Sunday, February 5, 2023

Healing from the Wounds of Sin

 


Numbers 21:4-5

4Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. 5The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.”

The Israelites had been miraculously delivered from slavery in Egypt and were heading towards the Promised Land--the land God had promised to give to the descendants of Abraham whom He had entered into covenant with. However, they became impatient along the way--many times. In this case they also spoke against God and Moses. They called the manna God miraculously provided for food "miserable" and said they loathed it. Unfortunately, complaints had become common with them on this journey.

Prior to this incident, a generation of them had already become destined to die in the wilderness because of their unbelief that God could give them the Promised Land that He said He had given them. Twelve spies were sent to check out the land and ten of them came back and said they couldn't take it. The giants in the land were too big. God determined at that time that they would die in the wilderness, all except for the two spies who said they could take it--Joshua and Caleb. The rest would die and their children would be the ones to possess the land (Numbers 13-14).

On another occasion they complained about the manna, missing the food in Egypt, and saying they wanted meat. The Lord sent them enough quail to last for a month. However, people became greedy and while the meat was still in their mouth  they were struck with a severe plague and died (Numbers 11).

God was in covenant with the Israelites but they didn't seem to understand that covenants are not one-sided. They were to be participants in this covenant. They had an important part in God's purposes in the Earth. They were to carry the oracles of God and birth the Messiah who would save the nations. Yet, their slavery mentality kept them in bondage. They were in a habit of complaining about their captors--those in authority over them. After being delivered from slavery they continued complaining, yet with the complaints directed towards God and Moses instead of the Egyptians.

Early on in the Israelites journey out of Egypt, they came to Marah where they found the waters were bitter. They couldn't drink it and they complained. Moses cried out to the Lord who showed him a tree. Moses threw the tree into the water and they became sweet so the people could drink. At that same place, the Lord made a statute and a regulation that if the Israelites would listen to Him, hear His commandments, keep all His statutes and do what is right in His sight, then He would not put any of the diseases on them that He did the Egyptians. (Exodus 15:22-27). 

He would provide for them, but they would have to listen to Him and do what He says. He was teaching them what it was like to be in covenant.

Now, back to what happened after they complained and spoke against God and Moses:

Numbers 21:6-9

6The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. 8Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” 9And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.

After these serpents came, the people recognized that they had done wrong and repented. They asked Moses to pray and remove the serpents. However, instead of removing them God told Moses to set a serpent on a pole for them to look at after being bitten, and they would be healed. So he made a bronze serpent and set it up on a pole. A type of Jesus up on the cross.

These serpents are an example of how sin wounds. Sin poisons. Your sin wounds you, your sin can wound others, and other's sins can wound you. The serpents were like the manifestation of their sin and the damage it caused. Like an object lesson, God was showing them what their heart attitude and their words were doing to them--it was poisoning them and killing them.

So, they repented. They had done this many times before and knew what to do when things didn't go right. Yet it seems that their repentance had been very shallow. They would repent, yet turn back and do the same thing again. However, this time they would have to "feel the pain" of their sin for a little while until they could get to the pole and be healed.

True repentance is painful. It's tempting to say a quick, "Please forgive me, Lord," prayer and not fully address a sin we have committed. If we keep doing this we end up searing our conscience which decreases our sensitivity to the voice of God. God wanted them, and wants us, to understand the importance of true repentance.

Dutch Sheets has a good teaching on the four-step process of repentance. Briefly summarized as: 

First we have remorse--sorrow. Sorrow because we feel the pain of that sin, not just because we "got caught." In the case of the Israelites, this was the pain of the snakebite.

Next is the revelation of the consequence of that sin and where it leads. What it does to you and others.

Then we have a more true repentance because of the remorse and understanding we've received about our sin.

Finally, we have the desired result--we turn from that sin and don't return back to it. Our repentance was not shallow, we walk away from that sin.

So, what do we do when we sin, and how do we recover completely from it?

We truly repent and receive forgiveness and cleansing from our sin. 

1 John 1:9

9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

He forgives us and cleanses us when we confess our sins. Yet, we might still need to receive the healing, the recovery from this sin, and the strengthening from the weakness that it has caused. If we don't allow this full recovery, then our walk with the Lord can get out of alignment as we'll see in just a bit.

We might keep the wounds of our sin open thorough guilt. If we do not fully repent and/or fully receive God's forgiveness and cleansing, guilt will work against us like that poison from the snake.

Let's look at a New Testament Scripture to see how we must receive this full cleansing and healing so our walk stays in alignment:

Hebrews 12:1-13

1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; (Job 5:17) 6For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” (Proverbs 3:12).

When we don’t understand that we must stand against sin at all costs, then He disciplines us for our own good, so we can live.

