If you have been keeping an eye on the Middle East, you can see that God’s clock is ticking down the minutes until Jesus returns. All over the world and especially here in our great country, we can see the signs of the “last times”. We hear people more and more saying that there is no God, scoffing at Biblical principles and the words spoken by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Atheists are becoming more outspoken and militant with their comments. When people say there is no God, what they are really saying is they don’t accept the truth of the God of the Bible. Their pride is saying “I will not accept any god that I have to be accountable to. Everyone has a “god”, someone or something that they are devoted to, even if it is their self. False prophets will rise up with such convincing truths that even the most devout Christian can be deceived unless we are “rooted and grounded” in the truths of the Bible. We must spend more time with our God. If you are having trouble finding answers, do not dig a wider hole or forsake your first Love, just dig deeper into the Holy Scriptures and meditate on them. The answer is there and God is waiting to reveal it to you.
Most of us are familiar with the story of Job and all of the trials and troubles that he endured. God allowed satan to test Job, taking everything from him, except his wife. At first, God only allowed satan to take his possesions and his children, but satan was not allowed to touch Job, After satan’s whining, God allowed him to injure Job’s physical body.
Job complained about the injustice of it all and made some unwise comments about God. But, through it all, He refused to deny God, even though his wife entreated him to do so. God uses this time in Job’s life to give Job and us a glimpse into the future. Job not only understood that he needed a Redeemer but that God would send one. That Redeemer would not only stand upon the earth in the end times, but Job would be there with him just as you and I will be. After our bodies have decayed in the grave, we will be resurrected and we will see Him with our own eyes. God gave Job this glimpse into the future to sustain him through his time of testing. Those of us living on this side of the cross, after the Resurrection of Jesus, have so much more reason to be encouraged than Job did. Job could only see the Redeemer in the future, we have the advantage of knowing that the Redeemer has come and is coming again. We, like Job, must not focus on the things that we can see now, but on those things that are coming that we cannot see now. Our God is able to bring us through it all.
.6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. —1 Cor. 10:6-11 NASB
God uses the bad examples that the children of Israel set to show us what we shouldn’t do. They went back to the ways of the Egyptians instead of following the Laws of God. Because of this, many of them were killed by snakes and many were destroyed. These examples should instruct us not to use our liberty to commit sins. Our example to follow is Jesus Christ. He has called us to a lifestyle of Holiness. Even though all of our sins are forgiven, God will not allow His children to go on living sinful lifestyles. If we persist in living lives that are disobedient and causing strife in the body, we will suffer the same end the Israelites did. Paul gives us an example of a Christian having his lifetime shortened because of his disobedience.
5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.–1 Cor. 5:5 NASB
God does not wink at sin, He still feels the same way about it and still deals with it the same way. “Be ye holy” was not written as an afterthought. It was written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and is still in effect today.
16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”–1 Peter 1:16 NASB
4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.—Gal. 6:4-6 (NIV)
Every word we speak and every action that we commit should be tested. Do the words and/or the action(s) align with the Scriptures? It is a good idea to find more than one passage of Scripture to test our thoughts and actions. If we don’t have a peace about it after that, then we either need to discard the idea or ask someone that we trust spiritually for their opinion of what we are about to say or do. We should ask them to pray with us about it. If we still don’t have peace about it, we should either delay the action until we do have peace or completely discard it. There is only one standard to use for comparison of our words and actions, That is Jesus Christ. Don’t try to be be anyone or anything more than what you can determine that Jesus wants you to be. We should always do our part of the labor and the praying. We should support those that God has placed over us and from whom we derive a benefit because of their instructions. Not just with our finances but also with our time and our money.
15 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. 18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.—Gal. 1:15-19 (NASB)
Just as God had set Paul apart to be the apostle to the Gentiles, He has a plan for each of us. That plan has been in place since before the earth was created. Besides Ananias, Paul did not consult with other Christians until he had spent time in the Arabian desert. How long he stayed in the desert is unknown, but he returned to Damascus and preached there for the remainder of three years. Then he went to Jerusalem to spend time with Peter (Cephas). Besides what God had imparted to Paul through the Holy Spirit, he was able to talk about Jesus with Peter. That would be a conversation worth listening to. It is also a good example for us to follow. We need to spend time alone with God and then we need a mature Christian to mentor us. We need both to become what God wants us to be. We need to choose carefully and not let just anyone speak into our spiritual lives. After making a careful choice of who that person or persons will be, we still need to verify every word by the WORD. 1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.–1 John 4:1 (NASB)
20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” 22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” 23 So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” 24 This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate. 25 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.–John 21:20-25 (NLT)
Jesus seems to be saying to Peter, mind your own business. Your duty is to follow me, not to be overly concerned about what others are doing. That is good advice for us in today’s world as well. We need to stay focused on Jesus and not those around us. Yes, we need to respect those that are in spiritual authority over us, but we are not to make them idols. Sooner or later, the flesh will fail, but Jesus never has failed and He never will fail. What we need to do is accept Jesus as Lord of our life, obey His commands, follow His example and do what He has called and gifted us to do in His Kingdom. If we stay faithful in doing that, we will little, if any, time to criticize and judge our brothers and sisters. Doing this means we cannot and do not accept blindly the words of others. We must make sure they are aligned with the Holy Scriptures. 20 Do not scoff at prophecies, 21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every kind of evil.–1 Thess. 5:20-22 (NLT)
As Pres. Ronald Reagan said: Trust but Verify!
