Archive for October, 2012

WORKS IN PROGRESS: (Scripture from the KJV)

– That the man of God be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. – 2 Timothy 3:17

– But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost. – Jude 20

As Billy Graham’s late wife Ruth once alluded to, we are all works in progress as believers – we are all under construction (Philippians 1:6). However, God has to be in our hearts – through the Holy Ghost – to clean out all the weeds and tares from our past. All the things like guilt and bitterness that block what He is trying to build in us – namely faith in the Word and Him – not the world and man.  So we can do His will and work – not our own.

This is why just “trying harder” to be a better Christian without His internal help within our wicked and deceitful hearts – those which only He can understand and search (Jeremiah 17:9-10) – can lead to much discouragement, frustration, and confusion as a believer. None of which God is the author of (1 Corinthians 14:33).  That’s because we can often attempt to improve ourselves as believers from the “outside in” – with natural, external, and fleshly means – and our flesh is weak (1 Matthew 26:41, 1 Corinthians 2:14).

Our inner man – our minds and hearts – must be transformed and renewed continually. Becoming and being a Christian is a process, not a proclamation (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:16). However, we can’t do it alone or through other Christians.  Only through the power of the Holy Spirit within us can we make progress and grow the way God desires (Romans 8:26, 1 Corinthians 2:10-16, Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Timothy 2:21, 2 Timothy 3:17, 1 Peter 1:22).


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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– Also, take no heed to all the words that are spoken – lest you hear your servant curse you.  For oftentimes also, your own heart knows that you yourself have cursed others.  – Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

Shimei was mad.  Out of his house he came cursing and throwing stones at David and his men as they walked past (2 Samuel 16:5-6).  Why was Shimei so angry?  Well, he was from the house of Saul – Saul being the one David had replaced as king.  But now the kingdom had been delivered into the hands of David’s son Absalom – and Shimei knew the reason.

David had received what was coming to him – what he deserved – because he was a man of blood and mischief (2 Samuel 16:8).  However, despite the urging from his men to lop off Shimei’s head – David refused.  He took no heed to Shimei’s words – because David saw the cursing as coming from God (2 Samuel 16:10-11).  David’s heart too, had probably cursed others before – as all of ours have at one time or another (Proverbs 20:9).

Words can hurt – a lot.  Many of us have probably been on the receiving end of a few (or a lot) of them at some point in our lives.  They can hurt and wound us so deeply it can feel like our souls have been scarred forever.   More often than not, the person who spoke them had no idea of the damage they inflicted.  As believers, we do have some control over words we hear and read – by making choices to focus on God’s Word and not the world’s voice.  Still, we cannot completely eliminate the ill-timed, injurious, or insensitive words we may hear.

It’s not what enters into our mouths that defiles us – it’s what comes out of it (Matthew 15:11).  Blessing and cursing should not proceed out of the same mouths – but it happens (James 3:10).  Because, whatever we fill our souls with – it will eventually spill out.  Out of the abundance of our hearts, our mouths will speak (Matthew 12:34).  People will speak offensive and hurtful words to us as Christians.  Like David, we must see it always as being allowed by God – perhaps to test how we react.  They’re only words.  Always remember, a soft answer turns away wrath – but grievous words stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1).

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– For we brought nothing into this world – and it is certain we can carry nothing out. – 1 Timothy 6:7

– “The years will come and go – some of us will change our lives, some of us still have nothing to show.” – George Micheal (“Waiting For That Day”)

“Have you ever taken a moment and stopped to think you’ve lived your whole life up until now – and completely missed the point?”  That’s a wonderful line from the 2010 movie “What If?” It’s about a young man who gives up the seminary and a fiance – for a 15-year career of corporate greed.  But, through an angel he gets the chance to see what his life could have been like – and a chance to choose between the two at the end.

