Friday, 28 February 2020

Iconoclast

Proverbs 21:30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.

      From Oxford - The word iconoclastic is an adjective referring to a breaking of established rules or destruction of accepted beliefs.
      My friend Steve Gardner said that I'm an iconoclast when it comes to the religious icons of our methodology we have adopted in our churches. Some of our religious traditions have been made sacrosanct, to the point that we have come to adore the methods we invented, rather than adoring God who should be given the affection of our worship. Ex. 20:3 You shall have no other gods before Me.  
      The reason I challenge some of the man-made icons or traditions we have come to adopt and believe were sent down by God Himself - is that a lot of the people who take part in them, stop growing in Christ. Their efforts and spiritual strength are transformed into a form of religious activity rather than growing toward what God has asked them to do. Eventually, becoming stagnant and insipid in their faith. Mark 7:13 You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things. 
      In some cases, these people become hubris in their thinking. They believe they can override God's wisdom, by insisting, they have the right to live the way they want regardless of what God says about it. The upshot is that self-righteous becomes their norm because they have forgotten that true righteousness comes from God by faith in Christ. Isa. 5:21 Woe to those who consider themselves wise and judge themselves clever. Icons get in the way of our faith in the Lord and need to be removed.
      I was talking with a brother in the Lord from the church assembly we both attend. He felt that the time spent in praise and worship should be lasting longer than it was. His reason for thinking this way was that he had come from a church that did not take much time in the ministry of praise and worship. I suggested that he was trying to replace one man-made tradition with another, or was trading one icon of thought with another. It is so easy to create an icon out of anything going on in a church service. The question should be, "What does the Holy Spirit want to do in the service on this day that the Lord has made?"
      We should all be iconoclasts to a degree in our walk with the Lord. When God points out something in our lives that is an erroneous belief, and it has started to replace His love and authority, then as an iconoclast, we should tear down that icon/idol that is trying to take God's place on the throne of our hearts. In reality, there are no idols, belief systems, or human logic that can come against God's truth and reasoning. So, why not tear down the icon? Prov. 21:30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.
      Recently, a heresy has made its way into Christian conversation. I was asked about grave-soaking. This belief is basically where someone would lay on the graves of deceased revivalists in the belief that they would absorb the deceased's anointing from God. How did this heretical icon of thought, make its way into the church? Why are we not just getting on our knees before God and praying for revival? Why would we lay down on a grave to get what God has made available to the living? Luke 24:5b Why do you seek the living among the dead?
       I am happy to report that quite a few iconoclasts have risen up to tear down this fatal thought of idiocy concerning the way to receive God's blessed anointing. Prov. 16:1 We may make our plans, but God has the last word. As I said previously, we should all be iconoclasts to the nonsense that sometimes tries to enter our minds. The word of God should be the final authority in our lives, and not the trends that are so numerous and abundantly humanistic. 2 Cor. 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 
      As believers in Christ, we stand like sentinels with our armour on, ready to take down the man-made icons that would exalt itself against the wisdom of God. Eph. 6:11 Put on the full armour of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. If removing erroneous icons of belief labels me an iconoclast, then that is what I am. PS. Hey Steve, thanks for the compliment!

Friday, 21 February 2020

Stuck In Church

Proverbs 2:11 Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you.
      
