Wednesday, November 28, 2012

INESCAPEABLE CONSEQUENCES

There is a certain deception gone out upon the minds of men which we desire to expose and bring into the light of truth. 

This deception comes upon the thinking of people when they come to believe that when you repent of your sins and transgressions, all the penalties and adverse consequences of those sins are cancelled and taken away by the grace of salvation. 

Stated in other words:  “When I or those I love turn and begin to do that which is good and right in the sight of God, all the consequences for the wrong that has been done will be taken away.”

It has been over forty years since I repented of all my sins; but, I am still suffering from some of the consequences of those sins.  Some of you have raised your children without the proper instruction, training, discipline and correction.  In your mind, you are not feeling the great burden you should feel if you fully realized that all the mistakes and failures you made are going to have serious consequences.  You may be thinking that one of these days your children will learn the truth and get saved and get delivered from their sin; then, all the mistakes and sins of the past will be wiped away and there will be no more effects of those past things.  Wrong!  There is a consequence to be reckoned with.  There will be the fruit of your deeds and attitudes which will produce pain in your life and in the lives of others. 

In Sir Isaac Newton's laws of physics there is a rule that says:  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. 

Some people have been led to believe that even though they may not repent of their sins, they will not suffer any consequences because God is such a loving God He will just see the good things we do and overlook the evil. 

We live in a society where people seem to be totally unconscious of the influence of their choices and actions on their own life and the lives of others. 

Religious beliefs have no consequence.  Believe whatever you want to believe. Every religion should have the same liberty.  WRONG!

What children are taught in school has no consequence.  The teachers and students should be able to teach whatever they think is right in their own eyes.  WRONG!

How you live your personal life should not concern anyone else.  There is no consequence to how you choose to live.  Just live and let live.  WRONG!

But the God of all heaven and earth has commanded that there is only one right way to live our life; and, that is according to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  If you choose some other way, you will suffer the consequences.

Hebrews 2:1-4
1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
3 How shall we escape , if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

We have been blessed with an abundance of knowledge of the perfect will of God concerning how we ought to live in this world.  These things are the gospel of salvation.  These truths are the deliverance we have available to us.  How shall we escape the consequences of neglecting so great an understanding of deliverance?

You can not escape the consequence of neglecting the warnings and instructions which you hear over and over in the messages of truth coming to you week after week and year after year.  You are not ignorant of these things.  You have a great light which has shown upon your pathway.  You know when you are straying from the straight and narrow way. 

If you will stop and think, if you will consider and analyze what you are doing and saying, you will see that everything you do has an effect on someone. 

Your attitude, your tone of voice, the words you use, the clothes you wear, your actions, all these things will have an effect on those around you.

Hebrews 12:22-26
22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

You can not escape the responsibility which goes with hearing this message. 

God wants to talk to you about everything in your life.  He will talk to you.  He will show you the right way.  There will be a consequence to what you choose to do with the counsel of God.  You can not escape the consequences.

ESCAPE:  Webster: Definition
1 a : to get away (as by flight)
2 : to avoid a threatening evil
3 : to get free of : break away from

4 : to get or stay out of the way of : AVOID

The message of truth will find you, locate you, identify your needs and make you responsible and accountable.  You can not escape the voice of the Holy Spirit which faithfully brings every man into the full understanding of their spiritual condition before God.  You may over-ride the Holy Spirit.  You may also forget what He has said.  But you have been told and you will never escape the consequence of having been told.  God will reward you or punish you according to how you handle the truth He has brought to you.  Whether you believe the truth or not it will produce an effect upon your life.  You will be blest or cursed according to what you do with the Words of Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

There are many facts in life which we “know perfectly.” 

We are not totally ignorant of the will of God concerning our decisions and actions.  You will never be able to excuse yourself on the grounds of ignorance.

Galatians 6:7-8
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked : for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

If you plant it, you will reap the fruit of the thing you planted. 

If you sow corruption in your own life or the life of your child, you will reap corruption.  You can not escape the consequences of your actions.  You can escape the penalty of eternal punishment if you repent and God forgives you.  But there are some inescapable consequences which you will suffer. 

