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True Wealth

Today God has given me something in Revelation 3, verses 17 through 19, which say:

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:17-19)

A couple days ago, we talked about how you could be the poorest person in the World, but still be rich if you had Christ. Well, thing about that is, it works the other way ’round, too. If you don’t have Jesus in your life, it doesn’t matter how rich you are, you’re Spiritually poor. This is why God counsels them to “buy from me gold refined by fire,” because His “gold” is Spiritual. His gold represents a life lived closer with Himself, and with a greater amount of fellowship with Christ-something which is far more valuable than any Earthly gold. He also counsels them to ‘buy’ from Him “white garments,” so that their “nakedness”-i.e., their sin-may not be seen. He also tells them to buy from Him ‘salve’ for their eyes, so that they’ll be able to discern right from wrong, given that sin often times blinds us to the wrongness of our actions.

Hopefully this is nothing new, though. Most Christians know that their relationship with Christ should come before money, family, friends, etc., and that we need Christ to cover over our sins, and that apart from Jesus helping us to see, we would be Spiritually blind. The really interesting bit about this passage, however, is that He tells the Church in Laodicea to buy from Him the gold, garment, and salve. We all know that God is no peddler, why should He be when He made everything (including money) in the Universe? Moreover, Spiritual things are not easily purchased… You’ll be hard pressed to find cream in your local drug store that can allow you to see your sin clearly for what it is, or a robe that can cover your sin entirely.

So then, how do we buy something from someone who already owns everything we could give Him? We don’t. We couldn’t if we tried, because we humans are physical beings (up to the point when we die). It’s just as impossible for us to purchase something Spiritual with something physical as it would be for fire to purchase water; the two just don’t mix. That is why it took Christ, being both fully God (Spiritually) and man (physically), to purchase what we could not. It seems that God is telling the Church to “buy” the various items, in order to get them to realize that, in spite of their Earthly riches, they could not buy this with money. He’s showing them here the pointlessness of wealth that isn’t coupled with a love for Christ.

No currency in the World could have bought what Jesus bought for us with His death and Resurrection. It’s only by His paying the greatest price that we could be given a relationship with God; it’s only by His blood that our sin could be entirely covered, as by with a robe; it’s only by Him being made blind in death that we should be able to see clearly. So then, let’s give Christ the glory, and stop focusing so much on the money we do or do not have. In the end, it really won’t matter how much money we died with, but it will matter if died without having a relationship and love for Christ.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2013 in Delivered Through Love

 

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The Danger of Being Lukewarm

Today God has given me something in Revelation 3, verses 14 through 16, which say:

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:14-16)

Being lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-is never a Spiritually good thing. If you’re on ‘fire’ for Christ, and are really feeling zealous for God, then wonderful! If you’re really struggling with sin, and having a truly hard time, then you have only to repent and God will forgive you. The problem comes with being lukewarm; when you’re “lukewarm,” you aren’t doing anything to further God’s kingdom, but you aren’t exactly struggling with sin either. It’s the kind of thing where it’s a problem, not because it’s impacting your life, but because you’re setting an example of mediocrity for others; an example of being in the World and almost not of it.

One sinful person who refuses to repent can infect a body of believers. Likewise, one person with true zeal for God in his heart can have a positive impact on a Church. A lukewarm believer, however, impacts the Church without being readily obvious in doing so. By that I mean, a lukewarm believer slows everyone down, by the simple fact that they aren’t doing anything. Someone whose sinning can repent and use their experience with that sin issue to help others with their sin issues, but a lukewarm believer can only cool the fire of a zealous person, or halfheartedly try to help someone whose stuck in sin. They don’t help others learn from their mistakes, nor do they help spread the Gospel, but rather simply hinder the Church by sapping the life out of it.

Thus, we see God saying that He’s going to “spit them out of his mouth.” Jesus didn’t die and rise again so that we could go to Church, sit there dully for an hour or two, then head home. He died so that we could be given a new life, not so that we could give Him half our worship. Giving Him half our devotion is in fact more counter-productive then blatantly living in sin, because the one whose blatantly living in sin knows that they are sinning, and can thus repent. However, with someone who only gives half his worship to God, it is possible for them to not immediately realize that they’re also giving half their worship to the World; after all, they go to Church, perhaps they even read their Bible from time to time. Surely the fact that they get drunk from time to time, or that they smoke, or gamble on occasion, surely that’s perfectly fine. I can tell you now, the two do not counter balance each-other. You can’t really live a half-life; you can try, but in reality you’re giving your life to Satan and deluding yourself about it.

We must always strive, then, to not only be giving God half our worship. Jesus sent us His Holy Spirit after ascending to be with the Father, it would be abusing His gift to only half love God, or to only half obey when He asks us to do something. God wants those who are on fire for Him, not those who put up a facade of Christianity to make them-self feel justified when their sin later.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2013 in Delivered Through Love

 

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God’s Anger

Today God gave me something in Revelation 2, verses 20 through 23, which say:

But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:20-23)

Talking about “God” is something Christians often enjoy. What they often times do not enjoy, is talking about God’s hate. God’s hate and wrath is somewhat taboo among Christians, because many think that for God to hate anything or anyone would be for Him to be a hypocrite. After all, He Himself commanded that no one should murder, and then through His son Jesus said that hate is murder. However, God’s anger is not like human anger. For example, here we see that God is angry at Jezebel, not just because she had sinned against Him, but because she was tempting the Church to sin. Basically, God’s anger is always righteous. He never acts rashly like we humans sometimes do, rather He gives the person time to repent. If they do not repent, and they still persist in hurting the Church, that is when He delivers punishment.

