The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Revival Hymn

Take some time to watch this incredible Revival Hymn video. Perhaps you've seen it before. It's worth another watch. It's filled with excerpts from various Spirit filled and empowered preachers. It will convict you and call you to look deep within. It will call you to repent. It will challenge the way you have been living and looking at life. It will bring you to your knees in prayer before Holy God. It will reveal what true revival is. It will show you that the most important thing is not our happiness, but our holiness lived for the glory of God. And I pray that as you watch this video it will bring revival to you and to those around you; to all of us; to our nation. Revival, the move of God in power and glory, that is truly our only hope.

The final question to ask at the end of this video is not whether or not this video challenged you. The real question is has it changed you?
God come and make Your presence known. Pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us. We need You and a move of Your Spirit. Help us to see how dark we are and how desperately we need You. Wake us up Lord! Glorify Your name in and through us. Revive us for Your glory. Break up our fallow grounded hearts and mold us to God-glorifying Christians. For Your glory, in Jesus' name. Amen.


Give Glory to God! – Part 2

We have seen what glory and giving it is and we have seen the reasons we should give glory to God, but what are some ways we can give glory to God? The Bible has the answer to that question. How do we give glory to God?

First, we give glory to God by praising Him. The Bible says, “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:23). When was the last time you praised the Lord or entered into true worship in the Spirit? This verse tells us that praising God is our right conduct. We ought to worship and praise Him more for when we do we glorify the One who deserves all the glory I the world.

Second, we give glory to God by our spiritual fruitfulness. The way we live can bring glory to God (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12). Jesus said, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:8). When we are spiritually fruitful we bring glory to God. We can be spiritually fruitful be inwardly growing in the fruit of the Spirit which is love (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22-25) and when we outwardly bear fruit in ministry such as harvesting lost souls (Matthew 9:37-38).

Third, we give glory to God by our manner of death and dying to self. Jesus glorified the Father by His sacrificial death (John 17). We should glorify God in death too. When Jesus was bringing Peter back into the fold, He prophesied of Peter’s death and how it would bring glory to God (John 21:18-19). When Peter died he was sentenced by the Romans to be crucified. Upon going to the cross he requested he be crucified upside down because he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner His Lord was. Before Peter could literally die in a way that brought glory to God, he had to die to self. Peter got to a point where even his very life was less valuable to him than bringing glory to God. When we die to self and live for God we bring glory to Him (Galatians 2:20).

Fourth, we give glory to God by trusting in His promises. Abraham was an example of this (Romans 4:19-21). By trusting God even when things looked bleak and hopeless, Abraham was giving glory to God. Abraham’s faith and trust in God was a way of giving God the respect and honor due Him. We glorify God when we trust in His promises, no matter what.

Fifth, we give glory to God by living in unity with other believers. When we live in loving unity with other believers it is a testimony to the world of how God’s love is able to overcome differences and prejudices and this glorifies God (Psalm 34:3). Paul was inspired to write of this saying, “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5-7). Loving unity brings glory to God. This is what we have been studying in 1 Corinthians 8-10.

Sixth, we give glory to God by doing all things to bring glory to Him. Our verse in 1 Corinthians 10 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31). Rather than do things merely for selfish or self-glorifying reasons, we ought to do things in a way that gives glory to God (cf. also 1 Peter 4:11). Whatever we do we ought to do it asking ourselves, “How can I do this so that God will receive glory for it?” if we do that, God will get more glory.

Seventh, we give glory to God by having a generous giving heart. Paul wrote to the Corinthians stating that they glorified God with their generous giving (1 Cor. 8:18-19). Since all that we have comes from God (Matthew 10:8; John 3:27) and He promises to supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19), we are freed to give to others. When we have a generous giving heart it brings glory to God because it shows our trust in God to provide for us.

Eighth, we give glory to God by exalting and glorifying Jesus. One day every knee will bow when Jesus’ name is uttered and every tongue will confess that He is Lord and ll this to the glory of God (Phil. 2:9-11). Awesome! One day everyone will give glory to God in Christ but we can give glory to God now by exalting and giving glory to Jesus now. One way we do this is by confessing Christ or witnessing to Him (Acts 1:8). When we confess Jesus outwardly, we bring glory to God. (See also Acts 19:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:12.

Ninth, we give glory to God by persevering in Christ. When we endure suffering for the Lord (Psalm 86:12) or hardship for the sake of Jesus and when we lean on Him to get through our suffering we bring glory to Him as people see the sufficiency of His grace in us (2 Corinthians 12:9-10; 1 Peter 4:14-16). When we suffer because we are Christians we bring glory to God (See Matthew 5:10-12). Paul wrote of his sufferings which were many and explained all the pain and sorrow and suffering was worth bringing glory to God (2 Cor. 4:7-15). When people see how we are sustained in hardship by God’s grace, it brings glory to Him. When we go through a trial and rely on God’s grace we see its sufficiency and reliability and that strengthens our faith. But others see this and are brought to saving faith. And all of this brings glory to God.

Angels give glory to God (Luke 2:14). Kings in the Old Testament gave glory to God (Psalm 57:15). Shepherds gave glory to God (Luke 2:20). Those used by God gave Him glory (Luke 1:46; Romans 11:36). Those healed gave glory to God (Luke 5:25; 13:13; 17:15; 18:43). Those whose loved ones were healed gave glory to God (Luke 23:47). Multitudes gave glory to God (Matthew 9:8; 15:31). The church of the New Testament gave glory to god (Acts 11:18). Even Gentiles gave glory to God (Acts 13:48). A time is coming when those who refuse to glorify God will be punished (Daniel 5:23, 30; Malachi 2:2; Acts 12:23; Romans 1:21; 3:23). It’s time for us now to live to give glory to God. Those who are not living to give glory to God need to know there remains the opportunity to turn to God and bring Him the glory due His name. Won’t it be awesome to join the host of heaven in bringing glory to His name? (Revelation 4:11). I can’t wait! God give us all a heart willing and eager to praise Him and give Him glory. Give glory to God!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Give Glory to God! Part 1

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul discusses how we can cure carnality and in particular, fleshly fellowship. His conclusion is to say, “do all to the glory of God.” This phrase is of critical importance to the Christian for it marks a reason for our existence and defines a purpose for living. “Do all to the glory of God,” is a phrase that raises a few questions for us. What does it mean to “give glory” or glorify? Why should we glorify God? And if we are to glorify God then we need to ask, how do we bring glory to God? The Bible reveals the answers to these questions.

What Does It Mean to Glorify? In 1 Corinthians 10:31 it states, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” If giving glory to God is something we are to do in “whatever you do,” then that tells us it is something that is very important. But what does that mean, what does giving glory or doing all to the glory mean?

The word “glory” in this verse is translated from the Greek term doxa which means, “dignity, glory (-ious), honour, praise, worship, . . . good opinion, praise, honor, glory, an appearance commanding respect, magnificence, excellence.” We derive the word doxology from this word which is an expression of thanks and glory to God. Doxa is derived from the base Greek term doma which means, “a gift.” When we speak of gift here we should think grace. The word “glorify” is translated from the Greek term doxadzo which means, “to render (or esteem) glorious; (make) glorify (-ious), full of (have) glory, honour, magnify.” Therefore, to give glory or glorify means to give the dignity, honor, respect, praise, and worship appropriate to the gift or standing of object or person. To glorify God means to give Him the dignity, honor, respect, praise, and worship due God as the gracious gift He is to us.

