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Archive for the ‘Under-the-Influence, Devo Shorts 2011’ Category

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“ There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” Jn 6:9 NKJV

The power of so many…

It wasn’t the power of the fishes and loaves, it was the power of God and the expectancy and hope He inspired!

Back in the day, Jesus fed five thousand – but He is still feeding us today by the word and the Holy Spirit!

He fed the crowds back then to demonstrate His power and stir up belief and faith. Even among so many, He was more than enough!

Even among such looming election odds today that President Trump can remain President – the Lord is more than enough! It’s not about the fishes and loaves, it’s not about what we see… it is about His will, His truth, and that He is faithful!

So today, I am breaking my portion of fishes and loaves of faith and sending them out to the Body of Christ!!! In faith I am sending them out to feed your faith that He is still able, and He is not done! Darkness cannot overcome Him! He overcomes darkness!!!

In fact, the darkness is dispelled by Him!!!!

So rise up in your most holy faith Saints of God, and begin to praise and give thanks for He is good!

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”  Ps 84:11

The task for us is to ensure we continue in an upright manner: in faith, in a right spirit, in a submissive heart, always abounding in hope!!!

We have before us a corridor to walk, a walk that demonstrates the treasure that is hidden in our earthen vessels of flesh … that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us….

Yes, we are hard-pressed on every side, but make sure you are not in despair!

Yes, we are persecuted, but we are NOT forsaken!

We are struck down, but we are not destroyed!!!

We are, however, actively carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh!!! (2Cor 4:8-15)

Just as we form the Body of Christ, we can manifest His plan and HIs purposes — even as did the loaves and fishes!!!

It is time to get on with that!!! Even if you only carry the whiff of loaves and fishes… increase!!!

In faith, connect with His will for this time. Submit to Him and His plans.  Believe He has plans for good and not evil, and be one with Him!!!

Believe Saints!!! And release prayers and exaltations in faith!!! It is not what we see that should move us, but rather Him, the Eternal God, He should move us!

Be blessed Saints. Be strong. For the battle is the Lord’s! Do your part!!!

 

 

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“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  2Pet 3:9 NKJV

“For the promise is to you and to your children and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”  Acts 2:39 NKJV

“For there is no partiality with God.”  Rom 2:11 NKJV

Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit for all, even me?  I believe it is for all.  That is the case I make today.

Now there is a difference between it being established for all, and your not having received it yet… so we must clarify.

Jesus made an atoning sacrifice on the Cross for all mankind, but will all receive it?  His desire is that none should perish, but all come to repentance. And there is the rub.  While I may desire to know Christ as Savior, until I am willing to come to Him in repentance… I can’t fully receive His salvation.

Likewise, healing, which is by His stripes which He took for our chastisement and our peace, is available to all who come to Him, but will all receive? Unfortunately no…

The Lord’s provision and promise and word are perfect.  But we also have a lot to do with whether we receive or not.  Often because we become our own worst enemies…

It is for you, He is for you

In the Scriptures above we can see some very important truths about God:

-  He desires that none go without (salvation, healing, blessing, baptism) but to receive you must be willing to relinquish, to trust, and to change your mind (repent).

-  His promise is for all that He will call

-  He regards no one as above or better than another – His promises are equally available to all, yet all must be willing to submit to His terms… meet His conditions so to speak.

Where problems occur

Your Expectation:

Remember the story in 2 Kings where Naaman a military commander had leprosy and through a Syrian housemaid was commanded by Elisha to dip seven times in the river Jordan and he would be healed.  Naaman became angry because Elisha didn’t come and deliver this word to him directly. He was offended that he had to dip in the dirty Jordan.  Nothing was the way he wanted. But wise council was given to him that finally appealed to his reason. He did it and was healed.

In the same way, our expectation of where, and when, and how, and all the “non-essential details’ of how I might receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit can impact my ability to receive.  My wondering about my gifts, how the Holy Spirit might use me, my intransigence about certain things (can’t do this in public, not gonna speak in that tongues nonsense, not gonna be embarrassed, can only have hands laid on by this one person)…. on and on and on… 

These kind of restrictions are problematic not so much because the Lord is not big enough to accommodate them all, but rather it is because my whole focus is wrong from the get-go.  My focus is on me, what I want, what I am willing to release to the Lord.  If I have trouble not trying to control the external aspects of the situation, it is very likely I am equally controlling and locked up about the big things in actually receiving the baptism, and that fundamentally my focus is wrong. My reasons for wanting this must be correct, my spirit must be submitted and trusting and in faith, and my eyes on Him.

Your Purity

Think of this, it was after Haaman dipped seven times in the Jordan river that healing manifested. He was being cleansed by his obedience to Elisha’s instruction. Our obedience to what the Lord says is the way we demonstrate our love and devotion to Him.  It is His way, not my way that is important.

We don’t all come to desiring the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the same level of devotion, proper motivation, or cleanliness.  Watchman Nee talks about the delay in receiving the Baptism as a result of needing a greater work of the Holy Spirit in applying the Atonement of the Cross to our hearts and thinking.  Like the sorcerer, Simon, in Acts 8, what he wanted was to gain the power for his own success and reputation.  He was soundly rebuked for this.

When our hearts and minds are not in sync with the Lord’s, it means the Holy Spirit will need to bring us to a place where there is agreement, and that may take time.

Erroneous Doctrine:

Some of us come to the Lord in a denomination that has particular biases about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that can block our ability to receive until truth of the word has changed our thinking.  This was me.

