All posts by Nicole Vaughn

How Big Is Your God

PPM-3.jpgIt’s really quite amazing how quickly we can become dependent upon methods of men and systems of study. How easy it is to forget that our God is not bound by what we have decided and concluded about Him, regardless of how many years we have diligently pursued Him academically.

There are foundational truths that He lays down in His Word. There are covenants that He has made with man and the heavens and the earth that are solid and sealed and will never be changed or revoked. These things He has revealed to us, we can count on with firm assurance. However, what we cannot do is use them to bind Him.

Last week in our church service at Central our Pastor shared about the the Shantung Revival. He shared that it was in the notes at the Southern Baptist Mission Board that as the dangers escalated in China, as the Depression continued in America, as the missionaries saw very little response to the gospel of Jesus Christ, some of them simply decided that the Chinese’s lack of response to the gospel was due to the fact that God had not “elected” them to salvation. The missionaries had preached, the Chinese refused to hear, and now it was out of their hands and it was time to pull out.

It would be a Norwegian Lutheran woman also serving as a missionary in China who would bring a message from God to all the Chinese missionaries to let them know that the problem was not the Chinese people, the problem was them.  She had been captured by pirates and held hostage on her way to meet with the missionaries in Hwanghsien. You see this missionary had a reputation, of going about and asking people if they were born again. This included the captain of the pirates that held her hostage and the other 200 men of his crew. It was even reported that she asked Missionaries themselves, “Have you been born again?” (The Shantung Revival by Mary K. Crawford)

She made it to Hwanghsien several months after her capture, and true to her reputation she asked the Southern Baptist missionaries, “Have you been born again?

And what they discovered was no, many had not.

“One young man tried to deceive himself and others; he insisted he was saved. He was a worker. But He could not deceive the Holy Spirit. One night the healthy young man was suddenly struck down in the court-yard. He had to be carried in, stiff and blue and cold. Friends burdened for his soul were kneeling at his side crying for mercy. The Missionary called into his ears.” “Confess your sins quickly”! And as soon as he could open his mouth he just poured out his black sins, and stood on his feet again, a forgiven sinner. Praise the dear Lord, the Saviour of all sinners!

Several others have had God’s hand on them in the same way. One old, hardened sinner, also a worker, and a much prayed for man, one evening could not possibly keep his seat. In spite of himself he had to get up, he had to go to the front, and he just had to pour out a life of black sins before them all. No public confessions had been made before. He just confessed, — he had to — but seemed hard and cold and untouched through it all, and the atmosphere of the place seemed suddenly changed, the church seemed filled with evil spirits. But the next day he was a broken man, tears streaming down his face. He seemed to be set free, but he has many things to put right.”

If you are truly born again. You can feel when a church has been filled with evil spirits. You can feel when your home has been filled with evil spirits. You can feel when someone in your presence is filled with evil spirits. You can feel when you yourself are under the oppression of evil spirits.

Here these serving missionaries were declaring the Chinese people not elected by God and they themselves knew Him not. They were nominal Christians only. Well trained, well appearing, determinedly serving Him through works, but they knew Him not. Their lips professed Him, but their hearts were far from Him.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Matthew 7:21-23

Are you one who claims to be a servant of the gospel. Are you a teacher, a pastor, a deacon, an elder, a pastor, a priest?

Oh beloved, have you been born again?

Are you blaming your lack of “fruit” on the hearts of others and on the power of prevailing darkness? Do you use the excuse of the end of the age, the latter times, as your reasoning for the absence of salvations and revival in your church and your own life?

Know now… that just as in the days of the Shantung Revival. The problem is not with the darkness. The problem is with the light. You can not be the light if you do not have the Light. If you are born again, is the Holy Spirit of God being quenched within you?

How big is your God?

Is He big enough to save you? Is He big enough to demand your entire heart? Is He big enough to cause you to be broken over your sin? Is He big enough to bring revival to your soul? Is he big enough to cause you to be humbled under His mighty hand? Is He big enough to heal your heart, your mind, your body, and your soul? Is he big enough to lead you to make restitution to others?

Our Pastor that shared during the prayer meeting that initiated this revival the Norwegian Lutheran Missionary asked if any among them needed a healing. Finally one of the older missionaries raised her hand. She was going blind. The doctors knew no cure for her degenerate eye disease and they had reached the limit of the strength of the lenses that they could give her. She came forward and they gathered around her and laid hands upon her and began a James 5 prayer for healing. In the midst of the prayer for her healing the missionaries through the power of the Holy Spirit turned their prayers toward personal confession of sin and repentance. Those gathered there, including the old missionary who raised her hand had forgotten that the initial prayer was for her healing. Finally someone asked her how were her eyes and it was then that she realized that she could see. She never had to have more than reading glasses until the day of her death.

I will close this post with another testimony from the Shantung Revival from a Southern Baptist Missionary…

“All this time I had not doubted my salvation, or I hardly believe that I would have come back to China. I had been back just a year when Miss. M. came. Something in me did not want her to come. But one day a fellow Missionary gave me the thought that the thing to do was to pray, ‘Lord, send a revival, and begin in me.’

When the meeting began I hoped the speaker would not ask me the question, “Are you born-again?” I sat near the front in the foreign meetings to be sure she would not detect any lack in me. O, my deceitful heart, when I should have been eager for the light which I did not have! She asked us Missionaries to help her in personal work by asking the Chinese if they were ‘born again.’ This I did one morning after Chinese service, and the question choked me, and my heart bore witness, ‘You’re not born-again yourself, how can you ask that question?’

This was early in the meetings; by Wednesday I was very miserable, but tried to keep happy and singing, consoling myself that if I could sing I knew I was saved. Wednesday p.m., I went through a period of questioning. M. was at home and I talked to her, whether she answered or not I do not know, but she did not give me any comfort, for which I praise the Lord. It was a series such as this: ‘I think I’m saved.’ ‘How could I be here if I were not saved’ ‘I hope l am saved,’ well, I guess I am saved,’ well, I ought to be,’ and so on. Then I went to work and to the afternoon meeting.

I had planned to ask Miss. M. to walk with me and put the facts of my case before her so as to make her think I was talking about someone else. When I asked her she indifferently replied, ‘No, I am going with someone else.’ I went home and felt that there was no help, ate a little supper and to the hospital for prayers with the nurses. One of the nurses asked me what was the difference between ‘believe and be saved’ and be ‘born again.’ (Believe can be used in a sense such as to believe the fact of Christ’s advent and teachings without the work of grace in a heart changed by Him.) I answered, ‘You will find out later.’

