Archive for the ‘Faithfulness’ Category

Matthew 5:13Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Ye are the salt of the earth” – Our Lord shows us here what all who profess to follow Him, should be; we should be the salt of the earth, to preserve the world from putrefaction and destruction. Salt renders food pleasant and palatable; so Christians, by their lives and influence, are to keep the world from entire moral corruption. By sending up their prayers, the blessing of God, and by their influence and example, they save the world from universal vice and crime.

But if the salt have lost his savour” – A Christian, who has lost the life of Christ, and the witness of His Spirit, out of his soul, may be likened to this salt. He may have the sparks and glittering particles of true wisdom, but without its unction or comfort; only the soul that is in union with Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit, can preserve its savor and influence, and be the instrument of good to others.

To be trodden underfoot” – There was a type of salt in Judea, which was generated at the lake Asphaltites, and therefore called bituminous salt, easily rendered savorless, and of no other use but to be spread in a part of the temple, to prevent slipping in wet weather. This is probably what our Lord alludes to in this place; to the existence of such a salt, and to its application to such a use.

We need to keep a constant watch out for bad influences in our life, and we need to keep a constant check to make sure we are being good influences for the Lord. What kind of influences are we letting into our life to affect us and our decision making? What kind of influence are we being to those around us, to our friends and to our family? Are you being a bad worldly influence, or are you being a Godly Christ like influence. Are we letting Satan and the world influence us negatively and letting the devil pull us deeper and deeper into sin and farther and farther away from God? Or are we letting Christ influence us by digging deep into His Word, by praying and meditating on His truths and growing closer and closer to Him each and every day

Illustration on being a good influence – Four preachers were discussing the merits of various translations of the Bible. One liked the King James best because of its simple, beautiful English language. Another preferred the American Standard Version because it is more literal and he likes lots of error in what he reads. Still another favored the New International Version because of its up-to-date vocabulary and it has a lot less words and verses to worry about reading and studying. When the fourth preacher was asked his opinion, he replied, “I like my mother’s translation best.” The other three were a little puzzled. They were unaware that his mother had translated the Bible. “Yes, she did,” he stated, “She translated the Bible into life. She lived what she read, and hers was the most convincing translation I ever saw.” This good mother had a fine Christian influence on her son. What about your influence? Do you so live out the Bible, like this mother did, that people can see the Word of God in you come out in your everyday life and actions?

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Hearken… TO DO Them – part 2

(Deuteronomy 4:1-14)

Deuteronomy 4:1 “Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.”

WE SERVE A MIGHTY AND LOVING GOD THAT CANNOT BE COMPARED TO ANYTHING. (4:7-8, verse 7For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?)- Rightly so, as verses 7-8 point out that what the Lord is doing with Israel is no small thing. What nation has ever had a god so close to his people as the Lord is to Israel? The Lord handpicked Israel in His graciousness. The Lord answers when they call. The Lord was so concerned about His peoples’ success that He came down on Mount Sinai to give them a law more perfect and righteous than any man-made system of morality and justice. Other nations create and choose their gods. Other gods don’t answer. Other gods have to be appeased with great sacrifices to prevent great wrath. What the Lord does with Israel is different and marvelous.