Why Should We Glorify God? We should glorify God because we are commanded to do so in God’s word. This is true based on 1 Corinthians 10:31 and it is also true based on an earlier verse in 1 Corinthians where it states, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:20). God’s command to give Him glory is not some proud totalitarian demand of a divine despot; far from it. This verse commands us to give glory to God because He bought us, or redeemed us from our sinful state “at a price” which is His only Son Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:18-21; 1 Peter 1:18-19). We owe glory to God because of His great gracious loving sacrifice on our behalf. God gave His all for us and the only appropriate and respectful response from those He gave His all for is to glorify Him (compare Romans 12:1-2). That is the primary reason we should glorify God.

The Bible gives a number of other reasons why we should glorify God.

First, we should glorify God because of His holiness. The Bible says, “Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His holy hill; For the LORD our God is holy.” (Psalm 99:9). In the New Testament it states, “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.” (Rev. 15:4). The word "holy” means sacred, pure, unique, special, one of a kind, when it is used in reference to God. God is holy because there is none other like Him and we are to glorify Him because of that.

Second, we should glorify God because of His mercy and truth. The Bible says, “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth. (Psalm 115:1; See also Romans 15:8-9). Mercy is when we don’t get what we deserve in terms of a penalty. All humanity deserves eternal damnation, but God made a way through His only Son Jesus so that we could be saved from that penalty. And He did this in a way that was truthful. God’s merciful plan of salvation is truthfully all He says it is and all we could ever hope for it to be. That is reason to give glory to God.

Third, we should glorify God because of His faithfulness and truth. That God is faithful and true is good reason to glorify Him (Isaiah 25:1). God is faithful. When God tells us something or promises us something, we can depend on it because He is true and faithful to His word. Pagan God’s are capricious, they say one thing and do another; they say or promise one thing, but are unable to deliver on their claims. That is not our God; our God is faithful and true and powerful enough to deliver on His word and promises. For that we ought to give Him glory.

Fourth, we should glorify God because of His wondrous miraculous works. The Gospel accounts show that when they saw the miracles performed by Jesus they glorified God for them (Matthew 15:31; cf. also Acts 4:21). When Jesus did miracles God was glorified because the impossible had been accomplished. When the apostles performed miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit, (such as heal a lame man – Acts 3-4), the people gave glory to God for God’s power to do the impossible. Notice, God was glorified when Jesus performed the miracles. Notice, when the apostles were used by God to do a miracle, God was glorified. The point to be made here is that God should get the glory for miracles, not men. Jesus is of course God and is to be glorified (Luke 4:14-15; John 7:39; 11:4; 12:16, 23; 13:31-32; 17:4,5, 10; Acts 3:13). But people should not steal God’s glory for the work He does through them. What glory we are associated with is the glorifying of God in and through us as people see His work in us (John 17:10; Galatians 1:24; 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12). When Paul and Barnabas were exalted as gods by the pagans after the Lord healed a man with a crippling birth defect, they tore their clothes and quickly corrected the people (Acts 14:1-18). To take glory to self is a characteristic of the lowest of the unsaved (Romans 1:20-25). In the book of Revelation Babylon the Great is judged for self-glorification (Revelation 18:1-8). We are to give glory to God, not take it upon ourselves.

Fifth, we should glorify God because of His just judgments. In Revelation God is glorified for His just judgments (Rev. 14:6-7). God’s judgments are just, fair, good and righteous and we are to give glory for God for them. He is powerful enough to assert and enforce His judgments and for that we are to give Him glory.

Sixth, we should glorify God because of His deliverance. The Bible says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” (Psalm 50:15). Whenever we are in trouble we can call upon God and He will deliver us and for that we should glorify Him. The greatest example of this is our salvation. We were living in sin and by nature children of wrath, lost. But God in His rich mercy made a way for us to be saved out of our predicament and so we give Him the glory due His name (Ephesians 2:1-10). Psalm 50:15 tells us that the way we give glory to God is through our testimony. Have you testified to the glory of God lately?

Seventh, we should glorify God because of His gracious salvation and blessing. When people are convicted of their sins and realize they need to be saved and that God has provided salvation from sin through faith in His Son Jesus, it causes them to give glory to God (Acts 11:15-18). When in the book of Acts it became apparent that God was opening the door of ministry to the gentiles God was glorified for His gracious provision. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve and that is what we all receive when we are saved from our sin. Paul is a great example of God‘s gracious provision for which we should glorify Him (Galatians 1:23-24). We should give glory to God for His grace.

Now that you know what giving glory to God is and why we should give glory to God, in the second part of this teaching we will consider how we can give glory to God. Until then, give glory to God!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why the Storms? - Acts 27

I came across a message by Jon Courson and thought, given Hurricane Irene, I’d pass it on to you with a few editorial changes. The Lord promised everyone on board would survive the storm - Acts 27:1-13. In the rest of the chapter we see four types of storms that blow into our lives:

Storms of correction. Jonah is a good example of this. When a storm arose he was tossed overboard and swallowed by a great fish, because he was rebelling against the Lord (Jonah 1:10). So, too, sometimes when we rebel and disobey the Lord, He will allow a storm to get us back on track again.

Storms of perfection. Jesus fed the five thousand and then sent His disciples across the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14). Midway through their journey, a storm arose around them for their perfection. You see, Jesus knew it wouldn’t be too many months before these same disciples would see another multitude of five thousand—not fed, but saved (Acts 4:4)—followed by another storm—not on the sea, but of persecution within the church (Acts 8:1). Thus, Jesus was training His boys to endure the storms of persecution that inevitably follow the seasons of blessing.

Faith is not a pill we take, folks. It’s a muscle we work (e.g. 1 Peter 1:6-9). Therefore, the Lord will send us storms from time to time not for correction, but for perfection because the way I respond to storms internally will tell me where I’m at spiritually. Storms provide a unique opportunity for us to see where we are in our walk with the Lord and to grow in our understanding that the Lord will come through at the right time, saying, “Be of good cheer. We’re going to make it.”

Storms of protection. “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). And we see that grace as God sent a storm to drown out all of the carnality, sin, and iniquity that surrounded him. The storm raged for forty days and nights, but Noah and his family were not only protected in the storm—they were protected by the storm. “Oh no!” we cry. “My TV blew up,” or, "My phone . . . iPad . . . iPod . . . computer . . . etc. broke. What a storm I’m in.” But, as in Noah’s case, it might be a storm of protection—protecting us from the distractions of life, the carnality and iniquity that surround us continually.

Storms of direction. Knowing there was a group of people on the island of Malta in need of ministry, the Lord said, “Before you go to Rome, Paul, I’m going to allow you to be blown off course because there is something I want you to do for Me—something you never would have thought of on your own, something that wasn’t part of your agenda. I have some people to whom I want you to minister, so I’ll allow a storm to arise, which, although it looks like it’s blowing you off course, will put you in the very place I want to use you.” “How come I got canned?” “Why did she dump me?” “How come it’s not working out?” you ask. Don’t be blown away. Realize that the Lord is changing your direction because there’s something He wants to do that will ultimately be a blessing. Look at such things not as rejection, but as redirection.

Storms of correction and perfection, storms of protection and direction—how can you know which one you might be in? Talk to the Father: “Why am I in this storm, Lord? Is it correction—or are You perfecting me for what You see is coming my way? Is there a new direction for my life—or are You protecting me from something that would be very damaging?”

(Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson's Application Commentary (851). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

“Do not be afraid; only believe”

Have you ever been told, “It’s a dead issue. Just give up”? That can be a pretty frightening thing when what you’re being asked to give up on is something near and dear to your heart. One day when Jesus was ministering by Galilee the ruler of the local synagogue, a man named Jairus, came and fell at Jesus’ feet. He was heart-wrenched and at the end of himself. His “little daughter” was sick and at the point of death. He begged Jesus to come and administer His healing touch. Jesus went with him along with a multitude of others who were curious about what might happen (Mark 5:21-24).

