Monday, July 13, 2015

THE LATTER GLORY OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD

The church is the spiritual Jerusalem and the Temple of God, Eph 2:3; Gal 4:26. When Isaiah looked forward to nations streaming to the house of God "in the last days", he was revealing the coming dispensation of Christ and His church. Joel 2:28-32 shows that in the last days God would pour out His Spirit and that all who called on the name of the Lord would be saved. This is shown in Acts 2 to be fulfilled. Pentecost in Acts 2 is the great day that God dwells among the people in a temple made of believers. Peter said, "4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1 Pt 2:4,5.
In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah we see this wonderful, faithful remnant of God's people coming back to the land to build a temple where worship and the law of God would be practiced by the people. And while that temple was rebuilt and Haggai assures the people not to think it was nothing (Hag 2:3), he says that it's latter glory will surpass that of the first. I'm sure the completed temple in Ezra and Nehemiah's day was a marvelous thing, though Herod the Great talked the Jews into dismantling it and rebuilding His own more glorious version (see link), but God ultimately had in mind the temple of the church wherein He would indwell His people.
Numerous passages tell us that God does not dwell in temples made with human hands (Acts 17). But He does dwell in believers and in the church, 1 Cor. 3:16,17; 6:18-20; Romans 8:9-11; Eph 1:13; 4:30. Like so many things from the old that were external and cold as stone tablets, so the physical temple was done away with the Old Law so that Christ through the Holy Spirit dwells in His people. That's just amazing.

JUDGES 13 - THE ONE WHO HAD A NAME TOO WONDERFUL TO SAY

"But the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” - Jud 13:8
This angelic being presented himself to Samson's parents and told Manoah and his wife that their yet to be born son was to be a Nazirite. And when Manoah asked the angel's name, he said, "why do you ask, seeing it is wonderful?"
A name that is too wonderful to say? We know the names of archangels, Michael and Gabriel, Rev 12:7; Daniel 10:13,21; 11:1; 12:1; 9:21; Lk 1:19. Their names are not too wonderful to say. It seems that this person is not merely an angel, but is one who is greater than an angel.
Only God has such a name that is so great. When Moses was sent to tell the Israelites that he was sent to deliver them from bondage, and when they would ask who sent you, GOD says tell them "I Am" has sent you. The "I Am" was so significant a name, meaning the self-existent one, that it could be only the true God who sent Moses. Now this name "I Am" was understood by Jews to refer to YAHWEH of the Bible. It was so unique and wonderful a name that Jesus claimed the name for Himself, saying "before Abraham was, I AM". The hostile Jews understood He made himself to be God and they sought to kill Him, Jn 8:58.
There are many Bible believers who are convinced that this is God, and more specifically, the pre-incarnate Christ (pre-virgin birth). Yes, this one who has a name more wonderful to say is Jesus.
We know Jesus existed before being born of Mary. Christ Jesus was at work from the beginning, Jn 1:1-3. And the spirit of Christ was speaking through the prophets in the Old Testament, 1 Pt 1:10,11. And there are other places in the Old Testament it is believed Jesus appeared
When Isaiah is foretelling the coming of Jesus Christ the Messiah, Isaiah says what He would be called.
"6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore *. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this." Isaiah 9.

Who but Jesus Christ would present Himself as a man to Manoah? There is no name like the name of Jesus. "And there is salvation in no * one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12.
I wouldn't say it is definitive, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility that this is Christ Jesus Himself who is speaking to Manoah.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

