Friday, September 30, 2011

The pure in heart….shall see God….

No one shall see the Lord without holiness, without following after holiness.  (Heb. 12:14, Matt. 5:8)

The fear of the Lord……what is it? 

It is an internal disposition that produces emotions of fear, dread, and dismay at the thought of displeasing the eternal God.   It is a deeply unsettling uneasiness at the potential of displeasing Him.   This disposition makes it impossible to sin against Him lightly, wholeheartedly, persistently.  

It extinguishes carelessness and impudence and self-will.   It drives one to seek the face of God in humility with a desire to know the will of God, to find God’s will and then to follow and obey His will.

Certainly, the fear of the Lord is pure and enduring forever (Ps. 19).   It moves one to depart from evil….to actually hates evil (Prov. 16:6, 8:13).  There is absolutely nothing corrupt about it.   It is the well-spring of wisdom, the beginning of it (Prov. 9:10).

The fear of the Lord is the gracious work of the Holy Spirit, evident in all those who are filled with Him (Isa. 11:2).  No one can be filled with the Holy Spirit and not be filled with the fear of the Lord.   When one is walking in obedience to the Lord, in deep reverence and careful obedience to Him, His Spirit comforts them.

Assuredly, in the fear of the Lord, there is comfort.   It is the comfort of eternal safety, of strong confidence.   It brings the assurance of being grounded on the solid rock, the hope of God’s ultimate purpose being fulfilled in us, the joy of His name being magnified, the fullness of His good pleasure in us.

“….we should worship God in a way that pleases him with respect and fear, because our God is like a fire that burns things up”.  Heb. 12:28b-29 NCV

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Lord favors……

“…. the Lord favors those who fear Him and those who wait for His loving-kindness”.  Psalms 147:11 NLV

What moves us to fear the Lord as believers?  Is it “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries?” (Heb 10:27) Only if we are walking in open disobedience.  

Paul said, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (II Cor. 5:11).   Knowledge of the terror of God not only resolves in us our tendency to sin, but moves us to exhortation in our communion with others.  It is knowledge of how our heavenly Father responds to sin.

God’s response to sin is a deep rage, a profound hatred.  It moves powerfully in the Almighty, whose very voice shakes the earth.  Moses heard Him speak and said, “I exceedingly fear and quake” (Heb. 12:21 KJV).  God spares none of His immense power in avenging Himself upon sin or in exposing His passion against it.

The thick dark blasts of an eternal hell prepared for Satan and his angels await all who caress their sin, regardless of their religious profession.

There is no understanding of sin in God, no lenience for it, no compassion for it and no tolerance for those who take pleasure in it.   There is no acceptable place or time or occasion to engage in sin and there is no place to hide in it.   God will seek out every spec of sin in His domain and utterly destroy it.   

When God begins to deal with sin in His creation, everything will be moved.  When the time for His judgment is come, the Day of His vengeance, earth and heaven will flee God’s face for the terror of it………“and there was found no place for them” (Rev. 20:11).

Let no one think himself to be in Christ that does not have a hatred for sin, a love for God, and a fear of displeasing Him. 

“Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous.   But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning.  But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil”.  I John 3:7-8 NLT

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Disposition to hate sin……

“The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers”.   Acts 9:31 NLT

The Scripture text in Acts 9:31 describes the state of the early church after the conversion of Saul.  Two conditions are described; they walked in fear of the Lord and they walked in the encouragement (comfort) of the Holy Spirit.

Is it strange that such things be blended: fear and comfort?

Are we normally in such a state as this, as was found in the early church?

Does fear dominate your conscience and are you comforted in the midst of this fear?

Is the church of today in such a state…..a true fear of God?

It appears that the church of today prefers to dwell upon the love of God, yet find no durable comfort in it.   The love of the world permeates the church, instead of a hatred for sin. 

Fear of man prevails and God is a convenience for Sundays and emergencies.

Many are persuaded today that the word fear really means respect.  There is a type of superficial respect to God that does not affect how one lives.   God is not in all their thoughts; when the world and their fleshly desires are gods of their heart: this is truly wicked and glory is in their shame.   They love the euphoric feeling that they are getting away with their sin.

“I have told you this many times before, and now I repeat it with tears: there are many whose lives make them enemies of Christ's death on the cross.  They are going to end up in hell, because their god is their bodily desires.  They are proud of what they should be ashamed of, and they think only of things that belong to this world”.  Phil. 3:18-19 GNT

How would those who know you describe you?

Would they describe you as one who walks in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit?

Is that, in truth how you do live?

What does a lack of the fear of God look like?

It is when a person takes sin lightly, casually, carelessly, obstinately, persistently and is either brazen or apathetic when confronted with sin.  

