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Posts Tagged ‘1 Kings’


(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers; especially they of the circumcision.  Whose mouths must be stopped – who subvert whole houses teaching things which they ought not for filthy lucre’s sake. – Titus 1:10-11

– For the love of money is the root of all evil.  Which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. – 1 Timothy 6:10

Money taints and money talks – and it can rapidly turn any house of God into a den of robbers.  Money corrupts, causing people to behave dishonestly and fraudulently against others and God.  Obtained in such a sordid manner, money is known as lucre, and arouses moral distaste in the mouths of others.

Lucre soils the soul with lust and spoils godly love (1 Peter 1:22).  Following its filth keeps any Christian far from heaven (Mark 7:6), despite feigned words often smooth as butter to the contrary of following Jesus (Psalm 55:21).  Unbelievers can stay far from the Word if they see believers “in it” for worldly gain.

However, people following the path of dishonest profit and lucre is nothing new to God (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10). It can exist as much in the church as outside of it.  In Jeremiah’s days, Judah was so saturated with idolatry and immorality, they could not see they had made God’s house into a den of robbers (Jeremiah 7:11).

We see similar money scenes in the New Testament. Simon the sorcerer thought the gift of the Holy Ghost could be bought with money.  Although he had been baptized with water, Peter told Simon his heart wasn’t right with God (Acts 8:13-21).  The Spirit couldn’t be received, as he was still in iniquity’s bond (Acts 8:23).

Jesus was recorded as being angry just once – when He went into God’s temple and cast out those who bought and sold within (Luke 19:45).  Overthrowing the tables of the money changers, and upsetting the seats of dove sellers (Mark 11:15).  No one must ever have to buy something and pay a price to hear Christ.

These people had turned God’s house of prayer into a house of profit – a deceitful den of greedy thieves (Matthew 21:13).  A pack of grievous wolves Paul warns us about, who speak perverse things to draw disciples after them (Acts 20:29-30).  Altering and distorting God’s gospel for dollars (Galatians 1:6-7).

And, Titus warns us of whole houses being subverted, with preachers teaching things they should not for filthy lucre’s sake (lead verse).  They are greedy dogs who can never have enough; nor understand (Isaiah 56:11).  Scratching itching ears with unsound words; but sure sounding good (2 Timothy 4:3, Titus 2:1).

Getting those in the pews to turn away from truth – and to fables (2 Timothy 4:4).  This is when people get tired about hearing the plain gospel of Christ, the one preaching against worldly gain (Matthew 6:19-20).  Dull of listening to such (Hebrews 5:11), and weary of being unprofitable servants (Luke 17:7-10).

We are to buy the truth placed inside us a Christians, and not sell it.  Nor, are we to market and charge for any godly wisdom, understanding, or instruction we have acquired (Proverbs 23:23).  Paul would work occasionally as a tent maker so he could come to people and preach without gainsaying (Acts 10:29).

Again, goals of earthly gain is not new to God.  There were those back in Old Testament days who couldn’t see any worldly profit by following His ways; including Job.  Job had said “What profit shall I have, if I am cleansed from my sins (Job 35:1-3)?”  Some men in Malachi’s times had similar minds (Malachi 3:14).

God will give us a mouth and wisdom to where our adversaries will be unable to gainsay from – or resist what we speak (Luke 21:15).  However, gainsayers want others to turn from attending to truths of the Word.  Leading greedy souls astray with deceptive words of how to get profit from it (Matthew 24:4).

This has led to ungodly pursuits like the creation of Christian investment programs.  Where participants pool their money and put it into such, so they can all be of one purse when they get a profitable return. Exacting more than God has appointed; and filling their homes with spoil (Luke 3:13, Proverbs 1:13-14).

Greed is an intense and selfish desire for gain.  It has also fueled the explosive growth of merchandising His Word.  It’s turned the church into one giant mall of countless products for Christians to purchase.  This is deceiving masses into believing spiritual growth can occur by spending money on such – over and over.