7It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

God disciplines us for our own good. Our earthly fathers disciplined us and, though its not pleasant, we learned from it. How much more should we subject ourselves to our heavenly Father so we may share in His holiness, and live?

12Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

The context here is of overcoming sin, striving against it to the point of shedding our own blood if necessary, and receiving God's discipline when needed. In this context, we strengthen our weak hands and feeble knees. We make straight paths for our feet. We don't adjust our path to accommodate our lame limbs. We don't learn to live with our sin, or accept it as a character defect, or make excuses for it. No, we receive His strengthening and His healing so we are strong and aligned on our path--His righteous path.

 What do we do regarding other's sin against us?

We've been talking about when we sin, repent, and receive healing and strengthening from the wounds that were caused. But the same is true of other people's sin towards us. It wounds us, we forgive, and turn them over to God for Him to deal with them.

Forgiveness means we don't seek vengeance. If there is any resentment, unrighteous anger, bitterness, or even self-pity, we are keeping that wound open allowing the poison from the snake to remain in our system working against us. And if we don't fully forgive, then we get ourselves into sin and start that whole process again. It's not worth it. We need to address sin properly and completely so it doesn't keep a foothold in our life. Whether its sin we've committed, or the sin of others, it needs to be dealt with completely, once and for all, so as not to get us off balance and off track.

James 5:14-16 

14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Every sickness is not caused by a person sinning. However, confession of sin, sickness, prayer, faith, anointing with oil, healing and forgiveness are all mentioned together here. Often there are connections. If there is any sickness, any nagging guilt, any lingering resentment, bitterness etc. going on in your life, its worth it to take some time examining your heart before the Lord to get these things resolved once and for all.


Psalm 51:7-10: “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Examine your heart:

  • Think of anything regarding sin that bothers you, that isn't resolved. Whether it's sin you've committed, or sin others have committed against you.
  • It could be something you've done that has been a sin against God. Or something that has wounded or affected others. Or something you've done that has harmed yourself.
  • Even if you have already repented, you could still be carrying guilt in regard to this, or maybe you haven't fully repented.
  • Notice if you feel you haven't really repented and felt real sorrow over this sin. Ask the Lord to reveal the reality of those things so you can truly repent if necessary. So its not just a shallow repentance.
  • Take a moment because sometimes our conscience becomes calloused and we need to give these things time to surface.

  • If someone has sinned against you, notice if you feel you haven't really forgiven them.
  • If you think you have forgiven them, yet there is still be a wound causing pain, if there is still any anger, resentment, bitterness, or self-pity, it still needs to be addressed. Let go of the pain and fully forgive. Get the poison of the snake out of your system. Decide to forgive.

  • Ask the Lord to bring all these things to light and become aware of their reality. Ask Him to help you recognize the wounds that are still open. Even if its slight. If you think about something that happened and feel even just a twinge of a wound, address that while praying.
  • If you can't think of any specific sin that is left un-dealt with or that has left an unhealed wound, still pray for any strengthening that needs to occur in any vulnerable areas.


Prayer:

Father God, I come before You in the Name of Jesus.

Please show me any sin I have committed that I haven’t fully repented of. Show me the full consequence of this sin. Show me how I have hurt You, myself, or others. I am truly sorry for these sins. I repent and turn away from them. Please forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I receive Your forgiveness and cleansing. I forgive myself. I let go of all guilt, or any pride, I might have had, in regards to any sin.

Also Father, please show me anyone who has wounded me, or sinned against me, that I haven’t truly forgiven. I forgive everyone who has sinned against me.  I turn them over to You, the Righteous Judge. I let go of all anger, resentment, bitterness, vengeance, criticism, self-pity, or any other ungodly attitude towards them.

Now Holy Father, I ask for Your healing, from any wounds caused by sin—my sin, or the sin of others. Heal me, spirit, soul, and body. Strengthen me where I’ve been weak, so the power of Christ dwells in me, and I can walk the straight path of Your will. I also ask for the healing, of those whom I have wounded by my sin.

I allow these wounds to be healed. I will not prevent their healing. I will not hold the wounds open, but allow full healing, and restoration, to take place, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

Suggested oils to use for anointing: hyssop oil (cleansing), balm of Gilead (healing), and cedar (strengthening), or whatever you have.



Wednesday, January 4, 2023

The Power of Vocabulary

 

There is a powerful weapon which exists that is often misunderstood or not realized at all. Unfortunately, Satan, and those who do his bidding, understand this weapon more than many of God’s people do. This weapon is vocabulary.

Many people understand the power of words. They know that God created and maintains all things we see by speaking words—the visible from the invisible. The temporary from the eternal (Genesis 1:1-3, John 1:1-3, Hebrews 1:1-3, 2 Corinthians 4:18). Yet, this subtle attempt to change one’s understanding of words through changing definitions is a tactic we need to be aware of.

