My Heart is Burdened

I have a burden on my heart.  For those of you who visit this blog frequently you know that primarily I include devotional posts or posts on “Christian Living.”  Mainly a topic comes to mind or is placed on my heart and then I study the Bible to examine the truths that it contains about that topic, attempting to always draw implications from those passages.  While my all encompassing burden is to reach people with the Gospel and through the message of the Bible awaken Christians who were asleep like I was, from time to time I feel like I must address the “wolves” that have crept into the fold unnoticed. (Jude 4 NKJV) My burden stems from the fact that while I pray that I “preach” an effective Gospel, other more nationally renowned “pastor/teachers” or those with a larger platform are preaching a different Gospel.  Because of that platform or the name recognition they have developed quite a following though one that lacks discernment.  There are two specific things that I pray for regarding this blog and its readers: 1) Biblical Wisdom and 2) Spiritual Discernment.  I believe each of these are spiritual gifts that the Apostle Paul talks about in I Corinthians 12.  Each of us who follow Christ as Lord and Savior have varying gifts of the Holy Spirit that God wants us to use for His glory.  While we’ll save the larger discussion on spiritual gifts for another post, I wanted to just emphasize the importance of discernment, determining biblical truths from the lies of the world.

One important aspect of the false teachings of today that must be understood is that none of it is new.  The seeker sensitive movement, prosperity gospel, purpose driven, best-life now, emerg- ing/ent/ence church all of these apostasy’s (and like it or not, this is what they are) are not new.  Ecclesiastes 1:9 says there is nothing new under the sun.  None of these movements are new, they simply rehash or repackage old ideas that infiltrated the church throughout its history and try to present them in a new, or watch this…RELEVANT manner.  Christian, there is nothing more relevant than the Word of God.  Hebrews 4:12 NKJV, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  Think about that verse just for one minute.  Go back and read it again.  The Word of God is living and powerful, that alone is enough to pause and give all glory to God, but to read it is sharper than any sword and can divide soul and spirit down to the joints and marrow of your bones, that it discerns (there’s our word again) the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Wow!  If you don’t believe that verse, I challenge you to read the Bible for 1 month and I promise you it will do all of that and more.

I’ve debated internally about whether or not I should expose those false teachers and false resources for what they really are, not in any attempt to smear or demean, but to inform you the reader of what to look out for and I’ve done this in the past to a degree, see The Wolves are Emerging.  But as I read the Bible, there is less emphasis on individualizing people as there is on identifying false movements and that makes sense because if for example an Emerging Church leader disappears from the scene, the movement won’t stop, just that person’s individual ministry ceases to exist.  I think it equates best to shining a light on a macro-scale vs. a micro-scale.

So what does this mini-diatribe all mean?  What it means is that I’m praying for your discernment about these matters.  I can’t force you to put down a book that leads you to a false destination about who God really is, I can’t stop you from listening to a pastor that teaches everything but the one true living King of Kings, and I certainly cannot dissect for you with the precision of a surgeon those teachers who are so close to the truth that it’s scary, yet their beliefs are so dangerously false that their words broaden the gate with every breath.  But what I can do is pray.  Pray that God exposes each and everyone of these false teachers and pray that He gives each of you discernment to recognize them.  Jesus’ words ring so true today, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” Matthew 7:22-23  In those verses the ones that say Lord, Lord claim to have prophesied, cast out demons, and done many wonders in the name of Jesus, yet Jesus will declare to them that He never knew them because they practiced evil.  They take the appearance of having the Truth, yet are far from it.  This verse should be a sobering wake up call because it is telling you that just because you hear the name of Jesus preached, or just because you see someone holding the Bible, DOES NOT mean they are of God.  Satan wants to take you so close to the truth that you think its real; that’s the heart of deception.  In the passage from Matthew, those preachers/workers actually professed the name of Jesus.  Just as James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe-and tremble!”  In closing I want to include two videos which show just how close the apostasy is moving to the truth without being true, because it now spreads to perverting the Word of God (please realize there is no way to illustrate this point without including “individual” opinions).  Listen to both and let the discernment of the Holy Spirit lead you.  As always, comments or questions are welcome.

