En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Posts Tagged ‘river’

Powerful Testimony on Suffering!

Posted by Scott on May 30, 2008

Jeremiah 29:11 says:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

click here for video Wretch Testimony!

 

sent to me by a good friend of mine Bill Saunders!  By the way…I am not Bob Schuller fan, but he does not say much really, so, this guys testimony is still entact.  Watch and listen!

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The Land of Disappearing Children-Japan!

Posted by Scott on May 22, 2008

“The Land of Disappearing Children” — Japan’s Population Crisis

by Al Mohler, Jr.

The nation of Japan faces a devastating population crisis. The crisis, however, is not a problem of too many people living in Japan, but too few. Japan, with several other nations close behind, faces what we might call a population implosion.

Indeed, Japan has experienced 27 consecutive years of declining birth rates. Within just a few short years the nation will experience massive social problems and a complete breakdown of economic activity.

In previous eras, this kind of population loss would be explained by war or some natural catastrophe such as famine or the plague. None of these explanations is relevant to Japan’s experience, however. As a matter of fact, the population of Japan actually grew during World War II, only to start falling in the early 1980s.

As The Washington Post reports:

The number of children has declined for 27 consecutive years, a government report said over the weekend. Japan now has fewer children who are 14 or younger than at any time since 1908.

The proportion of children in the population fell to an all-time low of 13.5 percent. That number has been falling for 34 straight years and is the lowest among 31 major countries, according to the report. In the United States, children account for about 20 percent of the population.

Japan also has a surfeit of the elderly. About 22 percent of the population is 65 or older, the highest proportion in the world. And that number is on the rise. By 2020, the elderly will outnumber children by nearly 3 to 1, the government report predicted. By 2040, they will outnumber them by nearly 4 to 1.

The numbers tell the story. Almost a quarter of Japan’s population is 65 and older; only 13.5 percent are children. The inescapable conclusion is that there will soon not be enough Japanese to keep Japan functioning as a nation, society, and culture.

The paper calls the reality “a slow-motion demographic catastrophe that is without precedent in the developed world.” Looking ahead, the paper assured its readers that it was not overstating the case. Indeed, “The economic and social consequences of these trends are difficult to overstate.”

The Japan Center for Economic Research predicts that Japan will lose 70 percent of its workers by mid-century. Japan may now be the world’s second-largest economy, but it cannot retain that status with a population in severe decline.

A society that stops having children is like a healthy person who simply decides to starve himself.  This is an act of the human will, not a natural calamity.

The population explosion prophets are still warning of a population crisis to come, but they got the story almost perfectly backward when it comes to nations like Japan.  Russia and several other European nations face similar crises.

Babies are a clear sign of cultural confidence and cultural health.  The Washington Post describes this crisis as “Japan’s disappearing children.”  Those words do describe Japan’s predicament — and this crisis will not disappear.

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Are Children a Burden or Blessing?

Posted by Scott on May 22, 2008

In a society that is quickly moving towards limiting the family size we must ask why is this?  Have children suddenly become burdens upon society or has this happened gradually?  Maybe the question should be asked “Are they a burden at all?”  God tells us throughout the scriptures of the Holy Bible that children are a blessing from above.  So, the question that pops into my mind, “Who made children a burden?”

I have a long article circling my small brain about this very topic.  Children are very precious to my wife and I.  We are committed to allowing God full reign over every aspect of our lives has been an 18 plus year quest of ours…this includes our family size.  Although it has not been easy to release our lives into the hands of God completely, just out of human nature, it has been the most rewarding.  In these kids of ours we can see God develop a desire in their hearts for Him.  We observe him drawing them to Himself.  We now have 10 beautiful children that reveal to us the characteristics of a loving and sometimes humerous God every day of our lives.

I heard a question raised by a parent who called in to a well know talk show the other day.  The question the fellow made was “shouldn’t Christian parents have fewer children so their children can have a better life economically and socially?”  Wow!  That question raises the hair on my neck as to what may Christian parents are thinking these days.  Does scripture support this kind of thinking anywhere within its pages in true context?  I doubt it!  The problem with the question is that it shows insight into a growing belief among Christian parents that we should spoil our children and give them more than we  had growing up…of course we would like our kids live’s to be easier, but should we really strive to achieve that?  This kind of pie in the sky philosophy is dangerous and in fact this kind of philosophy is producing one of the most spoiled, disrespectful, snobby, unprepared generations of children to ever dawn the face of this earth.  They will not be able to stand in the face of the enemy and defend the family or the Christian faith someday.  Their faith is being built on posh, tender footed, pansism rather than real life hardness with biblical answers. 

