Obedience

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What does it take to be obedient to God? Obedience is defined as “dutifully complying with the commands, orders, or instructions of one in authority.” Well John 14:15 says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

Is that all you have to do to be obedient to God? Just keep the commandments. Well, it’s pretty easy not to kill, or be in adultery, to honor your parents. We struggle a bit with the not coveting…Keeping up with the Joneses. But many of us have done a fairly good job with that one too.

It is important to understand that it is the spirit of obedience, not just the act of obedience, that is important. The Pharisees relentlessly pursued acts of obedience to the law and by doing so became self-righteous, believing that they deserved to go to heaven by what they had done.

Their hypocrisy in obeying the “letter of the law,” but not the spirit of it, characterized their lives, and Jesus rebuked them sharply for it:

Matthew 23:27-28 states, “27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity”

What if we look in the New Testament:

Matthew 22:37-40 “37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”

So there we are! Love the Lord. Love thy neighbor, and we’re home free! Or are we?

James 1:22 – But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Doers of the Word. What does it mean to be a doer of the Word? Maybe this will clarify it.

Luke 6:46-49 “46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 4 8He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock:and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it:for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great”

So according to this scripture, if we’re willing to hear the sayings of Jesus by going to a service or reading our Bibles, but we don’t apply them to our lives and strive to live according to His Word, then we’re building our house, our lives, on a very flimsy foundation.

Matthew 7:24-29 states, “24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not:for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell:and great was the fall of it. 28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes”

If you hear the Word and do it, you are wise. But if you hear the word and do it not, you are foolish. Doing the Word builds your life upon a strong foundation, while not doing the Word builds your life upon a weak foundation. Have you ever known someone who just seems unshakable? Someone who when things go wrong in their life, they remain calm and just have this sense of peace about them? Those people have built their house upon a rock. They are doers of the word.

As I was researching this, I came across this example:
Let’s pretend that you work for me. In fact, you are my executive assistant in a company that is growing rapidly. I’m the owner and I’m interested in expanding overseas. To pull this off, I make plans to travel abroad and stay there until the new branch office gets established. I make all the arrangements to take my family in the move to Europe for six to eight months, and I leave you in charge of the busy stateside organization. I tell you that I will write you regularly and give you direction and instructions.

I leave and you stay. Months pass. A flow of letters are mailed from Europe and received by you at the national headquarters. I spell out all my expectations. Finally, I return. Soon after my arrival I drive down to the office. I am stunned! Grass and weeds have grown up high. A few windows along the street are broken. I walk into the receptionist’s room and she is doing her nails, chewing gum, and listening to her favorite radio station. I look around and notice the wastebaskets are overflowing, the carpet hasn’t been vacuumed for weeks, and nobody seems concerned that the owner has returned. I ask about your whereabouts and someone in the crowded lounge area points down the hall and yells, “I think he’s down there.” Disturbed, I move in that direction and bump into you as you are finishing a chess game with our sales manager. I ask you to step into my office (which has been temporarily turned into a television room for watching afternoon soap operas).

“What in the world is going on?”

“What do ya’ mean … ?”

“Well, look at this place! Didn’t you get any of my letters?”

“Letters? Oh, yeah—sure, got every one of them. As a matter of fact … we have had letter study every Friday night since you left. We have even divided all the personnel into small groups and discussed many of the things you wrote. Some of those things were really interesting. You’ll be pleased to know that a few of us have actually committed to memory some of your sentences and paragraphs. One or two memorized an entire letter or two! Great stuff in those letters!”

“Okay, okay—you got my letters, you studied them and meditated on them, discussed and even memorized them. BUT WHAT DID YOU DO ABOUT THEM?”