Isaiah said woe to those who call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). When we define something differently from what God says, which is what the true meaning of that word is, then we are in trouble, and we sow seeds of trouble. Little by little our understanding of right and wrong, good and evil, is redefined without us realizing it. This becomes a stronghold in the mind. What is acceptable in a society can slowly be changed through the words used to describe them.

In some countries, we see entire concepts being removed by removing the words that define them, like love, or changing the definition of a word to something completely different. By changing the vocabulary, false belief systems will be established as strongholds in the minds of the people who are not paying attention—particularly those who are not seeking truth.

What the enemy is doing is trying to call what is, something else—a lie. It’s not this, it’s that. It’s a diversion. It’s seductive and hypnotic. It’s slippery, and like a chameleon, hidden in plain sight. They call what is (evil) something else to make it better received, with a spell attached to it, so deception is implanted. The enemy is trying to corrupt vocabulary by calling what is evil good, and what is good evil. Isaiah says woe to them.

Changing definitions has a somewhat hypnotic effect. It deceives. It removes understanding from the people, keeping them in darkness. It uses false assumptions, distorted logic, and plays on emotions, so people pity evil rather than realize its dangers. Censorship is a tool of this—trying to change society’s understanding of words and concepts by hiding those who expose the truth about them. Forbidding these truth-tellers from talking about them, calling them the evil ones, and shaming the people who dare to think those thoughts. In the process, good and evil are re-defined for those who accept the lies.

Paul gave a safeguard against deception—loving the truth. He said those who do not love the truth, but take pleasure in wickedness, will be deceived (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

In spite of all this, it is not inevitable that our vocabularies will be redefined, and our speech controlled.  Words are from God. His Word will not change. We must seek Him for the proper understanding of His words.  

His words are a weapon as well as a creative tool. He has given His church the authority to speak His words—to bind and loose. We can use this authority to bind the efforts to change our vocabularies, and we can loose God’s definitions, thoughts, and concepts so people will know truth—the truth that will make them free. We can release accurate definitions of words according to His truth, and release His truth into our definitions and vocabulary.

Consider these Scriptures:

  • Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. (Isaiah 5:20).
  • The Word of God is alive, powerful, and sharp, piercing to divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow, judging the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
  • Seducing spirits and doctrines of demons sear the conscience and cause a fall from faith (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
  • You nullify the Word of God by your tradition. (Mark 7:9-13)
  • The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but divinely powerful for destroying fortresses—speculations, lofty things, and thoughts that rise up against the knowledge of God  (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).
  • The mouth speaks from the heart (Matthew 12:33-37).
  • You have heard it said…but I say…(Matthew 5:21-48).

Consider this prayer:

Father, forgive me for any corrupt vocabulary I have received into my mind and heart. I repent of allowing this deception to take place. I cast it out, remove it from my spirit, soul, body, and environment. I repent of deception and receive and embrace Your truth---Your words, Your vocabulary, thoughts, concepts, ideas, and definitions. I embrace the truth.

I bind this spirit of deception, this seductive and hypnotic spell, and all associated spirits with it, from influencing me, my family, my church, my community, and government. I bind this spirit from influencing those who influence and instruct our children, our churches, and our society.

I loose Your words, definitions, vocabulary, thoughts, concepts and understanding—Your truth, Your illumination and enlightenment into my life, family, church, community, government, education system, our children, our future, all areas of influence—culturally and otherwise in Jesus’ Name. I loose the Spirit of God, Your words and definitions to freely flow in our society and into the minds and hearts of the people.

The corrupt vocabulary is bound. Truth is loosed. The enemy’s strongholds are bound and torn down. We bring every thought, concept, and definition captive to the obedience of Christ.

Change the dictionaries to align with Your truth!

I release the Word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, to be preached, taught, and proclaimed throughout the land. In every county, city, township, and village. In every church, home, school, and university. Over the airwaves—television, internet, radio, social media, etc. with the parresia anointing. (click here for the parresia anointing article). 

Let Bible studies arise. Let home churches arise. Let churches preach the truth of the gospel. Let them teach and preach Your Word, discipling people in Your ways. Let the children be taught the Word of God all the days of their lives. I release a hunger for God’s Word and a thirst for righteousness—that sin becomes undesirable and despised in the people’s own lives. That Christians rise up in love and the preparation of the gospel of peace. That they pick up their armor and stand for truth, taking up the sword of the Spirit—the Word of God. Let the revival begin and the true disciples of Jesus Christ grow and multiply in numbers, strength, and maturity.

Thanks be unto God who always causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus! 

