Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Judgement Of America - Part 2

Labor without benefits.
Enemy activity on our own soil.
Hatred from our own rulers.
Cowardly behavior

After seeing God's first six warnings, it's clear that this country has begun to see the consequences of our disobedience. From here, it only gets worse!
Christians, we need to repent of our sin and turn back to our first love! This nation will rise or fall based on the spiritual lives of believers. Many Christians claim to love this country, but they fail to realize that their half-hearted commitment to God is largely to blame for the spiritual climate throughout America. God holds us responsible for the fate of our nation – it's time to wake up!

2 Chronicles 7:14 “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will “forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Leviticus 26
18 ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.

If we don't learn, if we continue to disregard the warnings that God has given us, it only gets worse. When we look at the next six consequences for disobedience, the correlation to modern events only gets more clear.

19 I will break the pride of your power;

While we were once the most competitive economy in the world, our present financial crisis has pulled us down to fifth in the list – and still falling. It is interesting that another Christian nation that is in a backslidden state, Great Britain, is also free-falling in this economic crumble. Topping the list of competitive economies are nations like Singapore, Finland, and Sweden!
While it's true that we haven't always been liked by other nations, we were respected. Our military was powerful, our resolve was firm and we were the envy of the world. Now we're being overtaken by nations that were never in our league!
Remember when we had an illegal immigration problem? Latin Americans were pouring into this country for a better life. Now the trend is slowing down rapidly. Fewer and fewer people are seeing a better life in this country than they have in theirs. If this trend continues in that direction, we'll soon have an emigration problem!
Once, an educated public was our pride and joy. We were the home of inventions, the source of scientific breakthroughs, and the leader in technology. Now, out of 34 nations studied, American schools rank 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in math!
Our pride and influence in the world is waning – teetering dangerously close to the edge.

I will make your heavens like iron...

A serious lack of rain.
Thirteen of America's states have been in an official drought since 2010. Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina were already in a severely dry condition when 2012 rolled in. In 2012 this drought has spread to 80% of the continental United States.

...and your earth like bronze.

A severely hardened and unforgiving soil that refuses to provide what is planted in it.
In 1936, the United States senate declared: The alarming fact is that food – fruits and vegetables and grains – now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contains enough of certain needed nutrients, are starving us no matter how much we eat of them.”
That was then. Now things are even worse. Since 1962, the amounts of nutrients and minerals in our fruits and vegetables has dropped 50%! We are literally being provided with only half the vitamins and minerals that we had in our food fifty years ago. Call it over-farming and under-rotation if you want – the simple fact is that the earth isn't yielding the nutrition that we need anymore.
To combat this, we've voraciously consumed vitamin pills and nutritional supplements. Food industries have begun to fortify their products to make up for the general lack of nutritional value in our raw resources. Examples of this include:
Iodizing salt to avoid iodine deficiency
Adding folic acid to flour
Adding niacin to our bread
Adding vitamin D to milk, butter and margarine – even to vegetable oil!
And many, many others...
I believe that this is an effect of a “earth of bronze.”

20 And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.

Our current lack of rain is on track to be the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history. More disastrous than hurricane Katrina, more costly than any earthquake, and more serious than any tornado that has ever hit our country.
Crops across the nation have failed or been drastically stunted. Farmers everywhere have thrown up their hands, having worked all year for a nonexistent return. By the middle of August, 1,700 counties across 36 states were declared federal disaster zones because of the lack of rain and failed crops.
Sadly, unless things change and the rain comes, our winter seeds for next year's crops won't even germinate.

21 ‘Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins.

Can you see how God pleads with us? Can you see how many chances He gives to repent and turn from sin? At what point will a nation wise up and realize that these things that are happening aren't normal or coincidence?

22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number;

In other words, internal violence spreading through the nation. Animals would be robbing children, destroying property, and taking lives like never before. 

I believe this is happening more now than ever before! Two major beasts robbing our children are pedophilia and human trafficking.

Listen to these startling statistics from America's children:
1 out of every 7 sexual assault has a victim less than 6 years old
58% of violent sex offenders in prison had victims less than 12 years old
There are 400,000 registered sex offenders in the united states – and between 80-100 thousand of them are missing
The typical sex offender begins his deviant lifestyle at 15 and molests an average of 117 children – most of which never report the incident
These next two statistics are mind-boggling:
Only 10% of sex offenders receive a lifetime sentence – the average sentence for a child molester is 11 years.
Once they get out of prison, 50% of sex offenders are arrested again for similar crimes.

