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Friday, May 31, 2013

Not a program, but LIFE

Got a question from a dear friend, that sparked some good thoughts from God, I will share them here.

The question

So I struggle with my temper and I find myself a bit confused today.  I have a quote here from Gary Chapman that seemed to speak to me and sounded accurate.....  he says :
"The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  It is NOT the fruit of self effort.  It is NOT a commitment to TRY to be like Jesus, rather, yielding our lives to the Holy Spirit so He can express the qualities of Jesus through us."

However, Colossions 3:8 says
"But now you must rid yourself of all things such as these; anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips."

So yes I know Gary Chapman's quote is not scripture but it seems to make sense, it's not of my own effort but the scripture says "Now YOU MUST RID YOURSELF....."

Is it something I do or something God does???

The reply

yes it is something you do
yes it is something God does

Our desire to change, to "rid yourself", to "put off", flows from His work in us.  His victory is what enables us.  His Life is what gives us the desire.  The change in our hearts over time will be reflected in what proceeds from our lips.  
If we devise a plan to 'stop being angry.'   And that plan somehow worked, we would get the glory.  We would have accomplished it through the flesh.

If we overcome it through weakness, then He gets the glory.  In other words, "confess your faults to one another and you will be healed."  Admitting our inability to defeat anger, we throw ourselves on His mercy and grace, 
that great song we sing in church, 
"when I cannot stand, I'll fall on You, Holiness is Christ in me.", is some of the most amazing truth I have ever sung in a song not written by William Cowper, or Charles Wesley.

So Chapman is right, it is not through our own "self-effort" that we get fruit;  and Paul is right, the heart that is in love with Jesus, will be highly motivated to put off and rid itself of anything that does not please Him.  How it does that is the crux of the matter, 
not through a "program" but through "life."   
 In fact I would consider the "tender conscience" to be one of the greatest things that comes to us automatically as a result of being 'born again.'  And the 'tender conscience' is injured very easily when we KNOW that we need to apologize, ask forgiveness, or humble ourselves in someway in order to be reconciled to another and we choose NOT too.  At that very moment, we have justified our self, our action, or whatever and we have stepped out from under the covering of the grace of God.  SELF will look for ANY, and I mean ANY other way to overcome anger, that does not involve the humiliation of admitting sin.

Bonus thought at no extra cost....

The church is an organism primarily, not an organization.  The organization aspect is necessary, Paul would appoint elders and deacons, etc., but the organization should not be over-done.  It should serve the organism.  When the reverse starts to happen, the organization has grown too big.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Fear of the Lord benefits your children

In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence
and his children have a refuge.  Proverbs 14:26

Remember the definition of the fear of the Lord?

The Fear of the Lord, is the "willingness to justify God in all that He allows into your life."  Roy Hession

Trials, temptations, tribulations, suffering... ALL that He allows into your life!

Bowing to God, to His sovereignty,  being a man who by the grace of God, says, "Yes, Lord." without any reservations, without any, "but not that" gives an unspeakably great benefit to your family.  
As usual when our obedience, is at least in part, about the benefit that accrue to others.

God I trust You!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mercy Conviction

“Since the fundamental nature of the Cross is that a man died for you in order that you
don’t have to, if you don’t then respond by giving this same substance of mercy, your
faith is dead. The evidence of your faith in the atonement is fundamentally shown by the
mercy you give.”   Stephen Holmes
ONE HOPE. ONE BOAST. April 20, 2013 Conference
Day 2, Session 2: Mercy And The Cross 5

This quote and my Pastor’s ending comment on our Wed. night teaching last night, have brought conviction to me.
He said, (paraphrasing) “Husbands, you must act quickly and decisively if your children disrespect their mother.  It is damaging to her, and to your marriage and to your kids if you do not.”
On more than one occasion, I have stood by silently while this happened and our family has reaped the whirlwind because of it.
Mercy Lord, is my only cry.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

When God says, 'NO.'

Had a chance to teach on Wednesday night.  We broke up into "tiny" groups and discussed the first twelve scriptures.  That did not leave us time to review the other quotes, but it was well received and got us all thinking.

When God says, “No.”

The Greek word translated Mystery is used 27 times in the NT and means that which, being outside the unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by divine revelation.

Break up into ‘tiny’ groups and tackle these, but first stop and pray for revelation.

