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Saturday, December 29, 2012

God's Plan for Human Relationships

Fellowship, Communion, and Intimacy

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (Genesis 2:18)

From the beginning God said that it was not good that the man should be alone. God never intended for the human race to consist of only one man and one woman, but from the beginning He intended for them to multiply and fill the earth. Since there were to be many people God made man with a need for companionship. By God's design we are social creatures and we need other people. This is basic to God's plan for the human race and to our God-given nature. Time alone is important and profitable to our soul and spirit, but not as a way of life.

The need for companionship is much more defined than just general socializing and mingling with other people. There are at least three basic levels in human relationships. There is fellowship, communion, and intimacy. They are like stairs, with fellowship being the first and lowest step, communion the second step, and intimacy at the top of the stairs.

All human relationships begin with fellowship, and usually never go beyond this level. These are casual acquaintances, people at work, neighbors, most relatives, and sadly, most of the people we go to church with. Some relationships progress from casual fellowship to the next level, which is communion. These are the few people in our life with whom we become good friends. We include them in the important and cherished events of our life. They are the ones we seek out and whose company we prefer. These are the people whose prayers we especially value. We feel comfortable sharing our heart and our problems with them. All of the relationships we have on the levels of fellowship and communion are non-committal. They are not bound by vows or promises, but rather are more dependent upon convenience. Those we fellowship with and become good friends with are always changing throughout our lives. Almost always they fade away with time and circumstances which separate us. Sometimes we encounter problems or conflicts, which break the bonds of fellowship, even with very good and close friends.

Then there is the intimate relationship where two souls are knit together in complete trust and commitment and there are no secrets. It is possible to have a somewhat intimate friend of the same gender, but the very best friend we could possibly have does not come close to what God has in mind for man and wife. The marriage relationship between a man and a woman is the ultimate intimate relationship, and it is forever. It is the crown of human relationships. It is the one relationship where true intimacy can find its completion and fulfillment in the physical, spiritual, and emotional realms, and the element of unconditional commitment is what makes all that possible. While it is obvious that most marriages do not measure up to these criteria we must recognize the fact that it is because of sin and selfishness, and not because of a flaw in God's design and plan.

Man needs more than casual fellowship with others. He even needs more than a pal or a very close friend. He needs someone with whom he can share his very soul. He needs someone with whom he can become one on the level of the soul. When God created the man He left some places empty in him so there would be room for another. The soul of man was created by his Maker with needs, and God created a woman to fulfill those needs. Not only that, but when God created the woman, He created her soul with needs that could only be fulfilled by her husband. The relationship between husband and wife goes far beyond the shallow waters of fellowship and companionship. It goes beyond physical intimacy, also. It is a union of their souls and spirits, their minds and their wills, their affections and desires. We may have fellowship and companionship with many people, but we cannot experience what God has in mind for husband and wife except in a garden enclosed by the fence of commitment where only the two are allowed admittance. By God's design it is meant to last a lifetime, with death as the only means of separation.
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:5-6)

This special, intimate, ultimate human relationship is not something that happens instantly or even quickly, but it develops in a certain order, and over a period of time and experience. It is Genesis 4:1, after sin has entered into the world and they have been driven from the garden, before the Bible tells us that Adam "knew" his wife. The word "knew" has much more meaning here than most people think. To consider it to merely mean carnal knowledge is to make a terrible error and miss some of the most important knowledge and understanding. Although the marriage bed is part of God's design of male and female, God did not create a woman solely for the carnal pleasure of a man. God's purposes encompass far more than that. This is the definition of the word "know" as used in the Scripture. Look at all the words and ideas expressed by this word God chose to use.

To know: (properly, to ascertain by seeing); (including observation, care, recognition; and instruction) be aware, comprehend, consider, be diligent, discern, discover, familiar friend, feel, instruct, have knowledge, make self known, + be learned, + lie by man, mark, perceive, privy to, prognosticator, regard, have respect, be sure, teach, understand.

Many people live with their spouse for a lifetime and find out that they never really knew them. They might have known each other intimately in a physical sense for years, but kept a curtain drawn around their heart. To find out that your spouse is not the person you have thought them to be at all is very sad and most devastating. To truly know one another takes a lot of time and earnest effort and cannot happen quickly. It takes more than physical intimacy. It takes a truly honest heart and an openness and willingness to bare your most intimate soul to your spouse. There is a progression in the development of this relationship, and we are going to look at the three distinct aspects of it. These truths should be our guides and way marks for courtship and marriage.

Be sure to check back next week for the next part.

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Why a Woman? - Male and Female Created He Them

Why a Woman?

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27)

When God created man He made the distinction of male and female and stressed firmly that it was by divine design. It is not only the differences in the physical bodies that prove they are made for each other, but their natures and attributes also prove they were made for each other. Out of one He made two, then of the two He made one and called their name Adam. Although they lived in two separate bodies they were made one flesh and formed a union so much in harmony that God said they would be one - not two anymore. This reflected what God had done when he made Adam before He made the woman. God made another in his own image and breathed into him the breath of life and Adam became a living soul. Then Adam was to be one with God in spirit and soul, while living in a separate body.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (Genesis 2:18)

Adam was different than the other creatures in that he had the ability to understand spoken language and to speak and communicate his thoughts with words. If Adam is going to fellowship with God and with his wife, as well as the children that will be born he must have the ability to understand and communicate by means of spoken language. So God begins to speak to Adam and Adam understands.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: (Genesis 2:16)

Just a few verses down and we find Adam speaking and commanding what the names of the animals will be.

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. (Genesis 2:19-20)

The first step toward communication between kindred spirits happened when God spoke to Adam and Adam heard and understood the thoughts and feelings of another soul beside himself. The ability to communicate makes it possible for us to feel and experience the feelings and thoughts of another heart besides our own. Language makes it possible for one heart to speak to another heart - and that is the very core of what it is - it is communication between souls. The ability to communicate our thoughts with others is evidence that we were created to be social creatures and have a need for companionship and fellowship with others. The beasts are not really social creatures, even though some live in groups. Animals do not form governments, or churches, or clubs, or any other social organization. Of course, in nature there are examples of what are called social creatures, especially among the insects. (Go to the ant thou sluggard…) But the creatures that we call social creatures do not actually communicate thoughts and feelings because they are not a living soul as man is - they simply perform as they were designed by their Creator. And as they are studied and examined it is found that what appears to be social behavior actually is the result of physical things, like scents and organs in their bodies that perform functions to make the group work as a whole in certain circumstances. Since the beginning their lives have always been the same in every one of their generations. Only man has a hand in his own destiny and course of life by the choices he makes. What his reasoning approves and rejects from the Word of God and the thoughts and opinions of others affects the course of his life here as well as his eternal destiny.

Man was not made to be alone - by design he is a social creature.

