Monday, November 26, 2012

What does it mean to guard your heart? A re-visit.

Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it are the sources of life. (Proverbs 4:23 NET) So for an entire week I was pretty much confined to a cabin in a little bitty town that you could blink and completely miss it. To the right of the cabin (please picture green shag carpet, the stale smell of an old persons house, furniture from 1960, a carpeted bathroom, bunkbeds for the two rooms. Nothing glamorous unless you are a guy. To rod it's the taj me well, it's a place to rest my head as long as I lay something down first for fear of mites or worse. It's not exactly the place I want to spend an entire week at for vacation. Rod could live on an island as long as he could hunt. Me, I'm a deeply rooted people person)is a main highway so going out to play with my 1 year old is not really up for grabs. Yet it never fails that when I go I have some extended time to focus on the Lord through His word and to read and read. For the nerd like me that's a real good thing. Instead of the saying "my cup overflows" for me it would be my "books overfloweth!". Try as I may to keep my night stand free of commentaries and books without fail each room in my house ends up with a pile of books. I was pondering (doesn't that sound scholarly? Like of course you the middle of nowhere! Haha) how much time we spend on things that don't matter a hill of beans this side of heaven? How much time spent in front of a television medicating some sort of desire and trying to meet that desire in a deformed way? I'm not expecting that many people read this blog but let me go ahead and clear this up: I'm not saying at all that all forms of media or entertainment are bad or that you should only read your bible in your spare time. I know some would try to turn it into that. Yet when it all comes down to it if you take Gods word seriously...would what you watch, what you look at on the Internet, what you listen to? Do those choices edify you at all? Can those things stand up to verses in scripture? Are the things true? Go with me here for a second...let's look at a secular song and I could do it with a Christian song as many songs are there where a guy is singing about how he would die for you, give his life for you, in fact he's even going to die if he doesn't have you? The cynic in me will talk back to the radio and say, dude I know some girl wrote this song! Unless you have an extremely unhealthy obsessed relationship that suffocates your will to live...I've dated a lot of people and you may start out like that in euphoria or lust...but it sure doesn't end that way. One of you will likely feel suffocated when the new wears off and need to go drink from another well. If you don't pursue an active walk with Christ and you fold to the idolatry of things, people, or hobbies, you will forever be seeking from a different well altogether but one in the same becaus how it runs dry ever so quickly. I've encountered a lot of situations and had a ton of people confide in me and I cringe when someone has no biblical grounds to leave a marriage yet they are not happy anymore. Their spouse failed to be what Jesus should be to them and the other person didn't make them "feel" passion anymore. Or the person that thinks that if only they could move, then their problems would all disappear. That's where I want to insert: hello!!!! You are packing your junk and moving to a different house. Same people, same baggage, same problems at a different address!!!!!! Until we get to the root of our issues and deal with them head on baggage will continue to be a magnet attracting the opposite with equal amounts of more baggage and changes in circumstances or spouses will not solve the real needs of your soul. No one can validate you enough, applaud you enough, show you enough affection or adoration. So back to my litmus test of scripture. When we are allowing all of these things in our minds and hearts, say what you want about how you are the exception to the rule but you are deceiving yourself...when we allow those things Gods word is abundantly clear that your eyes, my eyes, they are a lamp unto our soul. If the light we let in is good then our hearts and minds will reflect that goodness. But if the so called light we think we have is dark...indeed there will be darkness. That's what happens though...if you don't guard your heart and mind you slowly compromise and become desensitized. Your heart becomes hard and calloused. You lose some spiritual nerve endings so to speak. The lines between black and white get blurred. It's a huge deal because I can run through channels, or the Internet, or the radio and tell you that as far as the mainstream goes most of the things we are letting in are not true, they are certainly not worthy of respect. Ok push pause again. We as individuals have little respect for ourselves. I can remember trying to teach my brother and sister about how our bodies are a temple of the Lord. How we are honored in His sight and precious to the Lord and how Christ calls us to be Holy because He is holy. The word there if I'm not mistaken (I'm in the car without my lexical aides) is the same word in Greek to be consecrated. To be set a part. There needs to be a difference in you and someone that doesn't know Jesus. In the New Testament we are encouraged over and over (or admonished) to walk in the light. To put off the deeds of darkness, to rid ourselves of how we used to live before we came to Christ...our former ways that brought nothing good and only shame. We also are told to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. I once heard a teacher say that the problem with living sacrifices is that we can get back up. It's the truth that's why we have to make some choices, draw some lines, and drive some stakes in the ground. Clearly, the new believers in the first century were struggling with those things or it wouldn't have been penned and God doesn't waste words. The same word to them is the same word to us. To guard our hearts we are going to have to allow the Lord to have His way and pull up some weeds that are overtaking our garden, clouding our thoughts, and turning up the heat for our flesh that will only get hotter and brighter and end the end consume you. Without intentional pouring the water of His word on the flames...that baby isn't dying out and if your choices dont line up, you are stoking the fire to your own flames. I can promise you one thing: you are going to get