Oppressed by the Wicked

prisonerPsalm 12 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

1 Help, Lord, for no faithful one remains;
the loyal have disappeared from the human race.
2 They lie to one another;
they speak with flattering lips and deceptive hearts.
3 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips
and the tongue that speaks boastfully.
4 They say, “Through our tongues we have power;
our lips are our own—who can be our master?”
5 “Because of the oppression of the afflicted
and the groaning of the poor,
I will now rise up,” says the Lord.
“I will put the one who longs for it in a safe place.”
6 The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in an earthen furnace,
purified seven times.
7 You, Lord, will guard us;
You will protect us from this generation forever.
8 The wicked wander everywhere,
and what is worthless is exalted by the human race.

Which of you reading this feels safe anymore? Which of you feels this chapter doesn’t speak to us? Who feels like everything is going just fine, with everything chugging along as it always has?

I so look forward to the fulfillment of versus 5 – 7, but right now see the fulfillment of the rest of this chapter. Although there are pockets of individuals that are faithful to the Lord, they are dwindling;. and many in this nation who call themselves Christian are at best a version of Christian lite.

Didn’t Isaiah talk of such a time as ours.

Isaiah 1:4-6 (New King James Version)
4 Alas, sinful nation,
A people laden with iniquity,
A brood of evildoers,
Children who are corrupters!
They have forsaken the Lord,
They have provoked to anger
The Holy One of Israel,
They have turned away backward.
5 Why should you be stricken again?
You will revolt more and more.
The whole head is sick,
And the whole heart faints.
6 From the sole of the foot even to the head,
There is no soundness in it,
But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores;
They have not been closed or bound up,
Or soothed with ointment.

The whole head is sick! Look at our morally bankrupt leaders in Washington flushing this country down the drain. And the whole heart is faint! Look at many of our current Christian leaders who are more concerned about preaching feel good messages that gets lots of donations, instead of crying out for revival, repentance and a return to Christ.

We have an organization that this Country helped fund and train, ISIS, that is tearing through the Middle East beheading men, women and children. There are even pictures of ISIS children cutting off people’s heads. Where is the outrage in our media or our Government. There is nothing but posturing and speaking out minimally only when enough pressure is brought to bear.

A child is not allowed to bow his or her head in many schools for a moment of silent prayer; yet we have schools that have children take on Muslim names and celebrate Ramadan. And just the other day a solider, stopping in his daughter’s school in Detroit Michigan, was not allowed in by security because his uniform might offend someone. REALLY?

The whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint. We have become a country that is covered in wounds, bruises and putrefying soars. We are obsessed with what we look like on the outside when our insides have become rotten. Unless this Country repents quickly we will run out of time.

I do believe God will look out for His elect. Those men and women who are in this world but not of it. I really do take great hope in Psalms 12:5-7, but I fear right now we are in a place where, “The wicked wander everywhere, and what is worthless is exalted by the human race.”

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Unspotted From the World

 

dry barren land

Photo by taigasylvan

James 1:27

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Ok, sounds good, but what exactly does it mean to keep oneself unspotted from the world, and how would one do that?

Considering the above scripture, it seems to have something to do with remaining or becoming pure and undefiled.

Well, what does it mean to be pure and undefiled?

Basically it means the opposite of being tainted and defiled, or dirty. It means living in this world without being tainted or dirtied by it. It means looking and striving for the home that’s beyond this world and life. It means walking a different path than most of the inhabitants of this earth.

If it were only that easy, right?

I think the biggest two culprits that put spots on us is the breaking of the 1st and 10th Commandments. If you believe the 10 Commandments no longer apply, we can get into that another time, but for now just humor me. :)

The 1st Commandment states, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, you shall have no other gods before Me”. And the 10th Commandment states, “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.” Pretty simple and strait forward, right?

What do you say we look at each of these separately, and see if we might not be in need of a can of spot remover in our lives?

Our first reaction is probably to say, “I don’t have any other gods before the true God. I would never think of such a thing”. Of course we wouldn’t! Not intentionally anyway.

So, let’s ask ourselves, how much time do we spend each day considering the things of God? How many times a day do we ask God for His counsel or guidance? How many times a day do we ask ourselves, “How would God want me to deal with this situation?” How often do we ask God how we might help or serve another? Do we get as excited thinking about God as we do our favorite sports figures or actors? Do we look forward to our time with God with the same anticipation as we have for watching our favorite TV shows?

I wish I saw people exert half the zeal for God as many do when they talk about Lebron James and other big sports figures.