“Do? Uh—we didn’t do anything about them.”

~~~Why do we treat the Word of God like they treated the letters in this story? We read the Word, memorize scriptures or even whole chapters, get together and have Bible studies, listen to teaching and preaching of the Word – and yet we often fail to apply the Word to our lives. We often fail to be doers of the Word.

Isaiah 1:19 – “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:”

Once we realize that God wants us to obey His Word, it’s easy. We love God, so we want to obey Him. Does that mean we obey perfectly? No. We often fall short or struggle to do the things we know He wants us to do, but by trying to obey and living as closely as we can to His Word we show our obedience to God.

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The New Testament Didn’t Remove God’s Expectations For Us

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In this section of scripture, God makes it very clear that just because Jesus came and died for us does not remove the responsibilities from us.  There are still things expected of us.

Matthew 5:13-48

13Ye are the salt of the earth:but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 

If you stop following Christ, you become like the rest of the world.  You are no longer set apart

14Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

As followers of Christ, you shine His light into the world.  Don’t be ashamed of that light.  Don’t try to hide it.  Allowing others to see His light shine in you, glorifies God and helps them to see His glory.

17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Jesus didn’t get rid of the law, he fulfilled it

19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven:but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Not only is it displeasing to God for man break God’s laws, but teaching others that it’s ok makes that displeasure even greater.

20For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

 21Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, [O empty one, i.e. thou worthless (as a term of utter vilification) ] shall be in danger of the council:but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

You no longer have to kill someone to be guilty of murder. The bar has been raised. Your thoughts are equal to your actions.

26Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

 27Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Again, our thoughts have taken on the same seriousness as our actions.  What we think is as important as what we do.

29And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee:for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee:for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Do not let the actions of those around you keep you from your walk with God.  The world tells us that God is not real. That He is just a creation of the minds of men to control each other, to give us an excuse to fight and dominate others, to give us someone to blame for our own shortcomings.  The world tells us that God was created to explain a world that was unexplainable to the “simple minds” of our ancestors.  Because the world does not believe (or only partially believes) in the existence of God, they feel free to tell us that we need to keep God to ourselves.

31It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery:and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

 33Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: 35Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool:neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay:for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

You don’t have to try to convince people of your truthfulness if you always say what you mean. You don’t have to swear on the Bible if people can trust that you tell the truth.

 38Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil:but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Don’t seek revenge. People who try to hurt you ultimately hurt themselves.  Don’t retaliate, forgive.

40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Be willing to give if asked, and to not only give, but give above and beyond.

43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven:for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

We don’t get to decide who is a good person and who is a bad person.  That is for God to decide.  He allows the sun to shine on all, and the rain to fall on all.  We need to remember that we are to shine His light (verse 16).  We aren’t shining His light when we hate.

46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

By perfect, he means to follow as closely as you can Christ’s example.  Our perfection is in trying to be as much like Christ as we can.

Through this scripture we see that believing isn’t enough.  We are expected to keep our minds pure, forgive others, be willing to give more than is asked of us, and love your enemies.  We have to put our belief into action.

Spiritual Battlefield Part 4

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Mark 8:36 states, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”  The victors of this battle gain more than the world could begin to offer….we gain eternal salvation.

While the best rewards come after we have left this world, there are a few rewards that will benefit us here on earth.  Romans 5:1 states, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”  The Peace of God is a wonderful thing to have.  We all know that this world is full of trials and tribulations, but when God gives us peace, these trials and tribulations are easier to work through and move beyond.

We also have the relationship that we build with Jesus by following his Word.  This relationship allows us to receive and use spiritual gifts which benefit both ourselves and others.  1 Corinthians 12:7-11 tells us, 

“7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another [divers] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”

Jesus tells us of the rewards waiting for us after we pass from this life in Revelation 3:5-8 

“5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”

We are also told in Revelation 21:4 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

No tears, no death, no pain, no sorrow, and eternal life with Jesus?  Those sound like wonderful rewards to me!

Read Spiritual Battlefield Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Spiritual Battlefield Part 3