Along the way a woman who had been sick for twelve years with bleeding sought out Jesus for healing. She had suffered many things at the hands of the physicians. She spent all her money on a cure to no avail. She was in a predicament not unlike what many experience today. This woman was at the end of herself. Jesus was her last hope of a cure. She made her way through the crowd and in faith touched Jesus garment and immediately she was healed. Jesus’ looked for who touched him because He felt the healing power go out from Him. When the woman came forward and told Jesus all that had happened to her, Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction” (Mark 5:25-34)

Jairus who was accompanying Jesus must have seen and heard all that was happening. For a moment his heart must have leaped for joy. Perhaps he thought this woman was in a hopeless situation just like mine. She was beyond the help of physicians. If this woman can be healed by a simple touch of Jesus’ garment, what might happen to my precious little daughter if Jesus touches her? But just as he was getting his hopes up, word came, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” (Mark 5:35). Death is so final. It’s so abrupt even if you know it is coming. These seem to have been such deathly cold words. But this time it was Jesus who saw and heard what was happening, before Jairus even had a chance to respond, Jesus intervened by saying to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe” (Mark 5:36).

Those who don’t know Jesus only see death in life. By nature they can be very discouraging. What hope they have is in people or their own personal resources. But the science, medicine, mechanics, finances, industry, and human resources all have limitations. Rationalism can be shortsighted when it comes to the reality of God and His power. There are no limits with Jesus (other than acting contrary to His Nature). He can do whatever He purposes to do.

The first thing Jesus did in response to these cold conveyers of bad news was draw Jairus attention to Himself. “Do not be afraid; only believe.” It’s always a best first response in a crisis situation to turn to Jesus. When we are overwhelmed we need to go to the Rock; to Jesus (Psalm 61:1-2; 1 Cor. 10:4). The next thing Jesus did was put the crowd behind them. He took Peter, James and John, along with Jairus and continued on His mission (Mark 5:37). When He arrived at the home of Jairus, He addressed those wailing and brought peace to the situation (Mark 5:38-39). Whether or not these were professional wailers we do not know. They ridiculed Jesus for saying the little girl was only sleeping. But if they were professionals, Jesus put them out. They had no business profiting by those who mourned.

Jesus took the father and mother and the three apostles and entered where the child was laid. Then He simply tool her little hand and said, “Little girl, I say to you arise.” And she rose! (Mark 5:40-42). Jesus didn’t have to go through gyrations or incantations, He didn’t use magic or even medicine, He simply spoke and this girl was resurrected. And all “were overcome with great amazement” (Mark 5:42). He didn’t make a big deal or even start a 501 c 3 tax exempt healing ministry. He actually told them to tell no one about what He had done. To Him the more important thing was that the little girl should be given something to eat (Mark 5:43).

That’s a great story and there are some awesome truths to take from it. I don’t think it means we should go to the local morgue and start praying over dead bodies. And I don’t think it means we should stop going to doctors. I do think we should realize that religion doesn’t hold the solution to our problems. Jairus was the ruler of the local synagogue but he was at a loss until he came to Jesus. We should be alert to things the Lord does to encourage us along the way, (like the woman with a flow of blood) especially in times of despair. God is for us (Psalm 42; 43; 56:9; Romans 8:31-32). We should never put limitations on what Jesus might want to do. We need to put out the agents of discouragement. And in situations when all hope seems lost, rather than react in fear we should respond in faith. Faith in Christ is God’s remedy for fear. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Bottom line, the next time you find yourself in a hopeless despairing situation, “Do not be afraid; only believe” in Jesus and seek His will. Go to Jesus.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Got Fear?

Got fear? No? Maybe you should rethink that. There is a kind of fear we need; the fear of the Lord. The Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7) and the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). It says the fear of the Lord is “to hate evil” (Proverbs 8:13). The psalmist wrote that the fear of the Lord is “clean, enduring forever” (Psalm 19:9). The fear of the Lord is something God feels we need to learn (Psalm 34:11).

The fear of the Lord can be a motivation for holiness. When King Jehoshaphat led the reforms of Judah he instructed his judges to, “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment . . . . let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality, nor taking bribes . . . you shall act in the fear of the LORD, faithfully and with a loyal heart” (2 Chronicles 19:6-7, 9). The fear of the Lord was an awesome reminder of the holiness and perfect justness of the One whom they served. It was an impetus for revival in the nation. How many politicians and judges would change their ways if they took to heart that they serve the Lord? (cf. Romans 13). How many pastors, religious leaders and Christians would act differently if they really took to heart that they serve Holy God? Got fear, fear of the LORD? Oh I wish we did! I pray we will!

The account of Ananias and Sapphira’s sin and the Spirit’s response concludes with the words,

Acts 5:11 – “So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.”

This event in the early church produced “great fear” (5:5, 11). Got fear? These people did. The people were in reverent awe of what God had done to expose Satan’s work. No doubt it inspired the rest of the flock to be sincere in their offerings.

What were they afraid of? It was not only the sudden death of Ananias and Sapphira that raised chills up the spines of those early believers and those who heard of these events. No, it was also the fact that the Spirit enabled Peter to expose the sinful strategy of the unholy couple and the sin that was in their hearts. Think of it, Peter exposed an area that people normally feel comfortable hiding. The Spirit saw into and exposed the deep recesses of the sinful heart. There was nowhere to hide. But they were merely seeing manifested a reality and truth people often ignore, the Spirit can see into our hearts.

I wonder if the freedom with which people live hypocritically and deceitfully does not betray and expose a darker truth, that they in reality have little true faith in God or even believe there is a God. At the very least it conveys that people have a mistaken notion of God and His grace since their free sin and deception is done with the belief that “God will forgive me.” God nowhere endorses sin. Instead God says, “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:10.

There are many places in the Bible where it states God looks into the heart of people (1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9;29:17; 2 Chronicles 6:30; Psalm 7:9; 139:1-2, 23-24; Proverbs 17:3; Jeremiah 11:20; 20:12; John 2:24-25; Romans 8:27; Hebrews 4:12-13; Revelation 2:23). Do we really believe there is a God who searches the hearts of people? Do we believe that the God who searches the heart of people can and does discipline and give them the righteous consequence of what is in those hearts? Do we sin so freely and in such great abundance because we trust the grace of God or because we presume upon it? Are we really struggling against sin? Is sin in our lives and heart something we resist in the Spirit or permit in the flesh? John said the person who consistently sins and lives a lifestyle of sin is not a child of God at all but a child of the devil (1 John 3:4-9).

God does not only eves drop on our hearts. He looks into our hearts with a purpose, “to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” Once we realize that, it can bring fear to our cheating hearts. The people who saw what happened to Ananias and Sapphira were convicted by the Holy Spirit to consider the reality of their sinful ways. Like Isaiah who became acutely aware of his own sinfulness in the presence of the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 6), these people were in awe and shaken to the foundation of their being by the reality that God could see into their hearts (on this occasion through the spiritual gift of discernment in Peter). They were in fearful awe of the consequence they saw in this influential couple. Maybe they thought if that happened to them, what might happen to me? What the Spirit did in the case of Ananias and Sapphira led to soul and heart searching amongst the people of God and even those who had yet to receive Jesus as their Savior.

What does God see when He looks into your heart? Many in church today say, “Oh, if only we had the power of the early church!” If we did, I wonder how many would fall down, literally slain in the spirit, and have to be carried out! Are we really truly guarding our hearts, or are we presuming on the grace of God. Paul said in his inspired discussion of God’s grace, “Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1). And with him we must cry, “Certainly not!” (Romans 6:2) And yet, a disregard for the seriousness of sin and casual indulgence in it is the mind and heart attitude of many in the church today.

