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Anticipating the Bridegroom difference between salvation and sanctification

 

This video gives the parable of the 5 foolish virgins and the 5 wise virgins, and what it is meant by salvation and sanctification.  Salvation is the process of walking towards Christ, and sanctification is the process of walking with Christ.  Salvation happens when you believe, and sanctification happens when you act on that belief.  We are called to be sanctified and that process will happen for the rest of our lives.

When you have failed a test

This blog posting is kind of like a follow up to “When everything falls apart”, and “The Tests of Life”.  We know that when students go through tests at school.  Have you ever known you were going to have a quiz, but you didn’t have time to study for it?  You just go to sleep and hoping that everything comes by “osmosis” or something like that?  Well God tests and sometimes He chastens us too, and sometimes this test may be foretold in advance [i.e. Jesus wilderness, and the Israelite wilderness] We go through difficult things, and it is about our attitude primarily and what we do and say during these times of chastening and testing.  Sometimes we do not know what direction it is going to come, and we know that the enemy goes around like a roaring lion seeing who he can devour, but we also know God has His plan, which is different for testing.

Women, not intended to stereotype, in general tend to be more emotional and they tend to cry more and be more expressive in their emotions.  Sometimes we find women yelling, and getting angry too, but as believers it is hard to control these emotions without surrendering to the Holy Spirit.  But whether you are a woman or a man, you do get tested by the Lord, and even through the best of intentions you try to obtain a peaceful attitude through the Holy Spirit, but it is the times when you are spiritually undernourished that you go through certain things and you cannot seem to find your way out of the wilderness experience that you are in.  One thing to understand is that God is through His Holy Spirit giving you a slight nudge in what to do in the beginning, and if you don’t listen to that nudge, which is like Question No. 1, and then He gives you another nudge, but this time this one may be a little bit softer than the other nudge.  That is like Question No. 2.  Then by now if the principle of chastening, and disciplining has come into picture, there will you will start receiving a wrong answer mark or an “X” by your “Questions”, and that begins the consequences of sin.  The good thing about the “X” is that if you realize it soon enough you get it erased, and just for another opportunity to do the same question again.  But if you you continue to answer questions wrongly, then the “X”‘s get more and depending on how much you have prepared for the test, and how much you ask the Teacher to help you, you yourself will get up getting upset and failing.  The Good News is that you always have a do over, but you have to ask the Teacher to help you study and you have to ask for tutoring and to go in for “Office Hours”.  The Good News is that the Office Hours are 24/7.  This Teacher is Jesus and through the Holy Spirit He teaches you, but it will have to be at a time, when He is not grieved by you getting upset with Him for the difficult test.

The problem is that most times we don’t depend on the Teacher alone, but we depend on other people, and trying to please them, we try to please other people.   If Job actually listened to the advice of His friends, would He have been actually able to hear from God?  Maybe, because the Word does say, “God works out all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” But this was a test.  For Job, it was unexpected, but for some people, God may tell you, “Be watchful, lest you enter into temptation”, and if you don’t listen you are going to end up in trouble.

Part of the problem, is that we don’t have the wisdom our own to figure out the problem, so that’s why we are supposed to go to God, and you may just want someone to pray for you, and they go about giving their advice and telling you how to solve the problem.  Sometimes there are times where people have been thrown everything, which comes there way, and they think as Christians, “I should have been able to handle this better”, and that’s where pride comes in.  Because it is not us, but Christ who lives in us that equips us to handle problems, and because when we don’t listen to the small nudgings, we get overwhelmed, over stressed, and overburdened by our problems.

Hebrews 12, my favorite Chapter says –

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that wemay be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

So basically what it says here is that you have to endure the chastening, and some places says rejoice, because you are not illegitimate, and you are sons.  So basically when you have a pop-quiz/test like this, and you fail, realize that it’s ok because even though you will have to go through test again, you are building up your relationship with the Holy Spirit to the level of intimacy because in truth, we all fall down, and especially when you are pursuing the path of Holiness, there may be so many things that come against you, but if you trust in God, then there will be a peacable fruit of righteousness and to forgive yourself and to accept His grace, which calls us unto redemption.  We are not guided by our feelings, and we may have bad days, and areas of struggle, and areas of weakness, but God is equipping us, the one’s whom He loves to be a bride ready to be established for His Kingdom.

