Reformation Series: Does God Honor Our Holidays?

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Have you ever wondered if God accepted your worship? Have you ever thought if perhaps there was a preferred way that He wants to be praised? After-all when we bring the Lord an offering it really is just that – an offer.  Abel’s offer was received as acceptable worship but Cain’s offer was denied. What made Cain’s worship unsavory in the eyes of God was his decision to ignore what God wanted and to do it “his way”. Today on this Reformation Series we’re going to be addressing the Cain spirit to see if it has infiltrated our way of thinking and thus our way of life. WARNING – The smell of sizzling, sacred cow will be wafting our way soon so grab a bottle of steak sauce and put on your Berean sunglasses; it’s cookout time!

So the first and main question about the Cain spirit is have we lost reverence for God’s opinion? If God cares about how we should live our lives and bring Him praise then have we ignored it?

The beginning of this problem is that an all too large number of Christians today don’t really pay attention to the front of the Bible. This is like starting 3/4ths of the way into the greatest novel ever written and thinking we can understand what is going on. Then on top of that we try to read Paul’s epic scholarly dissertations with about a 3rd grade education in the very thing he mastered in…actually a double doctorate would be the modern equivalent.

So what happens if we don’t start from the beginning? Often times it ends up creating a belief system that kinda sorta maybe requires God to change His mind about some things in order for it to fit into our theology. Well you have a problem if that happens. If you can change what is perfect, then it wasn’t perfect to begin with because perfect can’t change. This is why God said multiple times that He does not change. The Word also states that He is thrice holy (Is 6:3). That’s Hebrew for “you better listen up because this isn’t to be forgotten”.

So now we know that God didn’t change His opinion about what He considers holy and unholy after the cross. What’s that mean for our evaluation of the culture we are in? Well we know that anything that isn’t of the Kingdom of God finds its root in the Babylonian system which is also where the root of all paganism came from after the flood by way of Nimrod and the tower of Babel. Let’s see what God says about Christians and Babylon in Rev 18:4,5-

I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. NASB

So apparently it is possible to participate in the allotted plagues or judgments unless we come out of Babylon. All throughout the Bible God shows a theme of how if we allow ourselves to be snared by Egypt, Canaan, Babylon, and so on, that it can cause us to lose our birthright or inheritance. Let’s see what Duet 7:25,26 says –

The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, or you will be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. 26 You shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned. NASB

Now remember that because God didn’t change at the cross and because He is in eternity and outside of time, He does not look at this as an antiquated thing. In fact if a thousand years is as a day to the Lord then to Him it hasn’t been a week since he said it. This is about the place where that sinking feeling in the stomach comes. If it hasn’t then we should probably assess our level of the fear of God. This is the same One that struck down Ananias and Sapphira… under the new covenant. Thought I’d throw that in there.

Speaking of the fear of God let’s see what has happened through the Bible when God’s people wanted to carry on the Cain spirit –

Lev 10:1 -3 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke, saying,

‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy,
And before all the people I will be honored.’”  NASB

Jesus said that if we love Him, then do His commandments. Therefore we walk out our love for God by obeying His commandments. Wherever you have a kingdom you also have its rules and regulations. Jesus’ main passion during His Earthly ministry was the Kingdom of God and thus God’s statutes and precepts.

Okay the next one is 1 Sam 15:22 –

22 Samuel said,

“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams. NASB

The context of this story is well known. King Saul feared the acceptance of the people instead of the command of God. He disobeyed God by sparing the best of the enemy to give as a “gift” to God. Obviously God didn’t care about his opinion. That brings us to a biggie about whether God cares about our opinion on how we choose to worship Him. Let’s head to the story of the golden calf in Exod 32…

