Avoiding a Famine of Hearing the Word of the LORD #2

(Amos 8:11) 11 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.

As we discovered in our last post, we can avoid a famine of hearing the word of the LORD. From Psalm 119:103-105, we understand that if God’s word becomes our only comfort and illumination, we can walk confidently hearing the word of the LORD, whether reading it or hearing it proclaimed. We also discovered that even when there is no open copy or spoken proclamation of God’s word, we can be confident the Holy Spirit will lead us by it; should it be our only comfort and illumination.

Today we will examine two more ways we must receive the word of God, in order to avoid a famine of hearing the word of the LORD.

#2 REVEALS, CONVICTS, CLEANSES

In the American church culture, we often live with a wrong mentality of the word of God, even though we claim it to be “living and active” and “God breathed” in relation to it being “inspired” by the Holy Spirit (II Timothy 3:15-17). This wrong mentality arises from a tendency to bring the word into the vernacular of the common. In this tendency, we like to make pithy statements that will stick with people and are meant to communicate what we truly believe.

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One of these is the acronym B.I.B.L.E. or Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (which we market to make money at the right). Now this appears cute and a simple communication of the purpose of the Bible, but it is neither. The Bible is not basic, nor is it merely instructions, before we leave earth. God’s word is God’s complete recorded revelation to mankind.

There are other diminishing ways we receive the word of God that are damaging to receiving it as it is in truth, the word of God which effectively works in you who believe (I Thessalonians 2:13), like referring to it as “God’s love letter” to us. The point being that to communicate the meaning of the word of God in this fashion is to actually divorce it from its “living and active” and “inspired” nature. In fact it is to divorce it from who the word of God is… Jesus the Christ!

(John 1:1-5)1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

(Hebrews 4:12-1312 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

It is to this reality of nothing being hidden from Him, who is the word of God, that we want to settle for a moment. God’s written word, read or spoken, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit is our powerful source of revelation concerning ourselves, which convicts and cleanses our soul from sin, practically. Yet in order for this to happen, it must be diligently hidden in the heart.

(Psalms 119:9-11) How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.  With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!  Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

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This is perhaps once of the most forgotten realities among the general population of American Christians. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why pulpits across this land are virtually baron, in addressing sin — or why churches no longer practice discipline in sinning members. Christians in America want basic instructions before leaving earth — they want to hear God’s love letter; but want no part of holiness without which none will see the LORD (Hebrews 12:14). Without ongoing conviction of necessary change as well as positive growth in the Christ-life, a large part of the will of God for us is left out…

(1 Thessalonians 4:3-5) 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;

Sanctification is not Christian behavior modification, but Christ’s resurrection life transforming us into living letters to be read by all men (Romans 8:11; II Corinthians 3:2).

#3 GOD’S WORD SUSTAINS EMPOWERS, PRODUCES FRUIT

Psalms 1:1-31 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

Lastly we must live as though God’s word is living food from heaven indeed. We must remember that Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 in resisting the Devil’s temptation in the wilderness, as He declared… “It is written ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which comes from the mouth of God”.

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As we find in Psalm 1:1-3, meditating on God’s word (meaning to chew it over and over for the purpose of assimilating its life into our own, like a cow chews the cud), is the only way to [1] avoid being sinful and ungodly and [2] have true success. We have already discussed the word of God and its power to sanctify and bring the resurrection life of Christ through our own, so let us consider the secret of our success.

Truly, success in the American church has to do with numeric amount, either in larger congregations, a more prosperous financial bottom line, or more favor with relationships. Quite honestly success is seen in materialist terms, almost exclusively and this vision is sold by some of the best flock fleecing preachers the world has ever seen. Or should I have said the worst flock-fleecing preachers? These shameless scoundrels promote your best life now, comfort as blessing, and amount of followers as a sign of their super “anointing”.  But their gospel, where they name it and claim it and blab it and grab it from the twisting of God’s word, has muddied the water.

