January 31, 2010
Many are so weary… for the treadmill has no mercy, but keeps them constantly walking. And walking. Ever faster. Ever faster in order to keep up with the never-ending bills, the increasing debt, the unforeseen expenses that pop up at the most inopportune times…
Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)
Hmmm… Just to read those words immediately brings a soothing balm to the soul… And to actually take His words to heart –to believe them and tuck them deep into our spirits– brings even more refreshing comfort.
But are people doing this? –Coming to Jesus for rest? Not many are. They instead go to the pub, or to the lake to fish, or to the mall; or they get on the phone and chat. Most commonly, they grab the remote and flop onto the couch and drown themselves in the T.V. What are they looking for? They search for escape. Escape from reality. Their painful, sad, lonely, hollow realities… And it all eases the sorrow for a while. But not for very long.
If only people would believe. Or if only someone would explain the Gospel to them more clearly. If only they would get the true Gospel! They would find a Person… a God… THE God… The God of the universe, their Creator made in the likeness of man… who loves them… and wants to give rest to their tired souls.
Isa. 30:15 says, “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, BUT YOU WOULD HAVE NONE OF IT.'” That last phrase is so sad! Why would they have none of it? If God was offering them rest, salvation, strength…, then why refuse? Could it be that hard to repent? That hard to rest, remain quiet, and trust? Unfortunately, yes. The unregenerate find all that very hard. And even those who walk with the Lord sometimes find it hard. Because circumstances, friends’ advice, and the world often tug us away from the Lord’s way.
But look at verse 18: “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him.” As we wait for Him, He will teach us things. He will train us to live righteously before Him, maturing that we may produce all the fruits of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22,23) And He will guide. And as we trust Him, He will act. Our job is to keep our eyes on Him and do exactly what He says. We rest quietly, always maintaining a heart of purity and obedience, doing our regular assignments until He gives a clear signal to move forward. Even then, it may seem we are stepping into a mist, but if we are sure His feet have stepped in first, we can do it –even if we can’t see anything, except risk, folly, or even danger. For indeed, a core doctrine we follow is: “We walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7) Should He not test us then, to see that we are mastering this faith-walk? Does He not train those He wants to use?
Now, if we are abiding in Him and His words, and we do NOT have clear guidance from Him to step into the unknown, then we are to wait. But to wait in obedient expectation for His signal, continuously praising Him that He is in control and that He knows what is best. Then, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” (Isa. 30:21) And this is in answer to our “cry for help! [For] As soon as He hears, He will answer…” (v. 19) He will speak if we search for His voice, for He has given us His Word and His Holy Spirit to teach us, guide us, and comfort us. He will give us a good way, a way that leads to peace. This is the promise for all who repent, rest, and wait patiently in trust.
As the Lord says in Isa. 32:17,18, “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.”
Hmmm… (Sigh.) What a blissful promise…
January 30, 2010
The other day I was walking along the street by the main downtown bus depot and I saw a horrible sight. A young man was lying in the middle of the road, and cars were running him over! The guy was moaning, but no one seemed to be noticing –not the drivers, nor the pedestrians. I felt panicky. I yelled and tried to point out what was happening, but some people scowled at me and others just laughed. Most smiled and said, “I hope you’re having a good day”, whereas most just ignored me. I was appalled!
I ran out into the street and tried to stop traffic, but the cars screeched around me, honking angrily as they did so. Pretty soon some cops trotted over and whisked me out of the street, telling me that if I did that again they’d give me a ticket. I kept trying to tell them about the guy laying there almost dead, but they wouldn’t even listen! I asked them why they weren’t getting help for him, and they just muttered in-comprehensively. One, (I think), said, “He wants to be there and that’s his right.” What?! Another seemed to say that there was nothing anyone could do about it. The other said, “What man?”
I ran over to a group of strong-looking young high-schoolers who were laughing and joking together. “Can some of you carry that guy up out of the street?” I was crying. The kids also just mumbled toward me, and then kept talking with each other. A girl with them came over and hugged me, “Don’t cry,” she said.
“Why won’t someone help that guy out there in the street?” I sobbed.
“Where?” she said.
I pointed. “There! Can’t you see him?!” I was practically shrieking.
“Oh,” she said calmly. She went over and tugged on one of the tallest guy’s shirt. “Hey, can’t you guys help that brother out there? This lady here is very upset about it.”
The guy brushed her arm away. “Hey, man, we’re busy here.”
The girl shrugged at me and walked away.
I was speechless. I couldn’t believe this!
A guy in a suit came up just then. “Hey, see that guy out there getting run over?” I cried. “No one will help him!”
“We are helping him,” the man said with a smile. “See, there’s a woman over there praying for him, and there’s three in a group over there taking turns reading poetry to him to soothe his soul. And see that guy?” He pointed to a man standing on a stool that I hadn’t noticed before. “That man is reading to him from a book written by a very reputable Christian psychologist. We expect that soon that wounded man will get some healing from listening, and will apply what he hears. Then he’ll come out from the street.”
I know my mouth was just hanging open at this point. What were these people talking about?! There was a man dying a slow death out in the street and everyone was either totally unconcerned or was reacting with absolute stupidity! And they were not giving him anything close to what he needed in order to be saved from his predicament! How cruel! How inhumane! How criminal!
Well… of course this experience really didn’t happen. And no it wasn’t even a vision I had. But friends, worse yet, this is a reality that is happening in the spiritual all the time. People are dying in their sins. Some know it and some don’t. But either way, they are still dying. They are headed for a fate way worse than an afternoon of being run over by cars. I know this is a gruesome story, but what is it going to take to get so-called “Christians” to wake up? –Wake up out of their self-focused fogged-up brains –and SEE? –See the fields that are white unto harvest, but the workers so few? (Luke 10:2) –See the masses hurtling toward an eternal abyss without God?
Why, pray-tell, can “Christians” who say they believe the whole Bible, not see and care?! –That people are perishing!!! Can they not see it?! Or do they actually care more about running after possessions, fame, and ease –than they care about those who are perishing??? Ugh! –What sin! What criminal minds! What criminal hearts! But God will punish these wicked –most severely! For they knew the way of escape, but couldn’t care less to explain it to others.
If “Christians” REALLY believed the Bible –which emphatically does say there is a place of eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth… a place where all who’ve not been pardoned of their sins go… If they REALLY believed what God says about how much He hates sin… and what Jesus says in Matt. 18:8, “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.” –If they REALLY believed that, they would get up off their couches, unplug the T.V., throw away the idols that captivate their hearts, and they would RUN into the streets to warn people. They would run, SHOUTING out the way of escape –proclaiming that there is the Holy God’s Judgment of wrath coming –but that there’s also a pardon through Jesus for all the repentant!
But… instead, they close their ears to their own convictions, and growing more and more calloused, they slide into complete blindness. Because of their deliberate disobedience to God, and their continued neglect of His Word, they not only become immune concerning the wretched fate of those all around them, but they also become totally unaware of their own.