burned. I know from experience that anytime I've departed and not been obedient I took a hard fieldtrip and learned and an proclaim that He was right all along and He is for me. When you and I live in rebellion to Gods word it is the picture in James of us setting ourselves in opposition to God. We are literally like a wrestling match according to the Greek, arranging ourselves as an opponent in opposition to God. It scares me to think of it. God can not lie and while He is merciful, He is true to His word and what a man sews that will He also reap. Sew to the spirit equalling life and peace, or to the flesh equalling death and destruction. How about some life and peace!!! Pour me a tall glass of that! And here is where the rubber meets the road. When you continue to go headlong taking ways that are not firm...listen you are storing up wrath. I would encourage anyone who has an ear to REPENT! TURN! FORSAKE! FLEE! Run for your ever loving life! The thing is that once something has a stronghold on us and the enemy is ever accusing us, it makes it real hard to choose life and make good decisions because sadly some of been like the Pharisees that I mention in my previous post. They disqualify anyone who falls. So many that have caved to the fleshly desires feel that disqualification. And so many stand ready to cast stones, or worse keep you bound. Anyone who has truly walked with God for a length of time would know how capable they are of becoming ensnared and how as psalm 130 states and I'll paraphrase, that if You O LORD kept a record of sins who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness." Man may never forgive you for some of the things you have done. They may say, "hey Jenny, you made your bed so lie in it!" that's what the devil wants you to believe. That's what will set you free though is throwing yourself in the word of God. The last thing you need to do is put the bible down. As the late D.L. Moody once said, "this book (the bible) will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book." So I exhort any brother or sister in Christ to GET!BACK!UP! Pitch a tent in the scriptures. I'd say live in Psalms and Proverbs for a mighty long while. 1)because as nature abhors a vacuum and we were created to be can't just turn away from long standing sin without turning TO something and for freedom that's going to mean the daily choice to get in the word and let it transform you. Apart from Christ we can do nothing and if we are willing to radically forsake things that are destroying us oh and the people around us since our sin affects every member of the Body as we can't walk in darkness and operate in our callings and yall when you are operating as you should and fulfilling what God has put you here to do...there is a supernatural joy that comes from it. It's a paradox but I know it to be true! No one learns more than I do when I'm studying and teaching. I can remember lessons in my head that the Lord imprinted on me so to speak and I doubt one other person remembers it like I do because it was what God was working in me. However, we are robbing God and the Body of Christ when we are wigging out in sin. It is pleasurable for a season, promises much, and takes you places you NEVER intended to go. So again back to my banner, with the Lord is FULL redemption! Say it outloud! FULL REDEMPTION! Not in part but FULL...the whole thing...redemption. I get sick of people treating others like they should go home because they are disqualified. I'm puking in my mouth thinking about it. Like the woman caught in the act of adultery. Or the "sinful woman" when Jesus told them that He who was without sin to cast the first stone. None of them were without guilt. None could stone her because He blew the top off when He stated that to look and lust after another was the same as adultery. Clearly sin is equal in that it requires judgment yet not all sin has the same consequences. Yet not one of us is any better than the next but that doesn't give any of us a free pass to dismiss holding others accountable. Now that's a soapbox I hould save for another time. What's sad is that the enemy is so good at shaming us once we have fallen that we begin to believe the lies. Who are we to hold someone accountable when we did such and such? That is a weak link where people are falling like flies. You had a choice to sin and it's my understanding that the Lord is all wise and all knowing. He can't learn anything. Can't do it! Impossible. So, when He cried out: "It is finished" on the cross...guess what! It's finished. He bore our sins on a tree. Past, present, and future. Please don't take the seriousness out of what I'm saying and no we are not to use our liberty in Christ as a license to sin. So ok the apostle Peter (quick tangent: many believe he was the first pope and most Roman Catholics believe that the Pope is infallible...have they studied their original predecessor is what I'm curious about?)walked with the Lord of glory. He was an unschooled, ordinary man, and was taught by THE RABBI. The Rabboni healed the sick, raised the dead, taught him how to be a fisher of men, he knocked the socks off of Peter so to speak. Or the sandals as Peter covered himself in the dusty roads where Christ walked. He went from town to town and was privy to an intimacy which wasn't possible for others as the Holy Spirit had not yet come. Peter denied Christ. Flat out, straight up, said he didn't even know Him. Jesus who? Then, on that Friday, on a hill, He gives up His spirit, He was forsaken. And the temple curtain was torn into. The earth broke open, the sky turned black, and on the third day...He GOT UP! Born to serve and suffer, by His stripes we received life and healing from the unredeemed fallen state we live in. Instead of having to go somewhere to worship and inquire of the Lord...we gained access unto the Holy of Holies. No more sacrificial system...He was the Lamb Slain before the foundation of the world, and He calls you and me to offer ourselves as living sacrifice as our spiritual act of worship. Few of us understand the force or weight of that and what a privilege and honor it is to be a bondslave "doulos" of Christ. One who commits herself freely to be His slave and NEVER go free. All of that's to say, it doesn't mean there aren't consequences but He knew every day of your life before one came to be. If like in the end of the book of John, He reinstates Peter...then He will do the same for you if you humble yourself and cry out for mercy. If you are like