Be Prepared – 1 John 3:3

Without Holiness, No One Will See The Lord

All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Worthwhile Warfare

You are under attack.  Whether you realize it or not, you are being bombarded in the three main areas your adversary – Satan and his minions – have found to be most effective in derailing your efforts at remaining in Christ:

  1. The lust of the flesh
  2. The lust of the eyes
  3. The pride of life

There is a VERY GOOD REASON that the Western World is not seeing the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus when He said:

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

The reason?  We are not a holy people.  We go to church (rather than BEING the church).  We seek and revel in the prosperity The Lord Jesus Christ has provided to us but don’t seek as our first priority that His kingdom prospers, even in our difficulties, and we don’t take the time to ensure that God has our full attention to transform us into the image of His Son.

I was recently at a worship/revival service where a man said that every believer should be able to do what Jesus did in His ministry:

Heal the sick, raise the dead (Gasp!  Anyone try this one lately?), cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.  – (Comments in italics mine)

He then dedicated the people gathered (a local body of believers who knew each other and a few others that were invited) for service to the Lord.  He prophesied over their lives in the dedication part of the service with complete accuracy, telling people about themselves that he could not have possibly known (including the strangers among them, of which I was one).  After the dedication, he began to heal those who were sick.  Broken bones were mended.  The crippled and infirm stood up, jumped up and down, and praised God.  He drove out demons, calling them by type or name, and released people from their control.

This was a first for me.  Never had I seen someone operate with the power of God in such a way.  Then he made good on his promise that anyone can do these things.  My wife had recently had a concussion, and went up for healing.  After being healed, a man with a broken ankle went up for healing.  Looking around, the guest speaker at the revival service spotted my wife, and said to her, “Come here – YOU lay hands on him!”

My wife, in faith, walked over, placed hands upon the man’s ankle, and was told by the guest speaker to command the ankle to be healed, and say it with authority.  My wife did exactly that.  And then the most amazing thing happened – my wife said that under her hands she felt the bones of his ankle moving around and mending!  The guest speaker asked the man to walk around, and he did.  He could now jump up and down on it.  My wife doesn’t have the spiritual gift of healing.  She was just being faithful to the Word of the Living God, and He responded.

The following morning, I decided, in faith, to put this to the test.  My wife suffered (past tense!) from hypothyroidism.  I laid hands on her neck where the thyroid was located, and prayed, “In the name of Jesus Christ, thyroid, BE HEALED!”  I sensed the Holy Spirit of God tell me to command it to “BE HEALED!” two more times.  But, how do you take a thyroid for a walk?  Later that evening, after putting on her bed-clothes, my wife said to me, “I’m hot.”  The only way that she was warm in the past was severe sickness (fever).  We took her temperature, and it was normal – almost two full degrees higher than normal.  It has been that way ever since.

WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND OUR AUTHORITY IN CHRIST

The Western church (at least, a significant portion of it) is not teaching the disciples of Christ how to engage in spiritual warfare and how to use their authority in Christ.  I will not speculate here as to why.

God wants us to be free – to live free! – for if the Son frees you, you are free indeed.  But we continue to live in bondage.  And the reason why?  One of the very core reasons of this is that we are not preparing ourselves to meet the Lord.

Proper Preparation

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

We are to be a holy people, set apart from sin, and set apart to God.  But truly, how are we set apart?  Apart from telling people the Gospel, would anyone be able to identify you as a disciple of Christ from your actions?  Are we feasting our eyes on the latest R-rated films?  Do we feast our bodies with excessive alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, or food consumption?  Can anyone tell us apart by the way we speak (not only the words we use, but how we say them)?  These are just a few indicators.  It was once said (I don’t remember who) that we should ask ourselves, “If there was a trial today, would there be enough evidence to convict you as a disciple of Christ?”

We are to be preparing ourselves as the bride of Christ.  The bride removes her old garments and puts on the wedding garment.  She waits in eager anticipation for the coming of the groom.  She preens and puts on her best makeup, perfume, jewelry, and has her nails buffed and polished to perfection.  She selects the very best shoes to wear.  She seeks to be as beautiful as possible for him, to be his delight.  If we do that just for OUR spouses, how much more so should we be doing this for The Lord Jesus Christ?

It is time that the church takes holiness seriously, and that the holy ones of God are released to do what God has purposed for them to do since before the foundation of the world.

Heart Hunger

We are to seek the holiness of God in our everyday lives.  We need to hunger and thirst for righteousness.  It is to be our heart-cry.  We are to eagerly desire the transforming work of the Holy Spirit as we grow in righteousness:

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.

Does your heart crave the word of God?  Do you long for and desire to be in the continual presence of the Lord?  Can you say, with complete honesty:

Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

If not, do you WANT to be able to say that with joy?

Delightful Deliverance

The good news is that there IS deliverance from the soul-crushing rut of running into the same sins and (to a certain degree the same temptations) over and over again.  If that is how you feel, YOU NEED DELIVERANCE.  Disciples of Christ can be overwhelmed and influenced by Satan and his minions in many ways.  Once we have granted the enemy LEGAL GROUND to afflict us through unrepentant sin, curses (generational and otherwise), and ignorance of the word of God, we are the enemy’s new plaything.

There are several fine resources available to help you to shake yourself free from the grasp of the enemy (a couple of them are listed below).  If you want to live free in Christ, please take the time to read these resources, do the hard work, and free yourself:

Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

Awesome Authority

You have AWESOME authority in Christ!  With the same power in you that raised The Lord Jesus Christ from the dead (the Holy Spirit of God), YOU can live a free life, do the works that Jesus did, and even greater works than those, as you consistently yield yourself to the authority of the Holy Spirit as Jesus did when He walked the Earth two thousand years ago, and now sits at the right hand of God praying for you:

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question – Am I truly walking in the freedom promised to me by My Lord Jesus Christ?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, forgive me for not taking your word at face value.  Forgive me for not believing what You have made plain to me in Your word about Your authority, my authority in Christ, and for not seeking you with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength.  Lord Jesus, help me to be the bride that is radiant and adorned with holiness, greeting You when You come for me dressed and prepared for the wonderful future You have promised to me, sealing Your promise with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Help me to tear down any stronghold that holds me captive to the lie and does not comport with Your holy word.  Help me to rely completely upon the Holy Spirit so that I would walk in Your ways.  Help me to fight the good fight, to prepare as I need to prepare, and to stand for You, even unto death.  Help me to put to death anything in my life that would keep me from following you with utter abandon.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Holy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


Notes:  Here are two resources that can be used hand-in-hand for deliverance of demonic oppression and interference in your life.  Please note that while I may not agree with everything the authors say or live out in their lives, the information in these resources is extremely beneficial to taking off the last of the grave-clothes, and keeping them off:

The Bondage Breaker” by Neil T. Anderson

DELIVERANCE and SPIRITUAL WARFARE MANUAL” by John Eckhardt

If you have not been taught about spiritual warfare and deliverance, these resources may be challenging to both believe and read.  Set apart time to fast (a juice fast or Daniel fast if medically necessary) and pray that God would open your eyes when you read the books, protect you from interference from the enemy, and reveal the truth about spiritual warfare and His word to you as you read.