If you feed your own mind or the mind of your children with vanity and worldliness then they will be vain and worldly.  You will not escape the consequences of what you have done. 

If you allow your children to watch violent video and play violent games, then you will not escape the consequences of that evil. 

“The Journal of Adolescence recently published a special issue dedicated to the growing body of scientific research documenting the link between violent video games and a number of negative behaviors in children and adolescents who play them.” 

“Those effects included increased hostility, an increased likelihood of being involved in fights, increased frequency of arguments with teachers and poorer academic performance.” 

“Exposure to violent video games increases aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; increases physiological arousal and decreases helping behavior.” 

“Video game players actually participate in and to some extent create the video game actions, rather than simply being a content recipient.”  “In order to succeed at a violent video game, players must identify and then choose violent strategies.  Repeated violent choices result in a continuous cycle of reward.  Violence is presented as justified and fun, without negative consequences.”

One of the many conclusions drawn from the scientific research states: “It is possible that the people who are most affected by violent media are those who are most naturally aggressive, thus putting the most vulnerable at the greatest risk for increased aggression.”

When a person participates in those activities which excite the emotions, there will be a corresponding influence upon the attitudes, values and choices which that person makes.

It is often impossible to undo or erase the effects of an action already carried out. 

As the “Watchman on the Wall” and a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I must warn you of these things.  I must warn you of the sorrow of heart which is coming if you ignore the spiritual needs of your children.  I must warn you of the influence of what you see, hear and do. 

Ezekiel 33:1-7
1 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman :
3 If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;
4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.
5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.
7 So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.

The watchman is the pastor, the evangelist, the teacher who stands before you and faithfully declares unto you what thus saith the Lord.  I must warn you of the consequences of not restraining your children.  I must preach in such a way as to teach you the restraints which God expects you to observe in your own life.  I am not required to restrain you like a child, but I must teach you the godly restraints which the children of God must learn of God.  If you love God more than your flesh and the world, then you will hear and obey.  You will observe these restraints which the Holy Spirit has taught us are appropriate for Christians.

1 Samuel 3:11-15
11 And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.
12 In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end.
13 For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not .
14 And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.
15 And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.

What sin did Eli commit?
“His sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.”

If your children do wrong and you do not restrain them, then you will stand condemned with Eli.  Parents must properly restrain their children.  If you do not there are inescapable consequences.  Your children and grandchildren will test you to see if you have any rules, boundaries or authority.  If you do or if you don’t there will be consequences. 

If the Holy Spirit has warned you of something that is out of order in your life, you must correct it, or suffer the consequences. 

Consistent obedience will make you stronger.

Consistent neglect will make you weaker.

There is an inescapable consequence to all of your decisions and actions. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Moderated Anonymous Comment

I do not always post comments left on my blogs.  Sometimes it is my opinion that certain comments have too much bitterness and too little compassion for those who have erred and left the straight and narrow way of truth.  It not my responsibility to judge or condemn the authors of these comments; however, it is my responsibility to monitor and moderate what is posted on this blog site.  I have allowed the following comment to be published because I believe the author has a valid complaint against that sleepy, compromising, Laodicean element which has crept into many church of God congregations. 

The sadness and disappointment we feel because of this apostasy, can not be assuaged by the knowledge of the prophecies which warn us of its coming.  The evening time apostasy has come with its accompanying silence; and, understanding does not lessen the pain.  Holy Ghost leadership has been greatly hindered because so many have not received the Holy Spirit; nor have they been purged by His divine presence.  Proof of the correctness of the foregoing statements can be easily acknowledged by the presence of division and strife.  A lack of brotherly love, mercy, compassion, gentleness, kindness, longsuffering, endeavoring in the spirit of unity, etc. are all evidence and proof of the presence of carnality, unsanctified hearts. 