I grew up in a denomination that believed the gifts and the work of the Holy Spirit ceased with the Acts church.  It took me a year of discipleship and study to undo bad doctrine, and to bring my heart into proper hunger.  During this study time, my desire changed from focusing on the Baptism and what it would bring, to instead wanting all of the Lord and closeness to Him that I could receive.

And truly, it took a year of study to no longer hear the theme song from “Twilight Zone,” any time I thought about receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  I am pretty certain that for a long time I was the Poster Child Face for difficult candidates pursuing the Baptism.  I was one stamped, “Extra Grace Required (EGR).” Smile

FEAR

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the performance fear that rises up when we consider needing to speak in tongues.  That focus on ourselves generated much fear and pressure of needing to “perform, pass the test,” whatever, that truly can stop everything in its tracks. During this time you can “try your best”, grit your teeth, try to push out fruit the best you can, all to no avail.  I have seen people get frustrated and rather than ever try again, the choose to believe this was never for them from the beginning. This is the saddest thing of all. And not what the Lord would have happen.

The remedy again is to lose sight of yourself, and be consumed in Him. Knowing Him, worshipping Him, focused on Him, desiring to please Him. Leave it all in His hands. See only Him! Believe that it has your name on it (which it does) and is a gift waiting on you to open. Forget fear, forget performance, let praise arise in your heart for all that He is and all that He has done! Be free!

Then see yourself putting your mouth and your speech into His hands. Your expression, your very jaw, released into His service. Give it and all of yourself to Him! It will come.  Like an old water pump that must be primed over and over before the water pours forth, give praise and keep on praising in faith. Do not look at yourself, or listen to yourself! it is the surest way to shut it all down. Keep on!  It’s there!

The Bottom Line: Why the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is for All

So we’ve looked at a few obstacles to people receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but probably what is most important in receiving is your perspective on the truth.

There are a couple really important issues about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that should be paramount, but often get relegated to a side issue.

– The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is necessary for you to be able to become the witness in your life and walk that the Lord desires.  Without it, you lack power to have a significant impact as a witness of Jesus.

– The Baptism is required to receive your own prayer language in the Holy Spirit by which you pray and build yourself up in your most holy faith.  Without this prayer language to build you up you will not be strengthened or have the opening into the gifts of the Holy Spirit by which you strengthen others in the faith.

-  The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a prerequisite to doing greater works that Jesus would have us do because He goes to the Father… thus our walk is small, and lacking in fruit and power for the kingdom of God. Wonder working miracles, miraculous faith, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, works of healings, …. these all require me first to be built up in my most holy faith that I can then operate with the character of Christ in the operation of these gifts of the Holy Spirit.

So, does Jesus only want certain people strengthened? Does He only want certain people gifted to be His witness or to operate in the Spirit? The word is clear He is no respecter of persons.  So He doesn’t want one to be edified (Jude 20) and not another.

We have made the Baptism of the Holy Spirit such a hotbed of contention, that all focuses on ourselves, our gifts, our ministry, that we have nearly made it devoid of the selfless life of Christ that beats at the heart of it all!

We have allowed the enemy to bring a focus on the tongue and its language, and bring a climate of performance fear around the whole thing.  Thus, people get frustrated that they haven’t received, but when the focus is in fear, and not faith, when it is on me, and not Him… we are sure to fail.

It is time for the church to arise and remember the words of the Lord in John 12:24-26

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  He who loves his life, will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also.  If anyone serves Me, Him My Father will honor.”

We must die to our selves and our agendas and preferences.

We must lose our lives even the focus and captivation to it (even “selfies” that stir it up!)

Only then can we live for Christ.

Only then can we reproduce like grain that falls to the ground, be a witness, and yield a great crop of strong believers for His glory!

There is a need to return to the truth of the word concerning all things but especially this topic, that we will become the church, the Bride, that Christ is calling to come alongside His work, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Maranatha

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“For He had not yet fallen upon any of them, but they had only been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 8:16 AMP

For most of the Body of Christ who have received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues, this has been experienced as a second event with the Holy Spirit. One that is subsequent to salvation.  While there are always exceptions, some people have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit while being baptized in water…, mostly, the Lord has an order about how salvation and then the Baptism in the Holy Spirit proceed.

Having said that, I also recognize, the Lord is Sovereign, and He can do what He desires.  The story of Cornelius in Acts 10 is one of those exceptions. God moved upon Cornelius with a vision about men from Joppa coming to him so he and his family would be blessed.

Meanwhile, the Apostle Peter also received a vision from the Lord, about going to Cornelius. The Lord had to work on both parties, Peter and Cornelius, to pave the way for them to receive without doubt, or discrimination, or hesitation what the Lord wanted them to do.

Thus, before Cornelius and his family were technically saved (by correct procedure), the Holy Spirit falls upon all those listening to Peter’s message. They then heard them speaking in unknown tongues, because the Holy Spirit had been bestowed and poured out even on Gentiles.

This break with accepted protocol was apparently needed because there was deep bias within the Apostolic Leadership about the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit like this. So the Lord had to work to manage the situation, and He did!

The result was this consensus:

“Can anyone forbid or refuse water for baptizing these people, seeing that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” Acts 10:47 AMP

Here is an interesting point: it was “seen” that these people had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit – just as the disciples had.  Meaning, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, there was the evidence of speaking in tongues, just as initially occurred in Acts 2:4, with the disciples in the Upper Room.

So, in baptism, there is an immersion.  In water baptism, we testify of the work of salvation that has occurred on the inside by being immersed in water (Col 2:11-13). We are making a declaration that we believe we are saved by the work of Jesus on the Cross.

