Archive for July, 2013

(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– I (God) hearkened and heard … but they did not speak right. No man repented of his wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Every one turned to his own course as the horse rushes into battle. – Jeremiah 8:6

“What did I do!!?”  Did you ever say this to your parents as a kid, perhaps feigning both total innocence and shock on your face?  Yet you knew you were busted – guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.  Did your protests ease any subsequent punishment?  Were you mad if other guilty parties – such as a brother or sister – were not being dealt with the same way you were?  Did cries of “not fair!” follow – followed by you storming down the hall and slamming your bedroom door?

Any claim of innocence for continued sin as Christians – or feigning shock that God would punish us – is very unwise.  If we’re going through any difficulty, we are still rebellious children if all we are doing is saying things to God like, “What did I do … why are you doing this to me … not fair … I thought you loved me!”  Exactly.  God does love us.  So much He wants us to stop repeating the same sins we did as unbelievers – when we were still ignorant about their eternal consequences (Acts 17:30).

Whomever God loves – He rebukes and chastens.  We are to therefore be zealous about repenting (Revelation 3:19).  As believers, we now have the only power we’ll ever have to put our sins into remission – through the power of the Holy Ghost in our hearts – with the same blood Christ shed upon the Cross being sprinkled on them as a salve (John 15:1-5, Hebrews 10:22). We are disobedient fools if we reject this power (Romans 13:2-4, Hebrews 6:4-6, 2 Peter 2:20-21).

Our Father is trying to cleanse us from all unrighteousness if we are Christians (1 John 1:9).  Isn’t that even hard for Him to do if we insist on professing and maintaining innocence in any matter?  If we ever believe our ways have become so clean and right in our eyes (Proverbs 16:2, Proverbs 21:2) – and we’ve reached a point where we think we shouldn’t have to face, or even deserve – any admonishment or correction anymore (Ecclesiastes 4:13) – His truth is not in us (1 John 1:8-10).

Who among us will ever be able to say “I have made my heart clean – I am pure from sin (Proverbs 20:9)?”  God is faithful and just to forgive our sins as believers – but that doesn’t mean He is going to forsake any punishment if we keep repeating them over and over.  We don’t continue in sin so that God’s grace may abound (Romans 6:1).  If we think we are going to go without chastisement and correction as Christians – we are bastards – and not sons (Hebrews 12:7-8).

Now, no punishment from God will seem joyous while we are undergoing it – but it’s intended to make us holy – set apart (Hebrews 12:9-11).  Our Father’s commandments are not meant to be grievous – but to help keep us from getting hurt over and over by sin (1 John 5:3).  If we keep going around with a “What have I done?” attitude before Him – especially to the point where we can’t even blush about sin anymore (Jeremiah 8:12) – do we not grieve the Holy Spirit within us (Ephesians 4:30)?

God will grieve us – but never willingly (Lamentations 3:32-33).  We are to be happy when God corrects us (Job 5:17) – but it will be grievous if we keep forsaking His way (Proverbs 15:10).  We bring everything upon ourselves as believers in the way of any trial or tribulation.  Our own wickedness corrects us. Our own backsliding reproves us (Jeremiah 2:19). If it doesn’t – and we continue with any innocent mindset – there’s no telling what He might do (2 Chronicles 36:16, Proverbs 29:1).

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– And they shall teach no more, every man to his neighbor – and every man to his brother, saying “Know the Lord.” “For they shall all know Me – from the least of them unto the greatest of them,” says the Lord. – Jeremiah 31:34

“Would you like to know the Lord, Mark?”  This was how many believers approached me during the first 49 years of this life – when I was not a believer.  Each time, I would listen patiently while the other person told me everything they knew about the Lord.  After they left, I would think just that – I had only heard what they knew.  Their personal comprehension did little to enlighten my darkness.  Often, they tried to draw me to a church before God finally drew me to the Cross (John 6:44).

They didn’t help me know the Lord any better.  Were they unwise in what they were doing?  God only knows for sure.  However, any human relationship has to be founded and established between two people first – not through a third-party.  So does a heavenly one.  We can’t build on another man’s foundation when it comes to being a Christian – especially if they are constructing God’s building on one that still seems to be worldly (Romans 15:20, 1 Corinthians 3:10-12).