If you need to repent for failing a test here is a prayer for you:

Heavenly Father,

Please forgive me, I’ve run a muck today, and not listened to Your voice, and obeyed Your commands.  I acted impatiently, hastily, and not out of love, but I really need You to forgive me, and cleanse my heart with Your Blood and to give me a clean heart and a new heart and to pick up the pieces, dust them off, and continue to spin that Potter’s wheel.  I thank You that You are still with me, and that You are teaching me and training me to be a glorious vessel for Your Kingdom, and I abide in Your Truth and wisdom, to know that You are guiding my path.  Help me to be able to discern Your voice more clearly from now on, and to make wise decisions to pass the tests and to surrender my emotions to you, so that I can have the complete wholeness of Body, Mind, Spirit, that you have promised in Your Word.  Thank You Heavenly Father.

In Jesus Mighty Name I pray,

Amen.

God is faithful to answer the prayers whatever they may be, if you continue to wait on Him.  He will always be with you.

 

Sermon on Sanctification through Christ

How sanctified are you?

 

This is a sermon that is an audio file – .mp3, and it talks about the three aspects of sanctification.  For those interested in listening to the sermon click on the link above.  There is a mystery story in the beginning, which is revealed in the end.  I pray that we all learn more about this process of sanctification, and not only just learn, but to be able to apply and use.  Approximately 37 minutes.

And He has called us friends

We all like to have friends.  Wouldn’t it be nice to realize, and come and accept that God wants to be our friend.

In John 15:15 Jesus says that He no longer calls them servants, but He calls them friends because friends know what their master is doing.

John 15:15
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Here is a prayer from David, who was a man after God’s own heart, where He was still known as Lord (Adonai) which means Master, and LORD, which is YHWH, which means I AM that I AM.

Prayer for Mercy, with Meditation on the Excellencies of the Lord

A Prayer of David.

86 Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me;
For I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am holy;
You are my God;
Save Your servant who trusts in You!
Be merciful to me, O Lord,
For I cry to You all day long.
Rejoice the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
And attend to the voice of my supplications.
In the day of my trouble I will call upon You,
For You will answer me.

Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord;
Nor are there any works like Your works.
All nations whom You have made
Shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And shall glorify Your name.
10 For You are great, and do wondrous things;
You alone are God.

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.
12 I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.
13 For great is Your mercy toward me,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

14 O God, the proud have risen against me,
And a mob of violent men have sought my life,
And have not set You before them.
15 But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.

16 Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me!
Give Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

The Lord spoke to Moses as a friend, and yet He is called Master, but He speaks to Moses a man speaks to his friend:

11 So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.

These days we take the word friend so casually, to mean just anyone we get along with is our friend, or all our facebook friends, and acquaintances but in Hebrew, friend, meant someone you were intimate like you were knit together, that is the kind of relationship that Moses had with God.  Even then in the Old Testament, most of the people that were called friends turned out to be deceivers and liars, and unworthy, and I think in Proverbs it says someone is cursed for blessing their friend while rising in the early in the morning – Proverbs 27.  But when you look at the way Jesus describes it, friend, was regarded highly by Jesus.

Jesus wants us to know what is in His heart and on His mind.  He wants the fire of God to burn within us.  He wants us to be passionate for Him.  But He wants us to search out the intimate things of God.

The interesting difference between a friend and a master is that with a friend you really have to trust them, but with a master you do what they say because they are in a position of authority and you honor and respect them.  You pretty much have no choice with a master, but with a friend you have a choice that you have to trust them.

Now don’t get me wrong, we should still regard God as the Sovereign God, and our Lord and Master, but there is a deeper relationship that He wants you to have.  He wants you to get to know Him.  I know I did a post on a similar subject before called Jesus the closest companion…but I think we need a refresher course.  Imagine that the God who created the whole universe is not just your friend, but your best friend.

Imagine you ran a red light accidentally and the cop was your best friend, the cop would probably say something like, “Ok, bud, this was wrong, but if I catch you next time, I’ll have to give you one.”

David had favor with Saul for the sake of Jonathan.

Now to put things into proper perspective, God is not just our best friend, but He is our king, and our ruler, and the principle authority figure in our lives.  But He wants us to know Him as our loving Heavenly Father first, but He is also very Holy and He cannot be around sin.  Sin keeps Him away from us.  Let’s take example lying.  Wouldn’t you be mad if someone lied to you?  Wouldn’t you be mad at your children if they didn’t do anything you said and were running a havoc around the house?  Even if you are married if your wife lied to you or she lusted after another man or women if your husband lied to you and lusted after another man, wouldn’t you be upset.  Some marriages people can’t forgive after adultery because they’ve been so hurt, God is the same way.  He doesn’t want you lying to Him or anyone else either, and since the Holy Spirit lives inside of you, He doesn’t want you abusing your body.  He doesn’t want you speaking bad things about His friends.  He wants you to respect and to honor Him as King.  That’s why you should respect and honor and fear Him not because you think He’s going to destroy you or send you to hell – but out of love of the heart.  God looks at intent of the heart.  He looks at motive.