The damnation of all those who market Christian merchandise for even a penny – does not slumber (2 Peter 2:3).  Those who preach for profit are running greedily after the error of Balaam for reward.  They’re heading for woe – and shall perish in the gainsaying of Core if not repented of (Jude 1:11, Luke 13:3).

All for a love of money and lucre.  All because their god is their belly, and their belief is based on bank account balances.  Bolstered when there is more – bottoming out when there is less.  Minding earthly matters like money and materialism, but whose end is always destruction (Philippians 3:19).

Given everything written so far, keep in mind money by itself is neutral.  If left out of mortal hands, it is harmless.  However, when one has just a little bit of money, it can start wreaking havoc in any home – any life.  Challenging and questioning one’s motives for doing anything, even within a church or ministry.

Even if money is gained honorably from God through humble obedience (e.g. Malachi 3:10, Luke 6:38), it can put people at odds with Him.  Creating more problems than providing any lasting sense of inner peace.  They are never fully satisfied with having riches once dreamed of in the past (Proverbs 27:20).

At one time, Solomon was richer and wiser than any king on earth (1 Kings 10:23).  He had obtained this fortune through unselfish means (2 Chronicles 1:11-12).  Because of this, there was a later time where Solomon withheld no joy from his heart.  He could have whatever he set his eyes on (Ecclesiastes 2:10).

It was not enough.  Solomon foolishly began doing evil in God’s sight.  His father David had fully gone after the Lord – Solomon did not in disobedience (1 Kings 11:6, Acts 13:22, Mark 12:30).  It caused God to stir up an adversary for Israel and Solomon the rest of his days as king (1 Kings 11:14-25).

Wealth can make people many friends.  However, it can make them wonder who their real ones are, and who would disappear when the money does (Proverbs 19:4).  In a similar vein, wealth can cause people to live in constant worry of having worst fears realized. Losing all their riches, regardless of reason or season.

This happened to another man of God in Scripture – Job (Job 3:25).  Worldly prosperity will always drive a wedge between even how the most upright believers (Job 1:8) talk of following God, and how they actually walk.  Spirits must never waver or wander – spiking or dipping based on having favorable finances or not.

Earthly riches are hedges for honoring God.  It is easy to raise hands to heaven and praise His name when one has the money they want.  However, it is a hedge Satan is always ready to cut down.  All he needs is a green light from God as with Job.  Job lost everything short of his life and wife in one day (Job 1:2-3, 9-19)

Jesus warned that our lives do not consist in the abundance of things we possess (Luke 12:15).  We brought nothing into this world – and it is certain we can carry nothing out (1 Timothy 6:7).  What does it profit if we gain the whole world and lose our soul in the end?  One penny can’t save us (Matthew 16:26).

As Christians, we serve the Messiah or Mammon (Luke 16:13).  We cannot do both (1 Corinthians 10:21).  Mammon is wealth considered as an evil influence, or a false object of worship and devotion. Pursuing it debases and demeans God.  It shows Him where faith is really focused (Colossians 3:2).

Those who will be rich in this life fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts; drowning them in the worldly waters of destruction and perdition (1 Timothy 6:9).  Those who are rich are charged not to be high-minded.  They are not to trust in uncertain riches, but God (1 Timothy 6:17).

Regardless, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than it is for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (Mark 10:25).  Riches do not profit in the day of our death, but righteousness will deliver us from it (Proverbs 11:4).  The former will cause falling, the latter flourishing (Proverbs 11:28).

Jesus Christ is the only foundation we can lay and build upon as believers.  God warns us to take heed how we build on it (1 Corinthians 3:10-11).  Chasing after greenbacks or greed is building upon a flimsy foundation of Mammon, and another man’s – but not the Son of Man’s (Luke 6:48-49, Romans 15:20).

We are to follow spiritual riches and desire such gifts from our Father.  These are the peaceable fruits He commands us to produce until death (Galatians 5:22-23, Acts 17:30, John 15:16). – meet for repentance (Matthew 3:8).  It is so our faith grows exceedingly, as does our love towards all (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

If we earnestly covet these best gifts, God will show us a more excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:4-31).  If we desire something, then we do all we can to get it. Spiritual gifts cannot come from spending or seeking money, but by spending alone time with God and His Word – away from the steady noise of the world.