THE GOD WHO DWELLS IN HIS PEOPLE

"19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit." Eph 2:19-21.
There are many religions and many idols which men turn to. But what religion has a God that dwells in its followers?
What a beautiful thing to see in Ephesians that we go from being dead in trespasses and sins and servants of the devil to being the habitation of the Lord. God dwells in the temple which is what you are if you are a true disciple of Christ. God dwells in His people through the Spirit. I am not ashamed of the Gospel and I'm not ashamed to say that God dwells in me.
There are Christians who have been conditioned and trained to say the Holy Spirit could never dwell in a man. Why not? If God could dwell in the Solomon temple and in the tent Moses carried around the wilderness for forty years, why couldn't God dwell in His children? If God could been so close that Paul says to the Athenians that in Him we live, move and exist and that he's not far from any one of us, why couldn't God move an inch closer to dwell in those men and women who have been made a holy habitation by His grace? The logic of man can not be allowed to dismiss the beautiful mystery that God lives in His people through the Spirit.
We are conditioned to distinguish between the flesh and the spirit and so it is insisted that God wouldn't dwell in a man. Why not? God provides for the sanctity of the tent. Jesus could come and indwell a body for 33 years. The flesh didn't contaminate Him. Jesus was Holy and the body was Holy. We sing "Holy, Holy, Holy" and think that God alone is holy. It's true that He's never been unholy, but it's not true that none other is holy. God says we are to be like Him and has provided that we can share in His holiness; we have a borrowed holiness which God gives from Christ to us who are of faith. And so there's no reason to object that God could dwell in us because we aren't holy. God dwells in the one made holy by Jesus. This is so important Paul says if God doesn't dwell in you, then yo are lost and not saved, Romans 8:9ff.
The skeptic says, "No, there are no miracles and therefore He can't dwell in Christians because that would be a miracle." This logic doesn't follow. The dwelling of the Holy Spirit isn't the classic miracle as we see in the New Testament. It is like the work of providence that is a reality, a work of God which is only accepted by faith being worked by God behind what is seen. To say that God dwells in a Christian man is accepted by faith. We accept by faith that God answers our prayers and we don't so, 'not to because miracles have ceased', and we shouldn't diminish that God has benevolently chosen to dwell in His people. Sure, His word is in us. It must be. But the word alone being in a person isn't good enough. God wants to dwell in His people in a very personal way.
Buddha and Confucius and Allah doesn't dwell in their adherents. But God will dwell in the redeemed. Christians live with a sense of wonder over the work of God in their lives.
"Repent and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT." Acts 2:38.