Dr. John MacArthur

Rob Bell

The Glory of God – Part II

I Corinthians 10:31 NKJV Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

In the last post, we looked at Exodus 33 and the impacts of Moses’ request to see the glory of God.  Moses wanted to know God more than anyone ever had and God partially granted this request allowing him to see the remnant of His glory.  God hid him in the cleft of a rock, covering Moses with his hand as he passed by.  We learned that due to our sinfulness no one is capable of seeing all of God’s glory.  However, scripture tells us we are able to see God’s glory manifested in everything He has created. Isaiah 6:3  We also looked at verses that said when God sent His Son Jesus to be flesh, God was glorified through Christ.  John 1:14 For those of us who have accepted Christ as Savior, we have Him in our hearts and therefore God’s glory is within us, Colossians 1:27 “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”   Keeping this in mind, we learned that just as Moses had to spend time with God to retain His glory on his face, we too must spend time with God in order to see His glory.  We came to the conclusion that we must seek God’s glory if we want to see God’s glory.  Finally, as we begin to seek God more earnestly with our whole hearts (Jeremiah 29:13) we become more Christ-like allowing God’s glory to be complete in us so that we can see His full glory when we are united with Him in heaven.

So what we begin to see is that God’s glory is so infinite that it’s easy to understand how death would be the outcome of looking directly upon it all at once.  This is why in the Old Testament, descriptions of the Meeting Tent, and subsequent Tabernacles/Temples, contained veils to shield the high priests from God’s glory in the Holy of Holies.  During Moses’ time we have the presence of two veils; to avoid confusion we’ll refer to them as the Big Veil, the one separating the Holy of Holies and the Little Veil, the one that we mentioned Moses wore over his face to hide God’s glory as it faded from his face.   It’s on these points that we’ll examine Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth. 

The Apostle Paul explains in II Corinthians 3:7 that if the Law (engraved on stones) that Moses received was glorious, so much so that the Israelites were unable to look at him because his face shone  the glory of God, then how MUCH more glorious is the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  What Paul is saying in this verse is that disobedience of the Law brought death, yet it had the glory of God.  But now, with Christ, through the ministry of righteousness, we have the Holy Spirit, which is so much more glorious than the tablets of Law.  The scripture goes on to say, “Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech- 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.” II Corinthians 3:12-14  The veil that Paul speaks of is the one that Moses wore and he refers to it as a veil of disbelief because, like we mentioned earlier, Moses wore it so that the Israelites would not see the glory of God fading from his face and would therefore believe that God was with them.  Those people who today do not believe in Jesus, that He is Lord nor have yet to accept Him as Savior, continue with that same veil over their hearts.  Just as Paul says in verse 16, when one turns to the Lord, the veil is lifted.  Paul’s last verse of chapter 3 sums up some of the things we pointed out in the last post.  “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” II Corinthians 3:18 Paul is concluding this passage by saying that those of us believers in Christ are able to reflect the glory of God, though it is imperfect due to our sinfulness (John MacArthur points out that in Paul’s day the mirrors were made of metal, thus presenting a reflection albeit slightly distorted).  With Christ who lives within us we are transformed in Him through the process of progressive sanctification or what Paul points out as “the same image from glory to glory.”

The glory of God is so immeasurable, so immense that we simply cannot process it.  It is everything that God is and therefore it is something to be loved and beheld, yet also feared.  As the prophet Isaiah points out in his recorded vision of God’s glory in Isaiah 6:5, “Woe is me, for I am undone!”  He knew his own unworthiness to look upon God.  All throughout the Bible all God has ever wanted is for the world to glorify Him.  He revealed His glory throughout the Old Testament and the people rejected it each time.  He revealed His glory once more with His Son Jesus and again the people rejected it.  This rejection of Jesus continues to this day as summarized in Romans 1:21, “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their hearts were darkened.”  As Christians all veils have been removed, both the veil of unbelief that Paul spoke of and the veil that separates God in the Holy of Holies. Mark 15:38  As such, we have the outstanding opportunity to share God’s glory with all those who will believe.  This is the last chance for it to be known to men until Jesus comes again, in full glory, but at that time He’ll bring judgment to all those that rejected God’s glory.

Prayer: Are you living for the glory of God?  The Bible directs us in *numerous areas in which to live for the glory of God.  It tells us to confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11), to confess our sins for His glory (Joshua 7:19), declare His glory among nations (I Chronicles 16:24), and even the most routine activities such as eating and drinking should be done to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31).  Everything that we do should end with the glory of God. Colossians 1:10 “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”  Pray that God opens your heart to His glory, to recognize it in everything that you do, and to have the chief end of all things be for His glory.