We humans get annoyed easily; some more so than others, some less, but it’s none-the-less true that we all get annoyed more quickly than we might like. God isn’t like that. God never got angry at us when we rejected His son prior to being saved, and Jesus didn’t even get angry when He was being wrongly crucified for sins He didn’t even commit.  This is because God never gets angry when it is He Himself being mocked by some foolish human (though that particular foolish human can expect some form of, un-angry, divine retribution), but He does get quite angry when it’s His people being attacked.

In the Old Testament, God ordered the Israelites to attack neighboring empires and wipe them out, or make them slaves. He did this because those people and the empires to which they belonged had angered Him by attacking or mocking His people. What He did not do, is punish them in a vindictive rage, intending to “make those people pay,” for something they’d done against Him.

This is why, while Jezebel’s punishment may seem harsh, just as the punishment God doled out to certain nations in the Old Testament may seem “harsh,” it’s not actually as harsh as we might think. What we frequently misunderstand is just how horrendous God sees a woman such as Jezebel, or a nation that mocks Him and His people. We look at people like her and are ashamed on behalf of the parents who raised her, or we consider calling the cops on her in a more modern World. God looks at her, and He sees that her heart only wanted to turn aside Christians, and that her mind was taken over by Satan. He sees the demon behind the mask, if you will. That is why God’s punishment is never as harsh as we think it is–He sees far more than we ever can, and thus understands far better than we ever can what should be done.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Delivered Through Love

 

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The Seven Lampstands

Today God has given me something in Revelation, chapter 1, verses 10 through 13, which say:

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. (Revelation 1:10-13)

Remember those “symbolic sentences“? This passage is has quite a few of them. However, one thing that somewhat sticks out, is the seven lampstands. There are seven churches which God tells John to send this book to, seven lampstands, and in the middle of the seven lampstands stands Jesus.

The specific number of lampstands (i.e., seven) seem to indicate a correlation with the seven Churches. An interpretation which makes sense, considering that the purpose of a Church is to uphold the light. Also, when we understand that it must be Jesus in the middle of the lampstands (given that only Jesus would have the voice of God and yet be in the form of a man), we see the Churches are centered around Christ. So then, what we see is seven Churches, upholding the light, and centered around Jesus.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Interpretation

 

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Calling Upon God

Today God has given me something in Psalm 86, verses 4 through 7, which say:

Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me. (Psalms 86:4-7)

God is good. Not only is He good, He’s forgiving, and abounding in love, to all who call upon Him. He is the one person who we can confide and trust entirely in, because He already knows everything bad we’ve ever done, and in spite of it has still forgiven us. God alone understands every temptation we’ve ever gone through, because only He (through His son Jesus) has experienced the exact temptations we’ve experienced.

We can pray to God when we’re in trouble, because we know He’ll answer us. For Him not to answer us when we’re in trouble or being tempted, would be the same as for Him to ignore Jesus (as Hebrews 7:25 points out, Jesus is forever interceding on our behalf before the Father.). Thus, we can send our plea for grace to Him, knowing that He will indeed answer us. Of course, whether that answer will be “yes” depends upon whether the prayer is according to His will or not; If we truly are pleading for Him to give us grace, however, we can be assured that He will always give it to us in abundance.

 
 

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Salvation Throughout History

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. (Psalms 40:1-3)

David is basically giving us the process of salvation here: First we cry out to the Lord, and He ‘inclines toward us and hears our cry.’ After that, God lifts us up out of the ‘pit of destruction,’ and sets our feet upon the rock (also known as, “the corner-stone,” and, “the stone the builders rejected:” Jesus Christ). From there, He puts a ‘new song in our mouth,’ and we praise Him for all the good He has done for us.

The truly interesting thing about this passage, though, is that it’s David writing it. Someone, who as we just discussed in the previous post, was living in the time of the Old Covenant. So then, how do we understand the two facts in light of each-other? One the one hand, David has outlined for us a beautiful picture of salvation. However, on the other hand, he was living in a time before Christ; a time where the only thing they could know for certain was that if they didn’t obey the law perfectly, they would be doomed to eternal torment.

Well, to answer this, let’s remind our-self of a fact that has always and will be true: It is impossible to always perfectly obey the law, as it is defined by the New Testament (i.e. with anger being equated with the actual act of murder, and lust being equated with the actual act of adultery). So then, given that it’s impossible to perfectly obey the law, how is it that anyone who lived prior to Christ saved? To answer that, let’s take a look at a different Psalm:

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    in all generations.
 Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

 You return man to dust
    and say, “Return, O children of man!”
 For a thousand years in your sight
    are but as yesterday when it is past,
    or as a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:1-4)

God entirely transcends time. The time between David’s birth and Jesus’ death, to us, is very significant. However, to God it is entirely meaningless. He can look back and see Jesus paying for our sins, just as easily as He can look forward and see Jesus paying for David’s sin. David’s understanding of the Gospel was incomplete, but He had faith in the Messiah to come. Thus, he was saved.

 
 

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A Strong Fortress

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. (Psalms 31:2-5)

David understood very well that he could never defend himself if God wasn’t on his side. Unfortunately, and fortunately, not all that many Christians today have experienced the trials David experienced. Thus, we tend to not always rely upon God (“rely upon God,” meaning rely upon Him to either provide a way out of the trial, or else to give us the strength to stand up under it), but rather take things into our own hands. Something which really never works out well; when you put your trust in a fortress unable to hold it’s own weight, you’re in for a rough time when you get assaulted by temptation. Which is exactly why it’s so important to our Spiritual lives that we don’t ourself; in the feeble fortress and cracked rock that is our own effort and ability. Rather than that, we should run to God in prayer. As David says, He truly is a rock of refuge and a strong fortress.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Delivered Through Love

 

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