Little Children

Do you ever ponder over the things of God? Do you wonder about His ways? What about the little children? What is their fate? What is ours?

children-are-innocent-childrens-world-16382924-670-405

INNOCENCE

See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes. – Ecclesiastes 7:29 ESV

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:14 ESV

And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:3 ESV

But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” – 2 Samuel 12:23 ESV

Autosomal-recessive-inheritance

INHERITANCE

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. – Ezekiel 18:20 ESV

For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. – 1 Corinthians 7:14 ESV

And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it. – Deuteronomy 1:39 ESV

Knowledge

KNOWLEDGE

For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. – Isaiah 7:16 ESV

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. – James 4:17 ESV

Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright. – Proverbs 20:11 ESV

The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies. – Psalm 58:3 ESV

I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. – Romans 7:9-11 ESV

Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the Lord’s offering. – Exodus 30:14 ESV

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. – Psalm 14:2-3 ESV

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. – John 3:6 ESV

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. – Romans 7:14 ESV

quote-David-Herbert-Lawrence-this-is-the-very-worst-wickedness-that-90120

SIN

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Genesis 6:5 ESV

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. – Ephesians 2:12 ESV

salvation

SALVATION

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, – Romans 4:1-25 ESV

And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. – Genesis 8:21 ESV

Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. – 1 Peter 1:18-19 ESV

Zech4_6

POWER

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being – Ephesians 3:16 ESV

For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. – 1 Corinthians 4:20 ESV

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, – Colossians 1:11 ESV

That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:5 ESV

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:29-31 ESV

repentance

REPENTANCE / RIGHTEOUS JUDGEMENT

Ezekiel 18:1-32
The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.

“If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord God.

“If he fathers a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things (though he himself did none of these things), who even eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, lends at interest, and takes profit; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself.

“Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise: he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.

“Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

“But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die.

“Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

Let’s take a walk…

…will you stay with me to the end?

image

SINNING = LAWLESSNESS = DEATH

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:4-10 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1jn.3.4-10.ESV

UNRIGHTEOUS = NO HEAVEN

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God

image

DEFILED = POISON FROM EVIL HEART

Mark 7:20-23 ESV
And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

SIN = WORKS OF THE FLESH

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.19-21.ESV

image

SLAVE TO FLESH/SIN = DEATH

Ephesians 5:5 ESV
For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

SLAVE TO SIN = NOT A SON = DEATH

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
John 8:34-36 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.8.34-36.ESV

image

WASHED = JOINED = SANCTIFIED
DOMINATED BY SIN = SEPARATED

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
1 Corinthians 6:11-12, 14, 17 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.6.11-17.ESV

WASHED = LIFE
DEFILED = DEATH

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Revelation 22:14-15 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rev.22.14-15.ESV

image

PASS THE TEST = LIFE
FAIL THE TEST = DEATH

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.
2 Corinthians 13:5-6 ESV
http://bible.com/59/2co.13.5-6.ESV

image

CONTROL & DISCIPLINE= PRIZE
LACK OF DISCIPLINE = DISQUALIFIED

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.9.24-27.ESV

LIVE BY FLESH = DEATH
LIVE BY SPIRIT = LIFE

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Romans 8:13-17 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rom.8.13-17.ESV

image

LAW = KNOWLEDGE OF SIN

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;  no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 
“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.” 
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;  in their paths are ruin and misery,  and the way of peace they have not known.” 
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:10-20 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rom.3.10-20.ESV

THE LAW DOES NOT JUSTIFY
FAITH & LOVE = OBEDIENCE
GODLY LOVE FULFILLS THE LAW

You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.  You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Galatians 5:4-8, 13-15 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.4-15.ESV

image

BELIEF RECEIVES GRACE
GRACE PRODUCES LIFE

“For  God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.3.16.ESV

image

GRACE = FREE GIFT
GRACE = JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
FAITH UPHOLDS THE LAW

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
Romans 3:21-25, 27-28, 31 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rom.3.21-31.ESV

image

BATTLE = FLESH DESIRES VS SPIRIT
HOLY SPIRIT LED = GRACE COVERED

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Galatians 5:16-18 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.4-18.ESV

image

GRACE PRODUCES FRUIT
FRUIT = LOVE

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Galatians 5:22-26 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.4-26.ESV

image

LOVE RESULTS IN OBEDIENCE

“If you love me, you will  keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,  even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.  Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
John 14:15-17, 21 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.14.15-21.ESV