I went home, M. was out; I was in the big house alone. I knelt by the bed and prayed, ‘Lord, I don’t know whether I’m saved or not but you know; I want to be right with you and with man, please show me what is wrong.’ My sins came before me like darkness, and I cried, what can I do?’ Just then the burden rolled away and the Light of Salvation shone in my soul. I saw my sins and I saw the Cross. Such joy flooded my being but it was only a moment before the temptation, ‘It cannot last, such joy as this,’ but then came the blessed assurance in Rom. 8 that ‘neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor — height nor depth nor any other creature should be able to separate me from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.’

Quickly I jumped up to run down stairs to hunt a sheet of precious promises printed in Chinese. I looked up the promises in English and wrote them in the back of my Bible. They were the most precious words I had ever known! Then I took paper and pencil and began writing a letter home confessing how far short I had fallen of all they had believed me to be and sending back a dollar to pay for the twenty-five cents that I had stolen when a child.

Then and there the Bible became a new book to me; I was a new creation in Christ Jesus. I knew that as God revealed my sins to me I would do what He suggested about restitution. I was full of joy and peace about my salvation, but after meeting with God I wanted every pretence and wrong dealing with man made straight. Some things were hard, but He made it harder not to do this. He showed me many things and it has brought me joy as one thing after another has been made right with man.”

 

It Feels Good To Stretch

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Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.

Jeremiah 15:16

I am deep into the chapters of the book of Jeremiah. This is such a timeless book. The words given to Jeremiah by the Word of the Lord are just as relevant and accurate today as they were between the years of 627 BC and 574 BC. That is the beauty of the Scriptures. They never stop teaching and revealing. They never end in the fulfillment of their intended purpose. Whatever has been written, whatever has been declared, whatever has been recorded will be be carried out to completion.

This is the first precept class that I have led for adults in several years. I have within my class a gentlemen that asks questions that I have never even considered. I love it! His questions cause me to think. His questions cause me to go back and grab hold to what I have learned in the Word and to earnestly call on that promise that Jesus made in John 14:26 and seek the help of the Spirit in my recall.

As we studied in Jeremiah 30 – 31 this past week, this gentlemen introduced to me the dual covenant theory. I had never heard of the dual covenant theory. Then as we discussed more the details of the time frame of the words of the prophecy in the book of Jeremiah he posed the question of the belief of some professing Christians who claim the millennial reign began at Pentecost and we, the church, simply have failed in our attempt to set up God’s Kingdom on earth as some believe we were commanded. He also questioned me on the belief that some professing Christians have that we, as the church, are the New Israel. Then the question came of how can we know who is speaking truth to us. When the false prophets stand there and they speak words out their mouths in the house of God that they claim to be from God. How can we know who speaks truth?

Great questions. Real questions.  Questions that I as a believer should be able to answer or at the very least not run from in fear. The discussion in this class is stretching… and it feels good to stretch.

Having this type of reasoning of the Scriptures as we discuss the importance of learning how to discern the voice of the Spirit from the voice of the evil one is like sitting down at a table of delicacies and savoring every bite brought to your mouth as you try to taste the details of each ingredient. If we do not sit down and eat the Word of God in this matter we will find ourselves trusting in the lies that are served up to us as plates of truth by false teachers and false prophets.

They are among us beloved. They are indeed.

So how can we know who is speaking truth?

Here are some of my own personal red flags:

* when they pull their validating Scripture references out of their Biblical context

* when they speak words that attempt to puff me up and want me to focus on my own self success and happiness

* when they claim that any part of Scripture is no longer valid due to its place in history

* when they deny God’s eternal love and specific plan of redemption for Israel

* when they make Jesus less than God and treat Him irreverently

* when they despise any people group simply because of the color of their skin or the place of their birth or the ignorance of their minds

* when they encourage me to rely on experiences and feelings rather than the Word of God

* when they teach and speak as though I have command  and authority over the Holy Spirit of God

Beloved, our God has taken great care to preserve and protect His Word through thousands of years. Although many have tried to destroy it, distort it, and deny it… the Word of God remains.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.

Isaiah 40:8

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But the word of the Lord endures forever.” and this is the word which was preached to you.

1 Peter 1:25

The Word of the Lord is forever. What He spoke in the beginning is just as true in the end. His Word does not change. His promises do not end. As to how we can know who is speaking truth and who is speaking lies… precious one, if we are not rooted and grounded in His Word we will always be victims of the wind (Ephesians 4:14).

Our Creator God never intended us to to be dust in the wind blowed away by every wind of doctrine and every imagination of man and every lie of Satan himself. In the beginning God took the dust and out of it He formed us into His image and then He breathed His life into us (Genesis 2:7) and He planted us in Him (Genesis 2:8).

The fall of man, because we chose to listen to the lie of the serpent instead of the truth of our God, has caused us to be uprooted from His garden.  Yet our God would not forsake His creation. He instead redeems us.

He sent His Son and He made a way for us, because He knows that we are but dust (Psalm 103:14), to be regathered and reformed and firmly planted in Him. He made a way. One way (Jeremiah 32:39, John 14:6). Though He cast us out of His garden because of our sin, though He kept us out because of our transgression, though we deserved to never be allowed the opportunity to return because of our iniquity. He redeemed us any way.

He planted a garden on Calvary and He set within that garden an accursed tree. A tree that had been transformed into a cross that would bear the weight of the sin of the world and the Son of God who would receive it into Himself and in death would be carried and planted in a garden (John 19:41-42) and would rise up out the ground bursting forth in new resurrection life so that all who would believe in Him (John 11:25) would also receive this eternal life, our sin buried in the ground of a earth that will one day be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10-13, Revelation 21:1) and our living souls replanted, firmly rooted, our nostrils once again being filled with the very breath of God as we live now in the body of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Colossians 2:6-8

Precious one, are you stretching? Are you working out in the Word of God? Are you increasing in your ability to reach out while remaining firmly rooted in Christ?  Or are you becoming more and more rigid and stiff because you have decided that stretching yourself causes just a tad bit more discomfort than you are willing to endure?

Why Is Ministry To Men Such A Failure In The Church

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How blessed is he who considers the helpless;

The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble.

