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.”

Come to the Waters

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what  is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what  is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Isaiah 55:1-2 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/isa.55.1-2.NKJV

The things of God satisfy. There is a verse “every good gift comes from God”, but I wonder how many times we’ve looked at the cheap substitutes and thought that they were “blessings” when they ended up being idols and traps for our selfish, prideful, rebellious hearts?

Those things that we find ourself clinging to – things, wealth, comfort, security, pleasure – how many of them truly satisfy without leaving us hungry for even more after a short while? That isn’t satisfaction,  that isn’t abundance, that is slavery and addiction to sin and death.

But the peace that we find in trusting God, that carries us through seasons where our attire does not have to be dictated by our daily circumstances. We can praise God from our prison cell, from our broken home, from our homelessness,  from our battle against addiction,  from our sick bed,  from our loneliness, from our recovering from a broken/betrayed heart,  from wherever we are in life.

And yes, the fruit that comes with a life of belief is valuable – so valuable that it was bought with His blood so that it could be given to us as a free gift. So,  yes,  come and buy this wonderful gift,  not with money,  or works, but with a life of faith – a perspective of grattitude for the unmerited grace and favor of God poured out for you,  Christ follower.

Building this temple or destroying it?

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.3.16-17.ESV

We who are followers of Jesus Christ, those who believe, who repent, who surrender our lives – we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit of Christ who lives in us. The Spirit of Truth is not for the worldly,  who are blinded by the enticements of this world, and who do not value those things eternal that truly matter. But we who are His know His voice and have a restored relationship with our Lord,  Savior,  creator,  and redeemer.

“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.
John 14:15-17 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.14.15-17.ESV

This relationship is not meant so that we can continue destroying this vessel,  this temple, by participating in sin that leads to death and destruction. His offer of grace is not a license to sin and a freedom from consequences – it is an unveiling of the truth for us to understand that we are holy and set apart for His use as He reconciles us to be more and more like Himself. As we spend time with Him, the very imprint of His nature,  of His glory,  of His ways become more apparent to us and we are drawn closer and closer to Him as our lives are overcome by His presence. It is a process of growing and changing – and the trials and sufferings and persecution that we face offer the opportunity for us to demonstrate His nature instead of our own.

There is a way that we would react to trials and sufferings in our old fleshly, worldly nature – by grumbling, by focusing on material things, by becoming angry or envious if others, by focusing on ourselves. But He gives us this gift of the Holy Spirit so that we might walk in the Spirit,  not in the flesh – that we might demonstrate love to one another,  especially in those c times of v trial. And we demonstrate love through joy which is not dependent upon our circumstances. We demonstrate love through the peace that passes all understanding when the world expects us to be angry or distraught,  but we have our hope in the Lord, and that even this to shall pass and will be for His glory and honor. We demonstrate love through our patience with others and situations that are imperfect just like us.  We demonstrate love through kindness to those who we do not expect to repay us. We demonstrate love through gentleness in sharing truth and accountability with those who are lost and deceived and who have not yet received or yielded to the Holy Spirit of Truth. We demonstrate love through faithfulness to follow God’s will even when it is not the easy choice, or the obvious choice, or what we would choose for ourselves. We demonstrate love through our willingness to be long suffering for the cause of Christ because we know that the temporary sufferings of this world are nothing in comparison to an eternity with our Lord,  our Savior,  our Creator,  or God.

So we must ask ourselves, do we see Him when we read the Word of God and when we speak to Him in prayer? Do we know His nature? Do we recognize Him? Do we know Him?

My hope today is that toot answer is a bold and confident yes,  but for you who are in doubt, who have not yet found your confidence in the Lord – I ask you to call upon His promises:

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 
let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord , that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord . 
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,  so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. 
“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.  Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord , an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
Isaiah 55:6-13 ESV
http://bible.com/59/isa.55.6-13.ESV

“Ask,  and it will be given to you;  seek, and you will find;  knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:7-11 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.7.7-11.ESV

“For  God so loved  the world,  that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not  perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
John 3:16-21 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.3.16-21.ESV

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 
even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 
And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;  the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Acts 2:17-21 ESV
http://bible.com/59/act.2.17-21.ESV

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
Romans 10:9-11 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rom.10.9-11.ESV

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Revelation 3:15-20 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rev.3.15-20.ESV

Full vent? Or self control?

Proverbs 29:11 ESV
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

Self control.

Not letting our emotions and desires control our lives.

Not letting our own opinions and our own will lead us, but examining and understanding which voice we are listening to, which master we are serving.

Proverbs 1:7 ESV
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Some who are heading towards destruction will say things like, “I’m not convicted against that” or “I think that we can…” and they will even claim the name of Jesus and talk about grace and forgiveness while they have no interest in loving Him, or following Him, or keeping His commandments, or serving others. They have no interest in learning or being changed. I know this, because that used to be me. I had no interest in a restored relationship with God, but I thought that I had bought my heaven ticket with a prayer and a little bit of religion “once upon a time”.

I was a fool.

I had no self control, I chased after whatever my flesh desired.

I had no interest in God’s will being done on earth through my life – I was only intrigued by the idea of escaping the consequences for my hellish actions.

I was a fool.

I had no fear of God, because I thought of Him as “buddy Jesus” who loved the sinners and hated the religious – which is true – but I had missed the why.

It wasn’t so they could remain where they were. He didn’t bring Good News so things would stay the same – He brings change, uncovering what is on the inside, shining light on the motives underneath that are hidden many times by the masks of outward appearance.

We can all recognize the lost sinners who are bearing only thorns and thistles in their lives, right? Can we agree they are not serving God of they don’t believe – if they have no interest in repentance?

But what about those who want to appear honorable but who have interest only in repentance as far as it is visible to others?

Thrre are those who want to appear religious in their words and who go to great lengths to be seen are the very ones who are working hard to hide their dark hearts. Those who want to be exalted and honored by other men as a “good man” or as someone worthy of honor are the very souls who are most lacking and in need of true integrity and honor. Yes, those areas of deficiency are the areas we try hardest to mask and to hide and to protect when we have no hope of healing.

But there is one who heals both of these ailments, and His name is Jesus Christ. He restores and makes us whole so that we have no need to hide those weaknesses anymore, nor do we have to remain fruitless. In fact, by removing the masks and admitting our weaknesses, He does an amazing thing – He changes us and what was once an embarrassment and a disgrace becomes an area of our lives c touched and changed by the annointing power of Jesus Christ.

My old ways when I had no interest in God’s will led me down some dark paths. Many lessons I had to learn the hard way,  because I didn’t yet believe our understand the value of the Word of God. I didn’t understand that God c truly has provided His divine instruction so that we might have the fullest and beat life by walking in His will and purpose,  protecting ourselves from the influence of the enemy and the inevitable consequences of being wrapped up in their traps.

But today,  those mistakes allow me to go into the jails and talk with others from a common perspective of understanding the struggles that they are going through,  because I have seen a similar path. Today,  those mistakes allow me to talk with someone dealing with addiction and not just be “some preacher with a perfect life that doesn’t know what he’s talking about”. Today those mistakes allow me to counsel someone who is wrapped up in sexual sin, pornography, adultery,  or going through a divorce and let them know without a doubt that Jesus Christ is strong enough to bring them through it and turn it to good – but only when we truly turn to Him.

And I share that turning to Him doesn’t guarantee freedom from the consequences. I see the consequences of my old actions and how it led others down rocky paths. I see how little eyes watched my old example and later followed in my footsteps into consequences of their own. I see that our life choices and our actions have more influence than our words or our Sunday church attendance records.

So I don’t want to be a fool any longer.

I don’t want you to be a fool any longer.

If you think that I’m talking about religion, look into the message within my words,  because my words alone are to weak to explain to your mind what my heart is trying to share with your heart. Don’t try to wrap your head around it. Let your heart chew on it.