We do this through private prayer (Matthew 6:6), studying the Bible to be approved to Him (2 Timothy 2:15), and by being doers of the Word – not just hearers (James 1:22).  This is the godly exercise required to gain contentment in life.  This is how we gain the profit and promise of heaven (1 Timothy 6:6)

Broad is the road to destruction (Matthew 7:13).  God warns us not to err from our walk on the straight and narrow (James 1:16, Matthew 7:14).  Satan is always waiting to lead us away to a faith shipwreck (2 Peter 3:17, 1 Timothy 1:19).  Instead of the Almighty – following the almighty dollar is a sure-fire way to err.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– And Jesus said to him, “No man having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:62

– Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul – seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?  Fill your horn with oil, and go.” – 1 Samuel 16:1

The Sower” is a painting by van Gogh.  It shows a stark country setting.  A simple farmhouse sits far off in the background.  The foreground shows a young man walking across a dirt field with a seed bag slung over his shoulder – the sun blazing above.  His gaze is fixed ahead as he scatters seeds behind – unaware a few birds have gathered there; already eating some of them.  It is a good illustration of the lead verse.

A bad illustration is sitting in the same Sunday seats week after week, year after year.  Doing so develops a complacent Christian life not in accordance with God’s Word.  The more we feel at home here in our body – including that of a church – the more we’re absent from the Lord.  We don’t want to be found naked at the end because we clothed ourselves in the comfort of any physical church (2 Corinthians 5:1-6).

This is not God’s idea of spiritual farming.  Failing to move when God commands is stubbornness.  When He told Noah to build the ark – Noah moved with fear (Hebrews 11:7).  He didn’t tell God it wasn’t a good time.  Stubbornness is a sin (1 Samuel 15:23).  It is a refusal to move in accordance with the Word, because one is still conformed to the world (Romans 12:1-2). It is remaining in a state of disobedient unbelief.

We don’t see people chosen by God to follow Him (John 15:16) like Moses, David, and Paul attending weekly Sunday church services or mid-week Bible studies.  Then, wandering about in the world outside of those times, wondering what God wanted them to do.  Jesus did not hang on a Cross for us to hang around in an idle haze, confused at any time about what God wants us to do (1 Corinthians 14:33).

There are many reasons why we have to be on the move much of the time.  One reason is God always has something for us to do – as long as He is the One leading us by the Spirit (Romans 8:1).  We cannot make things up in our minds as some accused Moses of doing (Numbers 16:28).  God warns us of having false dreams or lying divinations; misled by them – or misleading others (Jeremiah 23:32, Ezekiel 13:6-7).

While Samuel mourned over God’s rejection of Saul as Israel’s king – Samuel was going to be of no use to Him sitting in the same place too long (second lead verse).  There was a new king to go find and anoint. Still, Samuel didn’t wander off without a clue, hoping he would happen upon the right person.  God had set directions and instructions for Samuel, as is always the case with us (1 Samuel 16:1-13, Proverbs 5:23).

Another reason we have to keep moving is because we are all being pursued by the devil.  Satan is a spiritual predator who does not sleep.  He always knows where we are and who we are (Job 1:6-11, Acts 19:15) – roaring about like a lion seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8-9).  It’s easier for physical predators to attack and kill sick, weak, or stationary targets.  It’s easier for Satan to do the same.

God designed our bodies – physical and spiritual – to move.  A third reason for both to be in movement is it promotes health and healing.  As Christians, we are not our own anymore.  We have been bought with a price, and we are to glorify God in our body and our spirit; which are His (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Lack of use with either leads to atrophy; a gradual decline in vigor or effectiveness due to underuse or neglect.

Any person in such a state often wants or requires others to do things for them physically or spiritually. In the book of John, a man with an infirmity (physical weakness) had sat by the pool at Bethesda – for 38 years.  Many other impotent people were also there. An angel would enter the pool in a certain season and stir it up.  After this troubling of the waters, the first person in after would be made whole (John 5:2-5).

