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Archive for April, 2014


(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings.  Do not spare – lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. – Isaiah 54:2

– If you put yourself in a position where you have to stretch outside your comfort zone – you are forced to expand your own consciousness. – Les Brown 

Our heart is a muscle – the most important one we all have.  If it stops beating – we stop being.  As with any muscle, our hearts require regular stretching and exercise – to keep them fit and healthy, and from being hurt.  Any physical body remaining stationary far too long starts to atrophy.  Muscles weaken and become ineffective.  Doing simple tasks can result in injury.  The same goes for our spiritual body.

It is like looking at a rubber band seeming far too tiny for a task at hand – at first.  However, if we should gently tug and twist it – without pulling too hard or fast – we might discover it eventually fits around something appearing far too large at the start.  Once the elastic has been stretched like this, it can never return to its original shape.  It is now ready to be wrapped around bigger things.

Bodily exercise profits little.  Spiritual exercise profits much – growing us daily into greater godliness (1 Timothy 4:8).  Stretching our hearts like this expands and enlarges them.  It creates additional room for God’s Word, adding weight to words we speak about Him.  It’s resistance training against Satan – so our spirit does not atrophy into a weak faith.  Physical injuries have to heal – so do spiritual.

This means we have to move as Christians.  It means more than just from the front door of our home – to the front door of our church on Sunday.  It is being led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1) – not by any Christian leader.  They were not baptized or crucified for us (1 Corinthians 1:13).  We may have to relocate far away from home.  Meeting new people there and strengthening the cords of new friendships.

Failing to move as guided makes it easy for the sin of stubbornness to set in (1 Samuel 15:23).  Stagnant spirits soon follow.  It can mean we like our current place in the world better – although we know inside it’s not the better place God wants us to be according to His Word.  Sitting there like a tiny rubber band meant for bigger things – but never having our hearts stretched to see what they can hold.

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– And their eyes were opened, and Jesus straightly charged them, saying “See that no man knows it.” – Matthew 9:30

– Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition. – Abraham Lincoln

Would we ever do anything in life – if people never knew we did anything?  What would be the point of living?  What would we really do at our jobs if we couldn’t put it on a resume later?  Would we ever participate in competitive sports where nobody won championships – and no one received awards and trophies?  What would politicians do – if they knew it would never be put on the nightly news?

What’s the harm if we blow our own horns now and then?  Do we sometimes pretend it isn’t a big deal if nobody seems to notice us much?  Does it really not bother us if life starts to feel like we are blending in with the greenery and scenery, as alluded to in “Take the Long Way Home” by Supertramp?”  If we really did live a life of relative obscurity, what might our obituary look like?

Perhaps something similar to this: “John Doe, 85, passed away yesterday.  He never did much.  He will not be missed.”  However, this certain John Doe did thousands of good things in his life.  Although local library books could have been filled by them, pursuing personal praise and public notice wasn’t his earthly purpose.  Just like Jesus, whose deeds would have filled a few more books (John 21:25).

During a Passover feast, some of those around Jesus could not understand why he tried to avoid personal attention as much as possible.  Some of them said to Christ, “Depart, and go into Judea, so your disciples may also see the works you do.  For there is no man who does anything in secret, while he himself seeks to be known openly.  If you do these things, show yourself to the world (John 7:2-4).”

There are similar scenes throughout the four gospels where Christ charged the disciples to keep quiet about things he did, what he said … even about who he was. For example, when Jesus was on the road with them to Caesarea Philippi, he asked, “Whom do men say I am?”  After answers such as John the Baptist and Elijah – Christ charged them they should tell no man of who he was (Mark 8:27-30).

Was Jesus denying he was God’s Son?  In 1901, theologian William Wrede labeled Christ’s seeming quest for confidentiality the “Messianic Secret.” However, Jesus was not trying to keep a secret.  He just did not want to receive the reverence if his identity was revealed.  It did not belong to him. Christ was simply seeking God’s glory.  Speaking about himself wasn’t the way to do it (John 7:18).

