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.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Allow God’s Word to Dwell Richly in You!

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. – Colossians 3:16

What dwells in you? What do you fill up on? What do you put into your mind and heart? In our culture the focus is on what we physically consume and put in our bodies. That affects physical longevity. But there is something more important than that. What you put in your mind and heart affects your eternity. If you feed your mind and heart with unholy, purely secular, worldly junk food you’ll be run down spiritually and clogged with sludge. If you feed your mind and heart with “the word of Christ” you’ll be fruitful and spiritually healthy.

The Apostle Paul exhorts us to fill up on “the word of Christ.” This is the Bible which is the word of Christ in that “in the volume of the book it is written of Me” (Heb. 10:7; Psalm 40:7). Jesus is the central theme of scripture. Jesus is central and preeminent (Col. 1:15-20). Therefore it is logical and expected that Paul should refer to God’s word this way and then exhort us to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you . . .”

Eternal life is all about knowing Jesus (John 17:3). Jesus reveals Himself to us in scripture. That is why it is so important for us to take in the word of God. A.W. Tozer spoke of this when he wrote:

"Let us seek to know Him in the Word. It is in the Word we will find the Holy Spirit. Don't read too many other things. Some of you will say, "Look who's talking!" Well, go ahead and say it, I don't mind; but I am reading fewer and fewer things as I get older, not because I'm losing interest in this great, big, old suffering world, but because I'm gaining interest in that other world above. So I say, don't try to know everything. You can't. Find Him in the Word, for the Holy Ghost wrote this book. He inspired it, and He will be revealed in its pages."

The word of God is living in that it is not some archaic irrelevant book that has nothing to say to contemporary society and its people. Far from it! The word of God is always pertinent (Heb. 4:12). It is the “Holy Bible.” “Holy” means unique. There is no other book like the Bible. It transcends history and serves as a timeless source of wisdom for the ages.

What does it mean for something to “dwell in you”? “Dwell in you,” a translation of one Greek term, means to inhabit, or dwell in. The grammar of this verb gives the sense of a continuous action that we practice and that is absolutely necessary. Therefore we could translate Paul’s words it is absolutely essential that you always take action to have the word of Christ dwell in you.

We are to always actively seek to have the word of Christ dwell in us “richly” or copiously, abundantly, richly. It’s as though we are to spare no expense and make every effort to see that the word of Christ is overflowing inside us. When was the last time you spared no expense or made it a priority to feed on God’s word?

Why is this so important? Because the word of Christ is God’s Holy Book. An unknown writer has described The Bible – God’s Holy Book in the following way:

This Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and it’s decisions immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Christ is its subject, our good it’s design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is given to you in life, will be open in the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its holy precepts.”

We are to have the word of Christ dwell in us richly “in all wisdom.” The word wisdom means skill. If knowledge is the accumulation of facts, then wisdom is the ability to apply facts to solve problems. Therefore, we are to be skilled in applying God’s word to life and its many situations. We are to be diligent in studying God’s word in or that we can use it skillfully in life (2 Tim 2:15).

Paul says “teaching,” we are to teach the word of Christ. John Wesley spoke of his process of letting the word of Christ dwell in him and then from that he taught. He stated:

To candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: Just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing, — the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: For this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri. [i.e. A man of one Book]. Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone: Only God is here. In his presence I open, I read his book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights: — "Lord, is it not thy word, ’If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God?’ Thou ’givest liberally, and upbraidest not.’ Thou hast said; ’If any be willing to do thy will, he shall know.’ I am willing to do, let me know, thy will." I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual." I meditate thereon with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God; and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach.

The teaching of God’s word should flow out of personal contact with God through His word. Teaching the Bible is not a mere academic task. It is valuable to have an understanding of the original languages, theology, doctrine, but unless those things are applied personally and anointed by Holy Spirit empowerment, they are worthless.