THE CHURCH IS VITAL TO THE CHRISTIAN

Is the church vital to your life? If the church is not vital to your life, then you are far away from God.
Tonight we are studying from Ephesians to see the importance of the church which Jesus rules over.
The church was in God's mind from before the foundation of the world that His people would be "holy and blameless" in it, Eph 1:4; 4:27. The purity and glory, and no spot or wrinkle of the church, is God's design from the beginning. If a brother or sister in Christ is far from the church, he or she is far from the rule of Christ and is in danger of becoming defiled by the world.
The Holy Spirit dwells in the church. Paul says to the Ephesians that the Jewish and Gentile Christian is part of the one body of Christ. This is what Paul says that "in one body" (Eph 2:16ff) all the redeemed are brought together into a habitation of God, a building, the household of God, through the Holy Spirit who indwells is. When a Christian separates and removes himself from the body of Christ to no longer have anything to do with it, he can be sure that the Spirit he received when he first believed will be removed and separated from him.
God wants there to be unity among His people which is why Paul says to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace and has united us under these 7: one Father, one Lord, one Holy Spirit, one hope, one faith, one baptism, and also one body, Eph 4:4-6. There is only one head of the church, who is Jesus Christ, and thus there is only one body and not many. If Christ meant for there to be many bodies and many faiths and many hopes for salvation, He would never have called for unity for unity is not possible under the myriad of faiths, hopes, and "bodies" that we see today. Oneness is designed by God to be achieved under His rule and in His one body.
It is in the church where Christians submit to the rule of Christ, Eph 1:21-23. Paul says Jesus is seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father to be the head and ruler over the body, which is the church of Christ. Jesus is the benevolent and loving monarch over the church so that as we formerly submitted to the forces of darkness and wherein we also walked in the trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1-3), but now in Christ we have all been brought together into the one body of Christ and have freely submitted to His rule.
The Christian life revolves around the church. This must be our understanding or else we do not understand God's plan. Paul says that we are created anew in Christ Jesus, by grace and faith, to do good works, Eph 2:10. And the "good works" is incorporated into the proper functioning of the entire body of Christ. Paul says later that the teaching function of the church is for "the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith (notice that this is the "one faith" mentioned earlier in vs 4:4), and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ", Eph 4:12,13. This working church is always doing the work of Christ. With the growing up of the body, each part of the body doing his or her part, is always picturing Christ and growing "into the fulness of Christ". The "measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ" means that the church, comprised of many members, each created for good works in Christ, is growing to be like Christ on earth. What Christ would be doing in His earthly ministry is what the church is doing. When a member of the body removes himself from the work of God, this man has lost his way and is in danger of being removed from God's body. The sick, sleeping, and dead member of the body must wake up what remains before God does what He does to any dead branch with cutting off and tossing it into the fire, John 15:2.
Sometimes the members allow the worldliness, wherein they used to live "according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience", think they can pull back and do the minimum service to Christ. God's plan is for the church to work together to further the "administration of the mystery" which is spiritual labor for expanding the kingdom rule of Christ into the lives of men. Those who pull back and give only a measure of themselves to Christ because they still love the world are compromising. And their compromise will overtake them so that they see in themselves the duplicity and hypocrisy and eventually will cut themselves off from the church. To Christ, He wants all or nothing for we cannot serve two masters. If our life does not revolve around the church of Christ, then we are a hindrance to Christ and such a person does not remove himself, God will remove him.
The church is the bride of Christ. Jesus loves the church and someday will return to save the church, Eph 5:23. In the context of speaking of the mystery of the church, Paul tells us something very interesting that the relationship of Christ to the church is like the relationship of the husband and wife. As in the marriage there is respect and love for each other, so in the church there is respect and love between the church and Christ. A godly marriage is a picture, designed by God to be, of the beautiful union of Jesus and His Bride, the church. She is pure and holy as a bride. He lovingly sacrificed Himself for her. To understand God's plan is to desire to live and work and walk within the church. The church is a wonderful thing comprised of many members.
Does your life revolve around the church? Is your life and your work intertwined and indistinguishable from the church. The church is you and you are the church. Do you love the church and cherish it? Do you love the saints and is it your life to serve each other? Be sure that you do not live in a way that is contrary to the function or work of the body. God dwells in you and so live for Him in His church. Submit to the rule of Christ in His body, the church.