me, you praise God for leaving that in His word. Peter sinned grievously and hung his head in shame. He went back to his old job (shame) of being a fisherman. He picked the nets up that He had probably dropped 3 years prior and went back to business as usual. I love Jesus because He stated before Peter's denial that he would deny Him 3 times, before the rooster crowed. He stated it to the T people. Y'all then, after telling him that Satan asked permission to sift Peter like wheat and said that He had prayed for him. Jesus prayed for him. He then told him that when he turned back (there was a turning away in the denial)to strengthen the brethren. I pray someone has read this far: He asked Peter three times on the shore, after His resurrection, whether Peter loved Him. You can't see it in English translations but He used different words for love and He pointedly lifts His head, as He is the lifter of our heads...and I'm sure looked him square in the eyes (the Lord gives us dignity). Eye contact is so important to me and usually people who won't look you in the eyes have a shame thing going. So He is all His mercy doesn't cast Peter away. Peter wasn't done yet. Peter would go to his departure being crucified upside down as to not dare feel worthy enough to be crucified in the same manner as Christ. As a side note crucifixion was considered so awful that people were not even to speak of it as it was an atrocity and a curse. Jesus was humiliated that we might have dignity. He took that for us. We can't even imagine. So sister or brother get on your face, grieve, mourn, and let your tears be the mustard seeds that you sew and when you get up off the ground from praying...pick up your bible and seek Him. It's the only ticket I know to true freedom. My battery is dying on my phone and I'm so not finished. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 NET) Proverbs 4:23 AMP Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. NIV 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Do you remember the old song by Reba McIntyre and Vince Gill "The Heart Won't Lie"? Well, most of us know that is a lie. Our hearts are deceitful above all things. The things we say and do are definitely a reflection of what is in our hearts. Proverbs 22:15 says this "15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him." Bottom line folly is bound up in each of our hearts from the time we were born. If you read the preceding verses that lead into verse 23 you will see the importance that God's word must have in our hearts if we are going to live victoriously and be sure footed. God is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19) if He says something in His word He means it and He will prove right always. I was reading in Jeremiah 5:3 this morning about how God struck Israel yet they felt no pain; He crushed them, but the refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent (I am paraphrasing). We can be bent on rebellion or we can set our face like flint determined to do the will of our Father (Isa 50:7 NLT). We can start choosing to believe Him and take Him at His word and live in obedience to Him. What does it mean for me to guard my heart? The word guard is the word Nasar meaning "to guard, protect, keep, obey; to observe, behold, watch, inspect. Used to denote guarding a vinyard..., a fig tree..., and a fortress. Those who performed this function were called watchmen...In an ethical sense one can guard his mouth (Ps 141:3; Pr 13:3), his path in life (Pr 16:17), his heart (Pr 4:23), His lips (Ps 141:3), and his tongue (Ps 34:13)...Israel was likened to a vineyard and the Lord served as her keeper (Job 7:20). (Key Word Study Lexical Aids) I would say part of guarding your heart means confession of your sins, examination of your heart, and a careful inspection of what you let in and out of your heart and mind. What you watch, where you go, who your friends are, what you listen to, what you set your affections on, and choosing obedience not based on feeling but on truth. Weeding out roots of bitterness, unforgiveness, disobedience, lust, immorality, gossip, and so many other things that seek to ensnare your heart. Knowing the truth is what will set us free from the deceitfulness of our own hearts. Heart is the word leb here meaning "the center, the middle of something... Leb however, is more commonly used for the center of man's inner or immaterial nature...In the bible the whole spectrum of human emotions is attributed to the heart...Leb is used to signify the mind (2 Ch 9:23), good sense (Pr 10:8), and discernment (2 Ki 5:26). Wisdom and understanding reside in the heart (1 Ki 3:12, Pr 16:23). The heart can be deceived (Isa 44:20) and is the point of origin of moral evil (Jer 17:9). It is the seat of the will (Nu 16:28; Jdg 9:3; 2 Ch 12:14). To refuse to make the proper decision is to harden the heart..." (Key Word Study Lexical Aids) So we are to guard the core of our being...the center of our emotions and our inner or immaterial nature. We do this by paying attention to His instruction (vs 20-22) that is what will keep our hearts with all diligence...the attention and application to Gods word. Here is what The Bible Knowledge Commentary says: " The heart should be guarded for out of it ( a wellspring) come one's actions (cf. Luke 6:45). Here the word "heart" means more than mental capacity; it also encompasses one's values (cf Matt. 6:21)." "These verses apply the command to guard one's heart (v. 23), including what one says (v. 24), sees (v. 25), and does (vv. 26-27). So I plead with you cry out to the Lord to make you wise in your heart. Ask Him to stand at the door of your heart with the truth of His word and guard that thing. Withhold nothing from Him. Further Reading: Proverbs 16:21 The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction. Proverbs 16:20-22 (in Context) Proverbs 16 (Whole Chapter) Proverbs 16:23 A wise man's heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. Proverbs 16:22-24 (in Context) Proverbs 16 (Whole Chapter) Proverbs 18:15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out. Proverbs 18:14-16 (in Context) Proverbs 18 (Whole Chapter) Proverbs 22:17 [ Sayings of the Wise ] Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, Proverbs 22:16-18 (in Context) Proverbs 22 (Whole Chapter) Proverbs 23:15 My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad; Proverbs 23:14-16 (in Context) Proverbs 23 (Whole Chapter) Proverbs 23:19 Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