If you find that you cannot read these books (you feel pressure to not read them), pray earnestly that God would show you anything that you need to confess in your life to Him and repent of, anything in your life you need to renounce, and any amends that you need to make first (and go make them).  After this, open your Bible and begin reading the four Gospels and Acts.  If you feel reluctance to do that as well, seek out a church that will pray over you and help you with this issue (the interference of the enemy).  The body of Christ is there to uplift, uphold, bear the burdens of, and hold accountable all of us in our walk with God.

It IS possible to live freely in Christ.  Just because you haven’t experienced it yet does not mean that it is not possible or feasible:

my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge…”

The Weather and God – Job 37:5-6

God Controls The Weather, Not Us

5 God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.
6 He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’
and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’

Marvelous Mysteries

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

We read these words, and we look up in the sky, and we say to ourselves, “Oh, God created light!”  What we may not think about is that God created light on day one of creationHe created the Sun, Moon, and Stars on day four of creation.  What was the light that He created on day one?

There are marvelous mysteries waiting for us to learn.  Was light, as a construct, created first, then the objects to display the light created later?  The good news is that God has revealed some of those mysteries to us.  One of them is the weather.  God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to make known to man that He, and He alone, is sovereign over the weather.

Wonderful Weather

We have been greatly blessed to have different kinds of weather.  It was not always so.  Until the flood, there is reason to believe that it had never rained on the Earth*.  God commands His creation to give rain and snow and sleet and wind and every other type of weather that we experience:

8 He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.

15 He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
18 He sends his word and melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.

Christ Commands

All power and authority over the Earth and the Universe has been given to our Lord Jesus Christ.  There is nothing that he does not have authority over in the physical and spiritual realm of all created things.  Because of this, we know that Jesus is master over the weather:

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.

Jesus not only commands the weather; He has it stored up for His express purposes:

22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
26 to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?”

Powerful Pride

Since we know that Christ is sovereign over the weather, we must now re-evaluate our position on human-induced climate change:

  • Who warms the Earth?  Is it man, or is God?
  • Who cools the Earth?  Is it man, or is God?
  • Are we arrogant enough to believe that we, through our feeble efforts, are able to influence the weather in such a grandiose way that we are now sovereign over it?
  • Though ants can move a mountain of dirt from a hill, what significant impact does that have on the rest of the world?

We deem ourselves too important in our own eyes when we say that it is we who are causing the temperature to change in the atmosphere of the Earth.  How convenient!

Forty or so years ago, scientists were warning us that “Global Cooling” was going to plunge us into another ice age (ask your parents and/or grandparents about that if you aren’t old enough to remember.  And try to find the write-ups anywhere now – most have been expunged.  Is it not Satan who is the author of Historical Revisionism [i.e., lying and deceit]?).

When they were wrong about that, about a decade and a half later, we were told that in a decade or so “Global Warming” would be so bad that the polar ice caps would melt, all the polar bears would die, and the world’s ocean levels would rise to such a point that our coastal lines would change.

When THAT didn’t happen, they came up with “Global Climate Change.”  Not content to attribute one swing in temperature to ourselves, we are now taking full credit for changes in the weather:

  • If it is cold, WE DID IT!
  • If it is hot, WE DID IT!
  • If it is neither, SOMETHING THAT WE DID MUST HAVE CAUSED IT!

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Whom do I believe when it comes to changes in the weather?

A short prayer of preparation:

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


Notes:

*In Genesis 2:6, there is indication that rain had not fallen on the Earth, but that either springs came forth or a mist came forth to water the plants.  When Noah made the Ark, and preached righteousness, if there had EVER been a flood before (no matter how small), people most likely would have believed him.  After all, if a person had survived the flooding of the Nile every year, and could see that the rains caused it, would they not have believed Noah at least about the flooding portion of His message?  Even now, we have hundred-year floods that cause great devastation.  People generally lived along streams and rivers, because water was so important in agriculture.  Noah was six hundred years old when it flooded (Genesis 7:6).  He and others would have survived AT LEAST FIVE hundred-year floods in his lifetime.  Unless there had never been a flood before…

Motivation for Discipline – Proverbs 13:24

Spoiled Children Are Like Spoiled Food – They Leave A Bad Taste In Your Mouth

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Worldly Wisdom

Everyone seems to have a word of wisdom.  Time-honored advice that has worked for them, and others who passed it on to them.  Wisdom is the practical application of knowledge for the betterment of mankind.  And the world, the flesh, and the devil seem to constantly pour out their versions of wisdom.

With children, wisdom from the world and the devil appears to be hands-off parenting.  “Be their friend; give their opinions, no matter how bizarre, the same weight as your own, and let them guide the way; after all, they are the future!”

The world does so at their own peril.  For children learn by observing and doing what pleases them.  The implied morality that human beings supposedly have – that we are inherently good – is believed and embraced.  And any correction to the natural learning cycle of children is no longer the imparting of wisdom, but rather considered an impediment and abuse.  After all, should not the child be able to decide for itself how it should think, act, and respond to the world?

Learning Love

The first fallacy of hands-off child-raising is that children, by their very “innocent nature”, implicitly know love and how to love.  But observe any child left to his/her own devices, and watch just how manipulative, conniving, scheming, self-centered, self-absorbed the child will become.  Rather than Timmy on the classic “Lassie” TV show, the child instead begins to resemble Damian in “The Omen“.

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Children need training.  They need to both be trained through instruction and correction, as well as having a solid example of behavior in the form of character that is congruent with what is being said.  Children are natural hypocrisy detectors.  Their “radar” is tuned to check what they hear against what they observe.

Love does not come naturally.  It makes no sense to love anyone else if there is no direct benefit to yourself.  Self-preservation and self-fulfillment are the goals of the untrained, undisciplined mind.  Even in adulthood, the world behaves in the same way:

  • Get as much of the pie as you can, because no one will help you out
  • Be concerned with yourself first and everyone else later (if it is convenient for you and your plans)
  • The strong should rule over the weak

Godly love does none of these things.  Godly (agape) love is

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Does not envy
  • Does not boast
  • Is not proud
  • Is not rude
  • Does not insist on its own way
  • Does not rejoice at wrongdoing
  • Rejoices with the Truth
  • Bears all things
  • Believes all things
  • Hopes all things
  • Endures all things
  • Doesn’t fail

Children, left to their own devices, will not embrace this type of character.  They must be taught character.  The first part of learning is accepting the correct role of authority in one’s life

Accepting Authority

Correction helps us to accept the rightful authority over our lives.

An old friend of mine had a nephew whose father was wild.  In a stunning, emotional scene where the child’s mother was allowing the father to see his son one last time (she had won full parental responsibility and the court ruled that the father would no longer have any rights [or financial obligations] towards the child), the father’s parting words to his son were astounding.  He basically said, “Son, you don’t have to listen to anyone, not even me.  Be your own man.”  His parting words were calculated to do the maximum damage that he could so that the child’s mother would have the most difficult time raising him up.

Years later, the uncle of that child and two of his friends took this child on their annual pilgrimage to a famous amusement park.  There were three sets of hawk-eyes trained on that young man, now just a little before the teenage span of his life.  Rather than hold the young man’s hand (and embarrass him in front of strangers), these three men kept a watchful eye on the young man.  The child, who had never had the opportunity to visit this amusement park, was in wonder at all of the sights before him.  The three men watching him were diligent in keeping their eyes on this child.