BELIEF = PEACE IN CHRIST
BELIEF = TRIAL IN THE WORLD

Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?  Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:31-33 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.16.31-33.ESV

image

TRIAL SEPARATES TRUE FROM FALSE

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
2 Timothy 3:1-9 ESV
http://bible.com/59/2ti.3.1-9.ESV

Fear and Trembling doesn’t sell well

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Philippians 2:12-16 ESV
http://bible.com/59/php.2.12-16.ESV

So what’s the latest, popular preacher on the television selling these days? My guess is that it isn’t “fear and trembling”. That doesn’t seem to sell many books or tickle many ears these days.

Continue reading “Fear and Trembling doesn’t sell well”

Why study?

If being a follower of Jesus is a heart change and not just head knowledge, then why do we focus our time on studying scripture?

Joshua 1:8 ESV
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Psalm 119:11 ESV
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:105 ESV
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

The Word of God is a valuable tool for the Christ follower.

Hebrews 4:12 ESV
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

We who follow Christ are seeking to discern what choices are good and acceptable and perfect. We are c sering to examine our own thoughts and desires and take control of them.

Romans 12:2 ESV
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

This understanding of the difference between our carnal desires and the right will of God grows as we renew our minds with the Word of God and the things of heaven – and as we apply these instructions within our lives when the opportunities come to prove our faith (trials). That is why we set our thoughts on the things of heaven,  not just the things of this world.

Colossians 3:2 ESV
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

We are putting on Christ,  learning to rightly divide the Word of God, learning to walk in the Spirit not in the flesh,  we are training and competing in a race for a prize.

Christ did not say, “Claim me in name once and you will receive all the rewards of heaven.” No, He said, “Follow in my footsteps” and “Bear the burdens of one another” and “if you turn back you are not fit for the kingdom of God”.

You see,  He wants us to be fit for the Kingdom of God,  focused and unwavering in our faith and in our dedication to a life following His example. He sets the bar so high,  telling us that even to be angry with someone to the point of hatred is committing murder in our heart, telling us that to look at a woman with lust in our heart is the same as committing adultery. He is wanting us to reach higher than where we are today, He wants to make us fit,  He wants to refine us and grow our strength through trials.

Yes, this is the point of Christianity – not to raise your hand once,  or pray a sinners prayer once, or to get dunked in water once, or to have an emotional reaction to the Word of God once – only to realize later that you had only become a “religious convert” and not truly a follower of Christ. The point is to decide today whether or not you will serve the Lord – and to mean it, to Believe. And when we believe, it changes us. It changes our desires and our motivations, not just for a season, but for eternity. An emotional reaction to the Word of God can cause someone to spring up and chase after the promises of freedom from consequences. But belief results in a life chasing after freedom from sin,  following in the footsteps of Christ.

And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,  but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  He who has ears, let him hear.”  Then the disciples came and said to him,

“Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.  For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:  “
‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,  and you will indeed see but never perceive.”   For this people’s heart has grown dull,  and with their ears  they can barely hear,  and  their eyes they have closed,  lest they should see with their eyes  and hear with their ears  and  understand with their heart  and  turn, and I would heal them.’   But  blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.  For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.  

“Hear then the parable of the sower:  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.  As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy,  yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.  As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.  As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
Matthew 13:3-23 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.13.3-23.ESV

Debauchery and Imperfection

image

Last night at the jail, my message was on our imperfection but His perfection – about Him reconciling us to be more like Him – about experiencing His touch upon our lives now, not just after our hearts have stopped beating. It was about coming broken daily to see His healing and correction continue to take place in our lives. It was about looking not at ourselves,  but looking to Christ for our salvation.

image

I started out the message singing a very broken and imperfect delivery of the children’s song “Jesus loves Me”, standing in that cell block amongst some who were attending the Bible Study and many who sat in their bunk areas far away. This was clearly a broken and imperfect performance as the song lifted out of my range and my voice cracked and I even laughed at myself at one point. You see, I can normally sing fairly well,  but I had asked the Lord to use me however was best to deliver His message tonight, not so that I would receive any glory or honor. And for a message on imperfection, He was doing a great job of it in the opener – and I started into the message, letting the Holy Spirit guide us along the night’s journey into the Word of God.