Some seminaries are referred to in a derogatory sense as cemeteries. This is because there are Spiritless professors whose focus is on the letter rather than the Spirit behind God’s letters of His word. They lack a reverence for God’s word. They hack it up with pompous opinionated critiques. They put themselves in a place of judgment over God’s word. And because God’s word is God’s means of salvation and sanctification their desecration of it prevents them and their students from experiencing either (e.g. 1 Peter 1:22-25; 2:1-3; 2 Pet. 2). God’s word is settled in heaven, it lights our way, it is truth (Ps. 119:89, 105, 160; John 17:17). We have no right to change it; we forfeit our distinctiveness as Christians when we do (Deut. 4:1-8; Rev. 22:18-19).

Those who abuse God’s word inevitably become the white-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones Jesus referred to (Matthew 23:27). These professors work hard at removing or discounting any true spiritual substance from God’s word. They look at the things of the Spirit miracles and anything supernatural with jaundiced eyes. They disregard the finger of God. They are unteachable skeptics who feel it their calling to “educate” away any spiritual life they see in students. They are like the hypocritical religious leaders of Jesus day who, “travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Mat. 23:15). There are Spirit-filled seminaries and seminary teachers. Such teachers are to be sought ought and appreciated. But there are others who sap the spiritual life of students and those should be set aside until they repent.

Paul spoke of “admonishing one another” with the word of Christ.” “Admonishing” means to caution, to gently reprove, to put in mind of, to caution or instruct. We are to live by the word and seek to be used by the Lord to help others do the same. We are to be able to find counsel for our life situations as well as counsel others in their life situations from the word of Christ.

C.H. Spurgeon spoke of the way we should approach and handle the word of God stating:

"How are we to handle this sword of 'It is written'? First, with deepest reverence. Let every word that God has spoken be law and gospel to you. Never trifle with it; never try to evade its force or change its meaning. God speaks to you in this book as much as if he came to the top of Sinai and lifted up his voice with thunder.

I like to open the Bible and pray, 'Lord God, let the words leap off the page into my soul; make them vivid, powerful, and fresh to my heart.'"

Our Lord Himself felt the power of the Word. It was not so much the devil who felt the power of 'It is written" as Christ Himself. The manhood of Christ felt an awe of the Word of God, and so the Word became a power to Christ. To trifle with Scripture is to deprive yourself of its aid. Reverence it, and look up to God with devout gratitude for having given it to you.

Interestingly, Paul speaks of admonishing or gently instructing “one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Worship is a means God uses to instruct us in the word of Christ. Worship ceases to be worship when its focus gets off of Christ and His word.

Psalms” are songs of praise, a sacred ode, and refer to song arrangements involving instruments and voices. “Hymns” are songs of celebration. Hymns may refer to Biblical Psalms. “Spiritual” means non-carnal, supernatural, eternal oriented, spiritual as opposed to secular. “Songs” means singing. The idea in all of these words is the edifying instruction of God’s word through music and singing.

Paul referring to “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” in the context of exhorting the reader to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another” tells us that worship is to be scriptural. That means the songs we sing in worship are to be in agreement with scripture and include God’s word. Instrumentals in worship are nice, but they do not communicate words and therefore are outside of what Paul is speaking of here. And the songs we sing in worship are to be tools God uses to instruct those singing. The songs we sing are to be doctrinally sound so that they teach us the truth of the word of Christ.

What dwells in you, images of secular TV? Word pictures of impure worldly literature? The word of God is pure (Ps. 119:140). If you take it in it will clean you out (Eph. 5:26). The word of God will revive you (Psalm 119:25). The word of God will show you who you really are (James 1:23-25). The word of God is the scalpel God uses to perform spiritual surgery (Heb. 4:12). But the greatest thing about God’s word is that it is the word of Christ. Jesus is the word made flesh (John 1:14). Let that word of Christ dwell in you richly. You won’t regret it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Known to God from Eternity are all His works – Acts 15:18

Nothing surprises God. An attribute that makes God, God, and which separates Him from us is His foreknowledge. God is not limited by time. He knows what is going to happen before it happens. When and if you get to heaven God is not going to be surprised you made it or didn’t make it. He knows. God has a plan for the world, for Israel, for the church and for each of us individually.