… but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. (Genesis 2:20)

Adam could speak to the animals and call them by their names, but they could not speak to him. With animals it is pretty much a one-sided relationship - they receive love and attention, but they cannot fulfill that deep longing in a human soul for companionship. It is a true fact that many people prefer a relationship with a pet rather than another human being, but that just shows that man has fallen far from what God designed him to be. Those who order their lives in such a way settle for something far less and far different than what their Creator meant for them have. They do this because something in them is broken, usually from being hurt by other people, or they do it out of fear of being hurt by other people. In either case they are robbing themselves of the most fulfilling and important thing in life, which is a companion who was made to be a help MEET for them. God himself has testified that it is not good for the man to be alone and then He acted upon the matter.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (Genesis 2:18)

Although man is a social being he cannot find fulfillment in simply being with others. You can be lonely in a crowd, so that shows us very clearly that God had something else in mind when He created them male and female. The design of the Creator was for there to be a relationship between husband and wife that is set apart and different than all other relationships.

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:21-25)

God made a woman so that the man would have exactly what he needs and longs for in a companion.

The woman is the glory of the man.

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. (1 Corinthians 11:7-9)

"The glory" means that she manifests his honor and his praise and his character. She does this by her own character and presentation of herself. Just as the man is the glory of God by having a heart that loves God and conducting himself in a way that honors God, so it is with the wife who loves her husband and conducts herself in such a way as to bring him honor in the minds of others. By being identified with him as his wife she makes the difference in what others think of him. She is his glory - so she either brings him honor or shame.

A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones. (Proverbs 12:4)

A crown is defined as an ornament worn on the head by kings and sovereign princes; as a badge of imperial or regal power and dignity. Crown signifies authority, honor, dignity, royalty, the king - she makes him a king, not only in her own eyes but in the eyes of others. Rottenness signifies decay, stink, and abhorrence. It is HER character that crowns him or destroys him.

Woman is the completer - she was created for the man. God determined before he made man that He would make a help meet for him. God had male and female both in mind before he ever created man, but he made the man first and the woman second. God does things perfect and in perfect order.

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (Deuteronomy 32:4)

Woman was no accident or afterthought. She was the last step in Creation, and remember that the Creation began in chaos and confusion and progressed to perfect order and godliness. God did not take a step backward and make a lower creature when He made a woman - she was the crown of the creation - made for the man. She completed the Creation and made the whole thing perfect. She fulfilled the need of the man for someone his equal to love him. She fulfilled the need of the man for someone his equal to be the object of his love. She fulfilled the man's need for a beloved one to protect and provide for. She fulfilled the need of the man for a counterpart to make him whole. She fulfilled the need of the man to have someone who was his and his alone, not through bondage, but freely, simply because she loved him. She gave him purpose and order in his life. She made it possible for him to live forever through his offspring. Her presence made possible the highest pleasures and delights of body, soul, and spirit - and this was God's idea, so it was pure and holy and right - and it STILL is.

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Male and Female Created He Them - Part 2

Male and Female - Reference Points for Life
This is such an important matter because the God-designed distinctions between male and female are reference points for us in understanding life, direction, purpose and God himself. Male and female are opposites, just as is everything else in God's creation. As we brought out in a previous message from Genesis 1 the basis of our power of reasoning is simply the discerning and choosing between two things at a time that are opposed to one another. There is hot and cold, up and down, right and left, north and south, east and west, positive and negative, light and dark, day and night, good and evil, right and wrong, clean and dirty, and there is no end to it - everything in God's creation is set over against its opposite - or its image. An image is the opposite of its source. Two right hands do not match when placed together face to face - it must be a left and right. God made man male and female and this is God's divine order and design - this is the foundation and a firm constant for living life here on earth and understanding God.

This principle of opposites is what creates order and literally holds God's Creation together. If the atom was not made of opposing parts it would fly apart, but the protons and electrons having opposite charges attract one another and hold the basic component of all matter together. To blow them apart creates an nuclear explosion. This principle of opposites is what makes it possible for us to navigate through life. Consequently, it is the basis from which all the forces of evil begin in their attempts to destroy the works of God. Their goal is to create confusion by blurring the distinctions between the clear markers God has established for us. Confusion is the opposite of order and God is not the author of confusion. (1 Cor 14:33) For sure, God is not the author of confusion in the hearts and lives of those who obey him. So the most basic goal of Satan is to cause confusion, which by definition is:

In a general sense, a mixture of several things promiscuously; hence, disorder; irregularity.

A blending or confounding; indistinct combination; opposed to distinctness or perspicuity.

Want of order in a society.

So it is very clear that Satan works to cause confusion, or the blurring of the distinctions that God established when He set everything in perfect order in his work of Creation. One of the most obvious results of sin is that it always causes confusion, and confusion always leads to more sin, especially for the next generation.

But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. Mark 10:6

Confusion is the breaking down of absolutes and order. Satan always begins his attack right here with male and female - this is the distinction that he works on the hardest to break down and confuse. The decline and decay of every civilized society begins right here with this matter. Because of the sinfulness of mankind it is the most vulnerable point where he can begin his destructive work. Rebellious, self-seeking, and lustful hearts are actually looking for any way to cast off God's boundaries between male and female.

When the God ordained distinctions are blurred or erased between male and female then the God ordained relationship between the two has no guides or boundaries and no place to take our bearings from. God made great distinctions between male and female and they are much more than physical. These distinctions are divine attributes assigned to male and female by nature itself. They are not choices to be made by the individual. They are not subject to "rights" of an individual. We have a world now that is attempting to make it a matter of choice whether a person is a male or a female. That fact alone should startle any sane person into waking up to the depravity of our society.

A feminine man and a masculine female are unnatural and ungodly.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (1 Corinthians 6:9)

"Effeminate" refers to a feminine man and this verse from the Scripture clearly states that they do not know God and will not go to heaven. Abusers of themselves with mankind refers to sodomites (Webster's 1828 Dictionary) and also makes it very clear that they are not going to enter into heaven. A godly person will desire to be what God has made them to be and will not be kicking and fighting against God's order and design for their life.

The breakdown always begins when the God-ordained roles of men and women begin to be portrayed as unsatisfying or unfulfilling. This happens as a result of losing sight of the purpose of life and God's role in it all. Soon after becoming dissatisfied and rebellious against their God-given gender assignment we see the physical appearance begin to change, with cross-dressing, swapping hairstyles, etc. It begins with the female becoming more masculine in her appearance, her actions, her language, her manners, her hair, her clothing, and it is accompanied immediately by her ambitions and desires to live in the role of a man instead of a woman. She believes she is liberated from her God-given role by her rebellion against God's authority and from there she rejects and rebels against all authority over her life. Immorality follows immediately because there are no rules, no boundaries, no guide, and no authority, and no order anymore. She thinks she is "liberated" and free from the bondage of being a woman, but she has reduced herself to nothing more than a toy for ungodly men. Ungodly men do not do much to resist this tendency of the female because it makes her much easier prey for him. She refuses to submit to a man, so he doesn't have to worry about submitting himself to her - he can have what he wants from her with no commitment and no strings. Love as the basis for the relationship is now out of the picture and the relationship is reduced to that of barnyard animals.