Psalm 41:1

This is a serious question. One I hope to receive some answers on, because as a woman, I am at a loss. Why is ministry to men such a failure in the church?

Just a few weeks ago we were watching “Mom’s Night Out”and after Bones gives his profound speech at the police station, my ten year old daughter turns to me and says, “Momma why is it that boys that end up in gangs or in jail never had a Daddy?

My ten year old daughter sees it… statistics state it… yet ministry to men and boys in the majority of our churches remains purely recreational… and please do not give me the excuse that women stay home and don’t have jobs and that’s why they have more time for ministry to one another. There are plenty of retired men in the church. Plenty of men with evenings and weekends off. Plenty of men with swing shift schedules. Plenty of pastors that don’t have to work outside the church through the week in order to pay their bills. Plenty.

Why is it that we can hear that a man’s wife, a man and a wife, a family that has been long standing members and attenders within a church, has come home and his wife has told him that she is leaving and all the other men in the church simply say, “Well that sucks. We’ll be praying for him.”

What happened to the days of leaders of the church calling the family in to talk to them, to DISCIPLE them, to try and save that marriage, that family, that home? Why does everyone leave the husband. The one who has just been punched in the gut and had his world jerked out from underneath his feet to pull his own self up.

Oh we might send an I’m-thinking-of-you card, or shoot them a text, maybe even leave a voicemail… but where are the men that show up on the doorstep and say “I am with you until you can stand again”?

What about when we see a man in our church, a father, struggling to just be a father because he never had one to show him how to do this father thing in godly way. Or maybe he has a child that is struggling with things he has never dealt with before. Where are the men who go to him, who INITIATE the opportunity to step in and say, “I see you’re struggling here. Let me help you. We’ll do this together”?

How is it that a man who is sick and fighting for his life or a man who is homebound because he can no longer see to drive or just simply no longer has the strength to get himself to church sits alone… every day… because no other man shows up to visit with him. Why is it that no man brings the FELLOWSHIP to him when he can’t get to the fellowship?

My husband is a supervisor at his place of employment. He takes his position serious. He takes his responsibility over his crew serious. He watches them as individuals, not just as a whole. He meets with each and every one at least once a year and sits down with them and goes over what he calls, “Do Wells and Do Betters”. He shows them where they have grown throughout the year and what they need to work on and then he holds them accountable. He offers them opportunities to advance and receive more training. Even going to training with them on his days off because he knows they will get paid for going even when he does not. He knows his crew. He knows their accomplishments as a whole and as individuals. And because he purposely does this, his crew feels safe and comfortable coming to him with their struggles, whether they be work related or not.

In our home he studies his children. He watches them and he takes his position as father serious. He can tell when they are struggling with something. He can tell when they are hiding something. He knows when they need coaching and he knows when they need discipline. He knows their accomplishments and he knows what they need to work on and he holds them accountable. He knows his children. 

He doesn’t wait for the red carpet of invitation to be rolled out to him. His position is the invitation.

When we served as leaders together in the church for a group of college aged young men and women, he used the same principles for those we taught. He knew them as a group. He knew them each as individuals. He checked on them. He held them accountable. He didn’t wait for them to ask him. He just saw the need and met it. He felt the prompting of the Spirit and he made the call.

He has always been a shepherd who knows his sheep. All the flocks that have been given to him, he has personally and purposely invested in.

There are many ways that women can serve and lead in the ministries of the body of Christ, but there is one area that they simply will never be equipped to do and that is men’s ministry.  They will never be able to teach boys how to be men. They will never be able to teach men how to teach other men how to teach boys to be men. They will never be able to just “pop-in” at a man’s house who for whatever reason cannot come to the church and spend hours with them ministering to them.

Where are the Pauls that ministered to the Timothys?

Where are the Barnabases that take the Marks under their wing?

Where are they?

Where are the doers of the Word?

Several Sunday’s ago our Pastor at Central Baptist Church shared about how he and our entire staff all have men, especially new believers, that they meet with once a week for at least six to seven weeks in order to disciple them in the faith. They do not just baptize them and send them out into the sea of the body. They, personally, as these men’s shepherds, take on the responsibility of making sure they receive a solid foundation in the Word of God.

I am so glad… so very glad that God does not wait for us to ask Him for His help… but He comes because we are helpless.

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly

Romans 5:6

What ministry to men is there in your church?

What works?

What has not?

If you are a man reading this what could your church do to help minister to you?

What keeps you from being a man who ministers to other men?

When We Can’t See

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O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your dwelling places.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.

Psalm 43:3-4

One of the latest news headlines in our nation is the one concerning the Colorado woman who lured a pregnant woman to her home under the guise of purchasing things for her unborn baby and then cut the baby out of the mother’s womb. The baby died, but the mother of the baby survived, and therefore the courts will NOT charge the woman with murder because supposedly the “fetus” was not a living person yet.

However at the same time our nation has laws that incarcerate a mother and puts her baby under the authority of the state if it is discovered that she used drugs during her pregnancy. Colorado being one of those: page two.

So according to the law in Colorado a perfect stranger can attack a mother and cut her child from the safety and life sustaining support of her womb and kill it with no repercussions, but had this same mother taken drugs during her pregnancy she would have been charged with child abuse forced into a rehab and had her child placed under the authority of the state. However, had this same mother went into a clinic and had her own child killed within her womb she would have been hailed as pro-choice advocate and a testimony to the reality of our modern day realization of women’s rights for medical treatment.

Am I the only one that sees the insanity in this?

God’s Word is pretty clear about the unborn…

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made

Psalm 139:13-14

***

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you

Jeremiah 1:5

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If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life…

Exodus 21:22-23

To God, we are a living being before He even begins forming us in the womb of the woman in which we would be formed. Our every intricate detail and purpose already known to Him and if any man, even if by “accident” were to destroy that life, he was accountable life for life.

Yet, we in our nation have so muddled the truth that we can’t even prosecute murder and attempted murder because it would make us have to admit that a law, “a right” we have been openly practicing and promoting, not only in our nation, but pushing worldwide is in fact genocide.

As I continue in my study of Jeremiah I have made into Jeremiah 28. In Jeremiah 28 there is a prophet showdown. Jeremiah the prophet stands before Hananiah the prophet and they stand before the king, the priests, and the people both claiming to have a message from God, yet they are completely opposite messages.

When two messages are presented with completely opposite directions… only one can be truth.

