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– God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and truth. – John 4:24

There has been a TV ad running here in Gainesville for about six or seven months now, promoting various aspects of an area Christian school.  Near the end of it, an voice from off-screen says, “I believe God has a spiritual home for everybody.”  Yes, it’s true He does. However, this house is a habitation in our heart.

Our soul is where all true worship of our Father starts, and then finishes upon our final breath.  Not within the confines of any physical building or dwelling man designates as a “house of worship” – or a “house of faith.”  It does not mean people cannot go to these places, but they’re not where worship is centered.  

Why?  Well, God says the following words to us in the book of Acts: “However, the most High does not dwell in temples made with hands.  Heaven is My throne and earth is My footstool.  What house will you build for Me?  Or, what is the place of My rest?  Has My hand not made all of these things (Acts 7:48-50)?”

In a similar vein, when the apostle Paul was in Berea, he penned these words about Him: “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth – doesn’t dwell in temples made with hands.  Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as if He needed anything (Acts 17:24-25).”

This is why true worship can only be within us.  It begins, continues, and finishes with our last day on earth.  It is why we must be “born again” of the Spirit at some point before we die (John 3:5).  This is the only church plant mattering to Him – for a seed of salvation is sown in the heart when it takes place.

It begins growing, and starts producing spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).  An inner church is birthed, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone.  In whom all the building is fitly framed together – so it grows into a holy temple of God in our soul (Ephesians 2:20-22).

All other forms of external worship are wrong and fraudulent.  They create a feigned, often forced faith, complete with fake smiles.  It can fool many for a long time, but not God (Hebrews 4:12-13).  Being born again is the only way we can be guided into all truth without being lied to (John 16:13, 1 John 2:27).

Otherwise, we can be deceived by a lot of likeable lies disguised as His truth.  We can then be dangerously misled.  With Satan having his own seat in Sunday pews (Revelation 2:13) spewing forth such falsehoods (John 8:44).  Or, preaching these fallacies and errors standing in the pulpit (Ephesians 6:12, James 1:16).

 

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–  But you, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book – even to the time of the end.  Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. – Daniel 12:4 

– Information is not knowledge. – Albert Einstein

We now have more information readily available at our fingertips than at any time before in human history.  If we are not careful – we will call this information knowledge.  If we are not careful in regards to God’s Word, we will call it knowing Him. Our Father warns us through Daniel this increase of knowledge is a sign of the end.  Many will run to and fro, to acquire more – and it won’t be enough.  

However, possessing knowledge does not mean a thing if we don’t know what to do with it.  Much wisdom is grief, and we that increase knowledge – increase sorrow (Ecclesiastes 1:18).  It just puffs us up in pride if we haven’t yet learned to edify others in true Christian love (1 Corinthians 8:1, 1 Peter 1:22). All this information – even about God – just fills our hearts until something spills out (Luke 6:45).

Knowing about Jesus to ourselves is a lot different from showing Jesus to others.  We have been given the mind of Christ as born again Christians (John 3:3-7, 1 Corinthians 2:16).  Are we learning to love, walk and talk more like Jesus daily by obeying the Spirit of truth (Ephesians 4:20-32, 1 Peter 1:22)?  Or, are we just increasing knowledge by learning more verses about Jesus – without living them?

We are probably doing the latter if we say Jesus is Lord of our life –  but we are still not doing what he says (Luke 6:46).  Such as not having learned yet to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31) – or, still not esteeming others better than ourselves like Jesus (Philippians 2:3-5).  Sharing Bible knowledge of Christ with the lost, must fall on disbelieving ears if we are not showing them Christ.

Knowledge is an idol otherwise.  We can increase our intelligence in leaps and bounds – and still find we are insensitive to others.  We can honor God with our lips (Mark 7:6) – loving how much we’ve learned about Him – without having learned how to love others.  In addition to an increase of knowledge, another end time signal will be the love of many growing cold as iniquity abounds (Matthew 24:12).

In general regards to this, author Daniel Keyes wrote the following: “I have learned alone that intelligence doesn’t mean a thing.  Here in your universities, intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge have all become great idols.  But I know one thing you’ve overlooked – intelligence and education that hasn’t been tempered by human affection, is not worth a thing.  Intelligence is one of the greatest human gifts.

Keyes ends with this: “But all too often a search for knowledge – drives out a search for love.”  It is true. Any quest for more Bible knowledge can quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).  We have been given amazing minds.  However, if they are not being transformed daily from the inside-out (Romans 12:2), learning His truth about love – we don’t know a thing as we should (1 Corinthians 8:1-2)

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– But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.  In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them that believe not.  Lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ – who is the image of God; should shine unto them. – 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

Many populated areas around the world still have a lot of nature nestled in nearby.  Along both sides of the Florida peninsula, there are numerous coastal cities and towns with turtle breeding grounds on nearby beaches.  When it is time for eggs buried beneath the sand to finally hatch, area residences and commercial establishments are asked to dim man-made lighting as much as they can.  Why?