In the middle of the message, I was mentioning Galatians 5 and someone said their translation had the word “debauchery” and they asked what it meant. My immediate thoughts trying to explain this old word that is rarely used today went to sexual immorality and promiscuity, but it covers so much more than that. My answer was imperfect and left room for improvement – yet again demonstrating that we don’t have to be perfect (nor will we be this side of judgement) in order to share testimony and truth about the Word of God.

You see,  it isn’t just about sexual things,  but it means any excessive indulgence that separates us from walking in the Spirit and giving God glory. I’m thankful for my brother,  Michael Mcleymore, who was there beside me, ready to quickly assist with greater clarification,  explaining that it could be anything taken too far,  even wasting our day away playing video games or watching TV in excess instead of using the day for the glory of God.

image

It is about excess. Taking the things of this earth that exist for our survival,  for our health, for our enjoyment – and perverting their use from their natural intended purpose for which we should be giving God thanks and praise,  and instead perverting them into something excessive and distracting from God’s glory.

image

And it all comes down to who is the Lord of our life. It comes down to our individual choices and decisions,  moment to moment,  breath by breath,  and who we are choosing to serve and glorify with those choices. Whether we are using our lives for their intended purpose of bringing Him glory and honor – sharing the Good News, loving and serving others, making disciples,  equipping the saints, walking in the Spirit, and obeying His commandments – or if we have made it about ourselves and we are proving it by our excessive enjoyment of worldly pleasures and lack of concern for God and for others.

image

Settling and getting comfortable with our own imperfections will allow them to grow into debauchery. But walking this path of reconciliation with Christ,  seeking His healing touch daily will help us identify, cut away, cast off, and be delivered from those things that have no place in the life of a vessel of the Holy Spirit. Choosing to feed the flesh with individual decisions will exercise those fleshly desires in our lives,  or choosing to submit and walk in the Spirit will exercise His strength in overcoming those temptations and evil influences in our lives.

So we should ask ourselves, not whether we are perfect or imperfect – because if we don’t recognize that we are imperfect, how deep have we fallen into the darkness. But we should ask ourselves,  what path am I choosing to walk, the narrow path that is seldom chosen, or the broad way that leads to destruction?

de·bauch·er·y dəˈbôCHərē/ noun
noun: debauchery; plural noun: debaucheries
excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures.

“a life of self-absorption and debauchery”

synonyms:
dissipation, degeneracy, corruption, vice, depravity;
immodesty, indecency, perversion, iniquity, wickedness, sinfulness, impropriety, immorality;
lasciviousness, salaciousness, lechery, lewdness, lust, promiscuity, wantonness, profligacy;
decadence, intemperance, sybaritism;
turpitude

Ephesians 5:18 ESV
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

Galatians 5:19-21 ESV
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Romans 13:13 ESV
Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.

Romans 1:26-27 ESV
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

Ephesians 5:1-33 ESV
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Are you taught by God?

As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.
John 6:45 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.6.45.NLT

This is refering to the book of Isaiah telling what to expect in the coming Kingdom of God that would be ushered in by the Messiah:

I will teach all your children, and they will enjoy great peace.
Isaiah 54:13 NLT
http://bible.com/116/isa.54.13.NLT

In the book of Matthew,  Jesus warns us to call no one c teacher,  because He is to be our only teacher:

And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.
Matthew 23:10 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.23.10.NLT

In the book of, John,  Jesus tells us about the Spirit of Truth that is to come

John 16:13 ESV
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

And Jesus clarifies further when, He describes the gift of the Holy Spirit that we who are followers of Christ receive:

John 14:26 ESV
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

You see, He doesn’t tell us to seek out a great, charismatic preacher or teacher and dedicate ourselves to them. No, in fact He warns us about putting our trust in them and says that we should trust only in Him:

Psalm 118:8 ESV
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.

Jeremiah 17:5 ESV
Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.

And this is because men aren’t meant to be as much teacher as messenger, sharing the Word of God and what they to learn from the Holy Spirit’s guidance in their own lives. But since you cannot easily confirm the source of anything they claim to be “from God”, we must test it against what we know is from God.