What is up with Christian parents thinking we should have fewer children in order to pamper the kids “behinds”?  Is this real?  I would hope this is one parents mistaken question, but I am affraid it is a growing gas that is spreading across our nation and will eventually ignite into a ball of fire that will consume anyone in its path of opposition to detriment of this Christian nation.  This question as it is raised in all of its “rawness” is supposing that large families grow up poor, disadvantaged, uneducated, and down right burdens on society.  Well, I dare you to do the real research on large families and their contribution to society over the past 300 years…I don’t have time to expound on that in this post, but will try to update this post later on. 

Here are few other questions that arise from this regurgitated question:

1. Are we as parents suppose to be able to buy our kids everything they want, send them to the finest schools, provide them with the finest friends, with the finest homes and cars?  At this moment, I know what you might be thinking, so, put aside the thought of this being jealousy or condemnation of wealth, because it is not.  This probes far deeper than anything that shallow.  True wealth is not a sin, but it can lead to much sin like anything else in this life including poverty.

2. Are we as parents to involve these kids in every worldly social activity under the sun like all the sports they can play at one time, all the camps that can be afforded them for the summer, all the birthday parties they can stomach, all the “play dates” you can schedule, all the “Mothers Day Out” programs one can afford?  All of this so that we as parents can be the personal chauffers to our kids and their “loyal” friends, so we can have “Me time”, so we can go to the gym and jogging with our other friends lest we allow one ounce of fat on our bodies and many other vain issues that would take more blog space to address…one disclaimer here, “Staying healthy is a good thing and there is nothing wrong with working out”.  Really parents, think about these questions for a long moment.  Where is this kind of thinking coming from?  Where in all of this does glorifying our heavenly Father come into action?  How much personel time do we spend with these precious God given kids of ours compared to the time they spend under the influence of everyone else in the world that has little interest in the spiritual well being of our kids?  How is any of this activity preparing them for the future in the world?  I know you can make up reasons to justify the action..I hear them all the time, we all can do that including taking biblical verses out of context to support them, but I am talking about taking our live’s and laying it open and bare before God and from His Holy Word scripting out examples from the Bible as to the pros and cons of our life!

3. Are we as parents listening to the Word of God anymore?  Isn’t it in reality that we are listening to our peers put pressure on us to put the kids in everything so they will be “socially well rounded”, “every child should have the opportunity to play a sport”…”this is a right of passage” they will tell us, the peer pressure is we don’t want our kids to be outcast with their “friends”…we teach them by our very actions to be like everyone else instead of being different from the world?  This is tragic that we allow family and friends dictate to us how to raise our family all the while we know in our hearts we are not raising them according to God’s biblical standard for them.   we have not only been living in the world, but we have also become like the world…we have grown into and rooted ourselves in this worldly society.

These are some of the probing questions that pierce deep into the mind of each of us or should.  The issue is really not the size of the families or economic status of the families…that is just the face or front of it all.  The real issue is which worldview we as parents have.  Is our worldview truly a biblical worldview or is it a humanistic philosophical worldview many times disquised or counted as a biblical worldview?  We must be careful…we have the Book that tells us and shows us the difference.

Are we willing to risk the eternal lives of our children by raising them under a humanistic worldview?  Think about that for a moment!  How can raising the kids under a worldview that wars against God, that is against its Creator…how can this be of any benefit to our children in eternity?  We will all have an eternity somewhere…the question is where will our eternity be?  What do our children do each day that is of eternal benefit in heaven to them?  From the education they are getting to the sports they play…what is the eternal benefit?  Does it even matter until they are near adulthood?  I hope that answer is that it matters from their first breath in this world.  Read this creed and see if we can make it our own…it was tweeked with one new word by John Piper:

“The chief end of man is to glorify God

BY

enjoying Him forever!”

Society has produced over the decades a desirable flavor for sin that taste good to most people by saying in a bold way that “children are a burden”.  This is what I hear from people all the time it seems:  Kids cost money, they get dirty, they make your house smelly, you have to take them places all the time, kids have no respect of adults, kids cannot resist temptations, kids are like animals, kids eat too much or all the time, kids are “whiny”, I would not bring a kids into this vile world, you are insane or crazy to have that many kids, and so on.  You know for many kids I find nothing untruthful about those statements…no one has ever said raising kids was an easy thing.  However, was raising children any different 50 years ago from the way it is done now?  Yes, the world is different, the risk are possibly greater, but the end goal is still the same…godly adults that will glorify God with their lives and the way they raise their children “BY enjoying Him forever”.  Did God say along with the fact that children are a blessing that they would be perfect?  Raising children is not easy, but done in the raw-authentic parenting fashion is the most rewarding for us.  To see your kids learn from everyday life how to handle situations that come up in their lives is a great display to watch. 

