For God so loVed the world,
That He gAve
Believeth In Him
Should Not perish,
But have Everlasting life.”
God sent you a VALENTINE card. Won’t you be His VALENTINE since you are the object of His Love?
For God so loVed the world,
That He gAve
Believeth In Him
Should Not perish,
But have Everlasting life.”
God sent you a VALENTINE card. Won’t you be His VALENTINE since you are the object of His Love?
God is Holy
Ps 99:9 Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.
In getting to know God, we must understand that God is Holy. What that means is that He is not like man. A huge mistake that we make in considering what God is like is thinking that he is like us. While it is true that man was made in the image of God, God is not in the image of man. There are a number of major differences. First of all, man is a created being but God has no beginning. He is the creator but He was never created, Himself. Our understanding comes from things that we know and our perspective is from within time and space and not outside of time and space. Man was made in the similitude of God so that we could get some idea of what God is like but it is a mistake to equate man to God. Man is finite while God is omnipotent; man is limited in knowledge but God is omniscient; man is contained within time and space while God is omnipresent; and man is under constant change while God is immutable, or unchangeable. These differences are a great chasm between God and man. That chasm was created by sin leaving man estranged from God and God estranged from man. On the one side is Holy God and on the other is sinful man. God cannot become less than holy or He ceases to be God. Once man became sinful, he became incapable of making himself holy, righteous and good.
The second fact about the holiness of God is that we cannot make that crossing on our own. God alone has the power, knowledge, presence, and will to reach across this chasm to make a way for man to cross to Him. That way to God is Jesus Christ. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. That way was opened when Jesus died on the cross and thereby opening the way to God. Man must now be changed or transformed by the new birth experience which is also known as being born again. God joins His Holy Spirit in the same way that the sperm is joined with the egg to make a new life; this new birth completes the transformation of the spirit. The metamorphous must also happen to the soul in a process that we know as sanctification where our mind and will are transformed to be like the mind of Christ and a heart of love. It is also where we take on the attributes of God, such as longsuffering, patients, etc. It takes a lifetime for God to complete this change. Finally, the body is metamorphosed or changed into a new body that is eternal and is like that of the resurrected Christ. This is called glorification and happens at the rapture or catching away, where we are fully and finally completed in the image of God.
The third and final thing that we should learn about the holiness of God is that we must approach God in reverence, respect and awe. This is the Biblical response of all who ever came into the presence of God. It is not a requirement to be met by some merit and cannot be faked. It is the natural response just as dry ground absorbs the rain. It is the result of the discovery of who God really is. It is the spiritual response of a child that has come home.
As I write this blog, I am thinking of the burden that the Lord has placed on my heart about training the church leadership in the Eastern Asia Countries. It began last year when I made a mission trip to china and saw the hunger for the Bible and also saw the lack of training available for the house church pastor and church leadership. The sacrifice they were willing to make just to attend a bible training meeting was soul searching.
Then to be invited to speak at a Bible training conference in Japan this year had another impact on me. As we were preparing for the conference, we visited a shrine and a temple there in Japan. We were told that the entrance to the shrine or temple is always through a gate such as the one shown here.
The purpose of the shrine is that the people have a place to worship and they would go through various exercises in order that the “gods” would bless them. The gods were somewhat mystical in how they would respond but there was a void in the culture and this was established to fill that void. It reminded me of Acts 17:23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
My thoughts then turned to Mt 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. If this worship is not of the only true God, then it is not a god at all but one of Satan’s haven of refuge that teaches his false doctrines and holds people in bondage. Simply put it is the entrance to hell. Jesus promised that the church would storm the gates of hell and they would not stand against the forces of God that He would bring against the forces of darkness This faith is the power and method of Christ working through the church.