But there is another aspect of the fear. Let me illustrate. I love my wife very much. I would never want to do anything to hurt or cause her sorrow. My love for her produces a healthy fear to not do anything that would harm her. My love produces holy fear. And our love for God should produce a similar holy fear toward our God. We should fear doing anything that would cause Him sorrow, regret, or pain. We need to reacquire a holy fear of sinning against God.

But doesn’t perfect love cast out fear? (1 John 4:18). Yes that is true. We need not fear God’s judgment when we enter by grace through faith in Christ an abiding loving eternally saving relationship with Him. But perfect or mature Christian love would never endorse sinful living. God knows our hearts and wants them clean. We too often allow Satan to step into the foyer of our heart and tune us into lascivious and lustful words and images. Instead we should resist him in the Spirit with all our might. It’s as though on the outside we present a good show of resisting Satan and his temptations, but on the inside, in our hearts and minds, we crave, lust and indulge his tempting tidbits of lust, pornography and immorality. We should guard against such attempts to infiltrate our hearts and the church. But we should also thank God for His patience and grace and be watchful that we do not allow Satan to infiltrate our hearts as he did with this hypocritical couple. Confess the sins of your heart and be cleansed by God! (1 John 1:7, 9). Got fear, fear of the LORD? I do. Do you?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Faith Like a Demon

“I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” – Mark 1:24

Do you have faith? What kind of faith do you have? Is it an informed faith? Do you take comfort in defining your faith as knowing who Jesus is? Do you think that is sufficient faith for eternal life? If so, I have to inform you that you are relying on demonic faith. The demons believe in God. Demons know quite a lot about God. In the gospels they knew more about Jesus than the religious people of the day. They believed and knew that Jesus was: “Jesus of Nazareth . . . the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34); “the Son of God” (Mark 3:11); and “the Christ, the Son of God!” (Luke 4:41). Demons demonstrated their knowledge by identifying the apostles as, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17-18). Their proclamation was annoying and counterproductive to the ministry. Paul eventually cast them out of their human vessel. But demons believe in the existence of God and know who His ministers are.

This demonic faith in God is more than a lot of people have today. Today many people deny the existence of God or that Jesus was a literal historical figure. Many deny that Jesus is the Son of God or that He is “the Christ,” the Savior of the world. Many deny that Jesus is God, the second Person of the Triune Godhead. This is because the god of this age has blinded unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4-5). He has blinded the lost and deluded them into thinking either there is no God (e.g. atheism), that there are many gods (e.g. polytheism), or that God is everywhere and in everything (e.g. pantheism). There are those who have been deceived into thinking “God” is who they conjure Him up to be. This is nothing more than idolatry; God in man’s image. God is who He says He is, not who we say He is. Still others follow false religious views of God (e.g. Islam). The god of this age, Satan, has deluded people into misinterpreting faith in God and in particular the genuine saving faith of the gospel. This should not surprise us. Scripture warns, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

The deceptive doctrinal teaching of demons seeks to strike at the core of genuine saving faith. It pitches the idea that saving faith is merely the accumulation of knowledge or assent to certain things. But such a definition is no better than the faith the demons themselves hold! And they are not going to heaven. They are destined for an eternal existence in hell. Is that the kind of faith you want? Is that the kind of faith you are relying on? The apostle James spoke of such faith saying, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19). In these words James enlightens his readers in telling them that not even belief in a monotheistic God is enough to save them. No, demons have a theology; and much of it is correct theology; but they are still destined for hell. What’s your theology? What kind of faith are you relying on for your salvation? “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

What then is the nature of the faith that saves us? What is the difference between the genuine saving faith of gospel and the faith of demons? The apostle John addresses this very question of distinction when he is inspired by God to write:

1 John 3:7-10 - 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

From these inspired words of God’s revelation truth we see that genuine saving faith, faith that is of God, is faith that “practices righteousness.” It is faith that is applied to life. It is faith that makes a difference in the way we live life. It is faith that leads to measureable change in a person claiming to be a Christian. Genuine saving faith does not practice sin. “He who sins is of the devil.” A “faith” that does not lead to righteous living is not a saving faith. This is not a works righteousness statement for the faith that genuinely saves merely opens the door to God’s working in and through us for righteousness’ sake (Philippians 2:12-13).

These verses tell us that the purpose for Jesus coming was to destroy the works of the devil. That would include all his false and deceptive doctrines about the nature of faith. Jesus came to establish the sincere truth that “Whoever is born of God does not sin” (cf. John 3:1-21). The person with genuine saving faith hates sin. They have received spiritual eye transplants so that like their God they have become “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness” (Habakkuk 1:13). You can’t claim to be genuinely saved if you are living in a sinful state contrary to the word of God. You aren’t genuinely saved if you live in contradiction to God’s holy word which He esteems more highly than His own very name! (Psalm 138:2). You can’t be a walking contradiction to God’s word and be a true genuinely saved Christian. If you think you can, you have fallen prey to the pernicious deceptive influences of Satan and his demons.

There is one distinguishing characteristic of those who are genuinely saved. There is one evidence that separates the child of God from those with mere demonic faith. There is one point of clarity that reveals the truth about who you are and whether or not God sees you as an opponent or ally. That one all determining characteristic that exposes the truth is love. It is not the love of the world. It is not love that saves. But it is love defined by God and it is love that is the fruit of the enlivening Holy Spirit in a person (Gal. 5:22a). Without the Holy Spirit indwelling you, you aren’t genuinely saved (Romans 8:9-11). And when the Spirit is in a person, so is His love. “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). John says this is the message given by Jesus from the beginning (1 John 3:11). He states, “We know we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death” (1 John 3:14).

God defines and illustrates that love through Jesus’ atoning work. It is a love that acts. It is a love that makes a difference (1 John 3:16-18). He demonstrates “His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It is a love that even loves its enemies (Mat. 5:44). The kind of love that distinguishes godly from demonic faith is particularly illustrated by God in the cross of Christ. Demonic worldly “love” can sit by and complacently watch those in need without moving a finger. Demonic worldly “love” refuses to give glory to God. Demonic worldly “love” is a tool for getting glory for yourself. Demonic worldly “love” is self-centered. It can give the appearance of being selfless. Demonic worldly “love” uses emotions to justify selfishness or inaction. Demonic worldly “love” can even seek to show the world that “good” can be done apart from God. Such demonic “love” manifests itself in secular or false religious humanitarian efforts (few as they may be). This demonic worldly love proves one is not of God. This is not God’s true love.

But what we need to understand is that demonic faith is faith that resides solely in thought. Demonic faith believes but continues with a rebellious heart. Genuine saving gospel faith is a matter of the heart. God pours out His love in our hearts. “If you believe in your heart” is where genuine saving faith resides (cf. Romans 10:9). “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). Demons believe and tremble because they have and continue to rebel against God in their hearts. They want people to settle in the anti-salvation state of mere cerebral faith. Demons preach a doctrine of assent to knowledge that is cut off from any actual application to life.

The bottom line is the faith that saves; the faith that is all God intends it to be, is faith of the heart. Genuine saving faith involves giving Jesus your heart. It is total surrender. It is forsaking all alternatives and trusting completely in the saving work of Christ for salvation. It is knowing Him, fully surrendering to Jesus, IN YOUR HEART. It is faith that relinquishes control and lordship to the King of kings and LORD of lords, Jesus.