About three hours into the first day of this weekend-long trip, some sound caught the attention of all three men.  They looked away for a mere second or two.  But that was all that was needed.  The child, who was watching the men carefully, realizing his opportunity to be free from the control and authority of these men, bolted into the thick crowds.  Almost an hour later, the young man was found, greatly enjoying the freedom from oversight by those who had been placed in authority over him, unaware of the dangers that his “dash to freedom” placed him in.  Because this young man had the tendency to bolt like this, corrective action needed to be taken.  In this case, the weekend-long trip was cut short, as the risk was just too great.

When we refuse to accept the rightful authority of the ones who have been placed in charge over us (not only men, but also God), we set ourselves up for the opportunity to be placed in a situation where the outcome is less than desirable.  And like the young man’s story above, not every “dash to freedom” results in dire consequences.  But we fail to recognize the danger that we are in, because we are unable to see every aspect of life as it unfolds around us.

Readying for Responsibility

Correction readies us for greater responsibility.  As we accept correction of those who are in lawful authority over us, we begin to be prepared for greater responsibility.  Just as you wouldn’t give the keys of the $500K Ferrari to the 14-year-old wild-child, neither will God give us responsibility when we are not ready.

When God calls us, He then equips us.  But this is after careful preparation:

  • Joseph was prepared as a slave for more than a decade before God called him to save the entire world from famine
  • Moses was prepared for forty years as shepherd before God called him to shepherd his people into the promised land
  • The twelve disciples of Christ were prepared for three years (including Paul, who had his own three-year preparation with Christ in the desert before being released) by Jesus Christ Himself.

We need to be open to correction in order to grow and be prepared for greater responsibility.

Careful Correction

The manner of correction is just as important as its intensity and timing.  The strong-willed child will defiantly say, “I would rather DIE than have to submit to you!”  And the child is truly fully prepared to make good on that statement (it is NOT an idle threat).  What to do?  How do you prepare a child such as this so that they will be ready to be released from your care and supervision and then solely under the supervision of Almighty God?

God Himself will provide the manner, attitude, words, and consequences for training such a child if we allow Him to and invite Him to do so.  Some children appear completely compliant.  Those are the dangerous ones.  They seem OK, but what is really going on inside?  Are they compliant to get their way, or are they compliant because they desire to accept the authority over them?

God sees our hearts as they truly are.  And He is more than capable of applying the “rod of correction” to each of us in such a way that we will not soon forget it.  What works for you wouldn’t necessarily have any impact on me.  And what works on me might just irritate and turn you away from God rather than have the desired effect.

In any case, correction is necessary, for if we are permitted to continue on in our ways, we will surely pass the point where our consciences are seared, and we won’t even realize the deep depths of darkness that our lives slip quietly into until the terrible moment when circumstances reveal the true depravity of our souls.

Properly Prepared

God is the one who knows best how to guide, correct, and instruct each and every one of us at any age or stage in our lives.  We need to go before Him to receive instruction and correction.   The hyper-grace community of believers may be just as surprised as the legalists when they go before Almighty God saying, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?”  And our Lord Jesus Christ will reply, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

God disciplines us as His childrenAnyone who is not disciplined by God is NOT one of His.  Surely, if God disciplines us, should we not then discipline our children as well?  And what then shall we say of our motivation behind discipline?  Is it truly “child abuse”, as culture tell us, or is it loving care as we use it as a preparatory method for bringing about the fruit of righteousness?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I accept discipline properly?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, may Your holy name be praised.  Thank You for disciplining me so that I would not bring dishonor to Your name.  Thank You for showing me, through Your discipline, that I am one of Yours.  Thank You for the opportunity to grow in truth and righteousness.  Thank You for the opportunity to bear fruit in accordance with righteousness rather than selfishness.  Thank You, Father, for Your many lessons, painful as they are.  And I pray, Lord God Almighty, that should I be in the position of administering these lessons to others in a parental, governmental, judicial, and/or business environment, that You would guide me as to the best way to do so.  Help me to adhere to Your word, and to reject culture where culture conflicts with the truth.  Give me courage, resources, and assistance where necessary to defend Your tried and true methods against the rebellion of society towards You.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

God is Sovereign – Isaiah 40:21-24

God Is Responsible For Installing Rulers Among Men As Well As Removing Them

21 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

Forgotten Foundations

When events in our lives trigger great emotional distress, we are often at risk of forgetting our foundational beliefs.  For many people, the recent election of Donald J. Trump to the office of President of the United States has caused great anguish.  It was reported that upon hearing the news, many people wept openly and bitterly.  Others cheered and rejoiced.  Both were emotional responses to a desired outcome that either was fulfilled or frustrated.

When we experience this type of deep emotional response to something, we should take a step back, and check it against our core values.  We should then ask ourselves some questions:

  1. Why am I feeling this way?
  2. How should I respond?
  3. What is God doing?

In our emotional condition, we can often forget a most important aspect about God – that He is Sovereign.

Supreme Sovereignty

God is seated on His throne in Heaven.  He and He alone is sovereign over all of the universe.  God is the one who raises rulers up and takes rulers downThere is no authority on Earth except that which is established by God, either currently ruling, in training to rule, or being removed from their rule.

Disciples of Christ have a tendency to forget that we are merely ambassadors for Christ here on earth; our true home is in Heaven with Jesus.  And while the world around us is amazed and bewildered by the seemingly random and odd circumstances that they find themselves in, disciples of Christ should realize that God is sovereign, He has a plan, He is working His plan, and we have nothing to fear because God works out everything to good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Royals Removed

God is the one who topples rulers.  We are like a mist; here for a short while, and then gone.  There is no position of authority that we place men and women in rule above us that is not overseen by God. We think that because we have voted someone in or out of office, or they have been assassinated, or they are disgraced, that somehow we have done these things.  It is instead God who has allowed them to happen.  Nothing happens in this universe without the express prior knowledge and approval of God.

To think that we are solely responsible for the removal of persons in power is mere arrogance and pride.  God is able to protect His rulers from all harm and evil if it suits His purposes.  It was said that the American Indians realized that George Washington was blessed and approved by the Great Spirit.  Indian warriors of renown who never missed their prey with their arrows reported that their aim was true when they would fire upon Washington, but the arrows would not find their mark.  Even now, shells fired from rockets that get through the Iron Dome in Israel are sometimes blown out to sea by great winds that suddenly arise after the shells penetrate Israel’s defensive perimeter (much to the chagrin of those who fire them at Israel).

Deep Distraction

God’s people have allowed politics to cloud their vision of Him, His power, His will, and His way.  Many disciples of Christ set their hopes, fortunes, paths, and joy on the outcome of elections rather than the goodness, mercy, grace, holiness, and righteousness of God.  We place God in a second-tier position, as though God is the one who is responsible for executing our commands and fulfilling our every desire.

We treat God like a genie, and send prayers up to God (“rub the genie’s bottle”) every time we need something, only to shove the genie back in the bottle and cork it when we have our wish and don’t need Him anymore in our lives.  We relegate God to our slave and desire Him to only be sovereign in our lives when WE want something changed.