But man was not designed to live this way and confusion follows in every aspect of life. The children are desolate and have no purpose for living, and cannot find their way. Man needs a wife, and a wife needs a husband, and they cannot be happy and fulfilled under any other arrangement.

Knowing this we should resist anything that even resembles a breaking down of the distinction between God's divine design of male and female. We should be diligent to make clear the differences. We should honor the proper roles and teach our children and others by example. We need godly men and we need godly women. That is what it takes to have godly homes and churches and nations. That is what it takes to live a happy fulfilled life that has meaning and purpose. This is God's plan and God's design and those who resist and reject it do so at their own peril, but they also bring down the society in which the rest of us live. So the people of God need to set the proper example by ordering their lives, their marriages, their families, and their churches according to God's divine order established so clearly from the beginning of Creation.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33)

Next: It is not good for the man to be alone.

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Male and Female Created He Them

Male and Female - The Image of God

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27)

God repeats over and over the fact that He created man in his own image. He really wants us to understand this fact. It is a foundational fact that He wants us to work from in understanding the reason for our existence, and our purpose and role in life.

So the Bible teaches us that man is made in the image and likeness of God and is male and female. When He speaks of man He is not referring to mankind as males only, but as both male and female, because God has defined man as both male and female. All the attributes of God could not be completely expressed in the male alone - it takes both male and female to form the image of God. There are distinct attributes of God that are dominant in the nature of the male but much less manifested in the female (courage, strength, dominion). Likewise, there are attributes of God that are dominant in the very nature of the female that are much less visible in the male (tenderness, nurturing, embellishing). Only in the union of male and female is the image of God complete. Thus marriage is called "Holy Matrimony," because it is the intended completion of God's image. Where the man is lacking or weak, the woman fills the gap, and completes the image. Likewise, where the woman is lacking or weak, the man steps up, and together they make up the image of God. As they are united into one flesh over a lifetime they both are enriched and both become more well rounded in their character and soul. Together they present a powerful testimony about what life is supposed to be like. We have all seen older couples who have been married for 60 or 70 years and we have stood in wonder at a marriage that has survived that long in this wicked world. We are always impressed with the degree to which they have become one flesh and many times we see them die a few days, or even a few hours apart because they literally cannot live without one another. This is God's design and plan for man and life is not complete otherwise.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (Genesis 2:18)

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD. (Proverbs 18:22)

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33)

The only exceptions are those very few who consecrate themselves to the service of God alone. Jesus said:

For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. (Matthew 19:12)

It needs to be said here that by definition the word "eunuch" means that something had to be physically done to stop the desires and capabilities that are there by nature for the fulfillment of God's design for union of male and female. There are some who have a purpose in God's plan that sets them apart and their life is lived without husband or wife or children, but these are exceptions and not by any means the rule. If God does this in their life then it is the right thing for them, but it is not the standard for mankind.

…let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:2)

Marriage is honorable in ALL. It is God's plan for man or He would never have made them male and female.

Next: Male and Female Created He Them - Reference Points for Living

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Captivity Cometh - Part 2

The first step in preparing yourself and your family for what is coming is to disassociate yourself and your family from the false prophets of our day. Captivity is always preceded and accompanied by false prophets having the ear of the people, and therefore holding them in blindness and deceit. False prophets must be identified if you are to separate from them and not allow their influence upon your life or your family. There were people in Israel who listened to Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the others, and who recognized the false prophets as imposters and refused to allow them to influence them or their family. But these people were practically invisible because they were scattered and separated from one another - not gathered together all over the country in great congregations in metal buildings with big parking lots. The Bible gives us plenty of information about the false prophets of those days, so please do not skip over these Scriptures, but read them carefully and think about how relevant they are to our present situation.
(Isa 9:16) For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
(Isa 3:12) As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.
(Isa 56:10-12) His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.
(Jer 5:31) The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
(Jer 14:13-16) Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place. Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.
(Lam 2:14) Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment.
(2 Pet 2:1) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
(1 John 4:1) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
False prophets are self centered and often immoral. Many times they are lazy and indulgent. They are cowards, but often they act like spiritual bullies, also. They shrink from standing against true evil and those who promote it, but they are fierce against anyone whom they perceive to be a challenge to their position or authority. They may be knowledgeable of worldly things like sports and making money, but they are ignorant and confused about spiritual things and therefore contradict themselves in their teachings and doctrines. False prophets do not walk with God and therefore do not get their messages from God, they get them from the deceit of their own heart. They get their messages from their imagination and they get them from each other (outline books, outline subscriptions, etc.) King Saul did not walk with God – he got his messages second-handed. As long as that situation continued he could be the king and rule, but when Samuel was gone and he had no direct link with God himself he was in big trouble.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! (Ezek 13:3)
Some other things that identify false prophets are that they deal in lightness with the weighty things of God: judgment, mercy, faith, righteousness, and especially sin. They are guided much more by their feelings and imagination in dealing with these matters than by the written Word of God. They use the Bible not as the authority, but by wresting the Scriptures, and omitting some, they use it as a support for their imagined ideas based upon their feelings and desires. They also major on vain things that are of no real or lasting importance, such as how to be successful in earthly things or how to maintain happiness with psychological babble instead of by knowing and obeying the Word of God and walking with a holy God. Their minds are more focused on carnal and contemporary things instead of eternal things, and therefore they tend to bring sex into their message often, and usually with very little discretion concerning the children and young people who are listening to them. This kind of preaching and teaching turns the church into a den of iniquity and it does not take long to do it.
(Jer 23:32) Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.
These kinds of men are imposters and phonies, they are the blind leading the blind – and they will lead you and your children no where but into deeper oppression and captivity. Run from them! The true men of God are indeed very few in these last days, but God does indeed have his men in their places, even in this evil day. If you are serious enough about it you can find one. He may be located far from where you are, but it will be a blessing to you and your family just to know that there are still people who are living for God. With all the means available to us for communicating with one another we are without excuse if we just keep following one of Satan's false prophets while judgment is about come to the full in our land. If you know of a spring somewhere where thirsty souls can find refreshment tell others about it and point them in that direction.
And above all, keep looking up because Jesus is coming soon for his bride that He is even now preparing for himself. He is working out all the spots, wrinkles, and blemishes in her so that he can present her to himself pure and holy and without any of these things. That is what captivity does for us and that is what is going on in your life now if you are truly one of his.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Captivity Cometh

(Part 1)

Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. Isa. 5:13

When God’s people forsake God and his ways they go into captivity. God does this, and it is the only way to deal with his wayward people short of destroying them. Captivity is the state of being a prisoner, or of being in the power of an enemy by force or the fate of war. It is subjection; a state of being under control. Captivity means servitude and slavery. God’s people of our day have already entered into captivity, but most do not seem to be aware of it yet. We have no voice now and we are under the control of the wicked and those who hate God and his ways. The people of God have no rights anymore, and in fact are being oppressed and persecuted simply because of who they are and what they believe right here in America. The wicked do not simply want the freedom to practice their iniquity - they want to annihilate everything and everyone that opposes their sin. They intend to force everyone to embrace their perverse ways and to surrender their children so they may teach them, also. The law and all the powers that be are on their side, so for true Christians the captivity has already begun.

