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Posts Tagged ‘1 Samuel’

BITTERNESS


KJV and NKJV Scripture

– Looking diligently, lest any fall of the grace of God. Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. – Hebrews 12:15

– Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you – with all malice. – Ephesians 4:31

Bitterness towards life, or the Lord, arises out of false perceptions it brings that things aren’t quite working out how a person hoped they would at some prior point.  Notions of rewarding jobs, joyous marriages, riches, etc. – never materialized – and fault always lies with others (including God).  So, the bitter soul stews and simmers on, with unhealthy views of life.

However, instead of doing anything about it, often born out of a “why bother” mind, because nothing has really worked out before, the bitter person usually sits around a lot wallowing in self-pity.  Pointing critical, accusatory, and fault-finding fingers outward and skyward, but seldom back at themselves.  This type of blame game started back in the Garden of Eden.

All the while, bitterness slowly spreads like a spiritual toxin inside a soul.  However, it is hard to spot just by looking at a person, because a sweet smile on Sunday at church can hide a spirit soured by resentment the rest of the week.  Words spoken smoother than butter can mask bitterness in the heart (Psalm 55:21).  Still, God sees it all (1 Samuel 16:7, Hebrews 4:13).

Our Father cannot show anybody a more excellent and better way, if they should ever be in the galls of bitterness (1 Corinthians 12:31, Acts 8:23).  Why? Well, with God, it keeps people bound in the bonds of iniquity and sin (Acts 8:23).  Bitterness is any feeling He has dealt (or is dealing) unfairly or unjustly, and this isn’t possible (Ezekiel 33:20, Deuteronomy 32:4).

Everything past in our life is required by God, and it will be this way as long as we live (Ecclesiastes 3:15). However, how will He ever create a new path in the wilderness if we keep looking back over our shoulder in remembrance of the bad things from days gone by making us bitter now (Isaiah 43:18-19)?  Repeatedly rehashing them leaves little room for future hopes.

God will never cause us grief or afflict us willingly – there always a reason (Lamentations 3:32-33).  It’s just that we are not to know the times or seasons He has put in His own power (Acts 1:7).  Faith and belief says we trust in Him, and He knows what He’s doing – even if we don’t understand (Proverbs 3:5-6).  We either grow better from trials and troubles, or bitter.

Bitterness is also feelings of resentment with God – and there can be a wide variety of reasons why.  One could be some private displeasure about blessings He certainly seems to bestowing on others from above – when we think we are the ones showing Him much more love than they are – and that we should be the recipients.  It creates a sense of indignation inside us.

When these feelings of resentment get released out into the open, expressed in words or actions, it is how Christianity can start feeling like it is nothing more than a tense, stressful contest.  It becomes ungodly. There’s lack of contentment.  Believers start unwisely comparing and measuring aspects of their walk with God against those of others (2 Corinthians 10:12).

In turn, this creates an uneasy air of contention, and generates confusion God never authors (1 Corinthians 14:33).  It is a precursor to every evil work within the churches (James 3:14-16).  It births sinful pride and the evil rejoicing of boastings (James 4:16).  This is how believers become apostates by serving Satan more than God (Romans 1:25,30, 2 Timothy 3:1-2).

We are all prime candidates for bitterness, if we ever become weary of life, or in our walk with the Lord (Job 10:1).  Relationships, jobs, finances, Christianity, etc. – are not creating the better lives we hoped they would at their outset.  We can get to a point where we think “What’s the point?”  This is vanity – useless, a waste of time, and not producing desired results.

We have to be careful and prayerful our belief does not end up being in vain (1 Corinthians 15:2).  Bitter roots cannot possibly produce the spiritual fruits God commands us to continually bring forth – meet for repentance (Galatians 5:22-23, Matthew 3:8, Acts 17:30).  Instead, they bring forth toxic, spoiled, and worldly fruits like resentment, anger, and envy.

Whatever the reasons for bitterness, they are all displeasing to God.  Bitterness prevents Christians from following peace and holiness with all men below heaven, and keeps them out because of it (Hebrews 12:14-15).  It breeds contention, birthed only from foolish pride (Proverbs 13:10), with others and Him. Contention creates conflict and friction – not peace.

Bitter Christians don’t think right thoughts (Philippians 4:8-9).  It means they cannot have victorious walks with Jesus in such vexed states of mind.  The final 13 paragraphs from the Charming Health website (with some personal additions and Scripture support) give an extensive and excellent description of bitterness, as well as the inner and outer damage it causes:

Bitterness is emotional suicide.  It’s like drinking poison, and then hoping the other person gets ill. People embroiled in bitterness have an incredible memory for the tiniest little details, and they wallow in puddles of self-pity and resentment.  They record every offense in their heart and head – more than ready to show others how much they have been hurt.