When Jesus saw this man – He knew the man had been infirm a long time.  Christ asked, “Do you want to be made well?”  The man replied, “Sir, I have no man to put me in the pool when the water is troubled. But, while I am coming, another steps down before me.”  Jesus said, “Rise, take your bed and walk.”  The man did and was immediately healed (John 5:6-8). Christ never touched him.  Jesus simply said “Move.”

Movement prevents us from having too much idle time on our hands.  Idle time leads to idle words we will all give account of on judgement day (Matthew 12:36).  It also creates idol walks and talks, and worldly conversations we are not to have (Exodus 23:13, 2 Corinthians 1:12).  In addition to other sins like pride, an abundance of idleness led to God’s fiery destruction of Sodom (Ezekiel 16:49, Genesis 19:24).

Movement does not mean staying busy all the time. When the Pharaoh oppressed Israel, he wanted them to be so busy making bricks, they wouldn’t have time to make sacrifices for God.  This is too busy (Exodus 5:6-8).  We have to stop from time to time to clearly hear God’s still, small voice – to get new instructions as Elijah did (1 Kings 19:11-15).  However, once we do – we move with fear and without delay like Noah.

Staying in one place too long leads to familiarity. Familiarity tends to breed contemptuous, complacent, careless, and/or lukewarm spirits.  Such ungodly attributes arise from getting too accustomed to something or someone.  Relaxed Christians are the end result (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8).  Even in their churches where Satan could be sitting, or preaching from the pulpit (Revelation 2:13, Ephesians 6:12).

If we move ahead and don’t look back in accordance with God’s Word (lead verse), in humble obedience to His commands unto death (Philippians 2:8) – we’re doing His will.  God’s charge in Matthew 24:14 can’t be fulfilled any other way.  If we sit still in one place too long, the sin of stubbornness is sure to stagnate our spiritual growth.  This gives place to Satan and plenty of room to devour us (Ephesians 4:27).

Much like the style of van Gogh’s “The Sower” – we’re to sling a spiritual seed bag over our shoulder and set out across the farmlands of faith.  Sowing the Word of God as our seed as He leads us by the Spirit (Mark 4:14, Luke 8:11).  Not looking back over our shoulder to see if they are landing on stony ground – or if the devil is there to take them away, or we’re not fit for God’s kingdom of heaven (Mark 4:15-16, lead verse).

This keeps us from sowing the same spiritual fields over and over.  When farmers of God’s physical fields do this year after year, the dirt becomes stressed and unfruitful.  The same goes for the spiritual soil of our hearts.  Instead, we scatter a handful of seeds on the ground and move on ahead.  God will send another person along to water it – but He alone will be the One to provide the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Only God decides what any physical or spiritual seed will ever become, giving each one its own body as it pleases Him (1 Corinthians 15:37-38).  We can’t grow seeds planted in human hearts into producing spiritual fruits God commands them to become in ourselves or any other person (Galatians 5:22-23).  If we try to, we only defile His crop (Deuteronomy 22:9).  This doesn’t move anyone closer to heaven, does it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving – let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God – which passes all understanding – shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

– We pray not to inform God or instruct Him, but to beseech Him closely.  To be made intimate with Him, by continuance in supplication; to be humbled; to be reminded of our sins. – John Chrysostom

Supplication seems to be a word not attached much anymore to how and why we pray – or who and what we pray for.  It is the action of asking God earnestly (serious in intention and purpose) out of our humble hearts.  It is not presenting Him a list of demands as if He has to keep proving and demonstrating His love for us – over and over again – by giving us what we want (Psalm 23:1).  Once was enough at the Cross.

God promises to supply all our need according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).  Therefore, supplication isn’t trying to get more for ourselves.  It is learning to love others more and transgress less ourselves – how and why God commands us to (1 Peter 1:22, Acts 17:30).  So our intent and purpose in prayer becomes seeking His constant help in keeping our hearts pure and purged from sin.