During a captivity God’s people are scattered and their contact with one another is limited to prevent them from strengthening one another. This has not happened in our present situation by the power of the state, but it is a reality because of the apostasy, confusion, and wickedness that has saturated the minds and lives of those who identify themselves as Christians. The only grounds on which Christians can get along with each other are when nothing is an issue. In other words, when all convictions and absolutes are laid down and not allowed to be discussed. Then a multitude can gather for a Christian “concert” or “celebration” or “worship” experience and just focus on emotion and self-centered “needs” and “empowerment.” But any drawing of lines against sin and wickedness simply scatters the crowd and they will not unite for any such cause as that. This is idolatry and most who are involved in this nonsense are not true Christians. However, there are some true Christians who are entangled in this idolatrous monstrosity because of the false prophets who are holding them in ignorance and darkness, and the lack of a true witness or prophet of God in their life. As long as this state of things continues any hope for our country is simply a dream. The enemies of God seem to be quite united in their efforts to cast off all restraints to evil while those who recognize the evil and see where it is leading us cannot even gather a few who will agree together to stand against it. So God’s people are scattered far and wide and only occasionally find another who is like-minded with whom to fellowship.

Captivity does not always come from a sudden and violent invasion by the enemy, but sometimes starts slowly and gradually and then gets more and more oppressive. When the children of Israel went into Egypt it was by divine provision and deliverance, but as time progressed it became captivity – and it got worse and worse. Likewise, our forefathers came to this land by the hand of God and divine provision and it has now turned into captivity for the people of God. So we can expect things to get worse and more oppressive as time progresses and we remain on earth.
Those who lead others into captivity usually try bribes and lies and trickery before they resort to violence and force. Listen to Rabshakeh the Syrian as he talks to the Jews:

Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me: and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern; Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. (Isa 36:16-17)

Many modern churches and Christians have been bribed into submitting themselves to the wicked by their promises of security and their offers of financial help. For example, most churches have fallen into the trap of incorporating themselves in exchange for not paying sales tax on the things they buy. In so doing they have sold their right to preach and practice what the Bible clearly teaches. They are finding that they are defenseless in court when they refuse to perform ceremonies for same-sex marriages, or when they fire an employee or a teacher for immorality. The Bible is no longer their authority or guide for faith and practice – that is dictated to them by the state and the courts. They are servants of the state now and not servants of God. They are not free any longer, but are living under servitude and bondage to the wicked. This also goes for people who go to the government for handouts. The government is buying your rights and your children from you with the meager help they offer you. There are always strings, and although they may not be obvious or exercised by them now, they have bound you with them and can use them when they please. Now it appears that we are passed the point of voluntarily surrendering to this trap and are now going to be forced into it through socialized health care.

The oppression and harshness of the captivity reveals those who were prepared for it and those who truly know and walk with God. (for example: Daniel and the Hebrew boys, Nehemiah, Mordecai, Ezra, etc.) Knowing this, we should begin to prepare ourselves and our families for what lies ahead. Captivity, therefore, although unpleasant, humiliating, and a disaster to our way of life, generally turns out to be a good thing for God’s kingdom in the long run because it purifies his people and vindicates his holy name.

Next: Part 2 - How to prepare yourself and your family for living in captivity.

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Straight Paths Bible Church

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dumb Dogs

Dumb Dogs

(Isa 56:10) His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.

Watchmen – these are men who have been given the responsibility to warn the people of danger. Watchmen are accountable. They are punished severely for not living up to their duty. If they go to sleep or fail to warn the people for any other reason they are sometimes put to death. Watchmen are not simply a thing of the past – we have watchmen now, also. There are those who watch the borders, the shores, and the airspace of our country. Since so much is at stake these people are held to a very high standard. They cannot be lazy and slumbering. They cannot be slow to recognize dangers and threats and they must be prepared to act immediately.

God has watchmen, also. They are called pastors. They are given the charge of the flock of God’s people. They will give account to God for what they say, as well as what they don’t say. Regardless of whether they have put themselves in this position or if God has placed them there, they will answer to God for whether they are faithful to warn or not. Some are hirelings who are making a living (and sometimes a very comfortable living) simply entertaining people and telling them what they want to hear. A few are faithful men who are willing to be misunderstood, misrepresented, persecuted, and hated for sounding the warning when people don’t want to hear it.

A watchman is not someone who just blesses everyone he comes into contact with. He doesn’t proclaim “peace, peace” when the enemy is beating down the gates of the city. The watchman cries out the warning. In the verse at the top of this article we read about the nation of Israel at a time when they were facing the judgment of God. They had forsaken God for their idols once again and their enemies were about to destroy them. God says that during this time his watchmen were all “dumb dogs” that could not “bark.” He goes on to describe them as greedy, selfish, drunken, lazy bums, who had no understanding and were always looking for their own gain. They had no concern for what was about to happen to the people of God and to their country – they only looked out for themselves.

Do you honestly realize what all is at stake with your soul and the souls of your children, family, and whoever else for whom you might be responsible? Do you really want to go to a church and hear a man bless and tell stories and make you feel good while the world around us is disintegrating into chaos and wickedness? If you and your family are not warned of the dangers to your soul at church where else are you going to hear a warning? And if a man of God will not warn you of the approaching danger, who else will?

We all need a man who walks with God and has the wisdom and courage to cry aloud and spare not. We do not need a hireling who will tiptoe around and whose main goal is to articulate his sermons so carefully as to not offend anyone. We do not need someone who is too weak, cowardly and selfish to stand before the people and tell them the truth. There is too much at stake!

Why would you listen to a man that won’t tell the whole truth about spiritual things? You certainly wouldn’t want a doctor who treated you that way just to get your money. You wouldn’t knowingly put your money in a bank or any type of investment with someone who hid the risks and dangers from you to fill his own pockets. But the truth is that most people want a preacher to be a dumb dog that cannot bark. They want a spiritual pimp that will give them their spiritual fix each week. They want someone that can give them an emotional buzz, but that is not what this is all about! We need someone who will not fail to tell us where we are wrong or warn us of the spiritual danger in our lives.