True success means that the life you live pleases and glorifies God — that you overcome sin, by the power of the word of God and submitting to the Holy Spirit leading your life–by loving your enemy while they persecute you — by enduring the impossible by faith in God’s word and being filled with His presence — and by growing in the fruit of the Spirit through seasons of peace and tribulation. This is the measure of biblical success and is guaranteed for the one who delights in the word of God day and night. When received in this manner the word of God sustains, empowers and produces fruit.

When Christians received the word of God, as described in these last two posts, they are well prepared to stave off any famine of hearing the word of the LORD.

 

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Avoiding a Famine of Hearing the Word of the LORD

(Amos 8:11) 11 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.

In our last time together we discussed the difficult days of being in a famine of hearing the word of the LORD. The prophet Amos’ declaration was first spoken to the nation of Israel and from it we were able to surmise, the reasons for the prophesied famine.

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  1. Not trusting in the LORD, Judah made alliance with the pagan northern kingdom of Israel; Samaria being its capitol city (Amos 6:1).
  2. This led to great financial prosperity, where they lived for comfort and recreation (Amos 6:4-7).
  3. In this environment, they became insensitive to God’s word [His anointed illuminated direction and prophetic pronouncement and correction], as well as the afflictions of the needy around them (Amos 6:7).
  4. In their prosperity they became prideful and thought they were self-sufficient (Amos 6:1).

Ultimately they no longer received the word of God as it was in truth: to effectively work in them that believe (I Thessalonians 2:13). Therefore, rather than hearing the Holy Spirit illuminate them to God’s will, way and direction, they merely treated the word of God as one more accessory, that proved to them (in their carnal attitude) that they were blessed by God. O how wrong they were.

It is probably superfluous to say, that multitudes of Christians in America are in grave danger of having a famine of hearing the word of the LORD. Despite having God’s written word available to anyone who wants it, we also live in the most “prosperous” nation since probably Sodom or Israel. How’d that turn out for them?

(Ezekiel 16:48-50) 48 “As I live,” says the Lord God, “neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done. 49 Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.

In the “prosperity” of America, we can become insensitive, apathetic, lack proper godly sobriety, and live as though we are better off than Christians around the world, who have far less access to the word of God. In the relative freedom and day to day peace we live in, the above attitude prevails easily, yet when suffering arises we see the paper thin veneer of it. How do we guard against the potential of holding the precious blessing of God’s word, improperly?  How do we avoid being affected by the potential of a famine of hearing the word of the LORD?

#1. OUR ONLY SOURCE OF ILLUMINATION, COMFORT AND CONFIDENCE

 (Psalms 119:103-105) 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

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In this verse there are three elements key to our receiving the word of God as it is in truth. God’s word must be our only source of illumination, comfort, and confidence. In dealing with illumination this is more than understanding, which means we grasp a meaning. Illumination comes from the Holy Spirit, as He reveals how the understanding defines, fits into, and ought to be carried out in our circumstances.  This is not us intellectually and analytically figuring out methods or plans. Illumination means the Spirit of God leads, commands, and opens revelation as to what is coming, which apart from Him we would not know.

Illumination leads to comfort in the dark valley of the shadow of death; which is the pathway the narrow road to LIFE runs through. To the person sold out to Jesus, every day has the potential to bring contrary, even threatening circumstances and mountain like problems. These can seem to darken even the brightest day and pull our minds into the pit of despair. Yet in that darkness, you hear it… the voice of the LORD! It is the word of God, whether opened to a page, or brought to memory by the Holy Spirit. A torch in the dark, that lights the next step… Awe yes, His word brings COMFORT.

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Note that this comfort is not the next ten steps but A STEP! This is instructive for He gives us enough light to obey one step at a time. I believe this is because ABBA knows, we can only handle one step at a time.

This does not bode well for those who desire to get out of trouble instantly, but for those who desire to persevere in Christ, each new step illuminated gives us confidence that the darkness will not overcome us. Each new step also gives us confidence that He is with us and will continue with us, until we get to a place of rest.

