Friday, 25 November 2016

No One Falls Alone

Proverbs 7:22 He goes after her straightway, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks.

      There have been some people who have walked with God for years and have taken a hard moral fall in this past year. These are people we know and we pray for a Godly recovery and restoration. God does say in His word that He would bring judgment to the church first. God's heart is to clean us up to be a real testimony to the world. 1 Pet. 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God's household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 
      One of the things I have noticed in these unfortunate moral breakdowns is no one falls alone. Regardless of the depth or severity of the sin that was practiced or taken up, there are always casualties other than the person who has fallen. I have seen first hand the effects of the sinful shrapnel that brings devastation and wounds to many in the body of Christ.
      Many people think they are hurting no one but themselves if they alone are practicing sin in private, or acting out just under the radar of public noticeability. This is such a lie because we are all connected in the body of Christ. No one lives and dies unto themselves. 1 Cor. 12:21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of you: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. We need each other in Christ. This is not some new revelation that we are suddenly noticing. 
      King David was dealing with the pain of losing a friend because of a sin that betrayed a relationship. Psalm 55:12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it, neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: 13 But it was you, a man my equal, my guide, and my close friend. Whether or not the fallen are close friends or mere acquaintances in the body of Christ, it still hurts the souls of everyone who walked with these people and it hurts in the deepest parts of our being.
      I thank God there is healing for this type of hurt and I am so grateful that He can and will restore those who have fallen if they ask for forgiveness. We have to realize that the fallen could have been ourselves. I for one, if I had fallen into the deepest despair of sin, I would be thrashing for forgiveness like a drowning man would be thrashing to survive. Our hearts hurt for these brothers and sisters who fell short, but we also intercede for their recovery to faith and stability in Christ. There is grace for all of us. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 
      The lesson I have taken from these painful life circumstances and the devastating effects on others is to keep my heart available to God's scrutiny, asking Him to point out potential pitfalls. Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! In this world and times I don't know any other way to keep clean in heart but to stay circumspect before God and my brothers and sisters in the church body. Allow God to correct our lives daily and submit to the correction. May we all be able to say as Paul did. 2 Tim. 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Lord, God, keep us all and help us see clearly the steps before us and may we run the race with your strength. In Jesus name.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Grasping At Straws

Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man brings a snare: but whoso puts his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

       We can sometimes feel the unfairness of life's events or experience the momentarily unjust situations we find ourselves in. When we start grasping at spiritual straws so to speak, we tend to pull out some old spiritual formula that worked by faith in the past but now has lost the same delivering impact we thought it should have.
      Becoming overwhelmed with uncertainty and not able to hear God's voice for the noise our thoughts are making, we become desperate and grasp at any spiritual relief similar to grabbing a pain medication for the throbbing pain. Our souls sometimes forget that relationship with the Lord is a day by day involvement from a personal point of the heart. Our thoughts and love toward Him are renewed every morning as God works and continually renews His love and covenant with us. Lam.
 3:22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
      Our love relationship with the Lord is a growing, maturing, and a living force of personal involvement. It is not some formula acted upon to invoke the blessing and the favor of God. He is not some talisman or lucky-charm we call on or rub when times are hard. He is a loving God who loves us with a full and pure heart. Isa. 54:10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you. 
      The dangers of treating God like a dispensing machine for personal gain can cause us to become ungrateful, unloving and callus of heart. Forgetting our intimacy with God may put us in a position of ungratefulness and desperately grasping for any kind of deliverance. 
      Moses was under pressure to meet the needs and resolve the complaints of the Israelites. The people were thirsty and needed water as they had once before in the desert. Ex. 17:6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. God had instructed Moses at that time to smite the rock and the miracle of water came forth for the thirsty crowd and their animals.
      Here they were again, in another place and time, needing water and complaining as loudly as before. God instructed Moses to speak to the rock to bring about the miracle provision of water for the people. Num. 20:8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. 
      Moses was obviously fed up with the complaints of the people and maybe the pressures of leadership. His reaction in calling the people rebels was personal and expressed frustration and grasping for answers. Num. 20:10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? 
      Moses thought the old method or formula per se would be good enough to bring about a repeat performance, but it cost him his peace and destiny. Num. 20:11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. 12 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
      Ouch! That was not the result to a life of ministry Moses was looking for. God said, "Speak to the rock," but Moses smote the rock twice. Moses was not in obedience to the word of instruction God had given him and the result cost him dearly. Why did God let the water run even though Moses did not do what God said? I don't know, but what I do know is that God is faithful when I am not. Moses was grasping at straws and had allowed the circumstances of his personal life to weaken his ability to be at peace within his own relationship with the Lord. Moses was focused on the rebellion of the people and how it affected him personally, rather than the grace of God.
      Are you grasping at straws right now? Are you dealing with something too great for you to carry? Then grasp the foot of the solid cross that does not waver in its ability to deliver our souls from any onslaught that comes our way. The bloodstained cross is where we met Jesus our Lord and it was the power that saved us and still is the power that will bring us through the murkiness of life's troubles.
 1 Cor. 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 
      Grasping at straws or a religious formula will lead to a letdown. However, grabbing and holding on tight to the cross leads to the heart of God where we are affirmed as His beloved. Let us use our strength to wrap our arms around the one who conquered the cross. He will never disappoint our eternal souls and lives. In Jesus name!