(Jer 5:31) The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

The compromise that has happened in the past 20 years is enough to make you sick. Men who once appeared to stand against sin and worldliness have done according to the old saying, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Many of the men who ordained me to preach 25 years ago are now practicing and promoting the things they were calling sin back then. They asked me questions straightly and would not have ordained me if I had answered them with what THEY believe now. They didn’t compromise because they became enlightened or educated. They didn’t compromise and change their convictions because God led them that way. They gave up the fight and compromised because it was too hard. The opposition is too strong. It hurts too bad to be ostracized and criticized. They simply prefer the praise of men to the praise of God. Their crowds are larger and their pockets are more padded when they tow the line and give the people what they want. They have no courage because they are only concerned about themselves and their popularity, prosperity, and security. Anyone can see the results of their compromise in the lives of those who are following them. But they will face God Almighty very soon and they will answer for their unfaithfulness to God. It is utter wickedness for a man to “hold the truth in unrighteousness.” What kind of heart is in a man that can stand before people week after week and watch their lives degenerate under the influence of worldly pleasures and philosophies and not say a thing when he knows what the danger is and what to do about it because it will cost him popularity or money?

When a man is in a position of shepherd over the people of God he will give account to God one day for everything he does or doesn’t do. He MUST tell the people the truth! He has a Bible and he MUST preach ALL of it – not just certain parts. If he knows the truth and he doesn’t preach it he is simply a liar and a deceiver – it cannot be otherwise. If he fails to warn people when they are starting down a road that leads to sin and destruction he is either an unwise man or an unfaithful man. You should run from these “dumb dogs” and find a man who walks with God and has the wisdom, the courage, experience, and true love for God and for souls to be a faithful watchman for God.

(Ezek 3:17) Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
Mike Miller

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lord Teach Us to Pray

And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. Luke 11:1

There is probably more written material on the subject of prayer than any other aspect of being a Christian. Everyone seems to want to know how to get prayers answered, or some other angle on how to pray. Of course, the real goal of the natural man is to find a way to bring God on board with their plan or their goals and desires, and so they use prayer as that means. The result is that most of what is written and taught about prayer is oriented toward that end. There was a book that was published in the year 2000 and sold nine million copes called, “The Prayer of Jabez.” It was based on one verse of scripture in 1 Chronicles:

And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested. 1 Chr. 4:10

In this one verse “me” and “my” are mentioned five times. This was a completely selfish prayer without a mention of anything at all but his own comfort, peace, and happiness. God gave him what he asked for, all right, but that is the last mention of this man in the Bible. Those are the kinds of books that sell because that is what carnal people are looking for – a way to command God to satisfy their selfish desires. God also answered a selfish prayer for the Israelites when they lusted in the wilderness and gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul. (Psalm 106:15) This kind of prayer is simply another form of selfishness all dressed up in religious apparel. This is not really what prayer is about and certainly not what God meant for prayer to be. So it is no wonder that so many get discouraged with Christianity and quit when they find they are unable to gain control of God and get Him to do what they want. God does not heal every person who gets sick, even though many people pray that He will. God does not deliver every person from the brink of death, no matter how many godly people are praying for them. What do we do with our selfish ideas about prayer when this happens? How do we reconcile what we have said we believe about claiming God’s promises and God answering prayer with the reality that He did not do what we asked Him to? We must learn to pray in the Will of God, so Lord teach us to pray, and to pray like we should.

Prayer is based upon the Word of God. We cannot pray earnestly and effectively if we are not familiar with the Word of God. When we have little or no knowledge of God through his Word about all we can do is cry out to God in the darkness for help and hope for mercy. The Word of God reveals to us the heart and mind of God. It is through the written Word of God that we are introduced to what God’s character is like. It is the Word of God that teaches us what his disposition toward us is like, as well as his attitude toward sin and evil. We know what He has said and what He has promised and that tells us volumes about who He is and what He is like. This is absolutely necessary in order for us to be able to have communion with him in prayer.

Many teachers on the subject of prayer take these very truths and apply them in a dangerous and destructive way to prayer. You will seldom find a book or article on prayer that does not interject the idea of “claiming God’s promises.” Now we have just acknowledged that the promises of God are the foundation we work from in order to pray, but not it the way it is commonly presented. We cannot take a promise of God and hold it before Him as if we are putting him in a corner with it and forcing his hand on it. That is offensive to all people who would be treated that way. First, it seems to insinuate that He who made the promise is trying to avoid keeping it. Nothing could be farther from the truth with God. He delights to give his children the blessings He has promised. Second, this approach to prayer is not humble, but proud. It says nothing of being submitted to the Will of God, but it is an attempt by a mere mortal to stand in the face of God and force him to comply with their own will. To stand up to God and rail on Him with, “Now God, you promised, and I am here to claim it and so you must do this thing, and you must do it now” is to have exactly the same mind as Satan. His aim from the beginning of his rebellion has been to bring God and the universe under his control. This is absolutely the opposite of what prayer is designed to do to a person.

Maybe we can understand this a little better by considering how good, godly parents deal with their children. Many parents make promises to their children without leaving the promise as an open-ended obligation that the child can claim at any time according to their own discretion. For example, a parent might tell their child that they will get to go to the park and play sometime this week. The child now has the word of the parent that they will get to go this week, so they begin on Monday trying to claim the promise, but it is raining and the parent will not let them go. The child might claim that the parent has gone back on their word, but they haven’t. They made a promise but they still reserve the right to be the sovereign authority in the child’s life. It is raining and it is just not possible to go to the park today. The next day the child tries again, but the park is closed for repairs on the playground equipment, and so they still cannot go. The parent has not violated their promise but is exercising wisdom for the benefit of the child. All the child has in mind is his own selfish interests and desires, so he becomes frustrated and falsely accuses the parent of not doing what they said they would do. “But you promised!” That is the cry of the child and it is very ugly in the ears of all who hear it and have understanding. Yet this is how most people are being taught to pray and ask God for things. Later in the week the child does get to go to the park just like the parent promised, but it will be when the circumstances and timing is right according to the judgment of the parent –not the child.

Prayer is aided by the Spirit of God. (Romans 8:26-27) We must have the help of the Holy Spirit in order to pray like we should. According to these Scriptures we do not even know what to ask for as we ought. We are so wrapped up in ourselves and our circumstances and cares that without the help of the Spirit of God we cannot even get in the same room with God. We must have our mind and our will yielded to the Spirit of God for him to lead us. The Spirit of God will always use the Word of God to instruct us and to speak to us. So we go to God in prayer, with God’s promises and his loving words before us. We know what kind of God He is and how He loves us, so we come before Him with that knowledge as our guide. We all have had someone in our life whom we have always found to be easily entreated. Maybe it was our Grandma or Grandpa. We could go to them and ask them anything without any fear of being rejected or scolded or ridiculed, and we pretty well knew that they would give us what we asked for as long as it was not out of line or had the potential to hurt us. We never thought of approaching them with demands that they keep a promise they had made to us. That was completely unnecessary, but also an unthinkable way to commune with someone we loved and trusted. God is like this. The Bible tells us in James 3:17 that He is “…peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”

Prayer, then, is about submitting to God more than it is about getting what we want from God. Prayer is about communion with God and becoming one with God – one in mind, heart, and will. Prayer, if it is the right kind of prayer, brings us into a confirmed state of agreement and oneness with God, and we are submitted to his Will, whatever it might be. The right kind of prayer leaves us with the right kind of faith. The wrong kind of prayer wrecks our faith.

