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How nice of you to drop in and visit my page. It's actually not really about myself, but about the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a place you can come, should you find time, and find encouragement and free resources for spiritual growth. I pray you will be blessed and provoked to follow on to know the Lord intimately yourself. Seek HIM and HIS Face for HE alone is WORTHY!! He alone is lovely! Most of what is written on this blog is written by myself, during my study time with the Lord unless otherwise stated. If it's otherwise, the author's name will be included.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Sword and the Cross, Part 6

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The Sword and the Cross, Part 6

Joh 18:10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.
Mat 26:52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. (Mat_12:36-37) Heb_4:12)

Now, here they stand, two of them with swords, and a group of officers, with Judas, carrying torches and lanterns and weapons. They come for Him. One disciple says "Should we smite them with the sword? Should we fight, Lord?" (Luk_22:49) Peter doesn't even wait for the Lord to answer. He just starts swinging the sword because he's in a situation he doesn't like, and he thinks to defend the Lord. Ask yourself, does the Creator of all things really need flesh to defend Him? No, He doesn't need our help. Never. Peter cuts off a man's ear, named Malchus, whose name means 'counselor or king'.

Malchus was a servant of the great high priest. He was a servant of the religious high priest. Consider that carefully then think about how many people are bound today by religious attitudes and spirits, people who struggle with fear and guilt and condemnation over every little failure. These were a people who ruled strictly and harshly over the Jews. They had so many rules and regulations the people could never hope to live up to their interpretation of the Law of God. But the Lord, seeing how His own had wounded this man, stops everything. He tells them to allow this-don't fight it. Don't resist this for it must be. He reaches out to this wounded man, who probably couldn't hear because of the pain roaring in his head, and He restores the ear. He heals the man. The pain vanishes. The ear is made whole. The bleeding stops. He can hear again out of his ear.

I've seen this in Pentecostal circles. I once visited a church during their camp meeting a couple years ago and sat alone in the back. The place was packed and the service had already started. The visiting evangelist and his wife knew me and my love for the Lord. But the other folks in this church didn't. Some had seen me, a few times there, and at other churches in the city where I live, but these folks were never very friendly, and were of the opinion that women's hair should never be cut, they should never wear any makeup or jewelry, not even wedding rings. They consider it sin if women wear pants, and if their sleeves aren't long, if their dresses aren't long, and their collars aren't high and then they consider that one is dressed 'worldly'. They even frown on men having facial hair.

True worldliness is trying to do anything apart from the power and will of God. We are born in self, raised in self, walk, live, eat, sleep and breathe in self. Self always wants to be first-even in religious circles. It takes the miraculous power of God to separate us from ourselves. To show us what self really is so we will want to reject self completely and totally embrace HIM. It takes the power of the Holy Ghost to work in us and overcome that self. If we ever overcome what we are apart from God, it must be by HIS Spirit, by HIS power and HIS might-not human effort. When the altar call came at this service, I remained seated, bowed my head and prayed, for I had struggled to get there. It had cost me something personally that night to get there. During this altar call, a couple ladies of the church approached me and began to pray for me. I realized as I heard their prayer they thought I was a sinner-that I had never met God. My heart sank, for I knew I'd been examined and found wanting.

The Word of God is a living thing, it's active, powerful, and sharper than any double edged sword. It cuts on both sides. It penetrates and separates the soulish and spiritual, is able to judge the thoughts and feelings of people's minds. It's the most sophisticated and dangerous weapon that has ever existed. In the hands of someone with out the heart of God for humanity it causes much damage. In the hands of someone who is not led by the Holy Spirit, it can spiritually kill.

Jesus had told the disciples many things about the cross, the suffering, the rejection and betrayal and death He would soon endure. They had not lived and traveled with Him these past 3 1/2 years knowing He would leave them. He had not told them these things until it was time. But even then, He had many more things to tell them but in Joh_16:12 He says "I have many things to say to you but you cannot endure them yet." Paul is preaching to a carnal church in 1Co_3:2, he tells them he could only feed them with milk because they could not handle meat. They couldn't bear it, he says. Ministers and laymen and women alike must depend on God's Holy Spirit to guide them. His Word accomplishes what He intends when HE sends it, and quickens it to the hearer. If we just wield it unwisely, we do damage. It takes seeking God to know what is needed by the sheep. It takes being in subjection to HIM, led by HIM or we wound and mischaracterize Him. We don't know what people are able to bear.

When I hear the term holiness preacher or holiness people. I cringe inside. I've learned from experience to expect harshness, legalism, and a critical attitude from those who identify themselves that way. Something else I have learned-if we preach Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, and we have had our own divine revelation of Him, His beauty, His holiness, we will not be anything but humble, grateful, and eager to show Him to others. If we can help others see Him and understand who He is and what He's like, by being an accurate reflection of Him, then they will want Him, too. If this is our testimony, the Holy Spirit can point us out to others and stir up a hunger in their hearts to know this great Christ for themselves. The more I see of Him the less I want of this world, self, or anything that would hinder or separate me from HIM. This is what all preachers need to understand. Show them Christ and they will want Him. He said if I be lifted up, I will draw all men to Myself. We lift HIM up for their examination, and people will either want Him or reject Him. But it will be a decision made based on truth, not a lie.