Imagine basing and building any earthly relationship – solely on trying to know things about a person from third-party sources? How healthy would the union be?  How long before elements of confusion, dissatisfaction, or trouble started arising?  We don’t get to truly know people simply by soliciting what other people know about them.  If we do it this way – isn’t it like saying we want to know someone like the back of our hand – but only by the back of a hand belonging to someone else?

Likewise, we don’t get to know God – by knowing what other believers know about Him.  Trying to teach others about how to know the Lord – and dispensing our own personal relationship advice on how to establish a more intimate walk with Him – is not how He desires it to be done (lead verse). Our Father will magnify Himself, sanctify Himself – and make Himself known to all of us in our lives.  God will reveal His righteousness to all – so we are without excuse (Ezekiel 38:23, Romans 1:17-21).

We don’t become or stay Christians by any association with other believers – but by the Holy Ghost (Romans 8:9-11).  Jesus comes to dwell in hearts by faith – through the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16-17).  We have access to God 24/7 through Christ our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). Why would we want to find out how to establish a better relationship with the Lord – from other believers who are not with us all day, every day – like He is?

We run the daily risk of being lied to as believers – and deceived by man’s words – even those from so-called great preachers and teachers of God (Job 32:9, Ephesians 5:6).  We shall be taught by God as believers – without lie – and learn how to have a better relationship with Him through Christ alone (John 6:45, 1 John 2:27).  Not by any of the many enticing words man’s wisdom may teach – but in demonstration of the Spirit and power (1 Corinthians 2:4-13).

Other believers can’t save us – nor can we save the lost by how we know the Lord.  Only God’s grace can save (Ephesians 2:8). This grace which brings salvation has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11).  It was through such grace that Christ tasted death for all men – so we would not have to (Hebrews 2:9).  From our youth – we have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ (2 Timothy 3:15).

Just because we may know the Bible, though – does not mean we necessarily know the Lord and His truth as He desires – we could just be ever learning (2 Timothy 3:7).  However, God has assured us we will all come to know Him – from the least to the greatest – and His gospel while we are on earth (lead verse). Once the world knows – then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).  This way, when we meet our Maker – we can’t say to Him we didn’t know who He was while we lived.

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– In a dream, in a vision of the night – when deep sleep falls upon man in slumberings upon the bed.  Then He opens the ears of men and seals their instruction – that He may withdraw man from his purpose – and hide pride from man.  He keeps back his soul from the pit – and his life from perishing by the sword. – Job 33:15-18

– “These dreams go on when I close my eyes – every second of the night, I live another life.” (“These Dreams“, recorded by Heart, words and music by Martin Page, copyright 1985)

Each day, God goes by us – and we do not see Him.  The Lord passes on also – yet we don’t always perceive Him (Job 9:11). The madness of modern society can create such mind-numbing noises – it can be hard for anyone to hear God’s still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12).  Giving and sealing His instructions of what He wants us to do – and where He wants us to go – as we’re led by the Spirit (Romans 8:1-14).  Things right in His eyes – not ours (Deuteronomy 13:18, 1 Chronicles 13:4).

Quiet moments are difficult to capture in today’s world for any length of time.  How do we know then what we’re doing as believers is truly coming by God’s counsel – and not the counsel of other Christians?  Whether He has led us to do them – or if they’re just ideas out of our own minds (Numbers 16:28)?  The time most of us are the stillest each day, the longest – is during sleep.  Why wouldn’t God use this time to open our ears – so we can truly hear what He has to say (Psalm 121:4)?

Dreams and visions appeared to people throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament, God appeared to Abraham in a vision, saying “Fear not, Abraham – I am your shield and your exceeding great reward (Genesis 15:1).”  Samuel feared showing Eli a vision from the Lord – for it meant Eli could no longer purge his sins with sacrifices or offerings ever again (1 Samuel 3:10-15).  King Nebuchadnezzar‘s pride was high – and it was removed after a troubling dream came to fruition (Daniel 4:5-37).

Following the birth of Jesus in the New Testament, the wise men were warned by God in a dream they should not return to Herod – but depart into their country another way (Matthew 2:12).  As soon as they left, an angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph – telling him to take Mary and the Christ child into Egypt until further instructions were received from above – not below. Herod was still seeking Jesus – to destroy the Son of man – and Egypt would be safe haven for a while (Matthew 2:13).