Practically speaking, this is a difficult truth to put into practice for people who have been trained to search for pain relief at first sight — to seek a solution when the uncomfortable arises — to pray for new circumstances when the ones we are in, are not within our particular preference. Difficult as it may be, this is one of the purposes of hearing the voice of the LORD.

Let me ask you, what was the last illuminated word you had heard from the LORD? If you are in the dark, obey His last command that seems unrelated to your current circumstances. You may find the comfort you need to endure for His glory.

Posted in Amos 8:11-12, famine of the word of the LORD, Living Word of God, Psalm 119:103-105, Psalm 1:1-3, the voice of God, The Word of God, Uncategorized, Word of God | Leave a comment

Difficult Days… Indeed! (Amos 8:11-12)

“Behold the days are coming,” says the LORD GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD , but shall not find it.”

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Amos the prophet ministered before the Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people. What difficult days the prophet foretold would come. The first significant fulfillment of this prophecy would come while the Jewish nation was captive in Babylon. The second time would be during the intertestamental period of approximately 400 years. This period, often referred to as “400 Silent Years”, took place as the conclusion of Malachi’s prophecy and the advent of John the Baptist’s ministry.

Note, I did not write, when the gospels were written down. This is significant for a “famine” of God’s word has little to do with not having the written word of God. A “famine” of “hearing the word of the LORD” deals occurs when God withholds His inspired and anointed direction through a prophet, priest, or king (a minister).

Therefore, we can also include the nation of Israels condition from the time of the destruction of the temple in the year 70 AD. From well before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the greater part of the nation rejected Christ and the testimony of the apostles after Jesus ascended into heaven.

It is rejection of God’s anointed word that leads to a famine of hearing it, as described in Amos’ prophecy. When the people of God reject God’s real time leading and revelation through prophet, priest, or king, He withdraws His illumination. In these times, no matter how long it has been or how strong the desire in the people to hear a word from the LORD, they will not find satisfaction until His leading is all that they desire.

In these times the LORD declared they would “wander from sea to sea”. The phrase “from sea to sea”, refers to one side of geographic Israel (the Mediterranean Sea) across to the other side of geographic Israel (the Dead Sea). Their manner of travel would be to wander or “to reel” from side to side and backward and forward, like a person malnourished and struggling to find nourishment. To wander implies directionless, confused staggering, from having no word of Life.

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Note also the direction from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea is west to south. This is important for when not finding the word of Life, they would panic and begin to “run to and fro”; “from north to east”. God’s people would crisscross the nation looking to hear a word from the LORD, that would not come. Remember it was not that there was not any written word, because they had the written word. The problem was that God was not directly speaking to them through an anointed prophet, priest, or king, because they had been rejected. Why did Israel need a famine of hearing the word of the LORD? several reasons can be offered.

THEY LIVED TRUSTING IN HUMAN ALLIANCE RATHER THAN YHWH

In Amos 6:1 we find the beginning of Israel’s ignoring the word of the LORD, which lead to a famine of hearing the word of the LORD.

“Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, and trust in Mount Samaria, notable persons in chief nations, to whom the house of Israel comes”.

The southern kingdom of Judah (Zion), whose kings were from David’s line, trusted in their alliance with the northern kingdom of Israel (Mount Samaria), a truly ungodly kingdom. Together they pompously saw themselves as notable people in the world of nations. This alliance brought much wealth and put them at “ease”, to which the LORD pronounced “Woe” upon them. This is never good. What occurred is that in this alliance, they no longer lived in dependence on God. Judah has made alliance with a compromised sister nation.

Rather than paying a price, they had apparently, at least in their own judgment prospered; but let us remember material prosperity is not an automatic indication of being blessed by God. In fact, this kind of prosperity usually leads to the spiritual down, when concerning the redeemed of the LORD.

PROSPERITY LEADS TO PURSUIT OF IDLE PLEASURE

(Amos 6:3-8Woe to you who put far off the day of the doom, who cause the seat of violence to come near; who lie on beds of ivory, stretch out on your couches, eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of your stalls; who sing idly to the sounds of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; who drink wine from bowls, and anoint yourselves with the best ointments, but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. Therefore they shall now go captive as the first captives, and those who recline at banquets shall be removed.