Bitter people defend and carry grudges constantly. They feel they have been hurt too deeply and too often, and think this exempts them from their need to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15).  Their hearts can overflow with so much resentment, they no longer have any capacity to love.  Bitterness takes their soul captive, consuming positive emotions, and robs them of joy.

Bitterness is frozen anger in latent form.  When it is manifested, it becomes a vicious malignancy making one extremely vulnerable to very unwise choices and decisions, developing destructive thought patterns infiltrating body and soul.  It saps the mind’s vitality. If allowed to fester unaddressed, bitterness can pave a path to seeking out vengeance and acts of violence.

Failure to confess and correct bitterness causes it to spread like a cancer no longer in remission.  Unlike a physical kind confined to just one body, bitterness is a spiritual kind infecting and sickening others.  It’s often expressed as anger, jealousy, dissatisfaction, or hate. It keeps focus below, on getting back or even, but not getting and staying on the narrow path to heaven.

It is true many life events can be unpleasant, causing grief and pain.  However, responding in any prolonged bitterness fuels more bitterness far down the road.  A reservoir of resentment is drawn upon over and over. It can be passed down to children and hold people in its vice-like grips.  It can even generate fiery, deadly feuds between families, like the Hatfields and McCoys.

Some of these events can be quite sudden, such as the literal loss of a loved one, or a source of income. Some are subtler, happening more slowly over time such as the loss of reputation, social status within a group, or control.  Regardless, they all sow and grow bitter roots and fruits.  Resentment and bitterness are unacceptable to God as they’re self-defeating and sin.

Existing bitterness in a Christian means they are not abiding side by side with God, so He can burn up the unrighteous roots producing such resentment (John 15:1-6).  These roots cannot bring forth anything but rotten fruits defiling a soul.  Some of them are guilt, arrogance, frustration, surmising, melancholy, sloth, and envy, creating instability in mind and spirit.

Extended bitterness produces physical ailments like insomnia, ulcers, anxiety, fear, depression, and heart attacks.  Mental consequences are hyper-critical views and attitudes about life.  Nobody can do things right (including God) except the bitter person.  Those who associate with such souls may sympathize for a time, but can end up avoiding them, lest they get drawn in.

Still, we are responsible for what we say, think, and feel.  God’s plan is to make us better so we can enter into heaven – not bitter so we cannot.  What makes people so bitter are worldly attitudes they develop growing up, and then carry in life towards situations and others.  As Christians, we’re being transformed by His truth, so old ways aren’t conformed to again.

Continuing in bitterness is not rooted and grounded in God’s love within through the power of the Holy Ghost (Ephesians 3:16-17).  It is building faith upon a faulty foundation (Luke 6:47-49, 1 Corinthians 3:11).  It is not repenting (Luke 13:3,5).  Perishing awaits, unless one is purified by obeying the truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned and fervent love of all (1 Peter 1:22).

God cannot possibly work His good will and pleasure in bitter hearts (Philippians 2:13).  Those battling with Him and others in futile resistance to His ways, and in refusal to His voice (Hebrews 12:25).  It’s enough to wrestle against the rulers of darkness in this world (Ephesians 6:12), without having to get into bitter, resentful wars with heaven and the brethren as well.

If we are being humbly obedient to God (Philippians 2:8) we are submitting to His power inside us.  We are not to resist it (Romans 13:2), as it’s the only power we will ever get to put off all forms of malice (second lead verse).  External means or methods, including guidance from other Christians, cannot cure bitterness.  All they do is give place to the devil.

Characterized by hostility (not hospitality) bitterness brings forth unforgiving, sputtering, and backsliding spirits full of negative attitudes almost always plotting and scheming, along with grouchy and complaining mouths.  Love can certainly dispel it all, but it spells disaster if left uncorrected.  Satan’s job is to devour, destroy, and kill souls – exactly what bitterness does.

 

 

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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

– Only by pride cometh contention; but with the well advised is wisdom. – Proverbs 13:10

– Woe unto him that strives with his Maker! – Isaiah 45:9

The simplest definition of “contention” means being opposed to something or someone.  Carried out to extremes, it develops a zeal to emerge as the winner in arguments or debates with anybody – including with God.  Contentment usually only comes with victories – while losses often generate contempt.

Any contention in life develops an existence of strife, discord, or disagreement with any number of people. It does the same with our Father above.  Contentious opposition to His ways can birth enmity or bitterness (Hebrews 12:15), leading to discontent lives of always questioning Him in an air of conflict and quarreling.