January 29, 2010
Do you often take the time to contemplate how much love you are showing to Jesus? I mean, it sure seems to be all the rage to talk about how much He loves us, the blessings He wants to bestow, how “crazy over you” God is… Hmmmm… I find those concepts just a little tweaked… the focus askew…
Especially that last phrase. In fact, my stomach endures a pang of nausea when I hear it or see it. Like when I saw it on a giant sign by a freeway –advertising a church. It said, “God is crazy over you.” Does the word “crazy” not connote recklessness and foolishness? Does the phrase not insinuate that God has a desire for something no matter what? It does. And I believe this is just what sinning people want to hear. –That God is crazily wanting us –like He’s infatuated with us– loving us no matter if we continue to sin, continue to mock His holiness, and continue to neglect His Word and His commands…
It’s really sick. And it is not true. God does not desire fellowship with those who are deliberate rebels against Him and His instructions. Nor is He reckless and foolish. I heard a sermon from the pulpit several months ago entitled “God is a Prodigal”. And it was based on a book by the same title. Again: Sick. This is “emergent” talk. Emergents like to change the meanings of words for shock value –as well as for deceptive purposes to further their own agendas. This preacher was saying that God wanted to save mankind so badly, that He recklessly threw His Son out there to be the sacrifice. And that the reckless abandonment was why God is “a prodigal”. Disgusting…
No, God is absolute wisdom. He was not reckless, but instead had a wonderful plan ordained. –That though He knew the evil side would entice humankind to rebel against Him, some would turn back to Him in repentance. He knew exactly what He was doing, and He did it in totally wise and kind planning. –Giving us deliverance from sin and evil, yet keeping for us the ability to make free choice.
About the blessings from God… Indeed, God does love to lavish gifts on his faithful people. However, He also often wounds us first. He slays us. He slays our idols, our affections, our expectations. Why? Because they get between Him and us. Because they turn our hearts from Him. Because they have the ability to lead us straight to Hell. Why is this not being preached more?
Does God love us? Does Jesus love us? Certainly! He loved the world so much that He came to pay our ransom. But emphasizing one side of someone’s personality (especially God’s) is not good. It causes one to be swayed into false doctrine. God does love. He is love. But He is also just, full of justice, and full of wrath against all injustice. He is angry with the wicked every day (Ps. 7:11) and He “detests men of perverse heart.” (Prov. 11:20) Deut. 25:16 says, “For the LORD your God detest anyone… who deals dishonestly”, while Ps. 5:5 says, “The arrogant cannot stand in Your presence; You hate all who do wrong.” People think that their sin is small –“basically, nothing”– in the eyes of the Lord; but He says that He hates all who do wrong. Any wrong. And He hates the ones who do it. Notice that the context is particularly about the arrogant. –Because it is the arrogant who think they do no wrong. –Or that the wrong they do will be winked at by God… because THEY are special to God. (Such definite arrogance.) They believe God will punish wickedness, but when they partake of wickedness, they somehow rationalize that “God understands…” them… their weakness…
Indeed, as Ps. 36:2 says, “In his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.” Why? Verse one gives the reason: “There is no fear of God before his eyes.” They mock His Word, for though they know verses such as Prov. 16:5, they think it doesn’t apply to them. (That verse says, “The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.”) And they are way too proud to listen to those who try to warn them by reminding them of such verses. Sadly, this pride problem applies mainly to those who preach the Word themselves!
Well, back to my initial question: Do you often take the time to contemplate how much love you are showing to Jesus? Because that’s what our lives should be all about. –Showing HIM (and His Father) love… worship… reverence… obedience… honor… following Him and His Word with complete devotion… Because Jesus says that by doing these things, we show we love Him. –Truly love Him… with our whole hearts.. more than anything or anyone else… As He says in John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching.”
So why the lopsided talk? Why keep telling people “Jesus loves you” when THEY (even so-called Christians), are not loving HIM? As Titus 1:16 says, “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him.” Our actions do prove our love for Him. Obedience to His commands does prove that we love Him. Disobedience proves that we don’t. And as Eph. 5:6 tells us, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.”
So why this omission in most preaching? Is it because the preachers don’t care that they are literally directing people to Hell? Is their love for affirmation or income stronger than their love for souls? Is it their love for their own sin that keeps them from wanting to preach about what really constitutes love for God and His Son?
Peter denied Jesus –3 times in a row (Luke 22:57-60) –even after Jesus had warned him about doing so, and even after Peter had determined that he wouldn’t. But Peter wept bitterly over this (v.62), and when we fail, so must we. However, different from Peter at the time, we have the power of the Holy Spirit in us. So our failures (sins) are by our own deliberate choice. And if we do not have this power, then it is our responsibility to ask, seek, and knock –as Jesus tells us to do in Luke 11:9– the context being about receiving the Holy Spirit (v. 13) who, as we walk in Him, keeps us from sin. (Gal. 5:16) We do this by meditating on Him and His words, therein waiting “until we have been clothed with power from on high.” (See Luke 24:49) If we do not choose to go to the Source, we still have no excuse for our sin. In bypassing the Source for power over sin, we’ve rebelled. –Rebelled against the Holy Spirit, rebelled against Jesus, against His words, God’s Word, Truth, and God the Father Himself.
What does Jesus ask the repentant Peter in John 21:15? He asks him, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love Me more than these?” Notice the words, “more than these”. Many say they love Jesus. I meet so many people on the streets (and in the church) who say they love Him. But do their actions prove it? And how about the men in the pulpits or those in ministry? They certainly all say they love Jesus. But do they? Do they love Him “more than these”? –These things of the world? Their possessions, their family, their sin…? Do they?
Because 1 John 2:15 tells us, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” And James 4:4 says, “…Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” Love for God and His Son is an absolute priority for inheriting eternal life. And it must be a true and fervent love (Rev. 2:4) with repentance and deeds to match. (3:2,3,15,16)
In verses 16 & 17 we see Jesus ask Peter three times if he truly loves Him. Peter says he does. So what is Jesus’ response each time? It concerns this (–something we all need to wake up and obey also): “Feed and take care of His lambs and sheep.”
THAT is proof that we love Jesus. (And this applies to every born again believer, for we all are called to care for one another and to proclaim God’s Word to everyone we can.)
Do we sloppily feed them? No. We carefully attend to them, watching that they are fed only The Truth –Jesus, the Word of God (Rev. 19:13) –made human. (John 1:1,14)
January 28, 2010
Again and again I will proclaim that it is God’s Word that is our daily food. It is His Word that sustains us as we travel this journey of life. Those who are not partaking of this food are malnourished, scrawny, lost, and in darkness –even if they don’t realize it. Some may say they love Jesus, but without eating of Him (John 6:48-58), their claim means nothing. For a person who truly loves someone wants to be around that person. They love to listen to that person’s voice and words. If someone says they love the taste of chocolate, yet they avoid chocolate, we would wonder why they are claiming such.
Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:1,14 & Rev. 19:13) Therefore, if we say we commune with Him, it must be from the foundation of God’s Word –the Bible. And what a blessing it brings! What food for the soul, the spirit, even the body… washing away gloom, weariness, and fretting. In this crazy world, it is our only true source of healing, of calm, and of insight. Many people wonder why things are the way they are –the pain and evil… the wicked flourishing… But when we meditate on God’s Word, we begin to see, we learn, we grasp knowledge and wisdom.. We find Him. We learn His ways, and our faith in His sovereignty is solidified.
The psalmist in chapter 73 speaks about his dismay concerning the prosperity of the wicked, and how sometimes he felt like saying that to stay pure and innocent was useless. But what helped him get his thoughts aright? Verses 16 & 17 say, “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me [until –what?] till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.”
Indeed, this is what brings us understanding: Entering into God’s presence. And no, the main avenue by which to enter God’s presence is not by going to church, or by soaking on the church floor while hypnotic worship music is being played. Neither is it acquired by striving to please God through works of service to our fellow man. It is by meditating on Scripture –God’s precious words of life –Jesus, the Word made human (John 1:14), and by putting that Word into daily practice (Matt. 7:24 & Luke 11:28 & Jam. 1:22 & 1 John 2:3,4) as led by the Holy Spirit. (Gal. 5:16,18 & Rom. 8:5b)
THEN we glimpse –enough to be satisfied– that this life is merely a speck of time on the long line of eternity; and that the speck is absolutely nothing compared to the eternal. We then comprehend that what happens in this “speck” IS the test –the factor– that determines the destination and quality of each individual’s eternity.