We’re all guilty of it. We are all flawed imperfect people who would be but filthy rags if not for Christ. Our God is an awesome God though, who understands our back sliding, and getting caught up in the world. That’s why He sends us friendly reminders like the one you’re reading right now. The one I felt I needed to write as much as I need to read. Our God is a jealous God, and will not play second string to Lebron James or any other person or thing in this world. And there will come a time when He will grow tired of falling below the number one place in our lives.

Another big way we become spotted by this world is by the breaking of the 10th Commandment. You know the one about coveting. We all lose focus from time to time, but some people are so driven by their wants and desires that they really have no room for God.

Now I want to be clear, there is nothing wrong with desiring some nice things or striving to better our lives. The problem comes when we become obsessed or driven by those things. God wants us to be happy, and enjoy the blessings that can come from hard work and creativity. But He doesn’t want our lives to be about possessions, and how much stuff we can accumulate. You see, the more you possess, the more those things possess your time and thoughts.

I was talking with a really smart lady about possessions a few weeks ago, and she said something that made a lot of sense to me. She said that she was actually happier overall when she had less. Many people might find that statement rather odd, but I understood it completely. Her reasoning was she had less to worry about, and more time to enjoy her family and the simple things in life. Now she’s in a position of great responsibility that consumes much of her time. She has much more, but less time to enjoy it with the one’s she loves.

We live in a society and culture that worships things. We are bombarded with messages that we deserve and need this, that and the other thing. The family unit is dying in this country and we have become more and more selfish and self-focused as a culture. When the focus becomes all about us and the stuff we desire, there’s little time to focus on God.

Do you want that pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father? Do you want to keep yourself unspotted from the world? Well, if you do, I have just the prescription for you.

Rx: Put God 1st in your life. Spend more time thinking about others. Be more grateful for what you already have, and remember that its people and not things that are truly important.

Seven Laws of Prayer

a man praying before a mealI listed to a sermon tape a few weeks back titled “Seven Laws of Prayer” by Ron Dart. If you’d like to listen to it, CLICK HERE!

Ron Dart is probably one of the best Bible teachers I’ve ever listened to, and has a way of explaining things in a way that makes it easy to understand.

Anyway, he was clear that he wasn’t teaching “THE” seven laws of prayer, but just seven laws of prayer.

So, let’s take a look at those seven laws of prayer:

1. We all must die.

This is an important point, because often we are praying for others that they be healed from some injury or sickness. Now, it’s a good thing to pray for people to be healed and live, but remember, we all must die at some point. It’s very clear in Hebrews 9:27, that all men must die once. So, it’s okay to ask God to prolong your life or the life of a friend or loved one, just keep in mind that we all must die at some point and time.

Reading “2 Kings 20″ made me look at asking God to prolong one’s days in a different light. I would always ask God for healing for someone, but now with a caveat that says, “If it’s advantageous to that person”. A very righteous Hezekiah was granted an extension on his life, and I think in the end he probably wished he hadn’t. If you’re not familiar with the story of Hezekiah, I would suggest reading 2 Kings 20, and you will understand better what I’m talking about.

2. Prayer without works is vain.

If you are anything like me, you find many opportunities to pray for others. Now after you have prayed for someone, is that it? Do you move on with life and forget all about it, or do you follow up? Do you go and visit the person you’ve prayed for in the hospital? Do you send them a card or call them to check up on how their doing? Do you give them another thought?

I do realize that it’s not always possible to do that with all the people you pray for, but do you do it with the ones you can? If we want God to bless someone through prayer, should we not do the same in whatever way we can?

3. You need help to pray.

Romans 8:26
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

I imagine most of us have our own routine for prayer. But after we thank God for our blessings, and make our petitions to Him, what then? I don’t know about you, but sometimes I run out of words before I want to end my prayer time. That’s when we need to just let our spirit do the talking for a us. I think sometimes the feelings in our heart go far beyond what were able to muster in words.

4. You are God’s servant, not the other way around.

Now I’m not going to bad mouth anyone, but asking God to provide a close parking spot because we don’t feel like walking a little is not the kind of thing we should be bothering God with. Or asking God to provide a cab or all green lights because we’re in a hurry.

What if you asked God to grab you a cab, and by doing so you caused someone who really needed it to have to wait. The same with a parking spot, what if you’re wanting a really close spot because you don’t feel like walking keeps someone who truly needs that spot from getting it. These are small things I realize, but God is not our genie in a bottle to be at our beck and call for such things. God deserve more respect than that.