The Bible says “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”

It also says in Ephesians 1:

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

This verse is conditional to the promise that you trusted in God.  If you don’t trust God as your friend that He really doesn’t want to hurt you.  That He really doesn’t want you to think that He doesn’t care for you, but because He disciplines or chastens you it is for your benefit.  It is so that He is trying to teach you something.  God is always talking, I mean always – everywhere.  Are we really listening to Him?

I’ve had to learn this lesson about trusting God has my friend first instead of one who wants to discipline me.  If your friend tells you, “Hey can you do me a favor?”  And your parents command you to do chores, who are you going to want to obey- your friend or your parents?  It may be the same exact thing.  I guess it depends on your relationship with Him…sometimes He’s your parent and sometimes He’s your friend, but sometimes He’s both.  He likes to play Good Cop and Bad Cop at the same time, but there’s nothing bad about Him, but it is to get you to admit and confess what you did was wrong and take responsibility for it.

God raises the dead and dry bones

Ezekiel 37 says:

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of theLord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’”

Many of our lives are in grave conditions and they are so dead.  There are so many dead Christians walking around that are dead inside.  They think they are walking right with God, but on the inside there is something that that is missing.  What is missing is the power and Presence of the Holy Spirit operating in their lives.  They are just walking around with no life and they are caught up in the sins of this world.  When the enemy comes upon them, they don’t know how to fight because they are so caught up in themselves and their own lives.  They are caught up in their own burdens, but they don’t know what God’s burden is.  I was listening to some of the praise and worship songs, that I have selected on youtube, and I find that the ones that bring me into the presence are all about me, and today the Lord was speaking to me, that there is something wrong with this picture.  We know it’s all about Him, but how can we can realize the implication of that statement.  It takes the Holy Spirit.  It’s not just the Holy Spirit hovering upon you, but we have to abide in the Presence of God Almighty through the Holy Spirit.  That is what will get us to what is missing in our lives.  Sometimes we are so concerned with finances, jobs, getting fit, and other distractions, that we refuse to take time to pray and really seek God and His presence so that His presence is made among us.  I mean, this is the God who is more immense than the universe, and He wants to spend time with us.  So in this passage of Scripture, it says, that the Lord will bring the people of Israel out of their graves, and He will put His Spirit in them, and He will place them in their own land.  All throughout the Book of Ezekiel, you see the Lord emphasizing, “Then they will know that I am the Lord.”  All He wanted was for them to realize that He was the Lord.  We know that Jesus is Lord, and that was the same thing that He experienced when He came and He was in the town of Bethany, when He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.

Jesus speaks to Martha:

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25)

And then again to Mary:

32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”

They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”

35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”

37 And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”

Then there is the miracle:

40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.[d] And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

Both times in Ezekiel and the Book of John, God was trying to in essence prove that He was God, but they were stubborn to believe.  God has actually been proven so many times in the Bible and even in the world today, but people refuse to belief.  They have to an act of faith and it is something that you cannot comprehend with the mind or with logic, but it is something beyond that.  It is something that the Spirit of God has to remind you.

Doubt is a very dangerous thing.  Skepticism is a very dangerous thing.  We don’t want to be like Thomas who saw then believed, but we want to be the ones like Abraham, when all things seemed impossible, He still be believed.  Jesus said that if we believed we would see the glory of God.  We like to get into the presence of God and then we follow the tabernacle example to get into the presence of God, but if we simply don’t believe, if we don’t act out in simple faith and trust God, then the Presence or glory of God, will not be upon our lives. The Bible has warnings for us in the last days, that says that many people will fall away.  Even in books like Ezekiel and Isaiah, they say that only a remnant, or a chosen few will be left, so few that a child can count them.  It is a warning for us all.  If I’m not preaching to anyone else, I’m preaching to myself, that we need to not let anything stop us from believing that Jesus is God, despite what our emotions say, or what our circumstances are.  We have to be led by the Holy Spirit, and we must seek Him, until we find Him because we don’t want to be cast away from the One who loves us beyond measure.  We have to endure to the end and overcome all the trials and tribulations, because if we don’t there is a threat lingering for us.  Sometimes we have become so casual with God, that we lose the awe and reverence of our King.  One of the things that God hates the most is pride.  It is pride and idolatry, so if we have anything in our hearts that is exalting ourselves or anyone else before God then we need to come to the place of surrendering that idol or that self-exaltation and laying it down before the feet of our King.

