Saturday, December 8, 2012

Knights of the Lord’s Table

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  (Eph 6:13)

I once had a friend of mine tell me of the training classes he had been attending to learn how to better defend himself and his loved ones with a knife and a gun. He said that with the breakdown he was witnessing in society he expected that his new found skills would be called into use as the downfall took place. Then he made a statement that has stuck with me ever since. He said, “What really appeals to me is that righteous warrior aspect where the use of force is justified, good fighting against evil, like knights fighting in the crusades.” 

He was evidently enamored by the romance of the days of yore we’ve read about in classic literature of noble knights, men of valor and virtue who slayed dragons and rescued damsels in distress with chivalry and honor. Legendary days when King Arthur ruled with his Knights of the Round Table in Camelot; Camelot, that 1,000 year reign of peace and safety in the kingdom idealized by Alfred, Lord Tennyson in his work, Idylls of the King.

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I’m sure the parallelism is not lost between the reign of our Lord and King during the 1,000 years of the millennium and this counterfeit earthly kingdom romanticized by the Arthurian legend of Camelot where knights worship and serve their king, offering to put their lives on the line for the cause of truth, justice and honor.

A noble endeavor provided you serve the right King. We do serve the right King; the King of kings! But we don’t have to take up training for war with conventional weapons in order to participate in the battle for truth, justice and honor. When we pledged our lives to our Lord, we entered the battlefield; the spiritual battlefield with much more at stake than just land and earthly resources. We fight in the war of all wars for the Kingdom of God and of His Christ. (Rev. 11:15)

Since we don’t entangle ourselves in the affairs of this life, (2Tim 2:3-4) as good knights and soldiers of Jesus Christ, where is our battle and who is our enemy? Whom might we encounter that would require that we fight for truth, justice and honor? And what are our weapons?
(Eph 6:12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
So, our battle is a spiritual one; a fight for the truth, (2Thes 2:10-12) for the hearts and minds of those blinded by the father of lies, (John 8:44) the god of this age (2Cor 4:4) who has deceived the whole world. (Rev 12:9)
2Cor 10:3-6  For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:  (4)  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)  (5)  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;  (6)  And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
While there is no question that this applies to us in our own struggle to keep our own thoughts in check, I contend it also applies to our encounters with the belief systems of others. We must do what is within our ability to pull down false belief systems when it is proper to do so.

We are told to love our neighbor aren’t we? If we love them shouldn’t we do what we can to make the truth of the gospel of the Kingdom available to them, exposing their false beliefs, shining the light of God’s word in a dark place? We aren’t to just simply tolerate the darkness and the deeds that men do there but rather expose them and reprove them.
(Eph 5:11-13)  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  (12)  For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.  (13)  But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
How do we do this? What are the weapons of a Knight of the Lord’s Table? Back to Ephesians 6:14. We won’t read this whole passage but just have it handy as we list the items that make up the whole armor of God.
  • Belt of Truth
  • Breastplate of Righteousness [As we used to say, “Right makes might.”]
  • Shoes of the preparation of the gospel, a lamp unto our feet
  • Shield of Faith to protect us from the fiery darts of the enemy
  • Helmet of Salvation – to know and know that we know, trusting in God, taking Him at His word
  • Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God
  • Prayer, our line of communication back to HQ to call for backup and air support
  • Cloak of Zeal – (Isa 59:17)
Of all the items listed in the armor of God though, only one is a weapon, the sword of the spirit, the Word of God, and it is sharper than any two-edged sword.

Are we adept at wielding our sword? How do we deal with those we encounter who espouse counterfeit gospels, beliefs and doctrines? When we hear such things should we just ignore them or should we engage? Every fight need not be fought but there are times when those things should not go unchallenged. There are times when we must contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. (Jude 3) The dragon must be slain and the damsel must be rescued!

Each of us can do our part in preaching the gospel of the kingdom to every creature in all the world. (Mark 16:15; Matt 24:14, 28:19) As part of the body of Christ fitly framed together, (Eph 2:21) each with our own roles, (1Cor 12) each of us can do something to get the message out to the world, no matter how small.

There are easy steps we can take to get started. When we go to the doctor’s office or have our hair cut, we can leave behind a copy of the Good News magazine in the waiting area. We can post an article from the UCG website on Twitter or a video from Beyond Today on FaceBook. We can send it to a friend in email. We can distribute tri-fold pamphlets such as these, or write a blog or an article for the Virtual Christian Magazine.