What is a Zealot? Part 2 of my cliff note version.

The Zealots  First let me start out with a definition and the way I can remember them is over zealous. Which reminds me the verse in Romans. We as believers need zeal coupled with knowledge and not just zeal! And speaking of Rome the zealouts bucked the authority of Romes control in palestine.  Try to think of that when you remember that our man the apostle Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion.  He had a zero tolerance for Christians as we see in the book of Acts.  Think though of his letter in romans about submission to governing authorities (romans 13) For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. (Romans 10:2 ESV) Zealot  a. One who is zealous, especially excessively so. b. A fanatically committed person. 2. Zealot A member of a Jewish movement of the first century a.d. that fought against Roman rule in Palestine as incompatible with strict monotheism. Now push pause. Think of them as a bull in a china shop bent on revolting or destroying anything of a Roman thumbprint on Palestine. Out of the 3 groups it amazes me. You have 1) pharisees who were pious in a lot of good ways.  Yet they were so legalistic that they could never reach beyond their own sect. They prided themselves on works and the praise of man. Here's the thing...when you take grace and the gospel out of the picture you get rote form without function. It's what Jesus straight up called them to the pharisaical carpet on. They were worried about external appearances. They were worried about the outside of the cup being clean and the inside was full of filth. There is no transformation apart from Christ in us but no transformation when you have a bunch of head knowledge that doesn't ever make it past your head. Yet look at different denominations or people in general. How so many focus on what you have to do for God.  When who has ever given to God that He should repay them? Believing on Jesus is the only way we have justification. They were rebuked because on the outside they looked like white washed tombs but on the inside they were dry desolate bones. That's some strong language out of the mouth of God. Yet how many homes are there where men and women are worried so much about how things appear? They care more about what the outside represents then what's going on with the inside and there may be abuse, unfaithfulness, all manner of addictions, and etc going on under their roofs. It's so sad really. Jesus cut their false facades with a sword so to speak since He clearly is the Word made flesh.  Maybe their intentions were good at first but it sure didn't end well according to self righteousness. I love the picture the Lord paints of the Pharisee and the sinner. Because in his piety the pharisee goes on and on about how at least he isn't like this tax collector sinner as he recounts his tithes and good deeds. If we are counting on that it's a one way ticket to hell. So the sinner, stood at a distance and could not even look up. That represented contrition in the distance. Then, Jesus blows it out of the water when He says that the sinner went home justified. The very one that the Pharisees would disdain and remember they were deeply Jewish and religious and missed the Messiah (a lot of them anyway) yet the "sinner" received forgiveness and justification. Those who were far away, He came to bring near. He didn't come to call the righteous o repentance...but the sinner. So do you see a little of why He used that example as He appealed to self-righteousness with the Pharisee? It makes perfect sense. If you know these things it brings whole new meaning to the gospels. Jesus didn't come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Man just messes junk up without God. The law and blood sacrifices in the Old Testament were pointing to our Savior and His words were for our good that we might have life and that in obedience things would go well with us. Instead they focused more on the do nots. The Lord could care less about us offering tithes and sacrifices and them not be from our love for Him, or us obeying Him out of love. When we are working and counting on our own righteousness unto salvation it puts us straight up under the law and on a set of weights and balances and we will surely be weighed on the scales and found wanting.  He would tell us to take our offerings and sacrifices and get them out of His face because they are a stench to Him. He doesn't need anything from us and yet He delights in our obedience to Him.  He makes so much of that so clear in Isaiah. Tithing is a matter of obedience and lordship. I am very serious about tithing and not just throwing some left overs in an offering plate. If I withhold what is already His anyway then without fail I'm bowing to the idol of greed. Whew!  It doesn't bode well. So do you find yourself anywhere in this picture? 2) The Sadducees were what we would call people with license to indulge and etc in their minds. When we compare ourselves to others it is foolishness. The whole "at least I'm not as bad as so and so"...well here these guys are and they are experiencing benefits. They aren't very threatening and are out of touch with their pedigree family status and their wealth and education. To me they would be more likely to really never get the big picture on what it means to put a stumbling block in front of others. For an example in our day...maybe they would be out with a group and have others around them that were weak in their faith. Maybe new converts and maybe some of the new believers very much know how they are involved in their church and that they are believers. So maybe a couple of them have just sworn off alcohol for the 1000th time and are looking for a good group of people to be around and they look up to them and see that hey they are partaking of alcohol in the name of "hey Jesus drank!" and they decide to go ahead and order a few too and then they spiral back into defeat with their addiction. It may not mean that the others are addicted at all but only that they were a stumbling block because they used their freedom in Christ and another one weak in faith tripped up. It's not wrong to drink alcohol even though I believe for me in total's just maybe that they should save their one or two glasses of wine for the privacy of their own home.  I don't want to get on a tangent here either but I can't tell you the people that throw up the "Jesus drank" thing in my face. He did and He indeed was without sin. However, there was a lot of modern features in that day but it is also clear that their water wasn't exactly on a filtration system and carried bacteria and of course we know that fermented alcohol is probably a tad better for killing bacteria then drinking water out of the nearest stream. Also, according to proverbs others were encouraged to take strong drink to one who was about to die. It was to lessen pain and etc. they couldn't call in hospice or get anxiety meds. Even when I think of Noah getting drunk as a skunk...I'm not saying it's right but merely trying to grapple with what in the world kind of post traumatic stuff you and I would go through if we'd spent ALL that time building a boat and then you know it wasn't all kumbya on the arc for all that time and with all of the animals. I mean I'd be in a panic just spending that much time in a global flood resting on top of the water. I sure wouldn't be all cheering on in the scene while every person and living thing besides what was on the boat died. I can't even imagine. And maybe the Lord was merciful but I'd be ordering up some Dramamine and air fresheners and poop scoops for those animals and a face mask or 100 to help me with the smells. I'm sure when they got off that boat it was some kind of traumatic. Everyone is gone but you and yours. I'd probably get drunk like Noah as well. Does that sound awful of me? 