We must all guard our hearts against the same bitterness and strife which we have so strongly criticized.  We must stand against sin without becoming sinful.  We must expose carnality without becoming carnal.  We must warn against strife and division without causing strife and division.  We must love those who have not loved us.  We must remember two important facts:

1.    Evil in a congregation does not condemn everyone in that congregation.

2.    Righteousness and miracles in a congregation do not justify everyone in that congregation. 

Romans 12:14-21
14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Knoxville Camp Meeting 2012":
Quote:
A lot of damage has been done in the name church of God and many a soul left ruined by their contact with the machinery of the apostate church. Their priests continue over blood and misdeeds in that name seemingly unhindered.

Religion [i.e. false religion] is the scourge of the earth and the false prophets who promote her will be responsible for many a lost soul. The most dangerous are the priests of the man rule system in what calls itself the church of God. A more dangerous group of men you will never find.  [Hypocrisy is more dangerous to the gospel than open rebellion.]

These men make up a system that works in direct opposition to Jesus Christ. It is the same spirit He faced in His ministry and was operating when He expired on the cross and continues to the present day. Caiaphas is dead, Annas is dead but the spirit in them that killed Christ is not. It is the spirit of Cain spoken of by Jude working through men who are deceived and do very hurtful things. That spirit did not prevent Christ rising from the dead or hinder His work of helping those oppressed of the devil though it worked in those He came to help turning them against Him.


He then goes on to face further disappointment at a very trying hour in Gethsemane with some of His own chosen disciples. Jesus Christ went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil and the one time He asks for prayerful support He is let down by the ones He loved most. “And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest; it is enough, the hour is come; behold the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand. “(Mark 14:41&42). He emerges from Gethsemane without bitterness prepared to do what He came for because He possessed a vision of greater things before Him.

We have been largely protected from the world’s upheavals in this country. While we have been distracted, the turmoil has graduated to the place that it is on our doorstep and will in these last days enter the false refuge of those without Christ. “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5) What we have suffered so far has been a run with the footmen in the land of peace. The question to be asked of us all is what shall we do in the swelling of Jordan and how effectively are we prepared to go forward if we are looking back. It is time that we emerged from all the hurt and ruin to the greater things before us.


Jesus said to His sleepy disciples rise up; let us go leaving the past and all its errors behind. We, as the people of God, have some challenges before us and very little time. What is commonly referred to as the church of God will never find remedy because it does not want it and enough time has been wasted.  Only Jesus Christ can be our refuge, whom they claim but in actuality refuse.


Let them continue to build their ecclesiastical organization and call it church of God while the Spirit speaks to them that have ear and will allow Jesus to do what He said He would as recorded in Matthew 16:18.

Let us do as our Brother Paul and follow him as he did Christ, taking his example [from Christ] and not the poor ones we have seen in the past.

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:13 & 14).

End of quote.
 

Note:  My editing is shown in bracketed italics. 

 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Warning Against Backsliding



Who is it that would turn away from this truth and be guilty of backsliding and apostasy?  Many people have done so.

Can a person lose their salvation? 

Can a person possess eternal life and then forfeit or lose their hope and promise of eternal life?

Many people have been led to believe that once God forgives a person of their sins, He will absolutely continue to forgive that person of any and all future sins.  Such a doctrine denies that a person can lose their salvation and be eternally lost after being justified and pardoned from his sins. 

What does the Bible teach? 

What does the Holy Spirit say to our hearts? 

Why is there guilt and condemnation when sin is committed if God is not angry with the wicked?

 REALITY OF BACKSLIDING:

Galatians 5:4
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

These are people who had know the gospel of Jesus Christ; been justified by faith in the blood of Jesus and then turned back to the bondage of the Law of Moses.  They were fallen from grace.

Was Paul talking to people who had been converted to Jesus Christ? 

Let us go back to chapter three and understand to whom Paul was writing.

Galatians 3:1-4
1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

These backsliders at Galatia were being reproved by the Apostle Paul for their unfaithfulness to the Christian faith. 

The Galatians were not the only ones to receive this warning. 

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
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.
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;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

The early morning church was warned that there will come a time when people will apostatize from the faith which they once believed. 

Let me assure you that if Jesus tarries there will be others who will backslide.  Don’t let it be you. 