Peter lashed out and cut off this man's ear. Jesus restrained him and reaches out a hand that would soon be pierced with nails, and healed Malchus' ear. As I was reading back over these Scriptures I've been studying for a while now, I saw something in these Scriptures I'd not seen before and it delighted me. Where I am, I know there is a whole generation of people who were wounded in the name of religious tradition, driven from God, and had God misrepresented to them, and they shun Him now. I was one of them. But in the midst of His own carnal disciples, and those who would be His captors, He reaches out, and restores this man's ear. He can restore spiritual hearing, and spiritual vision to those who have been wounded by the Word in the hands of unwise men and women.

What compassion the Son of God displays every time His own act up in a way that would be harmful. Now we have the Restrainer, the Holy Spirit, to guide us and prevent us from this if we listen. In our zeal, let us not wound and maim others. He empowered and changed them. When they saw flesh crucified, when they saw everything they believed in and trusted in hung on a cross, and killed, I believe He was showing them flesh is not where your confidence is to be. I know there was more to the cross than this, but He did not come down from the cross. He let them nail His flesh to the cross. He submitted to this torture, trusting the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of His Father to raise Him back up in 3 days. He showed them I do not defend Myself, I do not deliver Myself. I do not retaliate against those who hurt Me, not inwardly or outwardly. That is in My Father's hands. God help us learn this and God help those who both have wounded others, and been wounded. He forgave His own, and He healed the one they wounded.

If someone is overtaken by their zeal and wounds another, there is hope of healing. There is hope of divine rescue, for the one who hurts and the one who hurt them. The cross is the death of the flesh. Death of self, that which would rise up in the name of religion and wound and maim. With flesh dead, the Spirit of Christ is in full control and miracles happen. I believe God would pour His power through a vessel who is dead to self and this world, who wants nothing but HIM and HIS Will, because whatever miracle is done, self won't dare touch the glory or exalt itself because it's dead. God alone is glorified. Those who are bitter and wounded because they have been hurt by religion, He is able to reach out His nail scarred hand and restore their ability to hear Truth again.

This man, Malchus, he was the servant of the high priest who was plotting the arrest and murder of this Christ and I believe Malchus knew this. Servants hear talk, you know. Imagine what he thought, looking in his pain, into the face of the Savior, and seeing the compassion there. Seeing the Restorer reach out to him when he had been wounded by one of this Man's very own. Oh, for those who have been hurt, He can open their eyes. He can destroy the yoke and set them free. Hallelujah! Oh, the depths, the great depths of the Truth of God.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Page from the Devil's Playbook

Originally published April 29, 2006 by Kathleen Maples,
It's About HIM
Mat 23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
Mat 23:26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

The word "Pharisee" means, ironically, "set apart". As I was reading these Scriptures I became curious about the Pharisees. I found out they came from some people called Hasidaens. These people lived among a compromised society but refused to give up the Word of God, they refused to defile themselves and give up their faith, and their refusal often cost them their life. No wonder Jesus accused them of being hypocrites generations later. But this was a time of intense persecution and cruelty against a people God had spoken to for years, sending His prophets, warning them, and they would kill His messengers or throw them in jail.

2Ch 36:15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: 2Ch 36:16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.

Because of this, the Jews went into captivity for 70 years to the nation of Babylon. When they were released, you can read in Ezra 9 how they came back to their homeland and began again their ways of disobedience and mixture with heathen nations. For decades, and generations, God warned them to return to Him, to turn from their ways. Finally, after the time of Malachi, God had grown silent. He stopped sending His messengers. He stopped pleading with a people who would not hear. This is what they insisted on and I pray America doesn't follow this path. The more I read the history of Israel and how she turned her back on God after He prospered and blessed her, the more aware I am of how closely America is following in her footsteps. It's a gut wrenching realization, for I see in the Word how God dealt with Israel and know He is no respect of persons. The Scripture warns us these things were written for our admonition on whom the ends of the world are come. (1 Cor 10:6, 11; Rom 15:4;)
After Darius III was dethroned as king of the Persians and Medes, by Alexander the Great, a Greek, Alexander ruled much of the whole earth for about 12 years, from 336 BC-323 BC. He permitted the Jews their religion, their laws of worship and sacrifice. They prospered under him. When he got sick and knew he was going to die, he gathered his closest most trusted servants, "such as were honorable, and had been brought up with him from his youth, and parted his kingdom among them, while he was yet alive" quote from 1 Maccabees 1:6. (Apocrypha).

1Ma 1:9 And after his death they all put crowns upon themselves; so did their sons after them many years: and evils were multiplied in the earth.