Likewise, in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, there is also an immersion, but this time it is with the Holy Spirit and fire (Luke 3:16 AMP):

“John answered them all by saying, I baptize you with water; but He Who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of Whose sandals I am not fit to unfasten. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

So John’s baptism is unto repentance but Jesus’ baptism is unto power.  John’s immersed in water, Jesus’ immersed with the Holy Spirit.

Once Jesus had ascended to Heaven to the right hand of the Father, the way was opened for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit after the first believers had obeyed and tarried in Jerusalem to await the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4-8).

Believers today no longer have to wait in that same sense, for the Promise is already released. It is available to anyone today who meets the requirements to receive it. That, however, can bring problems that confuse the believer, and possibly delay their receiving…

Let’s look at this for a moment…

Acts 2:38-39:

“And Peter answered them (the convicted crowd of Jews had asked what they should do after Peter recounts a brief history of Who Jesus is….)

Repent, (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

For the promise [of the Holy Spirit] is to and for you and your children, and to and for all that are far away, [even] to and for as many as the Lord our God invites and bids to come to Himself.”

So we can see that a willingness to change your view and accept the will of God in your heart is a requirement to receive this Baptism. Thus, if you have not already received Jesus as your Savior and Lord, this is unavailable to you. With salvation, comes the new heart that is needed, and the willingness to trust the Lord and be aligned with His will. 

Also, being first baptized in water for the forgiveness of sins is the normal order, but not unable to be superseded by the Lord as He sees fit (as was demonstrated by Cornelius).

Now, I am really writing this to address the fact that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a second work of the Holy Spirit, generally, although we see in the word exceptions. Sometimes.

Why do I say that this is a second work?  Because the disciples had already been saved before they came to the upper room. Salvation was already in place for them…John 20:21-22:

“Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! [Just] as the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you.  And having said this, He breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit!”

So the upper room was a second work of the Holy Spirit, not for their salvation, but so they would have power to be witnesses to the Lord and would begin living and working according to the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:4-8; Gal 5:13-26)

This is a point of confusion for many. Some people merge these two baptisms into one. But simply stated, there are two different medium for the baptisms here: one being water and one being the Holy Spirit. Only the Lord can bring these together in one event as He dictates.  It, however, is not the norm.

Having said that, I must say this.  There is no reason to believe that you must be saved many years before you somehow are “qualified” for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In truth it is always a gift of grace that we never earn.  Meeting the requirements that our heart is in the proper place is different than being qualified!

There are many factors that delay our pursuit and receipt of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but I must say from the Lord’s standpoint all things are ready and in place for anyone to receive this very day…

The notion that you loiter in a salvation mode awaiting processing for greater gifting is false.  The enemy would prefer you to delay this process as long as possible, even indefinately so as to keep you from a walk and living in the Spirit and in power.

To that end he tries to convince people that it is not for everyone. And so, there have been sown into belief structures and doctrines that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not for everyone, and in fact, the word has even been misinterpreted to support that very notion.

Next time I will pick up more on this topic and specifically why the Baptism is for everyone who is a believer.

Shalom…

 

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“Then  one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘Which is the first commandment of all?’”

“Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.” Mark 12:28-30 NKJV

FIRST. Webster’s dictionary defines this word, “first,” as meaning “preceding all others in time, order, or importance, such as earliest, … having the highest or most prominent part among a group of similar voices or instruments.”

Jesus answers the scribe’s question of what is the first commandment by quoting in Mark a passage from the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

So Jesus is establishing in the hearts and minds and hearing of the Jews that in order of all importance and precedence, that this command comes first. It is first because it sets in this realm an explanation of the first order of Who God is and how He is. It also sets in this context, how we are to relate to and give prominence and place to Him, the One True God.

In both the Shema (Deut 6:4-5) and where Jesus is quoting in Mark 12:28-30, the injunction is to “Hear!” Meaning that a command is given to everyone who has ears to have the capacity to hear this truth and receive it.  It is not just a command, it is an empowerment.

Because this is the first commandment, it sets in order our whole relationship to God and reveals Who He is. If there ever was a strategy for the enemy to attack and bring confusion concerning the identity of God in His plurality it would begin here….That is because this commandment sets in motion all of our relationship with God.

Now here is the fascinating thing about the notion of “One God” expressed in these passages.  It is plural.

The word used for God is used three times in the Shema, and in each instance it is a plural form. Also, there are two words for “one” in the Hebrew language: echad and yachid.

The word, “echad’’” is is a compound unity (one made up of parts) meaning several, or many in one. Echad means to unify as “to collect one’s thoughts,” and means properly, “united.”

In contrast, “yachid”, the other word for one, means absolutely and indivisibly one. Yachid is always used to mean absolute one in the Bible, but it is never used to denote the Unity of God (as in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit).

So here are some examples of compound unity as meant by the word echad: one cluster of grapes; the congregation assembled as one man; one day being night and day; man and wife as one flesh; the shell, white, and yolk being one egg; the making of man as a trinity… spirit, soul, and body …made in the image of God.

So what the Shema is telling us is that God is a plurality, one comprised of a unity between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. One God, but three co-eternal and co-equal Persons who are the same in substance, but distinct in subsistence.

This plurality is reflected in these three names for God: Elohim; Adonai; and El SHaddai.  These names are each plural.  Elohim is used 2,500 times. Adonai is used 90 times. El Shaddai is used 48 times.

From this understanding we can begin to see how God as Three Persons functions throughout Scripture.

I encourage you to investigate this topic like a Berean, making sure what you believe and understand.