In the passage above we can see the fruit of prosperity in people of faith, when not on guard. Very easily seen is a society of people of faith in YHWH who become insensitive to the Word of the LORD, because prosperity has led to.

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  1. A lack of sobriety to the judgment of God.
  2. The allowance of a culture of violence and death, extending to pagan ritual abortion.
  3. The seeking of comfort and extravagance.
  4. Having an abundance of food, leading to gluttony and selfishness.
  5. The creation of idle entertainment to the degree that music intended to worship God becomes background noise.
  6. Having wine and drink in abundance for sought after society.
  7. Having the best hi-gene treatments available.
  8. Not being troubled by the plight of the afflicted down the street or even next door.

The culture raised from prosperity made them insensitive to God’s word, but what’s more, it made them not want to hear His voice of direction. Now this did not mean they did not have the written word, because they did and they would try it from time to time. The problem is that the written word became a source of legalistic affirmation and pride:they read the word, it made them spiritual, or so they thought.

Essentially God brought this famine of hearing the word of God, because they diminished what His word was intended for. We ought to be careful we do not fall into the same error.

CAN CHRISTIANS FALL INTO A FAMINE OF HEARING THE WORD OF GOD?

Whether those who have been redeemed can remain or fall into a carnal state, ought to be unquestioned in the scriptures. Beyond this potential we must levy to facts. The first is we live in the kind of culture described above and secondly the N.T. is filled with instructions concerning how we handle the word of God, for the purpose of it being engrafted into our person (James 1:21) — That we would be doers of the word, not only hearers (James 1:22) — That we would grow into mature Christians (I Corinthians 3:1-3) — That we grow in discernment, having exercised its use in life (Hebrew 5:12-14).  The list could include many others, but for now, it is important to remember that the word of God is elemental in our being born again…

(1 Peter 1:22-24) Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever

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It is important to understand that the incorruptible seed, “the word of God”, is not defined as an intellectual element but a spiritual one; as we know being born again is a supernatural occasion. This does not diminish the nature and power of the written or preached word, but emphasizes the need of the Holy Spirit in its receptions. It is also for this reason that “Christians” can read the word of God and still not hear from the Lord, just as the Pharisees at the time of Christ. We don’t want to misplace the point of God’s written and spoken word, or like He said to the Pharisees, Jesus may be saying to us “You search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life, and These are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).

Like the Pharisees and the people to whom Amos prophesied, we can begin to use the written word of God in a self seeking manner, and miss the One who is the Living Word of God, Jesus the Messiah. Let us be careful to understand that hearing the word of the LORD continues after the preacher preaches and after we close the bible in our devotions.

We are to understand, encounter, and adapt to our life circumstances, in real time, as the Holy Spirit leads us by the word of God hidden in our hearts (Romans 8:14, Proverbs 3:5-7). This incorruptible seed is to be the voice of the Lord, and the basis of the transformation of our lives.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

Remember, when Paul speaks of how they received the word of God, he is not referring to their being excited to receive a gift and awarded a Bible, as nice as that would have been. He was referring to their receiving his message concerning Jesus Christ, from the written O.T. on hand, or spoken by him. Essentially they received what Amos’ audience and many “Christians” are missing today: the anointed life transforming and empowered word of the LORD.

In our next post, we will discover ways to help us grow in our desire to hear His word. Until then may God bless you as you consider whether you are truly hearing the word of the LORD.

 

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THE SPIRIT IS WILLING… REVIVE ME

Psalms 119:33-40 Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, And not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way. Establish Your word to Your servant, Who is devoted to fearing You. Turn away my reproach which I dread, For Your judgments are good. Behold, I long for Your precepts; Revive me in Your righteousness.

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Psalm 119:33-40 reveals the heart of a person who truly desires to walk with Jesus  with all their heart. Despite this desire the psalm also reveals the need for to accomplish what is impossible for us, when our old man is aroused, through the weakness of our flesh. When Jesus commanded that the disciples “Watch and pray”, it was because although the redeemed have a willing spirit, we still have to deal with human frailty.