Friday, November 25, 2022

Find Your Field

 


Several years ago, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a booming loud Voice which I heard in a dream. The Voice was so loud, it shook my entire being and immediately woke me up. It simply said, "MICAH 4:4! FROM THIS DAY FORWARD!!" Of course, I looked up the Scripture and it says this:

Each of them will sit under his vine
And under his fig tree,
With no one to make them afraid,
For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

In context, it's speaking of the last days when the "mountain of the house of the Lord" will be established as the chief of the mountains. People from many nations will go there to learn the ways of the Lord (Micah 4:1-2).

Micah 4:3 says:

And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.
Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they train for war.

I was curious about this hammering of swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, so I looked further into this and found that during times of war they would hammer, or re-shape, their farming tools into weapons to fight with. In times of peace, they would be hammered back into farming tools so they could plow, plant seed, and grow crops.

We read of this in Joel 3:9-10:

Proclaim this among the nations:
Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men!
Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up!
10 Beat your plowshares into swords
And your pruning hooks into spears;
Let the weak say, "I am a mighty man."

There is further study into this which is worthwhile, however I think there are some principles here which can be applied today. It has to do with recognizing the time we are in, so we may know whether we will need tools or weapons.

There are fields in our spiritual land which are sometimes farming fields and sometimes battlefields. We need to recognize what time we are in, so we know what type of field we are to engage in. Then we will know whether we are to plant or to war.

I see at least three different fields as being important right now, with each containing battlefields and farming fields at the same time.

1.      Leadership / Accountability

Leadership in the farming field. Honest people of integrity and godliness who are called into leadership might run for an elected governmental position, or obtain another leadership position in society, where they can sow seed and tend to these various “gardens” in our land to preserve our rights and prepare us for the future. Those in this field include those who support these leaders in various ways—as support staff, financial backing etc. When this field is neglected, weed seeds grow and take over allowing ungodly leaders to (knowingly or unknowingly) take the people in a direction that is oppressive and harmful.

Accountability in the battlefield. On this field we hold accountable those leaders and elected officials who have lost ground for what is good and right and allowed that which is harmful to come into our society and take root. Whether because of incompetence, carelessness, corruption, lack of courage etc. these weeds need to be pulled out, roots and all. Some are called to fight in this field and hold people accountable, engaging in legal battles when necessary. All voters have a responsibility to pay attention to what their elected officials are doing and to communicate with them when their rights are infringed upon, so all Americans are to engage in this field to a certain degree.

2.       Influence / Argument

Influence in the farming field. Everyone carries a certain amount of influence over others in their life, such as families, friends, and co-workers. Parents have tremendous responsibility and influence over their children. Some may be called to more public positions of influence such as education, media, religion, science, business etc. to accurately speak the truth, facts, history, and work to maintain and preserve this accurate information, and to do so without censorship, for the future. These are not just professionals, but include anyone who enlightens, exhorts, encourages, or influences others through discussion or example. Parent’s education and influence over their children is vital, but so is anyone who has a godly affect in their sphere of influence.

Argument in the battlefield. An argument, in the true sense of the word, is where opposing ideas are exchanged, discussed, and debated. It’s not a mean-spirited, hateful communication, but it’s when a person gives reason for his/her opinion or belief, and presents the basis for that belief—whether logic, Scripture, experience etc. This uncensored process exposes misinformation, indoctrination, and the evil influence that the enemies of what is good and true have had over the people. It is a fight to undo the strongholds of lies and deception which have taken hold within the mind. Some may respond when truth and facts are revealed this way, but others may require spiritual warfare to root out any embedded deception in their thinking.

3.       Christian Growth / Spiritual Warfare

Christian Growth in the farming field. This includes the growth of both the number of Christians and their maturity in Christ. When the Word of God—the gospel of Jesus Christ—is preached, people come to believe in Him, and the church grows numerically such as what occurred in the early days of the church recorded in the book of Acts. The teaching of this same Word (the Bible) causes Christians to grow in maturity, more accurately living by the standards of the Word of God, becoming His disciples.

Why is Christian growth so important to the preservation and stability of our republic? True believers in Christ who come to know the Lord personally and grow in the knowledge of His Word, will live biblical lives which brings God’s blessing and favor, protection, and provision upon our land. When we teach our children the ways of the Lord, our future is hopeful. As children and adults learn the Word of God, develop a relationship with Him and a love for His Word, they will know the truth, have discernment to recognize what is truly good, and be alerted to unwise or deceptive tactics which would bring us into bondage. There is only one standard of Truth. To know it, and live by it, is the only thing that brings true freedom.