Heavenly Father,

We trust and know that You are our King, and that You are exalted above the throne and that no one else is like You Lord God.  Let Your Spirit be upon us and take us to that next level of Your holiness, and repentance, and a closer walk of faith and believe that You are the very one who can raise the very dead souls who are in the graves, and let them come forth like Lazarus did, and that You have put Your breath and Your Spirit in us and upon us.  Restore us to what we were created for and not to the bondage of curses that have been applied to our lives because of sin.  Help us to glorify You in all that we do and not to seek our own fame.  Help us to surrender our lives to You each and everyday, and help us to have the God kind of faith that pleases You.  Help us to strengthen the feeble knees and the hands that hang down, but help us to walk upright and boldly to conquer every obstacle in our way that keeps us from fulfulling Your plan and purpose of our lives.  Help us to be walking breathing living testimonies of Your living power in our lives.  Touch our lives right now Lord God, and let Your presence be known among us Lord God.  Please protect those that are going under persecution and the Body of Christ in these last days that we are in.  I apply this prayer with the precious blood of Jesus.

In Jesus Mighty Name I pray,

Amen.

 

The Tests of Life

Many students take tests in school and life, and many people learn and get educated in the real world, but how many of them realize that there is a God testing them through tests that they have to go through in life? James 1 says, ”
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Sometimes in life we go through physical ailments, and different problems and we’re wondering why?  Why are we going through all these trials?  James, or in the original Hebrew, Yacov, says to count it all joy when you fall into trials.  You ask how can you experience joy when you fall into trials?  It is because the testing of your faith produces patience.  God is building up fruit in your life of patience.  Waiting for your physical healing, waiting for your financial breakthrough, waiting for everything to work out.

There is a reason for suffering.  Part of that is to partake of the sufferings of Christ.  When we have been fully tested, and we can confidently say that we trust in God, then God will be able to remove the disease, or we will have a lasting crown when we get to heaven.  God is a God of justice and a God of vengeance, and He wants our faith and trust in Him, and in Him alone, but in this society we have fallen away from trusting Him alone for everything.  We have man-made solutions for everything.  We know that God cannot work without man sometimes because He does not have hands and has to use people through His Holy Spirit, but sometimes we forget the power, might, majesty of the Holy God, that we don’t realize what He can do for us.

It seems like ever since I’ve been born again, it’s always been one thing or another.  One area of testing or another, and for me it was mostly physical.  When I wasn’t suffering physically, I was backsliding, and sometimes I had grace windows.  God has done so many things for me.  I am just amazed at how many times He has saved my life on the road when driving.  I’ve had so many near hits and collisions.  I just thank God for the miracles He has done in my life.  He is doing a refining work in our lives making us be prepared to meet Him, seeing that our faith never fails us.  Sometimes, familiarity comes in, when we have seen how many times God comes through, that we don’t take reverence of what He can do in our lives.  We begin to take it for granted.

I remember when I was first born again, there were these ferocious  dogs coming toward me, and some faith leaped out from my inner man saying, “IN the name of JESUS I COMMAND YOU TO LEAVE!!!”  I said it four times to those four dogs and they left.  They went cowering in the other direction.  Everytime after that for a while it worked and I didn’t see dogs like that and I had the faith and confidence to know I had a weapon.  But as time grew by I’d say even years, when I didn’t see dogs in my neighborhood or anything like that, and I faced other trials one even life threatening, that God had to rebuild my walk of faith.  This time it was a lot more difficult especially because I had to relearn how to walk again, and I was only 26 but it changed my walk.  God kept testing me on faith and bringing me from glory to glory.  When I was first born again, I was still pretty much a carnal Christian, but I slowly started to remove the carnality from my life with the help of the Holy Spirit.  I used to not have obedience and discipline not to read the Word of God everyday, and then I finished it once in 3 years and then I started to read it daily until I finished it again in six months.  Importance hear is not in time or how much I read, but in that I was dedicated to reading my Bible and soaking in the Word of God.  I have had times when the Word of God just came to my spirit, when I didn’t even recall reading that, but the Holy Spirit brought it to my remembrance.  We can get to a dangerous place, where the name of JESUS has lost it’s power for us, and when we get to that place it can keep things from happening.  The name of JESUS is very powerful.  Every name has to bow down to the name of JESUS.

