Thursday, 24 February 2022

Another Bite Of The Apple

Proverbs 1:10 My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them!
      
      I walked into the lobby of the church, and a lady who was visiting said, "Do you remember me, I was a student in your class in bible college back in 1985? When recognition dawned, I said, "Yes, I do remember you." We talked for a while concerning our lives' good and bad turning points. One of the things she said was that she had walked away from God for a time, and her life had become a mess until she repented and returned to her Lord. I have heard this story many times over the years and thought, "Why do we need another bite of the apple? Wasn't the bite of disobedience which Adam and Eve took evidence enough that life outside of God is a world of thorns and thistles?" Gen. 3:17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.
      There it is, the question for all mankind. Why do we need another bite of the apple, or sinful fruit, to find out that sin still leads to death? Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. What is it within the heart of man that causes us to yearn for a sin that we know brings grief into our lives, and yet, we still fall into it? The human condition is in a fallen state of being, and no matter how much we try to change ourselves, we keep reaching for another bite of the apple. Our fallen nature is older than the mysteries of the Lemurian continent. Yet, we keep trying to fix ourselves with self-righteous works, which in itself, is a mystery, because we keep working at what does not work. Why do we keep hitting our heads against the wall expecting a different result, other than pain?
      We see this destructive behaviour throughout the books and records of the Kings in the Old Testament. Repeatedly, the statement, "And the king did evil in the sight of the Lord," is said over and over again. King after king kept taking another bite of the apple, and it just brought more destruction upon their nation. 1Kings 15:26 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin. Not only did the kings keep falling for the same old things, but their disobedience allowed the people of the nation to do the same. 2Tim. 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 
      We need to pray for our leaders because as the leadership within a country, province, or municipality is in character, the same will eventually become what people permit in their lives. What leadership allows to happen within a society will give licence to do whatever feels right, even if the activity is evil. Before you know it, many are not just taking another bite of the apple but are devouring it. Eccl. 8:11 When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong. 
      By praying for our leaders, whether you voted for them or not, we are maneuvering God's hand of conviction upon their hearts and minds. The blessing for those who do pray for their leaders is that they will live in peace, whether there is peace in the land or not. 1Tim. 2:1  First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.    
      The uncomprehending wonderment that is being expressed when the Psalmist says, "What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You care for him?" is truly an amazing thought. The fact that God takes such a personal interest in His creation is a mystery to behold. From the moment Adam and Eve caused a separation between God and man through disobedience, God immediately started the restoration process for mankind. Gen. 3:21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. From the garden of Eden, where God covered our naked shame with lambs' skins, to the cross, where the lamb of God was slain for us all, our friendship with God was reinstated. Our Heavenly Father has given His all to restore our relationship with Him and each other. We, with our free will, would be wise to graciously accept the Lord's love offering. It is the only thing we can do to become the righteousness of God in Christ and be at peace with our creator.
      Before any of us consider running off and taking another bite of the apple, consider the eternal work that has been done on our behalf. For eons in the making, we have been part of a plan that is being worked out for God's eternal purpose. I realize getting our minds around this idea is somewhat perplexing from a small positional point on this earth, but we have the Mighty God living within us where His vastness of infinite power, grace, absolute loving-kindness, and wisdom resides. Is it possible that our Lord may know a bit more of the eternal plan than we do? I think so. Therefore, put away the idea of leaving God for a season just to find out that outside of the Lord's protection real death awaits us. Prov. 1:10 My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them! 
      The Lord is life to those who find Him and to those Jesus has found. Micah 2:7b Do not My words do good to him who walks uprightly? God bless you.

Thursday, 17 February 2022

The War Is Within

Proverbs 20:18 Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.
      