Additional Study: John 15:7-8     Philippians 3:21     John 17:24      Jeremiah 9:24

*For additional study on the living for the glory of God, see the sermon by John MacArthur at http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/80-337

The Glory of God – Part I

Exodus 33:18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

Admittedly this is a passage of scripture that I have not studied before.  I’m sure those of us who’ve watched The Ten Commandments are familiar with how Moses’ face shown from the glory of God, but we may have never taken the time to truly examine these verses.  Until last week, I probably wouldn’t have looked closely at this, had it not been for a sermon I heard that I didn’t fully understand. 

Let’s first skip back a few verses and look at vs. 18 in context:

12 Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

 14 The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

 15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

 17 And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

On the surface it’s easy to look at Moses’ motive for wanting to see the glory of God as a lack of faith.  After all, he is telling God that he needs more evidence of His presence with the Israelites.  God reassures Moses not once but twice that He will be with them.  The reason I mention that it takes the appearance of minimized faith is because how  many of us are going to ask for anything more if God says His presence will be with us?  And how many of us would lead a million people through a desert without question if God had said he would go before us?  As Christians, we have God with us, but I know I’m guilty of saying I’ll do this or that if I just have a sign from God.  In that accord, Moses needed more.  Part of me wonders that if Moses actually knew the full consequences of what he was asking would he have still asked?  I say that because no man can see the full glory of God, lest we die. Exodus 33:20 We are incapable with our sinful eyes to look upon God’s glory, yet Moses made his petition to God after he had been granted all other requests.  It’s at this point that I don’t believe Moses lacked faith, but I believe he was actually exhibiting faith beyond measure.  He asked the unaskable, the unthinkable, to see God in all His glory, to know God more than any person ever had.  God granted Moses’ request because He recognized the sincerity, but added the caveat that He would hide Moses in the cleft of the rock, allowing him only to view His back (remnant). 

If we are to exhibit great faith like Moses, how are we to ask to see God’s glory?  First we must realize that we cannot see God’s glory in the sense that it was shown to Moses.  We see God’s glory all around us in His creation.  Isaiah 6:3 We experience it every day and through His goodness and mercy His glory shines.  As Charles Spurgeon said, “The full display of the goodness of God, however, is reserved for the working of his grace in the redemption of man.”  That redemption is found through His Son Jesus. God is fully glorified through Jesus. John 1:14 NKJV says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  In that one verse we can see God’s glory exemplified through sending Jesus to die for our sins and providing us grace when we deserved death.

For us as Christians since we have Christ as Savior we already have God’s glory in us. Ephesians 1:12 NKJV, “that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”   In order for us to “see” God’s glory we must “seek” God’s glory.  To do this, we must follow in the path of Moses and continually spend time with God.  Moses was with God for 40 days without food or drink before he came down off the mountain with a face that shone God’s glory. Exodus 34:28 Again his face showed the glory of God each time he met with the Lord in the Meeting Tent.  Yet Moses would hide his face from the Israelites with a veil, so that they might not lose heart, because over time God’s glory would fade from his face until the next time he met with Him.  Therein lies the key, if we are to see God’s glory we must constantly spend time with Him so that His glory never fades from us.  In doing so, we’ll seek to be more Christ-like everyday so that the glory that is within us shines on the outside and becomes visible to all who see us. 

Moses asked something that no one else had, to see the glory of God.  He was hidden in the cleft of the rock and allowed only to see a remnant of God’s glory.  Jesus  is the rock in which our sinfulness is hidden that will allow us to see God’s full glory in heaven.  If just a partial fleeting view of God’s glory left Moses’ face aglow, then how magnificent must His full glory be when we are united with Him in heaven.

Prayer: If the amount of God’s glory we are shown is directly proportional to the amount of time we spend with Him, then why wouldn’t we spend every waking second with Him?  What’s keeping you from doing that?  Pray that God reveals areas in your life that you need to adjust or eliminate to spend more time with Him, that He might continually reveal more of His glory until that ultimate day when you see His full glory.

Additional Study: Exodus 34:5-7     II Corinthians 4:6      Acts 7:1-56 (Acts7:54-56)

Ephesians 4:15 "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ"