January 26, 2015
It’s normal to want to feel secure. We want to know that our health, jobs, marriages, and friendships are secure, that our beliefs are correct and our doctrines true. We want to know that we and our family will have enough money to live on till we die, and that our home and possessions are available to us always. Yes, security is nice.
But is anything really secure for us in this fallen world? It’s not. Nothing is. But there is One who reaches down to us from Heaven and invites us to place our security in Him. He is the Lord and the Maker of the universe –the All-mighty God. He invites us to place our security in Him because He knows He is the only true Security. He actually commands that we understand this and act accordingly. In fact, over and over, God, in His Word, tells us to trust Him and Him only, and to do so completely. (Pr. 3:5,6 and Isa. 26:4 & 50:10 and scores more)
Sadly though, people, even those who claim to believe the Word of God, try hard to trust all sorts of others besides God. They attempt, and insist on, trusting money, possessions, their own wits, and/or other people. And strangely, even when these fail them, they usually try to cling ever more tightly to the very thing, or person, who is failing them!
Isa. 10:20 tells us that the Israelite survivors “will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.” Using this verse, let’s all ask ourselves if we are relying on someone or something that has struck us down (or on anything apart from the Lord). And let’s understand that if we are, then we are not truly relying on the Lord. As God warns us in Jer. 17:5, a curse rests on the person who relies on (trusts in / depends on) man, for this is actually a turning away from the Lord. In Num. 11:20 we see this same principle when God states that by desiring to return to Egypt, the Israelites were, by such a desire, rejecting Him. How awful! Yet many “Christians” do this very thing as they go back to their bondages (slavery / addictions / toxic people) over and over again!
Isn’t it true that many people are relying on a particular pet thing, even that which they can see is continually striking them down? They actually cling to it in desperation. And they do so mainly, I believe, because it gives them a sense of security. Even if it is hurting them and ruining them, that thing (or person) keeps giving them relief in some area while also granting them an existence that is known and reliable to them. Being used to that “refuge”, and being used to the results of it, such bondage-addicts find normalcy in their bondage and thus a degree of security that they can count on. To release that thing –that addiction, that slave-master, that oppressor, that perceived security– would be to be left alone amid the unknown. And that unknownness is a whole lot more frightening to them than to continue in the bondage of that which keeps bringing them ruin, humiliation, and despair.
However, the unknown should not be considered a dangerous risk when one places their full trust in the Lord. For as we see, immediately following the warning in Jer. 17:5,6 about the curse of relying on man, God says in verse 7, “But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.” Then God contrasts in verse 8 the resulting blessings as opposed to the curses He warned of in verse 6. The psalmist, David, knew this Truth, for he wrote, “Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.” (Ps. 40:4) Yet there are many, even so-called “Christians”, who DO look to the proud, to those who have turned aside to false philosophies, to those who do not teach by the Spirit, and to those who are walking in blatant sin.
Yes, there is a time to bear up under unjust suffering as long as the Lord has called us to that and has given us the grace to endure it, provided we are truly walking in righteousness in that place. (1 Peter 2:18-23) But, enduring patiently does not equate with trusting in, or relying on, the abuser(s)! Moreover, if the Lord has opened a door of escape, or if He is impressing on us that the time to leave is quickly approaching, then we should prepare. We certainly should not fearfully cling to the bondage! (1 Cor. 7:21) Nor should we try to appease the one who is extending deceit, injustice, and/or devastation to us! (2 Chron. 28:20,21)
Granted, we do want to be careful about running ahead of God and into the arms of any other refuge besides Him. In fact, before the blessings come, the Lord will often give us a season of lack in the wilderness to test our faithfulness to Him, to test our obedience to His every instruction, and to test how completely we trust Him and His Word. (Dt. 8:1-5) We should expect this, not be un-nerved by it, and let God see that we will trust Him even if it feels like He is slaying us. (Job 13:15) Moving when He says to move, waiting when He says to wait, pausing after each step until He reveals the next –this is the way we trust in God alone and reject the “security” that the Bondage keeps promising us if we would just return to it.