SEVERE PUNISHMENT:
Hebrews 6:4-6
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

This is the fatal sin against the Holy Ghost.  Of this apostasy there is no remedy.  Woe to that person who has known the blessed experience of being full of the Holy Spirit, if he turns away and speaks evil of that experience. 

PREVENTION:
Jude 24-25
24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

We are comforted with the knowledge and promise that our Lord is able to keep us from falling. 

There is no temptation, no battle, no test, no affliction that has come to you which would justify your turning away from Jesus Christ. 

There is no excuse for backsliding. 

1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

 2 Peter 1:4-10
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

“If ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” 

FAITH; VIRTUE; KNOWLEDGE; TEMPERANCE; PATIENCE; GODLINESS; BROTHERLY KINDNESS; CHARITY

CAUSE:
Romans 14:11-13
11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.

Don’t allow yourself to stumble over what other people put in your path.  God will warn you.  Step over it.  Go around it.  Avoid it.

1 Timothy 3:6
Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

Pride is thinking your way is better than God’s way. 

Pride is putting yourself above others. 

Pride always exalts a person to folly, never to holiness.

1 Timothy 6:9-12
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

It is not a sin to be wealthy.  But wealth is always accompanied with a strong temptation to be proud or covetous or intemperate. 

2 Peter 3:16-18
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Many have fallen from their own steadfastness in faith.

They have allowed unbelief to cause them to question God and doubt the wisdom of His will and His way. 

Luke 8:12-13
12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

In time of temptation, people do fall away. 

Have you fallen away from the way of holiness and faith in God? 

WARNING:
Ezekiel 18:30-32
30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

It is not the will of God that any man perish and suffer in that place of everlasting punishment made for the Devil and his agents.

If you choose to follow Satan, you will go where he goes. 

Luke 2:34-35
34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
35(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

You will either fall because of this gospel or you will rise because of this gospel.

This gospel will either condemn your disobedience or confirm your faith.

Luke 6:39
And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?

1 Corinthians 10:12-13
12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

When you get to the Judgment, there will be no acceptable excuse for your failure to obey God and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Has there been a time in your life when you have been more spiritual and possessed greater faith and consecration than you do today?

Are you backsliding? 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD


We live in a busy world.  We are surrounded with so many activities and so much information.  Life happens; and, it keeps us so busy we don’t take time to live like God wants us to live.  There is an intense competition for your attention. 

God is faithful and Satan is persistent.

To whom will you listen?

1 Kings 19:7-12
7 And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

God wants to speak to us through His Word.  We need to read His Word and think about what it means. 

Elijah’s experience teaches us about how God speaks to us. 

Powerful events happen but God is not in them.  You will experience windy and stormy events, but God is not in those things.

You will experience earth shaking situations, but God is not in that.

You will experience fiery trials and God is not in that either.

Life happens; and, Jesus said that His Father, “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Good and evil circumstances happens to everyone.  Everyone is blessed and everyone suffers.  That is just a fact of life. 

Who heard this “still small voice”? 

What kind of a man was Elijah?

Do we have men like Elijah today? 

Elijah was a man consecrated to God and to the duty of speaking to the people of Israel.  He was a prophet of God.  He was not preoccupied with the affairs of this world.   He walked from where ever he was at the time he heard the still small voice to Mount Horeb; perhaps a forty day journey.  He traveled that distance and did not eat for those forty days. 

What man do we know that would have such an experience today? 

If I did that, I would not be able to pay my bills or my home mortgage. 

I would lose my home and all that I have and my wife and I would have no place to stay.  Do I or some other minister need to sell all to go do the perfect will of God?
 
This message is just as much for me as for anyone else.  I am preaching to myself and I covet the prayers of the saints that I may hear and listen to the still small voice of God.  I pray that some other person may benefit from my thoughts about the need for consecrated men who will forsake all to follow Jesus like they did in the Morning Time and Evening Time of the gospel. 
 
Back to the example we have with Elijah.