Proverbs is a great place to find the wisdom into raising children in the ways of the Lord.

-Teach them about social evils Proverbs 22:28; 23:10; 30:14

22:28″Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers
      set up by previous generations.”

23:10″Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers;
      don’t take the land of defenseless orphans.”

-Social Obligations in Proverbs 18:24; 22:24-25; 23:1-2; 25:6-7,17

18:24″There are “friends” who destroy each other,
      but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”

22:24-25″Don’t befriend angry people
      or associate with hot-tempered people,
      or you will learn to be like them
      and endanger your soul.”

-About Poverty in Proverbs 17:5; 18:23; 19:4,7,17

17:5″Those who mock the poor insult their Maker;
      those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished.”

18:23″The poor plead for mercy;
      the rich answer with insults.”

-Concern for the poor in Proverbs 14:31; 17:5; 18:23

14:31″Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker,
      but helping the poor honors him.”

17:5″Those who mock the poor insult their Maker;
      those who rejoice at the misfortune of others will be punished.”

-Against laziness in Proverbs 12:27; 20:13; 2:14-15

12:27″Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch,
      but the diligent make use of everything they find.”

20:13″If you love sleep, you will end in poverty.
      Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat!”

2:14-15″The [lazy] take pleasure in doing wrong,
      and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil.
      Their actions are crooked,
      and their ways are wrong.”

-Important passages from Proverbs 10:22; 13:11; 19:4

10:22″The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich,
      and he adds no sorrow with it.”

13:11″Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears;
      wealth from hard work grows over time.”

19:4″Wealth makes many “friends”;
      poverty drives them all away.”

-Relationships in Proverbs 18:24; 22:24-25; 25:17

25:17″Don’t visit your neighbors too often,
      or you will wear out your welcome.”

-Foolish Teachable People in Proverbs 1:4,22; 7:7-8; 21:11

1:4″These proverbs will give insight to the simple,
      knowledge and discernment to the young.”

1:22″How long, you simpletons,
      will you insist on being simpleminded?
   How long will you mockers relish your mocking?
      How long will you fools hate knowledge?”

7:7-8″I saw some naive young men,
      and one in particular who lacked common sense.
     He was crossing the street near the house of an immoral woman,
      strolling down the path by her house.”

21:11″If you punish a mocker, the simpleminded become wise;
      if you instruct the wise, they will be all the wiser.”

-Arrogant unteachable fools in Proverbs 3:34; 21:24; 22:10; 29:8

3:34″The Lord mocks the mockers
      but is gracious to the humble.”

21:24″Mockers are proud and haughty;
      they act with boundless arrogance.”

22:10″Throw out the mocker, and fighting goes, too.
      Quarrels and insults will disappear.”

29:8″Mockers can get a whole town agitated,
      but the wise will calm anger.”

In all simplicity, we need to look no further than what God says about children. 

Psalm 37:26
“The godly always give generously to others and their children are a blessing.”

Isaiah 29:23
“For when they see their many children and all the blessings I have given them, they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Israel. They will stand in awe of the God of Jacob.”

Matthew 11:25
[ Rest for the Weary ] “At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”

Matthew 18:3
And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

  1. Matthew 19:13
    [ The Little Children and Jesus ] Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
    Matthew 19:12-14 (in Context) Matthew 19 (Whole Chapter)
  2. Matthew 19:14
    Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Some final thoughts.  Children are looked upon with high regard by God.  He does not ever use them in context with a burden, but uses them numerous times throughout scripture in context with blessings.  In light of this fact, we are to take our job in raising them spiritually very serious.  This includes the activities and worldview we pass down to them.  Parents, this life is not about you and me.  Our life is about glorifying our Lord Jesus Christ as the supreme holy One.  It is all about raising our children in a home with a biblical worldview…a worldview that will contradict nearly everything you think is right in this world and could bring about strong convistions from your peers.  This will be a life that is radically different from the world.  It is parenting that is radically different from the way society tells us to raise our children.  Parents, this authentic life will be met with constant questioning from fellow believers and non-believers alike.  It will be a life that is ridiculed by our neighbors because a life truly lived for Christ and the raising of our children along the same lines is a reflection of Christ that our humanistic society simply cannot tolerate.  If we reflect Christ we will be in constant conflict with the world.  Man cannot stand to look at his own sinfulness and a life lived for Christ will mirror the sin in others lives that are not living for Christ.  If we have no conflict with the world by the life that we live, we need to prayerfully think about how we are living.  We should not measure our success or the success in our kids live’s in this life based on anyone around us, fellow Christians included.  Our measuring stick, our plumb-line is found within the pages of God’s word not in the pages of science, Aristotle, Hercules, Einstein, Carl Marx, and anyone of the like.  Humans have placed such strong faith in science being the truth while the Bible must be false and yet many Christians have fallen into the same trap by buying into and co-mingling this scientific language into the Christian faith.  Science has many unproven theories that are challenged and shown to be false almost daily.  Darwin’s theory of Evolution is a biggy on that list.