Genesis 2:7 ESV
Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

John 3:16 ESV
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”
Luke 3:7-9 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.3.7-9.NLT

Revelation 2:17
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.

Isaiah 62:2
The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give.

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth. 
It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. 
Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. 
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. 
It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools. 
For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fools; this also is vanity. 
Surely oppression drives the wise into madness, and a bribe corrupts the heart. 
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. 
Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. 
Wisdom is good with an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun.  For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it. 
Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?  In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.
Ecclesiastes 7:1-14 ESV
http://bible.com/59/ecc.7.1-14.ESV

Beautiful Feet

And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”
Romans 10:15 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.10.15.NLT

Jesus demonstrated the importance, even after having washed the whole body, of continually washing each others’ feet. He is talking about after baptism and a profession of faith, there should be a continual walk of fellowship, service, accountability, correction, and building each other up in the Word of God. Our hearts and desires are to be touched and changed.

Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.”  For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
John 13:10-11 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.13.10-11.NLT

We are rescued and set upon the rock of Jesus, Christ,  our hope and our salvation.

Psalm 40:2 ESV
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

As part of the full armor of God in Ephesians 6, the readiness in the gospel of peace is given as protection for our feet.

Ephesians 6:15 ESV
And, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace

The Word of God is divine instruction from God that will guide us in the c way we should walk.

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

And His angels will guard and deliver us from temptations and the attacks of the enemy.

Psalm 91:11-13 ESV
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

And He does these things to protect us, but also to grow us and prepare us for going out,  for being sent.

2 Samuel 22:32-35 ESV
“For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

And His purpose is for us to go forth and for others to have the opportunity to hear this Good News.

Isaiah 52:7 ESV
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

Because we are not to be wicked like the traitor Judas, nor like the fallen one who turns His back on God.

Psalm 1:1-6 ESV
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

Remember, we are given authority and power over the enemy to step on their heads and crush them – to free people from their captors through the Word of God,  the gospel of peace,  the name of Jesus Christ.

When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!  Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.  But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”
Luke 10:17-20 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.10.17-20.NLT

So it is important that we pay attention to how we are walking.

Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil

Even if we are unsure exactly where the Lord is taking us or how He is going to bring us through.

2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV
For we walk by faith, not by sight.

So what is our part? Will we use these feet to walk? Will we run?

Ephesians 5:8 ESV
For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

So what does that walk look like? Are we keeping in step or have we fallen behind?

Colossians 3:16 ESV
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God

.

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.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Ephesians 4:1-5 ESV
http://bible.com/59/eph.4.1-5.ESV

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. 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. 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 5:16-26 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.16-26.ESV

I encourage you,  friend,  to walk in love.

Ephesians 5:2 ESV
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Love and serve one another.

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 5:13-15 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.13-15.ESV

Our life is an example and an influence upon others. How will you walk today? How will you serve? Will you wash the feet of your brother or drag Him into the fiery pit?

Excuses?

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.
Romans 1:20-22 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.1.20-22.NLT

How many will claim with their mouths that they know God? How many of these same people will not worship Him or give thanks to Him? And I’m not just talking about showing up to a church service once a week or saying a memorized set of words before eating  a meal – those actions can be empty and devoid of any true worship or praise. I’m talking about worship and praise – recognizing and demonstrating to God with a heartfelt reaction that we love Him and that He alone is worthy of our attention, our drive, our focus.

Continue reading “Excuses?”

In need of an Emergency Response

I spent last night in the Emergency Room. It started out with me writhing in pain, indescribable pain in my back and groin, my whole body shaking uncontrollably, fits of nausea – the pain was so intense that I couldn’t talk,  only groan and cry out. I couldn’t even open my eyes and see what was happening around me as the ocean of pain remained at my neck and the waves carried well above my threshold of control.