It is God’s plan for the world that everyone be saved. Peter is inspired to write, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). God loves the world and sent His only Son Jesus to make a way for the world to be saved. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus and His redemptive work on the cross (John 3:16). God made it as simple as possible for people to be saved. He provided one way for salvation, Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:10, 12). It grieves God terribly when people are not saved (Ezek. 18:32; 33:11). Hell and eternal separation from God was never God’s intention. Hell was prepared for the devil and His demons, not for people (Mat. 25:41). But if people persist in their sin and reject God’s salvation He will sentence them to eternity in hell (Eph. 5:3-7; Col. 3:5-6; Rev. 20:11-15). Sin is like cancer; it is never benign; it is always malignant. Therefore God will not allow sin into heaven (Rev. 21:27). That too is part of God’s plan. God has a plan for the world, salvation not hell.

God has a plan for Israel. He says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” All Israel has to do is, “. . . call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” His promise is, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:11-13). At the time of these inspired words God’s people were in captivity. These were words of hope in a time of great despair and disappointment. His promise to Israel was, “I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive” (Jer. 29:14). God was faithful to do this the first time. On May 14, 1948 He did it a second time with the creation of the establishment of the nation of Israel. He did all of this because God has a plan for Israel. He has a plan and purpose for Israel known to Him from eternity. God isn’t finished with Israel yet (cf. Romans 11).

God has a plan for the church. The context of Acts 15:18 is the Jerusalem Council where the church was discussing the transition from legalism to grace, from Old Testament to New Testament, from Israel to the Church. In the beginning the church consisted mostly of Jews who accepted Jesus as the promised prophesied Messiah. But in Acts 10 the conversion of the Gentile Cornelius and his household created a question as to what if any Jewish laws were to be kept by newly converted Gentiles? Some were saying that unless Gentile converts were circumcised they could not be saved (Acts 15:1). They were attaching a work to the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. This led to a great and pivotal discussion for the church. It was decided that it would be wrong and outside the will of God to put “a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Acts 15:10). Instead it was asserted that “we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved . . . .” (Acts 15:11).

None of this surprised God. In fact He spoke to Peter three times in a vision telling him that what God was cleaning up should not be called unclean (Acts 10). A letter was drafted with the stipulations that Gentile converts should merely “abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood” (Acts 15:20). This was all God’s plan for the church.

The church is where we learn of the riches we have in Christ (Eph. 1). The church is the instrument to bring salvation to a lost world (Eph. 2:1-9). The church was to be the place where Jews and non-Jews, everyone, could be united in Christ (cf. Eph. 2:11ff.). The church is where we learn of the love of God and how He is eager, willing and able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” to His glory (Eph. 3:13-21).The church is the place where people are equipped to serve the LORD and bring Him glory (Eph. 4:11-12). The church is a light in a dark world (Eph. 5). The church is where God helps us put our spiritual armor on (Eph. 6:10-17). The church is where we learn to pray (Eph. 6:18ff.).

But God also has an individual plan for each of us. We are God’s poetry. We are His work of art. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Each Christian is a letter from God to a lost world (2 Cor. 3:2-3). God’s plan for you is to make you like Jesus (Rom. 8:29). When we realize that it helps us understand why we experience some of the things that we do.

We shy away from and try to avoid at all costs anything that causes discomfort. That is our temporal earthly mindset. But God looks at us and ministers to us from an eternal heavenly perspective. The most important thing for us from God’s point of view is that our faith be established and proven genuine (1 Peter 1:6-7). It is in and through trials that we gain the greatest insight into Jesus and who He is and what He is all about (1 Peter 1:8-9). God’s plan for us is to know Him, to know Jesus; that is eternal life (John 17:3). His plan is not only that we know Him through the power of His resurrection, but that we know Him also through the fellowship of His sufferings (Phil. 3:10; cf. also Phil. 2:1-16).