We have forgotten that God is sovereign.  We weep and wail when we don’t get our way.  James gently chides us for this:

1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Instead of sorrow at our circumstances, or who is pulling the switches and levers of power in this Earthly realm, let us set our eyes upon Him who is in the Heavenly realm, and petition Him according to His will.  Let us submit ourselves to God, resist the devil, and watch as the enemy flees*.  Let us rejoice that our Creator is in charge, and that leaders come and go at His behest.  Let us set our hearts upon the commission that we have received, and let God take care of our provision and care.

Was God able to rescue Joseph from the hands of his brothers and Potiphar?  Was God able to rescue Daniel from the lion’s den?  Was God able to rescue Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the flaming furnace?  Was God able to rescue Peter from being chained in jail with guards?  Was God able to rescue Paul from those who sought his death?  Was God able to rescue Jesus Christ from eternal death?   If He is able to do that for them, why would you think that He is unable to do that for you?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I more concerned about politics or God’s will?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You and You alone are sovereign over all.  Help me to remember that I am merely a visitor here on Earth, and that my place is with Christ in Heaven.  Help me to have a proper perspective on all that occurs in life, so that I may not be shaken or swayed when events do not go my way, and especially when then do go my way.  Father, help me to have a heart that is always centered on You, and to accept Your sovereign rule in the lives of men.  Give me peace in the choices that You make in the rulers over my life, and help me to be a faithful witness of Your Son regardless of the circumstances I find myself in.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


Notes: This blog was edited for spelling errors.

  • Jesus was comforted by angels after his encounter with Satan in the desert.  When we submit ourselves to God (the rest of these sequence of events is PREDICATED upon this primary principle), resist the devil (which may come at a very high cost in money, emotional distress, and/or difficult circumstances), it is only then that he will flee.  Don’t think that this is going to be easy.  You have signed up for a war.  Many of the combatants don’t even know they are engaged in it.  Be wary, and listen to your Commander-in-Chief, who will provide all necessary instruction to win the battles (Jesus already won the war on the cross…).

Home Security and God – Psalm 127:1-2

If God Is Not Involved In Every Aspect Of Life, Don’t Expect Success

1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat-
for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Count the Cost

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,”

In everything we do, we should count the cost.  Whether it is building a home, constructing a tower, starting a business, or any other endeavor, counting the cost is a natural and normal thing to do.  We should determine if we are willing to (and able to) spend the necessary time, talent, and treasure to see the vision be completed.  In this passage, the Psalmist indicates that it is foolish to even build a house if the Lord God Almighty isn’t involved in building it.

God owns everything:

The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty.

for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.

1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
2 for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.

Time after time, God takes credit for OWNING all things, including US.  When we fail to take this into account, we are in effect telling God that WE own ourselves, or our property, or our money, jobs, children, abilities, and anything else that we falsely lay claim to owning.  God, instead of making us accountable for OWNING these thing, in His great wisdom and mercy, only makes us accountable for MANAGING these things.  By doing so, GOD is responsible for ensuring that we, as managers, are provided with the proper resources to take care of HIS things.  We, in and of ourselves, have no way to create our own resources to take care of anything!

[A lesson in futility, all sarcasm intended] If you ever want to take care of YOUR own things, feel free to create matter from nothingness.  Then, form and refine it into whatever useful shape you desire, and God will certainly acknowledge that what YOU have created is YOURS, and not HIS.

Safe and Secure

Many people have home security systems installed to ward off burglars and would-be-thieves.  Those who have money to spend on armed security guards do so as a heightened level of protection for the assets that they manage.  The Psalmist rightly concludes that if God is not protecting the city (or even the home), those who watch for danger watch in vain.

Locks keep honest people honest – Unknown Author

If someone is determined enough, and they have sufficient resources, they will be able to thwart any security measures that are taken in order to obtain what they secretly (or openly) envy and desire.  Security measures are meant to deter people from attempting to steal, or interrupt them in the act of stealing.  But if God is watching over the house or the city, the thieves will surely look for other, easier marks, or be thwarted in their attempts.*

But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.

Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight – Origin Unknown

Even if you are watching over everything, day and night, you may not be fully prepared to deal with the resources that the enemy has brought to bear against you.  The only sure way to know that you and what you manage are safe is to make sure that the Sovereign Lord of the universe is watching over what He has placed in your care.

Vain Ventures

Man has, for millennia, toiled under the sun (and with the right resources, under the moon as well…) to gain wealth.  We work our fingers to the bone trying to make enough money to provide for ourselves and our loved ones.  This is especially prevalent when evil people are at the helm of the country who secretly (and sometimes even OPENLY) desire to ruin the economy and makes the citizens of their dominion their slaves.  When this happens, we slave away and have nothing to show for it, even when we are carefully planning finances and frugal in spending what little money is earned.

A famous song captured this quite succinctly:

…You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store… – Merle Travis, “Sixteen Tons

The author of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, puts it this way:

22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.

Satisfying Sleep

And on the note of minds not at rest at night, it is God and God alone who gives us restful sleep at night.  It is God who helps us to sleep soundly without worry.  God tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and He will provide for our every need.

However, God does test us in our sleep through our dreams:

Though you probe my heart,
though you examine me at night and test me,
you will find that I have planned no evil;
my mouth has not transgressed.

In everything we do, we need to be mindful that it is God who gives us what we have, including our time, talent, and treasure.  Everything belongs to God, and we have an obligation to God to acknowledge that everything, including us, are His.  Management of what God has placed into our care is a great privilege and honor, and if God has chosen others to manage more desirable aspects of His creation, or greater portions of it, we should not envy our neighbor, for they will be held more accountable for what they do with it, and God provides to us exactly what He knows we are able to effectively manage.  After all, He is the one who gave us whatever ability we have to manage in the first place!

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I acknowledge God’s sovereignty and ownership of everything, including myself, in how I manage what God has placed me in charge?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are gracious in Your dealings with me.  Your mercies renew every morning, and You show me mercy and grace with exceedingly larger measure each day.  Father, please help me to manage all that You have placed under my care with the utmost of respect and ability that I may honor You.  Help me to be like Joseph, in whom his enemies could find no fault as he managed Pharaoh’s vast empire.  Give me the correct attitude towards what I have been entrusted so that it will be used for Your honor and glory.  Help me to turn from the worldly cultural teachings regarding acquisition, ownership, and management, and look to You and Your word for wisdom and ability so that You would be honored.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


Notes:

*In a true story that was told at a church, there was a serial rapist on the loose in a city.  No one could identify the man, because he brutally murdered all of his victims so no one could identify him.  One night, a woman was walking down the street alone.  The serial rapist saw her, but didn’t attack.  She got a good look at him, especially his face.  A few minutes later, another woman came down the street alone, and he abducted her in his usual way with his usual methods.  When the police found the second woman’s body, they began to ask around, and discovered that the first woman had been in the vicinity of the area where the second woman had been abducted near the time of her abduction.  When they questioned her, she was able to give an accurate description of the man that she saw, who the police later arrested and charged.  During interrogation, when the police asked the man why he didn’t take the first woman, he declared in exasperation, “Are you kidding?  There were two of the largest guys I had ever seen in my life, on her left and her right.  I would have been a fool to try to take her with them around!” If God is protecting you, evil people will seek other marks.

National Security and God – 2 Kings 6:13-23

When The Lord God Almighty Guards Your Country, No Harm Shall Befall It

13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.

15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.

19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.

20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.

21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”

22 “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” 23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.