Sin is unconcerned with being offensive to God and unconcerned with His heart.

Sin complains at exhortation, despises reproof and instruction, refuses to submit, seeks its own way and justifies itself.

It is so common…..just look around you…….or……maybe within you?????

What does the fear of God look like?

“The fear of the Lord is to hate what is sinful.   I hate pride, self-love, the way of sin, and lies” (Prov. 8:13 NLV).

Fundamentally, the fear of God is a disposition to hate sin.  It is a hatred of sin that moves one to depart from it: “…by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil” (Prov.16:6 NKJV).

The fear of the Lord will NOT disobey God, regardless of the consequences.  It will seek to know God’s will and follow after Him, no matter what the cost may be.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our life is an open book….

“Haven’t you brought this on yourself
by abandoning the LORD your God,
who has directed your paths?

Your wrongdoing will punish you.
Your acts of unfaithfulness
will find you out.
Don’t you understand how terribly bitter
it is to abandon the LORD your God
and not fear me?
declares the LORD of heavenly forces”.   Jer. 2:17,19 CEB

No fear of God will cause a person to backslide.

Backsliding often carries its own punishment and its effects often extend far beyond the experience of the offender alone.   (Prov.14:14, Jer. 2:17,19, Rom. 13:4)

Causing a person to stumble is a serious offense.  We will be held accountable not only for our own relationship with God, but for our conduct before others as well.

Our life is “an open book,” Paul writes, “known and read of all men” (II Cor. 3:12). People who do not hear what we say cannot help but observe the way we live.   “Your actions speak so loudly,” the saying goes, “that I cannot hear a word you are saying.” 

Therefore, we are to “love not in word, but in deed….” (I Jn 3:18).  Anyone who has experienced the Presence of God will never find lasting satisfaction outside of His will.    This accounts for the inner frustration and bitterness of soul accompanying the abandonment of one’s soul to the world without God.

“I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely….”  Hosea 14:4-7

The road back to God is never long.  As the father of the prodigal “ran to meet him,” God always meets us at least half-way.   Deciding to return, however, has often proven most difficult. 

Depending on the degree of our fallen state, God often must use extreme measures to bring us back.   He strives with the backslidden (II Kings 17:15), and lovingly will use anything; sickness, misery, or grief to get us to return.  (Ps107)

Scripture likens the backslidden condition to a disease (Isa.1:5-6), for which God has a cure (Jer. 3:22).   As with most natural diseases, certain symptoms are typical of the condition: a spiritual lethargy, a calloused attitude toward sin, worldliness, a spiritual love grown cold, lack of payer or decreased hunger for the Word, a general feeling of apathy toward lost souls.

A dominant characteristic of the backslidden condition is stubbornness (II Kings 17:14,40).  Falling away is essentially a heart condition.  Though its manifestations may be primarily external, the root of the problem lies much deeper.

For the unbeliever, the fear of God is the fear of judgment of God and eternal death, which is eternal separation from God (Lk 12:5, Heb. 10:31).

Some define the fear of God for believers to “respecting” Him.  While respect is definitely included in the concept of fearing God, there is more to it than that.   A biblical fear of God, for the believer, includes understanding how much God hates sin and fearing His judgment on sin---even in the life of a believer.

Hebrews 12:5-11 describes God’s discipline of the believer.  While it is done in love, it is still a fearful thing.

“….. have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child,don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
 For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”  Heb. 12:5-6 NLT

Monday, September 26, 2011

The fruit of his ways…….good or bad

“Your own wickedness will correct you,
And your backslidings will rebuke you.
Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing
That you have forsaken the LORD your God,
And the fear of Me is not in you,”
Says the Lord GOD of hosts.”   Jer. 2:19  NKJV

The Lord showed the prophet Jeremiah that backsliding was a terrible offense.  I imagine that God must find it reprehensible that one who knew His grace and loving forgiveness could walk away from it and return to a life of sin.

We see from the above Scripture that they will reap what they have sown.   Their bondage will be bitter, because they have shown bitterness toward God in forsaking Him.   God is very angry with them, because they did not fear Him and worship Him.

This is like rebellion from a spoiled child.   Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.   He leaves no doubt at all who speaks this.   It is the Lord God of host!

Backsliding is when a born-again believer in Christ turns back to sin or becomes stubborn in his heart and refuses to submit to the will of God in his life.   The outward actions are only symptoms of the real problem-----the attitude of the heart---which must be dealt with in order to change the actions.

Backsliding is like carnality, in that your own desires and devices are acted out as opposed to God’s will (I Cor. 3:3, Prov. 14:14). 

“Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the Lord?  Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you…..”  Jer. 2:17,19.

The causes of backsliding are many and varied.  Some are hidden; others are obvious.   But the usual tendency is to emphasize the externals: pornography, additions: sex, drugs and alcohol, lying, fornication/adultery, hatred….etc.