Once Herod died, another vision told Joseph it was safe to return to Israel – as those seeking Christ were dead (Matthew 2:20). A third dream warned Joseph to turn aside and go to Galilee instead of Judea – for Herod’s successor was there – and Joseph was afraid to go any further (Matthew 2:22).  All these dreams show God knows where we are, what we’re doing, how we’re feeling – and how He can tell us through them to start, stay with, or stop something – or go another way (Isaiah 30:21).

In the classic song “Sounds of Silence”, we hear: “Because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping – and the vision that was planted in my brain – still remains.”  Just because we have a dream – it doesn’t always mean something good or bad is going to happen immediately.  It could take weeks or months to come to pass.  If it’s a warning from God and it’s heeded – we may not see a similar dream for a while. Unless we’re turned away from Him again (Deuteronomy 13:5).

Our dreams can free us from troubling matters of the day – even those between us and other believers.  God can give us the direction and discernment necessary in making a decision to depart from fellow brothers or sisters.  The Lord tells us to withdraw ourselves from those who walk disorderly among us – in the name of Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:6).  Or, from those who seem to be perverting the gospel (1 Timothy 6:5).  But – we are not to take these matters into our own hands (Acts 5:36-39).

Our dreams can also frighten us with troubles – to the point we’re afraid to sleep at all.  The beds and couches offering us an image of rest and comfort – perhaps after a long day at work – may not look so inviting when we’re ready to lie down (Job 7:13).  Our visions have become so vivid and terrifying – we’d rather try to stay awake – lest they come again if we go to bed (Job 7:14).  Sometimes, the dreams are so scary – we can tremble as the hair of our flesh stands on end (Job 4:13-15).

Despite their nature, we must always be careful we don’t take any dream from our deceitful hearts and minds – and make it into a false divination from above (Jeremiah 14:14, Jeremiah 17:9, Ezekiel 13:7).  God speaks exclusively about this in Jeremiah, Chapter 23, verses 9-40:  “I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in My name, saying ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed ‘. Yes, they are prophets of the deceit of their own hearts (Jeremiah 23:25-26).”

Everything in creation is continually bare and manifest before God’s eyes (Jeremiah 23:24, Hebrews 4:13).  Maybe dreams of being naked in front of audiences – or audiences being naked in front of us – are His reminders that nothing is hid from His view. Our Father is always pursuing us and giving chase – even when we’re not with Him.  So He can catch us with His grace – before we fall too far and risk having received it in vain when Christ returns (2 Corinthians 6:1, 1 Peter 1:13, Revelation 12:10)

Dreams with no rhyme or reason may be how we see them – but how will God be qualified to judge us if He’s unaware of them (Romans 3:4)?  Maybe their primary purpose is to draw us away from our own (lead verse) – and towards His (Romans 8:28). The One against us could be God – for good reason (Romans 8:31).  If we should get so caught up in our own lust, self-will, presumption (2 Peter 2:10), and pride – maybe He’s trying to reach us through dreams – before we fall into the pit forever.

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– For they have sown the wind – and they shall reap the whirlwind … it has no stalk.  The bud shall yield no meat.  If it so does yield – the strangers shall swallow it up. – Hosea 8:7

– “It was such a celebrity whirlwind – it became hard to focus.” – Chrystie Jenner (ex-wife of Olympian Bruce Jenner after his success at the 1976 games)

Whirlwinds of this world are columns of air moving rapidly around and around – in a cylindrical or funnel shape.  They have lots of energy – but they’re also very tumultuous and twisting. We often hear about “whirlwind romances”.  Whirlwinds are really nothing more than confused rushes of air – not really having any direction – except to generally travel along the easiest terrain.  They can also be very destructive – and it can take years to pick up the pieces from damages they cause.

Modern life can make us feel like we are caught up in such whirlwinds much of the time.  Everyone and everything is moving about all around us – but we can soon realize we’re just spinning in tumultuous circles – with no real direction.  We’re just going where the whirlwind goes – but not where we are supposed to.  Any debris in the path of our whirlwinds gets picked up as we go – until it’s hard to see where we’re heading. Maintaining any focus is almost impossible with all the clutter.

A whirlwind of woes beset Job – falling upon him in 24 hours (Job 1:13-19).  Nobody could figure out why his worst fears were realized (Job 3:25).  His three friends weighed in with their opinions – all valid – but they weren’t the reason Job had to suffer so.  He had lost his focus.  Job had become so wrapped up in the whirlwind of himself – he became the “I” of his own storm (Job 29:14-25).  He could not see clearly.  It got to the point where his friends could no longer get through (Job 32:1).