Mike Miller
Straight Paths Bible Church
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March 8, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Making A Difference Between the Holy and the Profane

(Prov 30:12) There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.

We are living in a generation like that. All the lines have been erased. There are no absolutes anymore. Right and wrong, good and evil, are subjective concepts that depend upon the circumstances and the feelings, opinions, and desires of the person or persons concerned. No one has a right to even suggest that any certain thing or activity is wrong because that is “judging” and we all know that we are not supposed to do that, don’t we? The visible result of this insanity is one of the most religious yet the most wicked and vile generations that has occupied the face of the earth since Noah’s day.

While “no absolutes” and “no holy and unholy” may be the philosophy of this lost and hopeless generation in which we live, it is certainly contrary to the law and the nature of God. If you start reading the Bible you will not get past the first four verses of Genesis before you discover that God divides. First He divided the light from the darkness, then the waters, then the dry land from the water. He put a difference between things and set one over against the other. This is order instead of chaos – and order is what happens when God is in control. In the absence of God is chaos and confusion. And when there is order there will be division. In God’s view of things there is clean and unclean; there is holy and unholy; there is good and there is evil.

Is your view of things like that? Is there anything that is holy in your view? And are there things that you consider unclean or evil? We live in a generation that seems to think there is nothing worthy of reverence or honor. Nothing is holy and so it naturally follows that nothing is unclean in their eyes either. They make no difference – like God does. Are you like this generation or are you like God? Do you judge according to what is written in God’s Word or do you cross each bridge as you come to it, inventing your own rules as you go? If you do then you are of the world and not of God – no matter what you may say or think of yourself to the contrary. In the kingdom of God there are holy things and in the kingdom of darkness there are unholy and unclean things. In the preparation of the Tabernacle in the wilderness and all the vessels of the sanctuary there were very precise and orderly instructions given by God for every detail and there was no tolerance for any input of human opinion. They were holy things because they came from the mind of God and they represented God before man. They were not to be meddled with and made unholy by men and their opinions.

There are still things like that – holy things. Things that men have no right to meddle with because they are from the mind of God, because they represent God before men. When man puts his tool to the holy things of God he pollutes them. (Exodus 20:25) This is always the beginning of idolatry – when man begins to input his opinions and preferences and starts discerning between holy and unholy, between clean and unclean according to his own ideas instead of the written law of God. The real effect is that there ceases to be holy and unholy, clean or unclean in man’s eyes. Without the law of God every man simply does what is right in his own eyes. Without the law of God every man and woman becomes a god unto themselves, deciding right and wrong, holy and unholy, clean and unclean, on a case by case basis, according to their own judgement, which is based on selfishness. It only takes one generation to get into this mess and that is where we find ourselves now.

The judgement of God fell on Israel many times and the circumstances preceding their judgment were very similar to our circumstances today. The priests and the prophets had failed to make a difference between the holy and the unholy, between the clean and the unclean. They had failed to teach the people the difference and in so doing had led the people into a state of chaos and evil that left God no alternative but to judge and punish them.

(Ezek 22:26) Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.

When all the standards and guides for behavior between people and between people and God are removed there arises a generation that has no moral compass whatsoever. That is exactly what has happened in our generation. Modern Christianity is deeply defiled and polluted because the difference between holy and unholy, clean and unclean has been virtually erased. Nothing is sacred anymore and every vile thing of the world has been brought into the house of God and integrated into what they are calling “worship.” They are worshipping “they know not what.” The contemporary music is the same as what the children of Israel were playing when Moses and Joshua came down off the mountain and found them naked and dancing around a golden calf that they had made to represent their “God.” It sounded like violence because Joshua and Moses thought it sounded like war in the camp, but they could not tell if it was the voice of one winning the battle or losing. Obviously, it was screaming and violent noise. Now be honest for a moment …what kind of music sounds like that in our generation? That is what they are using the churches now and it is unholy, but since there is no difference anymore most people think it is simply a matter of opinion and preference – no moral issue at all, but there is! If we can use the same music to worship God that the whole world associates with drugs, illicit sex, murder, suicide, rebellion, and devil worship and there is no moral issue involved, then surely it should be obvious that the leaders of the churches are failing to make a difference between the clean and the unclean. It should be further obvious that we are facing the imminent judgment of God unless there is a true awakening among the people of God. There must be a turning back to holiness and to making a difference between what is holy and unholy. There must be a return to honoring and reverencing the things that are holy. There must be a rejection of those things that are profane and unclean. No one can worship God in spirit and in truth who does not regard holy things and avoid unholy and unclean things. This is not a matter of do's and don'ts, but of being in agreement with God in your heart and mind. God himself is holy, so everything pertaining to God and his worship should be holy and not defiled with things or methods of the world which are profane.

God gave us certain things that are holy. Marriage is one of them. Marriage has been made an unholy thing and it must be restored to the holy institution that God designed it to be. The people of God must stop regarding marriage as a trial basis, temporary sort of thing, the same as the world does. It represents the relationship between God and man and it is a holy thing. The church is a holy thing because it is the body of Christ and the vehicle God uses to accomplish his earthly work. Therefore, everything connected with the church and what goes on there should be clean and not polluted with the philosophies, methods, and pleasures of an unholy world. The sanctuary is a place that should be regarded highly and treated with reverence and honor. It is the place where we meet with God together and therefore it should be regarded as special – holy. Going into the sanctuary of God is not the same as going to the grocery store, or the ball game, or to work. It is not a place to come “casual.” To do that is to show disrespect and disregard for holy things and to make them nothing more than common things. These are just a few examples of the kinds of things that must go if we care about seeing God do something in our generation other than judge us for our iniquity.

Each person who calls themselves a Christian needs to examine their own life and ask themselves some questions. Am I different than this unclean, unholy world? Does my life portray holiness unto the Lord, or is it common, unclean, and profane? My speech …is it full of crude, lewd, base talk or is it with grace (divine influence) and seasoned with salt? Do I recognize holy things and profane things and mark the difference? Do I order my life and walk in the way of holiness and away from the unclean and unholy? Does my influence point others toward purity and godliness or am I making it easier for them to be unclean and profane? Where is my life and my opinions going to lead my children and grandchildren?

Think about it …and then if you are REAL Christian - DO something about it!