Spiritual Warfare in the battlefield. Believers in Christ who know their authority in Him, will directly confront the deceptive influences which deceive and oppress people in various ways. There is an enemy which not only opposes the faith of individual Christians but opposes God Himself and mankind as a whole (because we’re made in the image of God). As the church realizes the spiritual authority given to us as the ecclesia—God’s governing body on the earth—we will more effectively win these battles for the soul of our land. The same Word of God which brings spiritual life and maturity to believers in Christ, is the weapon used against this enemy who uses lies, deception, addictions, lust, greed, all types of sin, despair, hopelessness, etc. to try and paralyze the church so he can carry out his plans. Just as Jesus used spoken Scripture against him, so is this the primary weapon of the Church today. As long as we remain ignorant of the authority and responsibility the church has been given by the Lord Himself, we are neglecting the most powerful weapon we have to maintain our freedom, but when the church matures to this point of awareness and maturity, she will confront the evils of the land, bring others into the kingdom of God, and open up the windows of God’s blessing.

The Word of God not only brings numerical growth to the church through people hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ and accepting Him as Lord and Savior; it brings maturity to the church as people receive the teaching of Scripture and live accordingly. The Word of God is also the primary weapon used against the enemy of God and His church. It’s vital that the Word of God remain free in our nation and all areas of our lives.

Fields of Home and Family

I don’t want to neglect to mention here that each one of us has a field in our own lives and homes. As you make decisions to live according to what is good and right—to not rebel against God and truth—you win a battle that affects the land you live in and the body of Christ as a whole, which you are a part of as a Christian. Don’t think that your decisions to do the right thing and make good and godly choices don’t have an impact. When you win a battle in your own life, you win a battle for the entire kingdom of God on earth. This impacts an entire region, as God responds to His people in a land. As you take the time to study the truths of God’s Word, allowing yourself to be discipled by His truths, you become equipped and prepared to recognize and confront error and lies. You and your life are not insignificant.

I’m not saying these are the only “fields” that exist but seek to find your place in these areas. Are you to engage, or support others, in a leadership field to directly affect the governing of our nation, state, local government or other areas? Are you called to an influential field to give people factual, accurate, truthful information to enlighten minds and teach others to think for themselves based on truthful standards? Are you called to a spiritual field to preach or teach the gospel of Jesus Christ resulting in changed and renewed hearts so good is called good again and truth is truthfully defined?

Once you find your field, determine what time it is in your season. Is it time to battle, or time to farm? I believe both need to occur at the same time right now. Some will engage on the battlefield of their particular field—driving out that which has invaded and planted poisonous crops. And some will prepare for the future by plowing the hard ground, removing deep roots, stones, and overgrown weeds, planting seed, tending to it, and maintaining it.

All that is going on in the world today really emphasizes the fact that the only rightful leader is King Jesus, and the only truthful law is the Word of God. The more we align with Him and His Word, the more we’ll maintain a level of peace and victory that is unattainable any other way.


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Bonheifer's: The Cost of Discipleship

 Some of My Thoughts on Bonheifer’s The Cost of Discipleship Book

Chapter 2: The Call to Discipleship

 Faith isn’t something that “happens” to us. It’s an intentional thing. We make the decision to read and study the Bible, to seek the gifts of the Spirit, to love—that is faith. We do it whether we “feel led to” or not. We do it because we believe in Him, and that’s what we do as His disciples. We don’t wait for someone to tell us to take a breath, or drink water, or eat food. We do those things because we are human. In the same way, we study His Word and pray because we are His disciples.

As long as we doubt God’s leading and call to us then we have an excuse not to obey (or so we think). When He says something like, “Follow Me…” and we question, “Is that Him?” or “Is He really the Son of God?” Then we hesitate to follow Him. We begin to reason, to doubt, and make excuses not to obey. After all, we can’t follow Him if we don’t know its really Him right? Right?

Yet, do we blindly follow every “voice?”

When the devil tried to lead Jesus to do certain things, to start down a certain path, to obey what he said, (Matthew 4), Jesus responded with, “It is written…” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10).

He’s given us His Word to follow too.

And yet the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness (Mark 1:12). The Spirit also guides us (John 16:13, Romans 8:14).

Hath God said?                Is it God?            Is He the Son of God?

Is that how we respond to Jesus’ call to follow Him and the Spirit’s urging, leading, guiding?

The questions become:

Is this what God said?

Or

Is this God who said it?

The first one questions if we heard and understood what He said correctly. Do I have the correct understanding of what He meant? How do I put it into practice and apply it to my life?

The second one questions if the one who said it is in fact God. You heard it right, but was it God who said it? Is the one who says he is God really God? Or is it an imposter, lying, saying he is God?

The devil said to Eve, “Hath God said…” (Genesis 3:1). He didn’t deny it was God who said it, but raised doubt as to what He said and what He meant, or even if He was somehow holding them back from something good.