In the Old Testament, like in books like Isaiah, and Jeremiah, the people of Israel were often tested and rebuked when they didn’t pass the test.  They would bow down to idols and let them take over their lives instead of serving the One and Only Living God.  They refused to believe.  So God poured out His wrath to them, and some of it is going to happen in the future because God is like a husband who loves His wife and He doesn’t want anything to happen to keep her away from Him.  He had given the people leniency time after time, telling them through prophets that these idols have no power, no authority.  With Elijah He even told Elijah to put these idols to the test.  Elijah tested the idol worshippers if they can cause the fire, and their gods could not do anything, but Elijah put God to the test, and God was able to produce the fire.  “And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.'” 1 Kings 18:20

God is often testing us to see if we will truly follow Him, or follow after idols in life.  We may or may not have statues or images of carved things in our homes and lives, but God wants us to see if we will truly seek Him.  Many times I am sitting here looking at my laptop and sometimes even my television thinking, have these things become idols for me?  I still struggle with the issue of food from time to time and I have to come to realize that these are all areas that God is testing me.

A key link to testing is obedience, if you are obedient with a little God will give you more.  If you are faithful with just a little God will give you more.  You’ll notice that you’ll be tested more severely in your weak areas, which are the areas where there is more potential for faith.  Some of my weak areas would be with food and discipline with what I eat, so for that sometimes I end up with things coming upon strictly from what I ate.  One time I ate from Jack in the Box, and I’m not saying anything bad about Jack in the Box, but when I had clear instructions from the Lord not to eat those things and all I had is 1/4 a burger and 1/2 a taco, but then I felt the punishment for disobedient because I learned that I have to treat the body like it is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and sometimes I have to take verses like “Do not worry about what to eat”, and “Whether you eat or drink, do everything for the glory of God”, in second place to God’s clear instruction to my spirit.  In that case the best verse would be “The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”.   This is a weakness, but I have also learned that if you “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness all will be added unto you”.

Often it’s all about the waiting.  God’s timing is perfect.  When you are trusting in God’s timing then things work out in your favor.  He’s never late and if you learn to just trust in Him and wait upon Him.  The problem with the Jews was when they were studying the Scriptures when Jesus came, they read about that God’s Servant was supposed to come in a certain way, but they didn’t read the parts that followed that if they wait upon Him, then they will see Him coming.  That’s probably why Jesus hasn’t come yet because He is testing man’s patience to see how long and how far they can trust Him.  Will they be willing to wait until the eleventh hour for Him to come to the rescue or will they want Him to come immediately?  The Bible does mention the hastening of His coming.

Wouldn’t it be nice after all these testings to see that you have made it to the end without anything wavering that you have completed your destiny and your purpose, that you have obeyed the will of God?  There is a secular expression that says, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  God has plans not to harm you, but to give you a future and a hope and for this reason He is letting you go through the testings of life so that your patience may be perfected.  So the more patient you become the less you will be tested.  That process shapes actually the whole fruit of the Spirit, so that a person grows through spiritual maturity and more and more into the likeness of God knowing that the Holy Spirit given by Jesus Christ abides in the person.  The more you have been tested and the more you have overcome and not by your own power but by the Spirit of God abiding in you, the more righteous a crown you will receive in the eternal life.  So let us be conquerors in Christ knowing that He has given us victory over the evil and we will be able to stand in the last knowing that we have done the will and purpose of the Mighty God.

Overcoming the Stench of Sin

This week God pointed something out to me about the stench of sin, that was so tangible, that it could not be escaped.  We have a plant, and I think it is a curry plant.  Every winter we bring it in so that the bitter freezes don’t get to it.  We have allowed it to come inside the house until at least the weather is not so harsh.  A while back we were told to put some buttermilk in the plant to make it grow.  So we tried that again this winter.  But the plant is inside the house and in the process of being removed outside as we speak, probably due to a cracked pot, another parable altogether.  Anyway while it was in the house, it was giving this horrible stench, this stench that smelled like refuse, and was very pungent and putrid.  I kept trying to figure out the ways of removing the odor without harming the plant.  While the plant was outside the house it was not a problem, but once it was inside the house it became a real problem.  I was reminded of how God feels when He is around our sin, the stench of our sin, and sometimes our flesh- carnal nature, is so strong, that He is trying to see what He can do without harming the plant, but if the pot is cracked, and the water does not retain, then He may have no choice except to remove it and let outside of the house.  That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t use cracked vessels, because after all He is the Master Potter who molds the Clay. It reminded me very much of the tabernacle in the Old Testament, and how the priests would have to light the incense just so God would not have to smell the rottenness of the flesh.  It was a type and a shadow, of the Heavenly Tabernacle, as it says in Hebrews.