I have heard so many Christians bring the “big bang” theory into their Christian beliefs believing that may be the way the Lord created it…concluding that He could not literally have spoken it into existence.  This is a dangerous belief.  You are either on the scientific side of evolution or you are on the literal creationist side of this.  Stop trying to stand on both sides so you can get along with everyone…our kids are watching and listening to us and they hang on our every word.  Many Christians believe that evolution is how God created human beings.  What?  Surely I did not just say that.  This is the result of sending our kids to these fine upstanding public institutions so many Christians defend on a daily basis…if we don’t want our kids for example to live like the Roman’s then don’t send our kids to the Roman (government ruled) institutions for their education and influence.  Think about how the government is run today and corrupt it is…this is the same for the schools.  Our two hours per day with them will not over come the 8 plus hours per day the worldly government sponsored institution has them.  I cannot say this enough concerning the time spent with our children on a daily basis.  Society wants you to believe that the child’s education is most important and his or her social skills come next…and we should let them decide upon faith and religion in their spare time.  Parents, no child will come to faith in Christ on their own…God must draw them to Himself and He wants to use us to help them along the path by giving them biblical truths on a daily basis by word and example…help them to “feast on the word of God”.  The lie goes further to say that you can only accomplish a true kind of education and social ability in a public institution.  The public school system is not a friend of the Christian nor is it at peace with God…it is actually at war with God and has been since its beginning, yet, this is dangerous for even me to say, because so many would defend the public school faster than the word of God, but who ever said “truth” would be acceptable to the majority!

In the end of all this, who is creating burdensome children?  Could it be us as parents are creating little monsters rather than great Christian young people that will contribute to society in a way that brings true peace and true light into the world rather than further darkness?  The conclusion can be yours.  In my opinion, which is worth about a quarter cent, parents better wake-up t-o-d-a-y!  The children are growing up faster than we know and soon they will be adults out in the world.  What kind of adult are you producing?  The numbers do not support the job the Christian parents and church has been doing over the past several decades.  With a high percentage of young people dropping out of church once they leave home for college, the number of young people renouncing their faith are further results that prove the humanistic philosophical worldview is not working and it has not worked for decades…actually it has never worked.

Will we become bold parents that will decide today to refocus on the scriptural, spiritual way of parenting and put far more emphasis on the spiritual aspect of their life rather than the educational aspect..more education will not add one day to their life nor will it get them any closer to our heavenly Father?  Will we as parents decide to reduce our children’s exposure to societies traps?  Will we as parents choose to make some hard decisions to ensure our kids receive the most intense biblical training possible before leaving the nest?  Will we raise the standard higher from the low expectations the world sets for our kids…this is both at home, school, and in the church?  Yes, it is true our actions speak louder than words, but we must remain in the Word in order for our children to put the words with the actions…otherwise it is simply action with no foundation.  Lean hard upon God to make these difficult changes in life, but they are necessary if you really want your children to succeed beyond this life and become great godly adults for the society we must endure.

-Scott Bailey 2008

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Where is Your Flag of Joy?

Posted by Scott on May 13, 2008

As Christians we are going to fall from time to time.  You know what I mean…fallen to sin!  We find every person well known to not very well known to fall to sin at some point in their lives.  Yes, we sin everyday if we are honest about it, but the focus here is a sin that goes unconfessed for a while, that has created great stress within you and turmoil for other people.

King David fell to sin as is well known.  He sinned with Bathsheba which lead to further sin and actually a crime of murder.  Seems like this would make a good drama on TV these days, but the sin would be glorified in some way, so hopefully no one will suggest a drama from this story in today’s climate in Hollywood.  This particular sin that David committed went unconfessed for about a year.  So, it festered up inside David.  Although David may have never let it be known to those around him, he was guilt ridden from within.  Sin is like a small sore that left on its own will fester, grow, become bothersome, then downright agitating to us to the point that something has to be done about it.  Thankfully for David’s sake the prophet Nathan was around to bring this sin to an end in David’s conscience.

Psalm 51 is David’s repentance of the sins he had committed, but had not dealt with.  David cried out before God for compassion and forgiveness.  This is a great example of the reaction of a person that is truly pursuing God with their heart.  Repentance is the result of that pursuit.  You want nothing to stand in the way of your relationship with God.  You cannot stand for sin to block your view of God.  David is yearning for God’s fresh new mercies that are available to him…he cries out for this mercy and compassion.  God does not only have compassion, but He offers a “multitude” of compassion for us when we fall on our face before Him in true repentance of the sin(s) we have committed.  As David finally was able to view his sin as a crime against his heavenly Father.  We too should view our sin as a crime against the God who loves us and keeps us daily. 