He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. NASB

A couple of points of interest here – The word “Lord” in verse 5 isn’t a general term, it’s actually God’s name (Yahweh) in the Hebrew. The most common assumption is that they immediately went to serving some foreign god of Egypt but that doesn’t really pan out logically. First of all they had just seen all the gods of Egypt become insulted and defeated through the ten plagues. They knew very well Who brought them up from the land of Egypt. His pillar of fire and smoke was standing right there while they were making the calf. In fact the Paleo-Hebraic word picture for Elohim was a bull (which represented strength) and a Shepherd’s staff. The people simply lost patience with their mediator Moses, who was a type and shadow of Jesus, and decided that they were going to revert to the practices of the cultures around them and put their God into physical form, thus nullifying Who He was. (The misuse of the calf symbol for God is seen with Jeroboam’s golden calves as well.) Then they decided to make up their own holiday in this brash initiative and celebrate God their own way.  The end of the story isn’t pretty; 3,000 people died for worshiping their way even though they meant well.  And so in like fashion when Moses burned the golden calf with fire we come to the BBQ …

After this long-winded preamble the question must be asked. Does God honor the holidays we celebrate in His name? Well I believe that if God has not ordained the practices and those said practices are pagan in nature then according to everything we’ve seen so far the answer should be a resounding “No”. Now I anticipate the rebuttal that some will say that we just need to redeem the pagan practices and then that makes it better. The problem with that idea is that the word redeem has to do with returning or restoring something that originally belonged to God or was originally holy.

I would offer that the first reason someone would play the “redeem” card would be that they don’t want to give up something that has emotional attachment. In other words as you read through this make sure your feelings aren’t in the driver’s seat instead of the Word of God. After all Isaiah 5:20 states  –

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

If God calls something unholy then it will be classified as unholy forever unless you can cover it in the blood of Jesus. If sin is covered in the blood though it must be followed with repentance; not as an excuse for continued violation. It’s time to start getting into the specific practices of our holidays. Let’s see if we can find anything redeemable in here…

EasterEnglish form of the female god Ishtar.

First of all I want to give a quick math quiz. How in the world do you get 3 days in the grave from Friday to Sunday? Last I checked Friday night to Saturday night is one day, Saturday night to Sunday night is 2 days. Hmm…Something’s off here…Wait a minute didn’t Jesus die on Passover as the final sacrifice? Easter must just be a western Passover right? Well not really. Easter was commandeered by the Holy Roman Empire and basically turned into the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection because all the Romans were used to worshiping on that day. The problem is that over time the fertility and sun god worship aspects of the former holiday never left. God gives specific instructions in the Bible that we are not to learn the ways that the pagans worshiped their gods so that we won’t be snared by it.

Easter or Ishtar was known by many names. If you keep going back in time you will eventually land on a real woman named Semiramis. She happened to be Nimrod’s wife…and sister….and mother (Legend goes that Nimrod’s dad had a daughter and he married the daughter and had Nimrod with her. Then after the dad dies Nimrod marries his mom.) She was known as the original true whore of Babylon. After the dispersal from the tower of Babel you had all these different people groups that deified Nimrod, his wife and their son and included them into their pantheon of gods. The mythology believed that Ishtar had come back down to Earth in an egg and when she landed she turned a bird into an egg laying rabbit. Right…Anyway the pagans would sacrifice their children and paint eggs with their blood as an offering for prosperity. Nothing says family time with the kids like honoring abortion.

Demons have been around a long time. They look at ancient practices and remember the original like it was yesterday. If we won’t bring a pentagram or a voodoo doll into our house because we know it attracts demons then why in the world would we participate in these practices? Because they have sparkles and look pretty? The witches rejoice when Christians join in on their holidays. According to the occultic community it’s one of the few times in the year that the hedge opens up and allows curses to land.

We can’t plead the blood of Jesus over something we won’t repent from. The lukewarm Christian can generally get away with these practices but not those who want to move higher. Satan will use these breaches of covenant as a get-out-of-jail free card that he holds in reserve if you ever decide to be dangerous. One of the greatest weapons the enemy has is hiding cause-and-effect from the eyes of the believer.