It’s a sign of having a carnal mind still conformed to the world; not renewed and transformed by His truth yet (Romans 8:7, 12:2).  It creates spiritual stress, struggles, or stagnation – and a burdensome, heavy yoke (Matthew 11:30).  It often creates a confusion God is never the author of (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Contention is a state of dissention with heaven.  It keeps hearts far from it – even though lips may speak many feigned words to the contrary (Mark 7:6).  It’s not growing in God’s grace, but it gives place to the devil – and space for his many devices of devouring (2 Peter 3:18, Ephesians 4:27, 2 Corinthians 2:11).

It is sin – for only by pride does it arise (lead verse). It is being at odds with God – at any time, for any reason.  It is disobedient complaining coming from a lack of faith and trust – and this is displeasing to Him (Numbers 11:1, Philippians 2:14, Hebrews 11:6).  It is walking contrary to His ways (Leviticus 26:27-28).

To contend, or being in any contention with God is ungodly.  Some synonyms for both words reflect this, such as conflict and friction.  It’s hard to walk with anyone in such disharmony (Amos 3:3).  People can only disagree with others for so long, before they say “so long.”  The same goes with God (Hebrews 3:12).

Contention implies God does not know what He is doing.  It suggests He is unfair (Ezekiel 33:20), lying (Hebrews 6:18), or wrongly judging because violence, spoiling, and strife abound (Habakkuk 1:3-4).  Those contentious with God tend to perceive their goodness or innocence (Proverbs 20:6, Jeremiah 2:35).

However, our Father is always right – His ways are perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4).  Contention with Him says He is not – and makes mistakes.  If we say we’re Christians, then we have been born again of the Spirit (John 3:5).  We’ve been reconciled back to God into one body by the Cross of Christ (Ephesians 2:16).

Reconciliation means being brought into agreement and alignment with something or someone.  If we are Christians, then it is God.  Contention prohibits any concurrence with Him.  If we claim belief, then we always agree with God.  If we don’t, we are devoid of the truth, despite any claims to the contrary.

Our Father’s commandments are not meant to be grievous, but to grow us up into mature Christians (1 John 5:3).  Contentions against Him grieve the Holy Spirit – and we’re warned not to do this (Ephesians 4:30).  When we do, it upsets and saddens God.  It shows we haven’t learned Christ (Ephesians 4:20-32).

Remember, our Father causes and creates all things in life – light and dark, good and evil (Isaiah 45:7). However, He will never grieve or afflict us willingly without reason (Lamentations 3:32-33).  Griping or grumbling about troubles or trials in life is not the way to grow spiritually and in grace (2 Peter 3:18).

We must look within at sin still not confessed and corrected as the source of any difficulty with Him.  Sin angers God, especially when committed by Christians who cannot be ignorant about His command to repent (Acts 17:30).  Otherwise, complaining and contention with Him are bound to begin (Lamentations 3:39).

If contentious arguing arises against God, it is being lifted up in the same arrogant pride that got Satan cast out from heaven (1 Samuel 2:3, Proverbs 16:18, Luke 10:18).  Christian novices are prone to prideful contention – and this puts them in danger of falling into the condemnation of the devil (1 Timothy 3:6).

New believers are unlearned and unstable.  They still wrestle with Scripture and require a lot of spiritual milk.  The Bible is hard to understand (1 Peter 2:2, 2 Peter 3:16).  It includes those who should be teachers by now; but who have to keep being retaught the first principles of God’s oracles (Hebrews 5:12).

Contention can also be fostered by failing to speak or preach wholesome words becoming sound doctrine (1 Timothy 6:3-4, Titus 2:1).  Instead, it is putting a personal “spin” on Scripture.  With catchy quotes or phrases sounding very spiritual and godly, but being unable to affirm them with His Word (1 Timothy 1:7)

However, this is swerving from the truth (1 Timothy 1:6), and being removed to another gospel (Galatians 1:6).  This is how people get deceived by vain words (Ephesians 5:6).  Contention has likely led to rewrites of Scripture into many new versions so they sound more agreeable to man (Revelation 22:18-19).

Whatever the cause, contention is never a good state to be in very long.  Satan roars around like a starving lion, waiting to lead us away in err (1 Peter 5:8-9, James 1:16, 2 Peter 3:17).  The devil is our 24/7 accuser (Revelation 12:10).  Stirring up contention with God is a deadly device he uses to devour souls.

This doesn’t mean we will never be contentious with others – even with believers.  We were all raised in the world first, and have various viewpoints, theories, and opinions about life we may still be entangled in (2 Timothy 2:4).  Jesus has to untangle these so we stop minding earthly matters (Philippians 3:19).