  • Moses now shows them the great opportunity they have been given by the Lord through obedience to His ways. If Israel will continue to keep His statutes while they live in the Promised Land, they will have exceedingly more wisdom and understanding than the nations around them. The world often looks at rules as something we keep to appease a higher authority. This limited view is especially foolish when it comes to God’s rules and statutes. Aligning our lives by His standards is the path to wisdom and keeps us from harmful decisions. This is no different than a parent who tells a child to not touch a hot iron. The rule isn’t there to appease Mom and Dad; it is meant to keep the child safe! It is the same with the law of the Lord.
  • Not only was this something great for Israel to appreciate, this is something for Christians to appreciate as well. The Lord’s treatment of Israel is mirrored in our relationship with Christ. We are also a chosen and holy nation (Ephesians 1:4; I Peter 2:9). The Lord has continued His theme of closeness to His people by sending his Son. Think about that. The Son of God came to Earth. The Son of God took His time to notice us and teach us how we ought to live. He gave His life for us. He listens when we pray. Nothing makes us deserving of such an intimate and loving treatment. As Moses says here, what people has ever existed that has a god this close? What nation has a god that cares so much about them as to give them such a righteous law and actually care about their wellbeing? The gods of the ancient times didn’t come close. The various things man worships today do not come close. Our Lord sustains us. The gods of today have to be sustained by us. Money runs out. Technology breaks. Television shows get cancelled. Our Lord pursues us and seeks our life. The things we worship today do not care about us. They suck our resources, time, and energy dry until we are completely empty. Our Lord answers prayer. What a magnificent Lord we have who desires to be so close to us and give us life! His rules and statutes are not cumbersome – life is found in them.
  • When the Lord’s closeness and righteous law better our lives, others that see this in our life will seek out the Lord as well. How else can the world know about the Lord’s great wisdom and understanding except by seeing it exhibited through his people? I Kings 10 tells us how the Queen of Sheba came to hear the wisdom Solomon had through the Lord. The text tells that she was so awestruck with his wisdom that she was breathless and overwhelmed. Notice I Kings 10:6–9, “And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.”
  • This passage is truly exciting. The fact that a woman who had never known the Lord came to know such a great testimony of Him because of the wisdom He gave Solomon should inspire us. We can cause the same reaction today. We can cause others who do not truly know the Lord to glorify the Lord because of the great wisdom He gives us, if we let Him by how we live out our life.
  • If we truly see that people are full of foolishness, one of the best ways we can instigate change is by passionately pursuing the Lord’s law and wisdom in our own hearts and the decisions we make. What a great opportunity we would have; but we must seek out to diligently live out and do the Word of God in our life in order to be that influence on others.

WE NEED TO BE DILIGENT STUDENTS OF THE WORD OF GOD (4:9 – Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;) – Romans 2 is a reminder of how greatly Israel ended up wrecking this opportunity. Romans 2:2324 says “Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.” Though Solomon’s wisdom was cause for praising the Lord, he was an exception in Israel. As opposed to causing the nations to praise the Lord, Israel’s hypocrisy and wickedness caused the nations to blaspheme Him. Though Moses just finished reminding Israel of their great opportunity for wisdom, the beginning of verse 6 says this opportunity only exists when they keep the Lord’s statutes. This stands as a grave warning to Israel and to us of the danger of forgetting to carefully obey the Lord.

  • If we are not diligent students of the Word of God we will eventually be a bad testimony of the Lord. We may cause others to backslide; we may even prevent others from getting saved by how we are living out our life. In order to not have this bad testimony we need to be diligently doing the Word of God with our life.
  • Just because the Lord cared for Israel so lovingly was not an excuse to not be careful to watch their souls with all diligence. We have great reason to rejoice because of the mercy and grace given us by the Lord, but that mercy is not a license for carelessness (Romans 6:1-2). Careful attention to the Lord’s statutes is laughed at and often ridiculed today. “Why are you so picky?” or “It’s all about rules to you.” May we never forget that we are saved by the mercy and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? We must also never forget that we are saved by faith and not by works. We must remember that we are involved in a very serious fight to keep our hearts pure. Now is not the time to let our guard down. We must be alert and cognizant of the condition of our souls. We must diligently be watching and praying about our obedience.

WE NEED TO NOT FORGET PAST TEACHINGS AND PAST EXPERIENCE’S WITH GOD. (4:10-13 verse 10 – Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.)– Keep past experiences and past teachings in mind, dwell on them from time to time and pass the knowledge of those experiences unto your children.

  • “And that they may teach their children.” The key to all of this is they not only practice these things themselves, but that they teach their children to do so as well. They were to continue to tell the story of the day the Lord met them on Sinai in flashes of lightning and thunder. They were to continue to teach them the fear of the Lord. This is the biggest thing missing from Christians today is a healthy fear of the Lord. Fear (reverential respect and awe) was the foundation of Israel’s relationship with the Lord, so Moses tells them to continue to spread that fear through their children. The reason why many young people are unafraid to rebelliously speak and act as they desire is because they have no fear. They do not fear their parents and they do not fear the Almighty God either. If you fear the Lord like you should, you will act in a respectful manner to your parents like you should. (Job 28:28 – And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.)
  • Certainly we must teach children and young people of the grace and mercy of the Lord, but if they have nothing to fear – what does grace and mercy save them from? It is impossible to appreciate the Lord’s love and mercy without having good biblical fear. People do not naturally fear the Lord. Fear is taught. It is taught in Bible stories like what happened at Sinai and Baal-peor. It is taught through a loving rod of correction. If the fear of God is not taught to children, then the fear of the Lord will stop.