The same goes for us.  Job learned a very painful lesson in humility because of his huge “I” problem (Job 1:11-19, Job 29:14-25).  Tooting our own Christian trumpets is not truth.  It tarnishes God’s glory by putting a varnish on ours.  Whatever glory we may be seeking for ourselves in doing any work for the Lord – is not His glory (Proverbs 25:27).  It is glorying in everything but the Cross (Galatians 6:14).

Pure and undefiled religion in God’s eyes – is the kind unspotted from this world (James 1:27).  It is when we work quietly and privately away from the public spotlight.  Serving all others with the unfeigned and fervent love God commands (1 Peter 1:22) – without fawning all over ourselves.  Without sounding the attention alarm by having to publish our works in the church bulletin – or post them on Facebook.

Christianity is not a contest.  We are to prove our own work, so any rejoicing will be in ourselves (Galatians 6:4).  We are not wise if we compare and measure ourselves with what other believers are doing (2 Corinthians 10:12).  Showcasing is often created when we do this.  Contention between Christians and churches follows.  Confusion, pride, and evil works ensue (Proverbs 13:10, James 3:16),

Until the day of Christ’s return – we are to have faith to ourselves (Romans 14:22).  We are to pray in private and fast secretly (Matthew 6:5-6, Matthew 6:18).  We are to let others who are strangers praise us – not our own mouths or lips (Proverbs 27:2). All Jesus did on earth was to go about His Father’s business.  Teaching the Word of truth, without having to boast about it.  The same goes for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace as in all churches of the saints. – 1 Corinthians 14:33

– In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust – let me never be put to confusion. – Psalm 71:1

Our English word “confusion” comes from the Latin “confusionem.”  It means the mixing, mingling, and blending of many things together.  To the point where it creates a disorderly mind, producing a sometimes constant state of mental perplexity.  Any person who is confused may often walk around a lot, saying or thinking things like “I don’t get it,” “This doesn’t make much sense,” or “That wasn’t supposed to happen.”

This world can leave us confused in such a way many a day – leaving us scratching our heads in wonder as to what is really going on in our lives.  God’s Word should never leave any Christian in any state of confusion.  If we believe on Him – we will not be.  If Jesus truly is the cornerstone of our foundations  – we shall never be confounded – unless we are continuing in disobedience (1 Corinthians 3:11, 1 Peter 2:5-7).

Once the proper foundation has been set, we are to build our holy temples in accordance with God’s instructions (Ephesians 2:20-22).  If we don’t, it is all vanity (Psalm 127:1).  Our churches and homes are bound for great ruin – causing more confusion when they finally collapse (Luke 6:48-49).  Refusing God’s instructions is in err.  We shall die for still using this world’s manual (Proverbs 5:23, Proverbs 10:17).

Also, there are spiritual staircases inside our Christian buildings, leading up to heaven’s door.  If we climb the right way, God promises us we will never be barren or unfruitful in our knowledge of Christ.  We will never fall spiritually (2 Peter 1:5-11).  Stumbling faith indicates climbing the wrong way (John 10:1). Spiritual fruit production sputters – speaking more confusion into our souls (Galatians 5:22-23).

Even more confusion is created if we still love this world, and its things (1 John 2:15).  If our faith consists of trying to blend the world and Word together – we are in great err.  It shows God we are still trying to base and build our belief on two different foundations.  We still want to feast and have fellowship at two separate tables, with two different fathers (John 8:44, 1 Corinthians 10:20-21).

If our affection is not steadily focused on eternal things – it will still be set on some earthly ones (Colossians 3:2).  Any friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4).  If we keep wavering between the world and Word  – it is sure to make us lie down each evening in some state of shame and confusion (Jeremiah 3:25).  We might even toss and turn a little – or a lot (Ephesians 4:14).