I had never considered the Apocrypha as something I had wanted to read, but while researching the Pharisees, and their awful beginnings, that is where it led. What I learned must be brought to people's attention. Regardless of how you feel about the Apocrypha, the events I want to examine in this study really happened. They are also corroborated by Josephus, a first century Christian historian.
The word Apocrypha means “hidden” and is applied to writings where there is a question as to who wrote them, or whether the text is inspired or not. I have not read very much of these texts, and what I did seemed to be a historical account of the struggle of the Jews during the 400 years after Malachi before Jesus. This study concerns the book 1 Maccabees, which was included in the KJV 1611 Bible up until the late 1880's. Even in the 19th and early 20th century, the apocrypha was often included in the KJV. Bibles were first handwritten, but then in 1439 with the invention of the Gutenberg press, were printed with a press, and they included the Apocrypha.
After beginning to read 1 Maccabees I believe in my heart that the devil sure doesn't want this read or thought about nor taken seriously by people. It exposes his methods as clearly as the book of Job does. Remember, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. The book , 1 Maccabees, the part I'm dealing with here, relates the history of the Maccabean revolt against king Antiochus IV Ephiphanes during the second century BC. History reveals he was a very cruel man. I should also mention this book is considered as inspired by the Roman Catholic church and Greek Orthodox church, and is included in the Roman Catholic Bible. (Deuterocanonical) That said, I urge you to investigate and search these things out yourself to see if there be truth here. I trust the Holy Spirit of Truth to convince and convict of truth and to bear witness of truth as He did to me as I studied these things.
After Alexander died, his servants all ruled the kingdoms he gave them, and generations later, things had deteriorated so badly that people pretty well just did what they wanted to. There was a man who came on the scene named Antiochus IV Ephiphanes.

1Ma 1:10 And there came out of them a wicked root Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been an hostage at Rome, and he reigned in the hundred and thirty and seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks.

If you have read any of the history of the 400 years between Malachi's writing and the birth of Jesus Christ, this name will be familiar to you. Daniel prophesied about him. As I read this first chapter of 1 Mac, I was amazed as scriptures started flowing through my mind. Daniel mentioned some of what I read. Jesus mentioned some of what I read. Dan_11:21-32. Mat_24:15 Mar_13:14 Mat_24:2
Antiochus was a very wicked, evil man who must have hated God a lot. Surely, he was full of the devil. His name means "opponent". As I read about what this man did, I could not help but see him as heavily influenced if not possessed by Satan. 1Ma_1:11 says in 137 a.d. when Antiochus Epiphanes (pronounced "an tee uh kus eepif uh neez" ) began ruling, wicked men of Israel, who persuaded many, went and made a covenant with all the heathen around them, because they were tired of living under the law of God, convinced, I believe by Satan himself, that the law of God was responsible for their sorrow. When you are a Believer in God and his word, and try to live a holy life, according to his word, you will encounter resistance from the adversary of your soul. He will come against you-through those closest to you who are not saved. Through situations, and circumstances. He will attack your mind with vicious thoughts and you better know if you are praying and believing God, your heavenly Father will prepare and warn you ahead of time. The devil hates God, and everything God loves-that includes the people God created in his image. The Christian life includes suffering, and don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t. The Son of God himself had to suffer-should we think we are any better to escape suffering? Some will suffer more than others, but all that live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer.

1Ma 1:11 In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow.
1Ma 1:12 So this device pleased them well.

They went to the king Antiochus (big mistake) and he gave them permission to leave the law and do as the heathen did. And they wildly embraced the customs and practices of the heathen. They forsook the holy covenant. Not all the people but many did.

1Ma 1:16 Now when the kingdom was established before Antiochus, he thought to reign over Egypt that he might have the dominion of two realms.
1Ma 1:17 Wherefore he entered into Egypt with a great multitude, with chariots, and elephants, and horsemen, and a great navy,
1Ma 1:18 And made war against Ptolemee king of Egypt: but Ptolemee was afraid of him, and fled; and many were wounded to death.

Antiochus proceeds to conquer Egypt. When Antiochus Epiphanes went against Egypt, he did spoil many cities, but he was stopped short of Alexandria, the capital city of Egypt at the time, founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, and was a sea port city. There, Antiochus was met by a Roman military leader and his unit, and threatened with all of Rome's power if he continued his assault on Egypt and furious, but knowing he could not withstand Rome, Antiochus backed down and left Egypt, feeling defeated, though he had conquered most of this nation. Most, but not all. This had to inflame his anger, which made him even more vengeful and violent because then he went on to Jerusalem. (Source: Jewish Encyclopedia.com)

On his return from Egypt , he heads straight for Israel and Jerusalem. He had learned that the one he set in charge of Jerusalem, a liberal man named Menelaus who had been appointed high priest of Jerusalem by Antiochus, had been challenged and sent on the run after it was discovered he plundered the treasure of the temple to pay personal debts. Fearing the wrath of the Jews, Menelaus fled and when Antiochus heard his man had been put out, he went on to Jerusalem and attacked the city.

1Ma 1:19 Thus they got the strong cities in the land of Egypt and he took the spoils thereof.
1Ma 1:20 And after that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again in the hundred forty and third year, and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude,

Oh, folks, look where the enemy heads when he invades the city where God’s people live. Remember, this is a warfare between Satan, the adversary of our souls, and the Lord Jesus Christ who has already defeated the old devil, who just can’t give up and admit defeat and since he can’t hurt the Lord, he turns to hurt those the Lord loves. He manipulates people into betraying their faith in the Lord, and walking away from Him, and don’t you know it hurts the heart of God to see people behave so cavalierly about the things of God-when He paid such a high price that we might have abundant life, eternal life? Remember, the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.