Pedophiles are devouring our children!

In the U.S. between 100,000 and 300,000 children are recruited for some sort of sex trafficking. The average age of entry for a prostitute is 12 years old! Besides asking what kind of person would sell a 12-year-old child for sex – we need to ask what kind of people are buying them! Why is child prostitution such a massive money maker?

We're being robbed...

But this animal behavior is also destroying the things that belong to us. Violent robberies and thefts seem to be everywhere. Just like literal animals were consuming their livestock, animalistic people are devouring what doesn't belong to them.

Violence is everywhere. There are over 10,000 murders every year. In 2012 alone there have been 11 mass shootings, with 137 victims - 43 of them fatal. People are terrified to leave their homes for fear of another mass shooting.

and your highways shall be desolate.

Did you know that 33% of major roads in America are in disrepair? Did you know that one-quarter of our 600,000 bridges need major repairs? Did you know that states across the country are turning their ashphalt roads into gravel so they can maintain them cheaper? In Michigan alone, 38 counties have replaced many of their paved roads with gravel. South Dakota is another example – having replaced over 100 miles of paved highway with gravel.
Bankrupt cities and states simply don't have the money for road repairs and maintenance.

23 ‘And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me, 24 then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins.

If America refuses to listen to these domestic issues – the next step for us is collapse. From verse 25-39, we see military overthrow, social chaos, and the complete loss of national identity. I pray that the consequences we're facing now wakes us up before that!

What's the answer? It's the same as it's always been – repentance!
Staying in Leviticus 26, let's move back to verses 3-12
If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them,
then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing;
you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid;
I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land.
You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you.
Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight;
your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.
For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you.
You shall eat the old harvest, and clear out the old because of the new.
I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you.
I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.”

The answer for drought isn't a cap on “greenhouse gases”
The answer for pedophilia isn't more 11-year prison sentences
The answer for our failing schools isn’t more money
The answer to our enormous tax burden isn’t a different political party

The only permanent solution for our nation's society is to turn back to the God of our fathers!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Judgement Of America - Part 1

Leviticus 26:14-39
14But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, 15 and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant…

Doesn’t this describe America?

We haven’t obeyed Him. Our society barely observes any of God’s commandments, let alone all of them. Our culture reeks of drunkenness, pornography, perverted speech, dishonor toward parents and violence toward everyone. We’ve supported laziness and punished honest work. We’ve abandoned marriage – only insisting on it in the case of homosexuality. In its place, our young people are trying to live the married life while still outside of the covenant of marriage.
Our culture despises God’s statutes and ridicules the precious Book that contains them. Open your ears and listen to the way the Bible is being talked about in this nation. It’s the butt of every joke, the laughing stock of our “higher education”, and even the embarrassment of many churches!
That’s right, even in churches we’ve broken our covenant and haven’t performed all of God’s commands. Our preachers have used God’s love and grace to excuse perverse and immoral lifestyles. American Christians have grown shallow in their commitment and cold in their love.
This is not a good place for any nation to be!

16 I also will do this to you:

God isn’t playing games anymore. We should’ve done our research before we told Him that we didn’t want Him in our country!
What follows is more than just a prophetic message to the nation of Israel – it's a wake up call for this country. As you read this warning, notice how current it is! Christians, repent and pray for your country!

I will even appoint terror over you…

The very first part of God's judgment on a backslidden nation is fear.
And right now, it seems like fear is everywhere.
“Don’t fly in a plane because it might be blown up.”
“Don’t go see a movie because you might be shot”
“Don’t walk alone at night time.”
“Don’t walk alone during the day.”
“Don’t leave your house door unlocked – whether you’re away or at home.”
We’re facing fear like never before!
“What if a meteorite smashes into earth?”
“What if a super-volcano erupts in Yellowstone Park?”
“What if California sinks into the ocean?”
“What if tornadoes and hurricanes demolish our cities?”
“What if I lose my job tomorrow?”
“What if we lose our house this month?”
“What if the wrong person gets elected this year?”
Why are gun sales are at a record high? Why is freeze-dried food flying off the shelves? Why does our government have websites to prepare people for disasters and enemy attacks? It’s because of fear!
Fear is the first stage of punishment for a disobedient nation – and we’ve been steeped in it for a long time now. Worry and stress (really, fear in disguise) are two of the leading causes for medical conditions and mental disorders.
Luke 21:26 describes this gripping fear that strangles the disobedient: “men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming…”

…wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart.