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This battle is between Jesus’ Church, and Satan; along with Satan’s system.  We are told in Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  We must remind ourselves that the battle is not between men, churches, or even other denominations. The enemy would savor nothing more than to have us fighting amongst ourselves.

Who are our allies in this battle?  All the other peculiar people, of course!

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;” 1 Peter 2:9

You have been called out of the darkness.  You have been brought into the light.  You are a warrior on this battlefield.

Who are we battling against?

We are told in Ephesians 6:12 that we are not battling against flesh and blood.  We are not battling other men.  We are battling against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

In short, we battle against Satan and his system.  Satan prods us to question the Word of God…..”Did God say that?”  Satan is the author of confusion.  Satan’s system is set up to push us farther from God and the Truth.  He wants to keep us far from the light and trap us in spiritual darkness; and our human nature is often very willing to go right along.

This, not the church down the street that doesn’t do things the way you think they should be done, not your neighbor who is a nice guy but never goes to church and cusses like a sailor, not your coworker who challenges your beliefs any time he catches you in the break room; these compile a short list of who we are battling.  We must not get caught up in fighting a false enemy while allowing the real enemy to gain a stronghold in our lives.

So are we powerless and ill equipped against this enemy?  No!  As warriors God supplies us with the “whole armour of God”.  We must put on this armour daily in order to  continually be at the ready for battle.  This is explained in Ephesians 6:13-18 

“13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;”

 

Read Spiritual Battlefield Part 1 Here and Spiritual Battlefield Part 2 Here

Spiritual Battlefield Part 2

 Fort Mackinac

Now that we know what the battlefield looks like, we have to ask ourselves a very important question.

What is the purpose of the battle?  In other words, why do we even need to fight the battle?

This is a question that must be thoroughly answered so that you will understand the importance and scope of achieving victory in this spiritual war.

One of the first things you must realize is that you have been destined to fight this battle for yourself.  You are fighting to gain and keep your own eternal salvation.  As the hymn goes “Above all else, I must be saved.”

When the judgement day arrives, you can’t say “But God, look at all the people I brought to you.  Doesn’t that count towards my salvation?”

Our salvation is dependent upon us reading the Word of God, and striving to live the way it instructs us to live.

Psalm 119:11 instructs us to “hide thy word in mine heart that I might not sin against thee.”  We were not given the Bible as a novel to read, be entertained by, and then place on a shelf to be forgotten.  We are to “hide it in mine heart”, in other words, we are to make it part of us.  How can we make God’s Word part of us?  By living according to the ways God clearly describes in the Bible, and not according to the standards the World expects or allows.  There are things God expects of us that go completely against what the world allows and vice versa.

Another reason we must fight this battle is to help others  gain salvation.  If we allow the Word to be watered down and pushed into the shadows, it makes it harder for those who are seeking the Truth to find it.

Those who are striving to learn about Jesus need a safe haven where they can learn more about Him.  Romans 10:17 tells us, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  How can those who are seeking Jesus hear unless someone tells them.  Romans 10:14 states, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”

We must fight this battle so that we can continue with the great commission. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Matthew 28:19.

I want to quickly point out here that the scripture says we are to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…..not names.  Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are titles, not names.  1 Timothy 3:16 states, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”  John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” He then continues in John 1:14 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”  Jesus dwelt among us, so the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost is Jesus.

 

You can read Spiritual Battlefield Part 1 Here

Trust in God

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I’m a teacher at a small Christian school, and Friday was our last day of school.  We work next week to clean and paint and set up classrooms so that anyone interested in the school can tour the school over the summer.  This time of year I really start thinking about how much we have to trust in God.  You see, after next week I’m jobless.  This will be the third summer in a row.

 

It’s easy to say that you trust in God, but sometimes hard to put into practice.  It’s easy to trust in God when things are going well, but a lot more difficult when faced with tough times and uncertainty.  We are, however, told to put our trust in God.

 

Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

 

We are given many examples of others trusting in God in many situations:

 

Abraham –

 

Genesis 22:1-12

 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham:and he said, Behold, here I am. 2And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

 3And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 4Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 5And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 6And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father:and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood:but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:so they went both of them together. 9And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 10And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham:and he said, Here am I. 12And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him:for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

 

Abraham trusted in God to save Isaac, either by intervening before the sacrifice or by raising him from the dead.  Abraham knew that God had great plans for Isaac’s descendants, and God always does what he says.

 

Noah –

 

Genesis 6:11-22

The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. 13And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

 14Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. 15And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of:The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. 16A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. 17And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. 18But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons ‘wives with thee. 19And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 20Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. 21And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. 22Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

 

Even though it seemed absolutely crazy, Noah trusted God.  Until then there had been no rain, so no one had ever seen a flood of any type.  Noah didn’t live near a sea, so he’d never built a boat before.  He had to trust God to help him make it watertight, and trust that God would indeed send a flood.  People mocked Noah and his family…called them names, said they were crazy and fools.  Through all of that, Noah trusted in God.

 

Schadrach, Meshach, and Abednego –

 

Daniel 3:13-28

Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. 14Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 15Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well:but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? 16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

 19Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego:therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. 20And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 24Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 25He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

 26Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. 27And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. 28Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.

 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew the consequences of their refusal to worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar created.  Yet the trusted that God would protect them if it was His will.

 

Daniel –

Daniel 6:6-23

 

 

Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. 7All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. 8Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 9Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.

 10Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. 11Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. 12Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 13Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. 14Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him:and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. 15Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. 16Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. 17And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.

 18Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting:neither were instruments of musick brought before him:and his sleep went from him. 19Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. 20And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel:and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? 21Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. 22My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions ‘mouths, that they have not hurt me:forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. 23Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.

 

Daniel knew that continuing to worship God was against the decree signed by King Darius.  But he trusted that God would protect him from the lions.  Even King Darius trusted that Daniel’s God would save him.

 

Even Job, who suffered greatly and lost everything but his life, trusted in God.

 

Job 13:13 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:

but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

 

There are many other examples of scripture telling us to trust in Him.

 

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation;

I will trust, and not be afraid:

for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song;

he also is become my salvation.

 

Isaiah 26:4 Trust ye in the Lord for ever:

for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:

 

Nahum 1:7 The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble;

and he knoweth them that trust in him.

 

God wants us to trust that he will provide for us, that he will protect us.  But, that provision and protection isn’t free.  God wants us to follow His word.  He wants us to repent of our sins, be baptized in Jesus name, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and live our lives for Him.

Spiritual Battlefield Part 1

Lighthouse

Most people don’t understand what the spiritual battle is.  They don’t understand who is fighting, why they’re fighting, what’s at stake, and why they should join the fight.  I hope, with help and direction from God, to be able to explain all this to you in a way that helps you understand why it is important.

 First of all, let me explain what the battlefield is.  The battlefield is the World (not the physical world, but the world’s system; or, common but non-Biblical ways) that tells and teaches a myriad of things about God that are untrue.

The world tells us that God is not real. That He is just a creation of the minds of men to control each other, to give us an excuse to fight and dominate others, to give us someone to blame for our own shortcomings.  The world tells us that God was created to explain a world that was unexplainable to the “simple minds” of our ancestors.

Because the world does not believe (or only partially believes) in the existence of God, they feel free to tell us that we need to keep God to ourselves.  Their “more enlightened” minds are offended by our religion, doctrine, and morality, and we should not be allowed to offend them, so we must keep our religion to ourselves in our homes, in church on Sunday, or better yet, not practice it at all..

We, as Christians, tend to be meek.  We don’t want to cause offense to others.  This is an admirable trait to have, but remember, we must live by the Word of God.  Romans 10:11 says, “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” and 1 Peter 4:16 states, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”  Do not let the world shame us into hiding God and His word from the view of others.