But to Jesus, the devil said, “If You are the Son of God…”(Matthew 4:3, 6). He tried to raise doubt that Jesus is God. Jesus had just heard the Voice of God say, “This is My beloved Son…” (Matthew 3:17) and the devil wanted to bring doubt to Jesus about who He is, or else move Him to an arrogant display of power to prove who He is.

It keeps us in obedience to God when we not just hear what He said, but know what He means—to have understanding. This is why we don’t just read the Bible, but study to understand (2 Timothy 2;15, Proverbs 4:7).

The devil told Eve, you won’t really die. It’s a different kind of awareness… God knows that if you eat that fruit you’ll be like Him, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:4-5). Implying that maybe God was holding something back from them, something good. The question/doubt was raised, is this command of God really the best thing for me?

Ask:

1.       Is it God who said it? Yes!

2.       What does He mean by it?

3.       Do it!

Some people say there is an order to understanding dreams, visions, or other revelations from the Lord: 1. The revelation, 2. The interpretation, 3. The application.

I would add something to it: 1. The revelation, which is to include the discernment of the source, 2. The interpretation, e. The application. Don’t even try to understand what it means until you know where its coming from. Yet, even in this, there is a potential trap.

To “prove” who God is, we have His Word.
The devil tried to get Jesus to doubt who God was (who HE was). Jesus’ response was the Word.

On the one hand the devil tried to get Jesus to preserve His physical life (turn the stones into bread). On the other hand he tried to get Him to be reckless with it (throw yourself down from here).

We must keep in mind though, that we try to understand the Word He spoke in order to determine if it was He who spoke it. But yet..
Doesn’t that make us a judge of Him, of who He is, or if He is God?

This makes us His judge, which we are not. This is the trap to avoid. He can say what He wants. It’s not up to us to judge whether what He says is “correct” or good. Even Jesus said there is only One good, which is the Father. He wouldn’t even call Himself good (Matthew 19:17.) So we are not judging God, but we search the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit, to gain proper understanding of what He said. He is truth above all. We seek to align with it, not judge whether its right or not. There is a difference that we must be aware of. It's easy to cross that line if our heart is not fully surrendered to Him.

If we try to analyze what He said to make a determination if its Him—the voice of God—we might cross the line to becoming His judge. The Pharisees tried that, but it didn’t work for two reasons:

1.       They didn’t study the Scriptures like He told them to.

2.       Their heart was not right. They didn’t want Him to be the Son of God. They didn’t like Him. They were critical of Him. He threatened their positions.

So then, how do we know and determine if it is He who spoke so we are not misled?

He said His sheep know His voice and won’t follow another. (John 10:27).

“If you continue in My Word you are truly His disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” (John 10:31-32).

Not only did the Pharisees doubt He was the Son of God (they stumbled over the stone), but they critiqued / analyzed everything Jesus said, trying to disprove He was the Son of God (the stone will fall on them). (Matthew 21:44).

Eve didn’t pray about what the devil said to her. She didn’t discuss it with Adam either (that we know of).  She just reasoned within herself—not looking to verify what he said. Of course he could have spoken to her more than once, raising the doubt on several occasions, but was there any verification with Adam as to what God exactly said? Or was there any direct communication with God Himself when He walked with them in the cool of the day?

There are other voices, and there are voices/revelations/ideas/thoughts & concepts that appear good. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), so discernment is necessary. Discernment is necessary, but not excuses.

Not intentional fault-finding just because we don’t like what He said.

It comes down to the heart motive. Seeking an explanation for further understanding and clarification is O.K. (Mary—how can this be since I am a virgin?) (Luke 1:34).

He’s not asking for blind obedience to every voice, but willing, undisputed obedience to Him.

You know Who, but not necessarily why. That’s O.K. Yet more is revealed to the one who seeks.

Ultimately, do we WANT to obey Him?

“Search the Scriptures” Jesus said, “In them you think you have life, but they testify of Me.” (John 5:39).

 

 


Sunday, July 4, 2021

The Cause of Job's Troubles--Fear or Faith?

 


25“For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.
Job 3:25 NASB 1995

This verse has often been used to say that the reason Job experienced the troubles he did—the loss of his children, his wealth, and his own health—was because he was in fear. That his fear opened the door to allow Satan to come in and destroy him. I may have repeated this myself, but is that what really happened?

I woke up one morning with the following thoughts laid out before me like a fine feast. I believe the Lord was clarifying my thoughts and satisfying some questions I had about the reason for Job’s troubles. Although I hadn’t thought about Job recently, I had studied the book of Job often and had prayed the day before and asked the Lord to remove any deception from my thinking. So, this is what I now have to say about the trouble which came on Job—It didn’t come because of his fear, it came because of his righteousness, his faith or faithfulness to God.