So, when God shows us compassion in forgiving our sins according to His truth, we can then show the same compassion to others in forgiving their sins against us (1 Kings 8:46-50).  Our Father’s mercy towards us in this regard – not giving us what we deserve each time we sin (Hebrews 2:2-3) – is to be our motivation for showing mercy to all others.  If we cannot, He will judge us without mercy (James 2:13).

Therefore, we have to keep our hearts purified from sins like haughtiness and pride (Proverbs 16:18, 1 Peter 1:22) through abiding side by side daily with God.  So He can keep burning bitter spiritual roots away (Malachi 3:2, John 15:1-6, Hebrews 12:15) – allowing better fruits to be brought forth.  So they grow to maturity and remain as a steady and ready supply to others (John 15:16, Galatians 5:22-23).

So when we pray each day with supplication, we go into a closet (Matthew 6:6), so nobody else but God can see or hear us.  Then, we begin presenting our proper requests to Him with thanksgiving – without thinking about getting any personal thanks from Him here on earth (Luke 17:7-10).  Then, confessing our sins and humbly asking for His help in keeping our hearts clean through His heavenly correction.

Not instructing Him to give us material things we may think we want or need – as if we know long before He does what such things are (Psalm 23:1, Matthew 6:8).  This is just asking amiss, making requests for money or materialistic items to consume upon our own lusts (James 4:3).  This still shows worldliness – and keeps us enemies with God – who considers us adulterers and adultresses for such (James 4:4).

All so our prayers don’t start sounding fake or feigned to others, or start feeling mechanical and empty to ourselves.  As if praying to God is just something we’re “supposed” to do.  So prayer doesn’t wind up becoming a part-time practice – because it seems to be ineffective for the most part.  For we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) – because Satan preys the same way (1 Peter 5:8-9).

When we practice praying with supplication as we walk in abidance with God’s ways – without trying to guide Him into ours – we shall ask what we will, and it will be done unto us (John 15:7).  We learn to start praying for others to walk worthy of God – and His ways as well.  So they increase in their knowledge of Him, and are strengthened with all might according to His power (Colossians 1:9-11).

We begin seeking the wealth and welfare of all others through our prayers and supplications (Ecclesiastes 5:9, 1 Corinthians 10:24).  Or we ask only for godly wisdom and judgment to be given unto us, without ever asking for anything personal for ourselves (2 Chronicles 1:10-11).  So we stop leaning on our understanding of prayer (Proverbs 3:5-6), and start experiencing a peace surpassing all understanding.

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– Seek the Lord and His strength … seek His face continually. – 1 Chronicles 16:11

– Those who neglect to call on God have grown weary of Him. – Matthew Henry

How many times have we all lost or misplaced car keys?  What happened next?  Did we just stand there, throw our hands in the air, and say, “What am I going to do now?  All has been lost.  I guess I’m not going to drive anymore.”  One would hope not.  What did we set out to do?

Didn’t we go back and retrace our steps – back to the last place we knew we had them?  Didn’t we often find them somewhere along the way? Weren’t we diligent about our search?  How many times did we ever “not” find them – and actually have to go find a way to get new keys made?

Likewise with the Lord, we may have felt a keen sense of His presence before – but now it is gone.  If so, we may be saying/thinking things such as  “What am I going to do?  I’m lost.  I don’t have direction.” Such are signals we are not seeking for God very diligently with our whole heart (Deuteronomy 4:29).

God is where He’s always been – it is we who are not. Our Father fills the heaven and earth.  We cannot hide from His presence (Jeremiah 23:24).  God is acquainted with all of our ways (Psalm 139:3).  Just like any wayward animal, He is always searching out and seeking His sheep (Ezekiel 34:11).

If we can’t find Him, it is quite probable we are filling our schedules with so many activities, we don’t take time to be still – and know He is God (Psalm 46:10). It is hard when we are harried and hurried to stay still very long.  Long enough to hear His still, small voice for further instructions (1 Kings 19:12).

Remember, when the Pharaoh oppressed Israel – he wanted them so busy making bricks they would forget God (Exodus 5:8-9).  The same goes today.  Being busy is not the sign of being a better believer.  It is better to have a dry morsel and quietness, than a house full of sacrifices with strife (Proverbs 17:1).