God warns His backslidden nation of diseases being poured out if they refuse to repent.
AIDs, swine flu, bird flu, bat flu are just a few of the many disease scares we've had in this country.
Other diseases that we thought were under control, such as measles, malaria, and tuberculosis have recently been making a comeback. What's going on?
Why do kids have to immunized to twenty-one diseases before they turn six years old? Why is America spending 75 billion dollars a year to care for cancer patients? Why are flu shots being given out like candy every year?
I propose that we're seeing the beginning of what God has been warning us about all along. As Romans 1:27 says it this way, they are “receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”
I'm not saying that people catch a disease because of their sin...I'm saying that we as a nation have opened the door for disease to run wild in this nation. God is Yahweh Rapha – the LORD our Healer – so what would you expect to see in a nation that turns their back on Him?

And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

Let me ask you, how much of your salary or wages are actually paid to you? Now, how much of what you worked for is being taken from you and given to others? This is the modern-day equivalent of what God is saying here. In other words, you're going to work but not see the benefit from it.
The average working American pays about 12% of their pay in income taxes. This means that for 30 work days out of every year, you're donating your paycheck to the federal government.
But the income tax isn't the only tax we pay! You also pay your property taxes, state income tax, state sales tax, social security tax and even a service tax in restaurants! This isn't including the “hidden taxes” that we pay when businesses and corporations wrap their own tax burdens in their prices.
Adding all of these taxes up, Americans will have to work an astounding 107 days to pay! If you started on January 1st – you would have to work until April 17th and hand over every single paycheck! (although we have it good right now – once Obamacare's taxes are enforced, that date moves back even further, to May 14th!)
Where are all these tax dollars going?
1 – Washington. This was the only city in the country that wasn't hit by the current recession. Why? Because this is where the wealth of the nation is going! It is an incredible fact that nearly one in ten D.C. residents are lawyers (in the rest of the country it's closer to 1 out of 300)! Per capita, Washington D.C. is the wealthiest city in the United States. Do you really think that the high tax rates and wealth of Washington are coincedence?
2 – Handouts and freebies. In 2011, almost 46 million Americans received food stamps – AKA SNAP benefits. This is a staggering number – one out of five adults! Modern statistics show that between 30 and 50 million Americans are receiving welfare benefits.
Can you see this judgement in effect? You work, you spend your time and energy, but someone else is eating the benefits. This is the result of a nation that turns away from God.

17 I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies.

Thankfully, we haven't been defeated by our enemies yet...but we've lost a lot of ground! We've become the scorn and ridicule of many third-world dictators and oppressive governments. Nations that should be shaking in fear have been shaking their fists at us instead.
Terrorists are free to come and go through our borders as they please. Drug cartels have actually seized control of many towns and counties on the southern border – terrorizing US citizens on U.S. soil!
Islamic fundamentalists have been steadily progressing in influence and authority. Entire towns are subjecting their own laws to Islamic Sharia law.
I pray we wake up before the total realization of this judgement – I do not want to see this great nation defeated by its enemies. I pray that repentance and revival will sweep through this land before things get even worse!

Those who hate you shall reign over you...

In the past, we would have to go overseas to listen to leaders who hate our nation and oppose what we stand for. Today, we only have to tune into some of our Godless politicians to hear this type of rhetoric.
Here are just a few examples from the highest office in the nation – the office held by President Obama:
"Whatever we once were, we're no longer a Christian nation."
"As a student of history, I also know civilization's debt to Islam."
"The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history."
"My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect."
"While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms."
"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
"Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities, and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas."
In the delicate language of politics, these are very strong words. We now have a man ruling over us who doesn't particularly care for us! But President Obama isn't alone!
Rev. Jeremiah Wright proclaimed from his pulpit “God d—n America!” Professor Ward Churchill proclaimed from his podium “Get the United States out of the Americas...and out of mind!” Both men could barely finish their sentences due to the overwhelming noise of standing ovations. Something has gone drastically wrong.
Our leaders, from the government to the pulpit, hate this country, and its people. We do indeed have our haters ruling over us.


and you shall flee when no one pursues you.