These can lead to sometimes heated disagreements with each other.  In the book of Acts, contention separated two brothers in Jesus.  What happened would be similar to a group of church elders today unable to agree on who to send on a mission trip. However, why it happened merits some examination.

Paul and Barnabas were at an impasse about whether to take John Mark – the cousin of Barnabas – as a third companion to go visit brothers in cities they had previously preached in.  They wanted to see how these brothers were faring.  The contention was so sharp, they went separate ways (Acts 15:36-39).

Scripture reveals they never met face to face again. Still, Paul later makes favorable mention of Barnabas (1 Corinthians 9:6), and expresses a desire for John Mark to join him in ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).  Even though Barnabas and Paul disagreed, they did not end up making a mountain out of a molehill.

Also, keep in mind their dissension did not involve Scriptural content or doctrinal issues.  They did not engage in profane or vain babblings about the Bible (1 Timothy 6:20, 2 Timothy 2:16).  The split between the two men involved a personal dispute based upon a judgement call on who to take with them.

To their credit, neither Paul or Barnabas permitted the contention to sideline them from personal efforts in spreading God’s Word.  Yes, it was prideful and partial (1 Timothy 5:21).  However, they didn’t allow their inability to arrive at a decision to get them angry enough to sin more against God (Ephesians 4:26).

There will always be times when brothers and sisters in Christ will not see eye-to-eye in matters of opinion. However, the important thing is how we respond.  Do we mope, sulk, and stew because somebody didn’t agree with our point of view – or do we stay focused on doing God’s will, regardless of disagreements?

Paul and Barnabas pushed forward, putting their hand to the plow (Luke 9:62).  As a result, more work was done for God because of how they handled their rift. They didn’t permit it to spoil them spiritually.  They didn’t let it fester and end up getting the best of them in ignorance of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).

There’ll be several situations throughout life leading to potential strife, dissention, or disagreement.  It’s even understandable between Christians, depending on the progress of their spiritual growth.  We still have to live in the world, but we have to watch with caution what we’re filling our hearts with (Luke 6:45).

Even with the Spirit inside us, our flesh lusts against it, and vice versa.  We don’t always say or do things we want to or should (Romans 7:18-19, Galatians 5:17).  However, contention is strife, and strife leads to evil works (James 3:16).  Individually, or in the churches where it has no place (1 Corinthians 11:16).

God tells us to take heed because we can easily be consumed if we continue biting and devouring each other in any contention (Galatians 5:15).  This shows a total lack of devotion to God’s ways and discipline in our walk with Him.  There’s no rest in life (Proverbs 29:9).  Contention makes people tense and on edge.

This is why we are well-advised to learn godly wisdom (lead verse).  It is letting God tame our unruly and evil tongues by His truth (James 3:8) – learning like David how to ask Him to set a guard over our lips (Psalm 141:3).  So our words are few and we refrain from rash talk (Ecclesiastes 5:2, Proverbs 10:19).

Strife in life leads to a lot of wrong, unrighteous, and ungodly thinking (Philippians 4:8).  Precious time is wasted and mental energy is spent dreaming up ways trying to prove a point on any topic, even Scripture, to those we disagree with.  Giving them a piece of our mind can’t lead to peace of mind (Philippians 4:9).

No thought can be hid from our Father (Job 42:2) – God knows them all (Ezekiel 11:5).  Even if we may think our contention is hidden to the masses in our mind, it is immediately manifest before the Almighty (Hebrews 4:12-13).  We can fool others with feigned and fake faith, but not God (Jeremiah 3:10).

We can also go out and speak the most convicting words about God – then come back home and rail accusations against Him behind closed doors about something we think He is doing wrong.  However God knows our abode; when we come and go.  If we rage against Him like this, it can’t be hid (2 Kings 19:27).

Many things increase vanity in this life and contention with God is one (Ecclesiastes 6:10-11).  It is counter-productive to bringing forth spiritual fruit meet with our commandment to repent of sins (Matthew 3:8, Acts 17:30, Galatians 5:22-23).  Who are we to contend with God and command Him (Job 40:2)?

Contention with God shows Him we desire to establish our own righteousness and then declare it as such – just as the Israelites did.  However, it’s not submitting to His righteousness (Romans 10:3).  Instead, it is subversive and condemns Him.  If we do, we disannul His judgment, just so we can be righteous (Job 40:8).

Contention is everything but peace.  It is sin and it is ungodly.  We are to follow peace with all men, and holiness or we won’t see God (Hebrews 12:14).  If we should stay ungodly by blaming Him for our problems in prideful contention, and fail to repent of our ways, we will not stand in the judgement (Psalm 1:5).