5. Absolute honesty is required.

David is a perfect example of honesty in prayer. When he was hurting and afraid, he told God how he really felt. “Break their teeth” “Put gravel in their mouths”. God knows how you feel, be honest. If you are feeling hateful toward someone, or are deeply hurts inside, tell God how you really feel. He knows anyway. Don’t try and be pious and ask God to bless the person who hurt you when that’s not really what you want. Tell Him the truth and ask Him to heal your hurt and anger. Then as He helps you overcome your hurt and anger, you can begin the process of forgiveness.

6. Prayer takes time and meditation.

Prayer isn’t something to be rushed through. Prayer is a conversation with God, not a time to race through a bullet point list of needs with God. Also, prayer isn’t just a time to speak about what’s on your mind, but a time to let God speak to you. The way we do that is with meditation. No, not meditation where you sit on the floor with your legs crossed chanting. The meditation I’m talking about is thinking deeply about the things of God. Trying to wrap your mind around things like what’s life really about. What does that scripture really mean, and how can I apply it to my life. Sometimes I think we spend more time meditating on our favorite TV shows than about are relationship with God.

7. When it comes to words, more is not better.

God understands us better than we could ever understand ourselves. Have you ever gone to God in prayer, and felt a wave of emotion come over you where you couldn’t speak? I have. I think it’s when we realize just how fortunate and blessed we are, and how much He has done and sacrificed for us. It can be humbling and overwhelming. And as a picture is worth a 1,000 words, a deep feeling of reverence toward God is worth so much more. God cares about sincerity and has never been impressed with long lofty prayers full of thee’s and thou’s.

Matthew 6:7
And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

God accepts no less than truth and sincerity when you come before Him. He knows that none of us is perfect, and we all have many flaws. So, He would rather have you sit silently and reverently before Him than speaking many lofty words trying to impress Him.

Do you have any laws of prayer that you could add? I’d love to hear them if you do.

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Are We Living in the Last Days

Photo by  mliebenberg

Photo by mliebenberg

That’s a question that’s been being asked since the Apostles of Jesus the Christ walked the earth. Even they thought they were living in the end times until close to the end of their lives. During World War II many believed they were living in the end times, and with good cause; the holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki bringing about the death of millions.

As we look around us we see so much evil, violence and destruction it’s hard not to think we are living in the end times. We have the breakdown of the family, school shootings, divorce at over 50% and more and more children being born with little or no stability in their lives. I think if most Christians or Jews were asked, they would agree that we are certainly getting close if not already there.

Of course, until the advent of the atomic and hydrogen bombs it wasn’t really possible to get to that place where if Christ were not to return every man, woman and child would be wiped off the face of the earth. And if that were not enough, we now have bio weapons that could easily exterminate every living creature on the face of the earth.

So again, I ask, are we living in the end times? Well, maybe.

Could all Tribulation  hit the fan next week, or next month? Or could it be in a year from now, five years, 10 years or 50 years from now? Many men have claimed to know when Christ would return, and many men have ended up with egg on their face. The Bible is very clear that no man knows the hour or day that Christ will return.

So why am I bringing this up anyway? Well, let me ask you some questions.

If you or I are driving to work tomorrow and have a blow out at 70 miles an hour; or forget to look both ways before stepping into the street and are pancaked by a bus, were we nto living in our last days?  If we are diagnosed with terminal cancer and given 6 months to live, aren’t we living in our last days.

Do you see where I’m going with this? We get so caught up in the times we live in that we tend to forget about what’s really important in life. It’s like we’re waiting for some ominous sign to be revealed before we decided to take things serious and get our lives together.

When a preacher is giving a fiery sermon on the return of Christ, what is he trying to do? Well, it’s obvious, right? He’s trying to get people scared enough to look at their life, and evaluate where they stand with God.

Long life is not guaranteed to anyone. I’m fond of the expression, that every day above ground is a good one; it helps one be grateful and appreciative. None of us knows when we will draw our last breath, so wouldn’t it make sense to live every day as if it could be our last? When I say that, I’m not talking about living each day with dread and fear, but living every day to its fullest.

If you woke up tomorrow morning and knew that that day would be your last on this earth, how would you spend it? Would you spend it cursing everyone that didn’t drive the way you thought they should. Would you spend your day thinking only of yourself, or would you want to do something good, or memorable for someone else?

If you knew that day was your last, would you spend your day being easily offended or holding a grudge against, or judging your mate because they hurt your feelings. Would you do something that offended someone and refuse to say you’re sorry? Would you spend that day thinking about what you could acquire before the end of the day, or would you want to be sure that all your family and friends knew how much you cared about them.