1Ma 1:21 And entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof,
1Ma 1:22 And the table of the shewbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials. and the censers of gold, and the veil, and the crown, and the golden ornaments that were before the temple, all which he pulled off.

He proudly enters the sanctuary of the Jewish temple, which had been rebuilt, starting with the return of the exiles from Babylon, under Ezra and Nehemiah. Apparently, it had been restored to its former beauty, because 1 Ma 1 gives a sickening description of how this Antiochus and his army invades the city of Jerusalem, marches proudly and defiantly into the temple, taking all the treasures of the temple, the gold and silver vessels, the hidden treasures he found, the candlesticks of light, the golden altar, and all its vessels, the crown, the golden ornaments before the temple, he pulled off. He took everything which represented gifts from and service to God. He took away the golden altar- oh, and an altar represents prayer and communion with God, doesn’t it? Isn’t that what you think of when hear the word altar? Prayer? Communication with our Father? Where you got saved? Where you found God? He took away the candlestick of light-the testimony, the light of truth in a dark and desperately wicked world. He took it away. He took the shewbread- which was a type of the Word of God- he gives seed to the sower who then ministers it to the sheep.

2Co 9:10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

God has such great provision, He tried to show the people through physical illustrations along with the Word from the prophets how He cared so much for them. But when they forsook God, they left the door open and then enemy came in and stripped them bare.

1Ma 1:23 He took also the silver and the gold, and the precious vessels: also he took the hidden treasures which he found.
1Ma 1:24 And when he had taken all away, he went into his own land, having made a great massacre, and spoken very proudly.
1Ma 1:25 Therefore there was a great mourning in Israel, in every place where they were;

He massacred the people, and then, after two years of harsh rule, heavy taxation, he sent his chief tax collector to the cities of Judah and Antiochus' man came in speaking "peaceable words unto them, but all was deceit. "For when they had given him credence, he fell suddenly on the city and smote it sore and destroyed much people of Israel." 1Ma_1:30. He burnt the city to the ground, took the women and children captive. Then they rebuilt the city of David, with a great and strong wall, mighty towers, and made it a strong hold for the enemy. They sent wicked, sinful men to occupy and fortify themselves there.

1Ma 1:29 And after two years fully expired the king sent his chief collector of tribute unto the cities of Juda, who came unto Jerusalem with a great multitude,
1Ma 1:30 And spake peaceable words unto them, but all was deceit: for when they had given him credence, he fell suddenly upon the city, and smote it very sore, and destroyed much people of Israel.
1Ma 1:31 And when he had taken the spoils of the city, he set it on fire, and pulled down the houses and walls thereof on every side.

1Ma 1:32 But the women and children took they captive, and possessed the cattle.
1Ma 1:33 Then builded they the city of David with a great and strong wall, and with mighty towers, and made it a strong hold for them.
1Ma 1:34 And they put therein a sinful nation, wicked men, and fortified themselves therein.
1Ma 1:35 They stored it also with armour and victuals, and when they had gathered together the spoils of Jerusalem, they laid them up there, and so they became a sore snare:
1Ma 1:36 For it was a place to lie in wait against the sanctuary, and an evil adversary to Israel.
1Ma 1:37 Thus they shed innocent blood on every side of the sanctuary, and defiled it:

Now the next few verses got to me, for they are horrifying. As I read this, what Daniel said and what Jesus said in Matthew 24, began to make so much more sense. And you have to remember-Daniel was talking about this-before it happened. By the time Jesus came, this had already happened. And he warned it was going to happen again. The following is an excerpt from 1 Maccabees 1 from the KJV that includes Apocrypha. As I read this, I felt horrified and dismayed, because this sounded so familiar, although I had never read it before. And it also sounds like something that could very easily happen again in our generation, where the antichrist spirit is thriving and spreading like wildfire in this world. Underlines are mine. No wonder there has been a debate about whether to include the Apocrypha in the Bible. I'm sure the enemy doesn't want people to read this and pray about it.

1Ma 1:41 Moreover king Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people,
1Ma 1:42 And every one should leave his laws: so all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king.

Remember things are heading again toward a one world government now. Whose idea do you think it is that we all need to be one people? Remember the devil has a fake and tries to counterfeit everything God has and does and is. Jesus prayed we'd be one. But people can't seem to agree, even in the Christian faith-when He came He divided. He said he come to send division on the earth not peace. (Luk 12:51)
He divides light from dark, truth from error. But who is behind the pressure to conform to the world and be like it? Who is the one the young people are fighting that is inspiring the cruelty of peer pressure? It's sunk to an all new level of cruelty in our schools today. The malice in these kids' mouths comes straight from the devil. The governments are preaching 'tolerance' for everything except Christ. They say we must tolerate the Muslims, the Buddhists, the wiccans, we must allow everyone their freedom of expression-but Government forbid that people pray in the name of Jesus Christ at a graduation or city council meeting, and even our military chaplains now are facing persecution and have been forbidden from praying in Jesus' name. WHERE do you think that enmity, that bone deep hatred of Jesus Christ comes from? From the one Jesus Christ defeated, and made an open show of over 2000 years ago. (Col. 2:15)