Therefore, God tells us to avoid foolish questions, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law. They are unprofitable, and vain (Titus 3:9).  Starting strife is like opening floodgates to release dammed up water.  So we don’t meddle with contention, we’re to walk away from it, before it begins (Proverbs 17:14).

However, there is one thing we all have to contend for – and earnestly, meaning intently and seriously.  It is the faith once delivered to the saints of yore (Jude 1:3).  It is the kind Jesus wonders about; if it will be found upon returning (Luke 18:8).  It means we have to be in contention with the devil (Proverbs 28:4).

It means we have to hold fast.  It is keeping our souls from straying by having them firmly secured by the anchor of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 6:19).  This is so we hold fast to instructions from God (Proverbs 4:13), the profession of our faith without wavering (Hebrews 10:23), and all that is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

It is so we can hold fast to the form of sound words (2 Timothy 1:13).  So we hold fast and repent unto salvation as commanded – or perish (Revelation 3:3, Acts 17:30, 2 Corinthians 7:10, Luke 13:3,5).  If we don’t it will be easy to backslide into contentious ways – and hold fast to deceit (Jeremiah 8:5-6).

Prideful deceit is the state of our heart from the start of life (Jeremiah 17:9, Obadiah 1:3, 1 John 2:16).  If we should keep slipping (Hebrews 2:1) back to it as believers, we swerve from a good conscience, to contention again with God (1 Timothy 1:5-6).  It’s how we veer off the straight path (Matthew 7:14).

Straying in any contention too long is staying in uncorrected sin.  It’s failing to consider the eternal consequences of disobedience (2 Thessalonians 1:8). If we remain in contention too long, we will have no excuse if God says to us when we meet Him, “Depart from Me, for I never knew you (Matthew 7:23).”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– We are unprofitable servants.  We have done that which was our duty to do. – Luke 17:10

– And turn ye not aside; for then should ye go after vain things which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. – 1 Samuel 12:21

Most people who have jobs probably like and enjoy receiving small tokens of appreciation from time to time for their good work.  Every now and then, it is also nice to receive some raises, bonuses, and an occasional promotion.  Otherwise, who would ever want to keep working for any company that never noticed the efforts of those who worked for them?

Being unappreciated can cause some to start seeking new jobs elsewhere – maybe a different place where supervisors are known to openly show their gratitude for work well done on a regular basis.  Efforts usually feel much more worthwhile when tangible rewards are given.  However, such desires in any Christian doing work for God reveal a dangerous and worldly mind.  

A mind where believers expect recognition, love gifts, and follow after earthly reward or profit for all they do in the Lord’s name.  It is no different now than it was back in Biblical days (Hosea 9:1, Isaiah 1:23, Malachi 3:14).  However, we don’t do a little bit of work for God, then sit back and wait for blessings and rewards before going out to work some more (Luke 17:7-10).

All of the work we do for God is our reward.  It is not a means to get one.  It is reckoned of debt, not grace (Romans 4:4).  We’re to do our duty as commanded. Not for what we may think is due back in return – but for what God gave us at the Cross.  Christ paid the ultimate price.  Therefore, He doesn’t owe us a thing in life.  We are the ones who owe Him everything.

We are God’s unprofitable servants on this earth – not profitable employees.  The King is served by the field. It is not the other way around (Ecclesiastes 5:9).  We did not bring anything into this world, and it is certain we cannot carry anything out (1 Timothy 6:7).  All the earthly blessings we may think God is bestowing upon us in our life – will be left behind when we die.

God tells us to take heed if we depart from Him and turn aside after Satan in unbelief (Hebrews 3:12-19, 1 Timothy 5:15).  Part of unbelief is if we run greedily after the error of Baal (Jude 1:11).  Baal is where we get Beelzebub (2 Kings 1:6).  Satan is worshipped and served more if we think we should be served with profit from God.  It makes Him a liar (Romans 1:25).

This is holding the truth in unrighteousness, and it is having a foolish heart (Romans 1:18-21).  Such belief says He should be thanking and giving us His glory for being such good Christians (Mark 10:18) – falling all over us with worldly favor and blessings (Romans 2:11).  This is a lack of understanding.  It is seeking earthly good; but not seeking God (Romans 3:11-12).

A worldly mind equates work with wages.  Good and steadily dedicated work over time may be rewarded with a raise.  However, if we’ve been born again of the Spirit (John 3:5), we have been given Christ’s mind (1 Corinthians 2:16).  It says to humbly obey God until death just as Jesus did (Philippians 2:8) – without earthly profit or gain on the way (Jude 1:11).