Formidable Foes

When faced with an army of your enemy, many would be intimidated.  The prophet Elisha’s servant certainly was when he woke up one morning and saw the entire city surrounded with chariots of the nation that had declared war on Israel.  He was intimidated to the point where he began to experience great fear.

Fear Factor

When we are faced with what appears to be overwhelming odds, we also have a tendency to experience fear ourselves.  The Bible tells us over three hundred and sixty-five times – enough for one every day of the year – that we should not fear.   We have been told by God that there is nothing to fear, for He is sovereign.  Yet our physical eyes may try to deceive us, and Satan, the enemy of our souls, would try to instill fear and panic within us.

When we experience fear, we begin to act irrationally.  We see imaged threats that aren’t even real.  And we conflate the importance of the threats that are right in front of us.  In this case, the servant of Elisha the prophet saw no way out, and only saw himself and his master as being able to stand against this massive gathering of enemy troops.

Concealed Charioteers

But God protects His people.  Most of God’s people do not have the ability to peer into the spiritual realm.  If they did, they would see just how protected they are from the enemy.  Elisha, the prophet of God, prayed to God that his servant’s eyes would be opened to see what he could see, and God honored that prayer and did so.  When He opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant, he saw the most amazing sight – the hills were filled with chariots of fire being pulled by horses.  Immediately, this calmed down his heart, because his faith had become sight.

Supernaturally Subdued

…These aren’t the droids you are looking for…Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi

In what would seem to the world to be a stunning turn of events, Elisha the prophet prays and asks God to strike the enemy blind.  The Sovereign Lord God Almighty immediately answers his prayers, and the enemy is struck blind.  Although this in and of itself is amazing, but what happens next is even more amazing.

Remember that the enemy arrived at night.  They were camped out around the city.  They could clearly see the city, and the road that they came in on – the sun was out.  Scripture says that it was early in the morning (this began around 6:00 AM, as the fourth watch of the night was from 3:00 AM to 6:00 AM).  They were now struck blind.  That certainly would have unnerved them.  But it was what happened next that was most amazing and interesting.  Elisha tells the men that they are on the wrong road, and this is the wrong city.  He would lead them to the man that they were looking for.  They didn’t bat an eye!  Scripture doesn’t record that they even told Elisha why they were there!  Elisha appears to just walk up to them and tell them they are in the wrong place, and he’ll lead them to man.

In Elisha’s defense, he didn’t lie.  Elisha wanted to reveal himself to them in Samaria, so they technically were in the wrong city.  And Elisha did lead them to the right man – himself!  And, being blind (a rather incapacitating handicap at this point), they blindly followed Elisha to Samaria (no pun intended).

Manifest Mercy

Arriving in Samaria, in the land of the king of Israel, Elisha the prophet of God prayed that God would open the eyes of the men that were blinded.  Now, the group of chariots that were arriving would have been both seen and heard from at a great distance from the city of Samaria.  The king of Israel would surely have placed watchmen in distant areas to warn of any pending invasion by the king of Aram, as they were at war.  When news of the prophet of God leading an army of the king’s enemies towards Samaria, the king of Israel would have surely called all men to arms, and had them line up around the army as it approached.

Upon seeing the vast army in front of him, the king of Israel asked the prophet of God for permission to destroy it.  Elisha forbade the king from doing so, pointing out that it was improper for the king to kill those whom he had captured in war.  Elisha instead commands the king to feed them and provide them with drinks.  The prophet of God showed the love of God towards his enemies, and the king did more than what was required.  A great feast was thrown by the king for the army, and then they were sent back to Aram.

Providential Protection

When the king of Aram had heard what had happened, he realized that the land of the king of Israel was sovereignly protected by The Lord God Almighty.  And when the Lord God Almighty guards your nations’ borders, no enemy that comes against us will be able to  have any success in overtaking the land.

We would be well-advised by this historical record to seek the providential protection of the Lord God Almighty rather than trying to protect the land in our own strength with only our own intelligence, plans, weapons, and strategies:

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
who rely on horses,
who trust in the multitude of their chariots
and in the great strength of their horsemen,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
or seek help from the Lord.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  When I am in trouble, where do I turn first?

A short prayer of preparation

Father in Heaven, You have said that You would never leave me nor forsake me.  Give me comfort in that promise when my enemies surround me and threaten me with death and torture.  Give me strength that day to know what to say, and to speak boldly about You in the day of threat.  Grant me peace in my spirit, and help me to remember the protection that You provide.  For all that is required to wipe out an entire city is just one angel given authority to do so.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

National Sovereignty and God – Nehemiah 2:2-6

God Approves Of Walls Built To Establish The Sovereignty Of Nations

2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”

I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?”

Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”

6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

A Terrifying Truth

At that time in history, no one dared enter the king’s presence with a sad face.  Everyone was required to smile.  To do otherwise could possibly result in a person’s immediate and very public execution.  God had placed Nehemiah in his position in the king’s service to further His purposes.  He has done this with many others, including Joseph, Daniel, and Esther, to name a few.  Even though Nehemiah tried, he could not hide his distress from the king.

Facing Fear

Over three hundred and sixty times in the Bible, God’s people are told, with differing words and the same message, “fear not”.  Nehemiah had just heard from Hanani, one of his brothers, that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down, and the gates were burned by fire.  Nehemiah was the cup-bearer to the king.  He had immediate access to the highest human authority in the land.  God was placing a very heavy burden upon Nehemiah’s heart.  It so distressed him that he had sat down and wept, then mourned, fasted, and prayed to God for days.

So when the king noticed Nehemiah’s glum appearance and brought it to his attention, Nehemiah faced his fear and told the king of the burden that he felt upon his shoulders and his heart.  It should be noted that just prior to telling the king everything that was on his heart, the Bible records that Nehemiah prayed.  This is a great pattern for all of us to follow.  When we have fear in our hearts, our first (not last!) resort should be to consult and petition the highest authority possible – The Lord God Almighty.  We should do this even (and especially) when faced with the possibility of certain death, for this is the correct path to follow.

A Royal Request

Nehemiah, burdened by God with crushed heart concerning the situation that his people found themselves in concerning the land which God had sovereignly gave to them after the Exodus from Egypt, prayed to God and asked the king for a personal leave of absence to go to Jerusalem, his homeland, to rebuild the wall.

Not only did he request the time from the king, the Bible shows us that he was even more bold.  He had asked for the king to give him letters of passage across all of his lands so that no one would stop him or impede his progress – he needed safe passage.  He also asked the king to provide him, from the royal park, the necessary timber to both rebuild the gates of the city as well as the house that he would need to build once he arrived to stay in.  Now that takes courage!

Granted by God

Nehemiah notes that the gracious hand of his God was upon him.  And he was absolutely correct. Not only did king Artaxerxes provide him with the time off, lumber, and letters of safe passage, God sovereignly placed it upon the king’s heart to provide Nehemiah with a royal escort – something Nehemiah had not asked for.  This would absolutely guarantee that everyone would believe and comply with all of the requests that Nehemiah would make of them on behalf of the king through his written orders.

When we are burdened by God to do something, God will absolutely ensure that we have everything that we need to do what He has sovereignly assigned for us to do.  And sometimes when we forget to ask for something that is critical to our mission, God will provide what is necessary to ensure that His will is accomplished.