IN CONCLUSION: God’s demands are made and they stand firm. His authority must not be challenged, and to reject it means eternal death. But the same God who demands perfection supplies the perfect solution. In Jesus Christ the Law of God is kept for us. In Christ, His righteous will be imputed to us. In Christ, the Law is fulfilled. Each stipulation, each aspect in ways we could never imagine perfecting, Christ did it for us. He suffered for our breaking of the Law; He credits to us His obedience. All we have to do to get started on our journey of doing the Word of God, to get started on our journey to the promised land of our life, is to accept by faith what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us and call on Him to be our Savior. (Romans 10:9,10 & 13 – That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.)

WHERE IS YOUR HEART?

(Mark 7:6-9, 20-23)

Mark 7:6-8 – “He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.”

Philip Doddridge said this about this passage “Notwithstanding all your talk, then, of strictness in religion,  yet as this appears to be expressive of your real character, the doom of hypocrites belongs to you; and God may justly affirm of such, (as it is added there,) “In vain do they worship me, while they teach doctrines or lessons {that are} merely human inventions and injunctions, being only the precepts of men, that have no stamp of the divine authority upon them,” which yet they would insist upon as necessary parts of religion, and would impose them on the consciences of others.

We need to make sure our heart is where God wants it to be. We need to make sure our heart is focused on God and making ourselves more like Him. The outward appearances of man, the way we dress, the way we act, the things we do are all important, but the most important is to have our heart right with God. Where is your heart? Is it right with God? Being hypocritical, pretending to be right with God and considering and judging others to not be right with God just because they are not adhering to the same religious checklist you are adhering to, like the Pharisees were doing to Jesus, is wrong and spoken strongly against by our Lord in this passage. Where is your heart? Is it close to Jesus or far from Him?

INTRODUCTION: Where is your heart? Our heart can be many different places but the right place. Is your heart centered on God and His will or is it centered on yourself and your will, your thoughts, your desires? Our Lord Jesus says in this passage “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:” Is some of this what is going on in your heart today? The heart is an interesting place, it can be a most evil, wicked, and defiled place but you can put on a good front and fool people as to the true nature of your heart. What is your heart condition today? Where is your heart? (Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?)

“HEART IS FAR FROM ME” vs.6The Lord Jesus in this verse reproves them for their hypocrisy. They were pretending to honor God with their life, but internally they were living very wickedly.

“As a corrupt fountain sends forth corrupt streams, so does a corrupt heart send forth corrupt reasoning, corrupt appetites and passions, and all those wicked words and actions which are produced by them.” – Matthew Henry.

  • Where your heart is at spiritually will eventually show itself, in your choice of words, in your actions, in your attitude or other areas of your life.
  • A carnal mind and heart, a heart full of sinful thoughts and desires renders your spirit unfit for communication with God. If you continue in this state of sin and defilement in your heart it will produce hardness in your heart and a stain on your conscience. The longer you let you heart remain away from God the harder it will be to get close to God again. (Proverbs 28:14 – Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.)

A HEART THAT WANTS ITS OWN WAY vs.7The Pharisees here wanted to do things their own way. They wanted to work out their religion their own way not Gods way. One of the biggest problems man faces is a heart that wants its own way. Christians will acknowledge God’s sovereignty in all areas of life and the world except their own hearts. Who is the sovereign of your heart is it the Great I AM, (Yahweh) GOD or do you say “I am” the sovereign of my own heart. Do you humble yourself and surrender yourself to the control of the Lord or do you think you should be calling all the shots in your life.

Dr. Bob Jones Sr. said “The Devil did not tempt Adam and Eve to steal, to lie, to kill, to commit adultery; he tempted them to live independent of God.”  (Isaiah 53:6 – All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;)

  • Man’s heart wants its own way in opposition to Gods way. Let’s look at what the Bible says about mans “own way”.
  • In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 17:6
  • So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.” Psalm 81:12
  • “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” Proverbs 3:7
  • “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” Proverbs 12:15
  • “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” Proverbs 28:26
  • “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” Isaiah 5:21
  • “Be not wise in your own conceits.” Romans 12:16
  • This “own way” tendency this “I am” sovereign of my own heart not God, this attitude, this heart condition is the culprit in our hearts not being near unto God like they are supposed to be and should be. (Acts 8:22 – Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.)