Do you have faith? What kind of faith do you have? Is it an informed faith? Is it faith like a demon? Or do you have genuine saving faith; faith that not only knows who Jesus is, but gives your heart to Him in full surrender? “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.”

Thursday, August 18, 2011

George Muller and the Will of God

George Muller was born in Prussia on September 27th, 1805. He accepted Christ as his Savior when he was twenty years old. In 1826 he moved to England where he would spend his life in ministry. From the start Muller was moved by the Spirit to be a man of prayer and the study of God’s word. Throughout his ministry he chose to receive no regular salary but to prayerfully trust in God to provide for his every need, including the needs of the ministry he was in such as The Scriptural Knowledge Institution For Home and Abroad. The purpose of this institution was to help Sunday schools, circulate the Scriptures and aid missionary efforts.
Muller’s primary ministry work however was ministering to orphans. It was his ministry to orphans in England that Muller is most noted for. Throughout that ministry he never begged or manipulated people into contributing to the work, he prayed in the resources for the needs of all the thousands of children he ministered to in his lifetime.

But how did Muller know what the will of God was for his life? This praying man, this man of the Word had a very definite practice of discerning the will of God. His way of discovering the will of God involved six parts, which were as follows:

1. I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.

2. Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impressions. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.

3. I seek the will of the Spirit of God through or in connection with the word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also.

In this last regard, toward the end of his life in 1897, Muller was invited to preach at a Bible Society but was unable to attend. IN his apology for not being able to attend he wrote:

“Will you have the kindness to read to the meeting that I have been for 68 years and 3 months, viz., since July, 1829, a love of the Word of God, and that uninterruptedly. During that time I have read considerably more than 100 times through the whole of the Old and New Testaments, with prayer and meditation, four times every year.”

“It is estimated that he read the Bible through more than two hundred times, one hundred of these times being, as he here suggests, on his knees.”

4. Next I take into account providential circumstances. These plainly indicate God’s will in connection with His Word and Spirit.
5. I ask God in prayer to reveal His will to me aright.
6. Thus through prayer to God, the study of the Word and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge, and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. In Trivial matters and in transactions involving most important issues, I have found this method always effective.

Muller went on to testify, “I never remember,’ he wrote three years before his death, ‘ in all my Christian course, a period now (March, 1895) of sixty-nine years and four months, that I ever SINCERELY AND PATIENTLY sought to know the will of God by the teaching of the Holy ghost, through the instrumentality of the Word of God, but I have ALWAYS directed rightly. But if honesty of heart and uprightness before God were lacking, or if I did not patiently wait upon God for instruction, or if I preferred the counsel of my fellow men to the declarations of the Word of the living God, I made great mistakes. (Italics his.)”

For further biographical information on George Mueller please see the following book from which the above was gleaned: Basil Miller, George Muller, Man of Faith and Miracles, (Minneapolis, MN: Dimension Books, Bethany Fellowship, Inc.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Can persecution come to America? Is persecution coming to America?

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution – 2 Timothy 3:12

Can persecution come to America? Is persecution coming to America? The Bible states a promise of God that all who “desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Notice it states this of those who particularly desire to live a godly life “in Christ Jesus” are the ones who will be persecuted. Persecution hinges on whether or not a person is true to Christ. It’s not a matter of being religious. It’s a matter of being true to Christ; true to the revealed Christ of scripture.

Paul said a time would come when “another Jesus” would be promoted as well as another gospel and another spirit (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). There is a “Jesus” promoted today who is not exclusive but all inclusive. A “Jesus” is being presented today that is not the exclusive way to the Father and His eternal life (John 14:6), but is a “Jesus” that is one of many paths to eternal bliss. This “Jesus” is an avatar, an ascended master of some kind, one who comes periodically in history to help humanity in their evolutionary progress. We see this kind of “Jesus” presented in New Age philosophy. This is the “Jesus” presented by such contemporaries as Oprah and the like. Persecution will come as a result of the world’s view that the exclusive Jesus of the Bible is too narrow and bigoted a view. The “Jesus” the world wants is tolerant of all other belief systems no matter how diametrically opposed to one another they are. The world has left reason and truth behind in an effort to establish a kumbaya world order. Prophetic scriptures tell us this is all part of a world hell bent on rebelling against God.

Biblical faith, scriptural faith, is faith that does not love the world (1 John 2:15-17). Because of this a time inevitably comes where our faith puts us in opposition to the things of this world. Governments are put in place by God to keep the peace and provide an environment for His will to be done (Romans 13). When governments, (especially democratic governments run by people who are sinful in nature) cease to exist for God’s purposes they oppose God and His representatives. The final result is persecution of those representatives.

Our nation was arguably founded on Christian principles. Even if you disagree with this statement a person would have to agree that at least the United States has historically been sympathetic and cooperative with Christian principles. That is changing. We see it every day. As you watch the following brief video excerpt from a message by John Loeffler, pay close attention to what he says about the way persecution comes about. Then ask yourself if such steps toward persecution aren’t already being established in our land. Then prepare by getting into the word of God and making sure you know what you believe. Build your life on the firm foundation of God’s word (Matthew 7:24-27).

Can persecution come to America? Is persecution coming to America? We will see. Commit your way to Him (Psalm 37). Keep it all in prayer (Philippians 4:6-7). Stay the course and stick with the true gospel (Galatians 1:8-9).

Go to -

Monday, August 15, 2011

Would You Consider . . . ?

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. - 1 Corinthians 4:1

Dear Friends,

This blog is a ministry. From time to time it is good to assess ministry in order to be a good steward of the time and effort involved in its upkeep and to determine the leading of the Lord.

In order to gauge the direction in which the Lord is leading would you consider joining the membership of the Shepherd of Hope blog site?

Would you consider inviting others to become members of this site? This will enable me to determine the direction in which the Lord is leading.

Joining the blog site will give you an automatic notice when a new teaching or other material is posted. It will also help gauge the audience which the site is reaching. This will give a better indication about what materials are most appropriate to minister to those interested in the site. It will also help in considering how to broaden the ministry field.

To join the blog just click the button on the right side of the blog site and follow the instructions. It's very easy.

I would also welcome your comments and suggestions about how to better the site and make it more helpful and God glorifying.

If you choose not to join the blogsite, would you please give the reason for your decision.

Even if you choose to disregard this request, would you also consider praying for this ministry venture in faith?

You are appreciated and I pray the Lord directs you to join me in this ministry. God bless.

in His service, by His grace, for His glory,

Pastor Claude

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Overcomng Faith for Overwhelming Times

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. - 1 John 5:4

God, in His word, promises to provide the means to overcome the overwhelming times of this world. That means is faith.

There are different kinds of faith. There is a faith that demons have in the existence of God (James 2:19). There is a weak faith like that of the disciples. Jesus referred to this kind of faith as “little faith,” faith that was easily overcome with the things of this world (Mat. 6:30; Luke 12:28), faith that faltered in the storms of life (Mat. 8:26), faith that fell because it didn’t keep its eyes on Him (Mat. 14:31), and faith that was dull of understanding (Mat. 16:8).
But there is also a faith that victoriously overcomes even in overwhelming times. That is the faith I will speak about today.