1 Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. 2 This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. 3 But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.—1 John 4:1-3 (NLT)
As we all know not everyone that speaks to us has the Spirit of God abiding in them. There are those sent from satan who masquerade as “angels of light” but are actually false prophets. 13 These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.–2 Cor. 11:13-15 (NLT)
We must always test the spirit and see if it acknowledges the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The devil knows that God exists and he knows the Scriptures better than we do. The Spirit that dwells in us will witness to us if a person has a kindred Spirit to ours. But if you are in doubt, you can always ask if they believe that Jesus shed His blood on Calvary for our sins. If they acknowledge that this is true and they acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus, then we have assurance that it is not a false spirit. 3 So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.—1 Cor. 12:3 (NLT)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.25 Brothers, pray for us.–1 Thessalonians 5:16-25 (ESV)
One of the reasons I love Paul’s letters is the fact that right in the middle of telling us how bad it is and how much worse it could be, he suddenly stops, (and I believe) he just shouts it out. REJOICE! If our laboring for the Lord does not bring us joy, we need to realign our priorities. One of the ways we quench the Spirit is to refuse to be joyful in our walk with God. We should test everything we hear, Does your pastor’s sermons always line up with the Word of God? You should check every comment I make and see if it really fits the with the Scriptures. The more we study God’s Word, the more we will see why Paul was always content regardless of his situation. God will give us His peace, and we are blameless in God’s eyes because of the blood of Jesus Christ. Fear not, God is faithful, He will do what He says He will do. If we remain faithful, we will reap our crowns (rewards) in heaven.
14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.-Hebrews 12:14,15 (NASB)
The test is this: How do we react when we are betrayed by someone that is close to us, whether it be a family member, friend, close associate or a stranger? Is your first thought, “I should pursue peace with all men”? Or does anger immediately fill you and your mind starts to think about ways to “get even”? What does “get even” mean and how do we know when we are “even”? Ignore the anger? No, it you hold your anger, it will eventually become a “root of bitterness”. That root, as it grows, will push every good thing out of the way to manifest itself in your personality. What then? 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. –Romans 12:19-21 (NASB)
Let God handle it for you. Jesus was betrayed by Judas, a “friend” who had been the treasurer of the disciples and a companion for the better part of 3 years. What was his reaction to that betrayal? He allowed Judas to carry out his work even though Jesus knew it would mean His death. Remember, because of our sins, we have all betrayed Jesus and yet, He died for us. Easier said than done, right? So, how do we allow God to do it? 6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.–Zechariah 4:6 (NASB)
We listen to the Spirit of the Living God and His Spirit directs us as to what we should say and/or do. Most likely, the only action for us will be to pray for the person who has offended us and prepare our hearts to forgive when we are asked and render assistance and encouragement when the offender needs it.
1 Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.
3 Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”
4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.
5 Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. 7 I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”
8 Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.
9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say,
10 ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.
11 And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.–Luke 4:1-12 (NLT)
Jesus was tempted for 40 days by satan. We are not told how long each temptation lasted or how often the temptation was repeated. Since satan has probably not changed his pattern of tempting humans, it was probably a constant nagging to just go ahead and do it. When the first temptation fails, he tries another tactic, always going about like a roaring lion, but having no power. The first temptation that Jesus faced was one we are all familiar with; pride: “you don’t need God, just do it yourself”. The second temptation was idolatry and greed: “just worship me and I will give you everything you want”. Why should you wait and go through all the pain and suffering when you can have it now, just by bowing down to sin? The third temptation is the sin of presumption: “You know God is going to take care of you, just go ahead and do what you want to do, it doesn’t matter”. We are told in Psalm 19:13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Yes, God will take care of us in dangerous situations, but to think that we can do outrageous things of our own choosing and expect God to always react is presumptuous and deadly. It is one thing to test God’s faithfulness but it is completely different to tempt Him with foolishness.