Hananiah’s message sounded better. Hananiah was very passionate about his message. The people sure did like it, and so did the other priest, and the king especially thought it sounded good.

Jeremiah came before them with bonds and a yoke around his neck, proclaiming that the nation that served Babylon would live, because God had given authority to Nebuchednezzer for seventy years. Yet, the nation that rebelled against him, those within that land would be removed from their land by sword, famine, and pestilence. Hananiah, I am sure, in his best charismatic, passionate, and confident voice and presence stood up to Jeremiah and grabbed the yoke that was around his neck and broke it, pronouncing that just as he had broke that yoke, so God would break the yoke of Nebuchednezzer within two full years.

Anyone who has ever studied world history knows that the word of Jeremiah was truth.

God had a message for Hananiah… the yoke around Jeremiah’s neck was wood, and yes he had broken that wood yoke, but he did not bring freedom by doing so, instead he made it a yoke of iron.

Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you. The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand…

Deuteronomy 28:47-49

A yoke represents many things. It can represent oppression and bondage. It can represent defeat. It can represent a joining together. It can represent a tool that helps bring balance. It can represent a tool that helps keep one in the right direction and on the right path. 

I believe that yoke around Jeremiah’s neck represented the Word of God. The Word of God comes with a yoke. It comes with a yoke that is meant to hook us up to Him, to be led and guided by Him and by His commands…

if you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.

Deuteronomy 30:10-11

Yes, it’s a yoke… but it is a yoke of wood. It is not heavy. It is not too difficult to carry… and you don’t carry it alone. His yoke comes with a Partner that carries it with you and for you…

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

But if we choose to break this yoke of wood, that is around our neck… it is replaced with a yoke of iron. A yoke of iron that keeps us from holding up our head and seeing where we are going and where we are being led. A yoke of iron that gets heavier and heavier with each step. A yoke of iron that we can not throw off and that we cannot break free of… no matter how hard we try.

Hananiah was able to convince the people to trust in lies, possibly lies that he himself believed, because he, nor the priest, nor the people, nor the king knew the Word of God for themselves. The light and the truth that was to lead them was no longer being taught in the land because the priests and the prophets taught their own dreams and their own imaginations instead. The people were so far from the Word of God they did not even recognize it when it was right their in front of them.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

Oh, beloved of God, it is a very terrifying thing when we can’t see…

Our Great Global God

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Thus says the Lord of hosts,
Behold, evil is going forth
From nation to nation,
And a great storm is being stirred up
From the remotest parts of the earth.

Jeremiah 25:32

Jeremiah 25 is a sobering reminder that everyone… EVERYONE… who sets themselves up as a ruler, leader, judge, or shepherd of the people whether in a religion or government or families is accountable before the LORD of hosts. Whether or not we believe Him is irrelevant.

When we study the Old Testament we clearly see the sovereign reach of the hand of God. We see that what He said happened then just the way He said it would even in nations that denied Him and chose not to serve Him. What I have grown to see is how easy it is to deny that our God is a global God when we keep Him bound to Matthew through Revelation. I believe that by doing this we have so easily made Him a God after our own image instead of seeing that we are made in His.

Through the Old Testament we see that the One True Living God is not just interested in us as individuals, but is concerned about the people of every nation and not just the people but also for the land that they inhabitant.

For God so loved the world…

John 3:16

We, especially here in the American church, which is the one I am a part of and see up close and first hand, have so made God about us that even the majority of our studies within the church are about becoming a better us. They are not really about getting to know God, but about learning how to use God to be better blessed. We so often use God’s Word for self serving instead of truth learning.

There is absolutely nothing in me that believes in any way that God ever intended the New Testament writings to replace the Old Testament. When we attempt to interpret the New Testament apart from the Old Testament, we miss so very much.

He is the Alpha and the Omega and we will never truly know Him or His purpose if we choose to not cover the entire span of His revealed Word to us.

I am currently reading through Why Jesus? by Ravi Zacharias

and in this book he makes this statement, “Once you understand essence, existence, and reverence in the context of a relationship expressed in stewardship and worship, life’s purpose becomes clear.”

We discover all this, essence, existence, reverence, relationship, stewardship, and worship through the pages of the Old Testament. From Genesis through Malachi we clearly see these foundational truths interwoven and displayed through the creation of man and through the creation of the nation of Israel. It is only through seeing these portrayed and seeing how generation after generation failed time and time again to maintain and pursue these truths that we can fully grasp the glory of the relationship that is offered to us in and through Jesus Christ and the weight of the absolute utter responsibility that this privileged relationship entails.

Our God is a global God. He is not bound by religion, governments, or His acceptance by mankind. He is not just the God of the individual and He did not bring us into a relationship with Him just so we can be a better us, but so that we in our relationship with Him would be a true steward of all His creation and worship Him in spirit and truth and that we would in His name carry His purpose to the world… regardless of how big the section of the world is that He has set us over to steward. It could be the confines of our own home or as the leader of an entire nation. The accountability before Him remains.

 

Dear Shepherd, Where Are Your Sheep?

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My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.

Ezekiel 34:6

I am currently studying and teaching through the book of Jeremiah. There is not a book of the Bible that I have ever dug into that the Spirit has not grabbed my heart by the throat and caused my insides to churn over all that I learn… and it churns even more as I wonder how many have not learned what I have learned and I want to grab every one I see by the face and speak His Words straight into their heart and I want to wade with them through the shallow and even false teachings that are so often proclaimed and beg them to keep going deeper with me… to open the Book not just books about the Book.

It’s a true ache of the soul. That’s why I love the book of Jeremiah… because I feel him. I feel him when he says,

Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.

Jeremiah 15:16

and when he says,

But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.

Jeremiah 20:9

I understand what he means… I have never experienced the type of persecution that he endured. However, I do not doubt that one day I might.

Jeremiah began his ministry in a time of peace, but God was preparing him for a time of persecution. He would not just simply be rejected and mocked by those who sat in the house of the Lord, by those who professed to be priests and prophets of God, but he would be beaten, imprisoned, thrown in a pit, and these are just a few of the things we have recorded.

His ministry lasted through the reign of five kings of Judah within a fifty-three year time period with only one of those five kings being a godly reign. There is no telling the hurt that Jeremiah experienced at the hands of those who were supposed to be his brethren. Hurt that came as the result of just doing and saying what God had commanded him to do and say.