The devil has countless devices trying to get anybody to deviate from the straight path to heaven’s gate (2 Corinthians 2:11, Matthew 7:14).  So he can take us captive at will – and devour us (2 Timothy 2:26, 1 Peter 5:8-9).  Well, the longer we lose sight of God – the easier it is for Satan to bite us (Jeremiah 2:32).

If Satan can’t make us feel bad – he will keep us busy.  Dee Wieninger once wrote, “The devil wants to keep us busy, tired, and frustrated.  As long as Satan can keep us bombarded with our emotional, physical and psychological needs unmet, he will keep us from our spiritual need of a closer walk with God.”

If we have lost touch with the Lord, we’ve likely gone somewhere on ahead without Him.  We are trying to step outside and beyond the boundaries of mutual abidance (John 15:1-6).  Just like car keys, if we would simply retrace our steps, we would find God right where we left Him.

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KJV and NKJV Scripture:

– Charge them that are rich in this world, that they not be high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches … but in the living God, who richly gives us all things to enjoy. – 1 Timothy 6:17

Nowhere in Scripture does God say we can’t be rich in regards to money.  It is a matter of how our hearts and minds view it, use it, and comprehend where it always comes from (Deuteronomy 8:17-18) – that matters to Him.  Abraham, Job, and Solomon would have been considered wealthy by today’s standards. However, they also learned sometimes painful and persistent lessons about the dangers of earthly gain.

God once told Abraham not to regard his stuff – for the good of the land was already his (Genesis 45:20). Job lost nearly everything he had in one day, because his abundance had become his hedge for honoring God (Job 1:10-19).  All of Solomon’s wealth was not enough to satisfy him (Ecclesiastes 2:4-11).  He failed to fully follow after God like his father David had – and suffered the consequences (1 Kings 11:4-25).

Whether we are worldly rich or worldly poor, we are to be content with our wages.  We are not to spend our time trying to exact more than what God has already appointed (Luke 3:13-14).  We are to be content with food and clothing (1 Timothy 6:8).  If we follow the right things, God promises to thoroughly furnish us for all good works, including financially (Philippians 4:19, 1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 3:17).  

If we are not happy or satisfied with our finances at any time, we will be following after more at least part of the time.  We will spend at least a portion of our brief existence on this earth trying to bolster our bank accounts, improve our portfolios, and/or set money aside for future times such as our retirement. Days in the future we may never see (Proverbs 27:1, James 4:14).  It’s all vanity (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

If we do so, we are still saying we want something from God (Psalm 23:1).  We are not casting all our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7).  We are not fully trusting He knows all our needs before we do (Matthew 6:8). Any devotion to gathering wealth, any concentration on keeping cash flows constant, or any focus on earthly gain is incompatible with our devotion to God. We cannot serve two masters (Luke 16:13).

Wealth in this world can make us many friends – but our friends cannot save us (Proverbs 19:4).  All of the riches we may have cannot be used as a ransom for someone else’s life.  All of their riches cannot be used as a ransom for ours.  Our souls are precious to God – and they were bought back with the blood of Christ at Calvary – not by how much money we may have in the bank (Psalm 49:6-8, 1 Corinthians 6:20).

Regardless of what we may have – God requires us to be good stewards of it.  However, in His economy, this means we share our blessings with others.  Not preferring them for our own present and personal enjoyment – or stockpiling them for later use by ourselves (e.g. Proverbs 3:27-28, Isaiah 58:7, Luke 3:11, Luke 6:38, Hebrews 13:16, James 4:3, James 5:1-3).  This earth’s profit is for all (Ecclesiastes 5:9).

We can’t receive anything in life except from heaven (John 3:27).  Freely we have been given – freely we are to give (Matthew 10:8),  We are to always offer willingly for this reason (1 Chronicles 29:14).  With cheer; not out of necessity – as if we are only giving to get something back from God (2 Corinthians 9:7). Not so some become overly abundant or burdened, but so there is equality (2 Corinthians 8:12-14).