1Ma 1:43 Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the sabbath.
1Ma 1:44 For the king had sent letters by messengers unto Jerusalem and the cities of Juda that they should follow the strange laws of the land,
1Ma 1:45 And forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival days:
1Ma 1:46 And pollute the sanctuary and holy people:
1Ma 1:47 Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine's flesh, and unclean beasts:
1Ma 1:48 That they should also leave their children uncircumcised, and make their souls abominable with all manner of uncleanness and profanation:

Forbid burnt offerings and sacrifice and drink offerings in the temple. No presenting your body as a living sacrifice to the Lord. No seeking God, being filled with the Holy Spirit, no, burnt offering, no drink offering. Today society is full of self-seeking, pleasure hungry, ambitious people who have been so spoiled and pampered they know nothing of sacrifice and offering their lives and time to God. When I read this, “leave their children uncircumcised” that sounds hard to understand. Why would it matter? Well, God is so precious and the Holy Ghost is the best Teacher I’ve ever had or ever could! I must pause a moment to thank him, and ask Him to never let me take lightly the things He opens to my understanding. Oh, don’t take Him for granted, seek Him, we need Him, saints!
Circumcision is the cutting away of flesh that is in the way, that can trap bacteria and cause infection in males in their genitals. Sensitive area, I know. But spiritually speaking, if you aren’t “spiritually circumcised” which is painful, too, let me tell you, then you are still trusting in your own ability to do things that can only be done by the Holy Spirit of God in our lives. You are trusting in your flesh, your thoughts and ways, and think you can do that and still please and serve God. Your flesh, your thoughts, your carnal ways will kill you. Period. They do not and will not listen to God. Your flesh wants no part of God. It has to be cut off-crucified. When they left their children uncircumcised, spiritual speaking this means they would grow up ‘self-sufficient, proud, arrogant,’ and not rely on God; where does all that lead? Isn’t that what God kicked the devil out of heaven for?

Isa 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Isa 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
Isa 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Eze 28:13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
Eze 28:14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
Eze 28:15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

Much of Ezekiel 28 describes the effects of being uncircumcised and how it leads to pride, arrogance and self-reliance. We have to depend totally on God for everything. I even need Him to teach me how to worship Him. How to pray. Everything. How to parent my children. How to be a good wife and mother. How to serve others, how to be kind. How to see, think, hear and understand. How to walk. How to dress and speak with the law of kindness in my mouth, not arrogance, not sarcasm, or scorn. See why the enemy wanted the children uncircumcised? Because he knows it’s not in men to direct their own paths and when they think they are wise enough to do so they end up destroying themselves.

Jer 10:23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

Pride is something God hates and won’t tolerate in His children. Satan knows this. He knows it’s sin as far as God is concerned for people to trust in their flesh, rather than the love and help of God. Isaiah talks about this in chapter 30:1-7. Proverbs warns that pride goeth before a fall. The way of a man seems right in their own eyes but the end thereof is death. (Pro 16:18, Pro 14:12, 16:25.) Why does the devil want people to be proud and arrogant? To do things their own way?

1Ma 1:49 To the end they might forget the law, and change all the ordinances.
1Ma 1:50 And whosoever would not do according to the commandment of the king, he said, he should die.

Sure, he wants to get that Word of God out of sight and out of mind. He will steal it from you anyway he can. Through distraction, pressure, fear, attacks of unbelief he will fire at you, those fiery darts that he shoots into the mind of a believer to try to cause them to doubt the promises of God. This wicked king targeted those who defied his law and the women who indeed had their children circumcised, he slew, and ordered the children hanged by their necks. There were some who would rather die than give in to the demands of the enemy. They loved God and would not betray Him. I believe the martyrs will sit closest and be most honored in heaven. Next, the missionaries who sold out to God, I think. And praise the Lord for every one of them. What a great cloud of witnesses we have to be encouraged by.
Do you see what happens when you forsake God and try to make a deal to live with and like the world? Jesus warned us beforehand. This reads like a play by play book of the enemy that will happen again. Even now, it is this way in many parts of the world-like Sudan, North Korea, China. There was a group of godly people who wanted no part of this "one world" system, and held to the law of God. They rose up and warred against the evil, and over the next several hundred years, the story of the Jews is full of battles, war, defeat, and slaughter. They won some and lost some. But there was always a remnant that held on to the law of God, and it was preserved, as much as the enemy tried to stamp it out and make them forget. And indeed by the time of Jesus, the Jews no longer even spoke Hebrew, they spoke Aramaic. They mostly couldn't remember the language, except for the Pharisees who by then had deteriorated into a group of spoiled legalists, and were power hungry, proud and arrogant people. They considered themselves better than the common man of Israel. They loved prestige, attention, political gain, recognition and were vain. They were all about appearances. But they did not know God. They did not have love and compassion for the people, for the most part of them, at all. Perhaps Nicodemus did. Maybe a few others. But most of them were rigid authoritarian men.
There is a religious spirit that is just as dangerous and deadly as the anti-christ spirit because they have one thing in common: they hate Christ. Religion will kill you, just as sure as pride will. The life of Christ is about humility, servitude, dependence on God. Religion is about pride, works, critical attitudes, harshness, self-reliance. I pray God help us all be awake, with our minds girded up with His truth, and in close fellowship with Him, and laying aside the weights that beset us, forsaking the sins that would stop us, and trusting and following Him totally. When He comes, all that is going to matter is does He know you? He doesn’t fellowship with any darkness at all so we must be full of His LIGHT. NONE OF THIS WORLD or SELF. We are in it but not to be part of it. He can teach us and show us how to do this. Daily. Trust Him. Love Him. Seek Him. Depend on Him, not yourself or anyone or anything else. He will not fail you or forsake you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Temptation Before the Cross