What congregation would allow their pastor to take a forty day vacation to go spend forty days with God in a mountain?  I wonder if God ever tells anyone today to go sell all that he has and come follow Jesus.  I felt burdened of the Lord to go to Africa for five weeks and the congregation where I was pasturing accused me of neglecting the congregation.  The ministry I was in fellowship with told me I need to decide where my field of labor should be, in Africa or in Knoxville.  Some folks were obviously not willing to make any sacrifice to take this gospel to foreign lands.  Their concept was that "local pastors" are for "local work" only. 

I am sure God does not call upon everyone to go sell all that they have to follow Jesus.  I also believe that God has called some to give Him more of their time, energy and resources and they have turned away from God to follow their own desires. 

Can you hear the still small voice of God?  Can you pray and ask God to tell you what to do and then listen with the earnest desire to obey his still small voice.  God will not yell at you or force you to listen to Him. 

Your circumstances are not what is most important.  Your response to your circumstances is what makes you a saint or a sinner. 

Matthew 6:1-6
1Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

One of the important keys in this passage is in found in verse six.  “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father.” 

This practice of separating yourself from the world, entering into a place where there are no distractions; shutting the door of your mind to wandering thoughts, is a much neglected practice.  If you allow Satan the opportunity, he will enter into your prayer closet with you.  Satan does not want you to listen to the still small voice of God.  Satan wants to occupy your mind with all the turmoil in the world.  He wants you to think about all the evil and worry about what is going to happen next. 

When God gives you a command or a job to do, He wants you to do it without fanfare.  Do it without boasting to others about what you have done for the Lord Jesus Christ. I am sure some folks will say that is what Jim Storts ought to do, i.e. do what God commands and don't talk about it.  But we do need to talk about it.  That is why we have the Bible.  God wants to talk about it and He wants us to talk about it.  If we talk about it and pray about it, someone may do it. 

Genesis 6:5
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Psalms 10:4
The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.


Psalms 119:112-113
112 I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.
113 I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.

David hated vain thoughts.  Do you? 
Do you resist vain thoughts as though they were great enemies of your soul? 
These verses teach us that we ought to hate evil thoughts

Matthew 15:17-20
17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

There is a big difference between evil thoughts and thoughts of evil.  Satan will tempt you by putting into your mind thoughts of evil.  However, when you have evil thoughts, this means that you have conceived evil in your heart and you have allowed your thoughts to become evil. 

Have you ever heard the old saying: “Let your conscience be your guide.”
I believe that we are all to quick to explain why the conscience is unreliable.
It has been too much influenced by fanaticism, compromise, ill founded information, prejudiced experiences, the carnal nature, etc.

You can justify not listening to your conscience for many reasons, but is your deafness to that still small voice acceptable with God?  Doesn’t God use your conscience to talk to you?  Would it not be better if your heart and your mind had a more unified harmony than it does now?

When your conscience says, “Don’t do that.” And you over-ride it and make an excuse based on what you want to do and why you want to do it, do you not harden your heart against the still small voice of God?

Is there any correlation between the reality that God seemingly ignores our prayers sometimes and the fact that we often over-ride our conscience in favor of doing what we want to do?

Listen to a couple of quotes from the book “The Kneeling Christian”. 
“Unless the heart is right the prayer must be wrong.”

You can not pray right, if your heart is wrong.

Can your heart be full of faith if you frequently over-ride your conscience?
When you disregard your conscience does it sow the seeds of doubt?

When we do what He bids, He does what we ask.”   

If God does not do what we ask, are we doing what He asks?
Are His answers proportional to the answer of our heart in obedience?

These are some serious questions we need to ask ourselves so that we can know how we stand before God. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Focused Attention

Most of you have heard of the importance of “Focused Attention.”

You husbands have probably heard that your wife likes focused attention.

Your children like focused attention. 

They do not like to talk to someone who is doing something else while they are talking to them. 

 Do you like for people to focus their attention on you when you are talking?

Have you ever experienced the feeling that the person you are talking to is thinking about something totally different than what you have to say? 

You can tell by their eyes that they are “gone away”. 

I believe God likes to have your focused attention when He is talking to you and when you are talking to Him.  The Devil will do his best to distract you. 

Does your mind wander away to non-spiritual, non-relevant issues when you are talking to God?

E.M. Bounds wrote that a “wandering thought is the menace of private prayer.”