I spent many years thinking more about me than others. My comfort and what I wanted always played an important role in my life. I wanted the best cut of meat, the largest piece of pie, or the best seat in the house. It’s embarrassing to think about and especially to admit. But, if I’m going to ask you to evaluate yourself in this area, I have to be willing to share who I was.

We live in a world that thrives on me, me, and me. Every commercial tells us we deserve it, we’re worth it, we need it.

I am so grateful that God had the patience and grace to help me get over myself. Oh, I’m far from perfect, but I have come to learn that contrary to what society tells me, I am not the most important person walking around on planet earth.

When we stand before God to be judged, He will not judge us on what we had, or how successful we were. He will judge us on who we are and what we did to and for others.

When you get up in the morning, what do you hope for that day? Is it all about you? Is it all about what you can get? Or is it about what you can give or contribute?

Most mornings when I pray now, I usually ask God to help do the kind of things that would help others to have a better day. I ask Him to help me make someone smile today, and help me be nice to others. I ask Him to help me to make someone laugh, and to help me find an opportunity to do an angel task for someone “a kindness to someone without wanting anything in return”. I’ll ask Him to help me be encouraging someone today, as well as, to help me to be slow to anger and quick to forgive.

Not all my days are filled with doing good, but I strive to do my best. I have my bad days, but I also find myself far less concerned about what I want, and much more concerned about the welfare of others. And that my friends feels good.

So the moral of my story is, “Every day could be our last day, so let’s stop waiting for the End Times to start living the life we’re called to live”.

If tomorrow is your last day on this earth, when you stand before God, how will He view your life?

Believer or Disciple?

a man praying before a mealAre you a believer? Do you believe that Jesus is God? If so, how many points does that give you? Where does that belief put you with God? How does that measure up in your relationship with God?

James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

So even the demons believe that Jesus is God, so how does that square with being a believer? You hear people say that all the time, “I’m a believer”.

Let me ask you a more important question! (Are You A Disciple Of Jesus?)

Well, I guess we should determine what a disciple is to determine if we are one or not?

Harper’s Bible Dictionary describes a disciple as an apprentice or pupil attached to a teacher or movement; one whose allegiance is to the instruction and commitments of the teacher or movement.

Does that describe your relationship with Christ?

So, above we see that a disciple is not just a believer, but he’s an avid learner and imitator of his teacher. Are you and avid leaner and imitator of Christ?

What did Jesus say about being a disciple?

Luke 6:40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.

Are you in training? Do you have the peace of God?  Are you investing yourself and time? Are you, am I like our Teacher? Do we emulate Him, do we speak His words, and do we act as He did?

Part of being a disciple is being like what Paul talked about in Romans 8:29: For whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, …

To be a disciple then, we must be emulating and conforming to the image of Christ. Are we doing that?

I would be lying to say I was a perfect disciple. I can assure you I don’t always speak His words, or act the way He would in all situation. What I can tell you is when I fail; I get up, brush myself off, and move forward. I want to be like my Savior, but He is a hard act to follow.

Do you have a strong desire to follow Jesus and become like Him? Unless you do, the scriptures say we can’t truly be His disciple!

So, what is something that might identify us as disciples? Let’s take a look at some scriptures on that.

John 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.

Do we abide in Jesus? Do we accept and act in accordance with His word and His will; not just with lip service, but with action?

James 1:22-25 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

A doer isn’t someone who just hears and believes something, a doer is someone who takes what he learns and does something with it.

So, what’s another way to measure whether we are a disciple of Jesus?

John 13:34-35 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Sometimes people aren’t very lovable, but Christ doesn’t say anything about only loving the lovable. Also, this is not an emotional love He’s talking about, but a charitable love; a loving in spite of.

As a disciple we’re supposed to follow Christ’s example. People will know and judge us according to our actions, and how we treat others. What are your actions telling others?

Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself falling short as a disciple, we all fall short more often than we’d care to admit. But, being a disciple isn’t a matter of getting everything perfect, it’s a mindset and commitment to emulate the one you follow.

Isn’t it the same in life when learning a skill? Those who truly want to succeed in life, in relationships, in business or some career must have a disciple’s commitment in their learning.

There is no greater calling to me than to be a disciple of Christ. That doesn’t mean that your whole life is about reading the bible, and spending hours in prayer each day. Some are called to evangelize or preach so most of their time will be serving the church. Others are called to write, or to be activists for just causes; they are called to devote time and study to that calling. Some are blessed with financial success so that they may help others in that way.

Being a disciple of Christ is about the heart. If you feel you are having problems with your heart, ask God to be your cardiologist, and make it right.