We felt this power all through the conference that was attended by leadership of churches from 6 countries. The conference was presented in three languages, English, Japanese and Chinese. This may seem odd to some as the Chinese and Japanese have fought each other for a long time, yet about half of the attendees in this Japanese setting, came from China. The theme of the conference was walking by faith and it extended over 4 days. One of the features was the session in the evening where those attending the conference would share from their observations, what they had learned from the days events. The worship sessions were a special blessing as the music was sang in three languages as well. As we sang and worshiped together there was a unity of spirit that overshadowed all other separations so that we all focused on Christ alone and His presence was especially felt. The afterglow that followed the day’s events was also a special blessing as it was spent in sharing and counseling as late as midnight and beyond. This was a tremendous meeting and following it there have been additional results of three additional mission trips, and opened doors to additional possibilities.
This brings me to my burden for a training center in Japan. I shared it with my pastor who not only endorsed it but also stated that this is where our mission efforts are projected. He challenged me to write down my vision for such a conference and agreed to work with me in its concepts. One of the pastors that attended the conference is now moving to Oklahoma to pastor a Chinese church there and we are meeting in December to also pray and plan for this Training Center. Also, we will be meeting with Dr. Alan Bandy who is the NT professor at Oklahoma Baptist University who I spent a few days with over the Thanksgiving Day holidays. I have also contacted some other Christian education schools who have also indicated their intentions to work with us on this project.
As my wife and I were returning home on the flight, I was following our progress on the monitor and considering the idea of a training center, I was jolted by what I saw on the monitor. The route showed a satellite view of the ocean floor and just below the Aleutian Islands and on our route I saw 17:7, below the route and near the center of the picture. The Aleutian Islands are above the route line and the islands are shown as the white portions. You can see it also on Google Maps in the satellite view.
It has been there for thousands of years and was truly put there by God when He created the earth. It was so plain but what did it mean? I noted that this is the chapter and verse designation used in the Bible of separating the chapter and verse by a colon. I began to look at each book that has 17 chapters or more and in the 17th chapter has a 7th verse. There are 23 such verses in the Bible so which one was intended?
Of the 23 verses in the Bible that have a 17:7 location, one stands out above all the rest because it is the only one that references sacrifices offered unto devils and it is found in Leviticus 17:7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute forever unto them throughout their generations.
So I sense that the message is simply this, Go in faith that God intends to deliver those in bondage to false gods so that they may come to know the only true God, Jesus who is the Christ and He will deliver them. Satan does not have the power to withstand against the church that walks by faith in Christ alone.
Occasionally, I like to address a Scripture that is commonly misunderstood. Today is one of those days. The Scripture is found in Genesis 3:22-24 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
A common understanding is that since man sinned, he was driven out of the garden where the tree of life was located because he couldn’t be trusted any more and the angel with the flaming sword was stationed there to protect the tree of life by preventing man from ever returning.
There are several things wrong with that interpretation. First, God was not protecting the tree of life from man but rather He was protecting man from the tree of life. Had Adam taken from the tree of life, he would have sealed his own doom because that would have sealed his eternity in the fallen state and God had greater thing planned for man. It would have destroyed God’s plan of man being completed in God’s image, likeness and authority. Man needed time to be changed into that likeness.
Second, it was not an angel that was placed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden, but a Cherubim, which means spiritual enforcer. This was not to prevent man from taking from the Tree of Life, but to restrict man until he would come restored to a right relationship.
Thirdly there are two directives as to man’s exodus. In verse 23 states that the Lord sent him forth from the garden to till the ground from whence he was taken. The ground was cursed for man’s sake (v. 17) He needed to see the effect of sin in order to turn from it and back to God. Then in verse 24 we see that man was driven out. Man had willfully gone against God and he needed to understand that thereare consequences for sin. God will not lower His standards and wink at our sin. It will take God’s intervention to deal with sin and it was pictured in the slaying of the animal for their new coverings or clothing.
Fourthly, the flaming sword is described in Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: as the Word of God. We know it as the Scriptures or The Bible. It is further described in Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. You cannot fool God and He will know you to the depth of your inner most being. Entrance is restricted to only one way, the way of the cross.