This psalm reveals how we can put ourselves in a position to receive from God, gaining what He promised; that which He commands we continually experience. This need/promise is revealed in the word REVIVE.

David’s plea to be revived by God is a prayer for something w have no resources for within our humanity. We have discovered that when we begin to falter or are in danger of falling, it is because we have lost our traction on the narrow way that leads to life. Note I did not say we have fallen off the road, but we have begun slipping in moving forward. When we discover this REALITY we need to REFOCUS on:

  1. The way of His statutes (vs. 33)
  2. The Spirit’s leading in His law, as we practice His presence (vs. 34)
  3. Submitting to the Holy Spirit’s leading, as He commands in every moment (vs. 35)
  4. Refocusing on His testimonies and glory, rather than our wants (vs. 36)
  5. Allowing the Lord to turn our focus back to Christ’s kingdom alone (vs. 37)
  6. Re-committing to being taught by the Holy Spirit, as He reveals God’s word (vs. 38)
  7. Only Allowing God to define us, rather than the reproach of others (vs. 39)

These seven are actually the first emphasis in our being revived, because these enable us to gain traction on the road that leads to eternal life.

(Psalm 119:37) Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things and revive me in Your way.

Revival in this manner, takes another more important revival in our lives. This is revealed in vs. 40.

(Psalm 119:40) Behold I have longed after Your precepts; Revive me in your righteousness

Since I have written on this website extensively concerning what is to follow, I will be brief. Please do not thin then that this of of little import, for what I am about to write one of the main reasons the church in this country is faltering.

Let us understand that the precepts David is desiring are the well defined rules of spiritual life and relationship to God. This encompasses the seven essentials of REFOCUS listed above.

Although the spiritual man’s desire of being revived in these areas is a start, it takes more than desire to be REVIVED; it takes a greater enlivening, a surge of power that will raise the Christian from their coma like state.

(Ephesians 5:14) Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”

(Ephesians 5:18) And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.

Being filled with the Holy spirit continually is our reviving and it is right in line with David’s prayer that God “REVIVE ME IN YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.  He is pleading give me Your life and power, for I am in a coma and need revived.

For Christians this is not something we need to beg for, but it is something we need to know is missing in our lives, when it is absent. The appropriate question concerning this need is are we experiencing the literal character, faith, action and power of Jesus Himself?

Interestingly, Jesus answers David’s prayer in the Beatitudes when He declares “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). The word Jesus uses for righteousness means “equity of character and action” in the Greek language. Those who want to be filled with Christ life, power and righteousness shall have more and more, as they deposit faith and obedience.

When we are slipping on the narrow road, when we know the fruit of the Christ-life is lacking in our life, we must be REVIVED. Only He can bring the power. Only we can open up our flood gates with faith and obedience.

(John 7:37-38) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

 

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THE SPIRIT IS WILLING… re-Establish your word to Your servant

Image result for i love the bibleMost of the Christians I have run across would declare a love for the written word of God, as we have in the Bible. It is my opinion that the majority of them are sincere in their profession of that love. We Christians in America have more copies of the written word of God per person, than many congregations in the persecuted world possess between numerous believers. We carry our copies of the word of God proudly to church, as well as other places. We even attempt to sanctify our wireless devices with digital copies of our favorite translation.

We often are proud to be Bible believing, Bible toting Christians and that is not entirely a bad thing, unless we forget what truly makes a fruitful successful follower of Christ: DELIGHT in the word of God so much, that rather than carry it in physical book form, we assimilate it into our life, by meditating upon it day and night (Psalm 1:2). Without a long teaching on scriptural meditation (chewing the cud), it is enough to know that this means we read the word and the Holy Spirit reveals its meaning and how it applies to our life (I Corinthians 2:14). This takes prayerful waiting before the Lord, with a desire to not only understand the word of God, but how to apply it in our life, in obedience to the Lord.

This process is the foundation of our Christian life.