Here in our nation we are living in the seventh year of the reign of an ungodly President. Have you considered how much has changed within the walls of our churches during this seven year reign. Have you considered how much has changed within our schools, within our government, within our foreign policy, and with how the world views our nation?

This seven year reign has seen a lot of firsts in our nation. This President was the first in American history to speak at a Planned Parenthood conference where he ends his speech with the words, “Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you.” He is, from my viewpoint, the first President to use sarcasm and belittling as a part of his quip in every professional speech I have ever heard him give. The first President that I have never heard take personal responsibility for anything… granted I don’t stay plugged into the political scene as much as I used to and perhaps I have missed something, but I doubt it. I often wonder how he speaks to his children? When he is just “Dad” who is he?

There is a reason that our nation is filled with this idea that rights come before (or regardless of) responsibility. There is a proven fact… a nation, a church, a family, they all are being lived out in direct correlation with the one that leads them.

And after the wrong leader has been there long enough, the infection of the people under them becomes so ingrained that no matter if a good leader comes in for a time… the majority of the people are not changed… because generations have been affected. We see this clearly in the book of Jeremiah.

There is a key phrase buried in the book of 2 Kings found right after the death of Josiah, the last godly earthly king to sit on the throne of David… it reads,

Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah and anointed him and made him king…

2 Kings 23:30

The people of the land made him king. They didn’t seek their God. They didn’t look for another godly leader to carry on the revival that Josiah had ignited… they chose Jehoahaz who was convenient, young, and evil. However Pharaoh Neco took him captive within three months and then he placed Eliakim on the throne. Pharaoh Neco changed his name to Jehoiakim and controlled him his entire reign, until they both were removed from power by Nebuchadnezzer.

I am not giving up on our nation. I find it sad that our President is where he is. I see him as a man who never had guidance. He never experienced stability of any kind. His family is scattered from Kenya to Hawaii. I believe he is a grown man who has never had a shepherd and I personally do not believe he knows the Good Shepherd at all. I pray someday that he does. I personally have only heard him speak words that have been put into his mouth by someone else. I am not sure if he has ever really spoken for himself publicly concerning anything. He reminds me of Eliakim, whose name was changed and whose reign was controlled by Neco.

But this post is not supposed to be about our nation or our President, but about our churches. However, the condition of our nation, due to its leadership, does relate.

How have we gotten so off track in our churches? I believe the key is right here in Jeremiah 23:30,

Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the Lord, “who steal My words from each other.

As a Christian reading this right now… do you spend more time listening to and reading the writings and teachings of what others have to say that God said rather than opening His Word and listening to God yourself? How often do you open His Word for yourself and walk in what you read? Or do you just brush aside His truths and instead lean on the words of others and maybe even your own feelings? Honestly consider this…

How many of us have no clue what God really has to say about anything because…

For both prophet and priest are polluted;
Even in My house I have found their wickedness,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:11

How many today in the house of God have those who proclaim to be pastors, prophets, priests, and teachers who stand over them and claim to be speaking for God yet they lead people astray from the Word of God by manipulating and twisting the Scriptures and people remain enslaved to their sin because they choose to listen to them… even though their lives be in open disobedience to the law of God.

The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood;
And they strengthen the hands of evildoers,
So that no one has turned back from his wickedness.

Jeremiah 23:14

***

But if they had stood in My council,
Then they would have announced My words to My people,
And would have turned them back from their evil way
And from the evil of their deeds.

Jeremiah 23:22

Then there are those who have shepherds that they trust in… who preach the Word but don’t want to get their hands dirty by actually using the Word to minister to their sheep. Instead they just sit back and feed themselves. Leaving the sheep with the idea that their God is far from them when He is not. Leaving them to fend this life for themselves. Leaving them to struggle with failing marriages and wayward children and sick loved ones alone as if they had no shepherd at all. Teaching them the Word but not taking the time or opportunity to show them how the Word is fleshed out in real hurting lives.

Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord,
“And not a God far off?
Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I do not see him?” declares the Lord.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:23-24

There are very few these days who are willing to invest in the lives of individuals. Very few who are willing to do more than cordially visit the helpless. Very few who are willing to do more than just go to church. Very few who are willing to disciple. Which leaves many sheep still looking for a shepherd and in their pain they become easy prey…

I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another…

Jeremiah 23:25-27

There are many who proclaim the name of Christ, but they really could care less if you know the name of Jesus, the One True God, or His Word. They just want to be sure that you know them… and… well… send them money.

In this day it can be easy to become discouraged. Yet, what we see today in our nation is still at least a little of a stretch from that of Judah. I can’t imagine the weight that Jeremiah carried on his heart. For when he looked for a man to stand faithful and declare justice there was no one… NO ONE.

Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
And look now and take note.
And seek in her open squares,
If you can find a man,
If there is one who does justice, who seeks truth,
Then I will pardon her.
“And although they say, ‘As the Lord lives,’
Surely they swear falsely.

Then I said, “They are only the poor,
They are foolish;
For they do not know the way of the Lord
Or the ordinance of their God.
“I will go to the great
And will speak to them,
For they know the way of the Lord
And the ordinance of their God.”
But they too, with one accord, have broken the yoke
And burst the bonds.

The prophets are as wind,
And the word is not in them

Jeremiah 5:1-2, 4-5, 13

Jeremiah had no one. If I can feel the weight of the darkness on our nation when I know how many who are of the Light remain… I can’t imagine the perception of Jeremiah as he stood in the house of the Lord and in the streets of Jerusalem and proclaimed the truth of God on deaf ears and dead hearts.

Yet still he proclaimed.

You know it only took twelve who were willing to be obedient to their Master’s call to bring the gospel around the world to me some 2000 years later… so even if there is very few… very few is enough. I don’t know what the Lord has in store for our nation, but I do believe it will be determined by the obedience or disobedience of His people and nothing or no one else. 

So dear shepherd… where are your sheep?

And let us not forget that you don’t have to be a pastor to be a “shepherd”. If you are a father… a mother… a Sunday School teacher… if you profess the name of Christ then you are a priest (1 Peter 2:9)… you are a shepherd… If you love Him then tend His sheep (John 21:17).

Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,” declares the Lord. “Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:1-4

The Value of Kindness

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Several weeks ago I taught this lesson to our homeschool co-op and I thought that while I am down from surgery I would take the opportunity to share it here on my blog.

This is one of my favorite proverbs…

As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout
So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion.

