Archive for April, 2013

(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you.  You shall be no priest to Me. – Hosea 4:6

– “I have only come here seeking knowledge – things they would not teach me of in college.” (“Wrapped Around Your Finger“, written by Sting, performed by The Police, copyright 1983)

Albert Einstein once said that information is not knowledge. However, with the explosion of the internet and modern technology in the last generation or so – most of us in the world have access now to more information than we know what to do with.  It is not making us more knowledgeable – even though we may think it is.  It is almost impossible for our finite human brains to receive, process, and filter every tidbit of data we hear or read.

For then we must act or decide what to do with it – or what not to do with it.   What we listen to or view can quickly exceed our intellectual, moral, or theological capacity to handle.  Anything in life that starts to get overloaded eventually reaches a tipping point and things start to spill out.  This can happen to our hearts and brains – and what comes out may not always be good (Matthew 15:17-19).

Randomly increasing our information in-take does not automatically increase knowledge.  We may think we know something, but we really only know “of” it.  Information really just provides us with an “outside-in” understanding of a topic or person,  Being well-informed is not a barometer for our wealth of knowledge.  Knowledge is the fact or condition of knowing something or someone with familiarity gained over time through experience or association.

In the lead verse above from the book of Hosea, the Israelites may have thought they knew God – but their actions and behavior were showing Him they only knew “of” Him.  Because of this, the Lord had a controversy with the people of the land. There was no truth, mercy, or knowledge of Him among them. By their swearing, killing, stealing, and committing adultery – everything they did was contrary to His ways (Hosea 4:1-2).

For this, God told them their land would mourn, everyone would languish with the beasts of the field, and all the fishes of the sea would be taken away.  They would be destroyed – all for a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:3-6).  What the Lord said next to them may sound harsh … He said the Israelites were playing the harlot.  In their eyes they may have thought they were well-informed about God – but they had gone a-whoring from under Him.

Their hearts were set to do iniquity – and the spirit of whoredom among the people had caused them to err from His ways.  This was all turning their hearts away from Him.  Everyone was drawing near to God with their lips – but their hearts were far removed to other gods.  Fear towards Him was only being taught by the precept of men (Hosea 4:12-15, Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8).

We can gather all the information about God we want to from sermons, seminars, on-line searches … and Scripture itself.  We can all seem to know God really well – when we may be only knowing “of” Him.  Anyone can search the Bible and extract a lot of “information” and think they have everlasting life – yet all that person may be doing is repeating a process of always learning, and never being able to come unto the knowledge of the truth (John 5:39, 2 Timothy 3:7, 1 Corinthians 2:10-13).

For Christians anywhere today, not being wise in our own eyes and fearing the Lord first and foremost is the beginning of all our knowledge of Him (Proverbs 1:7, 1:29, 2:5, 3:7).  This is the beginning of true wisdom and holiness (Proverbs 9:10).  If there is no fear in our hearts – how can we say we truly know Him?  We may just know “of” Him – and the consequences can be very destructive.

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– The pride of your heart has deceived you – you that dwell in the clefts of the rocks; whose habitation is high – that say in his heart, “Who shall bring me down to the ground?” “Though you exalt yourself as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, then I will bring you down,” says the Lord. – Obadiah 1:3-4

God will not put up with pride – it is the poison of the entire human soul.  Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 12:18, Proverbs 16:18).  Only by pride does contention come (Proverbs 13:10).  It’s an anti-toxin to truth – and it creates contempt (Psalm 123:4).  Being proud contaminates our conscience and corrupts our conversations. 

It can kill kindness.  It will often puff us up one against each other, creating an almost smug sense of self-importance – with all the self-perceived prominent things we may think we are doing in the world – or with God’s Word (Isaiah 43:13, 1 Corinthians 4:6).  Being proud can seem to pull parted people back together in unity – but all it does for Christians is pull us away from God – and push us perilously closer to the devil (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5, 1 Timothy 3:6).

Pride is a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, merit, or superiority – whether it’s cherished privately in the mind – or as displayed in bearing or conduct.  It goes hand-in-hand with haughtiness – a scornful state of being saturated with blatant and disdainful pride.  Worldly pride elevates man and lowers God.  When this happens, our Father will find a way to bring us back down to earth (lead verses, Proverbs 29:23, Job 40:12).

God will destroy the house of the proud (Proverbs 15:25).  Our Father shall cut off all flattering lips – and the tongue that speaks proud things (Proverbs 12:3).  We are to talk no more exceedingly proudly – and not let arrogance come out of our mouths.  For the Lord is a God of knowledge – and by Him all our actions are weighed (1 Samuel 2:3, 1 Chronicles 28:9, Hebrews 4:12).  The Lord will not suffer with anyone who has a high look or a proud heart (Psalm 101:5).