Almighty God desires our righteousness and faithfulness to Him.  When we have unconfessed sin sweltering inside us and festering into an oozing nasty sore it is infecting our righteousness before God.  This smelly, crusty, ooz of sin creates many losses for us as believers.  This is why an immediate confession before God of our sin no matter how great or small is so important…doctor that sore immediately, so that the stench of sin is not upon your person.  Sin leads to at least seven losses when a Christian sins:

1. The Loss of Light as referenced in 1 John 1:6

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”

2. The Loss of Joy as referenced in Psalm 51:12, John 15:11, Galatians 5:22, & 1 John 1:4

John 15:11

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

3. The Loss of Righteousness as referenced in 1 John 3:4-10

 “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”

4. The Loss of Love as referenced in 1 John 2:5; 15:17; 4:12

“But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him…”

5. The Loss of Fellowship as referenced in 1 John 1:3, 6-7

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”

6. The Loss of Confidence as referenced in 1 John 3:19-22

“This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.”

7. Possible Loss of Health and even Physical Life as referenced in 1 Cor 11:30

“That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”

 David experienced many of these same problems because of his unconfessed sinfulness.  Tragically we do the same at times causing great loss in our lives.  Healing begins with repentance and recognition of our sinfulness, our crime against God and humanity.  Then the pouring out of our grief about the sin and asking for forgiveness from our most compassionate and merciful Father.  David asked to purified so that he could be clean again.  He was tired of the filthiness that this sin had brought upon him.  He knew that if God purged him, he would be whiter than snow…he would be stainless again.  David used many words for this desire to be clean like “wash away”, “blot out”, “cleanse”, “wash me”, and “create”.  David wanted to be clean again.  He desired the joy he once had in his youth. 

Here we are in the middle of our sinfulness with the filth of this sin covering us.  If we want to experience the true joy and salvation we once had, we need to be on our knees pleading our forgiveness before God.  He is faithful to restore or renew us this very day.  God will create in us a pure heart.  He will renew a right spirit within us that desires to be pleasing to Him in all that we do.  He will not cast us out from His presence, but surround us with His arms in loving kindness.  Ask from Him to restore the newness of your salvation and give you a fresh spirit that is not in bondage to sin anymore.  David yearned for freedom from his sin and we too can have this freedom, but it is only found after an authentic repentant heart has been broken and deeply affected by the torment of sin.  God is delighted by two things in our sacrifice to Him:

1. A broken repentant spirit

2. A broken and grief stricken heart over sin

Don’t let sin wreck your life.  Confess it before Him today.  Ask for forgiveness before Him today.  Break down the pride and ego that keeps you from experiencing a true joy today.  The weightiness of God’s word can penetrate the heart of stone to assist you in this new brokenness.  You have not felt the exhilaration and lightness of your soul until every inch of the soiled soul has been cleansed and purged of its sinfulness.  God does not intend that His people live in guilt.  Guilt produces nothing good and will not end in a successful spiritual life.  This guilt is a giant in our lives and like David we must conquer it through the power of the Holy Spirit within us this giant of the guilt of sin by confessing it, being remorseful over it, asking for restoration from it, and finally begging a new joy that produces a wonderful aroma before the throne of Almighty God.

I finish up with this wonderful illustration:

 Joy Is The Flag

“Principal Rainy, of whom a child once remarked that she believed he went to Heaven every night because he was so happy every day, once used a fine metaphor about a Christian’s joy. “Joy,” he said, “is the flag which is flown from the castle of the heart when the King is in residence there.”
These words have been made into a popular chorus.”
 

Tan, Paul Lee: Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers. Garland TX : Bible Communications, 1996, c1979

We should have our “Flag of Joy” raised everyday, because the King of our heart and soul lives within us.  If you have fallen to sin, don’t let it reside in your heart, get rid of it and let God restore the joy of your life today.
-Scott Bailey 2008

 

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How is Your Heart?

Posted by Scott on May 12, 2008

Proudness and arrogance explains most of the hearts that are unrepentent today.  Let me ask a few questions:

What attracts us to go to the church we attend?

What messages bring the throngs of people to our churches today?

Are these messages concerning our self-esteem, anger management, better sex with our spouses, how to overcome depression, creating a better marriage, cooking healthy, and so on?  

Would you be attracted to a church that did not feature all the above attractions, but simply ask that you show to hear God’s word expounded and that God would show up?

A person attending the same church that President Lincoln attended once asked the pastor if the President would be attending the service today?  The pastors reply was, “No, but the Almighty God will.”