Have “you” ever stopped to look around at everything you might have right now and said to yourself something like “Have I missed the point?”, or “Is this all I have to show for all these years?”  Some might not have what they think they want right now – but they are just waiting for that day when they have something to show to themselves or others for all their efforts. Only to say all too often, “Is this it?”  Everything hoped for wasn’t as expected – all of the things worked for only seemed to be vanity and a vexation of spirit in the long run (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

The flesh and blood we all are cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50).  Everything worldly in our lives – all of our material pursuits and possessions – all turn to rust and dust one day.  And, what does it profit it us if we gain the whole world and lose our souls (Matthew 16:26).  Naked we came from our mother’s womb – and naked we will return to the earth – taking nothing of our labor on earth with us (Ecclesiastes 5:15). Only our spirit returns to the One who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

Where our treasures are in this life – so there will be our hearts (Matthew 6:21).  It is difficult to fix our hearts on those eternal rewards that await us up above – when we place our hope and happiness on worldly things below (Luke 6:23, Revelation 22:12).  What awaits us at the end is an incorruptible crown of glory to wear forever – and an incorruptible inheritance reserved in heaven for us that never fades away (1 Corinthians 9:25, 1 Peter 1:4).  That’s the day I’m waiting for – how about you?

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– You shall not sow your vineyards with many seeds – lest the fruit of your seed which you have sown – and the fruit of your vineyards be defiled. – Deuteronomy 22:9

God intends for us to be sowers of His word as believers – not growers (Mark 4:14, Luke 8:11).  The farming and the gardening are God’s job through the Holy Spirit.  Another believer will come along and water – but only He provides any increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).  God alone decides what any physical or spiritual seed ever becomes (1 Corinthians 15:37-38).

Our Father’s field is our hearts, and it is acreage He alone owns. God is the heavenly vine – and we are all merely branches below with no root in ourselves.  Without Him we can do nothing (Matthew 13:21, John 15:4-5).  When we sow any seed from Scripture, we move on.  Jesus told the disciples that he who puts his hand to the plow – and looks back – is not fit for the king-dom of God (Luke 9:62).

Ecclesiastes 7:16 tells us “not to be righteous over much – nor make ourselves over wise – for why should we destroy ourselves?”  As Christians, we can try do too much growing after we sow seeds – albeit with the best intentions.   Discouragement can arise when we don’t see the same exact spiritual fruit being produced at the same time on every tree in our vineyards.  This can lead to stress, struggling, and striving within ourselves  – and between believers.

The bigger the vineyard – the greater the discouragement can be.  Some may even perceive it as being a failure as a Christian in God’s eyes.   This can often stem from a personal desire for heavenly credit or reward in producing fruit only He can create. The worst thing we can do though – is roll out our tillers and go back and re-plow our fields – and sow the same exact seeds all over again.  As if this will be the solution to making things grow differently the second time around.

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– Remember not the former things; neither consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing – now it shall spring forth – shall you not know it?  I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:18-19

– “I finally see the dawn arrivin’ – I can see beyond the road I’m drivin’.” – (“Don’t Look Back” by Boston – written by Tom Scholz, copyright 1979)

Do you have a favorite road you like to drive down sometimes when you need to get away from the house?  If you have one as many do – why is it that particular road over another?  Perhaps it is a less-traveled road that winds along babbling brooks – or it offers stunning vistas of hills, valleys, and mountains.  Or it could be a certain route that takes us past old familiar haunts and neighborhoods where good times happened.  Physically, that helps many people feel better.  But our minds may not have many favorite roads to travel down – and it’s harder to get away from our heads than it is our houses.

The devil is the day and night accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10).  Satan loves to haunt the highways of our minds with present or past negative thoughts and beliefs of our unworthiness and inability to ever accomplish anything.  But it’s never easy to create new paths of future faith when we keep driving down the same old roads of discouragement and disappointment from our past.  However, even past highways of health and happiness can cause unseen accidents –  if one continues to follow the directional signs on the freeways of flesh – and not the Spirit (Romans 8:1-14).

