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Archive for April, 2020

Is that true? Are Christians destroying the United States of America? In order to answer the question, I ask that you consider this portion of Scripture found In 2nd Chronicles:
 
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” —2 Chronicles 7:14
 
Who is God speaking to?
 
If you said ancient Israel, under the reign of King Solomon, almost three thousand years ago, you would be historically correct. This is a specific covenant (contract), to a specific people (Jews), to save a specific nation (Israel), so it is not applicable to the church (Christians).
 
I’m not wholly convinced.
 
First, Christians are God’s people and God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We have been grafted into the vine that is Israel and the church collectively is the Bride of Christ. In regards to America being saved, well that’s not likely to happen; in the end, it is Israel that survives — no mention of the good ‘ol USA in the Bible. However, that does not mean our nation can’t be healed for a period of time, nor does it mean that America can’t be better than it is today. America’s end is inevitable, but her in-betweens are not.
 
Back to 2nd Chronicles
 
Why is America in such a moral mess? I can tell you
that’s it’s not the government’s fault, nor is it the fault of non-believers. “We have met the enemy and they are ours!” it’s the fault of those prideful, non-praying, self-seeking, hypocritical Christians that fill our pews every Sunday! Across the board we ignore God in prayer, we ignore or pervert His word, we turn a blind eye to sin, and although not directly participating in wickedness, we sure enjoy watching it on TV. Dare I mention fornication, abortion, and intoxication?
 
You get the picture.
 
Let’s be clear: this country has been entrusted to those who are called by His name, and be us devout or nominal, we outnumber the God-less folks. Our country’s dismal condition is due to the fact that we have dropped the morality-ball, not them. If there is to be any hope for this nation, Christians must repent — it is the very definition of revival. If this occurs, then there will be a healing. 2 Chronicles 7:14 simply gives us the recipe: humility, prayer, turning from sin and pursuing God.
 
I believe it safe and logical to assume that America is broken because most Christians reject revival. If we want the land revived, we ourselves must first be revived, individually and corporately. And if you are one to say that revival is only a movement of God, I will not argue, but say, “Look around – God is moving!” adding, “were you really waiting for a miraculous sign before you repent, humble yourself, and seek God’s face?” That seems quite faithless to me.
 
Revival begins with humility. God already knows our spiritual condition; He’s just waiting for us to recognize and confess it. Start there. Then pray. Then pour into His word. Then wait and see what God will do.
 
Will God heal our land? We cannot be sure, primarily because we cannot predict how many Christians will respond, but this I do know, if one person is revived, he or she will be healed, and that alone should be sufficient.

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The Ruler asked, “What should I do to inherit eternal life.”

After some back-and-forth, Jesus said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)

I’ve been studying the life of Lot. You know the story — Lot’s an oppressed, non-influential believer, living in sin-filled Sodom, a city that God is about to reduce to ashes. Two angels stand beside Lot pleading that he leave the city, but Lot hesitates.

Why?
He believes in God and he believes these messengers are angels. I submit to you he was experiencing the same despair as the ‘Rich Young Ruler’ in the Gospel of Luke story. Lot was a ruler of sorts, holding some type of government position in Sodom, and likely had a measurable degree of wealth. Lot was respected in Sodom, that is, as long as he turned a blind eye to sin and corruption, and kept his religion to himself. While Jesus told the Ruler to sell all that he had, in similar fashion two angels told Lot to abandon all that he had. We know what happen to Lot; the angels took him by the hand and plopped him outside the city walls, directing him to walk the rest of the way. We don’t know what the Ruler decided. I’d like to think that he made the proper choice. 
 
We’re a lot like Lot and the Ruler.
 
What if you were told right now to leave it all behind? Don’t consider what you would eventually do, consider what your very first reaction would be. Would there be any hesitation? Would you pause to ask why? Or would you simply turn and start walking, leaving even vehicles behind, carrying only what was on your back? If you’re honest (if I’m honest), we’d probably react just like Lot and the Ruler did: we’d hesitate, seek explanations, and proffer justifications. 
 

Where does that leave all of us?

It’s okay to ask the question; the disciples were wondering the same exact thing. They too were struggling with the notion of being able to walk away from all they had. Could they leave their homes? Their cars? Their cable TV? Well that’s certainly what their question implies. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they ask.

Jesus responds with the most gracious, merciful, and loving answer, and frankly, it’s the bedrock of the entire Gospel message: “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” (Luke 18:22-27)

Absolute repentance and complete submission is a little frightening at first. It speaks to perfection, so we naturally shy away from that which we cannot achieve. Jesus knows this too. It’s why He bluntly said, “It’s impossible!” And that’s the whole point. Are we not made strong in our weaknesses? We cannot save ourselves. We are helpless by design! It is when we recognize our imperfect condition that the Perfect One can do the impossible.
 
The angels brought a vacillating Lot out of bondage and he ultimately walked by faith. Jesus brings us out in the same condition and simply asks we do the same.

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I became a police officer in 1981. I came to faith in 1984. Young, stupid, and un-discipled, I eventually fell back into my old, sinful ways. I did not yet understand the spiritual principle regarding holiness — the notion of being set apart for God and endeavoring to make it known, perpetually.
 
I attempted to share my faith, but rapidly succumb to the ridicule of both criminal and coworker. I blame neither for my downward spiral – – the fault was my own. I was like the seed that sprang up quickly and the one that fell among the thorns: shallow roots growing amongst weeds. In other words: I was not growing in my faith and I was not practicing holiness (set-apartness).
 
It reminds me of Lot.
 