Yes, God has a plan for us. At times that plan will involve discipline and even pain in order to bring us “out to rich fulfillment” (Psalm 66:10-12). Because God loves us He disciplines us (Heb. 12:3-15). God uses everything for good in the lives of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). Don’t ever forget that. God is for us (Rom. 8:31-32). He wants what is best for us. “Known to God from eternity are all His works.” The world, Israel, the church and we are His works. No matter what, trust Him. He knows what He is doing.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

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

Life is a Vapor (Psalm 39)

Jesus stated that we are supposed to live by every word of God (Deut. 8:3; Mat. 4:4; Luke 4:4) But Jesus also said we will be judged for our every word (Mat. 12:33-37; cf. also Mat. 15:18-19; Mark 7:20; James 3:6). What we say over a lifetime is important. God is keeping track. We will be held accountable.

This is why the Psalmist in Psalm 39 says, “ I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue” (39:1a). In the New Testament we are told that if we can master our tongue it is a measure of Christian perfection (James 3:2-12). It’s wise to guard our words. And this is especially the case “while the wicked are before me” (39:1b) because to speak haphazardly around the wicked only leads to further sin.

Therefore the psalmist kept silent and held his peace. It wasn’t easy. It seems maybe the psalmist got a little obstinate and “held my peace even from good” (39:2a). Maybe he thought, okay, if I have to hold my tongue to be righteous, if I’m going to be held accountable for my words, then I just won’t speak at all! In other words, he gave God and everyone else the silent treatment. Not good. This only led to sorrow; His “sorrow was stirred up” and his “heart was hot within me.” It led to frustration. As he contemplated his situation in silence “the fire burned” within him (39:2b-3). Why? Because to be silent and control your tongue is a way of surrendering to the Lord.

To be silent is to relinquish control. It is to trust God with your situation. It is to entrust yourself to God and let Him be your defender. The flesh within, who wants to rule and attack offenders, burns and bristles at the thought of being silently trustful of the LORD.

We need to ask the Lord to help us put things in perspective. That is what the psalmist did. “LORD, make me know my end . . . what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am” (39:4). God in His Sovereign Creatorship, “Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah.” (39:5). God is in control. We are a “vapor” before Him. We are a puff of smoke, transitory. We are like a shadow. Our accumulated wealth doesn’t follow us into the grave (39:6). There are no U-Haul trailers on hearses.

The antidote to our sinful nature is to keep silent and surrender to the Lord. The answer to our questions, “what do I wait for?” The solution to our sin problem; our transience is, “My hope is in You” (39:7). He alone can deliver us from our transgressions (39:8). We keep our silence trusting in Him (39:9). God alone can remove the death plague of sin from us (39:10). God alone is in a position to correct us (39:11). What we need to do is pray to the LORD; sincerely’ even with tears, pray to the LORD (39:12). We need to throw ourselves on the mercy of God. He has the power of life and death (39:13).

What do we learn from this psalm?

We learn life is a vapor; life is short. In James it states, “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14).

We learn death is sure. In Hebrews it confirms, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” (Heb. 9:27).

We learn sin is the curse and source of death. Scripture tells us:

• Romans 3:23 - 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

• Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

• Galatians 3:10-13 -10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law [works; our own efforts to be right before God] in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),

Finally, we learn Christ is the cure. Christ is the cure for out death producing sin:

• Romans 1:16 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

• 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 - Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

• Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

• 2 Corinthians 5:21 - For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

• 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 - 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 5 “O Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Life is a vapor. Death is sure. Sin is the curse. Christ is the cure. “Are you ready to go home with the Lord? Are you ready to go to be with Jesus?” The Bible says:

John 5:24 - “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Then You also Will Appear with Him

Paul says, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). Is Christ your life? Is He your all in all? The word “life” (ζωή zōē, dzo-ay´ ) refers to existence itself; animate as opposed to inanimate. It also refers to one’s means of existence or livelihood, or how one supports oneself in life. And lastly it refers to lifestyle or how one lives. God is the source of life for all living things (Acts 17:25). There is a quality of life however (Luke 16:25; 1 John 5:16; 1 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 3:10). The quality of this life is determined by whether or not we receive the words of life (Acts 5:20). Those words point us to a relationship with Jesus and to His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:19).