We can’t drive ahead in faith if we are continually looking backwards in our rear-view mirrors of fear.  Only God through the power of His Spirit in our hearts can clear away the obstacles that prevent the construction of new roads and paths for our lives.  Without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).  Only His Spirit can make a plain out of any mountain in our midst or minds (Zechariah 4:6-7).  God can remove any boulders of blame – or rocks of rejection blocking any painful path from the past.  Pray to the Spirit daily for intercession (Romans 8:26) – and don’t allow Satan to put up any more “Detour” or “Closed Road” signs.

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– Lest Satan should get advantage of us – for we are not ignorant of his devices. – 2 Corinthians 2:11

Joyce Meyer once said that she thought Satan was a Halloween character for the first 7 years she went to church.  Mentioning him apparently was too offensive and disturbing to some members.  However, denying the existence of Satan is denying the existence of God – for our Father created him.  Satan also cannot operate on his own outside of God’s knowledge and allowance (Isaiah 45:7). When Job was tried, Satan had to get permission from God to do so (Job 1:12).  If we are ignorant of Satan – we will be ignorant of his devices as well.

Many people who love or play sports know that opposing teams routinely scout each other out, looking for defensive weaknesses to exploit.  Satan is our main adversary and operates much the same way – walking around like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8).  We let him win when we do nothing to shore up our defenses.  How do we do that?  By taking up our shield of faith, our helmet of salvation, and our sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:16-17).   Every time we let our guard down – he gains a foothold.

The things we wrestle against in this life are not flesh and blood. We battle against principalities and powers – against the rulers of darkness – and against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).  We are not protected from the devil and his ministers of righteousness by the physical walls of any church – nor the locks on any sanctuary door (2 Corinthians 11:15).  If God knew where Satan’s seat was in the church at Pergamos – He knows where the devil sits in ours (Revelation 2:12-13). Satan knows he has a short time (Revelation 12:12).   However, if he is not winning anything when we let him – why does he keep playing the game?

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven – where neither moth nor rust corrupts – and where thieves do not break through nor steal. – Matthew 6:20

We cannot lay up earthly treasures for ourselves and be rich towards God at the same time (Luke 12:21).  The Bible warns us many times about the pitfalls and futility of asking for and accumulating worldly goods for personal profit and pleasure – James 4:3, for example.  Materialistic and physical things are passing and fleshly – and all the fruits thereof only lead to death (Romans 6:21).  It does not profit any of us if we gain the whole world and lose our souls in the end (Matthew 16:26).

Jesus told the parable of the wealthy rich man who simply pulled down his barns and built bigger ones to store all the increase of his goods – instead of sharing with others (Luke 12:16-20). What is the profit to us on earth when our goods increase – and the only thing we can really do is behold them with our eyes (Ecclesiastes 5:11) – or if we just have to build or buy bigger places to store them?  And, it will be a witness against our flesh if we are heaping up goods and treasures to protect and preserve ourselves in the last days (James 5:3-5).

All the worldly things we may pray for in this life – and get – will one day fade away.  They will turn to rust and dust.  Our wealth and riches can’t save us – nor anyone we may know (Psalm 49:6-8).  We are running a race here on earth – striving only to obtain an incorruptible inheritance reserved for us in heaven (1 Peter 1:4).  It’s where we will receive an incorruptible crown of glory to wear forever (1 Corinthians 9:25).  And, where our treasure is – so there will be our hearts (Matthew 6:21).

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– And the Lord appointed a set time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord shall do this thing in the land.” – Exodus 9:5

Have you ever wondered – even marveled – at how animals know when it is time to do things like mate or migrate? They have appointed times to do so – but how do they even begin to understand when and where (Jeremiah 8:7)? As with animals and nature – everything under heaven has to have an appointed time set by God – for certain and specific events to happen from beginning to end (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Even the places we live in this life are determined by our Father beforehand (Acts 17:26).

However, all of these appointments come from God alone. Our Father determined a set time for all things to occur before He created this world – including its end – and providing us a means for our salvation before there ever was a day (Daniel 8:19, Isaiah 46:10, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 4:3). Otherwise, we would have an arbitrary and random God who operates haphazardly – seeming to do things just because He feels like it. Would you want a God like that to determine eternal destinies – or to judge this world when the time comes (Romans 3:5-6)?