A HEART THAT PUTS “ASIDE THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD” vs.8Christ in this verse is criticizing the reinterpretation of the commands of God to fit your own thoughts or ways of living or being “religious”. Christ preached against putting more emphasis on the traditions of men to the ignoring and downright twisting of God’s word to fit them.

  • The emphasis of our life should be on our heart and living out God’s word because out of the wicked imaginations of the heart is a man’s life defiled. (Mark 7:20 – And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.)
  • The emphasis of our life should not be on what men say if that is against God’s word, but it should be on what God commands us and instructs us to do in His word. (Mark 7:9 – And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition)
  • Jesus made it clear to us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) that real holiness is a matter of our inward affections and attitudes and not just our outward appearances, actions, associations, religious checklists or traditions we keep.

The pious Pharisees thought they were holy because they obeyed the Law and avoided external defilement. Jesus taught that a person who obeys the Law externally can still break the Law in his heart, and that external “defilement” has little connection with the condition of the inner person” – Warren W. Wiersbe

  • An example of looking externally pure but being internally sinful is what Jesus had to say on the subject of adultery – “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” Matthew 5:28
  • Where is your heart? Is it thinking pure thoughts? Or is it thinking wicked sinful thoughts?
  • You need to be internally what you pretend to be externally. We all need to be genuine Christians.

“Many of us who profess to be Christians are so busy with the mechanics of our religion that we have no time left for the spiritual part of it.” –Martin Luther

A HEART THAT WORSHIPS GODTrue worship must come from the heart and not from mans ideas or traditions. True heartfelt worship is directed by God’s word. God’s word working in our hearts leads to right worship and right living for our Lord. Our worship must always be heartfelt and heart genuine or we will be “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition,” Mark 7:13a.

People who revere man-made traditions above the Word of God eventually lose the power of God’s Word in their lives. No matter how devout they may appear, their hearts are far from God.” Warren W. Wiersbe

  • True holiness is a matter of the heart. It centers on a right relationship with God through our faith in Him. We need to trust Him by faith for our salvation, our worship of Him and for our everyday lives. (Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen)

“An excellent description of faith is by the effects, because it represents things which are but yet in hope, and sets as it were before our eyes things that are invisible.” Geneva Bible Notes 1599

  • There is scarcely any verse of the New Testament that is more important than this, because it states what the nature of all true faith is. Eternal life depends on the existence and exercise of faith, (Ephesians 2:8 –For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:) and therefore it is vitally important for an accurate understanding or what true faith is.
  • God wants our love, obedience and worship to come from the heart. He does not want it if is not genuine. It order to please God with our service for Him and to make it count for an eternal reward it needs to come from our heart. (Deuteronomy 6:5 – And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.)

THE HEART OF MEN (Mark 7:21-23 – For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.)

  • The heart of man is not pure and holy and righteous by nature. We are born sinners. Our hearts are sinful by nature. (Genesis 6:5 – And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually) We have to be diligent regarding the whereabouts of our heart. We need to make sure we are keeping our hearts pure. We need to make sure we are keeping our hearts immersed in the study of the Word of God daily. We need to fill our hearts with the teachings and preaching’s of the Word of God. Do not be filling your hearts with the filth of the world. Don’t let your hearts become like the world. We should be striving to be more like Christ every day.
  • The Bible says man’s heart is deceitful and wicked and not to be trusted. Some people will say “I have to follow my heart” you need to be following the Lord and not your heart. Your heart cannot be trusted. (Ecclesiastes 9:3 – This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.)

MANS HEART EXAMINED BY GOD (I Samuel 16:7 – But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.)

  • What does the Lord see when he examines your heart? Does he see a heart that is right with Him, does he see a Christian on fire for Him, does he see a heart with all known sin confessed, does he see a heart that works hard at avoiding sin? Or does he see a heart that is full of pride, rebellion, anger, lust, sinful thoughts a heart that is filthy and full of dirty rotten sin? (Proverbs 5:21 – For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.)
  • We need to surrender our hearts over to the Lord. Confess our sins to Him. All the things we need to get right; get them right with the Lord. Don’t let anything be between you and the Savior. Get your hearts right, keep them right, guard them with all your might. Where is your heart today? Is it in the will of God? Is it in the hand of God?

WHAT CAN A HEART THAT IS TOO FOCUSED ON THE OUTWARD MAN AND NOT THE INWARD MAN LEAD TO? – THE ANSWER IS WHAT IS CALLED LEGALISM.