Christians have an entry way to get into God’s Presence, which is shown by the Tabernacle.  To read more about the Tabernacle – you can find it in Exodus, and through other places in the Bible.  It usually consists of the outer court, the inner court, and the Holy of Holies.  There is the lampstand, the altar of incense, the table of showbread, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Mercy Seat.  Just from memory, that is what I can recall.  Oh, wait, there is the golden altar too, I just saw that.  In the Old Covenant, there was a very thick veil or curtain covering separating the inner court with the Holy of Holies.  It was about 40 feet high and very, very thick.  Even horses drawing to pull it apart, probably could not pull it apart.  Every once a year, during the Day of Atonement, the priests could enter into the Holy of Holies, and make a sacrifice for sin.  But when Jesus died, the veil was torn, which was very symbolic and literal for what He has done for us.  Some of us look at what Jesus has done for us, and see the Grace part of it, but we don’t really know exactly what God has done for us when Jesus died on the Cross.

After some of us have become believers, we get to the point of complacency, and familiarity, where we lose the awe and the reverence for God, as in the last video I posted said.  We don’t realize that our sin is abominable to God, and that our complaining, murmuring, bad attitudes, bad temperaments, gossip, laziness, rudeness, fearfulness, gluttony and the multitude of things that we do wrong each day, are quenching the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it’s our own strength that is a stench to God, but sometimes it’s our sin, our own flesh that is abominable to God.

Paul says in Romans 7,

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

So there is this constant struggle and war for believers against sin and godliness.  They are constantly at war.  The stench of sin is abominable to God, but we still sin.  How do we combat this problem?  We are supposed to crucify the flesh, or the carnal man, and put on the mind of Christ.  It also takes knowledge in His Word to do this.  We are supposed to grow in the knowledge of His Word, and not just the New Testament, but the Whole Counsel of the Word.  No Scripture is of private interpretation, and that means that each Scripture must be interpreted in line with other Scripture.  But we are also supposed to watch and pray. (Refer to previous post)

Often times, we put the Presence of God in a box, that we are supposed to enter into His presence our way, but He has a protocol – as it said in the video.  What is the most important part of the protocol- well there are actually two, there is Plan A, and there is Plan B.  Plan A is obedience to God.  That is of utmost important to God, without being obedient to God and His Word, God’s Will and God’s plan for your life cannot come into picture.  But because we are not perfect, and prone to error at times, the second part, is Repentance, which is vital if your going to have a healthy walk with God.  All of this is combined with Prayer, and I must admit, that I don’t pray as often as much as I should, and that is the reflection on the quality of life that I have.  We all know that God’s grace there, and it is always there for us when we need to be picked up, but we must not take it for granted.

Isaiah 35:8 says –

8 A highway shall be there, and a road,
And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean shall not pass over it,
But it shall be for others.

We must not take this grace for granted, and behave in ways that our ungodly.  What is the way that God wants us to act?  It says clearly in His Word how He wants us to act.  One thing emphasized in the New Testament is love.  But it is more than that.  There is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  In Exodus 31:13, the LORD is revealed to Israel as,

JEHOVAH-MACCADDESHEM – The LORD my Sanctifier.

This revelation was brought when it comes to the observance of the Sabbath Law, and when it was put into place by God.
“This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying: 5 ‘Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze; 6 blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair; 7 ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; 8 oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense.
It in the video which is posted on Being Used for the Kingdom of God…there is a part where the person preaching, mentions the spices that Esther used and that it is worship.  This spice is also used for the sweet incense, which is offered to the Lord, and it also says who is of a willing heart.  Jesus was willing to be an offering, but we have to be willing to let Jesus work in us.

As we grow closer in our walk, let us see the Lord as our Sanctifier, the One who makes us holy.  Let us put aside the weights that weigh us down and run the race before us.   Let the Lord purge our hearts and minds as we continue to grow in the image of God, and take on the nature of Christ.  This is how we overcome the stench of sin.  Jesus died for our sins, and when we sin, it’s like we’re crucifying Him all over again.  Hebrews 6:6 says ” 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. ”  Thank God for the hope He has given us for an eternal salvation so that we can come to see Him.  Thank God for His blood that washes away our sin.

As for the plant, it is a reminder of the stench that needs to be dealt with in my own life so that I am a pleasing fragrance to the Lord, and put a smile on His face.

Being used in the Kingdom of God

 

This sermon had a powerful punch to it.  It leaves me with somethings that need to be dealt with in my own life.  It talks about the protocol to enter into the presence of God, and how our own strength keeps God from being able to use us.  We are called to be priests and kings, and this video points out the prospects of being a priest for God, which is the duty of those that are believers.  It is about the process of sanctification.  I pray that this video will cause you to look at some areas in your own life that you might need to change, but as for me I will be sharing what I have learned sometime later, if God wills.