So, what’s the harm in wanting a little bit of the world and Word?   In “Reality Church” by Ian Vincent, he writes:  “Christians who do not believe in every truth of God’s Word – will believe in lies by default.  The harm in believing things about God and the Christian life which aren’t true, is it robs God of His glory.  It dilutes our personal faith, weakens our relationship with Him … thereby bringing confusion.”

Vincent continues with this:  “If we are confused, it opens the door for the father of liars (John 8:44) to play around with us.  This basically messes up our minds, because it genders them towards sin.  There is never any neutral ground with God.”   We either buy the truth and don’t sell it (Proverbs 23:23) – or we sell out for more lies.  We either love God completely, or we do not (Mark 12:30).

It is difficult to be content as Christians – no matter what state we are in – if we are in any state of confusion (Philippians 4:11).  If we are, we have brought it to our faces (Daniel 9:7-8).  God has not authored it – we have (lead verse).  We are still trying to finish our faith without Christ (Hebrews 12:2).  We have only put part of our trust in God – despite what we may claim (second lead verse).

Maybe this is why the scene in Christianity today can often seem similar to the riot at the Ephesus theater. Something exciting was going on there.  Everyone rushed inside with one accord.  So, what was going on?  Well, some people cried one thing, some cried another – until everyone was confused.  In the end, most didn’t know why they had assembled in the first place (Acts 19:29-32).

Maybe this is why we are hearing a confused and uncertain sound in today’s church (Isaiah 9:5, 1 Corinthians 14:8).  The world silently took a seat in our pews years ago (Revelation 2:13).  Unsound doctrine crept in (Titus 2:1).  It can all sound like an annoying noise to the lost … as if countless Christians all over the world are absent-mindedly jangling their many keys of faith, belief, and truth (1 Timothy 1:6).

Desiring to be teachers, but neither understanding or affirming much of what we preach (1 Timothy 1:7). Any confused preacher of the Word, preaching to any confused person in the world – must give the devil constant delight.  For if we should be confused at any time as Christians, Satan knows we have swerved away from the good Word of God’s truth – to serve the world of goods and his lies (1 Timothy 1:6).

 

 

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– No lie is of the truth. – 1 John 2:21

– My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue – but in deed and truth. – 1 John 3:18

We can all publicly praise God – and pray to Him the same way.  We can make all the open proclamations of faith we care to (Romans 14:22).  We can all raise our hands sky-high to heaven and honor God in this manner.  We can all speak great swelling words of our worship of the Word – and of our Father in heaven. Others may long to have our same love of the Lord – based on what leaves our lips.

However, how can we say we love or honor God like this if we hate any brother, acting against them at any time, for any reason?  Even if we harbor such feelings in our hearts – is not hidden to the Lord (1 Samuel 16:7, Hebrews 4:12-13).  Whether openly or privately, we make God a liar – and His truth is not in us.  We are hypocrites like the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 6:5-7, Matthew 23:14).

For we are saying we love God whom we have not seen … but somehow cannot love a brother whom we have seen (1 John 4:20).  Our deeds and works are deceiving and wrong – for we are not receiving and loving another with the truthful type of love He commands (1 Peter 1:22).  It is contrary to sound doctrine, for we are not keeping this commandment (1 Timothy 1:10).  It is sin (1 John 1:10, 1 John 2:4).

We may have a pleasing voice, with persuasive lips as smooth as butter – and might sound like a person who can play a well-tuned and well-oiled instrument (Ezekiel 33:32, Psalm 55:21).  However, if we hate others for any reason as Christians – all we have become is nothing more than sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.  It all must be a very confused noise to unbelievers (Isaiah 9:5, 1 Corinthians 13:1).

It has to be an uncertain sound (1 Corinthians 14:8). They may hear about Christian love – but don’t see much of it.   This can make lost people unsure of what Christianity is supposed to be.  Because, even though we may we seem to be hearing all the words of Christ – we are not doing them (Luke 6:46).  They don’t see us loving and esteeming others in lowliness of mind like Jesus (Philippians 2:3-5).