Finally, the phrase “to keep the way” does not mean to keep the way closed, but just the opposite, to keep the way open. Though it is kept open it is still restricted to meet God’s standards. There is hope for man to complete God’s plan for man by entering in the manner that God is pleased with and that is the was of Faith in Jesus. However, we must come repentant of our self-government and surrender our will to the Lord Jesus for it is His blood the brings our sin into submission. Without that blood there is no remission.
Eph 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
In my last blog I wrote about the Hope of His calling. Please note that I did not exhaust the topic but only introduced the concept. For further study research the idea of your body as the temple of God.
Now we turn our attention to the second thing that Paul prayed that the Ephesian Christians would receive, their inheritance. Notice that the receiving of this treasure is received in the same manner as receiving the hope of His calling. It cannot be taken, but it has to be received. By that, it is clear that God desires for you to have it but it is not ‘free for the taking’ but that it can only be received in the manner that God chooses for you to have it. So, let’s look at those conditions.
You must first receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. In other words, knowing God comes by the spirit of wisdom and revelation which is given by God. He does not hand out the spirit of wisdom and revelation to just any person, or even to every Christian. A person must first become a Christian and then, when his heart has grown to the place where it longs for righteousness and seeks the ways of God, then it is rewarded by the Holy Spirit opening the spirit of wisdom revelation that is required to know God. The spirit of wisdom isn’t just smart but it is the application of truth in the light of God’s will. The longer you walk with God the more you come to know Him and His ways. Truth alone is not enough for we are finite and carnal so the addition of revelation to know what we could never guess or apprehend is also required. Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! We could never know God at all until He reveals Himself to us. We catch glimpses of God in our growth and our walk and marvel at the wonder of who He is. We read Scriptures that tell us of His Holiness and Splendor and our mind goes to TILT. We then begin to project what it might mean – and still we have only a glimpse.
So now we look at our inheritance. You must be an heir in order to inherit so God moves us from being a child of Satan to a child of God through regeneration. We don’t immediately feel changed but we are changed. When a man is married to his wife, he may still feel like he did only moments before, but he will never be what he was prior to the marriage. When a man joins the military, he is a soldier the second he signs the papers, yet he still needs the training and disciplines that will cause him to order his conduct as a soldier. It is not how you feel that makes you different, but who you Lord is. When we surrender to the Lordship of Jesus, He then takes full responsibility for you in all that you do and what you become. He also, seals you with the Holy Spirit and you are changed. (II Corinthians 5:17) As a child of God, you now are an heir to all the treasures of God. I am not talking about gold and silver and precious stones, but about the fullness of God. The real treasures are those of eternal qualities, such as eternal life, a love that never fails, goodness, righteousness, etc. Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. We are being transformed into creatures that are identified as God’s children and are made in His image, His likeness and with dominion. A fantastic study is what heaven is like. We see through a glass darkly but there we shall see God face to face.
This inheritance is glorious in several respects. First, it is glorious in that it is a reflection of the glory of God, Himself. His glory is magnified by itself. Take for an example, a bright light that is shined in a mirror and reflected back on itself. If you were to behold the bright light, it would appear even brighter when the reflection was added. So it is with God’s glory, His wonder is only enhanced by His works and He appears even more marvelous. Our inheritance is beyond the sphere of material value; beyond the sphere of personal value; and encompasses our value to God.
Our inheritance is for only in the saints. In the Scriptures, saints are the Christians or the born again, the believers in Christ. This knowledge is only know by the saints and God and cannot be known any other way. It is important to know who you are and who’s you are. You are the love of God, the bride of Christ, the church, the Children of God. He died for you and will spare no cost to see you completed as He planned. He promised that He would never leave you and would be there for you to do whatever is required to complete His promise to you.
1Pe 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
Ro 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
2Co 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
I have been thinking of how amazing is the wonder of God’s handiwork in making man. He is so intricate and detailed. He is composed of the basic elements of matter, arranged in complicated combinations of molecules which do wondrous things. Just the 5 physical senses of sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell are each fantastic within themselves. Then you add the circulatory system, the nervous system and the organs, the skeleton, mussels, skin, tendons and so forth and their operation to provide function expands the wonder even further. Lets not leave out the brain and its unequaled ability to think and reason. Then to consider that man is a trinity in that he not only has a body but also a soul and spirit and you ask the question, “For what purpose would God go to such length in creating life, only to see it die in a short time. It is glorious but so temporary.