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. Heb. 5:8

1)    Psalm 136:10,15,17,18   God’s lovingkindness demonstrated in the death of His enemies.

2)    "Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins." / Psalm  25:18
         Break it into two halves and examine it.

3)     Hebrews 10:32-35   “accepted joyfully the seizure of your property”...   say what?

4)      Luke 24:25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the                prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to                                enter into His glory?”      A foundational principle of God is revealed.

5)      The purpose of the church and the wisdom of God revealed in 2 verses.   Eph. 3:10,11

6)       Lifting the veil of personal suffering... 2 Corin. 1:3-7  3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; 7 and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

7)     Exposure, vulnerability... its all good.  James 5:16  “Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].” AMP version

8)     What makes us steadfast and immovable?  1 Corin. 15:55-58

9)      What is the “therefore” referring to?   What makes the praise a sacrifice?
Hebrews 13:14-16
14 For here we have no permanent city, but we are looking for the one which is to come.
15 Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.
16 Do not forget or neglect to do kindness and good, to be generous and distribute and contribute to the needy [of the church as embodiment and proof of fellowship], for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

10)    Communion  1 Cor. 11:23-32  Can you put this section in your own words?  What is the purpose of communion?

11)    James 1:2-4  Familiar passage, but what is it really saying?  “2 Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.
3 Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
4 But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.”  AMP

12)    Parents do it with their kids and HE does it with us....Hebrews 12:5-7


Self-pity and murmuring, will short circuit the work the God is trying to do in your life and since His purposes can not be ultimately thwarted, you will be looping around the mountain one more time!

Sentimental and shallow love must die in order to make room for true grace-filled resurrection unconditional love.

Disillusionment with others, and with self, and with God  are an essential part of the path of life.

The object of pursuit, in the wisdom, of God is the glory of God,  not the pursuit of happiness, not instant gratification.  Anyone who pursues the glory of God makes themselves a candidate not for happiness, but for suffering, but the ultimate end, is the glory of God and the ultimate reward is in the life to come.  “These all died, not having received the promises..."Hebrews 11:13
Our terminology is “ultimate gratification."   Art Katz Two Wisdoms (part 2)

Praise in the middle of affliction devastates the enemy.

Practical advice from Oswald Chambers...(January 30)
  Get into the habit of saying, "Speak, Lord," and life will become a romance. Every time circumstances press, say, "Speak, Lord"; make time to listen. Chastening is more than a means of discipline, it is meant to get me to the place of saying, "Speak, Lord."

This is the temper which sanctified affliction always begets, so that the prostrate soul dares no longer to impose terms on Jehovah, but yields itself to his sovereign discretion. There is peace in such a surrender, a peace which is altogether independent of any expected mitigation of the stroke. Wave after wave often goes over the child of God, before he is brought to this state of self-renunciation. Murmuring may for a time prevail, yet the Great Physician, who applies the painful remedy, cannot be baffled, and triumphs to his own glory, and the unspeakable benefit of the believer's soul.

Chastisement is useful, because it leads the believer to look for complete happiness in heaven only. He is the happy man who dwells most on the thoughts of heaven. Like Enoch — he walks with God. Like Job, he can say, "I know that my Redeemer lives," etc. Like David, he glories, "You will show me your salvation!" Like Paul, he triumphs, "For I am now ready to be offered," etc.

In every case of suffering, it is the prime wisdom of the Christian to fix his eyes upon the heavenly crown. In every other hope you may be disappointed, in this you cannot. Try as you may all other fountains for your solace, there is a time coming when you must be driven to this. Become familiar with meditation on heavenly glory! Daily contemplate that joyful deliverance from evil, that indissoluble and ecstatic union with the Lord Jesus Christ! Then, when death lays upon you his cold hand, you can say, "I am prepared for this hour. I have longed for this deliverance to meet my Lord in His house. I have lived in communion with the blessed Lord of heaven." "Lo, this is my God, I have waited for Him, and He will save me; this is the Lord, I have waited for Him; I will rejoice and be glad in His salvation."