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My short cliff note version A Sadducee, and a zealot

Pharisees emphasized jewish tradition and practices that set them apart from pagan (Gentile...aka lost person)  culture. Their name meant "separated ones".  So interesting considering the word consecrated means to be set apart.  They prided themselves on strict adherence to every detail of the law. They were intolerant of people who were considered ritually unclean. They were pious and patriotic. They were respected leaders.  Think "fair"isees. NOT FAIR because our righteousness is as filthy rags and none of us are capable of being without sin. The law can never attain righteousness. Only the blood of Christ. So they were NOT FAIR to those who were pagans. Also a key difference between the FAIR isees and Sadducees (for teaching purposes to morgs I call them the SAD-U-C's like sad you see) was that the Pharisees were in STRICT adherence to the law which ultimately led to imposed burdens and rules that were man made. Think of holding liturgical values above the word of God. For example the church I grew up in held "the Book of Common Prayer" above the word of God. We didn't bring our bibles to church to even examine the scriptures. That's my experience. While the book of common prayer has some good stuff in is not the living, breathing, word of God. So while the Pharisees dotted every I and crossed every T proverbially speaking the "Sad you sees" were Jews and liked the benefits of Roman rule. This reminds me of the people who were taken captive and deported to Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar and when King Cyrus issued the decree that they could return back to their homeland (where they could worship under the Old Testament and not having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit) many of them chose to stay in Babylon because of the comforts. Their captivity had been good to them. It's amazing how blind we are to the things that have been captivity to us and we prefer them over the Divine Presence of God.   So in my mind mixing in so much with culture that there is no defining Presence of God distinguishing us as believers will leave you SAD YOU SEE...from the compromise and over indulgence. They were aristocrats, wealthy, well educated, and from upper class families. Remember that the High Priest and lesser priests of the temple come from this group. Also, when we focus on man and look to a pope or priest and think they are any different from the rest as far as sin nature we will be SAD YOU SEE. No one is infallible and no one deserves our worship other that the Godhead. Respect people but don't bow to anyone but God. Look no further than the celestial encounters in the bible. The angels don't put up with the worship of man for a second. They tell anyone who falls before them almost vehemently to GET UP! DO NOT WORSHIP ME! Why? They get it. Look at the throne room scene where celestial beings do His bidding but have to cover their faces. They can't even look at Him.  One reason why I'm skeptical of any warm fuzzy I died and went to heaven and came back to tell you some stuff that God didn't see fit to put in His word stories.  Sadducees contd  They enjoyed Greco-Roman culture and as some are keenly aware of names were VERY important in the Word. Nehemiah-the Lord comforts -mary-bitter, Leah-weak eyes Immanuel God with us. El Roi- the God who sees. Jacob-deceiver Moses-drawn out you get the picture. They enjoyed the sophisticated life and were high falutin and even adopted Greek names. That reminds me so much of how the name change occurred (but not that they adopted it) in Daniel and their names were changed to give them pagan names and hopefully indoctrinate them to the point of indifference. That's the name of the enemies game.  To infiltrate your life so much so that there is no difference in the life of a believer. It's so subtle at first of course and down the slippery slope of compromise if you aren't determined to stand firm in your faith and guard yourself. Praise of man is so not worth the cost. They controlled the Jewish council (the Sanhedrin).  They were so high falutin that they lost any influence among common people. Does that ring a bell with any of the politicians of our day??  Oh and a BIG huge point I don't want anyone to miss. THEY WERE VERY MUCH A CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL GROUP!!! Please hang on to that when you think about the cross and why these different groups were so threatened by Jesus just as how so many in this world are completely intolerant of Judeo-Christianity. It's a big deal! 

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving musings. Are we compromising truth? Is the gospel being proclaimed or are we as Christians growing tolerant from fear of man? Is it really loving to compromise truth? Fear of man will prove to be a snare.