One of the most prominent players in the downfall and total destruction of Sodom was pride (Ezekiel 16:49).  In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar was deposed from his throne because his heart was hardened with it.  God then sent him to dwell with the wild asses to humble the king.  He was fed with grass like oxen – until he knew the most high Lord God ruled in the kingdom of men – and that He appointed over it whomever he wanted (Daniel 5:20:21).

Even when Belshazaar, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, knew all this – he failed to humble his heart as well.  The penalty for pride this time was death.  His sentence was spelled out in the words of the “hand writing on the wall” – Daniel’s interpretation of the dream that had been terrifying Belshazzar.  God had numbered his kingdom and finished it.  Belshazzar had been weighed in the balances – and been found wanting.  He was slain later that same night (Daniel 5:24-30).

Pride leads to boasting.  Boasting is glorifying one’s self in speech (Job 29:12-25, John 7:18).  It is usually caused by a desire to take personal credit for something caused or created solely by God’s presence and power (John 15:5, John 19:11, Acts 17:28, 2 Corinthians 4:7).  When Gideon and his men were ready to go up against the Midianites,  God told Gideon there were too many men in his camp.

The Lord knew if they won the battle with equal numbers of soldiers on both sides, it would be easy for Gideon’s men to take credit if they were victorious – and vaunt (boast) themselves against Him, saying “Our own hand saved us (and not God’s) (Judges 7:1-2).  When we rejoice in our boastings – all such rejoicing is evil in our Father’s eyes (James 4:16).

Prideful postings seem at times to pepper social media sites like Facebook.  Pride in the accomplishments of self, family, or friends – as well as pride in certain professions, or where one lives.  Our Father has respect unto the lowly – but the proud He knows afar off (Psalm 138:6). Everyone that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.  Although we may join hand in hand in our haughtiness – we will not go unpunished (Proverbs 16:5).

Many people seem as if they’re wondering where God has been lately in this country.  Where is this God of judgment when evil seems to prevail much of the time (Malachi 2:17)?  Well, pride is not the path to peace and restoration.  Returning to Him in repentance with our hearts is (Joel 2:13).  Our Father will not heal a proud nation, but he will heal a humble one (2 Chronicles 7:14).

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(KJV Scripture)

– And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. – Luke 16:15

The abominable things we all have the capability and capacity to do and speak are not good in the eyes of God – He hates them (Deuteronomy 12:31, lead verse). They create disgust, loathing, and repugnance in Him – not of us, but of what we do and say. Christians are not immune from doing abominable things – and we should know better now (Acts 17:30). Some of them are: a proud look, lying tongues, hands that shed innocent blood, hearts that devise wicked imaginations, feet that are swift to run to mischief, a false witness that speaks lies, and those who sow discord among the brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).

In the book of Jeremiah, God had brought evil upon Jerusalem. Because of the city’s wickedness – the Lord had been provoked to anger. They had burned incense and served other gods they did not know. God had sent His prophets to them, rising early and saying to the city, “Oh, do not this abominable thing I hate.” But they did not listen, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness – to stop burning incense to other gods (Jeremiah 44:2-5). We provoke our Father to jealousy when we serve strange gods – because that means our focus and attention is on them – and not Him (Deuteronomy 32:16).

Frowardness is also an abomination to the Lord. In mind or soul, it means perverse, wayward, and difficult to deal with (Proverbs 3:32, Proverbs 11:20). Even though we may join hand-in-hand – being proud in heart is also an abomination – and it will not be left unpunished (Proverbs 16:5). Our prayers can become abominations to God if we keep doing any of these things (Proverbs 28:9). It is far better to turn back to our Father now – and ask for His guidance and wisdom today in correcting any of our abominations. For the abominable are among the many (liars and unbelievers, for example) who shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone – which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– For God is not the author of confusion. – 1 Corinthians 14:33

“Are you always in confusion, surrounded by illusion?”  Those are lyrics from the 1977 song “Help is on the Way” by the Little River Band.  It’s a dangerous state to be in as a Christian, because whoever believes in Him shall not be confounded (1 Peter 2:6).  Confusion is both a lack of understanding and a lot of uncertainty.  It can easily lead to situations of panic – and a breakdown of order.  People who deliberately attempt to confuse others are intent on disturbing them in mind of purpose.  Satan is the king of creating confusion in Christians – it’s one of his many devices we should never be ignorant of (2 Corinthians 2:11).