Consider one of the most disturbing portions of Scripture:
 
“Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing.” (Genesis 19:8)
 
For centuries scholars have debated why a man would make such a despicable offer. Some have even attempted to defend Lot’s action. The truth be told, the deed is indefensible. We can however surmise that Lot got to this horrendous condition through a lack of spiritual growth and a lack of holiness.
 
Sodom was a vile place, replete with depravity, perversion, and sexual sin. Why Lot chose to live in such a place we may never know, but we can speculate that on day one, week one, or even year one of living in Sodom, Lot would not have offered his daughters up to be raped. However, after 25 years of living there, he was worn down by the continual vice, brutality, and materialism. Two and a half decades of compromise, turning a blind-eye, cowering in fear, and concealing his faith brought Lot to this place. It did not happen overnight. Shallow roots among thorns have little chance.
 
On the other hand, consider Abraham. While not a perfect man, he was a faith-filled man, a man who grew in his knowledge of the Lord and exercised holiness, opting to remain untethered to the world as a nomadic tent dweller. Sodom essentially lay at his doorstep, but he was not of Sodom. He was free to engage with the world on his terms and not on theirs. As a result, he was used mightily by God.
 
As with Lot, God did not abandon me, He rescued me. Like Lot, my salvation was secure because by faith I believed. But in those days, I was not of much use to God. Thankfully our Lord is both gracious and merciful, and remains faithful when we are not. He restores what the locust devours, that is if we allow Him to.
 
Study the word, be in prayer, and be ye holy.

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I got the love of woodworking from my dad. He was not a skilled carpenter by any stretch of the imagination, but he enjoyed making things and I enjoyed making things with him. He would put on some work clothes and then make the announcement:

“I’m going out to the garage to do some work, if anyone wants to help me!”

I always jumped at the opportunity.

It’s not that I was ever much help, but my dad would let me hammer a couple of pieces of scrap wood together, or try my hand at sawing a 2 x 4 in half (no power tools, of course). It was during one of these sessions my dad gave me my first hammer, a hammer I still have today.

I’m so glad that I never missed the signs: his donning of work clothes, the house-wide announcements, or coming home to the sounds of construction coming from the garage. I could have ignored those signs and our father-son relationship would be still be intact (my rejection would not affect dad’s love for me), but at the end of the day, he would be working alone.

So it is with God.

Our Father in Heaven also gives us signs. He doesn’t need us, but He wants us to be a part of what He is doing. Sometimes we’re too busy to notice them and other times we outright ignore them. It doesn’t mean we’re not saved and it does not affect His love for us, but we will have missed a valued chance to work with and learn directly from the Father, and I suspect that saddens Him.

Signs. Look for the signs.

It shall be when these signs come to you,
do for yourself what the occasion requires,
for God is with you.
(1 Samuel 10:7)

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Twenty-plus years ago, I was doing AA and I remember being told that if I hungout in a bar (not to drink), but to minister alcoholics, they would most likely get me drunk before I got them sober. Here was my take away: these battles are best fought on our turf, not theirs.

So it is with saving the spiritually lost -going into the lions den is dangerous. Having said that, if we’re thrown into a pit, we can trust Jesus to bring us through the trial, but to enter them voluntarily, without the prompting or annoiting of the Holy Spirit is to risk getting eaten alive.

Lot the Righteous.

The Bible tells us Lot was a righteous man, but as a full-time resident of Sodom, his soul was vexed day-to-day by their unlawful deeds. What affect did that have on Lot? The Genesis account implies that Lot was not very influential in his ministry to the Sodomites – God sent two angels into the city, and after 25 years of Lot’s ministry, or lack thereof, they could not even find ten righteous people.

Why is that?

It would seem that Lot, although a Godly man, conformed to, or was broken by, a filthy world and thus lost his light and saltiness. Perhaps God’s will, and Lot’s ministry, would have been better served if he stayed in a tent on the outskirts of town, making occasional visits or better yet, inviting the lost to his dwelling as they ventured beyond the city walls. Just a thought on my part, but clearly establishing his roots in Sodom wasn’t working out too well

It bears repeating…

Many are called to such a ministry, but let’s be very clear on the issue: they are affective because they were compelled by God to do so. Lot did not have such a calling on his life, at least the Bible does not record one, nor does it record any fruit from such a calling.

As it pertains to life in general, I’ve always taught my children that if they ‘hangout’ in a barbershop, eventually they will get a haircut. The axiom holds true for those who have been set-apart for Kingdom purposes. We’re called to be in the world, maintaining holiness in unholy places, living as aliens, not denizens, among natural men.

This takeaway is clear:

“…[B]y the mercies of God…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
(Romans 12:1-2)

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As much as we might want to identify with people (friends or family) in the unbelieving world, they will never fully accept us unless we abandon or compromise our faith. If and when we do exercise our spiritual values, it brings conviction, and they often distance themselves or disown us entirely. In thinking we can find common ground through compromise, we are the ones who are fooled.

Lot is our example.

In Genesis 19, he begs for the lives of two angels quartered inside his home, “Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such a wicked thing.”

“Stand back!” they shouted. “This fellow (Lot) came to town as an outsider (an alien), and now he’s acting like our judge! We’ll treat you far worse than those other men!”
(Genesis 19:7 + 9)

Lot calls them brothers, thinking them his friends, but they call him an alien.

So it is when we are friends with the world in a compromising manner. When that moment of clarity comes and we attempt to regain our spiritual footing, we will be summarily rejected. Truth be told, we ARE aliens and we should never pretend we are something other than that.

“Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy…I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’ (aliens) to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.” (1 Peter 2:10-12)

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