Secret Societies and God – John 3:19-21

Darkness HATES the light

19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Liberating Light

Jesus said, “…I am the light of the world…”.  EVERYTHING that Jesus did was done in the presence of a great cloud of witnesses.  This was give great honor and glory to God.  Jesus frees us from the bondage of sin.  Sin tries to get us to hide what we are doing, for fear that others will see it and will judge us (or, in many cases, become witnesses when we are prosecuted for our crimes).

There is a difference between privacy and secrecy.  The marital relations between married people is to be practiced privately (it is the non-God approved physical relations among humans that are [generally] performed secretly…).  Passwords are to be private, because others shouldn’t know them (whereas hacking for passwords is done surreptitiously).  There are many other examples where things are considered private, but not secret.

When we operate in secrecy, we don’t wish anyone (even God!) to know what we are doing.  Even in the military ranks of most nations, there is a need to keep information compartmentalized because its public knowledge could possibly compromise a nation’s security.  But to keep something secret is something else.  If a military plan is created where its contents will not be made known to the highest members of military command, that usually indicates that it is not good.  God has NEVER once said in the Bible that “the end justifies the means”.  On the contrary, God expects holiness and righteousness to reign and rule in our lives, and if there are consequences, then God will take care of them.

Jesus exposed the deeds of darkness.  He never once engaged in them, for He WAS light.

Danger of Darkness

Darkness provides the veil and cloak of secrecy that evil so greatly desires.  Evil does not want to be seen.  It is much more effective working from the shadows, out of the public eye, where it can steal, kill and destroy.  Darkness becomes a place where people begin to justify what they are doing.  Because the light of truth is not revealing the nature and origin of their plans, many people don’t even realize that they have given over control of their lives to darkness.  Their fear keeps them in bondage, and they grow even more evil as the very voice that prompted them to do something in darkness is now condemning them and threatening them with it.  How terrible it is to be caught in the cloak of secrecy!  For when the truth reveals what has happened, the destruction and ruination that follows is inevitable.

Evil Exposed

Light exposes the evil in darkness.  By its very nature, light provides the resource necessary to reflect the nature of something.  And human beings, in their carnal nature, are salacious and gossipy creatures, greatly desiring the next morsel of impropriety and humiliation in the lives of others.  For some reason, this makes people feel good about themselves.

Everything that we do should be done in the light of truth.  If there is any doubt as to whether or not something would be perceived as inappropriate or damaging, it should be discussed with trusted, respected, Spirit-filled people who can ascertain if a decision or direction would cause harm to someone.  In every case, application of light into a dark area will cause the truth about circumstances to be illuminated and exposed.  It is better to expose something before it happens rather than deal with the consequences of it after it happens.

Tantalizing Truth

People have been lied to and deceived for so long and with so much, that ANY revelation of truth is received and embraced.  Since human beings were created in the image of God, we desire truth, even though our sin nature desires what it wants, which is to be ignored by truth and the light.  Otherwise, it cannot have its way.

Glory to God

Secret Societies DO NOT bring glory to God.   They clothe their actions in secrecy, in an attempt to make members feel as though they are special, because they have secret knowledge and support from their likewise-sworn members that ALL others (who are excluded) do not.  This is a divisive tool, used by the enemy of our souls, to divide us so that we can be more easily conquered.

Under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God, Paul the Apostle penned these words:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

The information in the Bible is freely given to anyone who wants to learn (it costs money to print Bibles, so they may not necessarily be “free”, but anyone with access to the Internet can access the Bible for no additional fee).  The manual for most secret societies is closely guarded and members swear that they will not show it to others.  How can God be given glory if the deeds of men are done in darkness?

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

If you would like a more in-depth analysis of the compatibility (or lack thereof) of Christianity (discipleship in Christ) and Secret Societies, please take the time to read the analysis performed by the Christian & Missionary Alliance on the subject.

Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I shining light into the world, or cloaking it with darkness?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have brought Light into the world.  Help me to be light for You.  Shine Your glory through me, that others would be attracted to the light like moths.  I pray that Christ would be so apparent in my life that His character would be winsome to all who see You working in and through me.  Father, give me the strength to turn from any darkness in my life.  This may cause me financial, emotional, and relational distress.  I pray, Father, that as I turn ever more in alignment with You, that You would deal with all of these other issues.  Help me to seek you with abandon, that nothing would come between You and me.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Called to Suffering – Acts 9:16

Can God Trust You With Suffering?

“I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Carefully Called

We can rejoice that God does not do things at random:

Like an archer who wounds at random is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.

God, omniscient, knows all things, and has a plan that is coming to fruition.  He carefully selects people for what He wants them to do.  He said the following of King David:

“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'”

Many people were called by God for different purposes.  Some were to lead God’s people as judges, prophets, or kings.  Others were called to be intercessors, such as Esther.  Still others were called to discipline the Israelites through conquering them and enslaving them.  In every case, it was God who called them for His specific purpose, in His specific timing, for His greater glory.

Providential Purpose

God has purpose in everything that He does.  God does not waste any opportunity.  What appears to us to be random sequences of events are actually the carefully placed trellis that leads those who climb up it to where God wants and needs them to be.  We are but a mist, here today, and gone tomorrow.  We do not have the luxury of divine perspective with regards to long periods of time, because the average life span of a human being is seventy years, eighty if God is gracious.  We are unable to see the intertwining connectivity of timing and events, and to see the tendrils of connectedness between seemingly unrelated events and how and where they will intersect with one another in a tsunami of repercussions.

In all things, God has specific purposes for what He has called us.  Each of us are to play a part in it.  Paul likens this to being parts in a body, each one with unique features but that are part of a greater whole, contributing to or inhibiting the growth and health of the whole.  In everything, there is purpose.  God places purpose in His creation to reveal to us that He is full of purpose, and that we are to play a part in the purposes of God.

Heavenly Hardship

One of the most difficult, yet needed, purposes for God’s plan is people who have been chosen to be examples.  Some have been chosen by God to be examples of what is good.  Others have been chosen to be examples of what is not good.

For example, Able, the son of Adam and Eve, was chosen as an example of what we should do because he made the right offering before God.  Conversely, Cain, another son of Adam and Eve, was chosen as an example of what we should not do because of his offering before God, and his subsequent actions in regards to his offering’s rejection by God.

We need to keep in mind that the student is not above the teacher.  And Jesus Christ, the very best example that the Lord God Almighty could have sent to us experienced divine hardship on a scale that none of us can even comprehend.  He suffered and experienced great hardship throughout His life, but always with the attitude that God the Father had purpose in His hardship, and that in being yielded to the Holy Spirit, His life would glorify God.

One of the most difficult hardships to be given by God is the hardship of suffering.

Severe Suffering

No one likes to suffer (unless they are mentally deranged).  Suffering produces pain in our lives, and makes our lives so difficult that we can barely function.  At times, suffering can be so severe that we are incapacitated by it, and truly cannot even function.  Ask a person who is recovering from ninety percent of their skin being burned off in a fire if they are able to function.  The answer is obvious – until they are healed, they cannot.

God called His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to ultimate suffering for us.  As payment for our sins, not only was the burden of our sins – every sin that every human being ever committed past, present, and future – laid upon his shoulders as He hung on the cross at Calvary, God withdrew His presence from Him, and He experienced complete and total separation from the presence, provision, and protection of God in complete and total isolation with that burden placed upon Him in ultimate pain and agony.  Let it never be said that our salvation is free; it is freely given to us, but the cost was unimaginable.

Sometimes people are called to severe emotional suffering.  They have survived rape, torture, abuse, war, and other unspeakable circumstances.  The scars of these events will affect them for ages to come.  But they have been called as witnesses to the power, grace and glory of God as He leads them out of the bondage that such devastation has caused.