(Matthew 7:24-25) Therefore whoever hears these words of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house upon the rock: and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon the house; and it did not fall, for it was founded upon the rock.

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In James 1:22-24 Jesus’ declaration is rephrased “Be doers of the word and not hearers only”. Let us grasp that hearing that is on the surface will never produce committed persevering obedience sufficient to DO. This is a problem for the church in America, because there is a market for those who want to do the “right thing” in reading the Bible. Devotions and Bible apps are designed to get the word to people in chew-able bites, because we have less and less time to eat a word of God meal. Though it may appear a benevolent and necessary “ministry”, it is actually leaving us spiritually malnourished.

Reading the word of God because it is the “right thing” to do, will leave you in a the wrong condition, weakened in the flesh. Remember Jesus wants to come in and dine with us, and He does not prepare fast food. He also does not care about our overly busy schedules, a majority of which He has not called us to walk in.

Watching and praying, being sober and vigilant, as not to fall into temptation or sin (Matthew 26:41; I Peter 5:8), needs proper spiritual nutrition and digestion from Biblical meditation on the word of God. It is for this reason David wrote Psalm 119:38.

(Psalm 119:38) Establish your word to Your servant who is devoted to fearing You.

The word “establish” means raise me up in, prove me with, and make me powerful in your word.  It would seem that we can grow away from running to Christ in the secret place, where we are taught by the Holy Spirit concerning the word of God. This leads to weakened resolve and heightens the sensitivity of our flesh; which will lead to less time in God’s presence, assimilating truth.

Remember that David, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, penned Psalm 1 revealing the delight of the man of God, concerning the word of God. He also wrote How a young man keeps his way from sin, by taking heed to the word of God and hiding it in His heart, rather than merely carrying it around (Psalm 119:9-12).

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Despite these truths, David still fell and fell hard. Why? “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”. In addition to this, we will find from the chronicle of David’s life, that as his duties as king increased, he justified less time before God. Less time before God, being taught of the Holy Spirit, praising God, crying out to God, hoping in God–means greater reliance on whats in your head and the potential for falling into sin.

For those who have followed the Lord and felt themselves becoming less excited about God’s word, this is a call to God to return to being re-ESTABLISHED in the word of God. There are times where we must spend a season in famine from God’s word, in order to understand what we are missing.

REFOCUS

  1. For the foreseeable future, put aside all devotional materials and commentaries.
  2. In this season, put aside 1 hour to read the word of God aloud to yourself.
  3. Take the time to write anything new that you see and rejoice in that revelation.
  4. Take the time to write the command that convicts you of needed change, commit to the change in prayer and rejoice for the revelation.
  5. If you read something you do not understand, write it down. after writing it down, pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and wait listening for the Spirit of God to speak.
  6. If you receive clarity write it down and rejoice of the revelation. If you hear nothing, move on after your hour, rejoice for the revelation that will come.
  7. Do not be concerned with how much you know or read, but with hearing from the Lord.
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THE SPIRIT IS WILLING… Turn away my…

Image result for falling rocksTraveling on vacation with my family when I was a child was always special. We would usually leave around 11 p.m. and travel through the night and next day to arrive at our destination of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The trip usually took about 14 hours. Perhaps the best part of the trip was between 2 and 4 a.m., when my mother, brother, and sister were all sleeping. With only my dad and I awake, we would enjoy talking and being together.

Perhaps the most uncomfortable times were traveling through the mountains of West Virginia, where yellow danger signs littered the side of the road, warning drivers to slow down or be aware of falling rock. To a boy under ten the thought of being crushed by a boulder was terrifying. Therefore, I paid special attention to be able to warn my father, in case he needed to take evasive action. Warning signs are necessary and indicate trouble ahead.

Jesus’ warning to us in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”, is a road sign screaming to us “DANGER AHEAD”. Psalm 119:33-40 gives us two warning signs that we may be entering a time of difficulty because of weak flesh.

(Psalm 119:37) Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things (vanity) and revive me in Your way.