We can create our own Christian confusion when we continue following – and pursuing vain, worldly idols and gods (Isaiah 45:16).  The riot at Ephesus in the book of Acts is a great illustration of confusion being caused by this very reason. Demetrius was a silversmith making a lucrative living creating silver shrines for the goddess Diana – who was worshipped by many people in Ephesus.  He wasn’t too crazy about the apostle Paul going around everywhere preaching there was only one God – and not any of those made by vain hands.  So, Demetrius rounded up his fellow craftsmen – their worldly wealth was at stake (Acts 19:24-26).

All these men then riled up the masses in the area – and many rushed in to fill up the nearby theater to figure out what should be done about Paul.  However, what happened inside resembled nothing more than herd and mob mentality.  Confusion reigned. Some cried one thing, some cried another – but the vast majority really didn’t have a clue as to why they were there. They just knew something important or exciting was happening when they saw everyone heading into the theater – and they apparently did not want to be left out (Acts 19:29-32).  Cooler heads eventually prevailed and the assembly was dismissed without incident (Acts 19:36-41).

The ingredients were there for something bad to happen – just as they can be today if we incline our hearts more towards the world – than to the Word (1 Kings 8:58, Jeremiah 7:24).  Is there a confused cry coming from modern Christianity because of this (Isaiah 9:5)?  Is there a lack of understanding and a lot of uncertainty?  Has Satan subtly succeeded in disturbing our mind of purpose?  To paraphrase a 1986 hit by Genesis called “Land of Confusion” – are there too many preachers, making too many promises, creating too many problems – and not enough love to go around?  If there is a confused Christianity today – is it being caused by our continued pursuit of worldly gods and vain goods? Is there a recipe in the Christian kitchen for something bad to happen?

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– Now to him that works is the reward, not reckoned of grace, but of debt. – Romans 4:4

– Every one loves gifts, and follows after rewards. – Isaiah 1:23

The world tells us if we want something bad enough in this life, we must work hard for it. Otherwise, we don’t really deserve things like awards, gifts, promotions, raises, and recognition – to name a few. Those who are dedicated and put their proverbial noses to the grindstone can often get mad and frustrated over time when they don’t get those things they believe they’ve earned.

Especially when they see the ones who seem to be lazy and slacking off – walk off with what they wanted. This leads to bean-counting and keeping score – and we start comparing and measuring our work efforts with others (2 Corinthians 10:12). Some then set out to work harder – some just give up with a “what does it matter?” approach.

This attitude does not belong in the mind of Christians. It strongly indicates a works-based approach – not a servant-based approach – in doing anything for God. It also implies an intentionally personal – and privately profitable mindset in being a believer. Sadly, some were like this back in Biblical times – and there will be some like this in modern times (Job 34:9, Job 35:3, Malachi 3:14, Titus 1:11, 1 Peter 5:2).

As Christians, we are to set our eyes on things above – where neither moth or rust corrupts. This is where our treasure is – and where our hearts should be as well (Matthew 6:19-21, Colossians 3:2). Otherwise, we’re telling God we’re seeking something better down below (Hebrews 11:13-16).

All the work we do for the Lord is our reward – not a means to get one in this world. We have a debt to repay to our Father for what He did for us on the Cross (lead verse above). Yes, faith without works is dead (James 2:20). Remember, though – we will be saved by grace through faith – not by works, lest should any of us boast (Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 Peter 1:9-13).

Our faith and belief without works still counts as righteousness before God (Romans 4:3,5). When we do labor for God – we must be careful to maintain good works – not works to get goods (Titus 3:8). If our works are unfruitful, deceitful, worldly, and wrong – and wrought with envy and strife – confusion and evil works will enter in (James 3:16, 1 Corinthians 14:33).

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me – and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. – Job 3:25

– “If it all fell to pieces tomorrow, would you still be mine?” –  (“Take it to the Limit” by the Eagles, copyright 1975, written by Randy Meisner, Don Henley, and Glenn Frey)

Life must have seemed pretty good for Job.  He had a large family, lots of friends, and plenty of livestock (Job 1:1-6).  People came from all around to hear his counsel (Job 29:21-22).  Yet Job had this nagging anxiety in the back of his mind – in the bottom of his heart – about having it all fall to pieces.  And, it did in one day – his worst fears were realized (Job 1:13-19).

Satan surmised Job’s faith and trust in our heavenly Father were only because he trusted in earthly riches and favor.  It was a hedge (Job 1:10).  The devil declared to the Lord that if this hedge were cut to shreds, Job would curse God to His face. Permission was granted from above to test Job below.  Satan was allowed to take almost everything away (Job 1:13-19).  It all fell to pieces – but Job did not sin because of it, nor did he charge God foolishly (Job 1:22).