Satan hates prayer and he will attack you in this area of “focused attention.”

Effectual, fervent prayer is assisted by the ability to focus your attention on the subject of your prayer. 

The trials and tests of life are used against us to tempt us to get our eyes off Jesus and onto out problems. 

I believe that we have made the devil mad, because of our recent focus on prayer.

Satan is trying to break our focus.  He is very upset with what he knows will happen if we continue to focus our attention on the important matter of prayer. 

Matt 14:24-31
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

What was Peter focused on?  Why?
What should he have focused on?  Why? 
What are you focused on in your life?  Stop and answer that question.
Are you focused on the boisterous winds and the waves in your life?
Or, are you focused on our great God who is the Creator?
Are you focused on the solution to the problem, or does the problem overwhelm you? 
Can you concentrate on the solution long enough for the Holy Spirit to help you make changes?
You need to alternate from focusing on what you think the solution is to focusing on listening to the Holy Spirit to make sure you have the right understanding. 

Peter sunk because he lost his focus on Jesus.
The conditions which Peter begun to focus on caused his faith to fail. 

Acts 13:8-12
8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,
10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.
12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

God helped this Roman deputy to focus on the godly works of Paul. 

The power of God working in the apostle Paul’s life was strong enough to capture the focused attention of the Roman deputy. 

Do you have enough of the power of God, the holiness of God, the righteousness of God, the love of God working in your life to capture the focused attention of an unbeliever. 

What is happening in your life, that if we focus on it, we will see the power and grace of God working? 

If we focus on the most prominent action in your life, will we see selfishness or holiness?

Acts 17:15-17
15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.
16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

We see lots of things, don’t we? 
Many things cross the stage of action which we are watching. 
Paul saw a city “wholly given to idolatry.”  Paul probably saw things which Satan would use to  tempt some folks.  He may have seen things similar to what we would see on a trip to the mall.

When you see the ways of sinners, what do you focus on?
Do you focus on their successes, their pleasures, their life-styles?
Or, do you focus on the fact that they are living outside the will of God.
Do you focus on the fact that they are living selfishly, carnally, wickedly and are in great need of salvation through Jesus Christ?  If you focus on the most important part of their life, you will have a burden for their souls instead of covetousness for their possessions. 

Our feelings are affected by what we focus on.
What we believe to be true is affected by what we focus on. 
We tend to believe what we see.
If we do not understand what we see, then we will believe a lie. 
It is a dangerous thing to believe a lie. 

Josh 1:8
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

MEDITATE:  To dwell on any thing in thought; to contemplate; to study; to turn or revolve any subject in the mind;

In order to meditate on, or study a subject, you must give that thought some focused attention. 
How much focused attention have you given to the Word of God? 

Ps 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
How can you focus on something in the dark.  Without the Word of God, you do not have a light to see what to focus on. 

Ps 1:1-2
1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Is it your delight to focus on the Word of God?
People tend to do what they enjoy doing.
It is hard to focus on something for which you have no or little interest. 
If you can’t focus on God, then you ought to repent of your selfish attitudes and realize how much you need God. 

1 Tim 4:13-16
13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

This is focused attention.
You need to focus on the word of God and give yourself wholly to them until Jesus comes. 
If you let Satan break your focus, he will soon turn you aside from the way of truth.
If you do not focus on the right way, you will be found walking in the wrong way.
If you do not focus on the truth, you will believe a lie.

John 21:20-22
20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

Jesus was trying to get Peter to focus on himself and what God wanted Peter to do.
Satan caused Peter to focus on what John was doing or on what John needed to be doing. 
We need to learn to focus on what God wants us to do and not on what someone else should do.
We need to learn to focus on what God wants us to do and not on what we want God to do.
I believe that if we will earnestly and zealously do what the Holy Ghost tells us to do, God will take care of the rest of what needs to be done. 

Are you expecting God to move in a certain way? 
Rest assured, if it is in His word, He will do it.
If we stay in order and do our part, keeping our attention focused on Jesus, God will surely do His part and nothing in heaven, hell or earth can stop Him.