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.
Acts of the Apostles 17:11-12 NLT
http://bible.com/116/act.17.11-12.NLT

We aren’t supposed to blindly follow what a religious leader tells us, this can be very dangerous with the false teachers who are like wolves amongst the sheep. We aren’t just supposed to read the Bible as a self help guide to try to figure it out for ourselves either. We are to be taught by God.

So how do I start being “taught by God”? First, you must surrender your heart to Jesus Christ and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is not just a water baptism, but being reborn as a new creation with Christ living inside you. It isn’t signing up for a religion, and it isn’t buying your get out of hell free card with a one time prayer. It is deciding to do this life,  hand in hand with Christ who loves you,  forgives,  you,  and wants to teach you and change you moment by moment,  day by day, to be more like Him.

Then, you must be willing to seek His wisdom and to listen, and to examine and test what you hear against the truth of the Word of God. Yes, this requires accepting that the Word of God is Truth. It takes accepting that God knows better than you what is good and acceptable for your life. It takes seeking not only what is acceptable,  but what is holy and will bring God glory and honor. It takes putting God’s will first as the center of your life.

Then you must be willing to repent and put it into action. This isn’t a mind game, learning it in our heads but not applying it in our lives – that is empty religious practice and sacrifice. God desires the change in our hearts that results in a changed life, a changed perspective,  a humbling to remain teachable at the feet of the master.

Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Matthew 9:13 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.9.13.NLT

We aren’t to practice traditions of men and man made ideas as commandments from God. If you are participating in a church that tell you that you must follow their traditions, or that you must be taught by their leader, or that God recognizes them differently than He recognizes you, test them against the Word of God,  find them false,  and abandon these dens of deceit where they feed off of the lambs like wolves,  or like hirelings who kill the sheep to fatten their own bellies,  instead of sacrificing for, and suffering for, and feeding and providing for the sheep as Christ gave the example of the Good Shepherd.

Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition.  You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ ”
Matthew 15:3, 6-9 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.15.3-9.NLT

I encourage you, friend. Examine where you are receiving your teaching. Examine who you have laid your trust upon. Is it a man? Or are you being taught by God?

Get it from the source. Examine and test it against the Word of God.

I pray that we can all continue to stay out of the way and simply be the messengers receiving and then delivering the Word of God as humble and faithful servants – not teachers who thinks themselves yet wise or righteous or completed works. I too need to remain teachable, and listening, and growing.

Looking Back: Oct 6, 2014

HOPE:
Faithful is the saying:
For if we died with him, we shall also live with him:
if we endure, we shall also reign with him:
if we shall deny him, he also will deny us:
if we are faithless, he abideth faithful; for he cannot deny himself.
– 2 Timothy 2:11-13 ASV

FAITH:
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.
– 2 Timothy 2:3-6 ESV

LOVE:
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.
God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
– 2 Timothy 2:22-26 ESV

PERSONAL COMMENTARY
————————————

Our HOPE is in the promise that He has made to us that if we accept Him,  He will not forsake us.  So we know that if we believe, and if we hold fast to our beliefs, even our stumbles will be forgiven,  for this is the glory and wonder of His Amazing Grace.

But if we truly believe,  we are not to use His grace as an excuse to continue in our old,  sinful lives – we are to grow in our FAITH, not wavering in our trials and tribulations,  because can a faith that is not tested be trusted? We are to remain faithful and grow each day, not neglecting to spend time in His Word, in prayer,  and in fellowship with each other sharing encouragement,  seeking to draw ever closer to Him and to His will for our lives.

Our LOVE for God and for others is proven in our kindness and patience and gentleness,  even with those that are in opposition to the truth – and we love like this because this is the example that Christ gave us,  to LOVE or enemies,  and to forgive them for they know not what they do. Because it is our HOPE for their lives that God will draw them near to Him, grant them His Grace and mercy,  and that they will repent and escape the clutches of evil

Only a few?

Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”
He replied, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.  When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
Luke 13:23-25 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.13.23-25.NLT

The way of religion promises “say this sinner’s prayer and join our group and be once saved always saved for all of eternity” to earn your way out of Hell. The way of religion sells daily practice of rituals and repeated sacrifices at the altar to earn your way into heaven. The way of religion sells a country club membership to complacency and prosperity and moral compromise while telling you that there is no work to be done because you already have grace,  just send your money to buy your way into heaven. And many will fall to the evils of religion because their hearts have grown cold and they have no desire or love for God that compares to their love for themselves, nor love for their brothers and sisters – even though they know in their hearts that He expects us to be doers of the Word and to bear the burdens of one another in love and service unto Him.

Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’
Luke 13:26-27 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.13.26-27.NLT

He first tells us, there is work to be done. Then He tells those who do evil to get, away from Him. Yes,  the Lord offers forgiveness and mercy and grace – but not so that we can return to the slop with the pigs.

Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
John 8:10-11 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.10-11.NLT

He tells us,  take up our cross,  follow, Him,  repent,  learn from the forgiveness that we have received,  be healed and delivered from our old lives – “Go,  and sin no more.”

There are many who will become angry over this verse from the Bible, as they cling to their sins and they shrink back from grace,  holding tightly onto their flesh while afraid to let go and cling to the life that is available to them in Christ. They will say, but no one can walk without sin but Christ. And I tell you that it is true that any man who says that He has no sin is a liar – because we each have a past,  a life of walking in the flesh. But Christ bids us to come to Him,  to have faith in Him,  and to walk in the Holy Spirit in the kind of Godly love that fulfills the law. To those who find conviction in this message, these words do not come to condemn you,  but to make you aware that you were already condemned and that each must be born again in Christ in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven,  you must be a new creation,  set apart from the world, no longer clinging to the ways of the flesh,  but running to God.

Because if we love God with each of our thoughts,  our words,  and our actions,  then how can we defile Him or choose to not bring Him honor and glory – unless we find it true that we do not love God quite as much as ourselves – unless we find that we have been practicing empty religion with no real relationship with God – unless we find that we are removed from His presence and not even knocking. We are either in,  or we are out. We are either loving and serving and participating in the celebration of His Kingdom, or we are outside and need a way in. Let’s not wait too long and find the door locked,  my friends.

And if we love our brother and sisters with each of our thoughts, words,  and actions, how can I choose to stumble them with the pitiful example of an unfaithful testimony while claiming the name of Christ and continuing in my sin? How can I lie to my brother? Steal from my brother? Gossip about my brother? Curse my brother? Withhold good from my brother when I am able to help? Isn’t it because many have no Christ alive in them even though they would lay claim to His name?

“Son of man, your people talk about you in their houses and whisper about you at the doors. They say to each other, ‘Come on, let’s go hear the prophet tell us what the Lord is saying!’ So my people come pretending to be sincere and sit before you. They listen to your words, but they have no intention of doing what you say. Their mouths are full of lustful words, and their hearts seek only after money. You are very entertaining to them, like someone who sings love songs with a beautiful voice or plays fine music on an instrument. They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it! But when all these terrible things happen to them—as they certainly will—then they will know a prophet has been among them.”
Ezekiel 33:30-33 NLT
http://bible.com/116/ezk.33.30-33.NLT

I plead with you,  friends. Seek the Kingdom of God while there is still time. Equip yourselves for the work that He has laid out before you. He has a prose for your life and it does not have to be destruction and fire and gnashing of teeth – unless that is what you choose.

What do you choose today,  friend?

Are you running the good race to prove yourself faithful? Are you fighting the good fight?

Let’s remember the words of Paul to Timothy and let’s work to make them our own –

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6-8 NLT
http://bible.com/116/2ti.4.6-8.NLT

No fear? Is that the problem?

Ecclesiastes 8:9-13 NLT
I have thought deeply about all that goes on here under the sun, where people have the power to hurt each other. I have seen wicked people buried with honor. Yet they were the very ones who frequented the Temple and are now praised in the same city where they committed their crimes! This, too, is meaningless. When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong. But even though a person sins a hundred times and still lives a long time, I know that those who fear God will be better off. The wicked will not prosper, for they do not fear God. Their days will never grow long like the evening shadows.

If we are not convicted of our own sins – if we say,  that XYZ is not a sin when the Word of God says that it is – how can we say that we are a humble servant of the Lord? The wicked argue over what is sin and what is not sin,  blinded by the curse of the law,  looking for a way to escape the conviction by saying,  “No, that isn’t sin. The law is of no use.”

Continue reading “No fear? Is that the problem?”