THE VALUE OF THE CHURCH TO GOD

"He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world" Eph 1:4. All of this summing up of all things in Christ, namely the redemption of man, was "predestined" to be the plan from the beginning, Eph 1:11. God's plan deserves our full attention.
The message that was "hidden" for long ages that God planned to unite people of all nations into "one body" (Eph. 2:16) was "the eternal purpose [of God] which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord", Eph 3:11.
Knowing how important the church was and is to God makes it very odd that some Christians act as if the church is of little importance to them. The church was on God's radar from before the creation of the world, but for many weak Christians the church isn't even a blip on their screen. Why is this?
Paul says to the church at Ephesus that God's "manifold wisdom" is being demonstrated through His church. The church is God's manifold wisdom.
We can be sure that the devil knows how important the church is. He does all he can to destroy or stain it. Paul said woe to the one that destroys the church, 1 Cor. 3:16,17. The church is the temple, house, or habitation of God in the Spirit and the one that would destroy it, God will destroy him. The devil that would destroy the church must be happy if Christians do little in the church.
The church is the place Christians work. Paul said we are created anew in Christ Jesus "for good works", Eph 2:10. This working of the church with all the members of the body functioning together is so that it portrays the glory of Christ.
How can a Christian read what Jesus has done in the church and then give only their scraps of time, talents, and monies to God? They truly rob God, Mal 3:8. Paul said, "the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love", Eph 4:16. The holding together and growth of the body doesn't happen if Christian do not hold the church as dear as Jesus does.
Jesus said He would build His church, Mt 16:16ff. But I have seen so-called Christians treat the church as nothing important. I have the sense that this is going to be judged and God will find these as enemies.
We are members of one another, Eph 4:25. The man who is still in love with the world, with money, with worldly pursuits and diversions will not feel this connection which Paul speaks of. Paul sees the church being together and says about their conduct, "Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another." Eph 4:25. But for these who spend no time with the church have no need of such an admonition since they don't fellowship, there is no occasion for lying to the church. Well, perhaps that isn't the whole truth. There is much lying that is done with all of the excuse making that goes into explaining why he or she doesn't have the time to work with the fellow members of the body.
In the garden of Eden God had in mind the church. When it says in Genesis, "FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH", God had in mind to picture the Lord Jesus and His church. Paul says to the Ephesians, "This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church", Eph 5:32. Yes, the marriage of the husband and wife is picturing the union of Christ and the Church. When weak Christians treat their membership in the body of Christ as of last importance - work, family sports, etc comes before it - it is ignorance at the very least and at worst it is the fist of rebellion still shaking at God. I believe God will not look well upon such rebellion.
How does a person come to value the church as Jesus values it? Only by turning in repentance to make God's interests our own. We must learn from Peter who at one moment could say the praiseworthy words "thou art the Christ, the son of the living God" and in the next when Jesus says He must die, say, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." Mt 16:16,22. We must learn as Peter did that God is right and we must accept the church as Christ built it. The church comes through the death of Christ. The people of God's church must be dead to the flesh and alive to Christ. When this happens, the church will be central to our lives.
I speak this truth in love, Eph 4:15. And those who reject the truth, God will judge them. There is only one body of Christ, Eph 4:4,5. The church is comprised of those who believe in the one faith and who have received the one baptism, Mt 28:19; Mk 16:16. They worship in spirit and truth, Jn 4:23,24; Eph 5:19. They have a common mission to war against the sin in the world, Eph 6:10ff. So suit up with the armor of God. Take the Gospel to the world. Win souls and help them to grow up in the body of Christ. And those who refuse to accept God's eternal plan, reject them and put them out of the body.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

TWO FAITHS OR ONE FAITH

A common misinterpretation of the difference between faith in Romans 4 and James 2 is to suggest that the first describes faith before salvation which is to God, and faith after salvation which is before men. The first has no works; the second has works.

I would respectfully disagree. Such an explanation is represents a typical explanation to depict two faiths - one before salvation and one after. The false depiction is driven by "faith alone" doctrine and says that to be saved you only need the faith that has no works/obedience (se, Romans 4) and after salvation you need the other faith with works (see James 2). But this is the creation of a false dichotomy. We cannot accept that there are two faiths.

The truth is that there is only one faith (Rom 1:17) and it is obedient (Romans 1:5; 16:26; 1 Thess 1:3), from beginning to end. The proper understanding is that: 1] Faith is always in God instead of one's works, 2] Faith is always obedient. If our faith is in our works (ala, Romans), then it is fleshly. If our faith doesn't have works (ala, James), then it is dead.

Said in love, Dan Mayfield

IT'S WHAT YOU DO, NOT WHAT YOU ARE

Doing and Being are important distinctions to God. By doing sin we fall into the judgment of God. But our Being, as in what we are when we come into this world, is as pure and innocent as Adam and Even when God made them. They were "very good" and a child is "very good".

God made us good. No one is born sinful or depraved by inheriting the parents' sins. We are born pure.

But Luther, the Pope, the Southern Baptism, and entire populations of religious people believe just the opposite that man is born in a fallen state and in need of God's "prevenient" grace until Catholic and Lutheran babies get "baptized" or until little Baptist children can sing "Jesus loves me".

One place these people turn to to justify their position it Ephesians 2:3 that says, "were by nature children of wrath". Well, that settles it, right? Not quite.

A read Ephesians 2:1-3 shows that this "children of wrath" state or condition didn't happen by conception or birth but by practicing sin. It's not logical that Paul is talking to Gentiles about the way they used to live and then say they lived that way because they were born that way! That's not logical and it's not what Paul is saying.