The lack of positive, spiritual input (prayer and Bible study), however, has just as detrimental an effect upon the soul as the introduction of evil influences.  Starvation from God’s Word can be as deadly as the ingestion of any lethal substance.

God does not condemn us---our own wickedness and backsliding do that.   Nor did Jesus come to do so, but to give us life abundantly (John 10:10).   Therefore, if we will confess our sins, God will forgive us (I John 1:9).   

Accept His forgiveness and then forgive yourself!    Forgive those who have wronged or resented you.  

The Holy Spirit gives a Christian the ability to overcome sin.   He gives power to be a Christ-like person, He guides, comforts, teaches spiritual truth and equips each one with the gifts and qualities of God (Acts 1:8, Jn 14:16, I Cor. 12, Gal. 5:22-23). 

“The man who has gone back into sin will get the fruit of his ways, and a good man will get the fruit of what he does”.   Prov. 14:14 NLV

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Are you honest with God?

“Isn’t my word like fire
and like a hammer that shatters rock?
declares the LORD.”   Jer. 23:29  CEB

The Bible says, “Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong...” (Isa. 28:22 KJV).

What does this mean?

Mocking God grieves the Holy Spirit and sears the conscience; thus the bands (bondage/chains) of sin become stronger and stronger. 

The heart becomes gradually hardened by such a process.

Not only do the bands of sin become stronger, but delusion becomes stronger.  Their minds become so darkened that they lose all sense of what is true, spiritual and good in relation to Christianity and God’s Word.

People can become hardened by the gospel through their mockery of God.

They mock God by a form of godliness until the truth of God’s Word ceases to affect them.   Their hearts have become so dead and their consciences so numbed that when the Holy Spirit’s voice calls upon them to repent, it falls upon deaf ears; without affecting them in the least.

They will get into such a state and their darkness becomes so great, that they think and profess they are doing their duty, when they are only mocking God by their heartless formality.

Sadly, the more such persons abound in their duty----a form of godliness, the more they are hardened in sin.

The greater they abound in a form of godliness, as equally greater their heart becomes hardened in sin before God.

If a person is not honest with God in private neither will they be honest in public, and their heart will become alienated from God.

How is it with you?

Are you hones with God?

If you have sinned, confess it!    Be honest and make no pretense whatsoever.

Let sincerity be the habit of your life, your love, your faith and your relationship with God will be strengthened and your soul blessed.

“God, see what is in my heart.
Know what is there.
Put me to the test.
Know what I'm thinking.
 See if there's anything in my life you don't like.
Help me live in the way that is always right”.   Psalm 139:23-24 NIRV

Pray that God may search us all, that we may be mercifully kept from mocking God, lest our bondage be made strong.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


“The cup of blessing [of wine at the Lord's Supper] upon which we ask [God's] blessing, does it not mean [that in drinking it] we participate in and share a fellowship (a communion) in the blood of Christ (the Messiah)?   The bread which we break, does it not mean [that in eating it] we participate in and share a fellowship (a communion) in the body of Christ?”   I Cor. 10:16 AMP

Sadly some people mock God at the Communion table.

What do people profess when they come to the Communion table?

Do they not profess to believe in our Lord Jesus?

Do they not profess by this act to consecrate themselves afresh to Him?

Is this always the disposition of the heart and mind in which they come to the Communion table?

Is it not true, that many come to the table of the Lord as a mere form of godliness, because they want others to see they are “righteous” and thus become mockers of God?

Suppose they come with enmity and unforgiveness in their hearts towards others, or with a consciousness of having hurt or oppressed someone without having corrected the situation, do they not mock God and grieve the Holy Spirit?

Of course they do!   Although this is one of the most exalted means of grace, yet how often it is abused by people coming to the Communion table with an improper state of mind and heart!

I Corinthians 11:23 says: “I have given you the teaching I received from the Lord. The night Jesus was handed over to the soldiers, He took bread.  When He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take this bread and eat it.  This is My body which is broken for you. Do this to remember Me.”

“In the same way after supper, He took the cup.   He said, “This cup is the New Way of Worship made between God and you by My blood.  Whenever you drink it, do it to remember Me.”

“Every time you eat this bread and drink from this cup you are telling of the Lord’s death until He comes again.   Anyone who eats the bread or drinks from the cup, if his spirit is not right with the Lord, will be guilty of sinning against the body and the blood of the Lord.  This is why a man should look into his own heart and life before eating the bread and drinking from the cup.   Anyone who eats the bread and drinks from the cup, if his spirit is not right with the Lord, will be guilty as he eats and drinks.  He does not understand the meaning of the Lord’s body.  This is why some of you are sick and weak, and some have died”  (NLV).