The beginning of the millennium will be a time just after people have been through the most horrific ordeal beyond anything they could have imagined. They will be scared, distrustful, skeptical and in a state of shock, their belief systems shattered and confounded. We must be prepared as ministering spirits to console them on an individual basis to restore their faith and ensure them that they can safely place their trust in the new government entity out of Jerusalem, namely the Kingdom of God. It is through fighting the good fight now, (1Tim 6:12; 2Tim 4:7) that each of us hones our skills in preparation to serve and restore mankind in the millennium. It is also the actions we take now upon which our reward is based. (Rev 22:12)

To those who say, “But we have people at the home office for that. We have a paid ministry and a television program”, I say that as budgets continue to tighten and darkness falls on this nation and on this world, there may be no television program or home office. It will be up to each of us individually to let our lights so shine as to glorify the Father (Matt 5:16) and to get the message out. It's best we prepare now.

As we’re told in Amos 8:11, the famine of the word is coming and it will be up to those who have oil in their lamps (Matt 25:4) to show compassion on those who awaken to God’s truth and to take them in and nourish them until Christ returns.

The days of “pay and pray” are over! Do we really think we can take a Laodicean approach and just do nothing and merely wait for our Lord’s return? When he does return what will he find us so doing? Did we use the talent he gave us wisely or will we pathetically unfold the napkin to reveal to him the same raw undeveloped talent he gave us? (Luke 19:20) To whom much is given, much is required.  (Luke 12:48)

Have we become so richly blessed and in need of nothing that we have become lukewarm to spreading the gospel message? (Rev 3: 15-17) “I got mine! These people better wake up before it’s too late!” Well, many of them are awakening but to a watered down message of lawless grace instead of the real truth of God. When they do finally seek the truth, how do they find it if no one is there to lead them to it?
Rom 10:13-15  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (14)  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  (15)  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
We can be that preacher, that knight in shining armor who rescues them from the dragon with the sword of our Lord. We don’t have to be ordained ministers to tell people about the truth of God, do we? Each and every one of us that is called to the truth is also called to tell others about it. Freely ye have received, freely give. (Matt 10:8)

As people become aware that they’ve been deceived and sold a pack of lies by this world, some will seek the truth, and call on God. And until He finally turns his back on this world, He will hear them. But who will be there to lead them to the real truth? Each of us has an approach that will appeal to some but not to all, so each of us must do our part and trust that God will lead them to us.

On however small a scale, we each must do what we can to fight the good fight of faith and having done all, to stand therefore. (Eph 6:13) And one day to hear those words we all long to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”. (Matt 25:21) And to sit down at a table prepared before us in the presence of our enemies.
Psa 23:4-6  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  (5)  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  (6)  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Luke 22:29-30  And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;  (30)  That ye may eat and drink at my table [the Lord’s table] in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.


… as good Knights of the Lord’s Table become kings and priests! (Rev 5:10)


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Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Better Country

I’m not from around here. I’m only here temporarily and making my way until such time as I can move on to my last home. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just here to get what I can get. I’m contributing to my community, assisting in my company’s growth and helping others along the way. But I’m not putting down any permanent roots. 
Not here. 
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Let me explain. Our country was originally founded on biblical principals and came to be known as one nation under God. It was, and in some respects, still is the one place people can come to make a better life for themselves and their families because we are, one nation under God. But today God would be ashamed to be called our God. As a nation, we’ve lost our moral compass and have committed wholesale violation of every one of His Laws.

(1) Not only have we put another god, the god of this world, (2Cor 4:4; John 14:30) before the true God, but we have pushed Him out of our lives, out of our schools, and out of our government buildings, even out of our homes. (2) We’ve set up idols to worship, American idols, and made tokens of everything imaginable and imbued them with the power to bring good luck. (3) We have allowed His name to be taken in vain from Rhett Butler to the latest TV drama and no one stands in the gap to stop it. (Eze 22:30) (4) We have taken God’s seventh day Sabbath and changed it to Sunday so it would not be associated with anything Jewish or with those early so called heretics who called themselves Christians. (5) We’ve ungratefully treated our parents with disrespect instead of honoring our fathers and mothers. We’ve turned things upside down and parents are afraid their children won’t like them if they try to make them behave as they should. (Isa 3:4) (6) On an annual basis we commit 15,000 murders in this country or 5 for every 100,000 people, 1 in every 20,000. This does not even include the 1.21 million abortions last year, 55,458,219 since Roe v. Wade in 1973 and still counting. We think past cultures that sacrificed their children to their gods are primitive, savage and barbaric. Yet we sacrifice over 3,000 unborn babies a day on the altar of convenience and call it our right to choose. (7) What about adultery? Given the secretive nature of infidelity, exact figures about cheating and extra-marital affairs are nearly impossible to establish. But it is estimated that roughly 30% to 60% of all married individuals (in the United States) will be unfaithful at some point during their marriage. That's 1 out of every 3 or even 1 out of every 2 people. (8,9) Stealing and lying is rampant, from the national level politicians and corporate CEOs all the way down to pilfering office supplies and shading the truth to the boss or blaming others for our mistakes in order to keep our jobs. (10) Covetousness has been raised to the level of absolution for immoral behavior. “He must be doing something right. He’s making a ton of money!”