The answer cannot be in the physical aspect of its beauty. There must be a greater purpose for man than in just who he is. The fact that the flower dies quickly reveals the fact of man’s temporary nature and the need for an eternal purpose. The answer is in God Himself. The glory of man is simply a reflection of his Creator. Man did not make himself but was created by God. The purpose of man is not to be seen as only an object to behold but become more than just physical, but more than that, to become eternal and like his creator.
Within that short span of time he makes that choice of becoming like God in his nature and being or rejecting that opportunity and attempt to make himself after his own image. We can easily see the end of that choice is death – just like the flower, because that was not why he was designed for. God’s plan for man was so much greater in every respect. First of all, the flower is to call attention to the Creator not the creation. Second, we have a sin problem that can only be remedied by God’s provision, the blood of Jesus. Thirdly, God is a good god and has only good planned for us. If we reject it then it is on us and not Him. Fourthly, the best that man can do is things of this world but God’s plan for man is eternal. The flower is only a sample of the goodness that is ours in Him, and it does not end but is eternal.
Flowers are found everywhere, all over the world. It’s like God is saying to the world, look at all I have for you. Don’t hate me when I have so much for you. Yes, I know that you have so troubled times but it is through these times that I am building in you that eternal nature that will endure forever. Just keep you focus on me and trust me that I know what I am doing. The more you view my glory, the more that you will be changed into that same image. You’ll really love it in the end.
As I listened to the news this morning, I heard that there was over 500 tornados in our nation during yesterday’s storms. This is unprecedented numbers. My wife and I had to shelter from a potential tornado for the first time ever. I got the sensation that God is trying to turn us as a nation, but I don’t sense that we are getting the message so here it is as I hear it from God.
“Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” We have adopted a lifestyle of religion without faith in Him. We are similar to the Pharisees in that we are careful to dot the I’s and cross the t’s in our form of worship, without ever realizing we are in the presence of Almighty God. We struggle and work to “do good” and to “be good” on our own, but God is saying to us that such religion is an insult to Him. We need to get this right. God is not pleased with a religion that does not place us in a position of trusting in Him and will judge us for not turning to Him.
The situation is this: All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We are not guiltless, we are guilty of sin and will face judgment unless we turn from sin. According to Romans 14:23 living a life of not trusting in Him (faith) is sin. Do you get it? Faith is the missing ingredient. That is the only thing that will please Him. We must own our sin. It is not because we are so bad and fail so much, but because we refuse to live by faith in Him.
I can just hear the response of “I trust in God. How dare you question my faith?” My dear friend, I am not judging you. I am sharing the truth of what the Scripture states about our condition. Jesus Himself said that most people will travel the Broad Way that leads to death. Only a few will find the narrow way that is restrictive and corrective but they will find life.
That brings us to the second truth about our situation. There is a way to please Him and turn away His wrath. Instead of insulting Him by our rejection of the truth of our sin, we need to own up to it and confess that we are desperately in need of His forgiveness. We can’t do it without Him, whether we understand it or not. God is well aware of our plight. It is even worse that we know, so His plan is to take our sin on Himself, suffer the consequence of it, and deliver us from its consequence. I remember a time when I was about four or five years old that there was a forest fire near our home and Dad was fighting the fire with other neighbors. Dad had placed my older brother and I in a fairly safe place at the edge of the forest with a couple burlap sack to put out little spark fires that would break out from the airborne cinders. Sure enough, one broke out near us and my brother put it out. Soon there were others and I got involved but I didn’t know much about what I was doing. I was wearing a pair of sandals and kicked at the fire but my sandal flew off and when I stepped down in the leaves, I stepped on a thorn and I let out a scream. I stood there on one foot, with fire coming closer and fire between me and my brother and I cried out in desperation. Then I heard a sound come rushing toward me and when I looked up I saw my Dad come running through the fire to me. He spotted my sandal and in full stride, gathered it up and then grabbed me up and carried me out of my situation. This is what our heavenly Father wants to do for us. He is our solution and not the sum of our best efforts.