The thing to remember in the partaking of Communion is that when you do so you are taking Christ as your Lord and Life, yielding yourself to Him.  You should come unto Him with a humble heart and a mind set on nothing other than Him.

 The Lord's Supper is to be done in remembrance of Christ, keeping fresh in our minds His dying to give us life.  Christ came so that we could have everlasting life.

John 3:14-17 states; “As Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.  Then whoever puts his trust in Him will have life that lasts forever.   For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.  Whoever puts his trust in God’s Son will not be lost but will have life that lasts forever.  For God did not send His Son into the world to say it is guilty.   He sent His Son so the world might be saved from the punishment of sin by Him” (NLV).

God sent Jesus so that we could have eternal salvation and Christ hung upon the cross, was buried in the tomb and rose to be seated at the right hand of the Father. And when we partake of Communion we are partaking of HIS life and it should be with a remembrance of HIS death, burial and resurrection.

"….. if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way.  Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world”.  I Cor. 11:21-32 NLT

May all of us look to the Lord's Supper in a manner of worship coming before the Lord in praise with a heart full of forgiveness and love desiring to know Him in His fullness not provoking Him, the Lord of Lords to bring down upon us His vengeance or wrath.

The Word of God simply says to receive the body and the blood in a thoughtful and worthy manner.  This means that before we partake we should examine ourselves before God. Then we simply need to ask God to forgive us our sins and any trespass or grievance that we have against any person.  Also, while we are participating in the taking of the sacraments our mind is to be only on God.

The taking of communion is for anyone that so desires to commune with the Lord in a deeper manner.

“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go.  First make things right with your brother or sister and then come back and offer your gift”.   Matt. 5:23-24 CEB

Friday, September 23, 2011

Spirit of Worship

“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord. All the families of the nations will worship before Him”.   Psalms 22:27  NLV

Worship that is performed out of habit; routine and in a certain order whereby people do not enter into a spirit of worship is mocking God.

Sometimes people can be affected by the sound of the music and think themselves to be very religious.   It is very common for people to become emotional over the singing and the music and feel they are religious.

People can cry during worship, get lost in their emotions and become self-righteously satisfied in such feelings, and be an impenitent sinner and a mockery of God.

Some people can live in sin all day and have no desire to change, then sit down and sing worship----praises to God and still not be changed!

Others can live in a state of deception…..never giving their hearts to God and still sing worship.

What can be a more horrible mockery than for man with a wicked heart to sing such expressions of love to God and not mean it….it is only words spoken as a form of godliness.

For some singing pleases them rather than praying and reading God’s Word.  They will amuse themselves by singing because they have a talent to do so and yet go on in their worldly----sinful indulgences; but they have no heart to pray.

Singing as such will often times quench and grieve the Holy Spirit.

If the heart does not mean what the lips express, you mock God!

“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.  The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.   For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”    John 4:23-24 NLT

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Heart Rejection of Sin

“Bow down and worship the LORD our Creator!”     Psalms 95:6 CEV

Let it be understood that all meetings for the worship of God, who are really not in a state of heart to do whatever He commands them, are mockers.

Just as all who come to church and do not honestly intend to apply the truth and obey it when they leave, they mock God.

The very fact that they come to church to “appear before Him” implies that they mean to obey Him.   If they do not, they are mocking God.

Hear what the Lord said by the mouth of His prophet, “As for you, son of man, your people are talking to each other about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses.  They are saying, ‘Come and hear the word that has come from the Lord.’  They come and sit in front of you as My people, and listen to the words you say. But they do not do them.  With their mouth they speak of love, but their hearts are full of sinful desire.   They think of you as nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays music well.  For they hear what you say, but they will not do it” (Ezek. 33:30-32 NLV).

They wanted to make God believe that they had intended to obey Him.  They came out and sat before the prophet as the people of God and heard his words and professed to love and admire them, but would not obey them.

Confessing sin without true repentance is mocking God.  When people confesses their sins and profess to be sorry but they continue to sin daily, is mocking God.

I suppose people in the act of confession profess to be sorry for their sin, but if it is without true repentance or because they got caught, it is a mockery of God.

What does confess imply?   Repentance!

What is repentance?   A heart rejection of sin!  Turning from sin.

So a person professes repentance for sin, without forsaking their sin and turning away from it, by all their confessions they mock God.

A formality of our prayers can mock God.  Some prayers are said without thinking of what is being said, or the same thing is repeated over and over.   Some people pray according to customs/tradition, their prayers become a habit….a routine, in such a matter that they hardly know what they are praying.   Others pray out of duty, it is a mere form of prayer.

Instead of praying from the depths of their heart it is mere talk, performance and a form of godliness.  

