Friday, February 26, 2016

The Devotion of Hearing

This is from the blog Three Iron Nails:
Speak; for Thy servant heareth. — 1 Samuel 3:10
Because I have listened definitely to one thing from God, it does not follow that I will listen to everything He says. The way in which I show God that I neither love nor respect Him is by the obtuseness of my heart and mind towards what He says. If I love my friend, I intuitively detect what he wants, and Jesus says, “Ye are My friends.” Have I disobeyed some command of my Lord's this week? If I had realized that it was a command of Jesus, I would not consciously have disobeyed it; but most of us show such disrespect to God that we do not even hear what He says, He might never have spoken.
The destiny of my spiritual life is such identification with Jesus Christ that I always hear God, and I know that God always hears me (John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God, by the devotion of hearing all the time. A lily, or a tree, or a servant of God, may convey God's message to me. What hinders me from hearing is that I am taken up with other things. It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place. I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes but I do not hear Him. The child attitude is always, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” If I have not cultivated this devotion of hearing, I can only hear God's voice at certain times; at other times I am taken up with things – things which I say I must do, and I become deaf to Him, I am not living the life of a child. Have I heard God's voice to-day?
--Oswald Chambers
[My Utmost for His Highest]

Lactantius: “He who desires earthly things …”

This is from the blog Dover Beach:

"He who desires transient things will be without eternal things.  He who desires earthly things will be without heavenly things."


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Following Christ

This is from Christian Quote of the Day:

"All who follow Jesus of Nazareth should be prepared for disgrace, not glory."

  --Watchman Nee

Hearing the Voice of God

This is from Truth2Freedom's Blog:
. . . There are two questions before us. The first question is: How many of us are willing to hear the voice of God? Jesus said, Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate (Matthew 23:34, 37-38). Were these people willing to hear the voice of God? Thousands of years before Christ was born in Bethlehem, the Holy Spirit said, Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech: “How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you” (Proverbs 1:20-26).
The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’
1 Samuel 3:10
We all delight in hearing God’s voice in words of forgiveness and comfort. But are we willing to hear His voice in unvarnished truth and naked honesty? ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’ or are we?
Lord, there seem to be a thousand voices calling to me in this world. Help me to discern Your voice above them all and obediently listen!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Spirit Illuminates

This is from the blog Three Iron Nails:
Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
[1 Corinthians 2:5]
When we study the New Testament record, we see plainly that Christ’s conflict was with the theological rationalists of His day.
John’s gospel record is actually a long, inspired, passionately outpoured account trying to save us from evangelical rationalism—the doctrine that says the text is enough.
Divine revelation is the ground upon which we stand. The Bible is the book of God, and I stand for it with all my heart; but before I can be saved, there must be illumination, penitence, renewal, inward deliverance.
In our Christendom, we have tried to ease many people into the kingdom but they have never been renewed within their own beings. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians that their faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God! There is a difference.
We must insist that conversion to Christ is a miraculous act of God by the Holy Spirit—it must be wrought in the Spirit. There must be an inward illumination!
Lord, I pray for my family, neighbors, and friends who do not yet know You. Illumine their hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit.
~ Aiden Wilson Tozer ~

The Danger of a Christian Turning into a Reprobate

This is from the Singapore Christian blog:

In the King James version of the bible, the word “reprobate” (either in its singular or plural form) appears seven times (Jeremiah 6:30, Romans 1:28, 2 Corinthians 13:5, 2 Corinthians 13:6, 2 Corinthians 13:7, 2 Timothy 3:8, and Titus 1:16).

What does it mean? In the New Testament, the word “reprobate” is translated from the Greek word ἀδόκιμος (adokimos [pronounced as ad-ok’-ee-mos]). According to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, adokimos can be used specifically to describe metals and coins that are “not approved” or “not standing the test”. It can also be used in general terms to describe something “that which does not prove itself such as it ought”, or (according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) is “worthless” or “rejected”.

In the New Testament, the word adokimos (or its related forms) appears eight times (Romans 1:28, 1 Corinthians 9:27, 2 Corinthians 13:5, 2 Corinthians 13:6, 2 Corinthians 13:7, 2 Timothy 3:8, Titus 1:16, and Hebrews 6:8), and invariably, it is used to refer to people who once walked with God (and no longer do so), or – more importantly for our discussion – Christians who think of themselves as walking with God, but are in fact “rejected” by God!

On the latter, the Apostle Paul warned that it is indeed possible for people to be so greatly deceived (Titus 1:16; Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament; with emphasis added):
They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny him, being abominable and disobedient and worthless (adokimoi; ἀδόκιμοι) for any good work.”
(Note:   Although believers in Jesus Christ are not saved by works [Ephesians 2:8], one telltale sign that a believer may have become a reprobate is a lacking of good work in this person’s life [see Titus 1:16 above])

For this reason, the Apostle Paul admonished believers to “examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine” (2 Corinthians 13:5; NLT), and specifically, to see if “Jesus the Messiah lives in you” (2 Corinthians 13:5; International Standard Version).