Lastly, Charles Haddon Spurgeon
"And all the children of Israel murmured." / Numbers 14:2

There are murmurers amongst Christians now, as there were in the camp of
Israel of old. There are those who, when the rod falls, cry out against the
afflictive dispensation. They ask, "Why am I thus afflicted? What have I done
to be chastened in this manner?" A word with thee, O murmurer! Why shouldst
thou murmur against the dispensations of thy heavenly Father? Can he treat
thee more hardly than thou deservest? Consider what a rebel thou wast once,
but he has pardoned thee! Surely, if he in his wisdom sees fit now to chasten
thee, thou shouldst not complain. After all, art thou smitten as hardly as thy
sins deserve? Consider the corruption which is in thy breast, and then wilt
thou wonder that there needs so much of the rod to fetch it out? Weigh
thyself, and discern how much dross is mingled with thy gold; and dost thou
think the fire too hot to purge away so much dross as thou hast? Does not that
proud rebellious spirit of thine prove that thy heart is not thoroughly
sanctified? Are not those murmuring words contrary to the holy submissive
nature of God's children? Is not the correction needed? But if thou wilt
murmur against the chastening, take heed, for it will go hard with murmurers.
God always chastises his children twice, if they do not bear the first stroke
patiently. But know one thing--"He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the
children of men." All his corrections are sent in love, to purify thee, and to
draw thee nearer to himself. Surely it must help thee to bear the chastening
with resignation if thou art able to recognize thy Father's hand. For "whom
the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If
ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons." "Murmur not as some
of them also murmured and were destroyed of the destroyer."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Zechariah Study #4 Zechariah 2:1-13

Zechariah Bible Study #4
The Man With the Measuring Line
Zechariah 2:1-13

God’s Favor to Zion

2:1 Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 So I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see how wide it is and how long it is.” 3 And behold, the angel who was speaking with me was going out, and another angel was coming out to meet him, 4 and said to him, “Run, speak to that young man, saying, ‘Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the multitude of men and cattle within it. 5 For I,’ declares the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’”

6 “Ho there! Flee from the land of the north,” declares the Lord, “for I have dispersed you as the four winds of the heavens,” declares the Lord. 7 “Ho, Zion! Escape, you who are living with the daughter of Babylon.” 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, “After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye. 9 For behold, I will wave My hand over them so that they will be plunder for their slaves. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me. 10 Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” declares the Lord. 11 “Many nations will join themselves to the Lord in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you. 12 The Lord will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.
13 “Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord; for He is aroused from His holy habitation.”  NASB