Halloween – This one is obvious. We should be in constant prayer and vigilance to bind the wicked practices of witchcraft in our area on this day. If you knew the exact day out of the whole year that your house was going to be robbed you wouldn’t go out to a party. You’d stay home and rack the shotgun.

Christmas – Anything but that one!

If you’re still reading this then you knew this would be coming. Quick question for you — as a Christian how many times have you heard that you shouldn’t want any spirit but the Holy Spirit? Probably a lot if you’re well churched. It’s in our songs and our prayers. Well, except for Christmas time. For some reason as soon as it’s December all of us want the Christmas spirit. I don’t know what or who that is but I’m pretty sure we should be careful how we word our wishes. After all warm fuzzies can only come from God right? The Bible states that we are to test the spirits; even the ones that look bright and cheery. Just something to ponder.

Let’s get into the nasty bits —

December 25th is not the Lord’s birthday. Before the Julian calendar was switched to the Gregorian calendar the 25th was the winter solstice. On that day the pagans would celebrate a resurrection of the sun god. In Rome the celebration was called Saturnalia. On that day they would fill their houses with holly which they held as a sacred plant. In fact one of the ways that they could tell if a family was Christian is if they refused to deck their halls with boughs of holly on December 25th. There’s no record but still a big chance we have brothers and sisters that were burned or crucified because of their solidarity. Holly isn’t as touchy a topic today but it was still used in worship practices of the day.

Speaking of sacred plants, the mistletoe comes from Druidic worship which is where Wicca and a lot of the new age magic derives its roots. In fact, they considered it so holy that they harvested it with a golden sickle. The kiss under the mistletoe came from 2 gods supposedly declaring a truce under the plant. It’s a parasite by the way. It doesn’t grow on its own accord so it has to leech the life from another tree in the forest to live. Sounds like prime material for the occult to me. If you’d have a problem hanging crystals in your house that were bought at a new age shop then there really isn’t a difference. It’s still inviting spirits that are familiar with its use into the house.

At the source of most sun god worship you will usually find fertility cultism. In other words the people would usually worship sexuality for the promise of a fruitful year. The wreath represents the female side of the worship of fertility. The evergreen branches were used for the wreaths because it represented longevity and eternity. The Christmas tree represents the male side. Did you know that Christmas trees used to be illegal in America? The Puritans who had come from Europe knew where they came from and knew that they were so overtly pagan that they refused to permit their use and deemed them blasphemous to the Lord. The last regulations prohibiting their use weren’t removed until the 1840’s.

When you trace the origin of the Christmas tree back you will find that it is a European version of an Ashera pole. Each version was used for the same type of sun god worship. The Bible actually has a whole lot to say about an Ashera pole…

2 Kings 23:6-7…  6 He brought out the Asherah from the house of the Lord outside Jerusalem to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and ground it to dust, and threw its dust on the graves of the common people. 7 He also broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes which were in the house of the Lord, where the women were weaving hangings for the Asherah.NASB

Deut 7:5-6… But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. NASB

1 Kings 14:15…  “For the Lord will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water; and He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they have made their Asherim, provoking the Lord to anger. NASB

Deut 16:21-22… “You shall not plant for yourself an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the Lord your God, which you shall make for yourself. 22 You shall not set up for yourself a sacred pillar which the Lord your God hates. NASB

And that’s just the beginning. My final comment on these things is this…

Are we instructed to redeem pagan things or destroy them? In our endeavor to come out of Babylon should we also see if Babylon needs to come out of us? Does God redeem paganism or does He redeem pagan people? Has America become like Jeroboam’s northern kingdom? Are our two golden calves (Christmas and Easter) replacing God’s intended way of worship? Finally, what in the world does any of these practices have to do with the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Merry birth of our Lord Jesus Christ celebration Christmas everyone!