(Psalm 119:39) Turn away my reproach which I dread, for Your judgments are good

BEWARE OF STARING AT WORTHLESS THINGS

“Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things”. This prayer expresses here a godly desire to be intentional with time, energy, and life for God. What is the danger to that desire, which is the very desire of Christ in us? the danger is our eyes and attention being diverted from God’s will to worthless things.

What are worthless things? Simply put, anything that does not keep, direct or inspire our attention towards the things of God in Christ, the things above where Christ sits at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1-3). This may seem nebulous, but really it is not. Our eyes, minds, affection and attention are to be on Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:1-3). If we are that heavenly minded we will do the earth  much good. Many cry for being well rounded, balanced, and cultured… HUMBUG! We should be concerned to BE radical, walking talking Jesus machines, filled and fueled by God’s Spirit and the love of Christ.

How do we identify worthless things? In the first place, we understand that if they suck time away from us, where we are unaware of God’s presence, purpose and will, they are worthless; as we are to be redeeming the time for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16). Secondly, we realize worthless things may be lawful, but may not build our faith or strengthen our sensitivity to the Spirit of God. Worthless things may not build the faith of or encourage the walk of our Christian fellows. When this is the case, it is not expedient for us and is most likely a worthless time sucking thing.

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The pull of worthless things upon the redeemed in Christ is even greater than at the writing of Psalm 119:37, therefore we must remain prayerful and on guard. David was asking God to grab him by his ears and turn his eyes away from that which would build a slippery slope to sin. Although we have the Holy Spirit resident with us, we must practice prayerful diagnosis of what we give our attention to. A person who notices they are wasting time in pointless gazing, at whatever, is rounding the corner to danger.

Philippians 4:8 will serve as a passage to aid in identifying the worthy from the worthless.

(Philippians 4:8) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

BEWARE OF PITY PARTIES

The second warning sign of weakness of the flesh comes form Psalm 119:39 . “Turn away my reproach which I fear…”. Once more we see David asking God to turn him from staring at something, which he fears: his reproach.

Reproach carries a sense of personal disgrace, like a barren woman in the O.T.(Isaiah 4:1; Genesis 30:23), that is undeserved. It also carries the very real shame of enemies mocking the misfortune or pain of the individual. We can understand this in Christ, who bore our reproach, as He was mocked having willingly carried the shame of our sin curse in His own body (Hebrews 13:13).

For David to be reproached was a fearful thing. What he is asking is that the LORD would pull his eyes away from the reproach and place it on God’s judgments concerning who he was in the LORD. This is very instructive. Although David feared the labels of men, he knew it was not what he was to regard. All that mattered was what God proclaimed concerning him. This is why our Savior thrived through the reproach and shame of the cross; for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2-3). By faith, Jesus knew who He was and always will be, the reproach did not affect His faith or deter Him from finishing His eternal purpose.

This is a problem for those who are sincere in Christ. If you will surrender all, desire to know Him and the power of His resurrection, you will suffer reproach from others. When we begin to allow sadness, despair and depression to blind us to God’s judgment concerning us, then we are in danger. Take it from me, this is perhaps one of the greatest weaknesses of the called in Christ, therefore it is our greatest challenge. We must place our eyes on God’s judgment concerning us, as His children.

(Romans 8:14-17) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

REFOCUS

  1. Read Philippians 4:8 and prayerfully consider what steals time away from focusing on the truths in this passage. Ask God to reveal the top ways you waste your time gazing at vanity and commit to changing as led by the Holy Spirit.
  2. Ask the Lord Jesus to reveal the most prominent people or situation that bring about feelings of failure, shame, and reproach. Seek in the word what the scripture reveals about your being a child of God. Hide those God judgments in your heart.

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Posted in Psalm 119:33-40, Psalm 119:37, Psalm 119:39, The flesh is weak, the spirit indeed is willing, Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, Turn away my reproach which I fear, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THE SPIRIT IS WILLING… Incline my heart to your testimonies!

(Psalm 119:36) Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to covetousness.