And in this case, God sovereignly approved of a wall that established as sovereign the city of Jerusalem.  God approves of national borders, and the right of nations to determine who is permitted to enter their sovereign soil.  If God believed that everyone should have the right to enter any place on Earth anytime they wanted to, He would have stopped Nehemiah in his quest to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.  Those who believe God and His Son, and whose faith is credited as righteousness, should take careful note of God’s view on the sovereignty of nations and His approval of walls to regulate the flow of people into their lands.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  When faced with certain danger, what is the first thing that I do?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, there is nothing that surprises You.  You are the one who sets up kings and rulers in authority.  All authority in Heaven and on Earth is Yours and Yours alone to delegate to whomever You choose.  Grant my heart wisdom and discernment as I read Your word so that I would know and understand Your position on national sovereignty.  Help me to reconcile any thoughts, attitudes, or opinions that differ from Your thoughts, attitudes, and opinions.  Help me to align my heart to Yours, and to accept, regardless of how I feel, that Your ways are above my ways, and Your thoughts are above my thoughts.  Father, I do not have the proper perspective of seeing the end from the beginning, nor knowing the disposition of every bit of matter in the universe at any point in time.  Help me to accept what I don’t understand, and give me peace in my heart when You do not desire to provide me with answers so that my heart may be at peace when my emotions are trying to overrule Your divinely inspired word.  Thank You Father for all things.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Authority by God – Daniel 2:19-23

There Is No Authority Except That Which Is Established By God

19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

Riddle Revealed

Have you ever had a mystery in your life that neither you nor no one else could figure out?  Daniel was in that exact same place.  The king had asked a question of the wise men of his time that no one had ever asked before – to rightly divine what the king’s dream had been, and its proper interpretation.  In previous times, the king would reveal the dream and ask for the interpretation.  However, being clever, the king asked the wise men not only the interpretation to the dream, but also the dream itself.  For only the truly wise person would be able to divine both the interpretation as well as the dream.

The Lord God Almighty knows all things.  What is done in darkness is as clear as light to Him.  He is omniscient – knowing all things.  Nothing is withheld from God.  In order for God to be sovereign over all of creation, He would need to know everything that was going on in creation all of the time.  And this time was no exception.  When Daniel and his three friends prayed to the One who knows all things, God was faithful and provided the knowledge to Daniel, His chosen instrument, to deliver the message to the king.

Despots Deposed

Daniel then prayed a prayer that glorified God and reveals some interesting aspects of the character of God.  Daniel rightly proclaims that it is God who removes people from positions of authority.  While the reasons for this are the purview of God for His plan, this revelation should give us hope and assurance.

When faced with unholy rulers who oppress people rather than serving them in submission to the Lord God Almighty, those who are faithful to God should bend their knees in fervent prayer that God would remove such a one from office.  When the true disciples of God cry out for justice and Godly leadership over them, repenting of their sins and the sins of their nation, turning their faces back towards God and away from sin (in that order), humbling themselves in prayer and fasting, God will hear their prayers and heal their land.

Authority Authenticated

It is God and God alone that places leaders in their positions of power.  For God and God alone has all authority, and He delegates that authority to whomever He chooses.  For some, He delegates it in righteousness for His glory.  For others, He delegates it to bring about the discipline of His people.

Habakkuk, in an apparent prayer of despair,  cried out to God in an attempt to understand why the righteous were held back, and the wicked prospered on Earth.  God said to Habakkuk,

See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright — but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness

We must remember that it is God’s purview and His alone that allows the wicked to prosper and to be in leadership over others.  While we have every obligation to ensure that we are living righteously and living in a just manner before God, it is God and God alone who will raise up leaders and lay them low.  This is a divine attribute of God, that He and He alone has all authority and can do with it what He wants for His purposes.

Information Imparted

Since God is all-knowing, it is God’s responsibility to provide that knowledge to others.  Many try to seek wisdom and knowledge through other channels, such as divination (tarot cards, Ouija boards, palm reading, tea leaves, and any number of other methods including seeking out those who traffic with Demonic beings.  Any method of revelation of true hidden knowledge is through God and God alone.  Others may guess at the nature of truth, but only God knows it for sure.

The sad aspect of the seeking of wisdom and knowledge outside of God is that these methods lead a person down a very dark path away from God.  Whether it be Saul and the medium of Endor trying to (and from what scripture says, apparently successfully at the attempt) channel the spirit of Samuel from the dead, or others who traffic in demons, any attempt at divination is evil and hated by God.

When someone goes to a real medium (a person who is being imparted with knowledge from demonic beings impersonating the dearly departed), they may get some real information that no one else could possibly know because no other human being was present.  However angels and demons are among us.  And they communicate with each other.  The knowledge that you get may have just enough truth in it to hook you into believing that the person you consulted really does know the future.  Once a person is hooked, they will depend more and more upon the medium or method of divination rather than depending upon God for knowledge and assistance.  Our God is a jealous God, and will not allow us to serve two masters.  Free will has been given to us, and we can choose whom we will serve.  We can choose to serve God, or serve anyone or anything else.  The choice is ours.  And every choice has its consequences.

The one who goes to a medium to see if they got the job after the interview may very well be told the truth.  A demon may have been present when the HR official authorized the paperwork or verbally approved the hiring.  Perhaps there is something that only the mark knows (the person seeking information from mediums) that is told to the mark.  After all, if no other human being had been present, how could this medium know the truth of the situation (such as where the serial killer buries the bodies or disposes of them, etc.)?

For the spiritual safety of God’s people, God and God alone should be consulted for wisdom and truth.  If it is to the glory of God that it not be revealed, so be it.  If we need to wait upon God’s timing for it, so be it.  It is the impatience of man that leads us to seek knowledge and wisdom apart from God and His word.  If you are ever presented with that temptation, remember what happened to king Saul because of his impatience with God’s timing (offering up the burnt offering to God, and seeking out the medium of Endor).

Wisdom Welcomed

Daniel welcomed the wisdom that God had provided, as should we.  Regardless of the word of knowledge that we are given by God, we should treasure it and act upon it, for God has seen fit to provide us with understanding and wisdom.  God loves it when we move in obedience to His revealed word.

And when we have received the answer to our prayer, we should praise the Lord God Almighty for what He has done.  God is worthy of all praise, honor, glory, power, strength, and dominion.  Let us give great praise to the One who provides for our every need, and gives us that which we have requested.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I able to be content when waiting for God to act upon my requests (especially with the outcomes of who is in authority over the nation I live in)?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have revealed Yourself to us through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  You have given us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and to lead us into the way everlasting.  Give me patience this day as I wait for You to act, and help me to be content with the outcome that You have decreed.  Regardless of my circumstances, help me to never take my eyes off of You.  Grant me peace in my heart, and bring me around to Your way of thinking so that I can be better prepared when difficulties occur in my life.  Help me to live by faith and faith alone in You when You send wicked rulers to be over us, and help me to rejoice when You relent and send leaders that will follow You to be over us.  This I ask in the glorious name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Sovereignty of God – Job 1:6-12

Nothing Happens In All Of Existence Without The Express Prior Permission And Knowledge Of Almighty God

6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Supreme Sovereignty

The Lord God Almighty is the only non-created being ever to exist.  He has existed before time, matter and the angels.  And in that, God and God alone has ultimate sovereignty and authority over all that has been created.  John the apostle tried to show this in the very first verse of his gospel:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The interesting part about translations is that they don’t always capture the full meaning of the original.  In this particular case, the Greek work for “was” is En, and the verb is conjugated as “was continually (with no beginning)”.  This speaks of the eternity of Jesus (who is the Word of God), and of God, with whom He is:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Created Creatures

God reveals something very powerful in this passage.  ALL of the demons, and even Satan himself, are created beings:

  • The devil can be in only one place at a time
  • As a created being, he is subordinate to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  As such, he was required to present himself before God to give an accounting of his activities and whereabouts.