As Ps. 119:97-105 tell us, it is God’s beautiful Word –His Holy, life-changing instructions and promises, that give us “more insight than all our teachers.” (See v. 99) But that comes only to those who eat it! –not by osmosis! Verse 99 says, “Your commands make me wiser than my enemies.” Why? –Because “I love, meditate on, and obey Your precepts.” (See v. 97,100) “Therefore I hate every wrong path.” (v. 104) For it is His Word that shines light on the path He has for us, giving us guidance as we follow it in holiness and obedience (see v. 105), having been given His divine power to do so. (2 Peter 1:3,4)
However… with no light (the Word), one has no guidance. With no guidance, one is lost. When one is lost, disaster is inevitable.
The psalmist admits in verse 92 of Ps. 119, “If Your law [Word, instructions] had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” And in Ps. 94:17, “Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.” Affliction, death, perish… these are all descriptions of the destiny of those who continue to neglect the study of God’s Word.
So let’s remember what Jesus says in John 8:31,32, 36: “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then [only then!] you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” From just this Scripture alone (and there are many others), we can see that Jesus, who is God’s Son, is the Truth that frees. And in putting John 14:6 and John 17:17 together, we know they are one and the same. And we also see here, that it is by holding to His teaching, that we will know the freeing Truth. This is only accomplished by the reading of God’s Word. “Your Word is Truth.” (John 17:17)
In view of all this, let us be eating Jesus, the Word. As He Himself said in Matt. 4:4, “It is written: ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'” And He is that Word. He is “the living bread that came down from heaven. If a man eats of this bread, he will live forever.” (John 6:51)
Again, in Jesus’ own words: “For My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him… so the one who feeds on Me will live… live forever.” (John 6:55, 56, 58) We are spiritual beings, and it is our spirits that are to partake of this tangible food –The Word. And note that Jesus says that in order to remain in Him and He in us (Spirit in spirit), we must keep eating… For He puts out a warning also in verse 53: “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”
You won’t eat The Real Food? Then you will not inherit eternal life. –That’s what He says.
So eat! Nourish your spirit! Eat HIM –God’s Word!
January 27, 2010
It was sad that today one of my friends from the nursing home was sitting there in the lobby feeling confused and wanting to go home. She’s been there several years and just in the last few months has gone from having a clear and normal mind, to being senile. It is very hard to watch such a transition. –Different than ministering to those who had already succumbed to senility before meeting them. Sobering… sad…
It makes me think of how quickly man fades. Like a flower of the field. Here today… gone tomorrow… How fragile a human life actually is… Even those big, strong men who were heros in the war… now lying toothless in lonely beds… almost too weak and shaky to lift a glass to one’s own mouth… Yet how handsome, strong, and proud they once were… –Like another friend I have there… how handsome he looks in his navy uniform photo… medals on a plaque next to it –which he showed me just today…
I’ll always remember one of my very best friends there. She died a couple of years ago. She never went senile, and boy, was she fun –with a witty sense of humor. She was very feisty and always seemed either concerned or angry with her dear 80+ old husband who drove 30 minutes each way to visit her 3 times a week. But anyway, one day there was a photo up on the wall of a strikingly gorgeous woman. When I asked who it was, she said, “That’s me!”
Well, all these experiences sure have made me ponder over the years how very, very quickly time races by… how our bodies (and often our minds) deteriorate –with nothing to stop it. I think of Ps. 103:15,16: “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” And truly, who really remembers us after we are gone? A few do. But what is it they remember? Do they remember our kindness, our integrity, our sacrifices, our love? Or are they left with mostly negative memories? If so, they will likely not even care to think of us again. And soon enough, or at least after a generation or two, the wind will have blown away all trace of anyone’s memory of us.