Our need for biblical discernment as professing Christians is paramount (to say the least) in the day that we live in. If we don't have love we don't have anything but noise yet is it loving to agree with other professing Christians when it comes to straight up false teachers?  Nope. It truly alarms me that so many teachers that are watering down the gospel and distorting the gospel altogether are so widely accepted. All I'm saying is that Gods word to the believer needs to be the standard and litmus test in the life of the believer. So I'm going to attempt to say that while we all err in things and clearly and hopefully grow in our faith and our doctrine and theology hopefully line up with scripture...that we also need to be comparing what comes out of the mouths of pastors and teachers with the inspired word of God. debate is not a bad thing because it challenges ones thinking but in today's society we aren't dare to come out and stand on truth or we are seen as divisive or argumentative. It's sad that that's how Jewish rabbis spurred each other to think and now it's merely taken as "judging" and yet we are also told that we can judge a tree by its fruit so that whole cliche gets on my nerves. Yet there are some major deal breakers. Some major pillars of the faith that each Christian must believe in.  One of them is the Trinity. It's a BIG deal. T.D. Jakes for example holds to modalism.  Look it up. He does not hold to the 3 in 1 of the Trinity. Trinity is never mentioned in scripture but it's One God-triune-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Modalism however is completely unorthodox and holds that the roles of father, son, and Holy spirit are not One at the same time but different manifestations of those roles. Our minds are finite so that is straight up heresy. So why follow a heretics teaching (and to my knowledge he has not repented openly of that view)?  Joel osteen...he has denied Jesus as the only way and I heard it come out of his mouth. Is he a positive self help teacher? Yes! But dont call him a true shepherd of Gods people. Paula white and Joyce Meyer...they are women pastors (pastrix's) and anyone else. I have studied the language of the passage in 1 Timothy 2 ten different ways to Sunday and women were not educated like men (which I don't have time to even go into) we see Jesus gave dignity to women period. Mary set at His feet and that meant she was a learner a student of the rabbi. Men and women are equal...however eve was deceived first and while women can teach (I teach) they are not to shepherd a church so if I may be so bold...women can and have and will be greatly used by God but we are not to shepherd a church. It's just not even up for debate with me because one can take it up with God. Can they teach? Yes!! Not if the word of God is your basis. Also, it grieves me at how many only want positive happy and etc preaching. If you have cancer you need to doctor to do something radical and my friends we need the totality of Gods word and not just the good stuff because we have a sin problem and we need to be able to see it in the mirror of our own lives. So examine yourself. You can't examine yourself without the truth that penetrates and you can't change patterns of long standing sin without transformation that comes from fixing yourself on the word of God. You won't be free either just by focusing on the sin you must forsake. Know your weaknesses but fix your mind on Christ through His word. This isn't about meditating on fluffy clouds. The reason I write this is that a pastor that I have loved for 13 years now seems by all respects to have bought his own press. It has made me sick and I've prayed that certain allegations about him aren't true. I'm telling you it grieves me but at the same time my hope is in the God of the bible. Not a pastor and not other believers. If one falls...I'm not turning away or getting tripped up because while people are greatly used of God in our lives they are flesh and bone and capable of great error. So I challenge you to think for yourself. Don't just get everything spoon fed and don't sit under just one teacher either. That's cultic. It scares me to death over how many people are going to turn away on account of this pastor...because they will rest assured and it makes me ill. Yet where does our hope really rest? I'm asking anyone willing to read this far. You and I are without excuse. We can devote so much time to menial things and yet we trip up arguing over the king James version of the bible which was not the original translation FYI. Thank God on this thanksgiving that men and women died and were martyred so we could have His precious word. Let's let God be true and every man a liar. Please do not ask me who I'm talking about either because I will not for one second gloat over this man. Its just caused me so much needed examination. However, there is a difference in a true believer getting caught up or ensnared in sin and a straight up apostate that preaches a different gospel. The humble person will read what I'm saying and see how much I care and love truth or either stop up their ears because they don't care about the word being rightly divided. Also, guard yourself because we are sinners and are so capable of much destruction and so capable of causing others to stumble. Take heed you stand lest you fall. Be careful when you are told to guard your heart over who has the right to teach you truth. Compare everything to the scriptures. Let God be HUGE and man be small in our eyes. All idols will come tumbling down. God alone should be exalted. Never put man on a petastool because rest assured you will be disappointed.  Also, if a teachers teaching doesn't line up with scripture and they preach a different gospel the bible uses strong language that they be eternally accursed. So why the tolerance and the proverbial we are not to judge line? It's not biblical. It's not what the apostles and followers of Christ were martyred for.  And why the big deal for so many scoffers when it comes to Christianity?  Every other religion the M.O. Is tolerance except Christianity. In ignorance some will say its not true but study up on history in an unbiased way.  Christians have taken the heat more than any other religion and have been burned at the stake for truth! Why because our God threatens people's "religion" their pride, their power, their following, their political system. He is the very one who spoke and it came to be and just like Lucifer rebelled in heaven man still rebels and wants to innately be like the "Most High". People want to be God. And we live in the domain of the prince of this world and he seeks to destroy, defame, and devour. The reason I read the end of a story before I watch a movie or read a book is whether I want to waste my time. I have suffered much here but I know how it ends and it's going to be good. Lift up your heads!  His return is closer now than when we first believed. Rest assured every knee in heaven and under earth will bow. Hitler...he may have refused to bow on earth but oh he will. Saddam Hussein...he will bow and he will confess that Jesus is Lord. I pray we get it straight and bow down now and proclaim Him as Lord because eternity is a long time for the ending that is sure coming. His word is true and it will not pass away. 

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Get rid of....and yearn

I keep NOT blogging because as I learn or teach I have to go verse by verse and it could take me 2 hours to pound out a post on the keyboard.  So, in an effort to share what I am learning I at least want to do some blurbs even if I don't have time to complete the material I'd like.  Something is better than nothing as we are called to use our gifts to build up the Body of Christ, as one part can't function without the other.

"1 So get rid of all evil and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.  2 And yearn like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation," 1 Peter 2:1-2