It is not for us to know the times or seasons God has put in His own power (Acts 1:7). Our Father’s timing is rarely in accordance with our own worldly schedules. Abraham and Sarah tried to have a son before it was in God’s timing – to hurtful results. God had an appointed time for Isaac to be born – but they tried to make it happen outside of His will (Genesis 16:1-16, Genesis 18:14). We frequently get into trouble and difficulties in life when we try to set our own appointed times for life events to happen – usually based on worldly expectations – and then often just assume God is going to play along much of the time.

But we observe days, months, times, and years (Galatians 4:10). To God, one day is as a thousand years – and a thousand years is as one day (2 Peter 3:8). If anything in our lives happens within His will and at the time He has appointed – it cannot be in error. When something happens because we used our free will to make an unwise decision outside of His will – problems often result. All of our heavenly appointments for our life on this earth will happen exactly at the time He has decided – including the last one (Hebrews 9:27).

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently. Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever. – 1 Peter 1:22-23

Sometimes on Facebook there will be a post – usually an internet poster – that reads something like this: “It is always better to love in deed than in words”. No, not always.  God’s love is in accordance with His Word – not this world.  Much of the way the world makes us believe – and teaches us what love is – is really only lust.  Lust is not just sexual … it can be any intense and personal inclination or wish for something.

For example, love is really only lust when it’s given with any prior expectation of getting something back.  It’s also lust when “love” is just an action displayed out an impure intention of trying to impress or please someone of the opposite sex.   When we have any misguided motivation to attain, maintain, or retain favor with other people such as family or friends – we can say it’s because of love – but it really is not.  It is just lust if our primary desire is to keep that status – and it’s often financial in nature.

All of these things are only loving “in need” or “in greed”.  Love like this may fool others but it cannot fool God.  We can do many things in this life that “appear” to be loving in nature – and we will often use the word “love” to describe it all.  Sadly, we can spend lifetimes never really knowing or understanding what true love is from a heavenly perspective (1 Corinthians 13:1-7).  All love covers all sin (Proverbs 10:12).

When we love God’s way by obeying His truth through the Spirit – it comes from purified hearts and not purposeful heads.  It does not appear fickle, faked, or forced to others – not does it feel that way to ourselves.  Our love becomes unintentional and unconditional – a harvest for all others from the spiritual fruit He is growing in us (Galatians 5:22-23).  That’s a heavenly love indeed.

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– But of that day and that hour knoweth no man – no, not even the angels which are in heaven – neither the Son … but the Father. – Mark 13:32

– Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove you – and you be found a liar. – Proverbs 30:6

It was the early 1970’s. People everywhere were still reeling from the turbulent and uncertain 1960’s. The dawn of the new decade brought continued conflict in Vietnam – and then the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 came. We were in the “end times”. Many seemed to be certain of it then – including a guest pastor who came to a church on Paris Hill, Maine. He spoke one Sunday and I think he really convinced some by using all the “signs” going on in the world that some might not even be around by the next week’s service. It’s almost 40 years later and my guess is that pastor is no longer here on earth – but life still goes on under heaven.

Christians are to watch and prepare for the end times – not predict them. The end cannot come until the gospel of the kingdom is preached in all the world (Matthew 24:14). Yes, we now have the means of transportation and technology to accomplish this – but only God will know when that day and hour arrives. When any failed and flawed human projects a specific time for Christ’s return with absolute surety – and Christ does not show up – what does that do to the minds of all the lost and unbelieving? Will this be the cause for the scoffers who will come saying “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep – all things continue as they were since the beginning of the creation?” (2 Peter 3:4).

God cannot be the cause of their disbelief for He does not specify an exact time in the Bible for His Son’s return – but many men and women since Christ’s time on earth have. When Jesus returns, Scripture tells us we know perfectly that He will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Yes, we are to watch and keep doing His work – lest He come and find us sleeping (Mark 13:33-37). However, we all know what happens when imperfect people keep crying “wolf” too many times. Many sheep get slaughtered when the real wolf shows up – because there had just been too many false alarms.

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