I cried out to God in my mind,  because my words, my very tongue failed me in the midst of the stripes of pain that ripped through my torso as if my very insides were being torn apart. I clung to my Bible, my faithful sword that remains by my side day in and day out,  and I cried out for mercy,  for the pain to be less, for us to be in the hands of the doctors miraculously faster as mom drove the Interstate to Pelham ER.

Now I must point out, even though Spartanburg Regional ER is just down the street from our house, my mom suggested we make the drive to Pelham instead. I am continually learning the value of listening to wise council, so I took her lead on this and we were off.

As I fought the pain, I opened the sunroof so that I could “lift my eyes to heaven” (my study this week). The pain was so bad that I was beginning to lose feeling in my extremities,  and I was wretching and convulsing. I had given up any hope of masking my pain from my heartbroken mother as she hurriedly rushed me to the place she knew was best to help me with my physical pain. She was downy in getting me the help that I needed so desperately. Praise God for the work He does through the hands of my loving mother.

But as she was traveling with me along the interstate,  the Lord was traveling with me along a path as well – and He was most concerned with bringing me closer to Him spiritually through this experience. His eyes were set upon the glorious spiritual healing and gifts eternal that He had in store for me in the midst of this fiery trial.

His ways are very different from mine,  and on that Interstate, He took us past the cross.

But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
Isaiah 53:5 NLT
http://bible.com/116/isa.53.5.NLT

I do not even feel right quoting 1 Peter 4:13 or 2 Corinthians 1:5 here,  even though it applies so well, because even my writhing pain was NOTHING IN COMPARISON to what He endured for me on the cross. As I cried out to Him,  I was humbled as each stripe of pain wracked my body and reminded me of His torture,  of what was meant for His shame because of the hardened hearts and short sighted plans of men – but the cross was the road to victory eternal at the right hand of God the Father. This was the road that we traveled together this night.

Yes,  He used the kidney stones,  the pain,  to bring me to the heartbreak and victory of the cross fresh and new on that Interstate as we rushed towards the physical healing that my body cried out for. But the call of my heart,  the cries of my soul was greater, and He brought me first the closeness of His spiritual touch upon my heart, giving me peace even as I cried out in the pain. He reminded me over and over again of the cross, and He proved himself Faithful and True yet again.

As the night’s events progressed,  His miraculous nature continued to reveal itself,  not in a magic show put on to dazzle a crowd – and not in signs and wonders as He bent the fabric of time and space itself in a visible and recognizable exercise of His power for the one He calls his own. But nevertheless,  His amazing hand revealed itself in the answer to my prayers. We arrived at the ER and I could barely function because of the pain. Within 3 minutes,  they had me headed to a room. Within 5-10 minutes,  they had the IV in and were starting the physical healing.

And as the clouds of pain rolled back, and as I could see clearly again,  as I could once again think clearly and loosen my death grip upon my Bible – I found myself afraid to move. I didn’t know whether it was the medicine, or if I had passed the kidney stone, or if I was just getting a respite from the pain so that I could once again take whole breaths. But I knew to remain still in this wonderful taste of relief that had curbed the pain so quickly.

I was amazed. We had driven to Pelham instead of to the hospital right near our house,  and with as many times as I visit the hospitals to pray in their chapels and to sit and pray in the emergency rooms for the families being impacted by the pain and sufferings in this life – I know the time that it takes to get processed and into an emergency room.

Yes,  the scoffers will say,  but they expedite people in pain,  you’re making something out of nothing. But I’ve been in real pain at the ER before, and they don’t just hand out pain meds willy nilly to everyone claiming pain – ask any addict that has tried to score pain meds from an ER.

Yes,  He answered my prayers. And He did it in His time and His way,  and it was amazing and glorious. I got to praise Him all night with my mom by my side and with grateful praise to everyone in that facility. And not preaching to them about God – and not by making them uncomfortable trying to win a “convert” over to the “Christian religion”. But they saw my gratefulness for their service. They heard us listening to praise songs and thankful even when the CT scan was delayed. They saw us focusing on the positive and glorious and wonderfully blessed life that God has handed us – these peculiar Christians who praised God and honored them,  and who loved them and appreciated everything they had done for us – even as I clung to that Bible like it was a valuable treasure that I had just found buried in a field.