Nope, I’m not from around here and neither are you.

Turn to Colossians chapter 1.
From the day we repented of our sins, were baptized and received God’s Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands, we are no longer citizens of this kingdom but have been translated into the Kingdom of His dear Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
(Col 1:12-13) KJV
(12) Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:  (13)  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
 We’ve been translated into His Kingdom now! We’re no longer from around here. We’re no longer of this world but sojourners and pilgrims making our way as best we can until such time as the kingdom to which we’ve sworn allegiance has been established here on earth. We are subjects of a Kingdom yet to come to this earth. We may have taken up residence here in the meantime, but just like any other immigrant; we’re not from around here.

Turn to John chapter 18 if you will and we’ll see what Christ had to say about His Kingdom and this world.
(John 18:33-37) KJV
(33)  Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?  (34)  Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?  (35)  Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?  (36)  Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.  (37)  Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
 So this is not yet Christ’s Kingdom and if it’s not the kingdom of our King, then it is not the kingdom of His subjects either.

Turn back a page or two to John chapter 17 and we’ll see what He had to say about our place in this world in His prayer for us to the Father prior to heading to the garden at Gethsemane.
(John 17:11-16) KJV
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, [kos'-mos] [not of the world] and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.  (12)  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.  (13)  And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  (14)  I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  (15)  I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.  (16)  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

So Christ even said we are not of this world but have been sanctified, set aside as subjects of His kingdom, through His truth to be joyful witnesses to Him and to occupy till He comes. (Luke 19:13)

While the rest of the nation argues and debates the latest dialectic presented to us by the powers that be, that of Obama versus Romney, left versus right, two avenues to the same destination, we bide our time waiting for our Nobleman, (Luke 9:12) our King to return, sojourning as if we were pilgrims in a strange country but yet looking forward to another, one which has foundations made by God. 

As foreigners we observe the turmoil and agitation of those around us but we don’t get caught up in it.

 Let’s take a look at Hebrews chapter 11. Hebrews 11, the faith chapter.
(Heb 11:8-10) KJV
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.  (9)  By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles [temporary dwellings] with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:  (10)  For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
 Yes, just like our forefathers before us, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we are but strangers and pilgrims on this earth awaiting the time when our King returns to install a kingdom that cannot be moved (Heb 12:28), when we’ll no longer look to the capital city of Washington, D.C. but to our new capital city, the holy city of new Jerusalem.

 Though we lament (John 16:20-22) for the depravity we witness around us and minister to those whom we can for the sorrow in their lives, we maintain our focus on the future. We currently reside in this country, and though it may be the best this world has to offer, we desire a better country, one where God is not ashamed to be called our God.
(Heb 11:13-16) KJV
(13) These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (14) For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.  (15)  And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.  (16)  But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Let’s get a glimpse of that city in Revelation chapter 21.
(Rev 21:1-7) KJV
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.  (2)  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  (3)  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  (4)  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  (5)  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  (6)  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.  (7)  He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

Nope, we’re not from around here. We’re from a better place, a better country; we’re from the Kingdom of God where there is no more death, no more pain and sorrow, and no more tears. Onward to the Kingdom!
 

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Ref. http://www.ucg.org/kingdom-god/

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Hearts of the Fathers

 Father’s Day is just a week away and is a day we as a society have set aside to honor our fathers for the sacrifices they have made for us. While I deeply appreciate the sacrifices and sense of duty exhibited by my own father on this day, as a father myself, I can’t help but to also contemplate the station of my own children. The question that comes to mind is, “Am I doing all I can to prepare them for the times just ahead?” There’s a passage in Malachi chapter 4 that keeps preying on my mind. Let’s take a look at it.