It took God appearing out of His own whirlwind to humble Job – to remove him from his own glory and self-righteousness.  To give Job the proper focus again and correct his “I” problems (John 7:18).  The Lord spoke  – “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge.  Gird up your loins now like a man – for I will demand of you – and you will answer Me (Job 38:1-3).”  Job learned the hard way about being caught up in any whirlwind that steers one away from God.  Will we?

We are no longer to be children as Christians – tossed to and fro – and carried about with every wind of doctrine that blows (Ephesians 4:14).  We can create our own whirlwinds as believers if we’re not careful.  Our minds can get so cluttered with such things as the countless Christian products and teachings out there today – it can become hard to focus on where the Holy Spirit wants to lead us (Romans 8:1-14).  We can start to spin spiritually – even getting ourselves stuck.

Earthly whirlwinds tend to follow the path of least resistance – but they start to die down when they run out of energy. However, there are heavenly whirlwinds no mortal man – no mighty mountain – can resist.  They are focused.  God will have His way in them – for the clouds thereof are the dust of His feet. Our Father is slow to anger – but He will not at all acquit the wicked (Nahum 1:3).  The Lord’s whirlwind will be confusing to them – full of His fury and falling with pain (Jeremiah 30:23).

God pronounced His sentence against Israel’s wicked ways in Hosea, Chapter 8.  They had cast off what was good – and gone after other gods.  They had made alters to sin.  They had gone a-whoring away from God.  They had sown the wind.  Now they were going to reap the whirlwind of heavenly punishment (Hosea 8:3,7,11, Hosea 9:1).  Remember, we receive the Holy Ghost because of our desperately wicked hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). They remain wicked without daily repentance (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Repentance is not a recommendation for Christians – it is a commandment.  We are no longer ignorant about the eternal consequences of sin (Acts 17:30, Romans 6:23).  Our Father in heaven is long-suffering – not wanting any of us to perish – but that everyone should come unto repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Failing to repent means we are resisting the power of God in us (Romans 13:2-4).  Of course, if all our ways remain clean in our own eyes – we can have a hard time repenting (Proverbs 16:2).

We only have so much space to do so (Revelation 2:21).  God does not take pleasure in the death of anyone that dies – but desires all to turn to Him and live (Ezekiel 18:32).  However, God has limits.  If those who refused Christ on earth did not escape, how much more will we not escape if we refuse Him who speaks from heaven (Hebrews 12:25)?  Will God then laugh when our calamity and fear comes – will He mock us – when our destruction comes as a whirlwind (Proverbs 1:23-27)?

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– For our God is a consuming fire. – Hebrews 12:29

– Whosoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God … and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. – Romans 13:2

During a recent trip to a nature preserve, we watched a video about its history.  One scene showed lightning igniting one of the occasional natural fires within park perimeters.  The commentator noted many grasses and plants have become resistant to these blazes over time.  Almost everything appears to be consumed at first – totally burned up.  However, nutrients stored in extensive root systems underground – soon bring forth new growths of the same kind, as before the fire.

There are many similarities between how plants grow in nature – and spiritually (John 15:1-6, for example).  When we are “born again” of the Spirit (John 3:5) – it is a baptism of fire (Matthew 3:11).  Our Father begins burning up all things such as anger, hatred, and unforgiveness – so fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) can start coming forth from the cleared soil in our hearts – once cluttered with the wrong plants.  This doesn’t mean the bad plants are gone for good (Hebrews 12:15).

The gift of God has to be continually stirred up within us and kept ablaze (2 Timothy 1:6).  Root systems in nature can spread far and wide and remain hidden from the naked eye – so can spiritual ones.  Just when we may think the wrong plants – perhaps the cares and worries of this world (Mark 4:19, 1 Peter 5:7) have been burnt and consumed – their nutrients in the root systems of our hearts can start growing again … if the fire of the Spirit is allowed to die out (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

When the Holy Ghost is given – Christ comes to dwell in our hearts by faith.  The power of God starts working within (Ephesians 3:16-20).  We are not to resist this – for we are resisting God (second lead verse).  If we do, we’re still stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears (Acts 7:51).  If we submit ourselves to God and resist the devil – he will flee (James 4:7).  If we stop resisting Satan’s devices – or stay ignorant of them – guess who’ll gain advantage again (2 Corinthians 2:11)?

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