 

 

Fearing the presence of God

After writing the post yesterday about being the righteousness of God in Christ, I was settled in my heart and mind that I was where I needed to be in my relationship with God.  Then about 4:10 AM CST, I was woken up by thunder that was so loud and lightning that followed, that it felt that the heavens were opening up and I had a reminder of the power of His presence.  I was going to write about this fear of His presence, and I opened up my Bible to find the notes, and the first verse I opened up to was, “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?  For You are holy.  For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been made manifested.”  Revelation 15:4

This word for fear in the Greek is phobeo, which we get the word, phobia from, but in this verse it means to revere, or to regard with awe.  But I think this meaning to revere and to regard with awe, actually cannot accurately describe the way that God should be feared.  He is so holy, and majestic, and powerful, that no one can stand in His presence.

When John had the vision of Jesus in Revelation in vs. 1:17, he could not stand in His presence. “And when I saw Him,” he says, “I fell at His feet as dead.  But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.”  This word afraid, is the same word phobeo, but with a different meaning, and it means to be “seized with alarm”.

God was and is so holy, that in Exodus, God told Moses, that the children of Israel could not see Him face to face because they would not be able to stand in His presence.

Exodus 19:10-13 examines this –

10 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. 11 And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves that you do not go up to the mountain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. 13 Not a hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot with an arrow; whether man or beast, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain.” 

Then the third day it happened (it was a three day journey to get from one side of Israel to the other, and when people went on a journey it always took three days) –

16 Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain[a] quaked greatly. 19 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. 20 Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 
21 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the LORD, and many of them perish. 22 Also let the priests who come near the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.” 
23 But Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai; for You warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds around the mountain and consecrate it.’” 
24 Then the LORD said to him, “Away! Get down and then come up, you and Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, lest He break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them.

When God was speaking the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 people were still afraid of God’s presence:

The People Afraid of God’s Presence (biblegateway NKJV)

18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” 
20 And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” 21 So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.

So even Moses was telling them not to be afraid.  The Presence of God is so holy, that the only way He could directly communicate and to have that relationship with the people was to send Jesus down and tear down that veil of separation between God and man that was stolen in the Garden of Eden.  Before Adam and Eve sinned, we can figure that the LORD God was in the habit of walking in the Garden with them in the cool of the day.  It’s very interesting that I just noticed, but in Genesis 2, it says that on the seventh day God rested and sanctified it and blessed it, and in the very next chapter Adam and Eve sinned.  You may ask, “Where was God when Adam and Eve sinned?”  This is just my opinion, but I think that God was resting when Adam and Eve sinned, but He was completely aware of what they were doing.  He was leaving them alone to test them.  So after they sinned, they hid from His Presence, and the LORD God, actually said, “Who told you, you were naked?”  That’s when the fear of God actually came into the picture.  Before that they were in communion with God, and all was good.

We know from the Bible that before the foundation of the world, that Jesus was already slain, in His Father’s heart, and that He had to humble Himself, as it says in Hebrews, so that He could be in the presence of men.  So how are we, as fellow men, supposed to fear the Lord, knowing that He is holy?  It is because Jesus shed His blood that we can enter into His Presence because He has torn the veil of separation.  Before that only the high priest could enter the temple once every year and that was on Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement.

So reflecting on my reaction to the thunder and the lightning it was very similar to the Israelites, but it was different in one regard, that I realized the power, awe, majesty of His Presence, but I was thankful that I still have a relationship with Him and that I know Him and that His blood makes it so that I don’t have to be afraid.  In Exodus when the Angel of Death passed by the homes, the Angel say the blood on the door posts of the homes and did not go and kill the people who had the blood on the door posts.  When we have the Blood of Jesus on our hearts, the LORD sees the blood, and remembers our sins no more.

If it seems that the message changed from beginning to the end it is because I know that even though God is holy and a God to be feared, because He loves me, I fear Him for His awesomeness, and I desire not to sin because who would ever want to be in a place of the wrath of a Holy God?

 

 

 

Introduction to Law in the New Testament

There is much confusion in the Church today on how much focus should we put on the law and how much impact does grace have in our lives.  The Greek word for law in the New Testament is nomos.  The thing that people get hung up about the law is that they think, how can they carry out all those 613 commandments?  In the Old Testament, particularly the Books of Moses, Mosaic Law, Pentateuch, or the Torah, the Jews did not distinguish between the law as we do today.  The term law referred to ethical law or moral law, civil law, and ceremonious law.  Thayer’s Lexicon says that the law mentioned in the New Testaments for the purpose of Christians was frequently used to ascribe to the ethical or moral law.  Jews did not distinguish between the different aspects of the law and combined all of it to one.

