Friday, 25 January 2019

The Great Art Theft

Proverbs 25:11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given.

      We have read news articles about great works of art being stolen that were worth millions upon millions of dollars. The losses to the owners and insurance companies insuring the art can add up significantly. Art theft is usually for the purpose of resale, ransom, and sometimes for a collector's lust for a particular piece of art that ends up in a hidden private collection. 
      In our time in history, there is still art being returned to the rightful owners (mostly Jewish families) that are being found and recovered to this day. There was a great and organized art theft known as The Nazi plunder. This refers to art theft and other items stolen that were strategically looted from European countries during the time of the Third Reich by agents acting on behalf of the ruling Nazi Party of Germany. 
      To this day the sheer volume in number of art pieces that were stolen is vast and most likely unknown. It was looting on a national scale. We could even say it was theft of biblical proportion. 2 Kings 24:13 And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said. 
      The enemy of our soul has been doing the same thing to Christians to this day on an even larger scale than the Nazis. Satan is a thief. He spends much of his time taking our artistic ability in praise, worship, and ministry to our God away through stealth and deception. John 10:10a The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. God created us as individual artists in the faith. We were created in the image of God and part of that image is the ability to create music, song, dance, and other artful expressions to declare the wonders of our God.
      God has given us the insight and creativity in sculpture and craftsmanship working with gold and silver to show the glory of God. Ex. 35:35 He has filled them with skill to do all the work of a gem cutter; a designer; an embroiderer in blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen; and a weaver. They can do every kind of craft and design artistic designs.
      The great art theft is going on in our lives every time we compare ourselves with another person's ability. This is not a wise way to live since we were created as individuals in God. Comparing ourselves with others will only draw us off track from whom God made us to be and the particular artistic person we are. 2 Cor. 10:12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. There is no one like you in the universe. We are all one of a kind and we are the apple of God's eye.
      The devil uses procrastination, laziness, and doubt to distract us from our God-given gifts to bring forth a work of art that God would look upon and smile. Please, if I may take imaginary licence here. God, who is our Heavenly Father, will put our artistic loving piece of work on His fridge for all the angels to see. We are individually God's great works of art and the enemy of our soul is trying to rob, kill, and destroy our abilities in God by trashing and smearing our work. The devil is a rotten adversary who is jealous of our artistic ability that is pleasing to our God. 
      Don't let the enemy of your soul corrupt your love and skill God has given you. Use your gifting the Lord has weaved within you to showcase the love of God toward all men. If you can paint, then paint the beauty and glory God has put in your heart. If you can sing, then sing loudly. If you can pray, then pray down the blessings of God and surround the people who need Jesus with those prayers. If you can worship, then worship till the Shekinah glory permeates the souls of everyone in earshot of your praises to God.
      We are God's artists and workmanship. Eph. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Be the artist God made you to be and rise up to that calling in Jesus name.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Good And Evil

Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

      The arguments and discussions for what is considered good or evil have been and will be endlessly argued throughout history, as long as people who will not bow their hearts to God are determining the outcome of what good or evil is. What do all these scriptures have in common? 1 Kings 15:26, 2 Kings 13:2, 2 Kings 21:20, plus a bunch more that start the same way. They all start off with "He did evil in the eyes of the LORD." Notice the evil is in the eyes of the Lord and not what the common census of the people say evil is. The starting point for understanding what evil is should be seen from God's point of view.
      Evil exists because I exist. Evil exists because you exist. Have you ever made a decision to do what was wrong even when you knew it was wrong? Every human being on earth has made that sinful choice. The decision to sin by one's own will is a decision for evil. Evil was chosen in my life because I exist and I am capable of evil and sinful choices, even when it is self-righteousness. Rom. 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Free will gives us the choice to follow what is evil, or what God says righteousness is.  
      The ad nauseam question "Why is there so much suffering in the world?" is easily answered. Suffering in this world is a result of evil. When we read the accounts of all the kings who did evil in the eyes of the Lord, the result was always suffering - for the kings themselves and the people who were part of the kingdoms. If the king hoarded and stole from his people, the people suffered by starving and dying of the diseases that come with sickness. If the king invaded another kingdom because of a desire for power, people were slaughtered to death with the sword. Suffering existed because the choice to do what was wrong in God's eyes was done by choice regardless of God's warnings.
      Nothing has changed to this day. People choose to sin and do what is evil, and the upshot is suffering. This is one of the results of our gift of free will that was given to us by God. If we want suffering to stop in this world, then we need to stop choosing sin over God's righteousness. 2 Tim.3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents,ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 
      We miss the point entirely when arguing over good and evil having the answers in themselves. Good and evil are of the same tree. Gen. 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eat thereof thou shalt surely die. It does not matter how much good or self-proclaimed goodness we do, it will never overtake the eternal effects that evil has caused. 
      
We are going in circles within the limited boundaries of the same tree when trying to cure evil with good. We must eat, so to speak, from another source or another tree entirely; the tree of life or a new position of life given to us through faith in Christ. This is what makes us the righteousness of God and gives us the power to overcome evil with righteousness. We are saved into doing the good works and not by the good works in themselves. Eph. 2:10 For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
      Overcoming evil and suffering in this world is and should be our mandate throughout this life. However, this starts when we acknowledge and discern what God says evil is. God's righteousness is a gift we cannot earn through good deeds. It is a grace-given gift from God Himself but must be accepted by faith in Christ. Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. Good and evil exist, but so does God's righteousness. The only way to destroy the works and suffering caused by the evil one, is to do it with what God says works. God's gift to man is Jesus the Lord and the righteousness that comes through Christ our Savior. 
      Arguing over good, evil, and suffering in themselves will never end, so stop eating from that tree and take a bite out of God's tree of life. Stop and consider your creator and taste and see that He is righteously good and never evil. Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusts in him. May the blessings of God find us and keep us in Him who first loved us. Amen!

