What does this mean? It means we can stare our grave in the face because the grave has lost its victory over us through the sacrificial work of what Christ has done for us and in us.1 Cor. 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
      We read the story of the three young Hebrew men who would not bow down to the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar set up. The penalty for this act of not worshiping was death by fire in a very hot furnace. There is a blessing in knowing God intimately and it often comes out as calm courage and not as a false bravado. Dan. 11:32b But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. 
      The response from the three young men is a spontaneous answer from their hearts. Dan 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. 
      What did these young men know in their hearts? Maybe it was a word from God that encouraged them to not let fear dominate their souls. Job 14:5 You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer.
      No one wants to die before their time, myself included. I want a long life of blessed productivity in the Kingdom of God. I want to live a full life that is full of the wonder of my God. The Lord has put before us the choice of life and death and He admonishes us to choose life. Deut. 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. 
      Why does He want us to choose life? Because He is life itself and without Him, we can do nothing of significance that will have eternal value. 1 Cor. 15:54  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true. Death has been swallowed up in victory. The fear of death can be conquered by having the life of God manifest in our hearts. Live long and be blessed.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Where Did It Go?

Proverbs 23:17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.

      Where did the fear of the Lord go? I am talking about the real reverence for the mighty God and His instructions that are clearly written in His word that we submit to and obey. Why has the word of God gone unheeded or just plain overlooked? Why is God ignored and His word judged as maybe I will do it, and maybe I won't do it? What has made us able and willing to shrug off the commands that God has given to us for a righteous life, the word that has been given by God in order for us to live a vibrant and blessed life? Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
      How can we be walking in the righteousness of God, professing to be Christians, and then turn our lives over to the devil and his ways and expect the blessing of God? Gal. 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 
      Why have many believers created a new Gospel that suits their own beliefs and vague interpretations? James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
      Self-deception is a dangerous spot to be in because the devil no longer has to deceive you. You are doing a good enough job of deceiving yourself on your own. Once a person is in that mindset, then the Bible becomes something of a part-time convenience rather than an everyday Godly standard to live by. Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. 
      The sad part about rewriting scripture to suit one's own lifestyle is that most lifestyles are just for a fashionable segment of time. When the trend or fling is over, there is an empty and powerless feeling for life because the insipid standard that was lived by lost its ability to deliver real joy and peace. Why? Because the Prince of peace was never involved. 
      The Bible became a dry rule book rather than the incredible living word it actually is. By this time the self-deceived start blaming God for all their problems and they go back to their empty self-existence. Prov. 26:11 As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly. Only the power of the Holy Spirit can bring about a change in the fool's heart because the Holy Spirit knows how to judge righteously. John 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. 
      We read the story of Korah who felt he could take the word of God and do what he wanted with it. Change a few things, make it a bit more for today, so to speak. Times are changing and we have to keep up with what the world is doing and who cares if a few loose morals are broken along the way. After all, that is progress, isn't it? This argument has been going on for thousands of years and the result is always the same, complete and utter loss with pain a plenty. 
      Korah felt that he should have more of the God action in the camp. He also felt that Moses was hogging all the real important ministry and wanted to take over by consensus and majority or his own interpretation of the word of God. Num. 16:3 They (Korah and his sons) united against Moses and Aaron and said, “You have gone too far! The whole community of Israel has been set apart by the LORD, and he is with all of us. What right do you have to act as though you are greater than the rest of the LORD’s people?” 
      Moses is trying to minister to Korah from the word of God and points out that he does have a role to play in the work of the tabernacle of God. Num. 16:10 Korah, he has already given this special ministry to you and your fellow Levites. Are you now demanding the priesthood as well? Self-deception blinds us to our relationship with God and we get testy and demanding while losing the fear of the Lord. 
      God, through Moses, sets the record straight as to the truth of the word. Num. 16:28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea. Now Moses explains to the people that if Korah and his entourage die a normal death then God never did call Moses, but if the death is unusual you will know that God called Moses and that is the truth of the word. Num. 16:31 He had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them. 32 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed the men, along with their households and all their followers who were standing with them, and everything they owned.
      There is always pain and suffering when people start rewriting the word of God to suit their own idealism. Under the new dispensation of grace that we now live in, thank God every time we mess up the ground does not swallow us up. Grace does not give us permission to disregard the word of truth. Rather, embrace the word of God because we are so grateful for His goodness toward us. Grace gives us the power to obey, not disobey.
      The fear of the Lord is what will keep us from manipulating the word of God say what we want it to say, rather than what it truly said. God gave us the Bible so that we could have a manual for life and a relationship with God Almighty. Why would you want to change that blessing for a few cheap thrills that will come to an end as all cheap things do? Prov. 24:16 For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity. Come on now, get up, and make the fear of the Lord your choice.