One great source I found is the Rock of Israel Ministries and their reference book “Jewish Faith and the New Covenant.” It is what I used for this blog post. But there are many such sources.

Above all, realize that as the Father sent the Son to manifest Him to the world, so you and I have been also sent by the Son to continue His work.  But our Companion, and Helper in this work is now the Holy Spirit, Who dwells and abides in us. Jesus and the Father are in heaven.  It is the Holy Spirit of God who remains with us now, until Jesus returns for His Bride, the Church.

Begin to see and understand the dynamics of these Three… today!

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“You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”  Deut 4:2 NKJV

“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.  And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.  For if our heart condemns us, God is greater that our heart, and knows all things.  Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.  And whatever we ask we receive from Him,  because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.  And this is His commandment; that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” 1Jn 3:18-23 NKJV

‘But if the seed is the word, then every preacher must make sure he uses good seed. “It is a high offense against God to change the Master’s seed, mix it, or to sow bad seed in the place of it.” (Clarke)

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There is never a day we don’t need Truth…

There was a day that King David did the thing…

– He stayed at home when he should have been out at battle

– He saw Bathsheba and decided to take her, which set in motion a course of adultery, murder, and a way in opposition to God.

– Yet in 1Sam 13:14 God is looking for a man after His own heart, and later in Acts 13:22 David is declared by God to be that man “after My own heart, who will do all My will.”

WHAT HAPPENED?

The Prophet Nathan is sent to King David to confront him and speak truth.

– Nathan presents a story of a small precious lamb which gives David understanding of his despicable role when Nathan declares, “You are the man!” (Not in a good way!)

– Nathan further confronts David by inquiring, “Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight?”

– Nathan then shares with David the cost of his actions

– David recognizes his sin…and repents

– He is forgiven, but the consequences of his sin will persist

         — War will forever be in his house

         — His child with Bathsheba is taken in death

         — His sin and its repercussions will be known

         — Adversity will be towards David from his own family

         — It will all be seen by all of Israel (what David did in secret now God will do before all Israel)

         — David reveals the depth of his repentance and brokenness in Ps 51:17

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart…”

Brokenness and Heart conviction usher in new heart soil…

Your heart becomes a heart after God’s when the nature of the soil in your heart is renewed in truth by the Word of God, and you now see truth and believe truth in the way God intends through His Word. Old things have gone, behold all things are new.  But you have to work to keep them new…

When you plant new plants, I have found it is not good to use old soil.  It is generally depleted of nutrients, and probably contains bugs and fungi that will gladly attack your garden plants (been there, done that, got the tee-shirt).

Like the parable of the sower in Mark 4 shows, the thing that is different between the situations is the soil…not the seed.

The seed is the Word of God, and it is ever constant… ever the same. It is settled in heaven.  However, that is not true if you are receiving seed (concepts, doctrine, teachings as truth which are not part of God’s doctrine.

So again, in the parable of the sower the soil differs greatly: soil of the wayside; soil on stony ground; soil among thorns; soil of good ground.

Only the soil that is described as good ground is able to yield any crops at all.  Likewise, only the believer’s heart that has soil which is continually being replenished and enriched by the Word, which is also subject to brokenness and willing to be humbled to confess sin, is soil that will yield crops for the Kingdom of God.

This is not a one time deal either.  This is a way of a lifetime…

     – a time of composting and turning the soil of your heart

     – a time of weeding out lies, deception, bad doctrine, and consecrating the ground of your heart for God’s purposes

     – a time of purifying your heart soil by being sensitive to the finger of the Holy Spirit indicating problem areas in attitude, disposition, or behavior.

     – a time of reseeding your heart with truth that no bad seed of the enemy can take hold without notice

So, this is why we are called to guard our hearts above all that we guard, for out of it (the heart) spring the issues of life. (Prov 4:20-23)  The soil of our heart is God’s garden of truth that nourishes us and our brethren.

Once we become a believer, God gives us a new heart.  He takes away the heart of stone.  But the quality of the soil of our heart will determine our productivity and fruitfulness for the kingdom of God. The more responsive I remain to the Word of God, and to the correction of the Word or the Holy Spirit, the more I will cultivate a heart after God’s own heart.  Cultivating is something I am responsible for…

A heart after God’s heart is a heart that is tender to hear and does not harden itself into a place of pride and resistance, where I believe no error can be hosted in me.

Rather, this heart after God’s own heart sees the ease with which a heart can embrace faulty, soulish or even worldly thinking.  It is one that continues to view itself cautiously, asking God to know it, try it, and to see if there be any wicked way it it. This is why we need to be constantly in the Word, and having the Word constantly flowing through us.

Should there be a day that dawns, where I no longer actively guard my heart (and the quality of its soil), or I no longer am careful about the quality of seed that is sown in my heart (the unadulterated seed of the Word of God) – it is only a matter of time before I become open to sin and error.

It is what I truly believe in my heart, what attitudes and notions I believe are true that comprises the crop that I bring forward.  Sooner or later, the truth of what I believe will be known and observed.

David believed he could take a season off. He became indulgent in his thinking. Then he began to take notice of things around him, when he should have been on the battlefield.

This is Truth.  You are never not on a battlefield.  Even when touring the thoughts of your own heart, only a diet rich in the word and God’s presence will alert you to danger in the indulgence of your own thinking. I cannot police myself, but rather I submit to the searching and results of the Holy Spirit.

We each need to also become watchman of the walls of our heart, but not trusting in my ability or understanding – honestly this is a place where you never arrive.  You are never qualified to do open heart surgery on your own heart.  Only the Holy Spirit can perform that. You can either cooperate, or resist. But you cannot do…

The Heart After God’s own Heart

Loves!!! And is moved by God’s love!