The "nature", as in "were by nature", is a nature that's developed and not the "fallen nature" that the Catholics, Lutherans and Baptist have adopted. Why would they accept such a devilish view of a child, fallen and corrupted by no doing of their own, when Ezekiel 18 says that a son does not bear the iniquity of the father?

Sin is not inherited. A "fallen nature" is not inherited. A "fallen nature" is what each and every one of us develop by practicing sin. "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Why is that passage so hard to understand? When we sin like Adam, then we fall, Rom 5:12. We aren't conceived or born already fallen.

STUDYING PSALM 39 AND THE SILENCE OF DAVID

David was suffering and wasting away under the discipline of the LORD and there was to be no gladness until he got right with God.

"Turn Your gaze away from me, that I may smile again Before I depart and am no more." - Ps 39:13

It has occurred to me that there are many, many people in the world who are suffering under the heavy hand of the LORD. They are suffering as a result of their sins. And they seek EVERY human remedy, every suave, every excuse, and have assigned every blame, but they have not been silent before the LORD to find His forgiveness.

David begins the Psalm talking about his present state of silent reflection.

"1 I said, 'I will guard my ways That I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle while the wicked are in my presence.' 2 I was mute and silent, I refrained even from good, And my sorrow grew worse. 3 My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned; " Ps 39:1-3a

David says something curious during the time of deep introspection: "I was mute and silent, I refrained even from good, And my sorrow grew worse." Ps 39:2.

Why was David silent so that he didn't even say good?

I have read this and read it again. I came to my conclusion on it's meaning and then checked the Commentaries. They were completely different. It looks like all the Commentaries come to a different conclusion that David was silent when observing all of the material prosperity of the enemy. As if sinfully, he was so consumed by his own vain life that he said nothing towards the wicked and said nothing good. This seems to be missing the point and ignoring some text. The commentaries, as I understand them, are making David's silence part of his sin, overlooking the sins of the wicked as it were, or by not saying good when he should have. I don't think the silence is the sin. Sometimes it's good to be completely silent.

As I read the 39th Psalm, I see this as a time of inner reflection and turmoil for David who is himself in trouble by the hand of God. I see the time of reflection explaining the quietness, refusal to speak in the presence of the enemies and even to the point of not even saying good. Then he breaks his silence by opening up to God.

Thanks for the tip from a friend to look at Psalm38. It says in verses 13,14: "“13 But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; And I am like a mute man who does not open his mouth. 14 Yes, I am like a man who does not hear, And in whose mouth are no arguments.” - Psalm 38:13,14

This text in the 38th Psalm seems to match what I believe is going on in the 39th Psalm. The good and the evil world is just going on, passing him by, because he's become so overwhelmed by the hand of God that's upon him. And isn't this what he says in 39:9?

"I have become mute, I do not open my mouth, because it is You who have done it."

So David is stopping, waiting, and being silent because words would only distract from what needs to be done first. Preaching to the wicked would be vanity to God - like telling others about a splinter in their eyes with a log in his own eye. And David withholds even from telling good because with such sacrifices God is not pleased. David needs to first practice what he preaches. It therefore takes a time of quiet solace, humbly approaching the throne of God where he finally opens his mouth and says, "Lord, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am." 39:4.

As I read the commentaries and try to get my head around their explanations on David's silence, they suggest he did good and did bad in not speaking. But it looks like David begins already deciding to be silent about everything UNTIL he talks to God. He says he is being silent so he doesn't sin. He says later in the Psalm, "I have become mute, I do not open my mouth, Because it is You who have done it", v9. So right there is the explanation for why he is being so silent.

The explanation by most all of the Commentaries seems to be missing the real point. He is silent because the first order of business is to speak to God and get right with Him.

Can you think of any justification for not speaking, even to say anything god?