“What does the Bible say about legalism? How can a Christian avoid falling into the trap of legalism?”

Answer: The word “legalism” does not occur in the Bible. It is a term Christians use to describe a doctrinal position emphasizing a system of rules and regulations for achieving both salvation and spiritual growth. Legalists believe in and demand a strict literal adherence to rules and regulations. Doctrinally, it is a position essentially opposed to grace. Those who hold a legalistic position often fail to see the real purpose for law, especially the purpose of the Old Testament law of Moses, which is to be our “schoolmaster” or “tutor” to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24 – Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.).

True believers can be legalistic. But we are instead instructed to be gracious to one another: “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” Romans 14:1. Sadly, there are those who feel so strongly about non-essential doctrines, traditions and rules that they will run others out of their fellowship, criticize them for not fulfilling a religious checklist test, and not even allowing the expression of another viewpoint. That, too, is legalism.

Demands of legalism. Many legalistic believers today make the error of demanding unqualified adherence to their own biblical interpretations and even to their own traditions. For example, there are those who feel that to be spiritual one must simply check off all the boxes on some sort of fundamental Christian check list. The truth is fulfilling these checklists are no guarantee of spirituality, and remember we learned that God looks on the inward man, in our hearts, not on the outward man to see our true spiritual condition. (Mark 7:8-9 – For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.)

The apostle Paul warns us of legalism. (Colossians 2:20-23 – Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.) Legalists may appear to be righteous and spiritual, but legalism ultimately fails to accomplish God’s purposes because it is an outward performance instead of an inward change.

Avoiding the trap of legalism. To avoid falling into the trap of legalism, we can start by holding fast to the words of the apostle John, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 and remembering to be gracious, especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ. “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4. “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Romans 14:10.

A word of caution is necessary. While we need to be gracious to one another and tolerant of disagreement over disputable matters, we cannot accept heresy. We are exhorted to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3). If we remember these guidelines and apply them in love and mercy, we will be safe from both legalism and heresy. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1.

IN CONCLUSION: Where is your heart? Our heart can be many different places but the right place. Where your heart is at spiritually will eventually show itself, in your choice of words, in your actions, in your attitude or other areas of your life. One of the biggest problems man faces is a heart that wants its own way. Christians will acknowledge God’s sovereignty in all areas of life and the world except their own hearts. Who is the sovereign of your heart is it the Great I AM, (Yahweh) GOD or do you say “I am” the sovereign of my own heart.

You need to be internally what you pretend to be externally. We all need to be genuine Christians. True holiness is a matter of the heart. It centers on a right relationship with God through our faith in Him. It does not center on the outward appearance or actions but on the inward condition of the heart. Though with a heart that is right with God our outward appearance and actions will be changed and we will have visibly good testimony to those around us.

Don’t be guilty of legalism. Don’t be guilty of imposing your opinion on others or judging others based on your opinion on a matter. That is what the Pharisees did in the New Testament and we examined what Jesus had to say about them in our text, it was not a flattering account, but rather a stern condemnation. (Mark 7:6 & 9 – He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.)

We have to be diligent regarding the whereabouts of our heart. We need to make sure we are keeping our hearts pure. Make the decision to dedicate your heart to the Lord, to surrender your heart to the service of the Lord. Confess your faults and sins to the Lord and set your heart on a new right path in the light of the Lord.

Obedient Faith

Posted: January 4, 2017 in Christian Life, Faith, Faithfulness, Work
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“But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:” – Romans 16:26

“A praying faith keeps the commandments of God and does those things which are well pleasing in His sight.” – E.M. Bounds

Faith is obedient. It does what is commanded, as did the nobleman who came to Jesus, whose son was very sick. Faith also acts. Like the man born blind, it goes and washes in the pool of Siloam when told to. Faith obeys instantly, and without question or doubt, like Peter casting the net where Jesus commanded. Faith takes the stone away from the grave of Lazarus promptly when told to do so. To do God’s will is essential to true faith and faith is essential to true obedience to God.