The removal of God from public life is a major part of the battlefield, but it is not the only part.  The battlefield is large and has varied terrain.  To effectively engage in the battle, we must study the entire field.  So, what else makes up the battlefield?

Other religions and belief systems make up a portion of the battlefield.  More and more, people who are searching for answers are looking to any belief system that can bring them comfort and a feeling of belonging.  We have to make sure that people understand that believing in anything isn’t the same as believing in the One True God.

There are also those who will say that we all worship the same God; that we just call him by different names: Mohammed, Buddah, Gaia, Hu, Satnam, etc…  These are not the One True God.  Acts 4:12 tells us, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”  We are told in John 10:30 “I and my Father are one.”  Therefore, clearly declaring that the “name” of God is Jesus.

The various denominations make up part of the battlefield.

“How can this be?” you ask.  The argument is that the various denominations are just made up of good people who interpret the Word of God differently than we do.

This is exactly the problem.  We are told in Proverbs 30:6 “Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” But, what does this mean?

The original Old Testament was written in Ancient Hebrew, with a few passages written in Aramaic.  The new Testament was written in Ancient Greek. Neither Hebrew nor Greek as spoken today is the same as it was at that time.  Over time the Bible has been translated into other languages.  This in itself is not the problem (although all translations have errors, and so I strongly suggest that you have a concordance handy when studying your Bible), the problem arose when man decided that he needed to make the Bible easier to read.  Instead of translating the bible from one language to another, men decided to change the words of the Bible so that they were “more modern” and “made more sense” to everyone.

This led to changes and omissions of the text.  Man added and took away from the Word.  Man took it upon himself to decide what God meant, and what other men should get out of the Word…in essence, what the Word should mean to others.  Man decided not to just translate the Bible, but to interpret it.

Currently, the purest translation of the Bible is the King James version.  When you compare this side by side with other “translations” you will find some passages have changed meanings, and other verses are missing altogether.  This directly violates Proverbs 30:6 admonition to “Add thou not unto His words…”.

As men change the meaning of the Bible, it becomes easier and easier to decide what they believe the “important parts” are.  Many people have gone from reading and trying to live by what the Word says, to choosing the parts of the Word that are easiest to live by, and that make us feel good about the lives we are living.

The most blatant example is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  

Many people interpret this to mean that all you have to do is believe in Jesus and you are saved!  You will have permanent and eternal salvation.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but even Satan and his demons believe in Jesus Christ.  Satan knows Him very well….he used to be one of His angels.  James 2:19 states, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”

If we look to the beginning of John Chapter 3, we see Jesus talking to a Pharisee named Nicodemus.  Nicodemus knew that Jesus was the messiah.  He believed in Jesus, and knew that He held the answer to eternal salvation.  He asked Jesus how to be saved.  John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus asked how it was possible for a man to be born again.  In John 3:5 “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

But, man is born of water when he is birthed by his mother.  Doesn’t this cover the “born of the water” part of Jesus’ instructions to Nicodemus?  First of all, Jesus says “Except a man be born again”, so that excludes the original birth out of our mother’s womb.

Well, couldn’t being born again simply mean of the Spirit?  Jesus tell us in John 3:3 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  He makes it very clear here that he is not talking about a fleshly birth.

Jesus Himself says that you have to do more than simply believe.  He said that if you believe in Him you should not perish, not that you will not perish.  There is a big difference between those two words.  Should is conditional upon your actions.  If you live according to Jesus’ teachings, you literally “should” not perish.

He tells us to be born of the water.  This means being baptized, by full immersion in the water, so that we are “Born Again”.  We are told in Mark 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”  Romans 6:4 states, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” 

So obviously, we must be baptized, but how?  Acts 2:38 says, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  If you combine that with Romans 6:4 as stated above, you see that you must “be buried with him by baptism” and “be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ”.  That is a very specific formula.  God doesn’t tell us things that are unnecessary for us to know.

Ok, now we are baptized by full immersion in the name of Jesus…so now we’re saved forever, right?  Wrong.

We are told in Mark 16:17 “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;”  New tongues?  That one is explained in Acts 2:4 “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Ok, so I have been baptized by full immersion and was filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke in other tongues, so NOW I’m saved forever, right?

Again, no.  2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  God needs to approve us.  Being saved is work.  This also disputes those denomination that claim that all you have to do is accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.  Again, God needs to approve us We must study the Word of God and live by the Word of God so that we may show ourselves approved of God.  Anyplace that tells you an easier way is not telling you the Truth, and they will have to answer to God for that someday.

The last part of explaining what the battlefield looks like, is explaining where the battlefield is.  Simply put, the battlefield is everywhere.  It is in our homes, our place of work, with our friends, with our family, in our churches, in our schools, and in the media.  Everywhere we go, Worldly messages are pushed at us and we must fight against them so we do not fall on the field of battle.