Joh 17:4
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
Joh 17:5
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
Joh 17:6
I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
Joh 17:7
Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

The life Jesus lived was a praise to the Father. He was not like the religious crowd who said but did not. The Son rendered honor to the Father, and He never misrepresented Him to the people. He completed the work He was given to do. He showed the character and ways of God by being an accurate reflection of His Father to the disciples and all those around. He prays for His disciples. He knows everything His Father has is His and everything He has is the Father's. They with hold nothing from each other. He knew that He no longer was a part of the world order, the arrangement of things in this world. He came and lived a self-less life in a world system where self was king. He gave these men truth and they received it. They believed it. Jesus did not ask for the Father to lift them out of the world. That word for 'world' is kosmos, in the Greek. It means arrangement, decoration. An ornament of the heavens. He prays, Father keep them, watch over them, preserve them from evil influence. This world is in a fallen state, where everything is out of divine order. That which should be highly esteemed and is by God is abomination to men. What is highly esteemed among men is abomination to God. Jesus prays for them that even though they are living in this environment that it will no longer shape or influence them. In it but not a product of it. To accomplish that, they must be filled with and fed something not of this world-His divine nature, and His powerful Truth. Father, purify them through feeding them Your truth, Your Word. The same way You sent Me into the world, to show men who You are, I send them. I do not pray for just these, but for those who will also believe on Me through their sharing Your truth. That they all be ONE. There should be no schism, no division in that which is Christ's body. In His House there is not to be any division. His body functions under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. In the world but not of it. In the world self is king. In the kingdom of God, the Holy Spirit rules. Whomever we yield our members to is who we serve. (Rom_6:16) To yield to self-will rather than divine will is to serve self, not Christ. Oh, Lord help us. They were on their way to the Garden of Gethsemane where a hard spiritual battle would be fought by the Son of God. He warns those with Him:

Luk 22:40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.

In the Greek, this word for temptation is 'peirasmos' and it means extreme adversity, sent to prove or test the integrity of man, often allowed by God. It's a proving ground, a trial by fire. He was going to be put in a situation where the natural instinct would be to sin. The adversity would be so hard every physical instinct would cry out for a reaction that though natural, would be sin to yield to. To allow flesh-the natural self, to react, or have its way in this extreme trial would be rebellion against the will of God. He knew the enemy would also try to overthrow their faith, by using the trial He was going to endure.

He urged them to pray. Pray that you do not give into flesh and behave as the enemy of your soul is tempting you to do in this trial. That is what He is warning them about. The devil wants to overthrow their faith. He wants them to panic and run scared and reject Jesus and His call on their lives when they see His suffering. This is his desire for us as well when we go through trials and adversity. We need to remember God never allows anything to come against us He knows we can't endure. He is always our ever present Help in trouble (Psa_46:1). Flesh wants to give up but patient endurance motivated by faith and love for God brings honor to His name and defeats the plan of the devil. (Luk_21:19; Mat_24:13).

Luk_22:43 tells us an angel appeared to Jesus from heaven and strengthened Him. He was struggling here like He had not before. There was a severe mental struggle with emotions and feelings and thoughts being brought under mastery here. Scripture never says Satan is in the garden shooting fiery darts at the Lord's mind, but I believe he was there. I believe he unleashed a hellish attack against the mind of Jesus Christ like we have never experienced.
I've never been in the situation Jesus was in here, but I've had a taste of this kind of mental agony-and I can't imagine how much more awful it was for Him. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't dare compare my light afflictions to the major suffering of the Lord. But when this hits you, you know it. I have been enduring trials that everything in me wanted to run away from and suffered mental agony and hellish attacks against my mind so strong at times all I could do was get on my knees and cry out for help. I couldn't pray, all I could say was "help, Lord!" And you know help to get through it is only found one place-Him.

The disciples couldn't handle it. They were tired, weary, and so discouraged and afraid. The Lord was praying so hard, He broke out in a heavy, thick sweat, as if it were like blood. He rouses Himself and goes to the three disciples, and finds them sleeping for sorrow, they were grief stricken, and heavy with despair. (Luk_22:45) He addresses Peter, calling him "Simon, you sleep? You are not strong enough to to keep a watch, to stay awake just for an hour?" Surely this was meant as a reminder of his need for prayer, especially in light of his earlier boasting. Oh, the guilt. Here he had bragged just a little while earlier, "Lord, I'll go with you all the way, even to jail or death." But his flesh was too strong for him.

Mat 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Be vigilant, pray that you don't yield to sin in this great trial like the devil wants you too! Your spirit is ready, and eager to pray, but the human nature, with its frailties and carnal passions has no strength to endure this trial. Oh, He truly knows what we are made of. Our own flesh is more than we can handle without the Holy Spirit.