 

 

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3 Giant Leaps Toward Freedom from Sin

 

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As people that love the Lord we can often feel our heart become wrenched at the presence of a sin that just doesn’t seem to ever go away. We might call it just a bad habit, or a “weakness” or, if it’s embarrassing, even a secret sin. Either way if you’ve been a Christian for any length of time you know what Paul was talking about in Romans 7:21-23 when he said —

 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. MSG

This type of life where sin is never defeated isn’t the will of God though. As Paul goes on he tells of the turning point and the victory that is possible as we reach chapter 8:1-2…

 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. MSG

That’s great news! So all our fighting is over now then right? Well… it’s not like our flesh or the tempter is going to lay down and quit. We are going to have to walk this out. So how do you do that? First and foremost we have to get in this Word and read it, and read it, and read it…and read it until it becomes bigger on the inside of us than the giants are in our eyes. For this post though I want to point out three keys or giant leaps forward to help you on your way as you meditate in the Word.

Giant Leap 1 – The first prayer that got you saved is the same prayer you need now.

One of the main reasons why we can hang onto sin is that we think that this one sin requires some advanced level of God’s power to deal with it. Somehow in our minds we think that because it’s been difficult it requires something with more oomph than what we used when we first got saved. The problem with this is that it assumes the cross is only a rudimentary element of Christianity.

Do you remember what it was like when you first asked the Lord into your heart? When you came to Him you had nothing to offer and He had everything to offer. You knew that the only way to make it would be if He did everything for you, right? Think about that grace. That type of arms-thrown-up-in-the-air in complete abandon is the reliance we have to have in the cross for any sin whether it’s old or new. Armed with this now we can believe that by trusting that His grace is enough we will receive power from Him to overcome. The gospel of Jesus Christ is enough for any sin issue in your life. End of story. Period.

Giant Leap 2 – If Jesus’ shed blood overcomes all sin then…let go.

I’m sure you’ve probably come home from a stressful day at work or school and as you finally relaxed you realized that your neck had been tensed up. The reason for this is that our bodies hold tension in areas that it wants to keep protected when it’s sensing stress. Just as we can do this with the stress of the day we can also have the tendency to do this in the spirit realm. Over time if we aren’t mindful of Who is in charge of the sin-defeating department we can slowly increase our grip on the issue until the only one dealing with it is us. There have been times where I have “come to” and realized that I had my hands wrapped all around the situation, sin or devil trying to choke it away which left no room for the Lord’s hands!

So how do we make sure we keep it in the Lord’s hands when the heat turns up? Thanksgiving and praise. It’s very difficult trying to be negative and thankful at the same time, so make it inconvenient to take it into your own hands. Make a lifestyle choice that puts thanksgiving and praise into every day of your week!

Giant Leap 3 – You have to disconnect with the enemy to connect with God.

If the first 2 aren’t making major headway for you then it could be that a deliverance is needed. In James 4:7 it says Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. NASB These three Leaps are pretty much summed up into this one scripture. We’ve been talking about submitting to God so now let’s move on to resisting the devil…

Resisting the enemy really means to leave no place for them (Eph 4:27). In other words taking out the circumstances that fuel the temptation. This can be external as far as literally cleaning house and lifestyle and it can also be internal in the cleaning of the mind and matching it to the mind of Christ. These have to do with fasted living where Jesus isn’t just savior but also Lord. We need to make sure that we have divorced the darkness in order for our marriage to the Bridegroom to be consistent.

Sometimes though there can be ties in the spirit that have been made that demonic forces use as an excuse to attach themselves to people. This isn’t a possession but rather an oppression when it’s a Christian. These people find salvation in Jesus but can still have an unusually strong pull towards one particular sin. When this happens it is usually that the demons look at that person as still being married to them.