I don’t know if any of last night’s events will testify to the glory of God in the eyes of those in that ER, and that was so far from my mind at that moment. In fact, if it had been in my mind,  it might not have rang genuine and true and may have smelled like just another religious hypocrite. But the sweet aroma of the presence of the Lord was with us last night on that Interstate and in that ER – even if no one else caught a glimpse or a whiff of His touch upon our lives – even if He didn’t make a huge show of parting the red seas in a miraculous and undeniable way to the eyes of men – He really did do it in a way that His children could see and recognize.

Praise God for His amazing ways.
Praise God for His mercy and His faithfulness.

He is – truly,  truly,  truly,  I tell you – worthy of all praise.

Our choices matter, and have eternal consequences

SIN
Isaiah 59:2 ESV
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that He does not hear.

MERCY EXTENDED
Ezekiel 33:11 ESV
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

FORGIVENESS AVAILABLE
1 John 1:9 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

NARROW PATH VS LEGALISM OR CONTINUING IN SIN
Proverbs 14:12 ESV
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

GIFT OF GRACE
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,  for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.
John 10:28-29 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.10.28-29.NLT

RELIGION VS RELATIONSHIP
2 Peter 2:20-22 ESV
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

FALSE CONVERT VS BORN AGAIN, SPIRIT FILLED
Hebrews 6:4-6 ESV
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

EXAMINING & IDENTIFYING OURSELVES
Hebrews 10:26 ESV
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

THE PAYMENT HAS BEEN MADE
Isaiah 53:6 ESV
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

UNDERSTAND HIS LOVE
Romans 5:8 ESV
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

CONFESS AND BELIEVE
Romans 10:9-10 ESV
Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

THE CALL OF GOD – THE CHOICE OF MAN
Revelation 3:20 ESV
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

THE DECISION – TURNING AWAY
John 6:64-69 ESV
But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,

THE DECISION – LIVE IN CHRIST & CHRIST IN YOU
John 15:5 ESV
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

THE RESULT
And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Revelation 21:6-8 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rev.21.6-8.NLT

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.

Drawing a Map, Leaving Bread Crumbs

There is a hell, and there is a heaven,  and what you do matters. (Read Matthew chapter 25, paying attention to verse 46)

You still have time. (Read Isaiah 55, paying attention to verses 6-13)

Jesus is the only way.  (Read John chapter 14, paying attention to verse 6 and verses 12-14)

There is a difference between knowing the words of the Bible and knowing the Word of God. (Read 2 Corinthians chapter 3, paying attention to verse 6)

There is a difference between repeating what you have heard from others who claim wisdom, and sharing what you are being taught by the source of all wisdom. (Read Matthew chapter 23, paying attention to verse 10)

There is a difference between pursuing theology and religion in your mind and words,  and pursuing Christ in your life and actions. (Read James chapter 1, paying attention to verses 22 and 23)

I will not always be with you, my friends. And some of you may want to follow to my destination,  while others may not. I only leave crumbs so that you might follow the path of Christ that I seek, not trusting my dim eyes that may lead you astray,  but hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit urging the way, given to me by my Lord, Jesus Christ – whose guidance I continue to confirm by the written Word of God. 

But look past my slow progress and my stumblings, friend. Do not slow your race because of me, but set your eyes upon Christ and run to Him with every fiber of the strength you have left. And pray that we will find each other faithfully in His presence at the end of our long journey.

God bless you, traveler. May the light of Christ illuminate your path,  and may the darkness flee before you. It has no authority or dominion over you any longer, Child of God. And may the light of your walk be visible and apparent and desired by all those still in darkness that you pass. May you offer them living water to drink,  and the bread of life to eat,  and may they know the healing and deliverance found in the power of Christ who lives in you. May the darkness be rolled away before you and the way made clear for the footsteps the Lord has established for you.