One may ask, “Is it really possible for someone who once sincerely believed in Jesus Christ to turn into a reprobate?” The answer is an affirmative “yes” – even the Apostle Paul did not consider himself to be immune to reprobation, as he said in 1 Corinthians 9:27 (Jubilee Bible 2000 version; with emphasis added):
“But I keep my body under, and bring it into subjection, lest preaching to others, I myself should become reprobate (adokimos; ἀδόκιμος).”
Using a sailing analogy, the Apostle Paul even went so far as to warn Timothy (his very own son in the faith [1 Timothy 1:2; KJV]) to keep clear from turning into a reprobate (1 Timothy 1:19, NLT, with emphasis added below):
“Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.”
Now, what is the fate of Christians who become reprobates? The sixth chapter of Hebrews (verses 4 to 8; NIV; with emphasis added below) warns of their eventual doom:
“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless (adokimos; ἀδόκιμος) and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”
This idea is consistent with how the Lord dealt with reprobates among His people in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 6:26-30; KJV; with emphasis added below):
“O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us. I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way. They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters. The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away. Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them.”
Given the serious consequence of turning into a reprobate, it is important to know how a Christian can degenerate into such a state.
Generally, a person doesn’t turn into a reprobate overnight, but over a period of time, if he/she does not repent of sin, but willfully persists in it (Romans 1:18-32; American Standard Version, with emphasis added):
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 
For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate (adokimon; ἀδόκιμον) mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.”
How then can believers avoid turning into reprobates?

Firstly, you must no longer allow “your sinful nature control your mind”, but, instead, allow “the Spirit control your mind” (Romans 8:6; New Living Translation). The Apostle Paul adds that allowing the former to control you leads to “death” and the latter to “life and peace”.

In addition, you must no longer “conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2, NIV) – or to put it more simply, to “let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2, New Living Translation).

Lastly, you must exercise self-discipline (1 Corinthians 9:27; Jubilee Bible 2000 version; with emphasis added):
“But I keep my body under, and bring it into subjection, lest preaching to others, I myself should become reprobate (adokimos; ἀδόκιμος).”
In conclusion, a Christian in whom it is evident by his/her action and behaviour that the Lord Jesus Christ either did not ever live in him/her, or no longer continues to do so, is a “reprobate” (adokimoi; ἀδόκιμοι) (2 Corinthians 13:5; KJV). Sincere Christians must guard against turning into reprobates by exercising self-discipline and allowing God to transform and change the way they think.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Truth Regarding Temptation // Oswald Chambers

This is from the blog Pastor Brad's Corner:

"Temptation itself is not sin; it is something we are bound to face simply by virtue of being human. Beware of thinking that you are tempted as no one else—what you go through is the common inheritance of the human race. God does not save us from temptations—He sustains us in the midst of them."

--Oswald Chambers

Nikolai Velimirovich: “one whose heart is filled with God’s healthy righteousness”

This is from the blog Dover Beach:

"A man went into the forest to choose a tree from which to make roof-beams. And he saw two trees, one beside the other. One was smooth and tall, but had rotted away inside, and the other was rough on the outside and ugly, but its core was healthy. The man sighed, and said to himself: 'What use is this tree to me if it is rotten inside and useless for beams? The other it is rough and ugly, is at least healthy on the inside and so, if I put a bit more effort into it, I can use it for roof-beams for my house.' And, without thinking any more about it, he chose that tree.

"So will God choose between two men for His house, and will choose not the one who appears outwardly righteous, but the one whose heart is filled with God’s healthy righteousness."

--Nikolai Velimirovich

The Babylonish Church--Isaac Penington

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Prophet

"Head of a Prophet" by Mikhail Vrubel

Real Christianity:  The Nature of the Church
By R.J. Dawson

Pages 95-97:  "For this reason also the wisdom of God said, 'I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.'  Woe to your lawyers!  For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who are entering."  (Luke 11:  49-52)

Keeping these cutting word of Jesus in mind, who do you suppose was the least popular guy of the Old Testament era?  This is not a reference to a particular individual but to a specific place of anointing.  Some of those with this anointing were very well-known, though not necessarily in a favorable sense.  The person who functioned in this gifting was very often treated unapprovingly due to his perceived lack of tact, his direct manner, and most notably, because he was always right.

Though accomplished, he could never rest on his laurels.  He was a guy who, as he grew stronger and more in tune with the Lord, was often looked upon by the locals with skepticism, derision, and outright contempt.  Another ratio of note concerned this person and whatever miscreant authority he was subject to.  Such authorities were, by and large, especially vicious toward this individual.  Though honest and without guile, he represented a threat to their power and position.  He refused to play politics.  He couldn't be bought.  But most of all, he couldn't be trusted to play by the rules unless the rules were authored by God himself.  He had to stand with God to the fullest extent or he would not stand at all, and he knew it.  He was the prophet.

All true prophets of God suffer severely from the slings and arrows of rejection, misunderstanding, and de facto excommunication from the collective heart of the community.  The prophet was revered and hated at the same time.  People had great respect and fear of his anointing but little respect or fear of his person.  Therefore, the prophet could usually receive the strength and will to go on only from God and possibly other prophets.  He was the perfect Old Testament iconoclast, exactly what God wanted him to be.

The Spirit of a Prophet
Josephus on John the Baptist
Wearing a Rough Garment