      James 4:1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? There truly is a war within our lives that can and will tear us apart if we let it. Road rage over the smallest infractions can escalate to a court date for vehicular manslaughter. Neighbours screaming and hitting with whatever is in reach of a clinched angry hand because someone cut across a lawn. A couple of old guys in a parking lot going fisticuffs over a parking spot. The reasons for the anger in the first place may be legitimate as we have all had to deal with things people do that we do not like. However, allowing our anger to overreact in war, is a breach in our soul that exposes the true condition of our hearts. Matt. 15:19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, slander.
      The counterculture protest song War performed by Edwin Starr in the 1970s still carries the same question, and the answer remains the same today, as it did back then. "War, huh, yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, uhh!" War against each other is good for nothing, but the war against the common enemy of our soul should be our full-time dedication toward destroying the works of darkness. Prov. 20:18  Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war. Satan has declared war on the inhabitants of the earth and has stirred up the people to focus their anger and dissatisfaction with life by fighting each other over the smallest transgressions. It is the prince of darkness we should be fighting with the weapons God has given us. 2Cor. 10:4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
      The war raging within us is a result of sin that has marred our souls, causing separation from God the Father and one another. The anger and feelings of vulnerability are hyper-sensationalized by demonic powers who influence people's minds and hearts. Eph 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. It is as if we are fighting a war on two fronts, one within ourselves and one with the enemy of our soul. No wonder we feel the pressure to lash out toward someone or at something. History also shows us that fighting a war on two fronts rarely results in victory. Therefore, we need a saviour who has already defeated Satan, and we need to hand over to the Lord the reasons for the warfare in our lives so that we remain victorious in Christ.
      If we remain hellbent on war against everyone and everything coming our way without the leading of the Holy Spirit, we will not see the strategies against us, and we will forsake a lot of God's blessings that are available to us. We can end up turning our contrived war into an idol of personal martyrdom. Look at me, "I am the only one fighting for the church. I'm the only one God can count on," and all that rhetoric that comes out of self-righteousness. Jonah 2:8 Those who regard and follow worthless idols turn away from their living source of mercy and lovingkindness.
      First and foremost, we are children of peace. The war within us can be conquered with the peace of God that is available to us. Remember, Jesus, who lives within us, is the Prince of Peace. The key is to become disciplined in handing over to the Lord our choices concerning the things battling within our hearts. Yes, we are to fight by faith when God leads us into battle, however, God knows how to help us win His battles because the battle belongs to the Lord. We are not out there fighting alone. As David said to the Philistines, 1Sam. 17:47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands. The ministry of peace is our calling, and our feet are covered in peace so that where we go, the Lord's peace comes with us. Eph. 6:15 And with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
      Jesus has given us the way to fight the good fight of faith, and that is by allowing God's word to direct our lives and hearts. It is by handing over the issues that tear us apart and bring division within the church and between friends and family. The Lord has already won the war that is boiling over within people's hearts. We just have to declare a full surrender of our lives to our Saviour who loves us. Micah 4:3 Then He will judge between many peoples and arbitrate for strong nations far and wide. Then they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer take up the sword against nation, nor will they train anymore for war. Yes, Lord, let us walk in your peace. Amen.

Thursday, 10 February 2022

The New Sound

Proverbs 8:4 I call to you, to all of you! I raise my voice to all people.
      
      Are you tired of the same old sound of "Oh hum?" Have you become a mouthpiece for all the troubles we are going through and reinforcing the magnitude of the problem by talking about it all day long? Our Heavenly Father says it is time for a new thing to be done, and a new sound to be heard. Isa. 43:19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wilderness experience that many are going through can be changed by obeying the direction of the Lord. If you have found yourself languishing in a desert and existing with a dry arid soul that no longer satisfies your life, then it is time for a new song to come forth from your inner man. Psalm 96:1 Sing a new song to the LORD; let the whole earth sing to the LORD.      
      What does a new sound of God sound like or even look like? Where is the mighty wind of God that will change the negative narrative that is stagnating numerous people in the church? Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. The Holy Spirit is available to us, however, we have to ask for His indwelling and leading to bring about the move that God has planned for us. We have to want the sound of the Holy Spirit's visitation and revival upon our lives.
      Like all revivals in the past, they have all come about because of the hunger within people's hearts for the will of God to manifest. Plus, the desire to see God moving in the earth, freeing countless souls from a Christless eternity. We all want God to move and bring about the biggest revival ever, but we have to get out of God's way so He can fulfill His will and our destiny. To simply put out an old dusty sign in front of the church saying Revival This Week, Between the Hours of 7:00 pm. to 8:30 pm. is not going to cut it. It is going to take a submissive heart toward the Holy Spirit and let Him do the eternal work within us that needs to be done to sanctify us for the Lord's use.
      The new sound of the Lord is an anointed birthing of holiness that is God-inspired. God is the one who leads His people into a revival of the heart and does it in a way that all the people of the earth may take part in the outpouring of His grace. Hab. 2:14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. If the Lord is asking you to pray for the coming new sound of the Holy Spirit, then do not put this calling off. Prov. 8:4 I call to you, to all of you! I raise my voice to all people. Don't say, "God would not use me to bring about a worldwide revival because I am not that spiritually connected to Him." So many people say the same thing and this is why we need a new move of the Lord and revival in our hearts. God can and does use who He wants.                   
      Revival is God's idea and our necessity. God does not need to be revived, we do. We want to have a sharp focus on what God is doing so that we stop approaching Sunday after Sunday with a drone-like attitude. We will die a slow death within our souls if we do not come alive to what God is up to. We were created to live and be alive in the spirit of God. To have the Lord of the universe dwelling within our hearts is not a small thing. It is beyond that which we can even imagine. The only thing stopping a renewal of the Holy Spirit's power within us is the limitations we put on God. 
      The new sound that will come from our hearts is a renewal of resurrection power and love for the Lord. Let us ask God what He wants to do with His church, and ask what the answer is for our lives to come into agreement with what the Lord is doing. God invites us to call upon Him for the answers we need. Jer. 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Yes, Lord, we ask You to help us do what has to be done in our hearts, to bring about the revival that the whole world needs at this time. Father, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we have never known or seen to this day. Let it be done. Amen!