Frivolous lawsuits and pushy activists have brought us to the place where we bend over backwards to avoid offending people. We're so afraid that someone will get offended by us that we opposes ourselves and restrict our own freedoms of religion and speech.
We're afraid that a prayer in a graduation will offend someone, so we cut it from the program.
We're afraid that a Christian t-shirt will upset someone, so we make kids turn them inside-out.
We're afraid that the name of Jesus will make someone uncomfortable, so we cut it out of the speech.
And we do all of this based on assumptions! We're so afraid of offending anyone, that we're fleeing when no one is chasing us!
After seeing God's first six warning, it's clear that this country has begun to see the consequences of our disobedience. From here, it only gets worse!

Christians, we need to repent of our sin and turn back to our first love! This nation will rise or fall based on the spiritual lives of believers. Many Christians claim to love this country, but they fail to realize that their half-hearted commitment to God is largely to blame for the spiritual climate throughout America. God holds us responsible for the fate of our nation – it's time to wake up!
2 Chronicles 7:14 “...if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Other Side Of Marriage

Ephesians 5:22-33 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

There's been a lot said about the husband's role in the marriage. This is only right; after all, he has an enormous responsibility placed on his shoulders. He is called to love and lead his wife at the same time – this balance is not always an easy thing! On the one hand, the spiritual direction, physical security, and weighty decisions all fall squarely on his shoulders. On the other hand, he isn't allowed to be bitter or harsh toward his wife or treat her with misunderstanding. I believe that this is the largest calling any man can step into during his lifetime; it's the calling to represent Jesus' own love to his wife!

Having said this, there has been surprisingly few writings or discussions about the wife's side of marriage. There are far too many “real men do this...” and “real men do that...” quotes flying around – and they're usually written by women (or teenage girls) who are simply reiterating what they wished men would be like. When was the last time you saw a “real women...” quote? Have you ever seen one? We've given all the blame for failed marriages and relationships to the men involved, without realizing that the Bible's formula for marriage goes beyond “husbands, love your wives.”

Wives have a responsibility in their marriage too! To start with, let's look at three Biblical responsibilities of every born-again wife.

#1 – Submission
Ephesians 5:22-24 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”

This is probably one of the most ridiculed passages in the Bible. Today's society belittles this passage as chauvinistic, anti-woman, abusive and backwards. But, as believers we know this passage was written by the foremost Expert on marriage. God was the one who designed marriage, and let's just pretend that He knows what's best for us!

Remember how the husband has the responsibility of modeling Jesus' love for His church?
In the same way, the wife has the responsibility of modeling the church's submission to Jesus! We should be submissive to Jesus in everything, right? What if we don't agree with what He thinks is best for us? Should we still submit to what He wants? Of course we do! We submit to Jesus through trust – knowing that He loves us and wants what's best for us. This is the way a wife should submit to her husband. Whether she agrees or not – she should submit to him, trusting in his love for her.

#2 – Respect
Ephesians 5:33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

This verse is the ultimate summary of what every Christian marriage should look like.
Now, we all agree on what is being said to the husband. Inevitably, every failed marriage is blamed on the man's lack of love. While that may be the case sometimes, let's not forget that the woman is called to respect her husband in the same way that he is called to love her. In other words, a wife's respect for her husband should be unconditional, just like his love for her is to be unconditional.

Wife, do you want to have your husband's love only when you deserve it? Would you rather feel safe, knowing that he loves you no matter what – or would you want to constantly wonder about how he feels about you?

Remember this, your husband feels the same way about your respect toward him as you feel about his love toward you! Your marriage wouldn't last long without his love toward you, would it? Do you realize that there are marriages in danger because of the lack of respect towards the husband – probably as much as the lack of love towards the wife?

Women crave love – this is why the Bible tells husbands to love their wives.
Men crave respect – this is why the Bible tells wives to respect their husbands.
Men and women have been made differently. So is it really surprising that we look for different things from our marriages?

#3 – Phileo
Titus 2:4 “...that they admonish the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children,...”

If women were created to give and seek after love, then why would God have to remind them to love their husbands and children? The answer is found in the Greek word that is used in this verse. This isn't the kind of love that most would think of. It isn't the Greek word eros – or the romantic type of love. It isn't the word agapeo – or unconditional, God-kind of love. This word in Titus 2:4 is phileo – it simply means “friendly.”