This is such a timely word to us as individuals and to our day, as some would say that Gods word isn't relevant and its just an ancient book.  A mere fifteen years in with studying the word of God and not even being that bright...I would shout from the highest mountain that I would beg to differ.  His Word is so alive and active to the student and Lover of Him and His word that it alters everything and it isn't just some sort of brain washing.  I know my propensity toward sin, but I can say that I have been absolutely eaten up with the desire for His word and I can't even function apart from time with Him.  You can't walk away from a shopping rack, a new possession, money, or any amount of earthly treasure and go wow I am full.  Usually there is only a continual lust for more when you are trying to fill up places in your soul with water that won't fill.  However, there have been so many times where I am spending time in the Word and the Lord is revealing truth to me and I have had to put my bible down and back away slowly because its too much.  I have told Him outloud, "It's too much!  I can't even take it all in Lord or I might die right here from Your Glory!" I can't say that about any earthly treasure.  Well, according to the third verse (which I have not listed) the scoffer or cynic, that says His word doesn't apply, has probably never truly "experienced the Lord's kindness" or spent any amount of time in the word.  Its amazing that at one point I would consider some things "boring" like lists of tribes and clans and etc or things in Leviticus yet now I see the big picture (somewhat dimly even) of every little detail pointing to Jesus in such a glorious masterpiece.  I beg for a mind and heart that can receive more and not be prideful or one that isn't just about knowledge but loves the Lord with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  So, back up to the first chapter in 1 Peter while we are at it and we will see how we are purified from obeying truth, how we in Christ have been redeemed from our former empty way of life, how our minds need to be sober and ready for action, our minds (especially in suffering or hardship) are to be set on the grace that will be brought to us when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Since we have come to know the truth we also are told since clearly we have our sin nature operating when we operate in the flesh and are not actively renewing our minds and if we are quenching the Spirit with disobedience, that we are to be like obedient children and not to comply with our evil urges that we used to follow in our ignorance.  I look back over some things and go, "WHAT IN THE WORLD WERE YOU THINKING?!?!?" That's just it, I was carnally minded and things that are spiritually discerned weren't the governor of my life because they come from 1) salvation and 2) knowing the word.  Now I can say with grief that some areas that I have returned to at times in my life were not without the knowledge of truth.  I knew better and chose to disobey or be the dog returning to her vomit , which made it all the worse because I knew better...I knew better.  I wonder if that is how Peter felt.  He knew better.  He had walked with the Lord of Glory and yet he denied Christ.  How often have I done the same in my words or actions?  Lord help me, help us! 
We are also called to holiness in the first chapter (this was supposed to be a blurb...grrrr...and here I go trying to teach verse by verse).  We are told to be holy because He is holy.  We are only made holy by the Spirit within us and the washing of the word yet we are called to be set apart, consecrated to Him.  I LOVE the idea in James 1 that he is a "bondslave" of Christ (remember he was the half-brother of Christ and was not a convert even living under the same roof...oh but he became a believer).  The greek word for servant or bondslave that is used is "doulos".  In our current era and with our language we miss the force of the word.   "The word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another...the most accurate translation (of the word servant or bondservant) is bondservant, in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another."  As I was reading I learned how archaic this idea is to us and especially in Western civilization we view slavery as an atrocity, seeing as how people were forced into slave labor in our earlier day.  "Undoubtedly the background for the concept of being the Lord's slave or servant is to be found in the Old Testament scriptures.  For a Jew this concept did not connote drudgery, but honor and priveledge.  It was used of national Israel at times..., but was especially associated with famous OT personalities, including such great men as Moses, David, or Elijah...all these men were "servants (or slaves) of the Lord."  Man we know that they were sinners in their flesh but they were slaves of the Lord which meant liberty.  It is so true that we will suffer hardship in this world but it does not compare with the knowing of the Lord and the blessing in our souls that obedience brings.  As I get older, even though in my mind I'm still 18 no matter what my hair color beckons me to believe, I have sadly learned that when I have departed from obedience that what God meant really was for my good.  When we focus on the things God gives us a clear NO to, instead of all of the things we have been blessed with, we are setting ourselves up to have our eyes opened and a good whipping awaits us since the Lord disciplines those that He loves.  If you and I set our eyes on circumstances, or how unfair things are, or what we need that we feel that we lack that is carnal or maybe even a god given desire...and are not on guard to areas of personal weakness, we will indeed let bitterness spring up or harden our hearts and waffle and waver and buy satans lies that what we think we lack he can supply...and I'm telling you it reeks of havoc in the end.  The Judas kiss on the cheek will always betray you.  Gods ways are sure and true always. It is impossible for Him to lie.  Lord help us believe You! 
So back to a call to holiness and us being a "doulos" of Christ...we are so privileged to be in Christ and to be spared ultimately from the wrath of God.  Think about all of the time wasted trying to follow celebrities, or to "have connections" with important people.  Jesus, He is a BIG DEAL!  He is EVERYTHING and holds everything together by His word.  He spoke and it came to be!  He is so worthy of our pursuit and affections...and to be set apart and consecrated to Him is a privilege.  So, I love the idea that we are so blessed in Him and so privileged to be able to follow Him that we literally sell ourselves into slavery (which again the word carries such negative connotation in our day) to the Most High God.  Bottom line is that we have some choices to make on planet earth.  I can't stand the idea that we are just puppets on a string with God being the chief puppet master in some perverted play of life.  You see choices, choices, choices...on the part of man from the very beginning of the bible with Adam and Eve in the garden.  We know that God tempts no one to sin and they chose to sin.  "Choose to sin, choose to suffer" to quote one of my favorite pastors, and we are still to this day reaping consequences from mans choice to take forbidden fruit.  Yet God in His mercy forced them out of the garden with the plan of salvation and didn't cause them or us live in a perpetual state of having our eyes open to good and evil and no longer being able to walk with Him in fellowship.  He sent them away and guarded off the garden...and now we taste the sting of death, which is the finally enemy to be destroyed, so that we may not live forever unredeemed.  Jesus died so that we might come to Him and live as He bore mans sins past, present and future on a tree.  So, if we really picked up the clue phone we would understand what an honor it is to sell ourselves to Him.  To obey Him. We are not to be schooled in evil but unfortunately some of us have taken field-trips to the school of hard knocks and learned that His word was right and that the deeds of darkness only produce shame, regret, and separation.  Yet still, with the Lord is full redemption and forgiveness. 