Unless… unless we made our lives count. And even if we used our lives for the good of others, but it was for temporal things, rather than eternal, then what good really was that either? Yes, some good… easing another’s pain for a moment… But easing one’s pain for all eternity is exceedingly more important. And the only way to do this, is to point them to the Door. That Door spoken of in John 10:9 by the Door Himself. That Door who says He is the only Door. –The only Door to the Father. –The Heavenly Father. The only Door through which one can go in order to get to live with the Father forever… in Heaven.
Well, seeing one more friend feeling lost and confused… crying… upset… made me once again think long and hard about how every single day counts… and how important it is to “seize the day” and not let opportunities for doing good –especially the ultimate good of proclaiming the way of eternal salvation– pass us by. I wished I would’ve talked with her more before she got to this place. I wished I would’ve been sure she truly knew Jesus. Yes, she’s always told me she was a Christian and she always welcomed me praying for her… but…
Yes, I prayed for her today, but she just got agitated and asked how I could pray and then do nothing for her –like bring her home –or at least let her use the phone. Some aides nearby had already said no, so all I could say was, “Honey, I can’t. I don’t work here. I just visit.” I tried to put myself in her position –the position of not knowing what was going on, where she was, or why she had to be around people who seemed not to care about her concerns. I just felt so bad…
On the way home I thought of how someday –for those who get to go to Heaven– there will be no more pain, fear, loneliness, sorrow, or anything else to cause tears… I felt the Lord’s comfort as I remembered Isa. 25:8, “The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces.” Oh, the bliss of that thought, that hope, that peace. But what about those who aren’t headed for Heaven? Oh, that we would do all we can to persuade them, to explain to everyone we encounter, to go to the highways and the byways and proclaim to all of them the Good News. Before they get too calloused to listen… Before they get too old to understand… Before they die… in their sins…
January 26, 2010
This post is to all who are discouraged… discouraged because the trials seem to never end, the wicked apparently continue to prosper, the sinfulness, perversion, and evil in the world only increases, and hardly anyone listens to our exhortations and warnings concerning the importance of fleeing false doctrines. Sigh…
BUT…! What does God’s Word tell us to do? Well, Gal. 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in well-doing, for at the proper time we shall reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Notice that a promise goes along with the admonition. Also, note the word “if”. For contrary to popular opinion, most of God’s promises are conditional — conditioned upon OUR actions, attitude, and faith.
In John 14:1, Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled; you trust in God, trust also in Me.” There we see that WE are to do something. We are to trust. So, in order to do so, we must utilize what is available to us –to increase our trust– such as reading the Word. For “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17)
What does Phil. 4:4-9 tell us to do? It admonishes us to rejoice, be thankful, pray, and petition God; to reject anxious thoughts, and instead fill our thoughts with whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy; and to imitate the life of Paul who was whole-heartedly devoted to following Christ Jesus. Doing THAT, will leave very little room for discouragement!
In view of this, then, true and faithful servant of the Lord, do not say, “‘I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. [Instead say,] Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand, and my reward is with my God.'” (Isa. 49:4)
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” (Heb. 10:35,36)
For indeed, “No ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides You, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.” (Isa. 64:4)
Therefore, we have hope –and joyful expectation. For our faith and knowledge rest on a God who does not lie. (Titus 1:2) –A God who gives us “the hope of eternal life” (same verse), a God who does answer prayer (Ps. 6:9), and a God who rewards us for our labors of love –service we do for His glory and the furtherance of His Gospel.
We also have “joy…, because of our partnership in the Gospel…, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (See Phil. 1:4-6) If we labor in and through and by His Holy Spirit, then we can rest in joy –and in the confident assurance– that HE will be the One to carry it on, to make sure His Word, work, and intercession are not in vain, and to bring it all to completion.
–Definitely much cause for our encouragement! –Wouldn’t you agree?