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Malachi 4:4-6 (KJV)  Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.  (5)  Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:  (6)  And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

That spirit of concern for our children’s welfare lies heavy with us even today. As we fathers get older and get a glimpse of the end of our days just over the horizon, we have a natural tendency to wonder if the next generation coming up is ready - to make the proper decisions for their future and to lead others. Have they been prepared sufficiently? Are they ready?


My message today is generally directed to the men but I hope the women will listen too because if my message today is not effective, it will be left up to them to pick up the slack. The title is – The Hearts of the Fathers


What happens to nations, communities, and churches after the elder generation passes on is dependent on how effective their efforts have been to prepare the ones coming up. But, it is also incumbent on the next generation to learn from their fathers how they apply God’s laws and principles in their lives and to earnestly take hold of the reins and take responsibility themselves for their own preparation. 
Greatest Generation - born 1901 to 1924 – Age in 2012 – 88 to 111
Silent Generation - born 1925 to 1945 – Age in 2012 – 67 to 87
Baby Boom I Generation – born 1946 to 1954 – Age in 2012 – 58 to 66
Baby Boom II Generation – 1955 to 1964 – Age in 2012 – 48 to 57
Generation X – born 1965 to 1981 – Age in 2012 – 31 to 47
Generation Y (Millennials) – born 1982 to 1994 – Age in 2012 – 18 to 30
Generation Z – 1995 to 2012 – Age in 2012 – 1 to 17
Let’s take a look at what can happen to the next generation after the fathers have passed on. Turn to Joshua chapter 24.

Joshua gathered all the elders and the leaders of Israel just prior to his death for one last confirmation of the covenant they had made with God. This was after they had already crossed over the Jordan into the Promised Land back in chapter 2. These are men in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and even 50’s. This is Joshua speaking the words God gave him to speak to them.

Joshua 24:13-31  (KJV) And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.  (14)  Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.  (15)  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD(16)  And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;   

(21)  And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.  (22)  And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.  (23)  Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel(24)  And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.

So these men swore their allegiance to the LORD, to serve and obey Him only. Let’s see how they did.

Judges 2:7-14 (KJV) And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.  (8)  And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.  (9)  And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.  (10)  And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel(11)  And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:  (12)  And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.  (13)  And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.  (14)  And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.

How could this have happened? Why? Joshua and all the generation who were children in the wilderness and grew up witnessing God’s miracles died off. Without the leadership they provided, the next generation went the way of Baalim. They didn’t learn what they needed to from the elders while they were still alive. They did their own thing. They left the spiritual welfare of the nation to the fathers. They didn’t take the faith of their fathers to heart and make it their own. Much like what we see in this country today.

Each of us has to figure out for ourselves when it’s time to put away childish things and get on with the weightier matters. (1Cor 13:11). Do we say we’re too busy to study God’s word and too busy to pray but somehow have time to play video games and fantasy football and the like and watch TV? For some “guys” that day for putting away childish things never comes. They are forever locked into the role of children never taking the reins of responsibility for themselves, their families, their communities, and even their churches.

Let me ask you a question guys –

When you speak of yourself, do you say, “I’m the kind of guy who does thus and so”? Or do you say, “I’m the kind of man who does thus and so”? It’s a matter of self-perception. At what point do you stop thinking of yourself as one of the “guys” and start thinking of yourself as a “man”? Unfortunately, as I said for some that day never comes.

We need men who are ready for the troublous times just ahead. When faced with these spiritual and physical challenges, are we prepared such that we can make the right decisions? Will we recognize the counterfeit Christs and false doctrine that will be presented to us? Are our lamps filled with oil? Are we spending time daily in God’s word, in study and in prayer? Or are we thinking that when the time comes and it all comes unraveled, we’ll be told by the elders what to do? Or we don’t need to prep just yet, there’s still plenty of time. I need to focus on my career or spend more time with my friends right now. Besides, there are men in the Church who are more knowledgeable than I am who will tell us what we need to do.

Well, I’m here to tell you, these men, these elders, are not going to be here forever! We better listen to what they have to say while we still can.

We’re told that a deception is coming that will be so believable that if possible even the very elect will be deceived. (Mat24:24) When it does, it will be too late then to cram for the exam! How can we recognize a counterfeit unless we’re intimately familiar with the genuine? There will come a time when we’ll have to stand on our own two feet, to prove all things for ourselves and choose which way to go. And if we’re not thoroughly grounded in the truth, we’re going to have a hard time figuring it out. And that decision will be the most important decision we’ve ever made, a matter of life and death. There will be no grey area. There will be no compromise or choosing some combination of both. It will be either one or the other - Good or Evil; Light or Darkness.
Do we have the love of the truth or will we fall victim to strong delusion and believe the lie? (2Thes 2:10-11) Are we prepared to be able discern the genuine from the counterfeit?

Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus to beware of just such a deception and to be firmly grounded in the faith.

Ephesians 4:1, 14-15  (KJV) (1) I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, [This is my message here today]

(14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  (15)  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

If we’re not in the word every day learning God’s truth and proving it for ourselves, how will we be able to confidently make the right decision when the time comes? It comes down this. Why are we here? This is a proving ground to see whether we will follow God or not. All these earthly pursuits are vanity, just distractions that will come to nothing. What matters most is our spiritual preparation to serve God no matter what, even unto death. (Rev 12:11) We better get on the stick, time’s getting short! And we better listen to these men, these men that we look up to in the church. We’re not here to be entertained by their sermons. We’re here to learn from them. Turn your hearts to the fathers! Spend time with them. Learn what they know and what they think, how they apply God’s laws in their lives before they’re no longer with us. Then prove it for yourself from the word of God!

Gentlemen, how long will it be before you’re no longer one of the “guys”?
Hezekiah was only 25 years old when he began to clean up the kingdom of Judah. (2Kings 18:2)
Josiah was only 26. (2Kings 22:1-3)

Jesus Christ was only 30. (Luke 3:23)

To those of the elder generations, I know that the daily grind amidst a world that just doesn’t get it and doesn’t want to, tends to wear on you but I beg of you, don’t give up on us just yet! Turn your hearts to the children. Despite how weary you may be, and though you may be as Paul was toward the end of his life, in a strait betwixt a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better (Php 1:21-26) I beseech you that it is more needful for you to be with us. And I ask, I pray, that you reach deep down and find the reserves you have left and give it all you got to prepare us to carry on and to stand in the gap after you’re gone lest we go the way of Baalim and Ashtaroth!


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Saturday, April 21, 2012

In We God Trusts?

Once we’re called, we spend the rest of our lives learning to live God’s way of life, learning to believe that He is, that He indeed exists and learning to believe what He says, His truth. We learn to put our trust in Him and to be obedient to His tenets. “In God We Trust” is a phrase we often hear that describes this kind of relationship. It means that we know Him and trust that if we surrender our will to His that He loves us and has our best interest at heart. This phrase, “In God We Trust” has become so commonplace in our culture though that it is almost cliché and its meaning tarnished and lost its original luster like the coinage upon which it is engraved, but nevertheless for those of us who love Him it still holds true. But have you ever stopped to think that maybe the converse is also true? That God, in His infinite wisdom called us not just to be His people but called us according to His purpose, also to serve Him and His people?

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What if we asked ourselves, can God trust in us? If He asks us to do something, can He trust us to actually do it? If He places us in a situation hoping we will act in a manner that testifies of Him, can He rely on us to actually do it? If God wanted to accomplish something by working through us, could He trust us to follow through?

Have you ever had someone come into your life and maybe you weren’t sure why, but it just seemed like God had to have put them there? Maybe someone who said just the right thing at just the right time to encourage or who brought some knowledge to light that you needed right at that moment in your life?