Remember these visions are connected, they are “good words, comforting words.”  The measuring line speaks of a space being marked out to occupy in the condition of the restoration that God brings.  A plan is being made, arrangements are in the works.  The Master Builder is making preparations.
The vision starts with a man on a mission.  He has a measuring line in his hand.  If this is the same ‘man’ who was standing among the myrtle trees then it is a pre-appearance of Jesus.  He is set about on the symbolic act of measuring the city, come to find out, it is not nearly big enough for what God has planned.  Now the communication starts happening so fast it is hard to keep up with.  The message is so joyful, so marvelous, that the messenger is told to ‘run’ with it.  Jerusalem which is just starting to be re-populated and re-built will one day burst at the seams.
When God has His way, it is bigger than we could measure.  When God has His way the walls are over run.  The security the walls provided is now handled personally by God.  
Sadly there is an imitation of this time, that is man-made.  A 'peace’ that has the appearance of providing safety, when in actuality it is the ultimate set-up for destruction.                    Ezekiel 38:11“and you will say, ‘I will go up against the land of un-walled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates,”   We have to be so aware of not wanting some “thing” so badly that we by-pass God and His ways to get it.  That is one of the great temptations/deceptions of the end times.
God sees the coming time of false safety and peace, the destruction that follows, and HIS time of true peace and safety.  Isaiah 49:19,20  ““For your waste and desolate places and your destroyed land—
Surely now you will be too cramped for the inhabitants,
And those who swallowed you will be far away.
20 “The children of whom you were bereaved will yet say in your ears,
‘The place is too cramped for me;
Make room for me that I may live here.’”
Verse 4 - The addition of “and cattle" means that we cannot spiritualize this verse and say that it is not talking about a literal Jerusalem restored for the glory of God. As a wall of fire, He is a perfect defense for those within and a sure destruction for those without.  Jesus makes clear that this applies in the New Testament too, when He says, in Matthew 5:35 not to swear by “the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King."  In fact God guarantee’s that one day the name of Jerusalem will be changed to “The Lord is There" = Jehovah Shammah, Ezekiel 48:35.
Need to quote a paragraph from Baron.  “But has the purpose of God been frustrated by Israel’s unbelief, and will the exceeding great and precious promises in reference to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom on this earth, with Jerusalem as its center, fail for evermore because the Jewish people has not kept the covenant committed to them?  Oh no; man’s unbelief and disobedience may, in accord with the foreknowledge and infinite wisdom of God, cause the delay and postponement of God’s predetermined counsel, which in this particular instance has been the occasion of salvation and blessing to untold million of Gentiles (Romans 11:11-15), but it can never frustrate it.”
Jesus came to confirm the promises made to the fathers (Romans 15:8)"For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,.”  He did not come to annul or transfer the promises.  We have a taste of that outward protection and inward illumination in our walk with God presently, but there is ‘more to come’ in God’s ultimate fulfillment of the promise.
The vision of these promises prompts the prophet to speak strongly to the people who chose not to return to Jerusalem when given the opportunity.   Baron makes a good point here that although Babylon was physically to the east, they attacked from the North, so they are depicted as being called to return from the north, using the great caravan route.  The reason for the call is two-fold, 1) Look how amazing Jerusalem is going to be, and 2) look at the destruction that God is planning to bring to the nations.  This again is a call that was only partially answered, one day the promise is, God will gather those he has scattered.
Verses 8-12 give a picture of Messiah’s character and purpose, with regard to the nations and Israel.
A careful reading of these verses reveals a mystery, Jehovah is sent by Jehovah.  It is one thing to say, “The Lord our God is one God.”  It is quite another to humbly admit, that that one Lord, could have a ‘unity’ that is beyond our ability to comprehend.  The trinity, defies explanation by our finite minds, but it is truth revealed by God.
The best rendering of “after glory hath He sent Me” is “to vindicate and to display the glory of God.”  Glory is displayed in the judgments that are inflicted on the nations who have oppressed Israel, and glory is displayed in the mercy and grace shown to Israel in delivering them.  Lastly glory is displayed in the blessing that comes through Israel to the Gentile nations after Israel is restored and Mount Zion becomes the center of Messiah’s governmental rule of the nations.
God’s care for Israel as the apple of His eye has been spoken of since Deut. 32.  Even when they feel forsaken, and are under the rule of others, God continues to watch over them and to make note of the conduct of the nations toward them.
“And in this tender love and faithfulness of Jehovah to His unworthy Israel, you may see a picture of His unchangeable love and faithfulness to you also.”  David Baron
Psalm 17:8
“Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”  This is not only our prayer, but our sure hope, in God.
This next verse speaks of the second coming of Jesus.  The mystery of the two comings, was not at all clear in the Hebrew scriptures.  When Jesus came and began to do miracles and be proclaimed as the Messiah, even John, who pointed Him out was caused to stumble because Jesus was not a conquering King raising Israel to great heights and subjecting their enemies.
The ancient Rabbis seeing the two apparently contradictory, descriptions of the Messiah, as a suffering servant and a conquering king, formulated a belief in two Messiahs.  Messiah ben Joseph, who should suffer and die; and a Messiah ben David, who should conquer and reign.  This dilemma is solved by one Messiah with two comings.  
Verse 10  This coming, the second coming of Jesus, will bring great rejoicing to those who are looking for His appearing, but at the same time great fear and wailing from those who do not.  One event bringing two very different reactions.  This one event is our “blessed hope."  Some say it can not be a blessed hope, if such destruction and tribulation accompany it, but indeed it can.
Glory comes to God both in the defeat of His enemies and in the salvation of His people.
Verse 11 speaks of the double blessing, as many nations come to God, and Israel has God dwelling in their midst.
Verse 12 is the only time in the Bible where we see the words “holy land.”  Again it emphasizes that this is not some ‘spiritual’ promise, but is dealing with an actual people in an actual land.  A people who have an actual promise from God that He will fulfill.
Verse 13 “Be silent.”  When God breaks into this world, flesh bows and is silent.
Revelation 22:20 “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
I can’t say I fully understand it or could articulate it, but it is becoming more clear to me that our call as Christians is to individuals, and that the call of Israel during the 1,000 year reign of Christ, is to nations.  Of course our gentile call to the individual will affect the nation that we are in and the call of Israel to the nation will affect the individual