Even though so many try to figure out precisely what they will need in the way of future finances, worldly riches are always uncertain (lead verse).  The only thing we all can be certain about in this world – is we brought nothing in – and we can carry nothing out of it (1 Timothy 6:7).  With this in mind – what does it profit us if we gain the whole world and lose our souls in the end (Matthew 16:26, Luke 12:16-21)?

 

 

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in the city at the feet of Gamaliel. Taught according to the strictest manner of our father’s law – and was zealous towards God, as you all are to this day. – Acts 22:3

– But the zeal with which you play … relies on where you draw the line. – Jason Mraz

Adolf Hitler certainly had belief in a higher being. There are several historical records and writings supporting his claim to be some sort of Christian. Whatever this meant to Hitler, his zeal towards God in such a manner led to his developing a zero tolerance for the Jewish people and their ways. Because of this, he persecuted an estimated six million of them unto death in concentration camps.

The apostle Paul had zeal towards God, too.  Except he was born a Jew as Saul in the city of Tarsus – and taught according to the perfect manner of Jewish law (lead verse).  Paul developed a zero tolerance towards the new Christians of his day – persecuting them this way unto their deaths (Acts 22:4).  Wasting God’s church – more exceedingly zealous of earthly traditions than eternal truths (Galatians 1:13-14).

Two men of the human race – killing scores of other members of the human race; all because of zeal. All because both felt they were doing the right thing for God (Proverbs 14:12).  One wrote a terrible chapter in human history.  The other wrote nearly half of the New Testament.  If both men had zeal towards God – what was the difference between good and bad zeal? The answer is God Himself.

The One who is always the difference between wrong or right zeal, and whether ours is directed towards earthly or eternal things (Luke 12:33-34, Colossians 3:2).  Hitler steadfastly stuck with his worldly zeal to pursue and promote a political plan of his own mind and creation.  To chart his own course against the Jews, using our Creator as a covering for evil (1 Peter 2:16).  The results were tragic.

Conversely, Saul was struck down by God on the road to Damascus.  The Lord chose Saul to be a Christian that day … and made him the apostle Paul (Acts 22:5-9,16).  So God could then correct and redirect his zeal from the inside out, and set it in the right direction towards the Word – and His will (Acts 22:14).  So Paul could help others turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6).  The results were truth.

This is not intended by any means to compare Hitler with Paul.  It is meant to make us attuned to the many dangers of becoming overzealous in anything we do throughout life … this includes Christianity. Being so can warp our judgement.  Too much wayward zeal can lead to us developing a near zero tolerance of certain people groups, religions, or general lifestyles (Matthew 23:13).

Having such a strict heart or mind like this leaves little space to extend any grace or mercy to others. Any religious rigidness does not permit much room to show or grow in either (James 2:13, 2 Peter 3:18). Having a zeal for the Lord does not mean we can deem and decide everything we do in His name as being right in our eyes – if they are still wrong in His (1 Kings 14:8, 1 Chronicles 13:4, Proverbs 20:6).

However, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said “We have guided missiles and misguided men.”  Misguided men and women of God, mixed in with any type of overzealous mindset, can quickly go astray from His way.  They can teach or preach much misinformation when presenting God’s Word. Any pastor leading a church in such a way – can end up offending many of its members along the way (2 Corinthians 6:3).

Zeal is not wrong by itself.  It means great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or objective. Some synonyms of zeal are fervor, passion, and devotion – all admirable attributes for any Christian.  However, outward zeal can conceal many misguided intentions in the heart.  God will not be fooled (1 Chronicles 28:9, Hebrews 4:12-13) … but it can take years for other people to find out they’ve been taken.

Sadly, to their graves at times.  Our human history gives us many tragic examples of what can happen when religious zeal runs rampant.  Under the cover of such zeal, Magellan’s thirst for personal glory finally led him fatally astray.  Then there were self-proclaimed godly men such as Jim Jones and David Koresh, who guided a total of 992 people to their deaths – all because of misguided zeal.