Friday, 11 January 2019

Knights In Tarnished Armor

Proverbs 6:14 Their perverted hearts plot evil, and they constantly stir up trouble.

      
We all miss the mark sometimes and tarnish our reputation, persona, and even social standing if we have one. We try and put our best foot forward, only to have it stepped on and hear an expletive come from our mouth that might not be so nice. We fall and fail at perfectness and wonder if we will ever get things right. The answer is - not in this lifetime on this side of eternity. The state of man's heart is flawed and subject to deception. Rom. 7:24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? We truly are knights in tarnished armor and will always need the Lord's saving grace to keep us from eternal death.
       When we look closely at the heroes of faith, we see flawed individuals. Moses beat an Egyptian to death, then hid his body in the sand. King David organized Uriah's death on the battlefield to hide the fact he had an illicit affair with Uriah's wife Bathsheba, plus was trying to cover up the pregnancy that came out of their tryst. Saul of Tarsus sanctioned persecutions and imprisonment of Christians and approved of the mob's murderous stoning of Stephen to death because Stephen believed Jesus was Lord. These knights in tarnished armor eventually became the fathers of our faith.
      Their hearts were once perverted and caused many troubles. Prov. 6:14 Their perverted hearts plot evil, and they constantly stir up trouble. However, through the power of repentance in God and His calling on their lives, they became the heroes and leaders of our faith. Only after God intervenes in our self-created messes can the tarnish finally come off of our armor. We need a Savior and there is no other Savior than the Savior God Himself provided for us - Jesus Christ The Lord.
      Often, people will try to save themselves with a self-righteous approach to what they think God is expecting, rather than actually doing what God says. 2 Tim. 3:5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! They translate God's commands to suit their own agendas, then wonder why things do not work out. Like Saul of Tarsus, who thought he was doing God's work by persecuting Christians, found out on his way to Damascus that he was completely wrong and his religion had become flawed because Christ had risen and the new covenant had begun.
      
Saul believed he wielded the authority of a knight in shining armor, only to find out his armor was totally tarnished and corroded. What has God been talking to us about that we have not handed over for the fires of God's burning love to burn the dross out of? Prov. 17:3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart. What is lurking in our hearts that might lead us to rationalize our personal agenda because we do not want to serve God's plan, because it may be inconvenient or discomforting at the time?
      We are soldiers in the Lord's army and knights of His realm so to speak, but in order to shine clean and brilliant in heart and mind, we need the saving work of Christ to be the prevalent truth of God working within us to do His will. 
      Without Christ as Lord, none of our own good deeds amount to much in the eyes of God. Do these works and good deeds do well for mankind? Yes, absolutely! However, when it comes to doing what God wants done His way, we need Christ as Lord so that our good works bless the kingdom of God and therefore mankind as well. Eph. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
       We succeed because Jesus succeeded at the cross. He rose from the grave to give us His righteousness so we would always have an assurance that when we repent of our sins, God is faithful to forgive us and remove the tarnished stain from our heart. Let us put our amour on and march forward in the power and love of our God. In Jesus name.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Little Foxes

  Proverbs 4:6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.

     
Song of Songs 2:15 Catch for us the foxes—the little foxes that ruin the vineyards—for our vineyards are in bloom.
      Although the little foxes in the case of the above scripture verse is referring to the little things that can destroy a loving relationship or a marriage - we can also see this analogy as ruining our love relationship with God who loves us fully. Rom. 5:8 But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. If we do not stay close to God, the little things that distract us and leave us vulnerable to sin can take the bloom off of our love for God. Self-condemnation and guilt can cause us to step back from crying out to God for His forgiving love.
      It is the little things that bring tension into a marriage as in intimacy issues, debt, illness, broken promises, careless statements or taking one another for granted. These things are not evil in themselves, but these little foxes can get in the way of married life when our attention is drawn away from our lovers because of all these looming issues. Love is gentle and delicate; therefore, must be nurtured by being aware of the little foxes that can cause problems within an honest and heartfelt union of love.
     The separation of loved ones is the enemy's tactic, and it is not always a full blown frontal assault that he uses to undermine and destroy relationships. Most of the time it is the small things that are piled one on top of another that start to wear out the heart's capacity to go forward in love - causing a stale and loveless existence. Rev.2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
      When the little foxes are caught and dealt with before trouble starts, then love is vibrant and full of God's power, giving us the supernatural ability to be the first to apologize, forgive, and extend love because the love is nurtured and genuine. Someone once said, "The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest." No wonder the enemy of our soul tries to brake up lover's closeness and intimacy. 
      The reason for the attack on Christian couples is simple. A husband and wife, who together love and serve the Lord by faith, are a force to be reckoned with. Satan knows it to be true and this is why he spends so much time being a home wrecker. Eccl. 4:12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. 
      When a husband and wife are covenanted with God and are in union, the triple-braided cord will strangle the works of the enemy. Matt. 18:18 Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven. 19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.
      Yes, the little foxes ruin the vineyards, and the little things we ignore when God's voice is talking to us can affect the strength of our faith because we start taking God for granted. Remember, the lover of our soul is God Himself, and not some philanderer who uses and throws us aside when He is bored with us. No Saints. He is the one who gave His son, Jesus, as a living sacrifice because His love was and is absolutely real toward us. We can count on the love of God for now and evermore. Jer. 31:3 The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you." Time to chase the little foxes away for good. Amen!