God requires us to have an unwavering walk with His Son down heaven’s narrow path (Matthew 7:14).  If we ever anticipate any worldly presents and blessings from Him for work we do, we don’t have the steadfast faith needed to be made partakers of Jesus at the end (Hebrews 3:14).  What we have is a desire for steady profit; which actually creates a stop-and-go walk.

We’re saying to Him we will obey and do our duty a short while – then stop and collect our reward first before we proceed any further (Luke 17:7-10).  It is telling Him we still have affections focused on fleeting worldly things as a reason to stay faithful; and not on things above (Colossians 3:2).  We are still laying up treasures for ourselves on earth (Matthew 6:19-20).

We are plainly letting Him know we are still seeking a better country here; and not willing to wait with the confidence and patience required for a better country awaiting in heaven (Hebrews 10:35-36, 11:13-15). However, what does it matter if we should gain a whole world of profit during our brief life (James 4:14) – if we lose our soul in the end (Mark 8:36)?

 

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– And through covetousness shall they with feigned words, make merchandise of you.  Whose judgement now of a long time lingers not – and their damnation does not slumber. – 2 Peter 2:3

– And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her – for no man buys their merchandise anymore. – Revelation 18:11

There is never anything new under the sun to God (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).  Back in the days of Isaiah, nobody judged the fatherless or took care of widows, but everyone loved gifts and followed after rewards (Isaiah 1:23).  There were those during the days of Job who saw no personal profit by serving God.  Also, what was the point of praying if they could not get earthly presents in return (Job 21:15, James 4:3)?

Job himself saw his righteousness as more than God’s – at least in Elihu’s eyes – because Job said, “What profit shall I have if I be cleansed from my sins (Job 35:1-3)?”  There were men during Malachi’s time with a similar mentality – who saw no profit by keeping God’s ordinances and walking mournfully before Him (Malachi 3:14).  Samuel’s sons turned to filthy lucre as soon as he appointed them judges (1 Samuel 8:3).

In Jeremiah, Judah had become saturated in idolatry and immorality.  Deceived to the point they couldn’t conceive of the notion they had turned their temples into dens of robbers – even though God clearly saw it all (Jeremiah 7:11, Hebrews 4:13).  Basically, many in Old Testament days saw no purpose in worshipping God and walking in accordance with His way, unless there was something “in it” for them (Luke 17:7-10).

Some type of tangible earthly profit or gain to touch or see – otherwise what was the point of serving God? Sound familiar?  Doesn’t it sound like a lot of worldly lust and covetousness – completely void of God’s love despite any lip service claims to the contrary (Ezekiel 33:31, Mark 7:6)?  It was much more of the same in the New Testament (lead verse, Titus 1:11) – and it is certainly no different in far too many places today.

Much of the Christian landscape in the modern world appears to have turned into one giant shopping mall. Multitudes of merchandise to mull over, and plenty of purchases to ponder are available for the masses to contemplate on a daily basis – and even the foyers of some Sunday sanctuaries are not safe.  It is ungodly. It is in alignment with the worldly and Babylonian system of buying and selling as a steady way of life.

Believers entangled in such a setup can often feel like they have to open their pocketbooks and wallets on a regular basis to keep buying the latest and greatest CD’s by Christian artists – to keep their spirits lifted. Instead of speaking to themselves in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs – singing and making melody in their heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).  The former always has a price tag – the latter is always free.

Christians can also get caught up in paying money to hear those people who are maybe being touted as the hottest speakers on the Christian preaching/teaching circuit.  Perhaps promising to reveal revolutionary and new ways for a winning Christian walk; instead of the believer being led by the Spirit (Romans 8:1).  This is so God can freely teach them His way without any lie; without them having to pay any price (1 John 2:27).

If we are born-again, then we have been bought with a precious price – the blood of Christ.  We have been reconciled back to God through the Cross – meaning we are now completely in agreement and alignment with His ways (Ephesians 2:13-16).  It is no longer the Babylonian way found throughout the Bible – but with His found in the same book.  The former is for earthly gain and profit; the latter is for eternal.

Therefore, Christians are to be chargeable to no man – lest others charge that we are preaching, teaching, writing, singing, etc. about God – merely for worldly profit (2 Corinthians 11:9, 1 Thessalonians 2:9).  We are to buy His truth from above in our soul, and not sell it with a price tag attached below.  This includes the marketing of any godly wisdom, instruction, or understanding we have acquired (Proverbs 23:23).

We are to be content with such things as we have at all times – including our wages (Hebrews 13:5, Luke 3:14).  If we spend any of our brief existence here on this earth (James 4:14) attempting to exact any more than God has already appointed to us (Luke 3:13), we have uncorrected greed/gain issues to confess.  Left unaddressed, we trouble our house, God’s, and all of His flock (Proverbs 15:27, Isaiah 56:10-11).