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In this passage we see the psalmist seeking the LORD for two things; one a positive and the other a negative, through the word incline which means “to bend”. In times when our REALITY is a willing spirit and weak flesh (Matthew 26:41), David’s prayer is for a two-fold bending. First, bend my heart toward the testimonies of the LORD. Second, bend my heart away from covetousness. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for iniquity expressed a crooked or bent nature toward sin. David is crying out to God that He would re-bend his natural heart toward God’s truth and testimony.

I believe this desire is largely why David was deemed by God “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22). The shepherd king’s heart was a living picture of the disposition of  the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), as taught by Jesus. David was poor in spirit, mournful over sin, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness. The man wanted to lose his bend toward iniquity, and be bent straight to God’s testimonies and truth; but Messiah had not yet come. He would have to wait in faith, for Christ to accomplish the task of breaking the dominion of the sin nature and straightening the heart of man to connect with God.

In Christ, this inclining has taken place but let us give it a new testament vernacular. We were bent toward sin, but now we have been straightened up to Truth and Righteousness. This straightening has bent us away from sinful tendencies. Yet, when weak in flesh or in a season of temptation, our old patterns of flesh begin to throb for satisfaction. Then, by faith, we must hold to that which we have been straightened up to in Christ, and refuse what we have been straightened away from.

Straightened up to focus on His Testimonies

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Since the historical, wisdom and prophetical books were either being inspired by the Holy Spirit through Samuel and David at the writing of this Psalm (and through later authors), the testimonies written of here refer to: the writings contained in the Books of the Law written by Moses, as inspired by the Holy Spirit (II Timothy 3:15). This word of God contained the acts of the Lord of power from creation to their entrance to the promised land, and was David’s delight (Psalm 1:1). This testimony was the record of all the commands from the law; a moral code for the Israelite but also a revelation of YHWH’s holiness. It also recorded the acts of deliverance, provision, protection, grace, mercy, and justice–with punishments meted out through God’s Almighty power and love.

These were what David prayed God would bend him toward, recognizing his human propensity to know these testimonies, but grow undisciplined and wanting when weakened in the flesh.

This is a very real need in our Christian life when we become wore out, willing in spirit, yet weak in our flesh. Consider Colossians 3:1-3

(Colossians 3:1-3) ​ If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

(Colossians 3:5-7) put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

The Testimonies of the Lord are also “those things which are above” which draw us to hope in Christ’s return and which remind us that God is with us, to deliver us. Having our hearts inclined to the testimonies of the Lord are of such great importance, for it is how we endured temptation and discipline from the Lord (Hebrews 12:1-3).

We add to David’s testimonies of the Lord:

  1. Jesus’ eternal nature and being God.
  2. Christ’s birth, sinless life and miracles.
  3. His all sufficient atoning death and resurrection.
  4. Christ’s life fulfilling 100% of all prophecy concerning Messiah.
  5. The day He brought us out of the kingdom of darkness and into His own.
  6. The mighty acts of power and faithfulness He has displayed in us and others
  7. His call and commands to be holy and obey.
  8. His future return and glory with Him.
  9. The blessing of His presence with us.

Bent away from covetousness

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In my opinion the best tag line concerning our flesh is “I want more”. On the night Jesus warned the disciples “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”, they needed just a little more rest, and fell asleep. We must be honest about our own inclination to want more than we need and be discontent with what we have. It seems the want for a little more is just a breath away and heightened in times of difficulty or seasons of discontent.

We must be careful to mind Colossians 3:1 “set your mind on things above, as well as Colossians 3:5-7 which calls us to put do death covetousness. We do this reckoning by faith, that what we need will be supplied by God (Philippians 4:19) and setting ourselves on the inexhaustible treasure that is Jesus Christ our Savior (Hebrews 12:1-3).

REFOCUS

  1. Prayerfully seek scripture which is associated with the 9 New Testament testimonies of the Lord above. If you get stuck, email me at mje4jesus@gmail.com
  2. Do some inventory of your thinking during difficulty, temptation or disappointing times. Do you encourage yourself in Christ, calling to mind His testimonies or drop off the table into pity parties and stink’n think’n.

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