In this passage, God is reminding wives to be friendly towards their husbands and children. Why would God have to remind them of this? Because the pressures of life, the overwhelming emotions that they feel, and the cares and concerns that weigh on the mind will sometimes pressure them into being “unfriendly.” It isn't intentional – it isn't due to the lack of love – it is simply because they're feeling overwhelmed!

God was – and still is – calling women to rise above what they feel, and live in the proper relationships that He made them for! This is as much of a challenge for them as the call to love is to a man – both of them take work and neither comes naturally. But, for those couples who choose to live God's way, the rewards are well worth the effort!

Monday, August 20, 2012

“One thing every husband (or would-be husband) needs to know is this: love is a commitment, not a feeling. We should never love our wives for what they do, how they make us feel, how they look, or even who they are. That kind of love is shallow and subject to change. As husbands, we love our wives simply because God tells us to!

This kind of love brings safety into marriage - meaning your wife can trust you to always love her, whether she makes you happy or mad. This is the kind of (unconditional) love that God shows us; and it’s our responsibility to demonstrate this in our marriage.

When you make the choice to love your wife - without waiting for the right ‘feelings’ - that choice will produce the kind of joy and happiness that every couple is looking for.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bless The Lord!

Psalm 103:1 “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!

The 103rd Psalm is a well-known passage of scripture. We read it often, quote it, and even sing it. But all too often we skip ahead to verse 3, where David starts listing all the things that God does for us! But look again at the very first thing David wrote. This Psalm isn’t about God blessing us - it’s about our soul blessing Him!

If you remember, we are made up of three parts: spirit, soul, and body.  When we were born again, the real us (our spirit) was totally recreated! Before salvation, our spirit was dead in sin - but now it is alive in Jesus Christ! 2 Corinthians 5:17 shows us this: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Now that we’re born again, our spirit craves the things of God. We desperately desire God’s Word, we long to obey His commands, and there’s nothing we enjoy more than to spend time with Him and His people. This is true of every born-again believer!

So why do these desires sound foreign to so many of God’s people? It’s because they still think their soul is the real them! The soul is a person’s thoughts, desires, and emotions. Actually, let me clarify - it is a person’s natural thoughts, desires, and emotions. The Hebrew word for soul is “nephesh.” This word speaks of the natural mind. In fact, the soul is truly a part of nature - even animals themselves have souls, as limited as they may be. Animals think things through, make decisions based on their surroundings, and even possess emotions like fear and contentment. You see? What truly separates us from the rest of nature is our third part - our spirit!

When you’re born again, you are given a brand new spirit, but your soul remains the same!  All of a sudden, your godly spirit begins to desire everything that God has. This brings it into conflict with your soul, which is still thinking the same thoughts and desiring the same things. This is the fight every believer faces for the rest of their time on earth - spirit vs. soul, new vs. old, spiritual vs. carnal. When I’m teaching kids I call it, “The Battle Of The Two Mes.” It all boils down to one thing - are you going to obey God or do your own thing?

Some may say, “If being born again leads to this conflict, then why didn’t God just give us new souls too?” Trust me on this, you’re glad He didn’t! Everything you’ve ever learned. from “don’t touch a hot stove” to “now I know my ABCs”, is stored in your soul! If God replaced your soul, you would have to re-learn everything you know right now! Going even further than that, your soul holds all of your memories. Aren’t there things in your life (even before salvation) that you want to remember? Important memories - such as memories of loved ones, cherished times, and lessons learned the hard way - are also stored in your soul. God never intended to replace your soul - He intended you to renew it!

Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

How do we win the battle of the soul? By renewing your mind with God’s Word. This is what the Bible refers to as the salvation of your soul. We see this in James 1:21, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” God’s plan was to help you tame your soul and bring it under the control of your recreated spirit!

So what does this have to do with Psalm 103? Listen again to what David said: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” We know that David was a worshipper. It seems as if worship just flowed out of Him! But in Psalm 103, David seems to be reminding himself to worship God. Why? He was stirring up worship from his soul!

Most believers think that real worship only happens when they get all emotional. They mix up worship from the spirit and worship from the soul. True worship always comes from the spirit. Our new nature loves to worship God - it flows out of our spirit naturally. Our spirit will worship God as a default - for Who He is! But worship out of the soul - from the mind, will and emotions - is kind of shallow. This kind of worship comes and goes based on the way we feel. So the key to true worship is remembering where it really comes from: your new nature.