In coming to grips with the powerful jagged truth of Psalm 50 and its application to us in the 21st century we need to understand a simple fact:  God still desires to have a relationship with His people.  This Psalm is directed today as it was several thousand years ago to the church going, hand waving, scripture quoting, chorus singing, person with a strong head knowledge of who God is, but none of this activity is from the heart.  God calls these people wicked.  I mean, they look religious…they sound religious…they speak all the religious lingo, however, God calls them wicked.  Because God remains silent many times as we worship Him falsely, we should not think He is like us.  God tells us in Psalm 50:21

“…you thought I was altogether like you.  BUT, I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face.”

God is nothing like us.  He does not come to us with a cold heart, lying tongue, deceitful motives, and a stained sinful heart.  God comes to us desiring our hearts be in total obedience to Him, worshipping Him with truly humble hearts that have pushed aside the pride and ego to know our Almighty God.  Sadly, today we have churches being filled with filthy sin stained people that do not mind entering the church this way and do not mind leaving the church in the same condition.  Nothing they heard or witnessed at this church challenged their sin or called out for repentence before God.  All the worship was a lying, dirty, shameful display of religious philosophy that does not even come close to honoring or glorifying God.  During the time of the writing about Asaph and the Israelites they sacrificed animals to God.  In reality God cared nothing about the sacrifices, but cared deeply about the hearts that brought forth the sacrifices.  The same goes today.  He cares little about the actual event, but care greatly about the heart that is worshipping Him.  Now, do not take this to mean it does not matter how we worship…God is very clear as to how He wants us to conduct worship to Him, but in the end of it all we must come to Him with repentant humble saddened hearts about our sinfulness before Him.  This creates in us a true authentic worshipful heart.

I can find nothing wrong with addressing many of the topics in the questions above, but it should not be the attraction or the focus.  God’s word many times will draw out these themes, but a good pastor who expounds on them will not make this the attracting headline.  Understand, we are called to attend church to hear the word of God regardless of the specific topic or passages.  It is a heart that is attracted to the word of God that understands true worship and comes to God with something to hide, but still begs forgiveness for their uncleanness and sinfulness.  This gets the attention of our Almighty God.

Many of the Israelites of yester-year worshipped from a shameful heart.  They worshipped with empty repetitious rituals.  God desires from us righteousness not empty rituals that you will observe still today in many churches.  Communion is taken with unclean, unrepentant, heartless people that take it as a symbol rather than worship.  Over 50% of the marriages today make a mockery of the wedding ceremony.  This has become a fruitless ritual that neither honors God nor means anything other than a ritualistic gesture to make the consummation of the couple legal.  The wedding was designed to be a ceremony to honor God in light of the marriage, yet, today it is all about the couple and their selfish desires and little to with God at all.  Man looks at the outside and thinks the people involved in these rituals as righteous and true, yet, God looks at the heart and would call most “wicked liars”.  He knows our intentions before we even are close to thinking of them. 

2 Peter 3:9 speaks of the patience of God.  He is long-suffering concerning our sin.  If He was not patient we all would have been vaporized at the first hint of sin within our hearts, and still He waits patiently for us to repent and come to Him seeking forgiveness for the filthiness guilt and sin has placed on us.  He does not desire that we parish, but He will not tolerate our sin stained lives forever.

“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me and He prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”

My encouragement to everyone is to fall in love with God’s instruction.  Welcome His Word in your heart.  Be forever thankful for His patience and long-suffering with us and His forgiveness of our sins.  Become the delight of God’s eye and yearn for a great new relationship with our heavenly Father coming to Him in truth and faith.  God is not like us.  He is holy, righteous, and patient, but He desires for us to be like Him.

 Heart Specialists’ Heart Exam

“Some years ago, during the annual convention of the American Medical Association, a small group of doctors were listening to a lecture on a highly-specialized facet of their task as “heart men.” The lecturer asked how many of them had had a heart examination in the previous twelve months. If Time’s reporter can be relied on, not a man was able to lift his hand!”
 

Tan, Paul Lee: Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers. Garland TX : Bible Communications, 1996, c1979

So, how is your heart?  Have you had it examined spiritually lately?

-Scott Bailey 2008

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Heresy Emerging!

Posted by Scott on May 9, 2008

by Ray C. Stedman

READ: 1 John 2:18-19

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us (1 John 2:19a).