The final truth of our situation is that all God requires of us is for us to continue to walk by faith in Him. He is not concerned with us looking good in His eyes. His love for us is enough. He is not pleased with our good works, but he is pleased with our faith in Him. When Jesus was asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” he answered, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” The word “believe” and the word “faith” are exactly the same word in the Greek language so that it could be translated that ye have faith in Him. . . God is not concerned with your mighty works but he is infinitely concerned with your faith in Him. God will do the work, but you are required to do the believing. Faith in Him is our work. Sadly, we have it turned around today and are focused on the works, omitting the faith and that is what defines the Crises of faith today.
Think back to a recent worship experience. Was it enjoyable? Was it memorable? How about life changing? Sometimes we leave the service with an “oh hum” attitude that leaves us examining the value of the use of our time.
Your response to the worship service is quite revealing and it is worth noting how you left the worship service. The first thing you notice is was it a positive experience or did it leave you with something missing. It may be the service but it could also be because of what is going on within you. Before we go criticizing the church for failing to bring you into worship, we should at least consider that it may not be their fault. Worship is personal between you and God and must begin with us. Worship is possible in any situation when we are focused on Him, rather than on ourselves.
Now look at the focus of the worship. To what did the service call your attention? Did it focus on life in the here and now or in the sweet by and by? Did it emphasis individuals or the Lord? Sometimes it seems as though the leaders are saying, “Hey, look at me” rather than “Hey, look at Him.” Was the main emphasis the church growth, a program, a performance, or was it one of what God is doing and how He is leading. Oh, and be sure to check out your own expectations. Were you looking to be entertained or were you looking for some direction or answer from God?
Thirdly, Look at the message, itself. Did you take notes? Even if you never look at them again, taking notes are beneficial for you to digest the message and to organize your thoughts. Can you tell about the message in a word or sentence or two? What was the message about? Another very important point is was the interpretation in agreement with clear biblical doctrine. The message should be directed by its text. Preaching should break open the hidden things of the text and expose it to be examined by the listener. Where did you thoughts travel? Did your thoughts travel heavenward or were they anchored here in this world by circumstances or needs. Were they led by the speaker or was you focus on things of this life and you never caught the concept of what is beyond this life only.
Fourthly, consider your vision of life, were you left with the feeling of times are getting worse and worse, or did you leave with hope in the end that God has a plan and He is in control. There are needs a plenty and difficulty is common to all but how does God fit into all of life. What is the purpose of God in allowing us to go through all of this? How can we have peace in the midst of all of this turmoil?
Finally, as you think back over this experience, were your expectations met? This may sound strange to you at first, but I hope that they were not. Many people leave a church because their “needs” were not being met. The criticism vary and may include such things as the sermon was too long, the choir is always off key, so and so has this problem, and so on. This type of criticism is selfish and focuses only on self. It lacks understanding of the others and the point of worship. Worship is a corporate event and includes everyone. Though it is true that God is concerned about your every need, it is also true that He is concerned about everyone’s individual needs. We all need to be loved and valued. True worship finds us as a part of God’s plan that includes everyone and excludes no one.
So, as you consider your own worship experience, consider that worship requires and investment of yourselves, a discipline to bring self under His control, a vision beyond this life into the next, a faith in God and not in something temporal such as a man or church or a plan, and a surrender to the will of God rather than just your will. My prayer for you is that your worship will become richer and fuller with each experience. Since worship is at least a part of our eternal existence, we should be practicing it now.
I cannot take credit for this insight as it was outlined by David Jeremiah with the following thoughts:
It is not about us – it is about Him
It is not about here (the physical) – it is about there (the eternal)
It is not about what is seen – it is about what is unseen
It is not about now – it is about then
It is not about one person – it is about many people