“Obedience helps faith, and faith, in turn, helps obedience” – E.M. Bounds

 

BALAAM AND TODAY’S CHURCHThe account of Balaam in the Old Testament serves as a warning to today’s church to not disobey God; to build up our faith and to build up our hope. (Romans 15:4 – For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.)

the way of Balaam (II Peter 2:15-16) – In this passage Peter is warning the church of the dangers of false teachers secretly entering the church and leading people astray into apostasy. Peter promises that God will judge these people; but he also warns believers to exercise spiritual discernment to make sure they are not led astray by these false teachers. (II Peter 2:15-16 – Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.)·

the way of Balaam – is the way of false prophets and hirelings seeking opportunities to increase wealth and reputation, willing to sell out anything for filthy lucre’s sake (for monetary gain). These false prophets and teachers are interested in satisfying their own worldly cravings of money and using the guise of religion to do so and to entice people into sin. (John 10:11-13 –  I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.)

A hireling does not really care about being a “good shepherd” watching out for his flock, but instead is more concerned with protecting his reputation, position and income stream. A true under shepherd and not a hireling will work at guarding the flock against wolves from within (Acts 20:30 – Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.) and wolves from without (Acts 20:29 – For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.) no matter the cost to his reputation, position or income.

Now to look in the mirror, when are we walking in “the way of Balaam” in our life? – When we deliberately rebel against the revealed will of God and try to change it to our liking. When we have selfish motives in doing “religious things”. When we cause others to sin so we can profit from it. When we do “religious work” for the money and not because God called us to it. When we volunteer to help out in a ministry so we will look good to others. When are only motivation for doing something “for God” is a feeling of we have to, so we can look like a “good Christian” to others; instead of doing things for God out of a desire to please Him, serve Him and worship Him.

So the challenge is to search out our hearts and our core motives for everything we do that is supposed to be for God; and then making sure we are actually doing it for God. This will require us to be honest with ourselves. Challenge yourself to do this self examination. Make sure what you are doing for the Lord will be gold, silver and precious stones tried in a fiery furnace and not just wood hay and stubble that will be burned up and consumed as worthless because of our wrong motivations. (I Corinthians 3:12-15 – Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.)

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The Doctrine of Balaam & Wordly Christians

Balaam and God’s Will

 

Ezra 7:10 “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord , and to do it , and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.”

To Ezra the law of God was more important than the teachings of the day. Gods Word took the preeminence in his life. Ezra sought to learn the law of the Lord. He searched the Scriptures seeking knowledge of God. Then he set about to teach and share what he had learned about God with others.

Is God’s Word that important to us? Are we purposely seeking to learn His Word so we can then share the good news of Christ with others? – Have you prepared your heart to learn of God and live for Him? Are you seeking out the truth of God’s Word? Are you seeking to grow spiritually?

The lack of spiritual growth in the life of a Christian is a very dangerous thing. It can lead you to live a life of foolishness, it can lead you to make dumb and dangerous decisions that can have drastic and life altering consequences for you. The lack of spiritual maturity is sad and dangerous because there may be blessings to be enjoyed in Christ that only the mature or maturing Christian can truly understand and enjoy. The spiritual immature do not fully understand or grasp the incredible importance of their standing with Christ. Staying spiritually immature is dangerous in that in leaves those people wide open to falling for the “wiles of the devil”.

Are you preparing your heart to seek and to learn the Word of God? Are you acting on what you have already learned of the Word of God? Are you teaching and sharing what you have learned from the Word of God with others?

“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” – Psalm 34:18

“HOLD MY HAND, LORD…”

Walk me through the loneliness

and the valley of my sorrow…

Hold onto me when I’m too afraid

to think about tomorrow…

Let me lean on You, Lord,

when I’m too weary to go on…

Hold my hand, Lord,

through the night until I see

the light of dawn…

written by – B.J. Hoff

 The word translated as “nigh” in Psalm 34:18 has the meaning of being near, allied with, at hand, a near family relation and eager to help comfort. When we are going through the tremendous sorrow of a broken heart, keep in mind the Bible promises us at this time the Lord is as near to us as possible. He is allied with us; that is He is not going to let us go through this despair alone. He is always at hand, He is not going to let even one moment pass by without being there for us in that trial. The Bible says He is a near family relation; or in other words He is there for us as a loving Father wrapping us up in His loving arms of support and love. He is eager to help us, He desires to and will give us the strength we need moment by moment. We may not realize it at the time; but looking back on certain moments we have been through in our life, we know it is only but for the Lord helping us through that moment that we made it through.

Romans 8:35-39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

David went through a lot of trials and trouble in his life. He faced the giant none other was willing to face and he killed Goliath – with God’s help and guidance. What giants are you facing right now? What obstacle has presented itself in your life? Perhaps it is a financial giant, a problem relationship giant, a trial at work or school giant, a health concern giant or perhaps it is the giant of guilt or the giant of losing someone in your life that was dear and beloved to you. (John 16:33 – These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.)