Friday, 11 November 2016

The End Of The World

Proverbs 8:29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth.

      Yup, another end of the world announcement from a so-called end of the world predictor. I saw the ominous prediction on the cover of a news magazine this week. Another doomsday scenario that I and the rest of the world cannot escape according to the article. It is all over for me and mankind. 
      I can remember end of the world predictions my whole life, even way back in grade school in the 1950's when students were asked to get under their school desks practicing surviving a nuclear blast. I'm not sure what the teachers thought they would do if there was an explosion because our desks were not going to protect us from anything disastrous or of major destruction. I reckon they had to be seen as doing something at that time.      
      What is it about these end of the world predictions that pop up on a regular basis? Yes, the word of God tells us of a time of great tribulation, but all these world events are signs pointing to that time. Matt. 24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 
      Jesus tells us not to be troubled by what we see but to continue living in Him by faith. I am not saying we should walk around aimlessly saying, "Que sera sera," as we do have to take life seriously, but not at the cost of our peace. Phil. 4:7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
     As I thought about the end of the world prediction, I realized that the end of the world had already happened to me years ago when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I am playing with words here, but when Jesus became the Lord of my life it was the end of the world as I knew it. 2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 
      I am no longer a citizen of this world system nor do I live according to its humanistic beliefs. I am a citizen of the kingdom of God and His realm. Eph. 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. 
      When we became Christians and devoted our lives to God, it was the end of the world for us so to speak. We no longer served our old human desires and nature, but we became servants of the most high God. 
      Before Saul was on his way to Damascus and had his world-changing encounter with Jesus the risen Lord, he was entrenched in Israel's religious system. Once it was revealed to him that Jesus was Lord, the world as he knew it had ended. The radical change in Saul was so earth-shattering to him that he became the Apostle Paul and wrote most of the New Testament as we know it. It truly was the end of the world he once knew. Phil 3:8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.
      What worldliness is still reigning in your heart? Do you need an end of the world experience to overcome that particulate bondage? Thinking about it in this light may not be so bad of an idea for some of us to overcome the unwanted worldliness per se. 
      Jesus admonished us not to worry about what the world could do to us because He had overcome the world. As far as Jesus is concerned the end of the world and its hold on us had ended. John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. 
      Putting God first in our hearts and lives, will cause us to overcome the things that bring fear and doubt to our hearts. The kingdom of God is a place and dominion where we can reign with Christ and be in the world where we live but not subject to its influences. The enemy of our soul uses the fears that cause insecurity and inferiority to challenge the kingdom of God and our residency within it. 
      Do not fear the onslaught of futuristic predictions that speak of non-stop destruction of this earth. The earth is the Lord's. If we are in Him we will overcome the fears the end of the world predictions can cause. We do not have a spirit of fear reigning within us. 2 Tim. 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. We are in Christ the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. It is He who owns us. There is no end for us who are in Christ because we will live forever with our Lord. Amen!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Life's Prostitutes And Idols

Proverbs 29:3 Whoso loves wisdom rejoices his father: but he that keeps company with harlots spends his substance.