Powerful Praise

When faced with trials and tribulations, we don’t have all of the facts.  In the case of Job, God highly praised him before Satan.  Scripture speaks of our trials in a favorable way:

  • Trials produce perseverance, which makes us complete, lacking in nothing
  • Trials are to be put in the joy column of our spiritual accounting ledger (the Greek word “count” in James 1:2, hEdEsasthe, is an accounting term as well as an imperative command!)
  • Trials are a way that we identify with Jesus, for the student is not greater than the teacher

When faced with trials, we must remember that God may be praising us as well, and the trials can be a testing of that praise.  If so, we should count it as joy, for if God is praising us, we have truly received the highest praise possible.

Allowed Authority

And as we suffer through trials, we must remember that they are sovereignly allowed in our lives.  Nothing happens to any of us without God’s notice or express prior approval.  In this passage, Satan complained to God that he had placed a hedge of protection around Job and his possessions.  It was only until God permitted Satan the authority to harm all that Job had been provided by God that he was able to do anything.

As we are going through our trials, we must remember that God is sovereign, and that nothing escapes His attention.  Additionally, we must remember that He is the one who has sovereignly approved or appointed our trials.  And while these trials may not directly benefit us (with the possible exception to produce perseverance), they will be used to bring glory to God.  And they may well be used to open the eyes of some who, in seeing the sincerity of our faith and trust in God through the most grueling and difficult circumstances, may see that our faith is not in vain.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I remembering that God is with me as He allows the trials of my life to destroy that which keeps me from drawing close to Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are glorious and beautiful to behold.  Help me to remember Your goodness as I am struck down by sickness and foes.  Help me to remember Your sovereignty as You allow unseen spiritual forces to assault and harass me.  Help me to remember Your faithfulness when You allow me to be dragged through the valley of the shadow of death.  Help me to persevere, and praise you as Paul did after he was severely beaten and placed in prison.  In all things, help me to remember that You and You alone have approved these trials.  Help me to not despise Your discipline, though the trials that You have appointed may not end until I am rejoined with You in Heaven.  For You are good in all that You do, Lord God Almighty, and none may lay a charge against You.  In all this, help me to remember Your character, for if man had done this, it would be bearable to be found worthy of suffering disgrace for Your name.  When there is no one who can be identified as being responsible for the trials – no one I can pray for – it is unbearable.  This I ask in Jesus Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Leadership with God – Psalm 2:10-12

An Open Letter to All Who Are Called to Leadership by God

10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.
12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Wise Warning

God sets the tone for these passages with a warning to all leaders.  God specifically mentions kings, then more generally mentions rulers.  All authority comes from God.  There is no authority that exists that is not expressly instituted by God, for God is Sovereign over all creation.  Anyone who is wise will take heed of and allow their heart to ponder His warning to them.

Solemn Service

The Lord God Almighty asserts His Sovereignty and commands those who have been placed in leadership over others to serve Him with (reverential) fear.  God has stated that He is ruler over all.  Just as those who are in leadership over men expect them to heed what they decree, so also does the Lord God Almighty.  Every ruler should celebrate that they are just a link in the chain of leadership over us, rather than the head, for who can rule alone wisely that is not omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent?

As leaders consider their role and position in the chain of leadership, they should do so with trembling.  We are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  In the same way, leaders should carefully consider their actions as they are accountable to the One and Only God who is in authority over them and requires them to be obedient to Him.

Royal Recognition

Leaders are to “kiss the son”.  Matthew Henry points out that we should kiss the son not in way that betrays Him like Judas, but rather with a kiss of adoration and religious worship.  All are to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord.  Every knee show bow and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord.  We can choose to bow the knee now in praise, adoration, and obedience, or we can bend it later in front of the white throne seat of judgement.  The choice is ours.

Angered Answer

Those that choose it ignore their place in leadership and go on to be a “Lone Ranger” will suffer the consequences of their actions.  Just as we expect our children to obey us, God expects us to obey Him.  And when we are disobedient, especially with regards to the usurpation of power and authority by leaders from that which God grants to them over His people, there are grave consequences.

Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall.  Leaders that refuse to accept God’s authority and leading in their lives face eventual destruction.  This will manifest itself in their removal from office by the hand of God through people, circumstances, disability, or even death.  Their destruction is foretold by the one who placed them in leadership to being with.  They rebel against God at their own peril.

Those who rebel will be held accountable by God.  We should pay attention to the past, for God has warned us of what He does to the disobedient:

15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.

In times past, it was kings like Nebuchadnezzar that were used as tools of God’s wrath.  Now, it is the fundamentalist adherents to Islam that God is using as tools to implement His wrath.

Beatific Blessing

Finally, God pronounces a blessing upon all who take refuge in Him.  When leaders take refuge in God, they will be protected and blessed by the One is able to save and protect them.  Some trust in weapons, and some trust in armies, but wise leaders trust in the Name of the Lord God Almighty.  When leaders of a nation yield themselves to the God of Creation, and celebrate His sovereign authority, they are protected and blessed:

Let us read about the confession of a leader that was humbled by God and then blessed:

33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”

36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

A Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question.  Are we taking God’s warning to leaders to heart, given that all of God’s people are called to be priests of a royal priesthood, and are therefore leaders?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You provide us with the opportunity to be leaders in every aspect of life.  We lead not only our families, but are often called to greater responsibility in our jobs and in government.  Watch over us and help us to fulfill all that You have planned for us in the roles that You have placed us.  Father, keep me humble that I may not rebel against You.  Help me to have a heart that greatly desires and seeks to know You and Your will for every aspect of my life.  Empower me and strengthen me as I seek to honor You and bring glory to Your name.  May all praise, honor, glory, strength, power and dominion be Yours forever and ever, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – 1 Timothy 2:1-3

Prayer to Provide Potentates with Power and Protection

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Petition for Penitence

Paul urges Timothy to pray for those that God has placed in leadership over us. One of the best prayers that we can pray for ungodly leaders is that God bring them to salvation.  Many people who love God and hate evil have been asking the question, “What can I do?  All of our leaders are evil!”

The best thing you can do is to pray that God would soften their hearts, send faithful people to witness to them, and that they would give their lives to Christ.  It is only then that they can be the servant-leaders that God calls them to be and to do what is best for the people that they have been charged with overseeing.  This is the only way to break the cycle of selfishness where those elected by us seek to enrich themselves through laws that are designed to exempt them (or, as they see themselves, the “ruling class”) from the penalties that any one of us (or, as they see us, the “peasant class”) would be thrown in jail with the key thrown away.  Without the fear of God – including accountability to God – they will continue to do what is best for themselves rather than what is best for those entrusted to their care.