There is an overcoming faith that victoriously gets us through overwhelming times of natural disaster. There is a comet approaching our planet. It is called Elenin. As it approaches the earth it is being connected with the occurrence of earthquakes of earth shaking proportions. It was first noticed and named in December of 2010. But as it has approached earth it has been connected with ever-increasingly seismic quakes:

February 20 2008 Indonesia 7.4
February 25 2008 Indonesia 7.2
September 09 2009 Sunola Islands 8.1
February 26 2010 Japan 7.0
February 27 2010 Chile 8.8 [Earth knocked off axis]
May 9, 2010 Indonesia 7.2
September 3, 2010 New Zealand 7.0
March 11 2011 Japan 9.0 [Earth knocked off axis]

This last major earthquake that we saw in Japan lasted an incredible five minutes! These earthquakes are often accompanied by tsunamis that add to the devastation. The earth shaking beneath you and a wall of water as high as an office building not only shakes the earth, but it shakes people’s faith. At the end of September early October, perhaps even early November, Elenin will cross earth’s orbit between the earth and the sun. There are very possibly going to be seismic natural effects on the earth. Such natural disaster proves the genuineness of our faith; whether it will stand the test of trials (e.g. 1 Peter 1:6-9). Do you have an overcoming faith that could sustain you and bring you through victoriously in such overwhelming times?

The faith that helps us overcome even in overwhelming times is described in Psalm 33. This is a faith that praises God (33:1-2), Worships God in song (33:3), and is rooted in God’s word of truth (33:4). The overcoming faith described in Psalm 33 is a faith that trusts in God as Creator (33:5-9), trusts in God as sovereign over the nations of the earth (33:10-12), but also trusts in God to care and show His concern for the particulars of individuals throughout the earth (33:13-15). This overcoming faith knows that if we trust in the Lord, in the end we will come through victoriously rejoicing in Him (33:16-22).

There is an overcoming faith that victoriously gets us through times of man-made overwhelming dilemmas. Coinciding with the pending arrival of the comet Elenin is the world economic crisis, the political and social upheaval in the Middle East, the introduction of nuclear arms capability in terrorist supporting nations like Iran, the moral breakdown of society (e.g. rise of homosexuality and legalizing of same-sex marriage), to name a few man-made destructive dilemmas. These situations are cause for much grief for those concerned with righteousness.

There is one particular development that has the potential to ignite the entire powder keg of man-made trouble into a world threatening crisis. In September Palestinians are planning on seeking to establish legitimacy and the creation of their state based on 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capitol. This will draw supporting nations along with the Palestinians against Israel who will never accept such indefensible borders and has stated its stern and firm resolute refusal to give up Jerusalem as its own historical and Biblical capitol. This will pit the world against Israel just as the Bible says would happen (e.g. Zech. 12; 14). Whether or not we see the culmination of Bible prophecy in connection with this development is not yet clear. What is clear is that to overcome this man-made overwhelming situation you will need overcoming faith. That faith is described in Psalm 37.

Overcoming faith for man-made overwhelming times, according to Psalm 37, is a faith that does “not fret because of evildoers” (37:1-2). It is a faith that trusts in the LORD, does good, and feeds on God’s faithfulness (37:3). It is a faith that delights itself in the LORD, commits itself to the LORD, and doesn’t get angry but rests in the LORD (37:4-8). This is a faith that realizes evildoers will be cut off and dealt with in due time by the LORD; they know God will watch over the righteous (37:9-22). This faith trusts that though a righteous person may fall, God will always raise them up (37:23-26). And so this overcoming faith focuses on doing good and waiting on the LORD, trusting that God will save, strengthen and deliver the righteous in the end (37:27-40).

But there is one more aspect to this overcoming faith and it is the most critically important part of it. Overcoming faith that overcomes natural and man-made disaster is faith in Jesus and the rock of His word. In the Apostle John’s first epistle he is inspired to write:

1 John 5:4-5 - For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

It is faith in Jesus that leads to overcoming the world. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:24-27 - 24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

What kind of faith do you have? Do you have a faith that will overcome in the times of testing; the times of natural and man-made disaster? Is your faith in faith? Is it demonic? Is your faith weak, faltering, dull of understanding? Or is your faith an overcoming faith that trusts in Jesus and is built on the rock of His word? There are overwhelming times ahead. Will you overcome such times with God’s overcoming faith? Or will you sink and be shaken in the tsunamis of life? I pray we all receive God’s overcoming faith.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Eight Impediments to God's Promises

God has given us great and precious promises (2 Pet. 1:4). But not everyone experiences those promises. A generation of Israelites were kept from experiencing the Promised Land of God because of their lack of faith and disobedience (Num. 13-14). The Promised Land of God is a type or symbol of the fullness of life in the Holy Spirit. God has promised us a life of victory and power provided by the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1 ff.). Because of their lack of faith in God the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for the rest of their lives instead of experiencing the blessedness of a land flowing with mild and honey (Num. 14-20). There are Christians who wander through their lives never experiencing the fullness of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It’s a sobering story. But what is even more sobering is that even a godly man such as Moses, who had been used incredibly, mightily by God, succumbed to temptations that kept him from his life destination, the Promised Land of God. Even great men of God can miss out on the fullness of life in the Spirit. In Numbers chapter 20 we see pivotal impediments to experiencing God’s promises. There is a lesson for all of us to learn from the events of this chapter.

In Numbers 20 we come to the end of the wilderness wanderings of Israel as they return to Kadesh the place where they first rebelled against God (Num. 13:26; 20:1). For nearly forty years this rebellious generation has walked in circles. Not much happens when you rebel against the Lord. We are also told in the opening lines of this chapter that Moses’ sister Miriam dies. Just a few nondescript words are given to announce her passing. She had rebelled against Moses her brother; God’s anointed leader. Rebels against God have no lasting legacy worth mentioning. On the other hand, that done in the will of God has an eternal weight of glory (e.g. Mat. 6:19-21; 19:21; 2 Cor. 4:17).

We all should seek to finish well the race marked out by God before us. We want to be able to say like Paul said:

2 Timothy 4:7-8 - 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
(cf. also 1 Tim. 6:11-16; 2 Tim. 2:3-10)

Unfortunately, Moses did not finish well. This great man of God suffered a tarnishing mark to his legacy. In the later stages of the wilderness wanderings he faltered in his flesh. The setting for this fall is a familiar one for the Israelites. When you look at the history of their behavior the Israelites had a fatal attraction with dissatisfaction. Once again they “gathered together against Moses and Aaron” to complain about a lack of water (20:2-6). After years of wilderness wandering and God’s faithful provision for their needs, they still had a heart of complaint. Age and time do not necessarily change us. We change when we walk with God. They chose to walk alone.

Previously their cry for water had been quenched by God who had Moses strike the rock which resulted in water pouring forth (Exodus 17:6). But this time God’s instructions to Moses would be different. The following words give us God’s instructions to Moses as well as pivotal impediments Moses fell into that kept him from the Promised Land.

Numbers 20:7-13 - 7 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 8 “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” 9 So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him. 10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. 12 Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” 13 This was the water of Meribah, because the children of Israel contended with the LORD, and He was hallowed among them.

First, Moses sinned in his harsh words to the people (v. 10). Moses called the people “rebels.” They were rebellious but his words and lack of discretion exposed a lack of kindness and gentleness necessary for a leader of God (e.g. Ps. 106:33; Gal. 6:1). We will give an account of every word we speak, including the harsh ones (cf. Mat. 12:37). Whatever truth we speak must be spoken in the love of God (Eph. 4:15). That is God’s standard for us. One who beats God’s sheep is not suited to lead them to God’s Promised Pasture Land.

Second, Moses sinned by taking credit for what God had done (v. 10). Moses said, “Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” He said “we” when he should have said “He.” In striking the rock it was as though Moses was saying, “I gave you water from the rock before and now you complain again instead of trusting me for water?” God will not share His glory with another (Is. 42:8). Herod found this out the hard way (Acts 12:23). Our works are to give glory to God (Mat. 5:16). Moses sinned in his selfish presentation. One who steals God’s glory is not suited to lead His people into His Promised Land.