What do you say? Do you know why there's a time to be silent? Let me ask what good is it to do good and offer sacrifices to God when God is not pleased with our hearts? Is God pleased if we stand up and speak to others, even to enemies, when God is looking upon our lives with disdain? If you read this Psalm, it's apparent that David has gotten off track and now he's in a period of deep introspection. There is only one thing for him to do and that is to get right with God. That is why there's a time to be silent and just get right with God.

So why the judgment against the materialistic of the world where he says, "6"Surely every man walks about as a phantom; Surely they make an uproar for nothing; He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them."? Why is because David is talking about himself. This materialism has been driving him. Still the Psalm, I think, is a confession to God that he now understands the vanity and futility of chasing the world and losing God.

David was suffering and wasting away under the discipline of the LORD and there was to be no gladness until he got right with God.

It has occurred to me that there are many, many people in the world who are suffering under the heavy hand of the LORD. They are suffering as a result of their sins. And they seek EVERY human remedy, every suave, every excuse, and have assigned every blame, but they have not been silent before the LORD to find His forgiveness.

What are your thoughts?

"Let everyone be slow to speak, quick to listen, quick to hear", James 1

"Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Mt 7

36 "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37 "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

Solomon said, "1 Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. 2 Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few." Eccl. 5

Saturday, June 27, 2015

SET APART AND NOT OF THE WORLD.

"Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth." - Jn 17:17

How often we have heard these words! We use these words of our Lord to establish that truth is found in the Bible. And this is true, but is that what Jesus was talking about?

Jesus is talking to the Father. Jesus isn't telling the Father or us where to find the truth. Instead Jesus is saying God's word will set the disciples apart from the world.

"14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." Jn 17:14-16.
As Christ came into the world to do God's work and to glorify Him, so the disciples have been left in the world to do His work and to glorify the Father.

Jesus later says that His disciples are in the world, but they are not of the world. What is it that keeps the disciples from being of the world but the word of God. Disciples can be in the world, remaining holy and about the Father's business, because the word of God sets them apart.

"Sanctify them in the truth" is showing that God's word must come to the disciples if they are to be "in the world but not of the world". They won't have human wisdom. They won't have traditions. They won't be left with doubts and questions. But God will give to them the Holy Spirit inspired truth so that they will be set apart.

How about you? Are you striving to overcome sin? Do you feel you are too often just like the world. Is your life in the world AND of the world? Well it's because you are not sanctified by the word of truth. Without God's word, you are going to act as one who is still of the world.

God bless you. Dan Mayfield

STIRRED UP

Paroxuno - "This Greek verb gives us our English word paroxysm which is defined as a fit, attack, or sudden increase or recurrence of symptoms (as of a disease), a convulsion (like paroxysm of coughing) or a sudden violent emotion or action, and so an outburst (a paroxysm of rage)."

This is the Word used for Paul being "provoked" in his spirit at seeing all of the idols in Athens.

My spirit is provoked at seeing the idols being propped up by President Obama, liberal judges, and godless politicians in both sides of the aisle.

To be provoked over sin is right. A godly man is jealous for God and is provoked by the immorality that is growing in this land. "Remember, do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day that you left the land of Egypt until you arrived at this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD." Dt. 9:7.

How long before God comes down and judges Sodom and finds these who would pervert the precious marriage institution? They will be weighed and found wanting.

WHEN GOD IS YOUR HOPE.... Psalm 131

1 O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.

The world that does not hope in God is proud and boastful. The world that does not hope in God is overly involved in matters not too great for man. The world that does not hope in God believes in its own might and it does not know it is weak. The world is doomed to fail that does not hope in God.

2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.

The child of God has been tenderly fed and nurtured as an infant is from his dear mother. And at the right time, the child has grown to eat on food and no longer needs the mother's milk. Now the child is grown and weaned but still is comforted by the abiding presence of God. God's child has a hope. He is secure as a weaned child in the care of his mother.

3 O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time forth and forever.

Israel and the Church does not hope in the temporal and passing things of this life. There is only hope in the LORD. When you feel proud, remember there is no hope there. When you want to involve yourselves in matters too great for man which only God can answer, remember there's no hope for you. And when you try to do what only God can do, know there is no hope there.