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and it is profitable for doctrine … not for the sound of dollars and profit (2 Timothy 3:16).  However, who’s going to preach, write, teach, or sing against such things, if they’re involved in the Babylonian system of selling God for gain?  If so, they have not departed from such iniquity, nor have they been sanctified – purged from such dishonor to His name (2 Timothy 2:19-21).

To be meet for our Master’s use and prepared unto His every good work – all that He requires of us is a humble and obedient heart just like Jesus had until death (Philippians 2:8, 2 Timothy 2:21).  Our Father will then thoroughly furnish everything we require to do His work along the way, including finances (2 Timothy 3:17).  We are to always be content with food to eat and clothes to wear (1 Timothy 6:8).

The only time Christ was recorded as getting angry was when he went into the temple of God and cast out those who bought and sold within (Luke 19:45). Overthrowing the tables of the money changers, and upsetting the seats of the dove sellers (Mark 11:15). These people had turned God’s house of prayer into a house of profit – a deceitful den of greedy thieves and grievous wolves (Matthew 21:13, Acts 20:29).

There is an old Latin saying of “caveat emptor” – or “let the buyer beware” in English.  It means that the purchaser of any product assumes the risk it may fail to meet expectations or have defects.  Christians who fall victim to the Babylonian way of merchandising the gospel – are not being aware of evil and disobedient workers walking with God to attain worldly wealth for themselves (Romans 10:21, Philippians 3:2).

Believers deceived by Satan’s devices succumb to minds thinking spiritual growth, unwavering faith, and steadfast belief can only be obtained and maintained by spending money and emptying pockets.  It does not create an equality among all (Ecclesiastes 5:9, 2 Corinthians 8:13-14).  It is following the wide road of commerce to destruction – not Christ’s narrow path to heaven (second lead verse, Matthew 7:13-14).

For the sellers it is a different story … for they have run greedily after the err of Balaam for reward, and in the gainsaying way of Core (James 1:16, Jude 1:11, Numbers 16:24-40).  Making money off of God’s free gospel is the bane of any relationship with Christ.  If the sellers do not soon remove themselves from the Babylonian way, their damnation might not slumber or linger too much longer (lead verse).

 

 

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test? – 2 Corinthians 13:5

– Such loss of faith is ever one of the saddest results of sin. – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Most of us probably go see a doctor for regular yearly check-ups, or take our cars to a mechanic for routine maintenance every few months.  Why do we spend the time and money to do these things?  Well, even though it can be hard to hear unsettling news about major health or vehicle issues, don’t we want to be told about them sooner – so we minimize chances of more serious problems arising later?

Isn’t it so we can start taking corrective measures in hopes of completely fixing what is ailing ourselves or autos – and then preventative ones to keep them from happening again in the future?  It’s like the old adage from Ben Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  It means we try to keep bad things from happening to begin with, then try to fix bad things after they’ve happened.

If we start taking preventative care like this daily, we lessen chances of catastrophic failure in the future. However, the more we let things slide (Hebrews 2:1) – the harder and longer they can become to fix, if at all.  All too often, though, we can have a “Well – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mind.  Nothing seems wrong on the surface – so why mess with it?  This is the beginning of running things into the ground.

With our body, we may feel sound physically with no major pains.  Although we know we might not be exercising, sleeping, or eating properly – everything just “kinda sorta” appears alright in our eyes.  With our autos, they seem to be running smoothly … with no strange sounds coming from the engine or brakes. Then we wake up really sick one day, or we find our car in the ditch on the way home from work

With faith, we may feel sound spiritually with no major pains or problems.  Then, God tries our faith. To see if it’s sound.  To test out our patience and see how we resist and handle Satan’s temptations (James 1:2-3).  If we haven’t been exercising our faith into godliness to always have a conscience void of offense towards Him and men … we will fail this faith exam every time (Acts 24:16, 1 Timothy 4:7).

Along with proper faith exercise, we have to self-examine ourselves to see if our faith in Jesus Christ is healthy or sick – if it is real or feigned (lead verse). We are to do the check-up alone with God, not with other Christians (Deuteronomy 13:3, 2 Corinthians 10:12).  They cannot examine a heart and soul only He can see (1 Samuel 16:7).  We have to avoid a faith shipwreck at all costs (1 Timothy 1:19).  

So we maintain a healthy spirit, continually bringing forth fruits meet for repentance (Matthew 3:8, John 15:16).  So we grow up into aged, sober believers – always sound in faith (Titus 2:2).  Ensuring Christ alone is authoring our faith to the end – so we enter at the straight gate.  Passing the last test; making the grade by God’s grace (Hebrews 12:2, Hebrews 3:14, Matthew 7:14, 1 Peter 1:13).