There is such a formality that people know what “you” are going to pray for next and what “you” are going to say.

Such prayers are merely mocking God.

“He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise for our God.
Many people will learn of this
and be amazed;
they will trust the LORD”.   Psalm 40:3 CEB

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Disposition of the heart

“Have reverence for the Lord your God and worship only him.  Be faithful to him and make your promises in his name alone.  Praise him—he is your God, and you have seen with your own eyes the great and astounding things that he has done for you”.    Deut. 10:20-21 GNT

When we go to church we either profess to be devoted to Him or we come to inquire how we may consecrate ourselves to Him and obey Him.

Why do you go to church?

Is it not to learn His will that you may obey Him and in so doing you glorify Him?

Is it not to learn how to grow in your relationship with Him and worship Him?

If this is not the disposition of your heart and mind, then you are mocking God.  You appear before God in the character of hypocrisy by saying, “O God, I do not come to obey You; I do not come to seek You or Your will concerning my life, with the intentions of obedience.   O God, I did not come to worship You, repent or develop a relationship with You.   I only came pretending this, for in my heart I have no desire to obey Your will and do what is required of me in Your Word”.

A person may not consciously say it like that, but their false dedication and lack of fear for God speaks through their hypocrisy.

Most people go to church to worship God and to learn the will of God, so they can have a relationship with Him.   The very fact that we go must imply that we have come to worship God that we appear before Him as obedient people, with a determination in our hearts to do whatever He may tell us to do.

So…….is not anything short of complying with the spirit of this pledge, mocking God?

Would you not regard yourself as mocked if you were served in the same way by friends and/or family members?

If someone professes to love and adore you and after all have no such feelings in their heart, you would feel rejected and mocked.

“Honor the wonderful name of the LORD, and worship the LORD

most holy and glorious”.  Psalms 29:2 CEV

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Spirit of True Worship….

“Now stop your mocking,
or your chains will become heavier;
the Lord, the LORD Almighty, has told me
of the destruction decreed against the whole land”.    Isa. 28:22 NIV

The term to mock, in its scriptural sense, means to act hypocritically; to make false pretences or professions.    We sometimes speak of having our hopes mocked, that is, they are disappointed. 

To be a mocker is to be hypocritical, to make false pretences, representations that are not true.   To mock God is to pretend to love and serve Him when we do not; to act in a false manner, to be insincere and hypocritical in our professions, pretending to obey, love, serve and worship Him, when we do not.

Anything that amounts to insincerity is mockery, anything that is only pretence and does not represent the state of the heart.    The term mock means to dishonor.

In this sense it is that God is mocked by not being honored.

If there be anything of vital importance to us, it is that we really understand what our true position in respect to God is.

We mock God when we present ourselves in the house of God as His professed servants, without the true spirit of obedience, love, worship and faith.  Unless we are really in an obedient state of mind, in the true spirit of devotion to His service, we mock Him by the very fact of coming to His house as worshippers.

For example, what do we profess in coming before Him as worshippers?

It is very important that we should understand what is really implied in coming to God’s house and taking our places before Him, as worshippers of God.

In coming to God’s house you profess to be devoted to His interests, service and glory, that in your hearts you are really the servants of God and that you come to His house to express what is in your hearts.

You profess by this act to have an obedient spirit, genuine love, faith and confidence in Him, submission to Him and the spirit of true worship.

Now everyone who goes to the house of God without these sentiments of humility, love and obedience is a mocker, in the Bible sense of the term; and we are sternly asked, “Who hath required this at your hands, that you should tread my courts without the spirit of true worshippers----the spirit of truth, real obedience, love, faith, repentance, devotion, consecration to me?  Why have you come before me as mere mockers, drawing near to me with your lips, while your heart is far from me”?  (Isa. 1:12-13, 29:13).

Everyone that goes to the house of God as a worshipper professes, by the very act, that they are devoted to God, consecrated for His service and glory.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Pharisee Spirit Mocks God

“Make no mistake, God is not mocked.  A person will harvest what they plant.  Those who plant only for their own benefit will harvest devastation from their selfishness, but those who plant for the benefit of the Spirit will harvest eternal life from the Spirit”.    Gal. 6:7-8  CEB

People often think they can engage in behavior that is risky, illegal, or sinful and escape the consequences, but events seldom work out as they think.   Why is this the case? 

It is because they are deceived about God’s law of harvest: “Do not be deceived:  God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows” (Gal. 6:7).  This law applies to everyone, including those who do not believe the Bible.   To believe that we can sow one thing and reap another is to mock God.  

God’s Word assures us that if we sow to the flesh or “sinful nature” we will reap destruction (vs. 8).

What does it mean to sow to the flesh?  