We receive eternal life through faith in Christ. Christ has life and is the source of life as is the Father (John 5:26). Jesus came to manifest life to the world (1 John 1:2). He is the “Prince of life” (Acts 3:15). Jesus came to offer us an abundant life (John 10:10). Keep in mind that He offered this abundant life to those who were physically alive. Jesus was offering therefore, a new existence as well as a higher quality of life. He came to manifest Himself as the Source of life, eternal life as well as to show a way of living in which we know God in Christ (John 17:3).

Humanity, because of sin, is alienated from the life of God (Eph. 4:18). Humanity needs to be redeemed from the penalty of sin and regenerated to new life in Christ. This is offered by God as a gift of His grace through faith in Jesus (John 3:15; 5:24). Once this life is received it leads to an ongoing eternal relationship with Jesus (John 6:35, 63). This new life evidences itself in a new found love (1 John 3:14-15). One day we will be given resurrection bodies to live eternally with God in heaven (2 Cor. 5:4; 2 Tim. 1:10).

Is Jesus your life? Is Jesus really your top priority in life? Does your life reflect that? Does your thinking reflect that? In your thoughts do you love God supremely? Supremely? Are you available on His demand? Are you attentive to His call, to His direction? Are you obedient to Him and what He reveals to you? Is Jesus your Lord, truly your Lord? Is your life centered on Christ? Or is Christ on the outskirts of your life? Is He your all in all or just one other item or activity amongst all you have and do? Does Jesus and His eternal priorities and purposes govern the way you live? Or do you live the way you want to live? These are questions we need to ask and answer in all prayerful soberness.

The word “appears” (φανερόω - phanĕrŏō, fan-er-ŏ´-o) means render apparent, manifestly declare, manifest, reveal or show. This word occurs twice in this sentence. There are two appearances referred to here, Christ’s and ours. When we die and appear before Jesus, Jesus’ appearance to us will reveal who we are and what we are worth in terms of how we lived (Heb. 9:27). When Jesus appears at the Rapture then we will stand before Him and it will appear who we are in terms of how we lived (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10). When at His Second Coming Jesus manifests Himself to the world for all to see (Rev. 1:3), and it is clearly revealed to all that all He is and all He has said is true, then it will be manifested, shown and declared who has believed in Him and who has not believed in Him, who belongs to Him and who does not belong to Him, who has lived for Him and how has not lived for Him (e.g. Matthew 25:31-46).

This is the Last Days church. When we look at the church today, the spirit of it in many cases is lukewarm as described by Jesus in Revelation (Rev. 3:14ff.). Are we living in the Last Days? Only God truly knows. But when we observe the world in light of God’s prophetic word, we see a greater percentage of these prophetic puzzle pieces coming together than ever before. I personally believe we are living in the Last Days just prior to the return of Christ.

In light of the seriousness of these Days we should be praying for and seeking revival. In the book How to Experience Revival (which is a compilation of excerpts from Charles Finney’s sermons on revival), Finney states revival is needed when:

When there is a lack of brotherly love and Christian confidence among believers, then revival is needed. . . . when there are dissensions, jealousies, and evil rumors among believers. . . .Revival is needed when there is a worldly spirit in the Church. . . . When the Church finds its members falling into gross and scandalous sins, then it is time to wake up and cry to God for a revival of religion. . . . When sinners are careless and stupid, it is time for Christians to get to work. . . . If a minister finds he has lost, in any degree, the confidence of his people, he should work for a revival knowing it is the only means of regaining their confidence. . . . If an elder or private member of the church finds his brethren cold toward him, there is only one way to restore their faith. It is by being revived himself and pouring out the splendor of Jesus from his life. The fact is Christians are more to blame for not being revived than sinners are for not being converted.

We need a revival. Charles Finney defined revival as, “Revival is renewed conviction of sin and repentance, followed by an intense desire to live in obedience to God. It is giving up one’s will to God in deep humility.” Greg Laurie, a popular and Spirit filled pastor and evangelist comments on revival stating:

"The word 'revival' means 'to restore to one's original condition, to get back to the way that you used to be.' And so when God speaks of revival He's speaking to His own people and He's saying that we should get back to that walk with Him that we may have had at an earlier time in our lives. . . . Revival is not something that just happens across the board, it's something that happens in an individual's life. We can pray, 'Oh Lord send an awakening, send a revival!' But it starts with me. It starts with you. . . . We need to get back to the time-honored, God-tested, tried and true message of the Bible. . . . God has told us how to live." If you have less hunger and thirst for God's righteousness now than at an earlier time in your walk with the Lord, you are in a backslidden state, you need revival!