We have been given the mind of Christ as true born-again believers of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-7, 1 Corinthians 2:16).  However, we are neither minding or learning Jesus very well – if we would just prefer a lot of people we may not like very well – would just leave us alone much of the time (Ephesians 4:20-32). Although this can be a lot easier than loving people as we are commanded – it is not the truth.

We may be preaching and teaching the truth, but we’re living a lie if we hate anyone as Christians.  It is not in accordance, agreement, or alignment with the Word (Proverbs 10:12).  We are still alienated from His light and love – when we are not supposed to be anymore (Ephesians 2:12-13).  We are blind guides talking about one thing – but living another (Romans 2:19-23, 1 Corinthians 9:14).

If we hate others regardless of reason – we have sinned against God and wronged our souls.  We hate Him – and love death (Proverbs 8:36).  God made us of one blood, to live among all the nations (Acts 17:26).  We all only have one Father.  We trample on His truth if we deal treacherously (a betrayal of trust) with His covenant of love with us from the start (Malachi 2:10, John 3:16, John 14:6, Titus 1:2)

The first commandment is we love Him with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength.  The second commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31).  So, if we say we know and love God, and do not keep His commandments because we hate someone  – we are liars without truth (1 John 2:4).  It’s not something I’d like to discuss with God on that day – would you (Romans 14:12)?

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– You cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of the devils … you cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. – 1 Corinthians 10:21.

– Heaven cannot brook two suns – nor earth two masters. – Alexander the Great

Just as Jesus said, if we are not with him – we are against him (Matthew 12:30).  Part-time belief is part-time deceit.  Part-time faith in God is fake and feigned.  Christians just cannot straddle the fence between the Word and the world.  We can certainly try, but that usually makes for a very bumpy ride as believers.  Back and forth we go, day in and day out. One master one morning – another master the next.

It makes it difficult to walk side by side with God, and abide in total agreement with His ways (Amos 3:3, John 15:4-7) – if we should keep getting sidetracked by worldly ones (James 4:4).  Wavering between the Word and world is sure to keep us on an uneven keel spiritually.  There is no ballast for our belief.  This makes it easy to get tossed to and fro, and for faith to shipwreck (Ephesians 4:14, 1 Timothy 1:19).

Choosing who to follow is not a once-and done act.  It is a daily decision we make (Joshua 24:15).  Simon Peter was ready to go to prison – and to death with Jesus (Luke 22:33).  Jesus already knew Simon Peter would deny him three times that very same day (Luke 22:34).  Therefore, we have to deny self each sunrise (Luke 9:23).  If we should deny our Saviour – we’re saying good-bye to God and welcoming Satan.

Without donning the whole armor of God each day, we will be easy targets for the devil’s fiery darts of deception – often disguised as very bright, but blinding lights  (Ephesians 6:13-16, 2 Corinthians 4:4).  Just like he did with Jesus, Satan says “Serve me and worship me.  If you do, power, glory, and the whole world can be yours (Luke 4:5-7).”  We can do that, and still lose our souls in the end (Mark 8:36).

We cannot eat from God’s table of truth and faith – and feast at Satan’s seductive spread of falsehoods at the same time (lead verse, John 8:44).  He wants us devour whatever he sets before us to eat – so he can end up devouring us all like a lion (1 Peter 5:8-9). Therefore, we cannot serve two masters.  If we do, we will love one and hate the other, depending on what our desires are on any given day (Luke 16:13).

 

 

 

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. – Psalm 127:1

– And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets – Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.  In whom all the building fitly framed together grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In whom you are also built together – for a habitation of God through the Spirit. – Ephesians 2:20-22

A few months ago, I watched “This Old House” on PBS.  It was an episode where the cast and crew visited a town in New Jersey hit extremely hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  Several homes had been totally destroyed – and wreckage from them still blocked some roads.  Others houses had visible damage externally, but were still standing.  However, the show wasn’t there for such things.