For those situations I’d like to lead us in prayer in going before the Judge of Heaven and Earth and officially getting a divorce from the forces of darkness as well as to renew our marriage vows to Jesus Christ. If you feel that you need something like this please read this out loud and claim it for yourself

Father we enter your gates with thanksgiving and your courts with praise. We go boldly before your throne because of the sacrifice of Your Son and today we call upon the Judge of Heaven and Earth who is Jesus Christ. We ask You for a divorce from Satan, Baal, the spirit of the anti-Christ and all the forces of darkness. As the Ekklesia, the legislative branch of Your kingdom on Earth we take up our authority to dissolve any contract made with evil and declare it null and void as Your representatives on Earth in the name above all other names, Jesus Christ. We also put into binding our marriage vows to Your son Jesus and declare that He is our only Lord. We attest that according to Your promises in the Word that this thing has been done for us and that the Lord our Judge has slammed His gavel down upon this ruling. We therefore believe in expectancy that the ties have been broken and that he who the Son sets free is free indeed! We speak this in the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

Alright then, go take some leaps!

 

Bearing Arms in the Bible

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Whether bearing arms is a hot topic in our politics or not, the subject isn’t just in our news headlines; it’s actually found in a number of places in the Bible. For this reason I wanted to write about it so that when we are discipling the nations we can take God’s stance and not just human opinion.

So where exactly does God stand on someone’s right to defend themselves and does He have anything to say about the type of defense we are to have? Let’s go to the scriptures starting in Nehemiah:

13 then I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears and bows...16 From that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while half of them held the spears, the shields, the bows and the breastplates; and the captains were behind the whole house of Judah. 17 Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon. 18 As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built, while the trumpeter stood near me…21 So we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars appeared...23 So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes, each took his weapon even to the water. NASB

Here we have an example of regular citizens (note the “people in families” in v13) that are taking up arms against the threat of having their lives taken from them. As far as what they are specifically defending, In verse 14 the man of God tells the people to “fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses”. Now what were these regular citizens using to defend themselves with? It says swords, spears and bows. When you look at these implements you can see three different ranges of engagement represented. The sword was close range followed by the spear and then the bow being the longest ranged tool in their arsenal. If we bring these into the technology of today we can see short, medium, and long ranged weaponry as well. These people were using the handguns, shotguns and rifles of their age to defend themselves.

Unfortunately this wasn’t always the case though. Let’s look at another time in Israel’s history when the people weren’t able to defend themselves…

19 Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears.” 20 So all Israel went down to the Philistines, each to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, and his hoe. 21 The charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to fix the hoes. 22 So it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan, but they were found with Saul and his son Jonathan. NASB

So let’s think about this. God decided to put this little fact into the living Word. The Word that shall never pass away even though the heavens and the Earth will. Apparently this point was worth showing! If a nation is disarmed then it can be controlled.

You may be wondering if any of this is relevant in the New Testament so let’s move on to what Jesus said in Luke:

35 And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” 36 And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. NASB

I can see a lot of folks saying that the Lord was using the sword as a representation of the Word but contextually this wouldn’t make sense. In verse 35 he is referencing when he had originally sent out the 70 to evangelize with the orders to do so with no physical goods. He did this to teach them trust but now right before His death He knew that the times and seasons were changing. So much so that Jesus now showed that a weapon would be more valuable than clothing.

Now that we see that God shows that weaponry is a good thing to have on hand let’s turn toward our responsibilities with them. Starting in Ezekiel 33…

But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’ NASB

This shows that we have a responsibility to defend the defenseless and warn people of coming danger. I really like how Psalm 82 puts it…

2-4 “Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough,
    you’ve let the wicked get away with murder.
You’re here to defend the defenseless,
    to make sure that underdogs get a fair break;
Your job is to stand up for the powerless,
    and prosecute all those who exploit them.” MSG

Think of it this way – In John 10 it says that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Through this look into the enemy’s strategy we can know the natural progression that he takes against you. If someone breaks into your home to steal, know that they are under a demonic influence. If they are under such a thing then the temptation and the drive from Satan is to elevate it to killing you. Then, once they have killed they will be driven to utterly destroy you.

Thus I believe (to the extent that the law allows) that it is required of every guardian of every Christian household to be prepared to defend themselves in the same manner that Nehemiah and the Israelites had to. Once the invader has crossed the boundary of the inheritance, the season to give charity and be at peace has ended and now it is time to defend just as Eccl 3:8 states.