Baby turtles have an in-born tendency to move in the brightest direction after their birth.  A natural beach without much – or any artificial lighting around – offers them the best chance of getting to where they are supposed to go … to the life-sustaining water of the nearby ocean.  If any artificial light is brighter, the same in-born inclination to lead the hatchling seaward, will lead them astray if they see it first.

Disorientation caused by man-made lighting results in thousands of hatchling deaths each year in Florida.  A baby turtle’s natural compulsion will immediately make it gravitate towards the closest and brightest light on the beach after being born – whether it is the right one or not.  The resulting glare causes the artificial light to seem overwhelmingly welcoming, no matter where it is relative to the sea.

In this regard, human beings are much like these baby turtles when born.  Right away from the womb, we are exposed to the bright lights of this world. Satan is their power source, and all of his ministers are the transformers.  They do not carry dimmer switches.  We should not marvel at how quickly they can get us to march off away in the wrong direction from the delivery room (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

We are disoriented and lost from day one.  Each and every beckoning light might appear to be the right one to finally follow as we grow up in the world. However, they can often just lead us right into another wreck in life.  Further and further we can move away from where we are supposed to go from the beginning – to the eternal and life-sustaining water of our Father’s Word (Revelation 7:17).

The pretty lights of this world make us easy prey for the one who is always preying on us like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8).  Even if we are moving steadfastly forward in our faith – Satan does not stop (Hebrews 3:14, 1 Peter 5:9).  It’s the same with baby turtles. Even without artificial lights nearby – they can’t stop moving until they get to the water.  They are still easy targets for any predator along the way.

God dwells in light no man can approach (1 Timothy 6:16).  Satan’s lights are both approachable and appealing.  They are tantalizing and tangible, but they are not the truth.  Christ abolished death on the Cross – bringing life and immortality to light (2 Timothy 1:10).  Despite this, death will not be fully destroyed until Jesus returns with salvation (1 Corinthians 15:26, Revelation 12:9-10).

Until then, we are to give all diligence – making our calling and election as Christians sure (John 6:44, 2 Peter 1:10).  We are to take heed the light in us, is not darkness (Luke 11:35).  Why?  We were all born with darkened hearts.  They are desperately wicked and deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9).  They stay unlit through life unless God commands His light to shine out of this darkness (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Otherwise, we can deceive a lot of people (including ourselves) into believing we are Christians, never having God’s light shed aboard in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto them (Romans 5:5).  We can share a lot of Christ-like words, show a lot of Christ-like actions – without having any protection inside to shield or shade our souls from Satan’s shiny lights. The gospel is still hidden to us (lead passage).

Without being born again of the Holy Spirit at some point in life (John 3:7), we remain lost in Satan’s often likeable, but lying lights.  If we still believe we are Christians otherwise – we deceive ourselves, for we are still serving the devil (Deuteronomy 11:16, 1 Corinthians 10:21).  We are still submitting our Christian criteria to God for His approval – without submitting ourselves to Him (Romans 10:1-4).

It is easy to be a believer when we are walking around in a light we like to be bathed in.  When we receive worldly things and call them blessings from above – because God loves us so much to do anything but (Isaiah 45:7).  However, without receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, we are still blindly walking around in the wrong light (Isaiah 59:9-11) – all the while blindly believing it is the right light.

This can make us feel peaceful and safe in the protective-like shell of a Sunday sanctuary.  With our believing heads buried beneath the security of the sand – like baby turtle eggs (2 Corinthians 5:1-3, 1 Thessalonians 5:3).  Playing it safe is not the way to salvation.  When we are born again, we have to get moving across the sands of life towards eternal water. Shining our light to lead others (Philippians 2:15).

Someone once said we have to be careful about the light at the end of the tunnel – because it can just be the headlight of death’s long black train coming the other way.  So, if we are not sure what light we are walking in or towards at all times – we have to make certain (Philippians 2:12, 1 John 1:6-10).  Before darkness overtakes us forever – for letting wrong lights lead us eternally astray from the start.

 

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– Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us – by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. – Titus 3:5

– Let us draw near with a true heart in all assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. – Hebrews 10:22

When you were a kid, did you ever go outside and play in clean clothes your mother had just washed? How much time did it take – at times – for you to get them all covered with grime or grass stains again? When you came in, did your mom say something like, “Well, it sure didn’t take you long to get dirty, did it?” Perhaps this was followed by a heavy sigh, and “Guess I’ll just have to wash them all over again.”