Is truly teachable!

It is also tender, able to be moved.

It is accountable first to God, but also others that are God’s authorities.

None of us is an island to ourselves.

Look at King David – he listened to Nathan. Be open to Nathan’s in your life. There will never be a day when you have arrived and are all that…don’t kill the messenger, or harden your heart.

Look at the cost to King Uzziah when he became prideful.  Great King, but dire consequences entered in when he forgot his position and presumed himself qualified to offer sacrifice to God. Leprosy sprung upon him.

Here is the warning from the word of God about remaining open and especially humble concerning your own understanding.

Take heed what you hear.  With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.  For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” Mark 4:24-25

What is the size of the entrance that the light of Christ has (wisdom, spiritual knowledge) to enter in and change your thinking?  I’m not talking about a novel idea here, I’m talking about the ability of the Word of God to make entrance and change your perspective.  To bring forth a spirit of repentance…to to turn you from dark to light.  Is the Holy Spirit still given access?

The quickest way to start a downward trend of erosion in your relationship with God is to become closed to greater light. We have to learn to hold the reigns of control and self-confidence in our understanding lightly.  None of us ever corner the market on Biblical truth and understanding. God is ever desiring to take the edge off our dullness, off our small grasp of His perspective, His bigger plan, and His even bigger heart.

You may be seeing in a glass darkly, but God can bring illumination that is needed to represent Him.

What to Trust

Today, increasingly, we are seeing the product of bad (seed) doctrine cropping up in the Body of Christ. Worldliness, indulgence, hard attitudes, self-importance, and entitlement are invading the Body.  Some of this doctrine is subtle in its error, other is not.

In the next few posts I will examine some error coming to the surface which threatens our understanding of God and even Who He defines Himself to be…according to the Word.

Stay tuned. Ask God to check your soil…

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“Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” Ps 119:89

“But instead warn (admonish, urge, and encourage) one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [by the fraudulence, the stratagem, the trickery which the delusive glamour of his sin may play on him].” Heb3:13 AMP

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Settled into rebellion!  That was the problem with King Saul.  To have a heart full of rebellion and stubbornness is one thing…

To have a heart settled in that condition is quite another thing… and is a condition where repentance will not move your heart any longer.

You have chosen a particular way, or course, or attitude, or end goal over and over.  To have that end, that result which has been elusive has become the most important thing.  Your hands have gripped it so hard in your posture, you are not going to let go now.

In fact, the enemy has campaigned in your thinking, that your strategy to persist and hold on is actually an honorable thing.  But in truth, when the thing you pursue is out of the will of God what you are persisting in is stubbornness and rebellion.

King Saul was told, “…rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry…” 1Sam 15:23.  We are generally familiar with the whole witchcraft part of that verse, but we also often fail to apprehend the idolatry part. Idolatry – the deifying of self, making yourself your own God.

This is what happens when we won’t give over our opinions, plans, sense of correctness, desires or goals, or hungers, or sins over to God.  They begin to rule over us, and we become deceived…

James 1:22 talks about this in terms of obeying the Lord’s message, not being merely a listener – but being a doer as well. To be only a listener, as King Saul was, means you betray yourself into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth.  King Saul reasoned contrary to the Truth.

Truth said: “Kill all the Amalekites, all their people, herds, even children and babies.”

Saul said, “I am saving the best for a sacrifice to the Lord (and I have the support of the people).”

This is very dangerous to be so self-assured.  But it is fatal in the worst sense to be “settled’ in this self-assuredness!!!

It means you have chosen to be settled against God!

Settledness is also often rendered as hardened in the Bible.  King Saul had allowed and chosen to become hardened in his opinions that were adversarial to God’s.  This was to his detriment and ultimate destruction. But it also the same for anyone who persists in their own course.

Deut 10:16 says, circumcise the foreskin of your minds and hearts and no longer be stubborn or hardened.

Proverbs 28:14 says, blessed is the man who reverently fears the Lord but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

Proverbs 29:1 says, he who being often reproved hardens his neck shall suddenly be destroyed – and that without remedy.

To be settled is important, but to be settled like the word of God which is settled in heaven is the wise course. It is the course of Life abundant. To be settled along these lines means you are in submission and aligned in obedience to what the word says and required. You are not in rebellion or stubbornness opposing what it requires. Especially not opposing what it instructs as the way to believe and think.

You see, before King Saul ever disobeyed in his conduct, he had already entertained disobedience in his heart.  It was that disobedience that he justified over and over, that caused him to become settled in rebellion and stubbornness.

How about you?

Do you recognize the imprints of stubbornness and idolatry in your own heart? Is there something you are wrestling with God about, determined to have your own way no matter what the cost?  Maybe it is a relationship that you are stubbornly pursuing, even to your own harm?  Or is it a habit that you know you should give up?  This day, give that thing over to the Lord! Do not continue another day into the path of becoming settled in rebellion!!! Turn today!

In the most graphic terms, fighting for our way is like the dog who returns to his vomit. Is that what you want to end up with? Lay it before Him now.  Do it.  Ask Him to help you repent, and to be settled like the word rather than be settled into stubbornness and rebellion.

I pray you do it today…

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“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed –“ 2Cor 4:8-10 NKJV

“And he said, ‘Who are you?’ So she answered, I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.’” Ruth 3:9

Where you are safe!

Chances are you are feeling cooped up! A little constrained. Maybe even “hemmed in’’ by the current state of affairs nationally and globally.