Jesus talks a lot in Matthew how the Pharisees and scribes obeyed the letter of the law, but they were only doing it to be seen.  They had no true intention of following God.  They were zealous for their rituals and they habitually following the traditions of men.  That is why Jesus, who came not to destroy the Law or the Prophets, but came to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17) mentions the distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles.  In the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, and the Vinedresser and the Servants, and the Woe where He mentions the that proselyters will win one soul, but take them to hell with them, Jesus wanted to make a distinction between the outward ceremonious following of the law and the inward change that has to come from following the moral and ethical laws..  That’s what Paul is talking about in Romans 7:13-25.

The Jews were taking all these practices and not honoring the heart of God.  Jesus says they would celebrate the feasts, but only to find the best place to sit, and not to honor God with it.  They probably thought that food was the most important thing, but they forgot the purpose of the law of the feasts.  In Matthew 23:3, Jesus says: “For they bind heavy burdens heard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”  What I think He’s saying here is that they put all these religious ceremonious laws as an obligation, but when it comes to serving with the heart of the matter and treating people like they want to be treated, they don’t do anything to lift the burden.  That’s why He says “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Law is very important in society and without law people would go into anarchy.  But this law, this ethical and moral law is based on love and not a bunch of rules you have to follow.  This is where the Jews were failing.  They wanted to hold on to all their traditions, but their heart was far from God.  They wanted to honor Him with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him.  That’s why Jesus said all of the law can be summarized in two parts:  Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.  It is all about the conscience and the development of human character to be perfected into the image of God so that we can be grafted into the Branch, which is Jesus Christ.

Every human being has been created with a conscience.  Some people have their conscience seared.  Even people, believers and nonbelievers, weigh their wrong and right actions by their conscience, but without the proper foundation, which is Christ, sometimes those lines get blurred and you do what is wrong and you think its right and you do what you think is right when it is actually wrong.  People need discernment and judgment to discern what is right and wrong, and that’s where law comes into picture.  Without a set of standards you wouldn’t be able to tell what you are doing is right or wrong.

There is a reason why God made us better than animals.  Animals go based on instinct, and some have been conditioned to operate on reward and punishment.  But they have no sense of reason even though they may be loyal and faithful.  Without the ability to reason and distinguish what is right and wrong and why we made the mistakes that we made, it will be hard not to learn from them.

This is where I think that the Jews missed the point.  They were doing the law, but they didn’t discern what was right and wrong.  They had no conviction of wrong doing.  Nonbelievers and believers alike have a universal conscience.  John the Baptist and Jesus were always talking about repentance, and turning away from your sin.  Nonbelievers can repent from sin, but they have no access to the Truth in which why they are sinning, which is Jesus.  I am not saying that the Jews were like animals, but they were doing all these 613 things obsessively, and they were missing the point- to treat each other with love.

Let me use an example:  You can do all this obsessive calorie counting to meet your quotas, but how many of you can keep that up for the rest of your life?  It’s not the counting calories in themselves that make you lose weight, it is knowing what is the right and wrong foods to eat, and eat small portions, keeping sight of the bigger picture: a healthy lifestyle and when you seem to indulge yourself, then you either burn it off, or suffer the the consequences of eating the food that you did.

In the same way you can follow all the 613 commandments, but we cannot as people keep that up or we will become obsessive with them, and lose sight of the true purpose of them, which is to have the law written on our hearts, and the Holy Spirit will guide us in doing all these things.  The Holy Spirit will tell you if you have done something you shouldn’t have if you are sensitive to it.  When you eat a huge slice of chocolate cake, it looks so good and tastes so good, but deep down inside you knew you shouldn’t have eaten it you know it is wrong.  Even for the people that are skinny and think they can eat whatever they want, they are doing real damage to their bodies by eating harmful foods.  We can’t all be perfect in food, or in our spiritual walk, but we can learn how to be sensitive to know when we are making the wrong choices.  The Bible says, “Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, but both will come to nought.”  Our spiritual walk is so much more vital to our lives than the foods we eat, but in this example you can see that you have to see the bigger picture and not be so obsessive with details.

Nonetheless, we should all keep the moral and ethical laws found in the Old Testament, because not only are they God’s laws, which is a good enough reason to uphold them, but because they are good guidelines for society and without standards, structure, order, and justice, society we wouldn’t have structure and we could do whatever we wanted all the time.  That kind of thinking leads to anarchy and chaos.