A couple of days ago after praying for a friend in a really abusive situation and asking the Lord why, year after year, she continues to make excuses as to why she is clinging to the very one who keeps shattering her, I heard, “She believes, but doesn’t trust.” Or, “[Because] she believes [in Me], but doesn’t trust [Me].” (The words in brackets were impressions while the words not in brackets were said in words. This is often the way the Lord speaks to me.) Sad and alarmed, I wrote the statement down on the back page of my Bible and asked the Lord to confirm for me if it was truly from Him. So I went to the Word and was immediately led to Num. 11:18-23 where I wrote next to verse 20 the date and, “Craving Bondage’s security is to reject God.” Then I was immediately led to Isa. 10:20 (which I quoted above), and I wrote next to that verse the date and “Confirmation…”
I share that last paragraph to say this: It doesn’t matter if we believe in God and in His Word, for even the demons believe. (Ja. 2:19) We must TRUST in God and in His Word, and thus live out action-faith, not have just head knowledge. If we do not truly trust God, then He considers us to be rejecting His leadership, His ways, His discipline, His blessings, and yes, Him. It is a serious thing to show God rejection. It is to choose a counterfeit refuge and savior. It is to disown God. This is indeed what clinging to any other security entails.
Later that morning the Lord led me to yet another confirmation –an internet article on this same subject. It is excellent and I cannot recommend it more highly. Here is the link:
January 21, 2015
“Tell that guy he has no right to that woman.” It was the voice of the Lord, and my brother, hearing God’s command clearly, halted his morning jog and faced the couple coming toward him. But, embarrassed to say such a thing to complete strangers, my brother stood speechless as the young man and woman, seemingly having a good time, turned, walked up the stairs, and into an apartment. The next day my brother saw the same woman’s face in the newspaper with an article that said she had gone missing. Four months later they found her remains where the young man had buried her after choking her to death.
Why do I feel it necessary to tell about such an awful thing? Because my brother told it in his sermon two Sundays ago. And he told it to drive home the point that obedience to God, or the lack of it, is no small thing. Lives hang in the balance. As do souls’ eternities.
It’s really quite un-nerving to realize this. To realize that our obedience to God is absolutely crucial –and not just in those things that seem big to us, but also in those things that don’t seem especially important to us. Yet one statement can make or break a life. Even many lives. Think of the pain that would be avoided if God’s people would always obey the One who knows all hearts, all schemes, all hopes, and all of the future. There’d be so much less anguish throughout the earth!
My brother’s sermon was really convicting. It motivated me to determine to always obey the Lord when I hear His voice, to seek His guidance when I’m not hearing, to walk in the commands I already know, and to do what God says even when it feels awkward or frightening.
My brother’s sermon is called “Making the Most of Every Opportunity” and it can be listened to and watched by clicking here: http://vimeo.com/116708564
January 14, 2015
A few days ago my husband and I watched a movie about Steve Jobs and Apple. I thought it was a well-done movie, but it also reminded me of some sad facts about all of humanity. One is the fact that power, fame, and money do most often erode, not improve, a person’s decent character.
When has power, fame, or money ever caused the recipient to be more compassionate and caring toward others? When has power, fame, or money ever caused the recipient to become more Christ-like? When has power, fame, or money ever caused the recipient to turn his back on striving for more of the same so that he takes time to seek and “honor the God who holds in His hand everyone’s life and all their ways”? (See Dan. 5:23) The answer for all three questions is: Rarely.
Self-centered. Ruthless. Selfish. Cruel. Arrogant. Thoughtless. Deceitful. Need I go on? A host of negative adjectives can be used to describe most of those who clamor to gain more and more power, fame, or money. Betraying those who helped them, cared about them, befriended them, prayed for them, and/or loved them, the person consumed by greed not only finds happiness and contentment elusive, but realizes too late that he withered his own soul in the process. As a result, his earthly end is hollow and his eternity is the darkness. (Mt. 16:24-27 w/ 25:30 and John 5:29)
Those who invent incredible and useful things are to be commended and Steve Jobs certainly gave society something great. I, like most, truly enjoy and appreciate my laptop and the knowledge and abilities accessible to me through it. But did Jobs give God glory for giving him his genius? I saw no evidence of that, nor did I see it when I did a bit of internet research on him. There had been a rumor that Jobs had experienced a conversion to Christ in his last months of illness, but I read nothing that proved that at all.