However, the devil wasn’t done.  He believed Job would give everything he had for his own life – so God permitted Satan to step up his attack and smite Job with sores from his head to his feet (Job 2:4-7).  Once again, Job retained his integrity.  He would not curse God – even though his wife wanted him to.  Despite his worst fears coming to fruition, he told her, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God – and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:9-10, Isaiah 45:7).

Job did not faint in his day of adversity (Proverbs 24:10).  Although he did not understand at first why all these bad things had befallen him – Job’s faith did not falter, and his focus on God remained firm.  He did not become unwise in questioning God as to why his former days of favor and blessings were not like the time he was going through now (Ecclesiastes 7:10).

When we have many riches like Job did – we must not set our hearts upon them – for they make themselves wings (Psalm 62:10, Proverbs 23:5).  We are to be joyful in any day of prosperity we may encounter.  However, in our days of adversity – we are to consider that God has set one over the others – to the end that man should find nothing after himself (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

God has promised to supply all our we need according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).  Not what we “think” we need – but what He already knows we require long before we do (Matthew 6:8).  If whatever prosperity any of us has right now were to fall to pieces at any time – as we perceive by worldly standards – we would still be God’s.  However, would we still believe in Him?  Or would we sin with our lips – charging and cursing our Father foolishly?

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– And Moses‘ father-in-law said to him, “This thing that you do is not good.  You will surely wear away both yourself and these people who are with you.  For this thing is too heavy for you – and you will not be able to perform it alone.” – Exodus 18:17-18

Great men are not always wise (Job 32:9).  Even Moses needed sound, godly counsel from time to time – and he certainly got it from his father-in-law Jethro above.  Leading the Israelites through the wilderness into the Promised Land had been under a direct commandment from God.  Now that they had arrived, Moses’ sitting to judge the people and give them counsel from morning to night – was not by any guidance from above (Exodus 18:13-16).

Jethro knew this would wear everyone out – especially his son-in-law – and that not much else could be accomplished.  He told Moses to seek out other godly men in the camp – men of truth who hated covetousness.  Once these men had been found, Moses could then teach them the ordinances and laws – and in which way they should walk – and what they should do.  This way, the smaller matters could be handled by these men – leaving the more difficult ones for Moses (Exodus 18:19-23).

We can’t do it all by ourselves as Christians.  Trying to do too much alone – or even with a handful of others – can quickly wear us out.  Even when we may believe things we’re doing in His name are maintaining works that are good – we can be wrong and unwise.  This is because we’re only doing things that are right in our own eyes (1 Chronicles 13:4) – but not in God’s. (Deuteronomy 13:18).

Instead, we must learn to maintain good works in His eyes – so they don’t become unfruitful (Titus 3:14).  Sometimes this means taking it a bit slower, resting, seeking godly counsel from others – and praying to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26). If anything in our Christian lives or churches is causing worry, stress, dissent, confusion, and strife – there’s a real good chance we will be reaping burdensome heartaches rather than bountiful harvests.

As believers living in an often hectic modern world, we can still be like Moses back then and try to do too much.  Our Christians lives can become so harried that we can quickly find ourselves so busy with meaningless tasks that we can actually forget about God.  When Moses and Aaron went in to plead for the Pharaoh to let their people go – the Pharaoh turned around and increased the workload of the Israelites. He wanted them to become so busy making bricks with wrong materials that they would not have time to think about God or sacrificing anything to Him  (Exodus 5:1-17)

Staying busy should never serve as a benchmark or barometer for being or becoming a better believer.  Spiritual growth can become sparse and spotty when the soil of our hearts is stressed.  All soil needs rest to recover and recuperate – otherwise it will become fallow and unfruitful (Leviticus 25:5).  Spiritual harvests can become defiled and marred when we sow our vineyards with many seeds – then go back and try to grow everything ourselves (Deuteronomy 22:9, Luke 9:62, 1 Corinthians 3:6).

We will always reap what we sow as Christians (Galatians 6:7).  All of our seeds won’t fall on fertile ground – some will fall among the thorns (Jeremiah 4:3).  If we sow the whirlwind – we will reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7).  And, if we continue sowing to the flesh as believers – we shall only reap corruption – no matter how great and wise we may think ourselves to be (Galatians 6:8).  However, if sow to ourselves righteousness and to the Spirit – we shall reap in mercy and life everlasting (Hosea 10:12, Galatians 6:8).

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