Proverbs 11:22

pig-nose-ring

Well ain’t that a pretty picture?

For us to understand the depth of this proverb we have to understand the value of this nose ring. In the days of this proverb a nose ring was a big deal in this region. As a matter of fact when Abraham sent out his servant to find a bride for his son Isaac it was a nose ring that was given to Rebekah to denote her as “the one”.

When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half-shekel and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels in gold,…

Then I asked her, and said, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ And she said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him’; and I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her wrists.

Genesis 24:22, 47

This gold nose ring was meant to outwardly adorn the inward beauty of a woman… it was the inward beauty that Abraham’s servant was looking for…

So I came today to the spring, and said, ‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now You will make my journey on which I go successful; behold, I am standing by the spring, and may it be that the maiden who comes out to draw, and to whom I say, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar”; and she will say to me, “You drink, and I will draw for your camels also”; let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’

Genesis 24:42-44

Abraham’s servant wasn’t out looking for the most beautiful woman, but a woman with a kind and gracious heart. Just like a gold ring in a pig’s snout doesn’t make a pig not be a pig, neither does the outward beauty of a person cover an ugly heart… all it takes is a little time watching and listening to see that truth.

The word for discretion in Proverbs 11:22 is taam and it means taste, judgment, reason, understanding, advice

As I do with my co-op family let’s take a walk through the movies to see that this truth in action…

 

Did you catch the words of the mirror?

Not even the rags could cover the beauty of Snow White because of her gentle grace… and no amount of outward beauty could cover the ugly heart of the queen.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

I know this Proverb seems to speak to women alone, but as with most all Scripture, it applies to us all with no regard to any of our external qualities… the Scriptures are meant to measure the heart, therefore I believe Proverbs 11:22 is true for men as well…

What this outwardly handsome prince lacked was exposed by the enchantress. He had no love in his heart. His outward appearance might have been appealing, but he too was a nose ring in a pig’s snout. He lacked discretion. So the enchantress made his outside to match the beast that was his inward character.

Have you ever wondered what would we would look like if God turned us inside out?

 You are near to their lips but far from their mind. But You know me, O Lord; You see me; and You examine my heart’s attitude toward You…

Jeremiah 12:2-3

***

It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.

Daniel 2:22

We can pretend all we want before others… but God knows the truth.

Let’s look at one more…

Oh she looked beautiful on the outside… but the mirror revealed the truth. I actually love that in each of these clips the mirror is a common factor. As I watched each of these clips and studied on this proverb the Holy Spirit reminded of this verse in the book of James

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

James 1:21-25

The only way we can truly ascertain our beauty or the beauty of others is by looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word. There is so much to be said about the value of kindness… when you look at all these examples, the Evil Queen, the Beast, Ursala… they all lacked kindness.

When we look at Jesus… He never lacked kindness. When we look at our God He never lacks kindness… He is the One with everlasting lovingkindness.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Psalm 118:1

Kindness never gets ugly… just think about it… how many of us have great grandparents or grandparents who are on up there in age and they are head over heels in love with the LORD and with you?

When you see them do you say, Ugh! Gross, you are so old and ugly! Do you cringe from their touch and hide and dread spending time with them?

Or do you run to them and look into their eyes and give them big hugs and kisses. Do you see the absolute beauty of the kindness of their heart?

The simple fact is that true beauty just gets more and more beautiful…

True Beauty

When I go back and think about that Prince and that enchantress who showed up at his door… I realize what a gift it was that she gave him. A gift for him to see, really see, who he was… so that he could become better. Had she never showed him his true self he would have lived on in the deceit of his own mind. He would have died an old bitter unloved man…

My family and I watched the movie, Saving Mr Banks, and due to curiosity from the story of the movie I dug into PL Travers life a little bit looking more info on her. I had hope that I would see a turn around of sorts in her life, but instead what I learned was that after her death her grandchildren were quoted as saying, “she died loving no one and with no one loving her“. This, beloved, is the saddest thing that I have ever heard… can you imagine this coming from the mouths of your grandchildren?

We may not have an enchantress that shows up at our door, or a talking mirror on the wall, but God gives us plenty of opportunities to see who we really are on the inside.

He gives us circumstances.

He gives us interruptions.

He gives us distractions.

He gives us family.

He gives us a work place.

He gives us challenges.

He gives us people.

He gives us traffic.

He gives us Wal-Mart.

He gives us telemarketers.

He gives us waiting rooms.

He gives us His Word.

He gives us His Son.

He gives us His Spirit.

When we refuse to acknowledge who we really are… when we refuse to agree with God about the condition of our heart… that’s when we stay ugly and just keep getting uglier.

You shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God or accept correction; truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth.

Jeremiah 7:28

As I was talking to my niece this morning after we watched an episode of Law and Order she asked me isn’t there a different law for a crime of passion? So I answered her with Scripture and how God had set up the cities of refuge and how yes, there was mercy was crimes of passion, but there was none for someone who “waited in the bush” someone who planned it out. I went on to share how the reason our country has worked for so long is because our government was founded on Biblical truth… and today even the church has decided that the Old Testament is irrelevant… thus we are where we are and are headed where we are headed. All we have to do is read through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel to see that it happened in Israel when they decided the Law of God was not relevant to them anymore.

Where God is not… kindness is not.

Love is patient, love is kind…

1 Corinthians 13:4

Where God is not… truth is not.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me

John 14:6

***

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth

John 16:13

Where God is not… love is not.

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:8

Look into the mirror of the Word of God and when you walk away don’t forget what it showed you… and if what it revealed showed you that you needed some changes… there is only one who can change you… and that is God.

He wants to make you beautiful.

He wants transform you from the inside out.

When we meet God at the mirror of His Word we will either break it or embrace it… love it or hate it… fight it or kiss it.

Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Psalm 85:10

Can I Do It?

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Can I do it? Can I trust Him? Really trust Him? This is a question that I have asked and re-asked and then asked again.

Each time the answer has been Yes. Yes, I can trust Him.

This morning as I dug into Jeremiah 15 I read these words of Jeremiah as he makes his plea before his God…

You who know, O Lord,
Remember me, take notice of me,
And take vengeance for me on my persecutors.
Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away;
Know that for Your sake I endure reproach.
Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.
I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers,
Nor did I exult.
Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone,
For You filled me with indignation.
Why has my pain been perpetual
And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?
Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream
With water that is unreliable?