Sowing to the flesh involves a self-centered worldly focus.   The Bible says, “For everything in the world---the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does---comes not from the Father but from the world” (I John 2:16).  

Even some Christians in Paul’s day resisted spiritual insight: “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly…” (I Cor. 3:1).   Sowing to the flesh is all about the kinds of choices we make and God’s law of harvest means that we will not escape the consequences of sinful choices.

To deceive ourselves about the consequences of our behaviors seems to be a common characteristic of mankind.

The story of King Ahab in I Kings 22 is a great example of someone who thought he could escape the consequences of his actions.   Micaiah warned Ahab about the “lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets” (vs. 22) and he frankly told the King that he would die in battle if he were to try to conquer Ramoth Gilead (vs.19).   

Although Ahab rejected the prophet’s message, he nevertheless felt the need to take special precautions to ensure his safety in the upcoming battle.

Ahab decided to disguise himself as an ordinary soldier so his enemies would not know who he was.  By doing this, Ahab was actually trying to mock God.   The Bible says the King of Aram ordered his commanders to focus on killing Ahab, but they could not find him because of his disguise.

God, however, did not need the help of the King of Aram to fulfill the prophecy of Micaiah:  “But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor” (vs. 34).  The king died of this wound and every detail of the prophecy against Ahab was fulfilled.

So, what does this demonstrate?

Ahab believed he could disobey God and escape the consequences by being clever; out smarting God.

Today, if we believe we can avoid reaping the negative consequences of what we sow, we also think we can mock God.

“The LORD will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim,
he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon—
to do his work, his strange work,
and perform his task, his alien task.
 Now stop your mocking,
or your chains will become heavier;
the Lord, the LORD Almighty, has told me
of the destruction decreed against the whole land.

Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say”.  Isaiah 28:21-23 NIV

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Worship …..a tool of spiritual warfare

“For You are not happy with a gift given on the altar in worship, or I would give it. You are not pleased with burnt gifts.   The gifts on an altar that God wants are a broken spirit. O God, You will not hate a broken heart and a heart with no pride.”  Psalms 51:16-17 NLV

Worship is a tool of spiritual warfare, because it is core to giving power to Satan.

What you love most is what you worship!

And what you worship you give power over yourself.

Job, self, spouse, children, car, house,…. whatever it may be.   If is not God then it is Satan, the god of this world.

This is why, as worshippers it should come as no surprise what forces are truly at work, whether seen or unseen, when we worship Jesus Christ.

It is imperative that we realize how powerful it is when we make the choice to worship God.

Worship defeats the enemy’s forces in our lives.

Praising God is the act that silences the powers of darkness around us, causing them to bow as we proclaim the truth that Jesus is Lord!

Worshiping God will always be a battle until our foe is finally silenced and Jesus returns to rule and reign on earth, as He does in heaven.

Satan, the worshipper of old, is against the true worship leaders of this day.

Part of his privileged position is now occupied by worship leaders, singers and musicians on the earth.

Worship leaders, singers and musicians are the “point of the arrow” that God has chosen for the assault against the kingdom of darkness.

With this understanding, our seemingly insignificant or small worship gatherings take on much more of a purpose and meaning, and to be a musician or singer at the end of the age carries weight unlike anything we have known.

If you are a worship leader, singer or musician, the Lord is calling you for this hour for more than a few good songs on a Sunday morning.

Praising God is the act that silences the powers of darkness around us, causing them to bow as we proclaim the truth that Jesus is Lord!

Satan does not want you to worship God because when you do so, you serve God alone!   “You shall worship the Lord Your God, and Serve Him Only.” (Matt. 4:10)

Will you worship Him today?  

Will you serve Him alone?

Will you give Jesus your heart and soul and put your entire focus upon Him?

Will you choose to be completely consecrated to Him and worship Him like never before?

What kind of worship does God want from you?     Worship from the heart!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Worship Warriors

“Then I saw another angel flying in the heavens. He was carrying the Good News that lasts forever.  He was preaching to every nation and to every family group and to the people of every language and to all the people of the earth.   He said with a loud voice, “Honor God with love and fear.  The time has come for Him to judge all men.  Worship Him Who made heaven and earth and the sea and the places where water comes out of the earth.”  Rev. 14:6-7 NLV

Many churches say the Lord’s Prayer but do not pray it.   Or when they sing “holy, holy” they do not mean it.   If they really did they would be on their faces before the altar.  They would truly have an understanding of who God is and who they are singing to.  He is HOLY!

We have memorized the song lyrics and forgotten the meaning of the words, or we repeat the words with our lips without singing them to the God of Wonders!

We go through the motions of worship but we do not actually worship, because our response to Him is not in the here and now.

The first person mentioned in the Bible as worshipping God did it wrong.  Cain was the first to offer an offering to God, and it was unacceptable.   His brother Abel offered an acceptable offering to God. 