Some will say though that the angels of the Lord protect them and that defending themselves isn’t their responsibility. Yes, the angelic armies of the Lord of Hosts are encamped around and about those who fear God, but often in scripture it is shown that they aren’t involved with all of the fighting. With Joshua and the Israelites more fell by the hail of the Lord than the sword, but many still fell by the sword. God sent forth an angel before Joshua to cut off the mighty men of the enemy but not the rest. It is also said that the glory of the Lord shall be our rear guard. So who then is the front guard? Did the angels inherit your home? Are their names on the title and were they given dominion over the Earth?

Here’s how I look at it – The Lord strengthens my hands for battle and my fingers for war (Psalm 144:1) and I am to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9) but for anything that I can’t handle I have the backup of Heaven for ultimately the battle is the Lord’s!

Breaking the Shackles Through Judgement

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Hello everyone, I’m back from a bit of a sabbatical after the birth of my son in June. Mother and baby are doing well!

Anyway, while I was taking a break I had time to meditate a bit in the Word about the recent Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. Since then a lot of folks have been asking why. Why would God allow something like this to get through? With a remnant church praying and interceding why didn’t God stop this?

When you read in Proverbs 21:1 that God is able to guide a king’s heart wherever He pleases, you kind of wonder why God didn’t just choose to tip it in His favor.

The interesting thing about seeing this type of occurrence in the Bible though is that sometimes the Lord chooses to allow a king’s heart to harden against Him. Why? Well let’s see what happened to Pharaoh in the time of Moses…

The Bible states in Exod 9:12 that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh so that he would not listen to God’s people. I’ve always wondered why such a thing was done. I mean, wouldn’t it have been so much easier for the Israelites to just have divine favor with the king of Egypt? One heart turn towards what we think is the right direction and boom! God’s people are on their way to build the tabernacle in the wilderness! Instant prayer answered, right?

Here’s the thing though — every time Pharaoh had his heart hardened God sent a different plague. Why does this matter? Each plague that God sent against the wicked broke a stronghold in the people’s minds about one of their top deities. The plagues that God used were tailored to completely and utterly destroy any faith that the Egyptians had in their false gods. Before God turned the Nile into blood they thought there was a better god that presided over the Nile. Before He put darkness over all of Egypt (except where Moses and the Israelites were) the common thought was that the sun came from another god. By the time these plagues ran their course all of Egypt knew who the one true God was. Not only were the forces of darkness ruined in the eyes of the people and before God, their hold on Israel was too. Oh, and so was their hold on the wealth of the nation. When the exodus began the Bible says that Egypt was plundered of its gold (Exod 12:36).

So did God take the route that everyone thought would be better? No. He did however take the best route. In order for a nation to see breakthrough and for God’s people to inherit and posses the land there must first be a breaking of the spiritual darkness over the land; in the minds of the people as well as in the heavenlies. Before a whole nation turned away from Baal when fire fell down on Elijah’s altar, God had to send a famine to show everyone where the rain really comes from.  I know we all want to run for the hills away from the word “judgement” and we want to be like Abraham and Moses and plead with God to have mercy on others. Sometimes the Lord has to spank a nation to save future generations though.

Judgement against the wicked isn’t something we who have a covenant through the blood of Jesus should be worried about. None of the plagues touched the children of Israel when they were living right next door to the ones who were getting hit with it all. Granted, a portion of the covenant blessing and protection is God’s instruction and foresight so that we who have the Holy Spirit can prepare knowing judgement is coming; just like the passover.

Now what we need to ask ourselves is whether or not we’ve allowed the Holy Spirit to shape us. When judgement comes hidden wealth gets revealed, one talent servant portions are relocated, and inheritances are passed out. Are you a Cyrus or a Belshazzar? When the Lord comes a’ weighing will you measure up?

 

 

 

Psalm 109 – The Righteous Judge

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Psalm 109

Vengeance Invoked upon Adversaries.