      God gave a straight and forward commandment to mankind. Ex. 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. This eight word commandment is clear and without doubt as to its meaning. No other gods mean just that, no other gods! Yet, many of us live our lives prostituting ourselves with other gods. We don't think of them as gods or see them positioned on street corners as in some Eastern cultures, but nonetheless, they are all around us. 
      The dream home, dream car, dream vacation, and the dream spouse and so on are the gods of our time. You might say, "I don't bow down and worship these things in my life." I say, "Just think back to the last argument you had with God about sacrificing that something God had pointed out was in danger of becoming an idol in your heart." Was it easy to say "Yes, Lord, I give it up freely." If it was not easy to hand over that god or idol, then there is another god in your life. Matt. 22:37 Jesus declared, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
      You might be in a checkout line at a grocery store and the magazine rack conveniently at eye level will display a variate of modern day goddesses and advice on how you can become one. Aphrodite the Greek goddess of love and all her tentacles with her worldly interpretations of love is available for the price of your soul. 
      Hand over your well-earned money to this goddess who will promise you true love and attraction forever. Paul the Apostle says that real love does not boast, brag or gloat and yet the foundational success of Aphrodite and her promises of erotic love are built on the very things Paul says is not real love. 1 Cor. 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 
      In our time Aphrodite has wreaked havoc with the hearts and souls of young people whose body images do not line up to her so called perfections and values for acceptance. However, the Lord loves us the way we are and actually helps us become His unique person. Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 
      Tyche, the Greek goddess of fortune and prosperity, has overruled our good senses to the point of seduction and falling for so-called free money. This easy wealth is available to us on a scale never seen in history. Individuals with half a million and million dollar plus debt is no longer uncommon. The goddess of prosperity has given us lavished privileges, promises, and assurances that overextending our ability to pay off debt is no big deal. 
      She says, "Don't worry, just trust me and I will bail you out in time." Not so! The word says clearly, the borrower is the servant and slave of the lender. Prov. 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Enslaving ourselves to Tyche will make us ineffective in the kingdom of God. Our energies and commitments will be elsewhere because our thoughts will be consumed with the pressures of debt. 
      This idol of prosperity shines bright in the beginning but soon we find out she is made of fool's gold. Let God be your master of true prosperity and you will come out as pure gold. Mal. 3:3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD.
      Ares, the Greek god of war, has offered us trophies and assurances of success if only we would become workaholics and indulge in cutthroat business practices trying to become number one. Ares asks us to sell ourselves to him so we can be listed as the billionaire of the year on the cover of some fortune magazine. You can be the top dog as long as you crush everyone you meet along the way because all is fair in love and war. If you don't take care of yourself, then who will? You had better get all you can now no matter what the consequences. 
      Ares has no mercy for his followers and for what the Lord is trying to build in our hearts. Gal. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. The law of Ares is slash and burn and take no prisoners, but the law of God is set the prisoner free. John 8:36 So if the Son shall set you free, you will be free indeed.
      These prostitutes and idols have made their way into our world and lives by cunning and stealth. We cannot defeat them on our own by simply trying to take them down. We must replace them entirely with the one Lord and Savior Jesus. 
      When Jesus is reigning on the throne of our heart, then we will have the power to tear down strongholds that try to become the idols of our heart. 2 Cor. 10;5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. There is only room for one God in our heart. May it be the Lord of lords and the King of kings. God bless you.