But I want you to know, this state of things is no surprise to the Lord.  In fact, He has known every facet of this day and each day of your life, before it ever was. (Ps 139:16)

So, movement seems curtailed. Life put in a strait jacket of sorts, but look at the perspective the disciple Paul shares with us from 2Corinthians, and then a little about being safe under the Lord’s wing.

Paul describes here a corridor of movement for the Lord’s people.

They are hard-pressed … times and treatment are difficult for various reasons.

But they are not crushed!

They are slightly confused about all that is taking place and the reasons for it. So they are perplexed.

But they are not in despair.

The circumstances they face is bringing persecution.

But they are not forsaken…

They can even describe the hard knocks and blows as being struck down…

But they are not destroyed!

In short, in the times Paul described, and even now for us, we are constrained and life even curtailed.  But in being constrained – we are constrained in and by the Lord’s Love. His Love is and should be controlling, and urging, and impelling us! (2Cor 5:14)

Just like the picture above of the chicken tunnel, we are able to move but only as the tunnel allows. Take that as the Lord’s Sovereign hand of control and protection!

As you submit willingly to His hand of control, you willingly also abide in the secret place of safety under the covering of His divine wing or garment. (Ps 91:1)

The word for wing used in Ruth 3:9 is “kanaph.” It means wing, extremity, edge, winged, border, corner, shirt, skirt, corner (of garment).  It is in fact referring to the corner or fringe or hem of the tallit or prayer shawl that was worn by Hebrew men in the Old Testament.  Jesus Himself had such a garment and wore it.

So it is no surprise that Boaz, in the story of Ruth (as her Kinsmen-Redeemer and ours), also wears such a garment. It is being used here to cover Boaz as he sleeps. Ruth covers herself with it as she lays at his feet in the threshing floor scene.

The fascinating thing about the tallit is the fringes, or corners, were braided and knotted tassel like ropes. There were 613 of the fringes that corresponded to the oral laws that were given to Moses on Mt Sinai.

Just think of it… as Jesus Christ walked the earth, you had the Word Incarnate – Jesus, wearing a tallit with its tsitzit (the tassels or cords), being Himself submitted to the terms of the Law – even though He came in fulfillment of that very same Law! He wore and walked out for you and I, a perfect obedience and fulfillment to the Law because of His authority and because of His own submission to the Father. (Heb 10:7 & 9)

This is what Ruth was asking. She was asking to be covered by Boaz’s tallit, specifically to come under the protection of his authority – which was symbolic for the Lord’s authority in the greater perspective. She was looking for redemption and salvation from her Moabite heritage. She was looking for an entrance into the tribe of God and a place to belong. But she was also looking for a covering of protection and a place to walk in fellowship in family and the provision that could be supplied there. She was asking to belong to God and the people of God, and to not lack any good thing. And she was willing to abide there, even under the constraints that were for her safety and that of others. To be obedient, in other words…

It is in that very place – under the covering of the Lord, under His wing, where we abide in His authority, protection and safe-guarding, and under the banner of His name.

So how did Ruth, a Moabitess of scorned heritage, enter the fellowship of the people of God, and take her place under the tallit of Boaz, covered by his protection and authority?

She first submitted to Naomi’s council, walked out in obedience her direction, came before Boaz and asked for his covering, with every intention of complying and abiding there.

It is no different for us today. You can know this place of safety and protection in the same way, but you must be willing to accept the council of the word of God, walk in obedience to it, come before the Lord asking for His covering, with every intention of complying and abiding there – with His help.

May you find this place today!

 

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“…The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.” Rom 10:8 NKJV

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Heb 11:1 NKJV

“…the just shall live by faith…”  Heb 9:38 NKJV

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the the word of God.”  Rom 10:17 NKJV

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What I am about to share comes as a product of having just taught a 13 week Sunday School class on, Investigating the Bible.

I am forever changed…

I was curious for certain. Bible history, nor history in general, is not my strength. But I was ignorant of how our Bible had come into its present form.  Seemed like a good thing to teach.

For the purpose of this writing, I can’t possibly compress 13 hours of teaching into one short blog post.  But I hope what I do share here you will further investigate … like a Berean. You can start with Chuck Missler’s videos on You Tube: How we go our Bible…

Let’s just jump in then, shall we…

I want to focus here on just the New Testament.  The Old Testament has arrived current day under the watchful eye of dedicated Scribes, then detailed servants called Masoretes, who were guardians of the Word and diligent copyists and brought it forward to roughly 1008 A.D. to the last codex written by the ben Asher scribes. Through the 12th C. these scribes of the ben Asher family line provided the only recognized form of the Hebrew Scriptures. Thus, from the Law being first given on Sinai, to the Pentateuch, to books being added through the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, The Septuagint (Greek Old Testament), to the Rabbinic Bibles of the 1500’s and later to the 1937 3rd Edition Biblia Hebraica, The Old Testament has been a guarded, well-protected whole.

Not quite the same story for the New Testament.

First let me say, thank God there is more manuscript support for the New Testament than for any other body of ancient literature.

There are multitudes of New Testament source items (some fragments – not complete works) on Papyri and parchment, which tend to be fragile and do not stand wear and tear of handling and time. But we swim in a veritable ocean of papyri, collections, The Dead Sea Scrolls, and fragments all pertinent to the New Testament. Some of these are dated to within a lifetime of the events they describe.  There is great assurance now that the New Testament parchments themselves were all written before A.D. 80.

Thankfully we also have many many quotes from early church fathers as they quoted and discoursed over the word. That is a gift that has made such insights as I will share possible.