Hence another sad fact I thought about: Genius, not submitted to God, is foolishness to God. (1 Cor. 3:19)
The movie definitely made me worship the Lord, because it is He who has equipped mankind with the potential and the means with which to invent things otherwise inconceivable. But the movie also made me sad as it reminded me of the masses of people who have dedicated their lives, not to Jesus and His Gospel, but instead to achieving, even ruthlessly, power, fame, or money –things that will be burned up in the end. As Jesus has warned us, such people will lose for eternity. (Mark 8:35)
For the rest of the evening after watching the movie, Mark 8:36 kept coming to mind: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
Steve Jobs certainly gained prestige across the globe. He certainly succeeded in making his product better and better, achieving for it and himself great acclaim. But, if he forfeited his soul in the process, what good was it for him? God’s Word give us the answer: None. (Luke 12:15-21 & 16:19-31)
January 7, 2015
The title of this post is what everyone will, in essence, say to God on Judgement Day: “Here, God, this is what I have to show for my life.” And though some people may be speechless with horror (Mt. 22:12 // Rom. 3:19) while others may try to convince God that His condemnation of them is an error (Mt. 7:22 & 25:44 // Luke 13:23-28), we will all, without exception, be required to present our lives, and what we produced during the entirety of it, to the All-mighty Judge. (Ec. 12:14 // Heb. 4:13)
Let us make no mistake about it: God will judge us all without favoritism (Dt. 10:17 // Rom. 2:11 // Col. 3:25 // 1 Peter 1:17) –His servants included (Luke 12:42-46 // 1 Cor. 3:10-17 // 2 Cor. 5:10)– based on these:
~~Our words (Mt. 12:31-37)
~~Our deeds (Mt. 25:31-46 // John 5:29 // Rom. 2:6-11 // Col. 3:25 // Rev. 20:11-15)
~~Our deeds done in His will or not done in His will (Mt. 7:19-27)
~~How our faith, our knowledge, our actions (holy / obedient versus sinful / rebellious), and our words / acknowledgements aligned together (Mt. 10:32,33 // Mark 7:6-8 // Luke 12:47,48 // Rom. 2:12-16 & 6:18,22 & 8:5-9 & 10:9-11 // Heb. 11:6 & 12:14 // Ja. 2:24)
~~Our thoughts (Mt. 5:28-30)
~~Our motives (1 Cor. 4:5)
~~The contents of our heart (1 Sam. 16:7 // Rom. 2:16) –purity and submission to Christ (1 Peter 4:2), or, hypocrisy, greed, self-indulgence, and filth. (Mt. 23:25-28)
God will judge each one of us, as individuals, on the fruit we produced –on whether or not we exhibited “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22), sowed to please the Spirit (6:8), was controlled by the Spirit (Rom. 8:9,14), lived daily for Christ, not ourselves (Luke 9:23-25 & 14:27,33 // 2 Cor. 5:15 // Gal. 2:20), lived Christ-like (Rom. 8:29 // Eph. 5:1 // 1 John 2:6), faithfully served Christ for His honor alone (Mt. 25:14-30 // John 12:24-26), brought forth good out of the goodness within us (Luke 6:43-45), and produced the Spirit’s fruit till the end. (John 15:6,16 // see also Ezek. 18:24-26 and Mt. 24:10-13)
Therefore, let us meditate soberly on the question: What do we have, so far, to show to the Judge on that Final Day? Do we have self-indulgences? Impurities? Rebellion? Idolatry? Disdain for God’s commands? Laziness? Cowardliness? Deceit? Abusiveness? Arrogance? Hypocrisy? If any such filth is found, God will disallow us from entering His eternal abode. (Mt. 13:41,42 & 18:32-34 & 24:45-51 & 25:30 // Rev. 21:27) In fact, “eternal punishment” (Mt. 25:46) in “the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (Rev. 21:8) will be our fate.
Our every thought, word, and act in 2014 did matter. And so will it matter in 2015. This absolutely is the teaching found in God’s Word, and if anyone is listening to the false teachers who say otherwise, I exhort that person to look up all Scripture references I have included in this post. Even the false teachers admit that God requires repentance. But what they refuse to acknowledge, is that there must be proof of repentance (Acts 26:20) and that the proof is found, not in one’s claim to love, serve, know, or belong to Christ (Mt. 7:21-23 // Titus 1:16 // Rev. ch. 3), but in one’s obedience to Christ’s teaching (John 8:31 & 14:23) as displayed by one’s thoughts, words, motives, attitudes, and deeds –all which will be judged and weighed carefully on One Final Day by God.
The wise will heed this warning and make lasting alterations in their lives –now. But the foolish will keep procrastinating.