Notice that the mark of an antichrist is finally breaking away from New Testament Christianity. All such invariably do. And when they do, they will insist that they are the true mainstream of Christian truth and that we are living in the backwaters of Christian doctrine. John puts this very plainly. The mark of genuineness is continuity in the truth, continuance in true faith. What does he mean by “us”? Surely not Christendom in general. He means, as he makes clear in the context of this whole letter, those who love the Word of God and who possess the Spirit of God, those who seek to obey the Word in the power of the Spirit. The emphasis he has been making all along is on those who share the life of Christ by the Word of God in the power of the Spirit of God. Heretics will invariably cut themselves off from these people.

If you suggest studying the Scriptures to those who are involved in heresy, you will immediately feel their scorn of the Scriptures. If they read the Bible at all, they cull out certain portions, omitting the parts they do not like, and then they say, “Yes, we’ll study the Scriptures right along with you.” But if you read what they are studying, you find it to be emasculated of essential truth. We need not fear heresy if we find someone who wishes to study the Scriptures as they are. There are many people today who are utterly ignorant of the Scriptures and perhaps have very peculiar viewpoints about them, but they are quite willing to learn. Do not worry about the fact that they are way off about a lot of things now. Get them into the Scriptures. The Word of God has a marvelous ability to correct error and to channel interests into vital matters. They will soon be brought into line with the great, marvelous, glorious, all-pervasive truth of God, these tremendous themes that grip the hearts of men and women wherever they are set forth in power.

Through the centuries there have been cyclical outbreaks of heresy arising within Christian circles to twist, distort, and pervert the truth. We see the confluence of these in our own day. We will be disturbed and confused unless we view them in the light of the revelation of the truth of God. What a wonder this Word is, which has been given to us that we might understand what is happening to us, understand the world in which we live, and thus be made to know what is going on. We can thus realize that history is utterly in the control of God and is moving exactly the way He planned. Our own individual lives can be brought into line with this to produce not that which is transient and ephemeral, but to be engaged in that which abides, that which will end up at last fulfilling the purpose of God in history, moving to the last consummation that He has in view.

Father, my heart is moved anew as I see what is happening in my own day in the blazing light of these amazing Scriptures. God, grant that I might remain true to Your Word.

This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray’s sermons. Please read “The Nature of Heresy” (or listen to the audio file  Listen to Ray) for more on this portion of scripture.

 

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A River that Never Runs Dry!

Posted by Scott on May 6, 2008

In ancient days many of the greatest cities that were not near the ocean or a lake were built with a river running through them.  The river supplied them with fresh water constantly, a means of transporting goods from one area to another, trade with other cities, etc.  This river sustained the people of these cities throughout their lives.  Without this river they would be left desolate or so they thought.  With this knowledge and fact makes Jerusalem all the more interesting.  This was and will be again a great city.  Called in Psalm 46 “the city of God”. 

This “city of God” spoken of in Psalm 46 is also a reference to millennial kingdom to come when God brings down the New Heaven to dwell on the New Earth or as it is spoken of the New Jerusalem. 

Jerusalem is where God lead His people to settle a few thousand years ago.  Why would God place them in a city that has no river or stream running through it?  Throughout the 11 verses of Psalm 46 God has inspired the writing to tell us why.

God is our sustaining river.  He is the never ending supply of fresh clean clear water of life.  He will give us clear directions.  He is our refuge when troubles come.  He is our fortress when we are going through trials.  He is the Lord Almighty who is always with us believers.  He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Simply put…”He Is”!

Let’s take a look a some of the words so prominently placed within this text.  But first of all this is a song that was harmoniously played out by the temple choir who were the Sons of Korah.  The Sons of Korah were the descendants of Korah.  You might ask who was Korah?  Korah was a person back in Moses day who rebelled against Moses and eventually died because of his rebellion.  However, the children and future generations of Korah remained faithful to God and were kept as a great part of the worship of God in the Temple. 

God is our refuge!  We make that statement with a definite loud voice many times.  This “refuge” is somewhat different than the refuge of verses 7 and 11 which also use the word fortress in place of refuge in some versions.  “Refuge” here is our shelter and our only place of hope.  We cannot put our hope in none other than our Almighty God and be secure.  He is our strength as well within this shelter that gives us a loud boldness full of might that is always present and this shelter of hope is to protect us during times of trouble.  Think about Deuteronomy 33:27:

“The eternal God is our refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Visualize when times of trouble are near the strong everlasting arms of the Father gathering around you.  Isaiah likened it to God spreading His wings like an eagle for us to rest upon.  Jesus used the visualisation of Him spreading out His wings like a mother hen gathering her baby chicks to take shelter under and protection from harm and danger.  It is this shelter or refuge we draw tremendous strength from daily. 