So for instance, for writings of those early church fathers you have the writings of Clement (who was a companion of Peter and Paul). You also have writings of Polycarp (who was a pupil of John and bishop of Smyrna). You have writings of Ignatius, (also  pupil of John and bishop of Antioch) who wrote Seven Epistles. You also have Justin Martyr and many others.

These Apostolic Fathers were writing and sharing during the period of the early church, roughly 91-160A.D.. Their discourses provide many lengthy quotations of the Apostles and their original writings, which provided a transmission of these works to others as instruction.

There were, however, three codices (manuscripts) that are from the 4th and 5th Century that are considered complete. These were the Alexandrian Codices, two of which (Vaticanus and Sinaiticus) figure heavily in the translation of our Bible today. They all come from Alexandria in Egypt, which was a major center of Greek thought and commerce.

So, this is the story concerning our New Testament and things you should know.

At the end of the 3rd C., Lucian of Antioch compiled the Greek text to create the primary standard throughout the Byzantine World (centered in Byzantium – not Rome).  Then from the 6th C. through the fourteenth centuries, the majority of the New Testament texts were produced in Byzantium and also in Greek.

Starting in the early 1500’s Desiderius Erasmus (a Dutchman) compiled a New Testament from these available Byzantine Greek New Testaments. His fifth edition text, in 1525, became the basis for the primary text of the Greek New Testament for translations like the 1611 King James Version. It was called the Textus Receptus (TR) or Received Text (RT).

The use of the Textus Receptus (the Erasmus New Testament) as the backbone and framework for the New Testament continued for the next three hundred years.

In the 19th century, with the release of the Alexandrian texts (Vaticanus and Sinaticus) to scholarly examination, there was a complete shift in veneration from the Textus Receptus to these older manuscripts. To wit, by 1881, we see the Westcott and Hort Greek New Testament being completed after 28 years of work.

What seems to be the problem you say?

While indeed “older manuscripts” the Alexandrian texts are considered riddled with omissions, copyist errors, but worse, they gave Westcott and Hort the inroad they desired to sway Christian doctrine away from themes they found offensive and difficult.

These two Anglican churchman, having been influenced by Gnostic heresies and New Age doctrines, had developed great contempt for the Textus Receptus and  wanted a way to downplay its doctrines of:

– Bible history concerning Creation, the Fall,

– the Resurrection and the Fall

– deity of Christ

– forgiveness of sins

– literal heaven and hell

and they decided this was a good time to offset these doctrines and shift them into Gnostic like heresies with New Age twists…

Westcott Horts’ defense was they were using the oldest complete manuscripts. Really, they were using corrupt manuscripts that gave them a license to skew doctrine. 

The proof is in the fact that early church father’s who had extensively quoted Scripture in their writings demonstrated the presence of Scripture that had been left out by Westcott Hort.  These Scriptures had been in earlier writings than the Alexandrian texts.

Just one example of this is Mark 16:9-20.  Justin Martyr refers to this passage in the middle of the 2nd century. In A.D. 180, Irenaeus quotes Mark 16:19 outright in a commentary… but it is likely your Bible copy says, “earlier manuscripts do not contain these passages.” Those earlier manuscripts would be referring to Alexandrian texts that Westcott and Hort used. But remember the Alexandrian texts dated back to the 4th and 5th centuries.  But there were in existence many sources quoting Scripture that themselves were dated prior to the 4th and 5th centuries.  These sources quoted Scripture passages like that in Mark 16:9-20, thus confirming they had been present before the Westcott Hort text was compiled, and eliminated them.

Thus, was born the age of one-thousand years of influence from Wescott and Hort to today!!!

You see… their Greek New Testament text completed in 1881, would become the standard for the work of the Anglo-American Revision Committee (1881-1885) and would become the basis for the 1901 American Standard Version.  This ASV text, would become the standard in American Seminaries across the nation… filling the hearts of hungry Bible students who would later fill America’s pulpits, and later preach the word to America’s heart (just not the whole council).

In the 1880’s we saw the industrial revolution, and Darwinism gain great influence, and the concept of evolution take hold in the seed bed of American thinking.

Who knows what might have been different for our Nation, had the corrupt influence of Westcott Hort not been allowed to flourish.

But here is the harsh reality. Every modern translation of the Bible since the 1900’s has been based on the Westcott Hort Greek Text!

My beloved Amplified Bible by Zondervan, the RSV, the NASB, The NIV, and the NLT all are based on the 1901 ASV.

Want to check your version? Look at the graphic below and if your version has been lined out in the same manner, it is not based on the Textus Receptus, but rather the Westcott Hort text.

Let’s not let the devil have the final say in America’s reading of the Word of God, but rather let us rise up and take hold of the full council of God that was originally given. If you want to make sure you have a Bible based on the Textus Receptus, you will need to secure a KJV, NKJV, a 1537 Matthew’s Bible (difficult to read because of the Olde English), 1539 Great Bible, 1560 Geneva Bible, 1833 Webster’s Bible, 1862 Young’s Literal Translation, or any Bible using the KJ or NKJ text.

But no matter what, read the footnotes and the bottom and find out what they mean. Get the whole council of God.

For faith comes by hearing… and hearing by the word of God!

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“ For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal ] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.”  Heb 4:12 AMP

“So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”  Is 55:11 AMP

“…and from His mouth there came forth a sharp two-edged sword, and HIs face was like the sun shining in full power at midday.”  Rev 1:16 AMP

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What is it that holds a sword together – intact. Is it attraction and cohesion of the molecules inherent to the sword?  Is is because the metal has been forged in fire?  Is it held together because of an assigned “identity?” – “We are sword.”