Sometimes people are called to severe physical affliction.  Most people have experienced some type of physical affliction, whether it is sickness or a broken bone.  But God has called some to suffer, not for days, months, or even years, but DECADES of life with pain that would cause the average person to curl up into a fetal position in the corner and bemoan their life (take a look at the life of Job for better clarification on this).  Ask people who have trigeminal neuralgia what it is like to live where, possibly every few seconds, or every second, it feels like someone is striking your face with the full swing of a baseball bat.  This particular affliction is also called “the suicide disease” because people would rather take their own life than live with the consequences of it.

In some cases, such as Lyme’s disease, it can not only be a painful, life-sucking, energy-draining, body-wasting disease, it can cause great misery.  Pain can be medicated away, even with morphine drips.  But misery is in an entirely different category.  Being in a state of extreme misery for any extended period of time will have a person begging God to take their life.  And when the pain and the misery go on day after day, year after year, DECADE AFTER DECADE, and the person is a disciple of Jesus Christ, whom it appears God has forsaken in their disease and time of need, what are they to do?

Total Trust

God has called these particular people to suffering as example to others.  Suffering (and the hardship that comes with it) produces character, and character produces hope.  Hope, in the sense that the Bible uses the word, is not wishful thinking, but rather a reasoned and sound expectation that some future event will occur.  In this, disciples of Christ have hope that God will work all things to good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  The purpose is to trust that Almighty God is sovereign, that He has a plan, that He has not forsaken those who suffer hardship, and be an example to others that in their pain and hardship, God is real and is able to get them through their trials as well.

When these great saints of God are called to severe suffering, and show complete and total trust through it, it is a powerful message to those who do not believe in God that there must be something that is helping those who are suffering to believe.  It is evident to most people who, in light of this type of suffering, there is no circumstance in the world that can force a person to believe that their suffering has purpose and is worth enduring apart from the sovereign grace and power of Almighty God.

Total trust in God yields great fruit, both in the life of the one suffering, and in the example provided to those who need an example to continue on in their own difficulties.  God loves it when we trust Him through these difficulties.  David spoke of this in Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The trust goes two ways.  We are to trust God, because He and He alone is completely trustworthy.  But God also trusts us.  To those whom He has placed the terrible burden of suffering, He trusts them to properly display that trust right back at Him.  The more hardship God brings into your life – and that which is NOT caused by your own sin, actions, or as consequences of your life choices – the more that he is trusting you for something great.

There is a story that goes something like this:

A man was at a lumberyard watching the lumberjacks move mighty trees from the forest down the river to where they would be sawn for wood.  At a junction in the river, there was a lumberjack who, every now and then, would direct one of the large trees floating in the water down a smaller path of the river.  There appeared to be no difference in the appearance of the trees, so this seemed odd to the man.  The man then asked the lumberjack directing these trees down the river what he was doing.

The lumberjack told the man the trees he was directing down the smaller path were from the very top of the mountain.  They received the most abuse from the weather, and they were constantly buffeted by the wind, rain, and snow.  These mighty trees looked like the others, but because of the abuse they took, along with the fact that they had not broken in the process, were of exceptional quality.  The wood had a much finer grain, and when used by carpenters, made the very finest furniture and brought the highest price on the market.  They were destined to be used by the most skilled artisans in the land for the most sought after projects, and were to be displayed in the most coveted of places because of the beauty that grew in them due to the hardship of the weather.

And just as the trees in this story brought praise to the artisans that used them with their great skill, so will the hardship in our lives be used by God to bring Him the maximum amount of glory, and be useful for displaying His craftsmanship and character.

Glorifying God

The end result of everything that God has done in the past, is doing now, and will do in the future, is to bring glory to Himself.  He and He alone is worthy of all glory, honor, praise, power, dominion, and strength.  He alone is The Great I AM, providing for our every need, displaying His love and infinite power to all who would take notice.