      Is Jesus the Lord in your heart, or is Jesus just one of the programs in the church building you attend? Are you trusting in Christ’s eternal redemptive gift for your soul, or is your belief in your denomination’s interpretation of what the redemptive gift is? Do you feel like you are stuck in churchiness because your spiritual life has become dry?  
      Maybe you have noticed that deep down in your soul, you have become stuck in a form of religiosity, and even the little spiritual life you think you have left has started to wane? Mark 4:25 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 
      Is the strength of your faith in Christ, or is your strength in a spiritual-system you have created through your ego? A lot of people are stuck in church because they have created a fifth gospel so to speak. They have created their very own version of what they want to hear. Many have been cherry-picking bible verses that will allow themselves a carnal life that they can live with impunity. At this point in their faith, they can't figure out why God isn't blessing their life choices.
      This self-made gospel will not work long, because the fundamentals of God's full Gospel have been ignored. These people will end up stuck in church or stuck in the mess of their own making. Hag. 1:9 You expected much, but then it amounted to little. When you brought the harvest to your house, I ruined it. Why? ” This is the declaration of the LORD of Armies. “Because my house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house.
      Some get stuck in this nowhere land, because of a traditional belief that was man-made and not inspired by God. This can hinder the rejuvenation of the soul that the Holy Spirit is trying to give life to. It makes it hard for the light of God's word to make its way through the well-protected zone of personal dogma the heart has become used to. 
      The Samaritans were stuck in their idea of where the right location to worship God should be. John 4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus was talking with the Samaritan woman at the well. He went right to the issue and pointed out that the whole idea of worship was not about a location, but rather, it was a matter of the heart. True worship was directed toward God the Father led by the Spirit. John 4:23 But an hour is coming, and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him.
      This belief in the location of worship had evolved in Samaria from an event in their history. It was not an instruction from God. It was brought into their faith because of a political move. Solomon's two sons had split the nation into two kingdoms. Israel in the north, led by King Jeroboam, and Judah in the south, reigned over by King Rehoboam. 
      Jeroboam did not want his people travelling to Jerusalem in the south to fulfill their religious obligations and be influenced to move there. Therefore, he created a place of worship in Samaria to appease and keep control of the people. 1Kings 12:27 If these people regularly go to offer sacrifices in the LORD’s temple in Jerusalem, the heart of these people will return to their lord, King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and go back to the king of Judah. Here are two groups of people stuck in church per se, because their political history made it so. Their location of worship was not handed down as a law from God but was created out of jealous politics.
      Jesus cuts through the traditions of men and brings us freedom and life of the Spirit in our hearts. Christ helps us break free from the man-made ordinances that keep us stuck in a rote repetitious religion. The salvation plan of God frees us to follow the whole word of God. Our God is looking for a heart who will love and bless the Lord in truth. This true worship will keep us all from getting stuck in the churchiness that sometimes becomes an empty mainline belief.
 
      We need to understand the difference and be spiritually sagacious. Prov. 2:11 Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you. The Spirit of God will give us the understanding needed to stay in right-standing with God through Christ if we ask for it. To get unstuck, we need to detach our hearts from the man-made traditions that do not give our souls life. Feed on the purity of Jesus, so we can choose life and live in truth, and not be stuck in church. Blessings.

Friday, 14 February 2020

All Those Tears

Proverbs 15:13 A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

      Revelation 21:4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. What a wonderful promise God gives us. God, Himself will wipe away every tear, and we can count on the fact that God's healing for the causes of our tears, will be thorough. There will finally be real healing for every hurt we have ever experienced and every hurt we have caused.
      We can see Jesus doing this very thing - taking the pain and reason for weeping away. In the Gospel of Luke chapter seven, we read the story of Jesus coming into the city called Nain. When Jesus drew near the city gate, a dead man was being carried out and he was the only son of his mother. Jesus was moved with compassion and healed the young man of death. Luke 7:13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said, “Don’t weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the open coffin, and the pallbearers stopped. And he said, “Young man, I tell you, get up! ” 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
      These are only my thoughts, but, did Jesus see in this event something resembling what his own mother would be weeping for? Jesus' mother would see and go through the loss of her son at the Crucifixion? Was the Lord seeing all the weeping that would take place until the glory of the resurrection was fulfilled? Maybe the Lord was showing us the power of tear-filled prayers that are handed over to Him by faith. Psalm 126:5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.  
      So many people feel like the Psalmist who had become weary of life's pains and tired of crying about them. Psalm 69:3 I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. "When will my miracle come to pass?" is the cry of many people who's hearts suffer emotionally and physically.
      Even Jesus wept, and the Lord knows the feelings of our broken heart. Isa. 53:3a He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. John 11:35 Jesus wept. This verse is often talked about as being the shortest verse in the Bible. It may be the shortest, but it has one of the largest impacts on humanity. To know that our Lord can relate to the pains in our body, and the hurts in our grieving hearts clearly demonstrate a personal Lord, and a suffering Christ. Jesus can truly relate to what is going on in our deepest soul.
      Now, this is a God I can relate to and trust with my eternity. My Jesus, a man of sorrows. When I am lonely and cannot find the answers to the difficulties of the day. I think of the prayer the Holy Spirit groans out for us with deep intersection, because He knows what we are going through. Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings.
      Thank God we have a Lord we can come to in our weakest moments of life. Maybe after walking with our Lord for many years, and have experienced God's faithfulness toward us, we too, can come to the same conclusion Peter did. John 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? you hast the words of eternal life. Yes, where can we go but to the Lord with our tears? He truly is the only one who understands.
      Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Blessings Saints. 