A similar scene plays out daily for Christians.  Even though God’s Word resides in us by faith in Jesus (Ephesians 3:16-17), we still have to go outside into the world to live and work.  It often does not take long for our hearts to get filled and filthy with its grime.  If this dirt is not washed away on a regular basis by God, sin will begin to taint our talk once again (Luke 6:45, Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 3:8).

We know the benefits of regular bathing.  Clogged pores can create all kinds of skin problems if they remain uncleansed too long.  However, clogged hearts can create all kinds of sin problems if they remain unwashed too long.  We can wash outer skin daily with the soap and water of the world – but inner sin can only be cleansed daily – by the washing of our hearts with the water by the Word (Ephesians 5:26).

All hearts are desperately wicked from the womb – deceitful above all other things (Jeremiah 17:9).  This wickedness has to be washed away – so we may be saved (Jeremiah 4:14).  However, this has to be done from heaven.  God has to steadily scrub away our sins – washing them by the regeneration of the Holy Ghost.  If we resist our daily bath by failing to confess our sins (1 John 1:9), we remain dirty in them.

The longer dirt stays on clothes, the deeper it can set into the fabric.  It can often take repeated washings to remove any stains.  Likewise, the longer sin stays in our hearts, the deeper it can set into our souls.  It can take repeated washings from above.  Failing to repent on a daily basis is just repeating the sin cycle over and over.  Our old man cannot pass away if our hearts are not purified daily (2 Corinthians 5:17).

While this washing is going on, we are still walking around in the world and collecting more dirt from different sins.  More dirt requires more cleaning. However, this process will never make our heart completely clean and pure from sin (Proverbs 20:9). If we should ever believe we are completely clean from sin – we have made God a liar.  We deceive ourselves, and His truth is not in us (1 John 1:8-10).

If we’ve been born again of the Spirit (John 3:3-7) – we have a well of water springing up inside us to eternal life (John 4:14).  We are still broken vessels if we should forsake this fountain (Jeremiah 2:13). However, if we believe in Jesus, we shall have rivers of living water flowing from our bellies (John 7:38-39).  We just have to bathe in it – for it is forever clean and pure, no matter how dirty our sins are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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– 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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– 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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– To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. – Acts 1:3

– Every path begins with passion. – Gainesville, Florida city motto

It was God’s passion and love for man from the very beginning – to sacrifice Jesus on the Cross for our sins.  To put us on our passing and planetary path to eternal peace in heaven; promised to us all before this world ever was (John 3:16, Titus 1:2).  Christ didn’t quit or give up because things got too tough during his time on earth – for he knew the effort was for something greater than himself.

The same goes for Christians.  Steve Jobs said whatever we choose to do – has got to be something we are passionate about, or we will not have the perseverance to see it through (Matthew 10:22).  It has to purposed and persistent – despite problems, despite pain.  It is a blaze of belief which has to be continually stirred up inside; but controlled on our tongues (2 Timothy 1:6, James 3:5-6).

If we are not passionate enough to choose serving God and His Word each day – the only other option is the goods of this world (Joshua 24:15, 1 Corinthians 10:21).  A lack of passion for one thing generally produces passivity.  We start doing things just to pass the time.  This births boredom, apathy, and idleness.  It develops an atmosphere of such.  It is a sin much like Sodom’s (Ezekiel 16:49).

We are neither overly hot or cold about anything – just kind of lukewarm about life … or the Lord in general.  This is an extremely dangerous path to be on for any believer (Matthew 7:13, Revelation 3:15-16).  Any devil-may-care mindset puts us on a crash course with said devil.  Satan is always waiting in the wings to catch us in his web and snares of sin again (1 Timothy 3:7).

A distant or disinterested Christian cannot be passionate – or a disciple.  Just as it was with Paul, Satan is a constant thorn in our side to buffet us (2 Corinthians 12:7).  The devil gives us the daily desire to depart after the world again.  Just as Paul dealt with – just as Demas did (Philippians 1:23, 2 Timothy 4:10).  The first thing we are to be passionate about is repenting (Revelation 3:19).

Otherwise, we’ll just keep repeating the behavior of our old man – no matter how hard we “try” not to (2 Corinthians 5:17).  However, we cannot be truly passionate about anything for God as He planned, unless Christ was placed in our hearts to begin with (John 3:3-7, Romans 5:5, 2 Corinthians 4:6).  If not, we are still trying to follow a passionate path – without such passion within (Ephesians 3:16-20).

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