2Th 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2Th 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
2Th 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

We can see what happens when men oppose everything that is God, and would exalt themselves above all that is called God-and that is His Word, which was made flesh and walked this earth among men. His Word is still here. But self always wants to be exalted. It's pride, arrogance and foolishness to think we can bind the Word of God and make it captive to our will. Yet, we see the rise of the anti-christ spirit in schools, in our government, in our universities, everywhere. Be not shaken by this. Remember He's already told us these things would happen.

Dig in deep in the Truth and trust this Word of God to hold you up. Connect yourself to HIM. Abide in Him. Then you will be on the Rock and when the storm rages all around you, your temple will not be destroyed for you will be built on HIM. Now is the time to be fortifying ourselves as much as we can in His Word, His truth. Dig in deep, saints. Only deep roots hold up the tree in the storm. Lay hold on Truth and do not let go of it, no matter what you see or hear in the coming days. Trust God, not people, not self, not the sight of your eyes or what your ears hear. Trust HIM. Have faith in HIM. He is still in control and always will be. The devil will never defeat Him. Arm yourselves with the Truth and stand on it, bank your life, and the lives of your loved ones on it and you will not be sorry. They may reproach you for it now, but the time will come when they wish they had listened and dug in. Do not be a foolish virgin who waits until it's too late to fill up with oil. Do it now. This is not something you can do overnight. Start now. Dig and pray in this Word. Pray and Dig. And trust Him.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What is Eternal Life?

Following the Spirit to the Cross, Part 4

Joh 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

I asked some people at church, after I saw this, what do you think eternal life is? They all said "living forever with Jesus in heaven." But that is not what this says. This life He is talking about is the life that He warned few there would be who find it. It's the same life He lived-a sacrificial, surrendered life that sought only to do the Father's will, nothing else. It's a life that does not originate from this world, and has nothing in this world except to draw others out of this world to the Lord that they might be saved. It's a life that is given from the Father, through the Son, to those who are born again. Jesus warns in Mat_7:21-23 that not everyone who calls Him Lord will enter into this life. By default, those who don't, are dead. They won't make it. Those who make provision for self, are not doing the will of the Father. Self is carnal, and it is hostile to the will of God. It wants to run from the light like a cock roach will do. It wants to hide so it can be preserved. That nature is in all of us. Our life-this eternal life- is hid in Christ-it's in HIM. HE is the Source. Only those who are connected to HIM have life. Only those who draw from Him, like a lamp plugged into the wall draws electricity, have light. Break the connection, the light quickly turns into darkness. Life quickly turns into death. He is saying THIS is eternal life-that they know You, Father, and ME.

What happens when we neglect prayer and our Bibles and don't spend time with Him? Our light quickly begins to grow dim. Our life of faith begins to weaken because we have disconnected ourselves and allowed something to interfere with our connection to Power and Life. It's not a thing-it's a Person.

Someone asks Jesus what must I do to be saved? Jesus says in Luk_13:24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate for many will seek to enter in and not be able. He is warning them there is a literal struggle involved because you have a very shrewd and vigilant adversary to contend with, your enemy, the devil. You have your own flesh and carnal mind, which the devil will exploit and use against you. You are struggling to live a holy, separated life apart from this world system that is so out of order from God's order. In the world, self is king. In the kingdom of God, Christ is King and self has to die. Remember He says many are called but few are chosen. The few who are chosen manage to get through the straight gate. It's a narrow way-no room for self here. Only that which is HIM. Many will search and demand entrance, they will think they have a right to go in because of their works and worship. This word 'seek' in the original language is like the demand of a spoiled child. They fail to understand self can't get through this narrow gate-only that which is hid in Christ gets in. He says no flesh, no works of flesh will glory or be allowed in My Presence. Because with it comes pride and that is one thing God hates. (Pro_6:17) Holy Spirit, please help me understand what it means to be hid in Christ. (G2212-NASB Exhaustive Concordance, Thayer's Greek Definitions, Strong's Greek Definitions-DO NOT take my word for it, search it out yourself, I pray, as the Bereans to see if these things be true).

But even more is required to have this life than just searching the Scriptures. In John 5, Jesus healed the man at the Pool of Siloam who'd been sick for 38 years. Because He did this on the Sabbath day, the religious crowd were all upset and accusing Him of breaking the law. They sought to kill Him because He was yielding His vessel to the Father who lived in Him and the Father wanted this man healed. He said the works He did, it was the Father in Him doing them. He admits He can do nothing of Himself, but it is the Father (Joh_5:19). But they don't understand, or want to hear. They know the letter that kills with religion, but not the Spirit that gives the letter life. They won't hear and He says you investigate and examine the Scriptures, because you think by reading the Scriptures you get eternal life. Doesn't James tell us in his writing it's not the hearer that is justified, but the doer of the Word?? And didn't Jesus say in Luke 6 the one who heard His sayings and did them was the one who built on the rock and when the storm rose his house (himself) would stand and not fall into ruin? He says you search the Scriptures, because you think doing so gives you eternal life and they written to point you to Me but you won't come to Me that you might possess My life. The only real life is His. When we are connected (abiding in Him) to Him, through having our own personal relationship with HIM, we are plugged into the Life Source. If we come to Him to learn of and from HIM and we are willing to lay aside our traditions received of men, and be taught, we will behold Him and in beholding HIM, coming to understand Him, and know Him ourselves, we are then changed from our image into HIS. (2Co_3:18) This is another work of the Holy Spirit-to reveal to the hungry heart who Christ is. How can we be like One we do not know? It's impossible.