So again backing up to chapter 1, we are to love one another, earnestly from a pure heart.  Our position in Christ is that we have been born anew, and to paraphrase we have been redeemed but not from things that are perishable but imperishable.  Everything in this world will be burned by fire and even our works that were not built on His foundation but were for vain glory, they will be tested and burned by fire.  We have however been redeemed from our former way of life by the blood of Christ and we are inheriting a kingdom that can NEVER perish, spoil, or fade.  My heart aches when I think of this relationship, but I had a family member that died that cared more about things than people.  I loved this person...however, it is such a reminder to me that things are going to fade and I am not taking anything with me when I die, so while it's not wrong to have stuff...they should never have me.  It's empty in the end. 

So in light of all of this...let me get to the few verses I came to blog about!  Get rid of all evil and all deceit.  That's pretty plain and no need for a definition.  GET RID OF how much? ALL OF IT! ALL EVIL AND ALL DECEIT!
Get rid of:

Whoa? Can any of us look at that list and say we aren't in need of some ridding? 
If you are honest with yourself and not cutting the bull (as if) with know what you need to rid of and if you don't ask Him for wisdom and expect Him to answer. 

We are to literally, "put it away"! Like kids putting up toys...Peter is like dude, put it up!  Quit getting this junk out and playing with it!  Put it away from you...period.  Be done with it! Forsake it!  It is RUINING you!

So as a sort of play on words we are told to "get rid of" and then to "yearn" for pure spiritual milk. 
Here's were I have to sit a spell.  I have a huge concern over the victim mentality that is so pervasive in society as a whole.  I'm not sure where I'd be if I personally took this approach.  If I am going to believe God then I have to believe that He has allowed everything in my life good and bad to sift through His hand since every day was written before one came to pass.  He is not caught off guard.  However, I see these patterns the longer I am in the throes of knowing people and teaching, where someone has maybe spent decades trading their inheritance for a bowl of stew, by loving sin and not God.  Then, maybe they want to be done with it and they come clean, or maybe they get busted.  What scares me to death is to see God's word preached and it not be rightly divided and the lack of true discipleship.  I can vouch for that personally.  There was no Titus 2 woman in sight (or should I say within a certain mile radius...or taking me under their wing at church) when I started walking with the Lord.  Praise Jesus for Beth Moore and the bible studies I have done year after year where she taught me via workbook how to love God and walk with Him.  She was my Titus 2, "mother in the faith" as I like to call it.  Then, I have spent years now listening to sermon after sermon from teachers affiliated with the Moody Broadcasting Network that have taught me the Word of God without apology and in it's truth...not compromising, not backing down, not skipping areas.  These men and women have poured into me because they chose faith over fear and the fire in my heart has grown hotter and pushed me on in the faith.  They have pointed me mainly to One chief thing: the Holiness of God.  So, here's what I am trying to say...when people are coming out of long standing areas of sin and sin and not returning to that sin becomes their main focus.  They are like an accident waiting to happen.  It's the whole "wet paint-DO NOT TOUCH" sign and what are you going to do? TOUCH IT!  Accountability is HUGE.  Making a battle plan for areas of weakness, temptation or sin...HUGE and a must!  Yet if you are never growing in the word, if your focus is not on Jesus, if your mind is not set on seeking Him above all...then you are such a candidate for letting what you did or your sin define you and not God.  I know 100 percent that He sends forth His word and heals us.  Without Him consuming our lives and taking over and us choosing Him we won't even begin to taste and see that He is good and then we are innately created to be filled so we are going to fill ourselves with something and it scares me when we miss the fact that once we have tasted...we will be miserable to stay in that sin He has delivered us from.  That's why discipleship is so important.  So can I say with respect...don't wait on your sunday school teacher or even a man or woman in the church or even your pastor to "disciple" you.  That term is so lost on us as well at times.  A disciple (a learner) was SO common in the East and Rabbi's chose select people and those people were disciples and they literally covered themselves in the dust of their teacher and learned whatever they could by going where the teacher went and staying where the teacher stayed.  It was huge!  They taught mainly orally.  They debated, which in our day is seen as controversy, which was a powerful teacher because it challenged their thinking.  It stirred them up to think past what they thought and put their theories and believes in the crucible to be tested.  Where would I be without people who challenged me to think biblically and hold everything to the litmus test of scripture?!?! So, I say that to say if you aren't eaten up with the Lord, you are indeed going to look for passion (which can come in all forms of evil) elsewhere.  We were created with an insatiable need for God and the whole idea that "nature abhors a vacuum"  means you are either going to be filled with the Spirit or the flesh and the flesh is weak and corruptible and it will destroy you when you live for carnal desires.  So, its not just that you not go to your addiction's that if you never move your focus past what you shouldn't do to the tasting of the probably aren't going to be free.  You and I live in the information age and we need discernment desperately when it comes to who we allow to teach in our lives...but we are without excuse when it comes to going after God and being able to know Him and have resources and you and me will stand before Him and we can't use the whole, "I was waiting on so and so to come along and disciple me."  That does not negate our personal responsibility to disciple others.  So back to the two verses: in the getting rid of...we are going to have to yearn for something different.  The play on words is that "the nourishment for our growth must be the word of God." 

YALL TO BE CONTINUED!!!!  I'm doing what I said I wasn't going to do in the beginning lol!