Jeremiah 15:15-18

Jeremiah asked these questions of the Lord. One of my favorite things about our God is that He is not afraid of our questions. He doesn’t shout at us from behind the safety of His curtain…

When we need a heart (Ezekiel 36:26) and when we need wisdom (James 1:5) and when we need courage (Deuteronomy 31:6)… He gladly receives our request. He desires that we come to Him for help. Our God, in fact, becomes greatly offended when we DON’T come to Him.

Has a nation changed gods

When they were not gods?
But My people have changed their glory
For that which does not profit.
“Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
And shudder, be very desolate,” declares the Lord.
“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:11-13

He wants our questions. He wants our prayers. He wants our cries for help. He wants us to come to Him for help.

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

Sometimes, like Jeremiah, we can have wounds that refuse to be healed. Wounds that just when we think the scab is forming and the healing has begun, something happens to jerk that scab off and reopen the wound.

We sit alone in our pain and outside we see others go on… merry making.

The word merrymaking in this verse is sachaq and it means laugh, including instrumental music, singing and dancing

So many go on… sitting in their circles… they continue their laughter, playing their music, they just keep on singing and dancing… Jeremiah couldn’t do that. Jeremiah couldn’t laugh and jump and shout and dance around. It was not a time to laugh. It was a time to weep… and unfortunately Jeremiah saw that he wept alone.

Sometimes it’s hard to shout “praise God” and “Amen” around and with some people. I have learned that it is okay to feel that way. However… God doesn’t want us to stay there in that feeling.

We see that in the way He answers Jeremiah.

Therefore, thus says the Lord,
“If you return, then I will restore you—
Before Me you will stand;
And if you extract the precious from the worthless,
You will become My spokesman.
They for their part may turn to you,
But as for you, you must not turn to them.
“Then I will make you to this people
A fortified wall of bronze;
And though they fight against you,
They will not prevail over you;
For I am with you to save you
And deliver you,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 15:19-20

No matter how bad it looks. No matter how bad it hurts. No matter how little we understand. No matter how great the temptation to keep walking away from the reality revealed… our God says keep returning to Me

If we return to Him, He WILL restore us.

Here’s the thing though… that restoration is to fellowship with Him. Restored to Him. That may not mean restored to health, restored to a marriage, restored to financial prosperity, restored to a position of power. It means restored to Him… and that should really be all that matters.

He told Jeremiah to extract the precious from the worthless. That seems hard, but it’s not… not really. I have watched my sister-in-law do this over and over again… as she has walked from breast cancer, to colon cancer, to liver cancer (metastasized from colon). She has been fighting the cancer in her liver with chemo for over three years… and a month ago she was told that the tumors were no longer responding to the chemo and they were going to have to change it again. They were returning to a chemo that caused her great cold sensitivity and neuropathy… and when I asked her if this chemo was make her lose her hair, she said “No. That was a different one thank goodness!” I responded with, “Oh good! A praise in the midst!” Then she said, “There is always a silver lining if you look hard enough!

I believe that is exactly what God meant when he told Jeremiah to extract the precious from the worthless. That “silver lining” was the “precious in the worthless” and she was extracting it.

In doing so she has become a spokeswoman for God. She stands in the face of cancer and is able to be a representative to the grace of God and a testimony of His faithfulness to others as they face cancer or any other trial of this life.

So can I do it?

Can I trust Him?

Can you?

Here’s one thing that I have learned… When it seems like we have the least reason to trust Him is when we need to trust Him most.

Trust Him

Related posts:

God If This Is Loving Me I Sure Am Glad You Ain’t Mad At Me

God Forbid It

God Forbid It (Continued)

Sovereign Savior

Copper, Chemistry, Conductivity, and Christ

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Another little sneak peak at Devotions from Exodus Part Two…

And you shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide; the altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits. You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze.

Exodus 27:1-2

We now come to our first piece of furniture that is stationed outside of the veil and outside of the screen door of the tabernacle. This piece of furniture is actually the one most opposite the Holy of Holies. This altar is the first step to entering into the presence of God. When we step outside of the screen of the holy place there is no more furniture of gold.

This altar in Exodus 27 was to be made of acacia wood. As in the pieces of furniture we have already studied, this wood represents our humanity. This altar would be made of wood and it would be overlaid with bronze. Bronze represents judgment. Since the fall of man in Genesis 3 this humanity, this flesh of ours, has been overlaid with judgment because of sin.

When God discovered Adam and Eve in the garden in the nakedness of their sin, an innocent animal was slain and its skin was used to cover Adam and Eve. The judgment that fell upon that animal should have been the judgment that fell upon Adam and Eve, but instead God showed mercy to them and allowed this animal to be a temporary substitute. This altar of wood that represents our humanity, is covered in bronze, which represent the judgment that is upon us, and it will be on this altar that animal sacrifices will be made as a temporary substitution for the death that we so rightly deserve.

As I wrote this devotional I wondered why bronze for judgment? The Hebrew word for bronze in Exodus 27:2 is nechosheth and it means brasen, brass, chain, copper, fetter of brass, filthiness, steel. In Isaiah 60:17 and Jeremiah 6:28 this same word is used to describe worthless people. In Ezekiel 16:36 this word is favored to mean corrupt. Bronze is made from mixing two minerals together. It is not a pure metal.

It is believed that during this time bronze was made from mixing copper and tin. Copper is an element that is essential to all living organisms. The main place where copper is found in humans is in our liver, muscles, and bones. Tin as a single atom is not very toxic. However it becomes toxic when it bonds with other atoms becoming organic. The long-term effects from exposure to organic tin are:

- Depressions
– Liver damage
– Malfunctioning of immune systems
– Chromosomal damage
– Shortage of red blood cells
– Brain damage (causing anger, sleeping disorders, forgetfulness and headaches)

(Read more: http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/sn.htm#ixzz3RuoxUHUg)

Tin is kind of like temptation. When temptation remained a single element on this earth it caused no harm to Adam or Eve. We do not know how long the tempter, the serpent of old, slithered around impotent on this earth nor do we know how long the tree of the knowledge of good and evil stood untouched and ignored by Adam and Eve. However, what we do know is that when Adam and Eve connected their own lusts with the enticement of the serpent as he used his lies to build the temptation for the fruit of the tree to dangerous levels, their lust was conceived and sin was birthed and it immediately became toxic.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 

(James 1:13-15)

Copper, silver, and gold are all in group 11 of the periodic table and they all share certain attributes. God created us in His image. He created us to share in His attributes. Thus He purposely and selectively chose to use these precious metals to display His glory and to tell His story.