Cain became so upset that he ended up killing his brother.  Some have claimed that Cain’s problem was that he did not offer the right thing that he was supposed to offer or that something was wrong with the ceremony that he did, but I think the Bible shows us that his problem was a problem of the heart.

He did not have the heart of a worshipper!   First off, the Bible emphasizes that Abel brought the best of what he had, while it says that Cain merely brought part of his harvest.   

When you look at this approach, you know that it cannot be the heart of someone truly seeking God.

I believe that Satan himself wants more than anything to keep us in our “religion” and away from true and authentic worship encounters with God.

Worship is at the center of a great spiritual battle.

Satan even tried to get Jesus to worship him!

“Again the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain. He had Jesus look at all the nations of the world to see how great they were.  He said to Jesus, “I will give You all these nations if You will get down at my feet and worship me.” Matt. 4:8-9 NLV

Why is worship such a big thing?

Worship is the key factor in the ongoing warfare between God and Satan.

Spiritual battles have always been over worship, fought with worship and will be won through worship.

People were created to be happy and fulfilled only when they worship God solely.  In these last days, God is calling upon all people to worship Him (Rev. 14:6-7).

This so infuriates Satan that he will try to force people to worship him or else be killed (Rev. 13:15).

God is calling us to be worship warriors!

For many Christians this is a new concept.

Just as the Levites went before King Jehosophat’s army, worship must precede our activities.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Worship in Spirit……Truth

But He said to them, Excellently and truly [so that there will be no room for blame] did Isaiah prophesy of you, the pretenders and hypocrites, as it stands written: These people [constantly] honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far distant from Me.”    Mark 7:6 AMP

The apostle Paul, before his encounter with Christ had a religious spirit.  He practiced the most rigorous form of religion, held to the law to the highest degree, and lived according to appearances the most perfected life possible among religious leaders.

He wrote in Phil. 3:4-6: “though I have good reason to have this kind of confidence. If anyone else has reason to put their confidence in physical advantages, I have even more:

I was circumcised on the eighth day.

I am from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin.

I am a Hebrew of the Hebrews.

With respect to observing the Law, I’m a Pharisee.

With respect to devotion to the faith, I harassed the church.

With respect to righteousness under the Law, I’m blameless.”  (CEB)

Yet, he had nothing worth eternity until he met Jesus: “We are the circumcision. We are the ones who serve by God’s Spirit and who boast in Christ Jesus.  We don’t put our confidence in rituals performed on the body…”  (Phil. 3:3 CEB).

We need to ask God to expose any religious spirit in us and in our churches and replace it with true worship led by the Spirit of God.

A Religious spirit will keep you from authentic worship and lead you to think you are really doing well, perhaps that you are better than others.  It may even make you believe that you are a better worshipper, more superior to others.

A religious spirit imitates worship without the encounter with God.

It possesses the form of godliness without the power of God.

Worthless worship occurs when we prefer tradition to God Himself.

Tradition is where a church or group of God’s people has institutionalized a behavior or way of doing things.

Tradition is when we make sacred what is man- made.

It is like, when we are more concerned about how things look rather than how God looks at things.

Time honored traditions can squeeze the life out of worship by demanding that we do things that we don’t even know why we are doing them.

We all have a religious spirit to some degree.  We have what we like and are unhappy or uncomfortable when it changes.

Our worship is worthless when we honor God with our lips and not our hearts.

We also bless God with lips but not with our hearts when we memorize our responses to God instead of actually responding to Him.

Don’t think that you are immune from this happening to you.
“God is spirit, and it is necessary to worship God in spirit and truth.”  John 4:24 CE

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Religious Spirit or Holy Spirit?

“Jesus replied, “You hypocrites!  Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,  ‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me”.    Mark 7:6 NLT

Many people love going to the movies.  They love the smell of popcorn, the comfortable seats, the fun of being with friends and family.  They even laugh at the way their shoes stick to the floor!  But most of all we love the anticipation!

You know what I mean?   You are sitting there in a barely lit room with a sense of excitement as you wait for the move to start.  Then the lights begin to dim even more and the previews end and everyone stops talking.  It is almost time………..

There is a sense that you are about to experience something truly amazing!

You can get the same feelings when you go to a concert or ball game.  There is a sense that you are about to experience something that will energize you and stay with you for days, weeks or even years.

When was the last time you felt that way as you walked through the doors of church?

When was the last time you had a sense of anticipation for what you are about to experience?

When was the last time you walked through the church doors with the sense that you are about to experience something that will energize you and stay with you for days, weeks or even years?

We are called to worship.

What does that mean?

What is worship?    Encountering/responding to God’s heart toward us.