Did you ever stop to think that maybe there are times when you’re supposed to be that person? That God has chosen to bring you into someone else’s life at just the right moment to reveal some element of God’s truth to them? Maybe God is calling them and they are diligently seeking Him and His truth, but they don’t know what to do next. Would God bring them to you? Can God trust in you to recognize their disquieted spirit and to gently guide them in the truth? (Acts 8:30-31)
And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. (Acts 8:30-31)
Would it be possible that at the same time God tests our hearts through such encounters? (Jer 17:10) That He purposely brings them in contact with us in hopes that we would care for them in accordance with what He has taught us. Imagine His disappointment when we don’t respond appropriately. But imagine His delight when we do!
I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jer 17:10)
We’ve learned that no one comes to Christ except the Father draws him. (John 6:44, 65) But once He draws him, then what? Where does that person go to find the real truth of God’s word? Most likely, not knowing any better, he’ll seek it in one of the conventional churches. Maybe one of the mega churches he’s heard so much about in his area. Surely they are the keepers of God’s sacred truth. Look at how many people go there. It must be the place where God’s wisdom and truth are expounded, right?
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. (John 6:44;65)
We know that’s not the case. So where does he go to find the real truth of God, who can he turn to? What about us? Can God bring them to us to enlighten them and lead them further along the true path? Would He? Can God entrust the fragile faith of this spiritual newborn to our care? Or would we be deserving of the millstone about our neck instead? (Mat 18:6)
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Mat 18:6)
We might say, if only God does the calling then it’s not up to me to try to get people to understand the truth. If God doesn’t open their eyes, there’s nothing I can do. Is that the thought process? Sometimes I think we’ve hidden our light under a bushel (Luke 11:33) flying the banner of John 6:44 or Matthew 7:6.
No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.
(Luke 11:33)
To me it’s a copout. To say we have no role in promoting our faith is selfishness, laziness or just plain fear. Fear of what people might say or think, clutching the pearl of great price tightly and saying nothing, instead shaking our heads at others’ lack of understanding. Smugly refusing to risk casting our pearls before swine. Does that sound like someone God can trust to give witness for the hope and joy that lies within?
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. (Mat 7:6)
For most, God’s calling is a process, not an instantaneous epiphany on the road to Damascus. Rather than being blinded by the light, it is typically more of a gradual revelation, an opening of the eyes and a slow turning from the darkness toward the light.
Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. (Acts 9:3-5)
As we continue to seek the truth, our eyes are opened and more and more is revealed to us. Have we forgotten from whence we came (Eph 2:1-3) and our own journey into His marvelous light? How can we expect this person to instantaneously know what it has taken us years to learn? Is that fair? Haven’t we passed judgment on them and decided for them that they obviously haven’t been called or they wouldn’t think the way they do? So who really was judged? We brought judgment on ourselves in that case, didn’t we? (James 4:11)
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.(Eph 2:1-3)  Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. (James 4:11)
If faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God how does one who is seeking the truth hear it? How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17)
So to nurture the faith of this spiritual newborn, he must hear the word of God. But how? And where?
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Rom 10:8-15)
This is not to imply that we should all be preachers but aren’t we all ambassadors for Christ? (2Cor 5:20) Don’t we all represent Him as we go about our daily activities in the world? We interact with others all the time, don’t we? Do we listen for the desperation in their voices? Do we hear their frustration, even exasperation? Can we detect the defeat and despair in their sighs and in their slumping mannerisms? Or are we so wrapped up in our own concerns that we don’t even take notice?
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (2Cor 5:20)
We’ve been conditioned to avoid conflict, to live and let live as they say. But why are we here then? To get ours and leave everyone else to fend for themselves? Dare we ask Cain’s question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Of course not, for we already know the answer, it is a resounding “YES!” We need to ENGAGE with other people. We need to let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven. (Mat 5:16) To reveal to them the Father with gentleness and respect. (Luke 10:22; 1Pet 3:15)
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Mat 5:16)
All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.(Luk 10:22)
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (1Pet 3:15)
As the time of the end draws ever nearer, more and more people will be looking for the hope that’s tucked away in you and me. (1Pet 3:15) It’s at these times that people’s routines are broken, interrupted by the cares of this world, that they begin looking for answers. They begin to question their way of life and where they’re going. Did you ever stop to think that maybe meeting such a person was not a chance encounter? Maybe God had a hand in bringing you in contact with this person. That maybe the Spirit of truth that guides into all truth led them to you to speak of the Father and glorify Him? (John 16:13)
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:13)
The harvest is ripe but the laborers are few.
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. (John 4:35-38)
We may not have played a part in initiating his calling but we can enter into the labor thereof. Or maybe it's you who is to plant the seed of God's word in his heart. If God is calling them, they will find the truth one way or another but wouldn’t it be great if we could play a part in turning that person to righteousness bringing them into God's family?
"At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." (Dan 12:1-4)
Let’s not bury our talent like unprofitable servants (Mat 25:28-46) and just sit idly by waiting for Christ’s return, but put it to work engaging with others, helping them find the narrow gate that leads to hope and life (Matt 7:14), fulfilling the great commission of Matt 28 to preach and teach the gospel around the world. Let’s prove that God can indeed trust in us to do our part in fulfilling His purpose. That we are not just hearers of the word only, but doers also. (James 1:22)

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (19) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Mat 28:18-20)

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Mat 7:14)
For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Mat 25:29-46)
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (James 1:22)

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I strive to be as the Bereans spoken of in Acts 17:10-11 receiving the word with all readiness of mind, and searching the scriptures daily, whether those things are so. Check up on me in your own bible. Should you find me in error please let me know immediately. We must prove all things (1Thes 5:21) and rightly divide the word of truth (2Tim 2:15) together lest we be deceived. (Matt 24:24)

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Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

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