Mike Miller

Thursday, January 26, 2012

This Is Your Hour And the Power of Darkness

…but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. Luke 22:53

Jesus said this to the soldiers who had come to arrest him and take him away to be crucified. Puny sinful men with their swords and their staves exercising authority against the Creator of the Universe himself. Step back and look at the scene from God’s point of view and if it were not for the seriousness of what was transpiring that night it would seem absurd and almost laughable. They could have no power at all against him unless God had allowed it. (John 19:11)

This is your hour …

This is to serve notice on all the wicked that your time is limited. Do not think that you will be able to continue to exercise this power you are enjoying right now forever, because God has only given you a short time. It may seem like the wicked are going to prevail in the world right now, but their time in the limelight will end at the very moment appointed by God.

Then there is another hour coming:

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. John 5:28-29

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. Rev. 19:11-13

The wicked will have no power in that hour. It will not be their hour then.

…and the power of darkness.

Darkness has no power of its own. It is nothing. It is the absence of light. Darkness vanishes at the simple appearance of light. It takes no brute force, no power of nature, no violence at all to make darkness disappear. Nothing could be more gentle than the shining of a light, and that is all it takes to remove the power of darkness. Those who walk in darkness seem to think they possess some kind of power, and walk about arrogantly abusing others and blaspheming God. But their pitiful, puny power is so easily extinguished that they are very easily revealed to be fools.

So in this dark generation in which we live the true children of God can take heart and be encouraged. As we watch the world plunge deeper and deeper into evil we can be assured of two things: it will not last long, and it will vanish with the light. And the light is coming! The night these soldiers came and took Jesus it looked like they were the victors and that the power of darkness was the real power. When they beat him and spit in his face, and mocked him, and crucified him it seemed that darkness had prevailed, but three days later it was a different story, and it has been ever since. God who rules the universe is righteous and as long as He sits upon his throne you can be assured that righteousness will prevail in the end. Jesus told us these days were coming and this was his command in Matthew 24:6 concerning how we should deal with it:

… see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

So woe, woe, woe unto the wicked who forsake God and walk after this world in its rebellion against him, their day is coming, and it is coming soon! If you are among them you better escape while there is time.

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Rev. 22:17

Come to Jesus and trade in your uniform of a rebel for a robe of righteousness and get on the winning side!

Mike Miller
Straight Paths Bible Church
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Apostasy and Idolatry

Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? John 6:67

Apostasy is the turning away from, or abandonment of one's profession or church. It is the forsaking of faith or principles for which one has professed love and commitment. Apostasy happens because people put their own interests above God's. It does not happen suddenly, but very slowly. Apostasy is the result of seduction, which is "to entice with flattery, deceit, or promises to a surrender of chastity." It begins with wandering eyes and ears and curiosity, as well as a desire to be accepted. Immediately following is a resistance to God's demand that they be exclusively his, holy and separated from sin and the world. Christ will not share his bride with other lovers, and so it is not possible to have an open relationship with Him. This is why many embark on the Christian life, but abandon it somewhere along the way. Their affections and desires are simply fixed on the things and pleasures of the world and not on Christ.

Apostasy throws off all the moral restraints and erases all the moral boundaries – that is what people are seeking to do when they turn away from God – without exception. The parallel in earthly relationships is the wife who abandons her husband supposing to rid herself of his presence, his needs, his demands, and his right or authority over any area of her life. She determines to "assert herself" regardless of the cost to her husband, her children, and others. In our modern society it is considered shameful for a wife to acknowledge any "need" for her husband, or to depend upon him, or to be concerned about his needs at all. The apostate has the same feeling and attitude toward God – he does not need God, and does not care about God's desires, and he rejects God's authority over any area of his life. This is rebellion against God's order and all that He has created. This illustrates what apostasy is and what it is like in the sight of God – it is an abominable thing. It breaks God's heart, just as it does a husband who is abandoned by the wife he loves. Apostasy causes great confusion in the family of God, and it never produces anything but grief and misery to all it touches, just as divorce does in an earthly family. It leaves the next generation with no structure for their life, adrift with no bearings for life or eternity, and also leaves them vulnerable to deception and abuse by those who are evil – and all because someone demands to have their own way, and throws everything to the wind to assert themselves and fulfill their own selfish desires.

But apostasy is never the end of it. Apostasy is always followed by idolatry, just as separation in a marriage is almost always accompanied by or followed by adultery. For one who has professed to have faith in a loving God who created all things and has been a part of the fellowship of the church to abandon it all they must put in its place a different set of values and affections. They have to invent or embrace some other system of thought and view of things. No one walks out into nothing – at least not for long. Man who is made in the image and likeness of God is so constituted that he will set his heart on something – his heart WILL be given to something or someone. It is a terrible thing when a wife abandons her husband – but the situation is drastically worse when she becomes another's lover. When she appears publicly with another man and makes it known abroad that she has developed an intimate relationship with him it is considered by most to be the final death blow to the relationship with her husband.

This is precisely the state of the modern church now. It has moved from apostasy to open idolatry. What is known as the church is not shrinking anymore due to the fact that people are apostatizing. It is growing in numbers and appears successful but it no longer worships the God of the Bible. Instead the "emerging church" has invented another god – one without laws or demands, one that is compatible with the world and with confusion. This new god is all about pleasing self and nothing at all like the Savior of the Bible who said if any man would be his disciple he must first "deny himself." This new god and this new gospel is not concerned with sin, while the God of our fathers was so concerned with the sin of the world and its consequences that he sent his Son to die to make an Atonement. They have eliminated sin by redefining it according to their own terms. This new, enlightened generation has finally come to understand after all of human history that there is no right and there is no wrong – that it is only a matter of opinion and circumstances. Therefore, there is no authority (such as a Book of God) and everyone is free to make up their own mind about what is right and what is wrong – as long as they keep it to themselves and do not try to hold anyone else to any kind of standard.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Isa. 5:20-21

The apostasy took place a lot longer ago than most people are aware of. While men slept the tares were sown. The true doctrines of righteousness based on the law of God were replaced with permissive ideas and new definitions for sin and righteousness. These new things were made acceptable because they were presented as more loving and understanding, while the law was made to appear harsh and unforgiving. Just as the adulterous man woos another man's wife with sweet talk, taking advantage of any trouble or weakness she is experiencing with her husband and promising to fulfill all that she is lacking and make her happy, the devil and his prophets smooth-talked many people into believing his lies. He lied about the nature of God, the method and substance of the Atonement, the true effects and evidence of true salvation, the purpose of the church, and many other foundational things. The mainline churches have been offering salvation for a long time now without any mention of repentance, holiness, or separation from the world. You may obtain a ticket to heaven with absolutely no strings attached. You may continue to live in your sin, love the world, and embrace their philosophy …and still be a Christian. This is apostasy. This is not historical, Biblical Christianity. It is not saving, Bible faith. It is another gospel, another Jesus, and spiritual adultery in God's eyes.