David went on to be hunted by Saul for doing nothing wrong but willing to live his life according to God’s plan and purpose. David lived in caves in the wilderness; but David kept his faith. What trials are you going through that are no fault of your own? – give those cares and give those concerns over to God; and don’t lose your faith in Him. Just like David did, though under heavy persecution and facing many trials he kept his faith in God. Don’t lose your hope or faith, with the Lord there is always hope for a better tomorrow. (Lamentations 3:22-24 -t is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.)

David later went over to the Philistines, he continued to suffer many things. Many times he did not have anything to eat. – Why? Have you ever asked why? Why must I go through this trial, this tribulation, this hardship or this loss? The Bible tells us God does everything for a purpose – why didn’t God make David’s circumstances easier for him? Because God was training David to be a king! What could God be training you for with the circumstances you are currently facing? What could you learn from that trial? How could God use you in the future as a result of that tribulation? What could that loss you are facing lead you to in the future? We do not know the answers to these questions. We must though, however difficult in can be at the moment, we must, like David did, keep our faith in God. Trust in Him, rely on Him and continue to look for how what you are going through can be used for His honor and Glory. (I Peter 1:6-9 – Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.)

In Acts 13 verse 22 the Bible says “he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. How is your heart lining up with God’s? Are you willing to fulfill His will in your life? David in his life made many mistakes, caused many of his own problems when he strayed from God and God’s will for his life. Do not allow yourself to make those same mistakes of straying from God in your time of trial, don’t try to do it alone, do not allow yourself to become bitter at the situation. As hard as it is to hear, as hard as it may be to think, as hard as it may be to believe – but God does work everything out for the good to those who are called according to His purpose and those who confess Him as their Savior. God is our safe haven, He is our strength in time of weakness and trouble. (Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. & Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.)

 

Sometimes things seem impossible; impossible to do, impossible to overcome, impossible to endure or impossible to handle. But the Bible tells us all things, even the things that seem impossible to us and impossible to us, even for God to do, are possible (Luke 18:27 – And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.) Life is often exhausting to us physically, mentally and spiritually – events in life can be too much for you to bear, too much for you to mentally accept, too much for you to comprehend, too hurtful, too sorrowful – but Jesus offers rest for our weary and burden souls (Matthew 11:28-30Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.)

Often you can be afraid of things in your life, you can be afraid of the reality you find yourself in, afraid of the circumstances you are facing, afraid of the events that are transpiring in your life – but God will strengthen and help us as we face these situations. You do not need to have the strength or ability to go through these times in your life. God will give you the strength and grace that you need moment by moment (Isaiah 41:10 – Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.) When you are worried or anxious, God cares for us, cast your cares on Him (I Peter 5:7 – Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.) Sometimes we may feel all alone, that we are going through something those around us do not understand, we may feel lonely and neglected, we may even feel distant from God; but the Lord promises to never leave us or forsake us. We may not seek Him out sometimes, and try to do something on our own; but He is with us through it in spite of us not seeking Him at those moments (Hebrews 13:5 – … for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.)

Psalm 5:3 “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.”

“The Morning Prayer”

Wherever I go today, Lord,

Wherever my path may roam;

Be with me all the way, Lord,

And bring me safely home.

Whatever I may do today, Lord,

From day-break to setting sun,

May I do it all, I pray, Lord,

As Thou wouldst have it done.

Whenever  I speak today, Lord,

May each word I choose be clean;

May none of the things I say, Lord

Be hateful, harmful, mean.

And to those I meet today, Lord,

May I do as Christ would do;

That thus I may teach His way, Lord,

And they may know Him too.

So may I journey each day, Lord,

That all the world may see

By the things I do and say, Lord,

Christ reflected in me.

                                               — Written by L. J. Ekvall.

Let God be the first thing in your thoughts every morning. The Psalmist has the correct priorities in putting God first in his day and in his life. The Psalmist also is going in the right direction in his life and in his spirit, he says “I direct my prayer unto thee“, he is not looking at self, he is not trying to live even a single day without God’s guidance, without God’s fellowship and without God’s blessing on his life. It can be very hard sometimes to put our full trust in the Lord. Trying times will come; faith will be tested greatly, but we need to always as quickly as possible find our way back to our God, our Lord, our Redeemer and in times of trial and despair most importantly our Comforter.