Let God be your hope from now and forever more.

GAY LOVE IS JUST THE SAME?

"Our love is equal". These are the words of someone celebrating the decision by the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states. It is not equal. Just as all "love" is not equal, so this gay "love" is not equal. There is no real comparison between union between a man and woman. They are complimentary. The man and woman bring unique talents to the union which a "union" of two men or the "union" of two women can't possibly bring.

The Supreme Court just blew up the rational view of marriage. In a recent post of a video showing why the traditional, biblical, and moral view of marriage should be policy for government and the author showed why on philosophical grounds.

In the video I posted showing on philosophical grounds the superiority of marriage between man and woman, the author/speaker pointed to statistics showing that a marriage between two men has exaggerated levels of promiscuous sex outside of the "union". It is men who tend to be promiscuous. This tendency is doubled in a gay "union". Similarly, women tend to be more emotional and needy for attention (don't get offended, we are only talking about the truth) and in a lesbian "union" it is accentuated. The author/speaker in said video points out what I didn't know and what isn't talked much about that lesbian couples have the highest rate of divorce. The point is that the stability that's needed in marriage and home is broken down in the "union" of gays and lesbians.

God is going to judge the godless politicians and judges for their ungodly decisions.

"Love wins" is the announcement by iHeart radio in celebrating the decision by the court. I can assure you that with this win, someone is losing. Churches will lose when they preach against homosexuality and the sin of gay marriage. Businesses refusing to support or participate in gay marriages on the basis of conscience will lose. Children who are placed in gay and lesbian relationships will lose because they will have no right to be with and know their biological parents.

You can be sure that the whole story is not being told. The sin of homosexuality has vast, seedy underbelly that isn't pretty. The rainbow is the image and the public pronouncements aside, it's immoral and it will be judged. STAND FIRM AND DO NOT YIELD FOR A SECOND.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

HOW MANY FAITHFUL CHILDREN WILL THERE BE?

QUESTION: what is the key word in Ezra chapter 2?
"Children" or "sons", depending on the translation.   They are the descendants of Israel who had accepted the call to leave Persia and return to Jerusalem and Judah. That 42,000 plus servants would pack up and leave is actually a testimony of their faith. Here is how chapter 2 begins....

"The number of the men of the people of Israel: the sons of Parosh, 2,172; the sons of Shephatiah, 372; the sons of Arah, 775; the sons of Pahath-moab of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,812...."  - Ezra 2:3ff

The listing of the sons continues through the entire chapter. But I want to focus on the number as it relates to faithfulness.  The sons are returning to the faith of their fathers that they might be the children of God.  I wonder how many of us fathers and mothers will have such a number of descendants who follow the LORD? I have five children who follow the LORD. My children are married to faithful Christians and they are therefore my children.  My children have given me eleven grandchildren and they are my children. My grandchildren are learning to walk with the LORD. I have taught my children to raise these eleven to be faithful to the LORD. And my children are teaching their children to teach their children to be faithful to the LORD. How many children of Dan will there be in a hundred years? Are we living our faith and raising our children to live by faith so that our children's children will desire to serve only Him?

Pray about this. - Dan Mayfield

DO YOU RESPOND?

When Ezra read the book of the law to the assembled people, it says he "4stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah, Michael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Mechullam on his left hand. 5Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it all, all the people stood up. 6Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, 'Amen, Amen!' while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces t the ground." Nehemiah 8:4-6.

I have preached many years and have never seen such a response from the people in the church. Why? There is nothing unholy or distracting about the response of these people who shout and lift their hands.

I sense that the church is so on guard against the very real threat of emotionalism that runs over the truth and over the commanded order that any visible expression is hushed. While we in the church admit that what the mind knows, the heart feels, we communicate that the expression of joy must be curtailed to a minimum lest we fall into error and turn the worship into a circus.

The emotional response of the people in Ezra and Nehemiah's day showed reverence to God's Word by standing at the reading of the Scripture, and they knew the proper moment to speak so that all together they said, "Amen! Amen!"