But we must pray for repentance of God’s people FIRST:

 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Prayer for Protection

As in the terrible recent days of violence in the United States of America, we need to be on our knees begging God for protection of those in authority over us.  The assassination of five police officers is a great example of why we need to pray this.  If, for some reason, a person has been treated poorly by those in authority over them, it is all the more important to pray for their protection, as it is a blessing to them.  And we are instructed:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;

If you encounter any message other than what you see above, whether it is from TV, Radio, in person, in a book, on the Internet, or from any other source – know that it is contrary to the Word of God.

The Interruption of Intercession

When we pray for the salvation of others, we are in effect asking God to sovereignly interrupt their life.  This can be quite disconcerting to our leaders, especially if their misdeeds are profiting them greatly, or they have committed acts of treason or treachery against the people.  Imagine what must go through their minds: “I have been sinning!  What will the people think?  How can I salvage my career?  What should I do next?  Should I give back all of the money that I received lawfully but wrongly?  Should I publicly announce my faith?  Will I go to jail for my misdeeds?”  There will be unbelievable pressure on these individuals to either keep quiet about Christ.  If they don’t, they will be eviscerated by the corrupt sycophantic media that not only approve of evil, but cater to the evil whims of the existing corrupt elite.  This will impact their lives for eternity, so any temporary loss now is minuscule compared to the great riches of knowing Christ.

Remember that this will be the most difficult issue they will ever have to face, and they will be doing so as a babe in Christ.  It is incumbent upon us to pray not only for their salvation; not only for their Godliness;  but also for the necessary strength to endure as their lives are turned upside down when they encounter the most cruel and insipid hatred that they will ever have to face.

Thoughtful Thankfulness

And in all things, we are to give thanks to God the Father, for this is His will for us.  Give thanks that God hears our prayers.  Give thanks that God is answering our prayers (in His timing in His way for His purposes for His glory).  Give thanks when our leaders come to repentance before God.  Rejoice as the angels do!  Give thought to your thankfulness so that you can be content in whatever circumstances you find yourself, regardless of who is in authority over us.

The Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Am I praying for the spiritual success of my leaders or just for their Godly replacements?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are fully just, yet full of mercy and grace.  Please work in the lives of Your people, that we would have revival in the body of Christ.  Help all of us to get on our knees and beg You for forgiveness of our sins.  Help us as a nation to turn from our sins, seek Your face, and confess our wrongdoing to You, so that You can heal our land.  Bless those whom You have placed in authority over us that they would come to know Your Son, Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior.  Father, we know that this may very well not happen until we as Your people turn away from sin and towards You.  Give the faithful among Your people patience, grace, and peace, as we plead for the rest of the body to come back to reason.  Your blessing upon this country has clouded our minds, and like Sampson, we may go on thinking we are OK but not realize that Your Spirit is departing from us.  Bring Salvation to those in authority over us that Your Holy Name may be praised and blessed by all who hear it.  This we ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – Romans 13:1-2

1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

The United States of America’s government was unique in many ways.  One is that the founding fathers believed that its people could be self-governing.  This was predicated on the assumption of three interconnected principles:

  1. Liberty was only possible when virtue was present
    • Only people who are virtuous can be trusted with self-government.
    • Without virtue, abuses of all types would occur because of the freedom provided, and should the people no longer be virtuous, this form of government would fail.
  2. Virtue was only possible when faith (belief in accountability to a higher power) was present
    • Virtuousness is what restrains selfishness, promotes the general welfare of others, and holds the individual in check from abuse of power.
    • Although it is possible that people can be virtuous without faith, it is the accountability to a higher power that provides the framework that directs a person to adopt virtuous ideals and their practice.
    • An Atheist, for example, could live a virtuous life, but why?  What restrains them from changing their beliefs in virtuous living at any time once their circumstances change?
  3. Faith was only possible when liberty was present
    • Without the ability of the people to freely practice religion and LIVE out their beliefs, faith would not be permitted to flourish, and evil would suppress the expression of faith.
    • Faith is what promotes virtuous living through a framework of belief that standards that are set by a higher power that supersede their own.  It is because the standards originate outside of themselves – they originate from a holy God – that they therefore provide them with accountability.  This both draws them and helps them to feel compelled to obey them; for these standards were not made by mere men, and cannot be changed by mere men.

John Adams, the 2nd President of the United States, wrote the following in 1798:

While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world. Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. That which you have taken, and so solemnly repeated on that venerable ground, is an ample pledge of your sincerity and devotion to your country and its government.

This circle – Liberty, Virtue, and Faith, provided the framework for self government.  But the Bible says that regardless of the type of government a person finds themselves a subject, they are to obey the ruling authorities (in Christ).  This is not a blanket get-out-of-jail-free card to do any evil that a corrupt government instructs us to do; rather, it is a call to show the world that just as Christ submitted to the Holy Spirit and God the Father out of respect and righteousness, so should we obey Godly government to demonstrate to the world that God is sovereign and is to be obeyed.

Paul goes on further in the chapter to say this:

For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

When we disobey government (which we SHOULD do if they are requiring us to do something counter to the express Will and Holiness of God), we are in effect telling the world that it is OK to disobey God himself, for He has sovereignly appointed these people to govern over us.  What a tragedy!  Although there are many things codified in the law that are counter to God’s express will and holiness, we should be following the rest to honor and obey God!

As an example, every time I hear a pastor say, “Well, I drive a little faster than the speed limit myself”, I cringe.  What kind of example does that set for the flock, let alone those that don’t know God and watch with vigilance those who purport to represent God, when the spiritual leaders disobey the commands of God’s servants over them?  Are speed limits in direct violation of God’s express will?  If not, and you are not obeying them, why?

Paul takes this even further:

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Many complain of the onerous burden that the government has placed in taxes over the people.  But this was forewarned by Samuel prior to the appointing of Saul as the first human king of Israel:

Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

God warns us to be careful, because we will get the government that we deserve.  This November, if you are a citizen of the United States, you have the privilege and solemn obligation to cast your votes for Godly government officials.  So you say you don’t know who is Godly and who isn’t?  The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.  Educate yourself.  And remember, God has provided you with the Holy Spirit to guide and empower you.  Use these vast resources to know who to vote for.  Then, should ungodly rulers be elected over us, you will be able to have a clear conscience before God and man that you were responsible for your part.

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. – John Stuart Mill

And finally, like Habakkuk was told,

“See, the enemy is puffed up;
    his desires are not upright—
    but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have provided us with leadership through our governing officials.  You have graciously given us the freedom to responsibly elect people of faith and virtue to govern us.  Father, forgive us for allowing such evil people to come to power in the United States of America.  It is because of our failure to vote and do so in prayerful humility as well as disgust for the candidates that have been chosen by the major parties to represent us that we have failed to be vigilant in our responsibilities.   Father, please send revival to Your people in the United States.  Wake them out of their slumber, and encourage them to get involved with the sacred responsibility of determining who will govern over them.  Help us to submit ourselves to You and Your will, and heal our land, that there may be peace within our nation as well as between nations.  Only You are able to do this, Lord God.  We anxiously await for you to act.  We greatly desire that You would provide us with Godly leaders so that it would be with great joy that we may submit ourselves to their rule, rather than hang our heads in shame over their wickedness and hide in silence from their oppression.  This we ask and pray in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?