Elisabeth Elliot once penned these words: “It takes a while for revelry to turn to reverence, and much repetition of truth to eventually turn young zeal into habitual channels for good.”  Paul echoed this when he wrote, “It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing (Galatians 4:18).  So, where does zeal cross the line from good to bad, and can it be prevented?

Out of control children and cars can cause a lot of damage.  Both have lost their steering mechanism. Kids are operating independently of a parent; cars are operating independently from a driver.  Out of control Christians or churches can behave the same way. Too much zeal of this nature can be a strong indicator someone besides God is at the wheel (Psalm 48:14, Isaiah 30:21, Micah 7:5).

Without such courses being corrected within us from above – the path to eternal damnation is still being paved before us.  This is where repentance enter the picture.  God’s goodness leads to it (Romans 2:4).  As many as He loves, He rebukes and chastens.  We all are to be zealous about repenting (Revelation 3:19). We are to be happy about correction  (Job 5:17) – but it might be painful at times.

No life change is easy.  It tends to upset “the way it has always been done” mindset.  If we still like any of our old worldly ways, repenting will not seem joyous. We will not likely see it as a sign of God’s love – but of His somehow messing with us again without rhyme or reason (Lamentations 3:32-33).  However, divine discipline will happen.  It will hurt – but it’s meant to get us to heaven (Hebrews 12:5-14).

This keeps our zeal on the right course.  It is a contained flame of faith focused on our rewards up above (Colossians 3:2).  The wrong zeal is an out-of-control wildfire usually focused on the fleeting and passing (but often fun) things down here below (Matthew 6:19-20).  Wavering zeal crosses the line back and forth between the two.  It can become a type of spiritual tightrope walk (1 Corinthians 10:21)

Without daily and focused zeal regarding repentance (2 Corinthians 4:16), we’re in great danger of falling away.  This is serious.  It is impossible to be renewed again to repentance (Hebrews 6:4-6).  A sure sign of misguided zeal is being more passionate about participating in Christian activities; repeating certain traditions and customs – than repenting according to truth (Mark 7:7, 2 Timothy 2:25).

Zealously crossing items off our Christian “to do” list is not repentance,  It all means nothing without the pure, fervent, and unfeigned love we are to learn if we are born-again believers (1 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Peter 1:22).  We will all be justified of our sins and saved – only by God’s grace and steadfast faith in Christ until the end (Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 3:24, Titus 3:7, Hebrews 3:14, 1 Peter 1:13).

The Pharisees tried justifying their words and works before men (Luke 16:15); despite having hearts that were still dirty – and in desperate need of cleansing from the inside out.  Jesus called them all hypocrites (Matthew 23:25-26).  Although they might have appeared outwardly zealous to others by honoring God with their lips and labor – their hearts were far from Him (Mark 7:6).

We can become the same if we are not fully committed to repentance.  This is all part of proper zeal.  If we should discover inner change is too difficult because of our Father’s sometimes painful and persistent correction, we can become zealous for Him in every area except repentance.  We can go about establishing our own righteousness without it, a misguided mistake made by Israel (Romans 10:1-3).

They certainly had a zeal of God – but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2).  They sought salvation by works of righteousness – but not by faith and repentance (Acts 17:30, Romans 9:31, Ephesians 2:8, Titus 3:5).  They did not submit themselves to God’s righteousness.  This means Christ is the end of the law unto all who believes by faith unto the end (Romans 10:3-4, Hebrews 12:2, Hebrews 3:14).

Our hope and promise of eternal life through Christ was given because of God’s zeal towards us from the start (Isaiah 9:7, Titus 1:2).  Our Father’s truth set up an eternal throne in heaven to establish justice and judgement through Jesus forever (Isaiah 9:7, Luke 1:31-33).  Christ became the final offering for sin (Hebrews 10:14), so justification can only come through the Cross (John 14:6).

Self-justification wreaks havoc with repentance. Without us having a good conscience towards the latter, faith can shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:19).  If the focus of our zeal is zeroed in on external Christian activities – but not inner change – danger is on the doorstep.  We can be easily putting ourselves back on the broad way heading straight to eternal destruction and darkness (Matthew 7:13, Matthew 8:12).

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