We should find it normal to love God supremely and others sacrificially by faith in the power of the Spirit. If we aren’t loving God supremely and others sacrificially we need to be revived. For some, such a life is something they have never fully experienced. By faith in prayer then they should seek it with all their heart. This is God’s will for you! This is the abundant life Jesus spoke of (John 10:10). We need to be stirred.

Hosea said it well when he was used by God to call the people to break up their hardness:

Hosea 10:12 - Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

It is time to seek the LORD until refreshing rains of righteousness are poured out on us from above. But the ground of our hearts is often heard and the refreshing rains of God’s Spirit cannot penetrate us. Our hardness needs to be broken. We need to be broken and awakened before the Lord. Charles Finney was an instrument of God used to break up fallow hard hearted people which led to great revival. He suggested we take a personal inventory and prayerfully look at a number of areas where confession and repentance in the Spirit of prayer would lead to breaking up and softening any hardness in us. These areas are:

Sins of omission:

o Ingratitude – Unthankfulness toward God
o Lack of love toward God – lessening of affection to God or divided affections leading to not loving God supremely
o Neglect of Bible Reading
o Unbelief – instances when you charged God with lying or not living up to His word
o Neglect of prayer
o Poor spiritual attitude
o Lack of love for lost souls
o Lack of concern for unbelievers plight
o Hypocrisy
o Neglect family duties – devotions
o Neglect of personal devotions
o Neglect of self denial

Sins of Commission

o Worldly mindedness
o Pride – vanity: e.g. decorating your body physically rather than preparing your heart spiritually when going to church.
o Envy – e.g. you can’t stand to hear others praised
o Critical spirit – e.g. speaking of others in less than a loving way
o Slander – e.g. speaking unnecessarily about faults of others.
o Lack of seriousness – e.g. excessive light-heartedness and superficiality before Holy God
o Lying
o Cheating
o Hypocrisy – “How many times have you confessed sins that you did not mean to stop committing?”
o Robbing God – e.g. misspending money and time; misapplied talents
o Bad temper – e.g. abuse to loved ones
o Hindering others from being useful – e.g. weakening other Christian’s influence by insinuations against them

Finney then comments:

“If, as you proceed with this project, you find that your spirit is still not rejoicing, search yourself. You will see there is still sin blocking your full awareness of the Spirit of God within you. This lack of joy is your signal that you have not been faithful and thorough. Your self-examination requires a full attack – it is not a gentle pastime. It is tearing sin away from yourself revealing what can be painful.

You must honestly look at yourself, using your Bible as your checkpoint. Do not expect God to miraculously break up your fallow ground for you. You must actively participate, and you must submit your will. If you look at yourself accurately, taking note of your sins, you will definitely feel something. You cannot see your sins for what they are without deeply feeling something.

Experience proves the benefit of going over our history in this way. Start your work now. Resolve that you will never stop until you find you can pray. You will never have access to the full power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you unless you completely confess your sins. Let there be this deep work of repentance and full confession, this breaking down before God. . . .

This is a good strategy to experience revival now. It will help you prepare for the appearing of Jesus and your appearing before Him.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Christian Palestinianism -

The following teaching is something every Bible believing lover of Israel needs to view and be aware of. Christian Palestinianism is false, unbiblical, bigoted, and a blasphemous movement that is creeping into the church, the evangelical chuch. There is a perspective and teaching being endorsed and promoted in the church that is anti-Jewish and anti-Israel and in reality anti-Bible.

One consequence of this teaching is to usher in Chrislam which is a warped and perverse melding together of Christianity and Islam. The Land of Israel therefore becomes The Land of Palestine.Jesus is no longer Jewish, He is Palestinian. Jesus is the first martyred Palestinaian! Israel is seen not as a small minority nation defending itself against nearly 300 million enemies, but as practicing apartheid against Palestinians. What was once exposed as Replacement Theology is now promoted as Fulfillment Theology.