Be that as it may, I do enjoy getting my soul involved in worship! We’ve already seen that David did too! I want to show you the right way to get your soul into your worship. The key isn’t going to church, sitting next to the right person, turning the lights down just right, and singing the right song. The key to having your soul agree with your spirit in worship is found in the very next verse...

Psalm 103:1,2 “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits...

This is why David began to list the blessings that God gave him; to stir up his soul! When you begin to remember all the things that God has done for you, and list them out loud, it stirs up your mind and your emotions. You begin to realize how much He deserves for what He’s done for you. Then you begin to stir up your desire - even your soulish desire - to worship your Heavenly Father.

Do you remember His benefits? If you’ll read the next few verses, David will list some of them. Meditate on what God has done for you - this will stir your soul into worship. When you’re worshipping God from your spirit, soul and body; then you can truly say, “Bless the LORD...all that is within me, bless His holy name!”

Monday, August 13, 2012

That's Still Not Yours!

Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Simply put, to covet is to desire and crave for something that isn’t currently yours. What many people may not know is that coveting isn’t always a bad thing! The Hebrew word that is used in the tenth commandment is “chamad” - it is variously translated as covet, desire, take pleasure in, lust after, long for, and enjoy. For many misguided christians, this doesn’t seem like a good thing! But let’s be clear, God is very interested in what is desirable, pleasing, and fun for us. He isn’t some “prude” in Heaven, ruling against any kind of fun or pleasure.

Let me show you what I’m talking about:

Genesis 2:9 “And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The Hebrew word for “pleasant to the sight” is the same word - chamad. God made the trees (and by inference, the whole of creation) to be enjoyable for us and pleasing to look at! God’s intention in creation was to make things we would want!

Psalm 19:9-10 “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Here we see that we should be coveting - craving and longing for - the judgements of God, found inside the word. Has there ever been a time in your christian life when you could say that you coveted (lusted for and craved) the words on the pages of the Bible? This is the healthiest place any believer could be in!

When we move into the New Testament, the good type of coveting is still apparent. The Greek word for covet is “epithymeo” - its meaning is still the same: desire, longing, lust, craving.

Matthew 13:17 uses this word: “...for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
In this verse we see Jesus telling His disciples that many righteous men coveted the very days that they were living in - the days when Jesus walked the earth!

1 Peter 1:12 shows us that it wasn’t just the prophets of old that longed to know the New Testament realities we’re living in - apparently, even the angels have this craving! “To them [the prophets] it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.

So we can see through these verses that there are times when it is right for us to covet some things! So when does coveting become a bad thing? When does desiring something become breaking the tenth commandment? The answer is simple. We can see the difference between godly and godless coveting in Galatians 5:17 -  “For the flesh lusts  (epithymeo) against the Spirit, and the Spirit [lusts ]against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Did you see that? There are two types of covetousness - spiritual and fleshly.

Fleshly covetousness is only concerned about desiring things that we have no right to possess. Coveting things that have been devoted to God (i.e. the tithe) is one of these sinful desires - just ask Achan (Joshua 7:21)! Proverbs 6:25-26 tells us all about the dangers of coveting the beauty of a prostitute.

But now let’s look at the things that the tenth commandment specifically warns us not to covet.

Your neighbor’s house...” - We are not to be jealous about where someone else lives.

...your neighbor’s wife...” - don’t desire to have someone else’s spouse! But even beyond that, don’t allow yourself to be jealous of someone else’s family (parents, siblings, kids, etc.).

...nor his male servant, nor his female servant...” - don’t envy their position in life. Don’t be jealous of their job, their influence, or the people that look up to them.

...nor his ox...” - Cattle and sheep were a means of livelihood in those day. Today we would say, “Don’t desire or crave your neighbor’s bank accounts or full wallets.” Don’t be jealous of their wealth!

...nor his donkey...” - quite simply, a mode of transportation. Cars, boats, motorcycles - don’t be jealous of their ways of getting from point A to point B.

...nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” - If there’s anything else that isn’t mentioned before, it’s listed right here. The point is simple, don’t desire something that belongs to someone else!

Your desires should be focused on the things that you have a right to possess. You have no biblical right to desire what belongs to someone else. In today’s society, especially in light of the various protests against the “rich”, it’s important to remember that this command still applies! You have no right in God’s eyes to even long for what someone else has - let alone demand a part of it! Let’s forget this “class warfare” mindset and move into total obedience to God’s Word. It’s time to bring our very desires in line with God’s plan for us!

Hebrews 13:5-6 “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”