In your own body, there is information coded within your DNA that determines the cells role, place, identity, and even when that cell should die.

Back to the sword for a moment, imagine a day, when the sword molecules begin to have opinions about their roll, or position, or place.  It would usher in rebellion, mayhem, and a total failure of the integrity of the sword to be a sword. The overthrowing of their assignment to be a sword would cascade into dissolution, for rebellion is contagious.

Only when the molecules of the sword obey is there the strength and integrity of purpose to be wielded as a sword. Only when cohesion to their greater purpose grips them are they a force to reckon with.

And so it is with the Body of Christ, the Bride. For some two-thousand years there has been a call for assembly to the Bride, to be and become – the Bride which is the Body of Christ.

There are forces of opposition to this call of assembly which are external to the Bride and are of the enemy. But the word says, the enemy will not prevail against the church.  We can overcome him.

But the forces of opposition to this assembly call upon the Bride that are strongest, even stronger than the enemy’s power, are the internal forces of independence and self (flesh) within every member of the Bride.

We are like the molecules of the sword, before it submits to being a sword. We often refuse to know our place, or take our place, because we have not fully submitted to the One Who determines that place.

While Scripture depicts the Sword as ushering out of the mouth of God, it also says that the Spirit wields the Sword (Eph 6:17). Both of these pictures require obedience, unity, and integrity. We must become one with the Lord.

Until our own obedience to the Lord is complete – our unity and integrity as a force for the Kingdom of God will be lacking. Until we accept and submit to and take our proper place, we can not be wielded by the power of the Spirit.

In an individual body, when rebellion and dis-function persist, it results in disease and then death. It requires a “sword of surgery” or treatment to bring things into balance and alignment, and integrity.  Even then, what appears to be a loss of wholeness can arise.

So too then, the Sword of the Spirit is needed to assess light from dark in the Body of Christ, to separate them, even to the dividing of bone and marrow, soul and spirit.

When that has happened, the Bride and the Spirit can be one together in their song, “Even so come Lord Jesus come.” Maranatha. When this happens, we will be one with the Lord, and His purposes can come forward.

Saints, take your place…

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“For Yours is the Kingdom … and the power…” Mt 6:13

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Some people have said the heart wants what the heart wants, and we haven’t thought that a problem.

But do you understand… your heart’s desire un-submitted before God can be a great liability.  In fact it/they can draw you powerfully, into error, delusion, and destruction.

Think of it! You have a hunger for God!  For more of Him!  Be careful! There are ways that can be appropriately fulfilled. Ways that are pleasing to God.  And then there are ways that are not.

But the first thing, is to lay these desires for God, even your hunger to know Him more – before Him!!! Leave the satisfying of that desire in His hands! It is too powerful for you!

Even what seems like a virtuous desire, like wanting more of God can lead you astray.

It is here, in the power of your wanting more, that you must lay down even that desire – before God.  It must be brought captive to Him – to His obedience.

in fact, all your greatest desires, your greatest hopes, your most profound perceptions, your perfect ambitions for the Lord, your dreams, all that is the very best of you — must bow down and submit to the Lord, alongside all that is the worst of you, your greatest fears, greatest liabilities, greatest weaknesses…

Because it is all you – good and bad, nestled nicely in a skin package that you can not separate from fleshly motivations.  But the Lord can.

Left unchecked or un-submitted, your flesh can not just impact your soul motivation, but it can impact your spirit motivation as well.

People that have un-disciplined sensuality (think appetites/hunger) in their soulish thinking, can have it impact the spirit.  It is a lust that has been allowed to run rampant, has been attempted to be cleaned up, but has not been repented of, forsaken, or renounced.

It must be put off! It cannot be cleaned up as being profitable for God’s use.

This is the heart of hunger that will not submit, nor obey the Lord. Jude speaks about it. These people are always going after their own desires, controlled by passions (even disguised as passion for the Lord).

While they have professed Christ, they have never moved from being carnally minded and controlled by their flesh, to being controlled and led by the Spirit.

They have not learned to die to themselves and to put off the old nature. They put new clothes on their old man. Like new wine in old wineskins.

It comes out as error. People proclaim Christ yet embrace doctrines incompatible with Who He is or what He has said.

They look to New Age inclusions and practices, because while they profess hunger for God and having more of Him, they are really hungry for more of His power through any means. We live after all in an age of overreaching, that started when Satan first sought to overreach God Himself…

One of the most amazing yet haunting quotes I have ever read is from Watchman Nee:

God does not look at how fervently we preach the gospel or how willing we suffer for Him; He looks to see how obedient we are.  God’s kingdom begins when there is an absolute obedience to God – no voicing of opinions, no presenting of reasonings, no murmuring, no reviling….Wherever there is a church on this earth which truly obeys God’s authority, there is the testimony of the kingdom and there Satan is defeated.”

                             Spiritual Authority, p. 105

 

What is this saying to us today? It is not your hunger for more that moves God and dispells darkness. It is your obedience to God and His word that will usher in the kingdom and defeat Satan.

It is not about our passion for the Lord that Satan is defeated – it is about our submission to His ways that victory is brought in. It is in our full obedience that we profess our love for God and where His Kingdom is able to come in!

We are in a time when the cry is to experience God’s goodness and His power. We have become like addicts, junkies waiting for the next fix.

But that is not what He has called us to.

Paul said he apprehends that for which Christ has laid ahold of him…. not the thing which Paul hungers for.  But the thing for which God has laid hold of Paul!

Laying hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of us, coming along side the Lord and His plans, this is the Way of the Kingdom…

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