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

1 O God of my praise,
Do not be silent!
For they have opened the wicked and deceitful mouth against me;
They have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
They have also surrounded me with words of hatred,
And fought against me without cause.
In return for my love they act as my accusers;
But I am in prayer.
Thus they have repaid me evil for good
And hatred for my love.

Appoint a wicked man over him,
And let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is judged, let him come forth guilty,
And let his prayer become sin.
Let his days be few;
Let another take his office.
Let his children be fatherless
And his wife a widow.
10 Let his children wander about and beg;
And let them seek sustenance far from their ruined homes.
11 Let the creditor seize all that he has,
And let strangers plunder the product of his labor.
12 Let there be none to extend lovingkindness to him,
Nor any to be gracious to his fatherless children.
13 Let his posterity be cut off;
In a following generation let their name be blotted out.

14 Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord,
And do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out.
15 Let them be before the Lord continually,
That He may cut off their memory from the earth;
16 Because he did not remember to show lovingkindness,
But persecuted the afflicted and needy man,
And the despondent in heart, to put them to death.
17 He also loved cursing, so it came to him;
And he did not delight in blessing, so it was far from him.
18 But he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment,
And it entered into his body like water
And like oil into his bones.
19 Let it be to him as a garment with which he covers himself,
And for a belt with which he constantly girds himself.
20 Let this be the reward of my accusers from the Lord,
And of those who speak evil against my soul.

21 But You, O God, the Lord, deal kindly with me for Your name’s sake;
Because Your lovingkindness is good, deliver me;
22 For I am afflicted and needy,
And my heart is wounded within me.
23 I am passing like a shadow when it lengthens;
I am shaken off like the locust.
24 My knees are weak from fasting,
And my flesh has grown lean, without fatness.
25 I also have become a reproach to them;
When they see me, they wag their head.

26 Help me, O Lord my God;
Save me according to Your lovingkindness.
27 And let them know that this is Your hand;
You, Lord, have done it.
28 Let them curse, but You bless;
When they arise, they shall be ashamed,
But Your servant shall be glad.
29 Let my accusers be clothed with dishonor,
And let them cover themselves with their own shame as with a robe.

30 With my mouth I will give thanks abundantly to the Lord;
And in the midst of many I will praise Him.
31 For He stands at the right hand of the needy,
To save him from those who judge his soul. – NASB

The Life of the Mountain Path

692860_35521712There’s two paths that lay before us; one that goes through a plain and one that goes through the mountains. The former is a single level of existence and the latter a consistent inclination (with lots of huffing and nerdy wheezing of course).

We know that we are offered the scenic route when we come to the Lord. His character shaping challenges us to move higher as the clutches of the world’s way of thinking begin to burn off.

What’s holding us back though? What is it exactly that lock us into the pathway of the plain? I believe that when you are able to name something you are then able to better deal with it in prayer.

Let’s look here in Genesis 11…

It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” – NASB

In verse 3 we see that they had to use substituted materials for building their city — brick for stone and tar for mortar. Why? They decided to settle for a one-level lifestyle and compromise their call to pioneer the world. Their supplies were cheaper in quality because they were made out of what their path was made out of. Their trust in mankind instead of God’s provision caused them to self destruct and the driving factor behind all of this was fear. Where God isn’t, there is no peace.

There’s good news for those who believe in Jesus though. The Word says that perfect love casts out all fear. Jesus said that the man who builds his house on the rock won’t have it sink on him. There is provision in the call even into the unknown. You know what’s out in the unknown though? Adventure! (and ice cream…I think). I know there’s at least adventure. Oh, and a whole lot of joy and fullness of days too.

So whatchya waitin’ for? There’s a nice mountain path out there with a bunch of people on the other side that are connected to your breakthrough. History isn’t changed by the mediocre — It’s changed by the mountain walkers.

 

What are 2 ways you can start up the mountain path right where you’re at today? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Psalm 42 – A Heart’s Cry

Køivoklát - vánoce 2006Psalm 42:

1 As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
11 Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God. – NASB