Thursday, 6 February 2020

The Bread Of Violence

Proverbs 4:17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. 

      Someone said, "When we make our enemies soulless, they become easy to hate."
      My wife and I were talking about all the injustice and mayhem that has taken place in Central and South America over the past few years. It is an important matter for my wife because she was born in Central America. She has been a Canadian citizen for most of her life, but she still has siblings who live in Central America and we hear of the hardships that go on. Another comment that came out of our conversation was, "The world doesn't seem to be happy unless they have a people group to hate." John 4:9 “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman? ” she asked him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.
      Throughout my whole life, there have been immigrants, refugees, or displaced people that I was supposed to hate and be fearful of. In the Fifties, the slur was, "Better dead than red." Then it was, "Be fearful of the Boat-People because they will take your jobs." So much of this Orwellian doublespeak has become commonplace. This fear-filled propaganda has gone on to this day and sometimes sneaks its way into church culture. I heard this statement that I think expresses our human inner fear, "The teeth gnawing at your bones are often your own." 
      There is always going to be a nation, a culture, or a people group to spew our mental pus at, because of our fears and prejudices. Yet, God created these nations for Himself and His purpose. Psalm 86:9 All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. The Lord expressly said to go into all the world and share the love and good news of God. Mark 16:15 Then he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." You cannot share what you do not have. If we do not have the love of God in our heart, then how can we give it away?
      At this point in our history, there is an inordinate amount of anger in the world. Everyone hates someone for something or another. Matt. 24:12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. Many protests have become violent screaming matches between similar people from the same neighbourhoods. The bread of violence has become a regular meal among the dissatisfied. Prov. 4:17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. If you need something to hate, then hate the real enemy - sin, greed, and ungratefulness.
      Even if all the protesters got everything they wanted, in a short time, the empty space in their ungrateful hearts, would be pulsating toward shouting for something more. Violence and fulminating anger can only produce more of the same. It cannot create real peace. Violence begets violence. Gen. 4:23 Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me.
      It is in God's heart that all nations come and worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Rev. 15:4b All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed. How much is - all? All means all nations and all the people who make up these nations. God does not need our permission to invite who He wants in His eternal kingdom. This is God's eternal plan and we are invited to take part in it, and it is not our call to determine who we feel deserves to be part of it.
      John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Whosoever - takes in a large part of the world population. The Lord has asked us to love one another and to be God's hand extended to all people in this world. Our heavenly Father will do the judging that needs to be done. God is better at judgment, because His judgment also has grace within it so that anyone can repent. Matt. 24:14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
      Let us lay down our mob-made pitchforks for chasing everyone away and get on with God's plan and stop the hate. Every one of us who has accepted Christ as Lord was once an enemy of God's kingdom. Yet, while we were sinners and lost in our trespasses and sins, God was loving on us. We are all descendants of some people-group or nation. We are all a whosoever! Let us exchange the bread of violence for the bread of life that comes through Christ. In Jesus name. Amen!