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Why Can't I Hear God?

Proverbs 29:1 He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.

      The hardest question to answer while in a counselling session is when someone says, "Why can't I hear God? If I could hear Him audibly, then I would do what He says, and I would not be so confused.” This is a common statement and assumption that is often made. This will be hard for some to accept but, why would God speak audibly to you when you have not obeyed His written word? His word says - not to gossip, and yet, you are gossiping, what difference would an audible voice make saying the very same thing? Most people write off the voices in their heads as white noise. If we cannot obey the written word which God has laid out in the Bible, we will not obey the voice from heaven, regardless of how loud it is. We will get caught up in the awe of the experience for a while, but this does not mean obedience is automatic. 
      As the counselling progresses and with a few probing questions, it is not long before the truth of the matter is laid out before us. There are all kinds of instructions in God's word that the person needing counselling has been ignoring habitually. They have not been faithful in the little things, therefore they cannot get much out of their Christian walk. They seem to stay in a state of stagnation with no joy. Luke 16:10 If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. I realize this observation may be too simple a diagnosis, but it is on track. Our conscience is one of the methods God uses to get through to us, and if we are not following the conviction of heart pulsating within our soul and mind, hearing an audible command will become just as easy to put aside.
      There can be confusion when the audible voice is thought to be heard. When Jesus cried out from the cross  "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" What Jesus said and what the crowd heard were two different things. Matt. 27:47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah. The carnal man does not hear the heart of the Spirit. In some cases, this is what happens when the audible voice of God is heard or perceived to be heard. It becomes a discussion of what was thought to be said, thus missing the point of what was said. This is why the Lord speaks to us through the Holy Spirit and the still small voice within our hearts. We hear the intimate love language the Lord woos us with.
      When Peter, James, and John were with the Lord on the mount of transfiguration, the audible voice of God the Father was heard. Matt. 17:5 While Peter was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him! The audible voice of God had no long-lasting effect on Peter as he ended up denying he even knew Christ at the Lord's arrest and false trial. James had scattered with the other apostles. There was no extra-human strength because they had heard God's audible voice. The only thing that brought them all back to a form of unity in Christ was the word that had been sown in their hearts. Luke 24:32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?      
      What God has given to those who are in Christ, is intuitive knowledge of what is said through the word to their hearts. Interestingly, it is Peter who makes the point, - we have all that we need and can be confident in the Holy Spirit to hear God through His word. 2Pet. 1:19 We have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.  
      The instructions that come from God can always be found in His word. We want the verification of what God is saying in our hearts to be confirmed in His word because the competing voices for our soul will gladly tell us anything we want to hear. 1Pet. 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. If you are having a hard time hearing God, then take stock of what your discomfort is telling you within your conscience. Most of the time when we cannot hear God for the noise in our lives, it is because the Lord has already told us what is what, and we want another answer other than the one we got.
      I agree that every once in a while there will be a clear and precise audible directive from the Lord that makes knowing what to do perfectly understandable. However, when this happens, it is because you were seeking God with all of your heart with no conditions attached. You were completely surrendered to whatever God asked of you. Jer. 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. In most cases, the audible voice you heard came from your spirit and impacted you to the point that you could have sworn it was so loud that everyone around you heard it as well. Still, at this point, God's word will confirm what the Lord is saying to your soul.
      We can trust the word of the Lord, and through prayer, allow the Holy Spirit to direct our lives with peace within our conscience. 2Tim.3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. We can hear God when we are honestly receptive and are willing to do His will. May God's face shine on us all.