So the church has been involved in spiritual adultery for a long time now, but mostly in secret. All the while, on the surface, a veneer of tradition has been maintained. Public statements of faith remained pretty much the same. Holding to the fundamentals of the faith was always something that no church would criticize or reject while claiming to preach the gospel. They still wore the ring in public and called themselves by his name, but they sneaked around to practice their unfaithfulness. Now, in the last few years we have seen a drastic change in the state of things. It is no longer popular to hold to any form of "fundamentals," and has now become a reason to be ostracized. The very word "Fundamentalist" has become almost vulgar to most professing Christians. The old ways are out and the new ways are in. There is a new king in the house now and the old One is gone. The law of God has been cast out as an unpleasant, undesirable, and unnecessary thing. It was considered abusive and oppressive. Now there is no law at all! No boundaries, no absolutes, nothing right and nothing wrong – it is all about "love," but it is a different kind of love because it has no claims on anyone, makes no demands, and carries no responsibility. It is like an open marriage instead of an exclusive relationship. It is a different kind of love because it manifests no forgiveness or tolerance – except for those who will agree with its proponents. While the law of God is our schoolmaster that leads us to Christ this new lawlessness leads nowhere but to judgement, destruction, and misery.

Yes, we are living in a time of idolatry – we have gone far beyond apostasy now. Churches do not even resemble the churches of our fathers. What is being worshipped now is NOT the God of our fathers. We find in the Word of God many references to those who forsook "the God of their fathers" and served other gods until their sin was about to destroy them. Then in desperation they returned to the "God of their fathers" or they were destroyed by their enemies. We are in the same position now – if there is not an awakening among the people of God and a return to the "God of our fathers" we are facing certain and imminent calamity.

When throwing off moral restraints becomes the popular trend it brings down that society and leads quickly to chaos, confusion, and hopelessness. So people start seeking something to take care of that emptiness in their soul and bring some sort of order back into their chaotic lives and society. People are so constituted that they will inevitably worship something or someone. The children and grandchildren of apostates will always be idolaters. As a whole, the human race cannot, and will not ever abandon religion. Therefore, when apostates in their empty longings begin to worship again, they worship unholy gods of their own making, and this is idolatry. In the Old Testament the idolaters sometimes called their false god by the same name that referred to Jehovah. Modern idolaters may call their gods Jesus, Jehovah, and Lord, but other than that this new god of theirs does not resemble the God of the Bible at all. Idolatry is a lie. Idolatry is a counterfeit. It's power and effect depend completely upon its power to deceive. Therefore, the closer it appears on the surface to the real thing, the more easily it is accepted. However, the god of idolaters is always immoral and unconcerned about the immorality of others, therefore, immorality becomes a part of his worship. He is always loving and not condemning, therefore, that also becomes a requirement of being one of his worshippers – you must never condemn or make any judgment about others, with the exception being those who still believe in total commitment and true holiness. An idolater's god is a lawless god, just like those who worship him. Idolaters simply imagine their god to be whatever they want him to be in whatever situation they are in. This is far different from the true God who was made flesh and dwelt among us revealing himself to us, and who has written in a Book his law and character and preserved it forever.

Idolatry immediately precedes the judgment of God. God always judges idolatry – and He does it quickly. We have heard for years that the sexual immorality and the rise of the sodomites is sure to bring the wrath of God upon us just as it did in Sodom, but God is longsuffering toward those sins compared to idolatry. He is a jealous God and when those who are called his people openly embrace another god He is quick to act. The next thing we are facing is the wrath and judgement of God and the real people of God better prepare themselves soon. It is coming – and it is coming soon. We need to realize that we are not just talking about the charismatics and the health and wealth crowd - the fundamental churches are now being swallowed up in it, too. The Word of God contains a clear record and example of what God does when the people who are known by his name forsake Him for another.

How would you fare if his judgment came today? Is your heart pure or is it yearning after the world? Are you a faithful bride or are your eyes, ears, and heart wandering from Him? Now is the time to return to the Lord. "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord."

Listen to the heart of God as he gives his invitation:

Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD. Jer. 3:12-13

…thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD. Jer. 3:1

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. Rev. 2:4-5

Mike Miller (Pastor)
Straight Paths Bible Church
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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Coming Out of Egypt

So the children of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, took their inheritance. Josh. 16:4

Joseph was brought down into Egypt by the will and actions of other people, and not by any choice or decision of his own. He was the victim of injustice in every step that led him to Egypt. He did not want to be in Egypt and he did not choose to go there, much less as a slave and then a prisoner in a dungeon for years. But God had a purpose in all of it and Joseph had enough faith in God to just trust Him through it all. By God’s grace and mercy he managed to just keep doing what was "right in the sight of the Lord," even though his situation just grew worse and more hopeless at each turn in his journey. One morning Joseph awoke in the prison just as he had for many years there. But that night he went to bed in the palace with Pharaoh’s ring on his hand and had been exalted from a prison cell to second in authority over the most powerful country on earth. The Psalmist says they hurt his feet with fetters, and he was laid in iron, "until the time that his word came…" (Psalm 105:18-19) God promised, Joseph waited, and God made good on his promise, in due time. In Joseph’s case it was a long, long time.

Joseph never left Egypt alive. Because he was there many people’s lives were saved, including those of his own family who came down into Egypt with him. There God made Israel a great nation, and 400 years later brought them out of Egypt to bring them into the land that He had promised to Abraham so long ago. When the children of Israel left Egypt they carried Joseph’s bones up with them and later buried them with those of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the land of Canaan.

And Joseph’s children left with them.

Joseph never was an Egyptian. He learned their language and ruled over their land. He lived all but the first few years of his life there. But he never identified himself as one of them. He always had his eye on another country. His dying request was for them to carry his bones out of there when they left. He married an Egyptian woman and his children were born there, also. There came a day when Joseph’s children had to decide if they were going to be Egyptians or Israelites. Obviously, history records who they chose to identify with. Although they were born in Egypt and had never known any other existence they, like Moses years later, "chose to suffer affliction with the people of God," rather than conform to Egypt’s ways. This is an important fact to ponder and to apply to our own lives.

We are born into this world and this is all we have ever known. It is really difficult for us to imagine any other existence. But there comes a time in everyone’s life when they are exposed to the knowledge of God and eternal things. At some time in their life, everyone knows. They know there is a God and they know there is another existence besides this sinful world full of injustice where everything is turned backwards. Everyone is faced with the choice that Joseph’s children had to make. Who am I? Among what people do I belong? Who will I identify myself with?

Will you become one of God’s children or will you stay in Egypt? Most people have already made their choice, but as of right now it is still not too late to change your mind. Jesus has still not come for his church and you are still breathing God’s air. You can still be born into God’s family and leave with them when they leave this world for the land of promise. You can be sure that Joseph’s descendants were not sorry for the choice they made when they finally arrived in the promised land.

So the children of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, took their inheritance. Josh. 16:4

Mike Miller
January 3, 2012
Straight Paths Bible Church
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