When a person is willing to be used by God for this purpose, God will use them mightily in ministry and to display His glory.  There is no greater honor than to be used by God in this way, as Jesus Christ demonstrated to us on the cross at Calvary.  But are we willing to go through the difficulty and hardship that is required to bring about the changes necessary to properly display what God has planned in His heart for us to show the world?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I willing to allow God to bring hardship and suffering in my life to fulfill His plans and purposes for me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your word is perfect, and Your will and character are perfect as well.  You have shown throughout Your word that You can be trusted with everything, for You are perfect in every way.  Father, help me to endure suffering and hardship as discipline.  Help me to gain Your perspective on my circumstances so that I may be willing to be used by You for the calling that You have placed upon my life.  Help me to be faithful to You throughout the process so that during the trials, and when I come out on the other side, You will be shown rightly to all who watch.  Guard my heart against bitterness through the process, and fill me with Your peace and power that all things You have planned would come to pass.  This I ask in the precious name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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

 

 

Lift Praise to God – Psalm 68:32-36

Sing Praise To His Holy Name

32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
34 Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.

Praise be to God!

Sing a Song

Has your cup been filled with joy?  Has the Almighty fulfilled your needs?  Has He shown His sovereignty and vanquished your enemies?  Sing praise to the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!  God loves to hear our praise and worship.  He enjoys seeing us in worshipful adoration of Him, for He is worthy of all praise and glory and honor.  Let us remember to give to God that which He is owed.  Let our hearts be filled with contentment, and may that manifest itself in the form of worship and singing.

Glorify God

We must glorify God as His witnesses.  If we do not, surely the rocks and stones will cry out in praise to God and glorify His name.  We have been created to worship.  Let us remember our callings and bring to God that which He and He alone truly deserves.  We spend so much time petitioning God for what we need and desire that we sometimes fail to remember to praise and glorify His name.  The  provision of God becomes our focus rather than the Glorious One who has graciously provided for our needs.  To forget God after He has provided is to almost take Him for granted.  Let us make sure that the One who has died for our sins is magnified and glorified.

Proclaim His Power

When we proclaim the power of God to the world, He is uplifted before men so that they will hear of His great and mighty deeds.  How else will the lost know about God unless we tell them?  God has seen fit to make some exceptions to reach people beyond the reach of our voice, especially in areas that are heavily influenced and dominated by Islam.  God has seen fit to reveal Himself to them in their dreams and through visions.

This is both a recrimination towards His disciples who won’t face death to proclaim His name, as well as to show us that God is very interested in bringing knowledge of Himself to them, just as He did with Nineveh.  He revealed Himself through the prophet Jonah to a people who could not tell their right hand from their left.  His words, not mine.  God is revealing Himself in a display of mighty power and compassion, mercy, and grace, to a people who have dedicated their lives to the eradication of  His children.  Just like He did with Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul.

Praise your Provider

Our hearts should reach out in praise to our provider and savior.  It is the hallmark characteristic of a person who is grateful and content.  In Western Culture, it is difficult for us to acknowledge that we would need the assistance of anyone else to help us.  We are taught by culture that to seek help is a sign of weakness.  This is then exploited by the weak to overpower the strong – displaying the absolute need each and every one of us has for our savior’s help in order to discredit us for our failure to be the rugged individualists and self-sufficient people that our culture demands us to be.

The truly grateful person will ignore the call of culture to show gratitude for the one who provides assistance to You.  This attitude of the heart – the desire to praise God – is one that all of the Old Testament heroes of the faith displayed in the private and public lives.  Let us emulate them and praise God for all that He has done and is doing.  Remember – the story isn’t over yet.  And once we get to Heaven and we are in His presence for all eternity, we will have the wonderful opportunity to do what we have practiced here on Earth through trial and joyous times – praising the One who lifted our heads out of the mire, washed us off, and called us His own.  May all praise and honor and glory and power and dominion and strength be unto the Lord God Almighty!

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I praising God the way that He deserves?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown me in Your word just how much You love me, in that Your Son Jesus Christ died for me while I was yet a sinner.  Give me a heart of gratitude that I may worship You as You deserve, and praise Your holy name in private and public, that all may know of Your righteousness, compassion, mercy, grace, justice and holiness.  Help me in my time of struggle to lift You up with songs and prayer.  Guard my heart against any root of bitterness that tries to take hold in the grievous trials that I endure.  Keep my eyes fixed upon You, that Your glory and peace would calm my heart, and that I would praise and worship You continually.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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