Don't be deceived. Some of the purveyors of such religious pornography are merely trying to hide their cowardice in shrinking from standing for Christ and His gospel. They fear Islam. They hide behind a veil of tolerance and unity. Others are simply antisemitic. Still others are caught up in an imbalanced view of the Church rooted in the Replacement Theology of Reformed Theology.

Make no mistake about it, this is a latter day deception (1 Timothy 4:1). There are Jewish people who themselves are caught up in this deception and committing national suicide in supporting their enemies. Israel and her supporters are being smeared with every kind of negative and repulsive word labels and propaganda. Go to the word. Don't be deceived. Take a stand for the Lord and His word. Watch this video and be prepared and equipped. Pray and be empowered by the Spirit. Then, put His armor on and take a stand for Israel and the word of God (Eph. 6:10-18).

What Does God See When He Looks at You?

What Does God See When He Looks at You? In Psalm 33 it states, “The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works” (Psalm 33:13-15). When God looks at you, what does He see? When it says that God “fashions” (יָצַר - yâtsar, yaw-tsar’) it means that God molds or squeezes into shape like a potter does to a piece of pottery he is making. God uses the circumstances and the stuff of life to mold you. How is His work in you coming along? Have you considered His work in you? Scripture tells us that God has a plan for each of us (e.g. Jer. 29:11-14; Eph. 2:10).

In his book Measure Your Life – 17 Ways to Evaluate Your Life from God’s Perspective Wesley L. Duewel points out that the Lamb’s Book of Life contains the names of every believer (cf. Exodus 32:32-33; Psalm 69:28; Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 20:12; 21:27). He also points out that there are other books that keep a detailed record of our lives (Psalm 87:6; Daniel 7:10; Revelation 20:12). He mentions that a “scroll of remembrance” is written and kept concerning those who fear the Lord and honor His name. He quotes Malachi which states:

Malachi 3:16, 18- 16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, And the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name. . . . 18 Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, Between one who serves God And one who does not serve Him.

Do you fear and honor God? Do you meditate on His name? What is in your section of God’s book of remembrance? Duewel goes on to list ten areas of information that, based on scripture, will be sources of information in each of our records. These areas are worth taking note of and are as follows:

1. Your whole life – Romans 14:10-12; I Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 4:5.
2. Your words – Psalm 19:14; Malachi 3:16; Matthew 12:36-37
3. Your thoughts – Proverbs 15:26; 19:14; 94:11; 139:2, 23; Isaiah 55:7; Matthew 9:4; 15:19; Romans 2:15-16; Hebrews 4:12.
4. Your secrets – Ecclesiastes 12:14; Romans 2:16
5. Your motives – Proverbs 16:2; 1 Corinthians 4:5
6. Your tears – Psalm 56:8
7. Your prayers – Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4
8. Your gifts to God – Philippians 4:17-18; Hebrews 13:16
9. Your helping others – Matthew 24:34-40
10. Your visiting those who need you – Matthew 24:34-40

This is only a very brief summary of some of the areas upon which our heavenly records are being assembled. We are not saved on the basis of any work we do, but rewards will be given out in heaven. They will be based on how we live once we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Looking at those ten areas of assessment, how do you think you would fare? What do you think is written in your book? Be honest. In some parts maybe there would be less written than you would have liked, such as in your tears and prayers for the lost, your gifts to God or dealing with others sacrificially. In other areas there may be more written than you would have liked such as in your thoughts, secrets and motives. When Jesus appears it will be very revealing to us and for us.

In Hebrews it states: “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things re naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account” (Hebrews 4:13). There is a day of accounting on the horizon. Are you mindful of that? Are you concerned with that? Have you been living and investing your life in a way that will pay dividends on judgment day? Are you fearful of the impending day of accounting or do you look forward to it? Remember what has already been said, this one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.
If the Lord appeared right now, would you have regrets about how you lived your life in Christ? Would you be excited to present to Him all you have done for His glory? Or would you hang your head in regret and shame because you stand naked before Him with nothing to show your loving appreciation for all He has done for you? Which group are you in?