They were in the town to inspect several homes which still looked perfectly fine from the outside.  However, these homeowners were quite concerned about the overall soundness and stability of their foundations. When jacks were used to lift one particularly large house completely off its foundation, what was found stunned one of the show’s most seasoned house builders.

The home had been set atop a perimeter of bricks – all about 5 inches deep and wide. They had been barely set in the ground – but were bearing the entire weight of the building.  There weren’t any l-shaped anchor bolts mooring any of the bricks to the frame. This one was salvageable.  With the home still up on jacks, a deeper and firmer foundation would be created and put in place – before setting the building back down.

The second homeowner was not so fortunate.  Her home’s foundation had shifted and settled so much over the years – from previously smaller storms and floods – the house was unsafe to live in anymore. Little, tiny cracks and hairline fissures had also slowly formed and appeared in the cement over the years, compromising the structural integrity.

To the naked eye, her house appeared perfectly sturdy, and livable in from the outside.  She had shared it with her mother for years.  Many memories were made there before the mother finally passed away a few years ago.  It broke the host’s heart to break the news to the lady left behind.  Her house would have to be entirely torn down and rebuilt upon a new foundation.

We can all look perfectly fine from the outside to others – and still be falling apart inside, even as Christians.  Every little life storm can slowly erode and eat away at our faith and belief.  This is why we have to absolutely sure at all times what foundation we are building our Christian lives and homes upon. Who is bearing the weight of our spiritual structures? Ourselves – or Christ?

A while ago, I saw a preview for a popular TV show. Something tragic had happened, and a woman in the background said, “If anything in life is built upon an unstable foundation, the chances for failure are not probable – they are certain.”  We have to be diligent at all times that we are building upon the Son of man’s foundation; and not that of any another man (Romans 15:20).  So we don’t fail spiritually.

Sin causes spiritual damage in our hearts from the very start of life.  Slowly, it eats away at our soul. We may not see or sense it for years until our world comes crashing down with a big storm we never saw coming.  If so, it will be like the first lady’s home above. We had a shallow and earthly foundation – shaky and barely set into the ground – bearing the weight of all our burdens and cares.

There was no anchor for our souls – mooring our hearts to heaven (1 Peter 2:25).  Like the second lady’s house – several small life storms slowly shifted our faith back and forth – until we really didn’t know what foundation we were set upon (1 Corinthians 10:12).  Little, tiny cracks and hairline fissures slowly appeared in our faith over time, compromising our spiritual integrity.

However, it is all still salvageable – but only with a salve and salvation from above. Therefore, man can lay no other foundation in life – except Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11).  This can only happen if one is born again of the Spirit (John 3:3-7).  This is when Jesus comes to dwell in our hearts by faith through the power of the Holy Ghost – so we’re always rooted and grounded in God’s love (Ephesians 3:16-17).

So our foundation of faith can be laid the right way in our hearts – and our spiritual homes can be built up from the inside out.  Even still, God warns us to be wise – and take heed how we build (1 Corinthians 3:10).  The longer we build upon faulty foundations, the more painful it will be when our spiritual houses have to be torn down – and built up again the right way by godly edifying (1 Timothy 1:4).

God prepared an eternal kingdom for us all to inherit from the foundation of this world (Matthew 25:34). We just cannot go about blindly building our belief and faith without receiving instruction from heaven – and expect to make it there if we ignore it.  We are to take fast hold of His instruction, and not let go – for it is our life (Proverbs 4:13).  We will die without it (Proverbs 5:23).

If we refuse God’s instruction on how we are to construct our Christian lives (2 Peter 1:5-11), we err – and despise our souls (Proverbs 10:17, Proverbs 15:32).  We will be no different from the one who heard words from heaven and didn’t do them – building his house upon an earthly foundation.  Then, when the streams beat against it vehemently, it fell – and the ruin was great (Luke 6:48-49).

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