Job was concerned his sons were sinning so as a regular practice he would offer burnt offerings after they would hold a feast and invite their sisters.

 4His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually. Job 1:4-5

When reading through the book of Job we learn about his character. He was a well-known, righteous man in the community. He was very wealthy and helpful to the people. He helped the poor and needy. He sat in the gates and instructed the people. He had the final word on matters. God saw him and was pleased. In fact, the Lord discussed Job’s righteousness one day with Satan.

     6Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 7The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” 8The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” 9Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10“Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11“But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Job 1:6-11

Satan went before the Lord to accuse Job. Notice he didn’t say, “Job is full of fear, worry, making all these offerings for his kids, look how anxious he is, he doesn’t trust you.” But he did say, “He is only blameless because you’ve blessed him. Without your blessing he would curse you.”

Now notice that God didn’t say “Look at Job, he’s full of worry and fear. All the things he’s feared will happen to him.” But He did say, “Look at Job, he’s blameless.” Blameless!

They both agreed that Job was blameless and upright. Neither one of them said Job was full of fear and that destruction would come on him because of his worry, fear, or lack of faith in God.

The argument some make that Job’s trouble came on him because, “What he greatly feared came upon him” just isn’t true. It wasn’t Job’s fear that made all these things come on him. Rather, it was his faith. Specifically, his upright, faithful behavior towards the Lord.

Some say Job was engaging in fear-based actions regarding the behavior of his kids (offering up burnt offerings in case they sinned). However, this was not a works-motivated type of fear where he felt he had to right their every wrong. If anything, it was the fear of the Lord—his love for God and his children.

His statement that what he fears comes upon him was during his lament over his condition. He had just lost everything, was suffering a horrible sickness, his wife was no comfort, and his friends had just come to visit and were horrified over his condition. He was mourning his losses and commenting on how everything was going wrong.

His friends proceeded to tell him that he must have sinned and needed to repent. They kept trying to get him to admit he’d done something wrong and repent. This line of thinking would be making Job’s troubles a consequence, a result of sin, but they weren’t, they were a result of his faith, or faithfulness to God.

Why is it important to make this distinction that Job’s troubles were not brought on him because he opened the door through fear or sin? It’s important because if we think trouble comes upon us only because we’ve done something wrong, then once we ‘fix the wrong’ and the trouble is still there, we’ll begin to make accusations against God, joining the side of the enemy. We say, “God, I fixed this, why is the trouble still here?”

Again, we must understand that troubles don’t only come on us because we’ve done something wrong. Job was blameless and upright. God and Satan both agreed to that. It wasn’t Job’s sin that brought the trouble on him, it was his faithfulness to God. Satan made an accusation that the only reason Job feared God was because God blessed him—take away the blessing and he would curse Him. God, being the just God that He is responded to the accusation. God would provide proof to back up His words, His claim that Job was blameless. The proof could only come by putting Job to the test. This was the evidence God presented to Satan to prove that His claim—His words—are in fact truth. We must realize when we are tested here in the Earth, we too are providing evidence that God’s Word is true.

If we believe that trouble has come upon us only because we’ve done something wrong then once the wrong is fixed, we won’t understand why the trouble didn’t go away. Sometimes it takes a while for troubles to go away whatever the reason is for their existence. Instead of questioning the Lord, accusing Him, we need to strengthen our faith, become more determined, and remain faithful until the thing is over.

Of course, we sometimes do bring trouble on ourselves. There are consequences to sinful behavior or attitudes that need to be corrected to prevent us from suffering the eternal consequences. (See 1 Timothy 6:9-10, Romans 1:18-27, 1 Corinthians 5:1-5). We should always examine our hearts and repent if needed. But the way out of trouble isn’t always to get out of sin. Sometimes our faith in God brings us into trouble—persecution or some other suffering for the sake of the gospel. Sometimes its simply the trying of our faith. Will we remain faithful to God during tough times as well as good?

Consider the following Scriptures:

19Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19

12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

33“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

6In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1 Peter 1:6-7

2Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:1-2

12Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. James 1:12-15

9“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10“At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11“Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. Matthew 24:9-13

Are there times sin brings trouble? Yes, absolutely. Isaiah 48:22 says there is no peace for the wicked. If we engage in evil behavior, things won’t go well. Yet we also see that trouble comes simply because one is righteous and following Christ. This is important to understand so seeds of doubt regarding the goodness and justice of God are not planted in our minds.

Our mind is fertile for seeds of doubt if we believe that our suffering trouble could only be due to sin. We search our hearts, repent of sin (of course a good thing if needed), but then if the trouble continues, we begin to question God. We doubt. We accuse. We think, “I did my part and repented, but God didn’t do His part and stop this trouble.” This leads to accusation and opposing God, when what we should be doing is becoming more committed and determined to persevere in our faithfulness to God.