He says in Joh_6:53 if we don't eat His Word (which was made flesh) and drink of His blood, (the Holy Spirit) we have no life in us. That tells me reading the Word alone is not enough. I must have the Holy Spirit in me, living the life of Jesus Christ and empowering me to overcome the self I was born into. Consider this: The Word was with the Father from the beginning. He was able to move freely and be everywhere anytime, and was without limits or boundaries, as is the Holy Spirit, today. He submitted to a cage-flesh, for 33 1/2 years. Our spirits are eternal and they are caged by corrupt and unreliable flesh which is driven by destructive impulses and behaviors. The Word and the Spirit work together to free us from these. The law of the Spirit is CHRIST'S Life in us which makes us free.

He said you shall know the Truth (which is the Word which was made flesh-Jesus Christ) and ye shall be FREE. Whom the SON makes free is free indeed! So what if we are born again and we read our Bibles but we still struggle with carnality and flesh? All I know is if the Word says the law of the Spirit of life (Rom 8:2) which is Christ's life which makes us free from the earthly things of this world that would keep us in bondage to this world and its ways, then that is what it means. If that is not my experience yet (and it's not, but I'm seeing it in the Word, He is showing me things to come as I dig in these Scriptures) then I must LOOK UNTO JESUS in total dependence on Him to finish this work in my life, and be willing to lay down anything I have to so I can have more of the Holy Spirit and less of self. I must decrease so He can increase in me. The more I make room for HIM by rejecting and denying the things in my self life that hinder Him, the more He will come until I am filled. As He lives in me, He teaches me how to walk in the Spirit, like I taught my children how to stand on their feet and walk when they were babies.

However, if I prefer to do things my own way, follow my own desires and please myself I can't please God, for then I am loving my own life (G5590) which is the self life, not the divine life (G2222) and I lose eternal life. (Joh_12:25) It's up to us to choose.

As He begins His prayer, He says this is eternal life that they may KNOW THEE, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent. Consider what it means to know Him. It is possible to know all about Him from reading this Bible, but never meet Him personally. This word in the Greek is ginosko and it means to know absolutely, with certainty, through experience and intimacy, as a husband knows his wife. Through this knowing, this intimacy, they understand and are sure of each other. This is not a head knowledge. Jesus Christ is telling us in John 17:3 that eternal life is intimate relationship with the Father, and the Son, through the Holy Spirit. It's spending time with Him, in His Word, in His presence, praying about what you read in this Book, bringing it to Him and asking for understanding. Not for religion's sake but because you just want to know HIM because the more you know the more you will love Him and you won't dare want to grieve or bring reproach on Him by misrepresenting HIM. You will learn what it means when Psalms 16:11 tells you "He will show us the path (way) of life; In His presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore." Spend time with Him, you get direction, understanding, strength, peace, joy, rest, hope, life. HE IS your life. HE IS everything. HE is our source. We are just empty vessels unless we stay connected to HIM.

YES, it is a struggle. The world, the flesh and the devil will all work together to distract and keep us from prayer, communion with HIM, and the Word which is our meat-our daily bread. You know, He said communion was eating the Bread of life, and drinking the wine of the Holy Spirit. We can do that privately as well as corporately in remembrance and in fellowship with Him. He fed communion or the last supper to the disciples. He fed them the passover lamb-and HE is our Passover Lamb. His Word is what He wants to feed us and He wants us to be willing to get over and let go of ourselves so He can give us rivers of living waters-that precious HOLY GHOST who is the almighty power of Almighty GOD working in us to bring us to a place where we are willing to be separated from any and everything BUT HIM. (

His life being lived out by the power of the Spirit in us, heals us and makes us whole. (Rom_5:10). There's no penalty, no sentence of damnation to those who have taken their fixed position in Jesus Christ-by agreeing to the destruction of their self-will and embracing HIS will. They don't follow the demands of their minds or their selfish desires any longer. They have seen and known HIM and now they are learning how to walk IN Him. The law of the Holy Spirit of Christ who lives in me liberates me and delivers me from everything that would destroy me. (Rom_8:1-2) Every destructive thought, behavior, addiction, He cuts me loose from these things because He empowers me to yield all I am to Him. When you embrace LIFE you reject death. You can't serve yourself and the Lord, too. It's one or the other. These things can't have dominion over Christ and if He lives in me, and rules in me, they won't have dominion over me, either.

Eph_4:18 tells us we can be estranged or excluded from this life through ignorance and lack of understanding. Pro_29:18 tells us clearly without a vision the people perish. If we don't know it's because we haven't sought for it. We haven't been told. We haven't gotten in this Book like we should and prayed to know HIM. He says call on Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things you do not know. (Jer_33:3). He knows when we are ready. He knows when we are hungry. He says He will fill the hungry. There has to be a cry in us-and HE produces the cry as we begin to seek His face. That's where it starts-a sincere seeking after God. A desire to just simply know who He is.