January 25, 2010
We do see in Luke 10:19 that Jesus did give His disciples His authority to “overcome all the power of the enemy.” Yet in the very next verse, He gives a warning along with it: “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.”
This passage alone should impart to us wisdom and discernment when “testing the spirits.” (1 John 4:1) What do we hear out of the mouths of the ministers on the church stage? Is he (or she) rejoicing in God’s goodness in bringing us salvation through Christ’s work on the cross? Is he explaining to others how they can get their names written down in the “Book of Life”? (Rev. 20:12) Is he preaching the way of salvation –that is, repentance, trust, obedience, and holiness? Is his teaching making disciples of Jesus?
Or is this preacher instead trying to make disciples after himself? Is he trying to persuade people to follow him, his program, his agenda, his technique, his church, his ministry, his school…? Does he boast often about “success”? Does he spend an enormous amount of time talking about the glories of meeting with angels, the times he’s cast out demons, and all the healings he’s preformed? Basically, does he exalt experiences?
Or does he exalt Jesus, His name, and His Word?
Friends, the apostasy is here. I don’t believe anyone who is watching closely what is happening to churches and ministry leaders can deny it.
So this is a call for wisdom. For discernment. A call to study Scripture like never before. –And to study it on your own. Too many people think they must study with a group. Why? Group study can be beneficial, but to study by oneself is the best. Is that not what we did in high school… in college…? Yes. True, we sometimes got together with others to study for a test, but was that the main way we studied? No, it certainly wasn’t.
When we study God’s Word on our own, we do not have distractions from others who God may be speaking to about an entirely different subject. Unhurried, quiet meditation in the Bible –just the individual and the Holy Spirit– is sorely needful in order to hear and learn Truth. Because so many are not doing this, we now have much chaos and deception throughout Christianity. People are relying on others to give them Truth, rather than getting it directly from the Holy Spirit. And because so many of the teachers are full of greed, adultery, delusions, and other sins, they feed the flock lies.
Wisdom comes from God. –From having a holy fear of Him. It comes from being in the Word. It comes from a determination to obey that Word.
Having wisdom is going to be absolutely crucial to getting and keeping one’s name in the Book of Life –especially now… with the apostasy looming ever larger. Yes, we can get our names erased from the Book of Life. Do not let anyone tell you differently. As Rev. 3:5 says, “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never erase his name from the Book of Life, but will acknowledge his name before My Father and His angels.”
Being acknowledged, is to be let in. But many will stand at the door pleading, “Sir! Sir! Open the door for us!” (See Matt. 25:11) But He will deny knowing them. (v. 12) Even though they had been waiting for Him, believing in Him, and expecting His return. (v. 1) Why were they not then let in? It was because they had not kept their supply of oil current. They had not kept their wedding clothes with them. (See Matt. 22:11-14) They had been invited, but only the faithful are chosen to be allowed in. (See Rev. 17:14) They had “soiled their clothes” with sin, dead deeds, and lukewarmness. (See Rev. 3:4,1,2, & 16.) And God, no longer being able to tolerate them, vomited them out of His mouth. (v. 16)
“Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief…” (Rev. 3:3) Jesus is speaking here to the church. They had received the Gospel, but they would not strengthen what they had; thus they were about to lose it. (v. 2) Basic theology is not hard to understand. God has made it so that even a child can understand. So why is it hard to grasp the fact that we must feed our relationship with Christ –just as we must feed any relationship –or it will die… and we lose it. Just like a fire… just like a talent… it must be fed, used, practiced, worked on…
Let’s be wise. Let’s not get side-tracked into, or wowed by, what the false teachers are proclaiming and preaching. Let’s keep our oil, our clothes, and our righteousness with us.
And let’s remember these words: “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.” (Rev. 16:15) For those are the words of Jesus, the soon-coming King, who this time, does not come to be killed on a cross, but comes to “judge the living and the dead.” (2 Tim. 4:1)