Why worship?    Because we were created for this purpose.

What do we need?  A relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

The prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 29:13: “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men”. (NIV)

“The Lord said, “These people claim to worship me, but their words are meaningless, and their hearts are somewhere else. Their religion is nothing but human rules and traditions, which they have simply memorized””.  (GNT)

I believe that these passages tell us that there are several things that make worship worthless for God’s people.

A religious spirit instead of the Holy Spirit.

A religious spirit can be defined as ‘an agent of Satan assigned to prevent change and maintain the status quo by using religious traditions’.

It uses human control and manipulation to prefer the status quo over a genuine, dynamic and intimate relationship with God.

It is a huge danger for church leaders who might lead by manipulation instead of by grace.

A religious spirit seeks approval from what they do instead of from grace alone.

A religious spirit is confronted in the Bible:  “You foolish Galatians! What strange powers are trying to lead you from the way of faith in Christ?  We made it plain for you to see that Jesus Christ was put on a cross to die.   There is one thing I want to know.  Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the Law?  Or did you receive Him by hearing about Christ?   How foolish can you be?  You started the Christian life by the Holy Spirit.  Do you think you are going to become better Christians by your old way of worship?  You suffered so much because of the Good News you received. Was this all of no use?   He gave you the Holy Spirit and did powerful works among you.  Does He do it because you do what the Law says or because you hear and believe the truth?”  Gal. 3:1-5 NLV

Religious spirits have been at work in the world since time began.  They will do whatever they can to prevent us from enjoying a vibrant, dynamic encounter with God.

“Prophets speak nothing but lies; priests rule as the prophets command, and my people offer no objections.  But what will they do when it all comes to an end?”  Jeremiah 5:31  GNT

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What is Traditionalism?

“The Lord said, “These people show respect to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.  Their worship of Me is worth nothing. They teach rules that men have made.   So see, I will once again do great things with these people, great and wonderful things.   And the wisdom of their wise men will be gone.  The understanding of their wise men will be hidden.”

It is bad for those who try to hide their plans from the Lord, and whose works are done in a dark place. They say, “Who sees us?” or, “Who knows us?”                    Isa. 29:13-15 NLV

The accusation made toward the people of Israel in Isaiah 29:13 is one of a number of accusations the Lord placed upon His people as they continued to disobey His commands and ignore His prophets.

As the prophet Isaiah describes, the problem with Israel at this time was not that they refused to come to worship.  It was not that they were going through the wrong ceremonies.   The problem was their hearts.

The people spoke true words of God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him.   They did not mean what they said.

This is a greater danger for people when they worship or pray using a prayer book because what they read can become so familiar that they do not think about what they are saying.   They are tempted to recite the words without believing the content.   They find themselves mouthing the words of morning prayers, for example, and realize their thoughts are miles away.

Because their conscience is pricked by such thoughtless prayer that they reason that the liturgy itself is to blame.  The point being that liturgy or form is not the problem.   The problem is with the hearts of men.  It is not the liturgy or rites of the Church that need to change but the heart of every man/woman who prays and worships.

King David said, “You do not want sacrifices,
or I would offer them;
you are not pleased with burnt offerings.
 My sacrifice is a humble spirit, O God;
you will not reject a humble and repentant heart”.   Psalms 51:16-17 GNT

From these verses poor reasoning would allow some to conclude that God does not care about sacrifice in worship.   But to conclude this would be a failure to remember that sacrifice was God’s idea to begin with.  

It was God who specifically instructed what animal must be offered for what sin and what steps needed to be taken to make such a sacrifice.   King David does not state that God does not care or no longer wants a sacrifice in worship.  It is stated that He does not delight in such sacrifice.  His delight is not there because the heart of the people is not there.

King David recognizes this as he prays that God would create in him a pure heart, a clean heart.  An unclean heart has its attention upon matters of the flesh while the lips are pretending to be worshipping God.

God is looking for our undivided attention when we worship.   

God does not need us to care about Him as a person needs to be cared about.  God wants our undivided attention for our benefit, not His.   When we give Him undivided attention we hear living words.  When we give Him undivided attention we are equipped for good works in Christ.  When we give Him undivided attention our souls are renewed.

To pay lip service to God only when at worship and prayer is to go through the motions.  It is bowing to the idol of tradition!  It is ROTE!

There is great arrogance in man-made traditions.

Traditionalism is worshipping God without the heart of a worshipper attending to God.

Remember that you or your family members are not saved because of the traditions you follow but by grace through faith in Jesus Christ!

“Then Samuel said to all the family of Israel, “Return to the Lord with all your heart.  Put away the strange gods and the false goddess Ashtaroth from among you. Turn your hearts to the Lord and worship Him alone….”  I Samuel 7:3 NLV