Third, Moses sinned by being resentful instead of loving toward the people (v. 10). He said “must we” indicating that he felt their request was unreasonable. A parent doesn’t treat the requests of their child with resentment. The Lord’s bondservant must be guided by love (Lev. 19:18, 34; 2 Cor. 5:14). Moses felt put upon. He was aggravated, maybe frustrated and likely just fed up with these people. But that is no excuse for mistreating God’s people. Resentment can keep us from the Promised Land.

Fourth, Moses sinned by misrepresenting God (v. 10). He struck the rock in anger. As God’s representative he was portraying God as angry with the people when He was not. The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome or misrepresent God as such (cf. 2 Tim. 2:24-26). Man’s fleshly anger does not achieve the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20). God’s ambassadors must represent Him in His love (2 Cor. 5:14-21). If you lash out at instead of love people you aren’t going to see the Promised Land. God isn’t going to use the harsh and hot-headed person who misrepresents Him to lead others to His Promised Land.

You might wonder, Was Moses’ striking the rock instead of speaking to the rock such a great sin? What’s the big deal to the Lord? Moses angry action of striking the rock defiled one of God’s types of Jesus Christ. In 1 Cor. 10 it states that Jesus is the “Rock” in the wilderness. The striking of the rock is a type or symbol of the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus atoning work involved one and only one crucifixion or striking for the sins of the world (“once for all” – Rom. 6:10; Heb.7:27; 9:12; 10:10). Moses striking the rock a second and third time defiled this typology of the once and for all completed work of Christ (e.g. John 19:20). When we allow our flesh to overwhelm us and direct our actions it leads to misrepresenting God.

Fifth, Moses sinned by disobeying God (v. 11). God said “speak” to the rock and Moses struck the rock. As indiscriminate as that might seem to us, it was outright disobedience to a command of God. Jesus said that love and obedience are inextricably linked so when Moses disobeyed it became an obstacle in his relationship with God (cf. John 14:21). God pays attention to details. He wants us to do the same. Those who casually disregard and disobey the word of God are not going to see the Promised Land.

Sixth, Moses sinned by unbelief (v. 12). He didn’t believe in God to provide as the words “did not believe Me” stated by God indicate. Moses’ actions were not in faith but in his flesh. When you react in the flesh instead of responding in the Spirit, you won’t be seeing the Promised Land.

Seventh, Moses sinned by not hallowing God in the presence of the people (v. 12). God said Moses had failed “to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel.” God’s leaders must be mindful of the holiness of God (e.g. Is. 6). God is holy and those who follow Him are to be holy (Lev. 11:44-45; 1 Pet. 1:15-16). This is especially true of God’s leaders. Those who fail to revere God and appreciate His holiness are not going to see the Promised Land.

As we come to the end of the chapter we read:

Numbers 20:22-24 - 22 Now the children of Israel, the whole congregation, journeyed from Kadesh and came to Mount Hor. 23 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in Mount Hor by the border of the land of Edom, saying: 24 “Aaron shall be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the children of Israel, because you rebelled against My word at the water of Meribah.

Eighth, Moses sinned by rebelling against God (v. 24). God’s indictment of Moses was that his actions were rebellious. He said, “because you rebelled against My word.” This tells us that there was some willful resistance by Moses to God’s words of instruction. God magnifies His word above His own holy name (Psalm 138:2). When we disregard His word it isn’t only rebellious, it’s foolish. Those who rebel against God word and cast it aside are not going to reach His Promised Land.

Maybe you’re thinking, Wait a minute. If it was Moses who rebelled against God’s word why was Aaron also being kept from the Promised Land? God went on to instruct Moses to “strip Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son” (20:25-28). Aaron died and was laid to rest on Mount Hor, outside the Promised Land. Why was Aaron included in the discipline of God for what Moses had done? Aaron didn’t do anything to stop Moses sinful actions. Aaron was complicit by his inaction. He was guilty of a sin of omission. He didn’t stand up to Moses and try to prevent his brother’s sinful response. He was just as guilty as Moses because he did nothing to prevent the rebellion and disobedience that took place. If we think that we can stand by passively while sin takes place and then claim innocence we are sadly mistaken. God expects more from leaders. He expects more from all of us. Jesus said that if we deny Him before men He would deny us before the Father (Mat. 10:32-33). Denial can take the form of passive silence. The Good Samaritan was the one who took action to meet a need (Luke 10:29-37). The apostle John was inspired to write that if we see someone in need and do nothing, how can we claim to have God’s love in us? (1 John 3:16-18). Love is an action. If you hear God’s word and do nothing to apply it, you live on shaky spiritual ground (Luke 6:49). The Bible states, “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). Aaron did nothing and therefore was part of Moses rebellion.

Oscar Hammerstein II once wrote:

Give me some men who are stouthearted men
Who will fight for the right they adore.
Start me with 10 who are stouthearted men
And I'll soon give you 10,000 more.

If we are to reach the Promised Land of the fullness of life in the Spirit, we must be stouthearted people fully surrendered and submitted to God, appreciative of His holiness, representing Him well, and filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. Look at Moses. Pay attention to the impediments he succumbed to. Then march on to the Promised Land and take as many people with you as possible.

Would You Consider . . . ?

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. - 1 Corinthians 4:1

Dear Friends,

This blog is a ministry. From time to time it is good to assess ministry in order to be a good steward of the time and effort involved in its upkeep and to determine the leading of the Lord.

In order to gauge the direction in which the Lord is leading would you consider joining the membership of the Shepherd of Hope blog site?

Would you consider inviting others to become members of this site? This will enable me to determine the direction in which the Lord is leading.

Joining the blog site will give you an automatic notice when a new teaching or other material is posted. It will also help gauge the audience which the site is reaching. This will give a better indication about what materials are most appropriate to minister to those interested in the site. It will also help in considering how to broaden the ministry field.

To join the blog just click the button on the right side of the blog site and follow the instructions. It's very easy.

I would also welcome your comments and suggestions about how to better the site and make it more helpful and God glorifying.

If you choose not to join the blogsite, would you please give the reason for yoru decision.
Even if you choose to disregard this request, would you also consider praying for this ministry venture in faith?

You are appreciated and I pray the Lord directs you to join me in this ministry. God bless.

in His service, by His grace, for His glory,

Pastor Claude

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Our Government: Protect the "Holy" Koran But Burn the Holy Bible?

When you view this short video keep the following verse in mind - "For You have magnified Your word above all Your name." (Psalm 138:2).

Jesus Man of the Word

“And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written” – Luke 4:17b

Jesus was a Man of God’s word. He is described as “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14). He is the manifestation and culmination of God’s word. The entire Bible speaks of Him (Heb. 10:7). God’s purpose for us is to become like Jesus (Rom. 8:29). If that is to happen an essential indispensible ingredient is to become people of God’s word like Jesus. In Luke 4 we see Jesus, Man of the word depicted for us. Our calling is to follow His example.

When Jesus, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness” to be “tempted for forty days by the devil” He went with God’s word in mind (Luke 4:1-2). Because Jesus had God’s word memorized and embedded in His heart He was able to ward off the temptations of the devil (Luke 4:3-13). Even when the devil attempted to misuse the scripture itself in his attack, Jesus, knowing the context of scripture, was not duped but was able to answer the adversary. If we are to survive our wilderness experiences and times of temptation, and attacks of the devil, we need to be like Jesus and have the word of God firmly embedded in us through memorization. And we need to know God’s word in context so that we don’t fall prey to those who would take it out of context. We need to be students of God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15). We need to know “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

The victory in the wilderness empowered Jesus. It states, “Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). His successful resistance to temptation led to empowerment. His familiarity with and use of God’s word was integral to this. Jesus was powerful because He was a man of God’s word. Every time we apply God’s word and resist the devil’s temptations or the lusts of our flesh we get stronger spiritually. That is a principle. Sow to the Spirit and reap a harvest of righteousness. The opposite is true too. Sow to the flesh and reap corruption. We are exhorted by the Lord in His word to “not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (Gal. 6:7-9). Don’t give up! Obey God’s word! Apply it to life in the power of the Spirit and you will increase your spiritual strength.

When Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit He became popular. The Spirit made Him known throughout the entire region. But Jesus was not influenced by the crowds. He returned to His home town of Nazareth. He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and was handed the book of Isaiah (Luke 4:14-17a). Then it states, “And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:” (Luke 4:17b).

Jesus “found the place” in God’s word; He was familiar with God’s word. Jesus was a student of God’s Word. He knew exactly where to look in God’s word for pertinent information for the given situation. That tells us He knew the word of God. Jesus was a man of God’s word. We need to know God’s word and be familiar with it. We need to be able to apply God’s word and be ready to share it pertinently in the circumstances of life. Learn to speak with God’s word in the conversations of life. That is God’s will for us.

Because He was a man of God’s word He was able to read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me . . .” (Luke 4:18). The Spirit being upon Jesus and the Lord’s anointing were the result of Jesus being a Man of God’s word. He was empowered and was able to confidently apply the scriptures to Himself because He knew the word of God. As a man of God’s word He knew He was anointed by God” to preach the gospel to the poor, . . . heal the brokenhearted, . . . proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” He knew His calling and purpose and confidently walked in them because of the certainty He had in God’s word. He knew God’s word and where He stood in relation to it enough to say, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:20-21). If we want the power and anointing of the Spirit and to know and confidently walk in our calling and purpose, then we too must be people of God’s word. Otherwise we will be like sheep wandering aimlessly without a shepherd. We need to heed the revelation of God’s word (Mark 6:34).

When Jesus shared the word His listeners, “marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22). Jesus spoke the uncompromising truth of God’s word in a gracious way. He taught God’s word in a way that identified sin but always accompanied that with pointing people to God’s grace. The grace of God was upon Him from birth (Luke 2:40). He was full of grace and the truth of God’s word (John 1:14; 17:17). The grace He embodied was the ultimate goal of the Law (John 1:17; Gal. 3:10-13). We need to receive and share God’s grace based on His word.

Jesus’ familiarity with God’s word also enabled Him to make true assessments of people and His life situations. He was not deluded by the fancy of humanity. He knew the whimsy and waywardness of sinful humanity. He shared this honestly and openly (Luke 4:23). He spoke truthfully with the people and applied God’s word to their lives even if it ruffled some feathers. He spoke of how previous generations of Israelites had rejected God and His word. He was not intimidated by their anger but meekly passed through the midst of them (Luke 4:24-30).

There’s a consequence to rejecting God’s word. God through the prophet Hosea said of His people, “I have written for him the great things of my law, but they were considered a strange thing” (Hosea 8:12). They had allowed God’s word to become “a strange thing” to them. They were unfamiliar with it. It had lost its importance in their lives. They lost sight of the treasure of God’s word. They turned to worldly pagan alternatives to God’s word. God brought discipline and firm judgment on His people because they rebelled against His Law (Hosea 8:1). God said of those ignorant and rejecting of His word, “their heart is divided” (Hosea 10:2). Without God’s word as our source of absolute truth we degenerate into idolatrous self-serving gods of our own tossed to and fro with every wind and wave of religious or worldly teaching (Eph. 4:14). This ultimately leads to us being cheated out of God’s best for us (Col. 2:8).

God’s people also relied on false idols and as a result had become hardened toward God. Through Hosea God said, “The inhabitants of Samaria [i.e. the capitol of the northern kingdom of Israel] fear because of the calf of Beth Aven. For its people mourn for it, and its priests shriek for it - because its glory has departed from it” (Hosea 10:5). Israel was mourning and shrieking in agony before a calf god idol! They had forsaken the One True God and His word and the result was a pitiful delusion. Today people are mourning their financial plight. They weep in the vicinity of the Wall Street bull because Ichabod is written where prosperity used to be. Is there any doubt that we as a people and nation and even throughout the world are shrieking over the idol of mammon? We have made money our god, our idol. The glory has departed and we mourn. And unfortunately this is true in much of the church as well.

Whenever we neglect or reject God’s word or rely on an alternative it leads to sin, spiritual dullness, and a hardening of our heart. The word of God is able to tell us exactly where we are with the Lord. It “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). It is like a mirror that gives us the correct reflection of who we are (James 1:22-25). In God’s word we are exhorted to ask God to, “search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24). We need to go to God prayerfully with an open Bible before us.

Through Hosea God called to Israel and He still calls to us saying, “Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you” (Hosea 10:12b). The coldness we see in hearts today is directly related to a departure from God’s word (Mat. 24:12). Instead of mourning and shrieking over the idols of this world we should be mourning over our sin before the One True Holy God. We need to break up our own hard hearts before the Lord. Isaiah in the presence of Holy God said, “Woe is me, I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). When was the last time you mourned before the Lord and cried out anything like that? “A broken and contrite heart – these O God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:17). We and our nation are too concerned with the banking of the Lord. God just may break our banks to break us. We need to be broken before the Lord. That will only happen, that can only happen, if we return to God’s word. Being a person of God’s word is essential to a true assessment of others and ourselves.

Jesus, Man of God’s word, ministered with authority. What He said and did was powerful because it was rooted in and based on God’s word. Those who heard Him teach, “were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority” (Luke 4:31-32). Demons left at His word (Luke 4:33-35). People were amazed at the power of the Lord. They exclaimed, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out” (Luke 4:36). How sad it is that the people of Jesus day were so unfamiliar with God’s word. What an indictment it is against the ministers of that day that the people were so ignorant of God’s word. God through Hosea said similarly, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). He called out, “Hear the word of the LORD, you children of Israel, for the LORD brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). How could this be? What was the cause of this indictment? The answer was, “Because you have forgotten the law of your God” (Hosea 4:6). Gods people forsook His word and “willingly walked by human precept” (Hosea 5:11). How sad it is when people rely on human opinion or precepts instead of or in a place superior to God’s word. There’s little power in personal opinions. The power of God is in His word.

The word of this Man of God’s word was circulating throughout the land (Luke 4:37). There’s something about God’s word that impacts people. It is God’s word! God’s word is powerful (Heb.4:12). And therefore ministry and what is done in the name of the Lord is powerful in proportion to the amount of God’s word that is in it. God magnifies His word above His own name! (Ps. 138:2). God honors and empowers His word. Human opinion is a vapor. God’s word is a solid rock foundation (Mat. 7:24). Be a person of God’s word.

Lastly, Jesus, Man of God’s word, healed the sick and defeated demons but priority and prime purpose was, “I must preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:38-44). Jesus’ purpose was to share the kingdom of God. The way He did that was by sharing the word of God. That must be our priority and purpose too. If we are to fulfill and experience God’s ultimate purpose we will need to become people of God’s word who share God’s word with others. There’s no getting around this. We need to get into God’s word and let it get into us. And then we need to share it from our hearts and minds where it has been cultivated and grown. Jesus was and is a Man of God’s word. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Mat. 24:35). Are you a person of God’s word like Jesus?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Am I a Soldier of the Cross - Isaac Watts

Am I a soldier of the cross, A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause, Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize, And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood?

Is this vile world a friend to grace, To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight, if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord.
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy Word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar, By faith they bring it nigh.

When that illustrious day shall rise, And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through skies, The glory shall be Thine.