When these seeds of doubt are planted through false teaching (even if a person means well they still may be wrong in their teaching), and we believe them, we will begin to nurture these false thoughts as our own beliefs and a stronghold of false thinking gains a place in our mind and heart.  

Guard against this kind of false teaching!


Sunday, July 12, 2020

Four things to Guard Against and Three Things to Do During Global Troubles


There are four things we need to guard against during times of global troubles.

1. Complacency
In this condition, we are unaware of what's going on around us. We have our head in the sand and are naive. The solution is to wake up.

2. Anxiousness
Once we wake up, we will see the condition of our world and there is a tendency to fear and be anxious. The solution is to trust in the Lord. Repent where we need to, and get our heart, mind, and life in line with Him.

3. Viciousness
Once we get our faith in the Lord right, we see that other people's behavior still affects us. There are consequences to what others are doing. We may want to attack them as a way to get them to stop. The solution is to pray to the Lord, and intercede for the others. Direct your energy into boldness to speak the truth, and to speak it in love.

4. Arrogance
The wicked will reap the consequences of their actions. When they do, there may be a tendency for us to snicker at that--or to all out laugh at them or mock them. This is not God's way. The solution is to humble ourselves and have mercy. 

Remember that there are wicked people who intentionally do evil things, but there are also those who do wicked things because they are deceived. They may not intentionally be trying to hurt God, or His people, but they are deceived. The strong delusion Paul spoke of to the Thessalonians is sent to those who don't love the truth and take pleasure in wickedness. Love of the truth is the answer, along with not taking pleasure in those things which are wicked.

We ourselves need to always make sure we embrace and seek truth. Proverbs tells us to buy the truth and not sell it. Truth costs something. It may cost us repentance or admission of wrong. 

During global troubles, it rains on both the just and unjust. The godly and the wicked live on the same planet and what one does affects the other to varying degrees. The Bible tells us of three things--Faith, Hope and Love. Our own lives, and the lives of those around us, can be affected by these three things.

Hope---After we awake in a state of anxiousness, we receive hope and speak words of hope to others.
Faith—We replace our anxiousness with faith and trust in the Lord so we will not attack others, but intercede, and boldly speak the truth.
Love—We are not arrogant and laugh at the calamity of others, but are merciful and humble.


2 Thessalonians 2
Proverbs 23:23
Matthew 5:45
1 Corinthians 13:13

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Third Thing

4: One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church.
5: Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. 1 Corinthians 14:4-5
In the church, we pray with our understanding so we, as a people group, are edified and built up. We speak in the common language so we can gain knowledge, learn, and bring our thoughts into line with the Lord’s.

We can pray in other tongues when we are gathered with other believers, and we ourselves will be edified, but the church will not be unless we interpret--or put into the common language--what we are saying. What this tells us, is that if people don’t understand with their mind what they are hearing from the realm of the spirit, it won't build up the group into what the Lord desires it to be. It is as “speaking into the air.” 

Language has meaning. It’s purpose is to bring understanding to the mind. This understanding enables the group to see their purpose which will cause them to think in line with that purpose, and then act accordingly.
6: But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?
7: Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp?
8: For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?
9: So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.
10: There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning.
11: If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me.
12: So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church. 1 Corinthians 14:6-12
When we gather, each of us has something to offer, and we should seek to give from the spiritual gifts we have, that which will edify the others.
26: What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 1 Corinthians 14:26
When the church comes together, they become something corporately that is separate from who we are individually. The church is edified when we come together with the purpose of speaking intelligently to gain understanding and knowledge of the ways of the Lord. But what occurs is not just for the personal benefit of each one of us. It's not just you and me--a third thing happens. A corporate identity is birthed, and this corporate entity becomes built up into what the Lord desires it to be. The third thing is what the Lord is creating and birthing--the thing that He wants the corporate group to do/be.

There is power when people speak and understand each other. We see this at the Tower of Babel. The  Lord divided the language of the people because they were intending to build something as a group that was against His desires. They had the power to do it because of their common language. He scattered them because what they were intending wasn’t right. Common language enables building--the building and birthing of something new--the third thing.

The Holy Spirit is given to us to be our teacher, He gives us insight and understanding into the Word of the Lord.
26: 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 said to you. John 14:26
He teaches and reminds us of all that Jesus has said. When we come together with the goal of gaining a corporate understanding of what the Lord is saying, we will be able to build the church into what He desires it to be. Let's keep that in mind when we gather, and use the individual gifts each one of us have towards that purpose. We need more discussion, not lecture, so every part of the body is able to give the piece they have to share in building what the Lord is doing.