These three metals are known by their resistance to tarnish, their extreme difficulty in counterfeiting, durability, fungibility, and their reliable store of value unmatched by any other metals known. They also are the most conductive of electricity of all metals. God created us to be a continuous circuit of His life running from Him through us back to Him.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:36

Do you know what happens when copper becomes bronze? It loses much of its ability to be conductive. It is as low as 7% as conductive as copper.

Oh beloved, do you see now why bronze is the representative of judgment? Do you see the way that our God uses all of creation to tell His story? Even the metals of the earth and the design of the tabernacle teach us of who He created us to be and how He has a plan to get us back connected to Him.

 

Oh Father,

You are good. You are life. You created us to be connected to You. You created us to be conductive of Your very being, created in Your image for Your glory. We were created to be pure and holy and precious, yet we are now tarnished by the results of our connection to sin. Yet, you sent Your Son here to step in and remove the impurity of sin from us and restore are connection to You so that we, once again, could experience the life of Your Spirit flowing freely through us. Purify us oh Father and make us clean.

My Jesus, I love You, and it is in Your name I pray,

Amen

 

It Ain’t Over Until God Says It’s Over

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Our Pastor at Central Baptist Church is teaching through the book of Jonah. With all that is going on in our family I laid down to sleep last night on the brink of tears and then the Lord reminded me “It ain’t over til the fat fish sings” and then the words of Isaiah 49:1-4 ran through my heart and mind and the peace of God washed over me and I found rest.

It ain’t over til the fat fish sings” was the title of the sermon that our Pastor shared as he taught through Jonah 1:17- 2:10. We don’t always see the belly of the fish as the mercy of God… but it is. We don’t often see how a storm can bring glory to God, but it does.

Isaiah 49:1-4 is a section of Scripture that our Sunday night guest speaker shared that the Lord used to get her through her own trials as well as inspired her to write a beautiful song of praise to Him. I immediately turned to the passage and read the verses as soon as she mentioned them… just knowing that God had her share them for me… and He had.

Jumping back to Jonah… It’s believed that the boat full of men that threw Jonah overboard, as commanded by God, were all saved… not just from the present storm… but also from the eternal storm of eternal death. It’s believed that these men went to Jerusalem and there made sacrifices to God. God even used Jonah’s rebellion and his running from Him to reach and save the lost.

As our Pastor shared, he mentioned that Jonah was a living sacrifice unto the Lord on behalf of these men. These men, worshiped idols, they knew all about the false gods that required human sacrifice to appease there wrath. However, our God is not like that… I believe Jonah knew this and believed this. When Jonah said, throw me over… this was an act of faith. Had he stayed in the boat he would have died, but in faith he said toss me over… and so he lived.

He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

John 12:25

Jonah’s disobedience to God had brought these men into this situation. However, as always with our God, what the enemy intends for evil… our God will use for good (Genesis 50:20). Jonah accepting the fact that he had sinned against God and brought this storm (Micah 7:9) willingly, at that moment, offered his body as a living sacrifice unto the Lord. He offered himself on behalf of all the others on that boat. This is why Jesus said that the only sign that will be given to us is the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:39). Jonah was a picture of what Jesus would do for all those in the boat that were being ravaged by the storms of this present world and our own personal sin. Although He, unlike Jonah, had never known sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God gives us Jonah… because we CAN be a Jonah.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

Our family is in the belly of the fish. Here in the belly of this fish we cry out as Jonah did

I called out of my distress to the Lord,
And He answered me.
I cried for help from the depth of Sheol;
You heard my voice.
For You had cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the current engulfed me.
All Your breakers and billows passed over me.
So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight.
Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.

Jonah 2:2-4

and we cry out as Job did…

Why should I take my flesh in my teeth
And put my life in my hands?
Though He slay me,
I will hope in Him.
Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.
This also will be my salvation,
For a godless man may not come before His presence.

Job 13:14-16

We cry out because we can… because we know He hears… and because we know He cares. We may not understand what is going on or who it is in the boat of the storm that the Lord is using us to reach… but what we do know is that whatever, WHATEVER, we face in this life is with purpose.

WE WILL NOT FORGET OR FORSAKE OUR GOD.

I WILL NOT FORGET OR FORSAKE MY GOD.

I don’t have to understand why to know the Who that formed me and my family in the womb and brought us forth in Him, born again to be children of His very own possession. We are the select arrows in His hand… and we trust His aim.

Listen to Me, O islands,
And pay attention, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called Me from the womb;
From the body of My mother He named Me.
He has made My mouth like a sharp sword,
In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me;
And He has also made Me a select arrow,
He has hidden Me in His quiver.
He said to Me, “You are My Servant, Israel,
In Whom I will show My glory.”
But I said, “I have toiled in vain,
I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity;
Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the Lord,
And My reward with My God.”

Isaiah 49:1-4

Here’s the thing about being in the belly of the fish or an arrow in the hand… In the belly of that fish Jonah could do nothing and the arrow in the hand trusts completely in the decisions of the one who holds it.

In the belly of that fish Jonah couldn’t fix his situation. He didn’t know the Lord would have that fish vomit him up… that had never happened before. What he did know was at that moment, as our Pastor shared Sunday, God was giving him another chance to repent and to turn to Him just like He did those men in the boat.

Jonah had no gift to bring. He had no sacrifice in which to offer. He had no works that He could do. All he had was the Word of God, the knowledge of the heart of God, the knowledge of his own heart, and the words of his own mouth. Jonah 2:7 says that he remembered the LORD. He chose to surrender to what he knew of God and offered up his praises to Him. Jonah did not cry out to another god or put his hope in his own possible ability to defeat and escape the fish. He remembered God and he offered up the only sacrifice he had… a heart of repentance and voice of thanksgiving.

The life of a believer in the One True God is one with a constant return to a heart of repentance and a voice of thanksgiving.

Repentance because of a heart that so easily finds itself suffering from fear and doubt and then a voice that rejoices with praise and thanksgiving as that once doubting and fearful heart remembers the Lord and once again stands on His love in hope and assurance, knowing once again, that it ain’t over until God says it’s over.

for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

Romans 10:10-11