This response isn't orchestrated. Being raised Catholic, sort of, and being familiar enough with being told everything to say, and when to kneel, stand, and sit, I'm familiar with shows of religion that have nothing to do with the natural, heartfelt, and spiritual response to God.

What about the lifting of the hands? First, I dislike very much anything that becomes orchestrated and showy.  And I've visited denominations who make a big show of their religion in this way.  However, the raising of the hands as an expression of faith is as natural as a child lifting his arms to a parent. It is as natural as lifting the eyes to heaven. It is as natural as dropping to the knees in humility. It is as natural as prostrating oneself before God in prayer. There is nothing unspiritual or unscriptural about someone lifting up their hands to God.

The danger. With all such shows of faith, shows of expression, there is always the danger of it becoming nothing but show which conceals a heart that is not being lifted up to God. We have seen people come forward at the end of the sermon and it is with tears and sorrow for sin.  This isn't wrong. It is good. But there's never a guarantee that the expressions are genuine. But we don't tell people to not respond because such things might be fake. There's always a danger of fakery. God will deal with that.

The title of the lesson here isn't about lifting the hands or shouting "Amen". It is about responding in a very real way to the Word of God.  It seems the church has become comfortable with hearing the Word of God that it elicits no response at all. The preacher has poured his heart into the lesson and has most likely shed a tear and prayed deeply to God by being personally touched and convicted by what he's studied.  But then he stands at the podium as Ezra did and he makes his final appeal and then sits down. All the while, the people are stone silent. To my core, I can't explain it, but I think something is wrong.

Does God need to shake the mountains to make us quiver? Does Jesus need to make a whip to bring us to repentance? Or does the Word of God still touch you and move your spirit to say, "Thank you! Thank you! O my Lord, Amen to You!"

I offer this humbly, Dan Mayfield

Thursday, June 11, 2015

BREAKING DOWN THE BARRIERS


God says and reminds all who will hear that He is holy and nothing impure can come into His presence. "Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor..." Hab 1:13; cf Rev 21:27.  Yes, God makes a distinction between what is holy and profane.

The priests, Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, learned and were taught this lesson when they mingled the holy and unholy so that God's wrath was stirred and He killed them. God said to Moses, "10 and so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean, 11 and so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them through Moses." Lev 10:10,11. It has always been God's design that men be righteous and that they make every effort to avoid all that is sin and all who are sinful. Because God is holy, His people are to be holy in all their behavior, 1 Pt 1:14-16.

To walk with Christ and to have the fruit of the Spirit is to be godly or god-like. All that God has done through His beloved Son to redeem man from sin is to restore sinful man back into a happy and blessed covenant life with Him.

Don't break through God's barriers of holiness by becoming like the sinful world.  The Apostle writes,

"14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 17 "Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord. "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. 18 "And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty." 2 Cor. 6.

It is amazing that God desires a familial relationship with His children. But to be sons and daughters, there must be a clear distinction in how they live from the world. They "come out from their midst" and are "not bound together" with them "being separate" from the world is essential to have the right to be welcomed into the sanctuary of the Lord.  Psalm 24:3ff asks who may enter God's sanctuary? The answer is those who have clean hands, a pure heart, who have not lifted up their souls to falsehood, nor have they spoken deceitfully. God established the rules for having fellowship with Him. And spiritual people keep themselves from their feet and eyes and mind away from the immoralities of the world.

Do not break through the boundaries established by God so that you walk in sin.  In the days of Noah, it says, "1...it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose." Gen 6:1,2. Just as Paul said in 2 Corinthians that Christians are not to be bound together with unbelievers, so there was the mingling of the good and evil in the days of Noah and we see what evil was wrought.

Compromise and you lose your spirituality.  The holy and loved relationship with God is too valuable to jeopardize by dabbling and playing with the world.  We must be always on our guard that we not be deceived to compromise our way with God.  Respect the barriers of holiness and abstain from all that is wicked.

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