 

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– “So then, because you are lukewarm – and neither cold nor hot – I will spit you out of My mouth.” – Revelation 3:16

– Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin.  They just want to be saved from the penalty of their sin. – Francis Chan

Don’t we all like to have our food reasonably hot or cold?  It just seems to enhance its overall flavor.  It brings out the taste of any seasoning better.  Much more so than if such foods were left out on an open table or kitchen countertop somewhere.  There, hot foods slowly cool off, and cold foods slowly warm up to room temperature.  They become lukewarm.

If we try tasting them in such a state, it is often quite unpleasant to our taste buds.  They would send us a warning sign something wasn’t quite right.  We would spit these foods out.  Hot or cold foods may have been sitting out for so long, dangerous and unseen bacteria such as salmonella start multiplying.  Food poisoning might result if we were to digest them.

The word lukewarm has many “not-so-positive” meanings – such as tepid, indifferent, perfunctory, non-committal, apathetic, and lacking conviction. Food fits the first definition – but not really the rest. Those apply more to emotional and spiritual feelings of being lukewarm.  We have all probably heard of someone getting a lukewarm reception; perhaps even receiving one ourselves.

It’s a half-hearted response.  Half-hearted means lacking interest or spirit.  This is not how we are to love the Lord as Christians (Deuteronomy 6:5).  God did not put His whole Spirit into us when we were born again of such (John 3:5), so we would live a life honoring Him with half a heart.  If we do, the rest of our heart has to be somewhere else (1 Corinthians 10:21, Colossians 3:2).

Any lack of passion as Christians can lead to passivity and apathy.  Any lack of commitment can lead to becoming comfortable and complacent.  Any lack of true worship from the heart (John 4;23-24) can lead to wrong works full of confusion, envying, and strife (James 3:16).  Any lack of interest or spirit can lead to indifference and insensitivity (Matthew 24:12). This can develop dull ears (Hebrews 5:11).

Lack of devotion leads to deviance from heaven’s straight path (Matthew 7:14).  Making us targets for the devil’s fiery darts (Ephesians 6:16) and devices; increasing our ignorance of his subtle lies the less devoted we are (Genesis 3:3-4, John 8:44, 2 Corinthians 2:11).  Remaining as novices – lifted in pride like this – and likely candidates to be taken captive at will (1 Timothy 3:6-7, 2 Timothy 2:26).

Any lack of the steadfast, moving forward daily faith God requires us to have unto the end for salvation (Hebrews 3:14) – leads to spiritual stagnation.  It’s a sense of feeling stuck in one place.  Air and water in such states quickly develop impurities from lack of movement.  They become very unhealthy to breath or drink.  Faith poisoning can result from any heart like this.  Bitterness can take root (Hebrews 12:15).

Salmonella can form on food sitting around too long. Sitting around too long as Christians can create problems for our salvation.  God requires us to move as we’re led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1).  Samuel was of no use to God when he started sitting around mourning over Saul.  God told him to get up and go – there were things still to do (1 Samuel 16:1).

Being in any of the lukewarm states of being above, such as apathy, makes it very easy for backsliding to be birthed among believers who may be stagnating, straying, or stumbling (Hosea 11:7).  This backsliding can feel perpetual (Jeremiah 8:5).  It stems from still being filled with some of our worldly ways – and not all of the Word’s (Proverbs 14:14).  It’s hard to climb heaven’s staircase this way (2 Peter 1:3-11).

All in all, it makes for a lackadaisical, lounging around and lukewarm walk with God for any Christian like this.  Some seemingly unconcerned about a salvation they feel is secure (Philippians 3:12-14).  This is the devil’s deception.  Satan wants people to believe they’ve already received a promise we’re all to wait with patience until the end for (John 3:17, Hebrews 10:35-36, 1 Peter 1:13, Revelation 12:9).

This is a very flippant approach to faith.  It is foolishly being nonchalant about salvation – a hope we all have not seen yet (Romans 8:24-25).  It all fits the definition of a “devil-may-care” attitude towards God. Not really hot or cold – people professing faith just kind of lukewarmly hanging around waiting for Jesus to return.  However, maybe wondering if this will really happen at all (2 Peter 3:4).

God didn’t hang Christ on the Cross for us to be like this.  Much has been given to us – much is required (Luke 12:45-48).  Just as food sitting around too long in the same place can become lukewarm, so can a faith sitting around in the same place too long.  With lukewarm food, we can just spit it out of our mouth onto a plate.  If our faith should continue this way too long, God could spit us out into the pit forever.

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