If and when the world seems to be coming to an end and it is crashing down all around us we can face it fearlessly.  The writer tells us in the verses beforehand Who we can rest in and Who gives us our strength while facing these times…Almighty God.  Then it says “therefore” we WILL NOT fear when the world comes crashing in.  How is it that we WILL NOT fear?  I think back to terrifying times in my life or the lives of other believers I read about.  We can face these difficult times fearlessly, because we are resting under the shelter or arms of God.  We have made Him our refuge.  Our strength is drawn from Him not ourselves.  If we rely upon ourselves for strength we will face a crumbling world trembling and stone cold full of fear.  Our own human strength cannot offer refuge for a dying world or even our families.  This strength can only come from our living faithful Almighty God.  He is the Alpha and Omega which is the beginning and the end.  He has His awesome powerful arms around us with His hands at the beginning and the end.  We are caught up with Him somewhere in between. 

James 4:8 tells us to “Come near to God and He will come near to you…”  How do we come near to God?  In prayer we come near to God, because we are speaking with Him.  We can talk with Him as though we can see Him setting in the seat next to us.  Our God is not a God that is far off in the distance trying to cope with our problems.  He is close to us…ever-present in times of trouble.  We can depend upon Him to be right beside us, not standing off in the distance.  Deuteronomy 4:7 “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to Him?”  He draws near to us when we pray.  The ability to to develop this tremendous awareness of the closeness of God is to pray fervently to Him always.  We are instructed to always be in prayer…this means to be in constant awareness of how close God is and speak to Him about all things and at times, we may simply say “Praise You Lord” which is speaking to God.  We will not feel His close presence in our life unless we pray and stay in constant meditation in the Word of God.

God is our fortress.  “Fortress or Refuge” in this sense is a high and lofty inaccessible place.  He puts us out of reach of danger from our enemy many times.  He ask us to come and see His performance, His mighty work as He desolates the earth around us, yet, His chosen people are still standing firm in the hope and strength we have placed in Him.  As Paul in 2 Timothy 4:16-17 was facing a tribunal and everyone at this point had abandoned him in his last moments.  Paul still could sense his God as his Omnipotent advocate and undaunted friend in the face of this trial.  Even to the moment his head was to roll in the dirt of a bloody executioners floor for his role in the furthering of the Kingdom of God, he could still visualize and sense his King beside him, holding him up in His everlasting arms, and reaching out to receive Paul from the other side of eternity.  This refuge, this shelter, this strength is not mentioned or promised so that we will never face death or horrible events in our lives.  If you believe this you have been greatly mistaken or lied to.  As authentic Christians, we will face trials, troubles, desolation, a crumbling sinful world around us, and possibly even death for the cause of Christ. God is explaining how we get through these times.  We can rest upon Him during these times.  He will at times rescue us from trouble and not let one hair on our heads be damaged, but this is may not always be the case. 

“The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything.” Phil 4:5-6

“Fear not, for I am with you.” Isaiah 41:10

“I will never leave you nor frsake you.” Hebrew 13:5

Finally, in the midst of the smoke from the fire, the smell from death around us, the constant pounding by the enemy, a venimous taunting from the enemies clever mouths…we are to “Be still and know that He is God”.  This is the most reverent form of worship described in this text.  Stop what you are doing, clear your mind to the affairs of the day, place your focus and thoughts on the Alighty God, Elohim.  Be consumed by the awesomeness of our heavenly Father.  Focus on the holiness of our Lord, Adonai.  Observe or recognize that He is our God, Jehovah, the self-existant One.  He is our refuge and strength.  We must “Be still..” to get this.  We cannot be bouncing around during a church service waving our hands all over the place, acting as though this is only what true worship is like and get this.  He has said for us to “Be still and know…”!  To “Be still” we must be quiet and focus on Him not ourselves…place all the focus on Him and Him alone!  Worship is not about us.  Worship is about God.  It is within this time of being still, focusing upon God that we find this place of refuge, this fortress, this inner strength in order to be able to exalt Him high above everything else in our life.  He is to be elevated above any trial, above any trouble, above sickness, above death, above desolation, above our family, above our job, above our churches, above our worship services, and most humbly above ourselves….He is to be elevated or exalted above all things and worshipped above all things.  He is the King of King’s and Lord of Lord’s!

Our God Almighty is our sustaining, never ending fresh river of life.  It is in Him that we will face these difficult times ahead of us with restful peace while a lost sinful people cry out around us.  We must put our total unabashed trust in Him.  We must faithfully place our rest upon His powerful everlasting arms.  For a person that is not a believer in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior these difficult days to come will prove to be the most fearful times of their lives that they will find no relief to power behind the destruction without God in their lives.  These difficult days ahead will prove to be the most horrible days ever imagined for a non-believer.  Do not rest within yourself, do not deny the existance of our most powerful God, do not put this decision off for another day, listen to call today…accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, put your trust in Him as your refuge and sustaining strength for life. 

-Scott Bailey 2008

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