Saturday, 19 September 2020

Revelation from a Deer Stand

Idols are those things that separate us from the mission of Jesus Christ. Things such as exalting oneself through the acquisition of assets for the purpose of self-elevation and power and control.


As I sat in the deer stand (tree stands or deer stands are open or enclosed platforms used by hunters), I read what God led me to read: which was; Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah and Micah.  God spoke to these men about how the people of God strayed from His will, even to the extent of worshipping idols and doing evil deeds. This grieved and angered God.  God revealed to these men of the wrath that would come to them because of their sin (the sin of God’s people). As I read and listened to God, I was given to contemplate the meaning of idols. At the time of the Old Covenant (before the time of grace), everything was driven by works and deeds. God’s laws governed men’s actions through work, deeds, disciplines and gestures of obedience. In my words, His relationship to man was exercised from a not-so-personal relationship from the outside.  God related to man from the physical, rather than from the interpersonal.  Because of this, man’s identity was also in the realm of the physical. Idols, therefore, were made of a physical nature, such as golden images like the golden calf.

 

Man related to God in the tangible and physical. Since that did not work, God incarnated Himself through His Son Jesus and a new dispensation was born – the dispensation of grace.  Under this new dispensation, what is an idol?  Idols are the same as in the Old Covenant, but a new and additional form of idol worship was born.  Because of Jesus, and then the Holy Spirit, God entered into men and dwelt within man.  Now, even our thoughts, intentions and motives can come under the control of God if we are willing.

 

Now we must consider the mission of Jesus.  The mission of Jesus (among other things) was to provide salvation to mankind.  He came to show us how to give and forgive.  His ideal was to form a brotherhood of believers who would know and desire His heart and have a passion for His mission.  He wanted a brotherhood that would deny self for the sake of His name, giving freely for the joy of seeing others benefit – forgiving for the sake of His name.

 

With that said, what are our idols now?  Idols are those things that separate us from the mission of Jesus Christ. Things such as exalting oneself through acquisition of assets for the purpose of self elevation and power and control.  A prideful attitude that seeks the envy of others is an idol. This pride can be driven by power through knowledge in general, or even Scriptural knowledge, or even self elevation through acquisition of assets. Check out God’s attitudes and feelings about these things – Amos 5:21-27 I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel? You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god—which you made for yourselves. Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus, says the LORD, whose name is God Almighty’.  Also read Amos 6, in its entirety.


If we have surrendered to these idols, then Hosea 14 tells us what to do.

 


Author: David Leatherman 


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Saturday, 12 September 2020

God First Always

God has given me the strength and passion to rearrange my priorities. God is number one. I will not dilute my faith to keep any person happy.


I became a Christian at the young age of 5 and my mom brought me up with the knowledge that having a relationship with Jesus is important. I have to say, baring in mind my dad isn't a Christian, this was very one sided and she did a great job of making me realise this importance. She had sewn a seed that wasn't just an empty husk. (Thanks mom!)

 

As I reached high school, I became a prime target for bullies so I found my circle of friends outside of school. I was still a good person, morally, in the eyes of the world but my soul became dirty with the life that I chose to step into. I put my relationship with God on hold while I explored this life with my new friends. This life of drinking and heavy metal music. This seemed to be what these friendships were based on. Pretty shallow now, come to think of it! But I was accepted by these people and it felt great. What a lure.


The music I listened to was pretty dark to be honest and I knew, deep down, God didn't approve. I just told myself the lyrics meant nothing to me and I kept on listening. Actually, God made me very aware that He didn't approve of my whole lifestyle. I tried to find excuses. I brought it up with various Christians who I looked up to in the hope they'd say something to make me feel like I was ok to carry on with my lifestyle and still call myself a Christian. This release never came. Why? I'd become wishy-washy. 


It's so obvious to me now, looking back. I'd profess to my friends that I was a Christian but my life choices said otherwise. We'd get into debates and I'd add more water to my faith to make sure I didn't offend them. I became so dilute in my faith that I had become offensive to God. I'd put my friendships and lifestyle above God.


God always looked after me and kept me safe when I made choices that could have landed me a front page bad news story. It is so evident now that I was like the people of the church of Laodicea. I was so lukewarm. But God knew I'd come back. I believe this is why He kept me safe when I was completely out of control. God kept knocking on my heart. And I felt it. I chose to ignore it until I was ready. 


God proved a point to me one night. One night when I lived alone at the age of 17, my emotions got the better of me. This wasn't uncommon. I was an emotional wreck regularly at this age for many reasons. I would typically turn to heavy music, drink and self harm to deal with it. Self harming would bring a release. Something to focus on and bring about a calm. This particular night, I can't remember why, but the emotions were overwhelming. I went to turn on my music but my stereo had packed up. This release that the enemy subtly promised me was gone. I didn't know how to deal with it. Then it hit me. I should be turning to God first before all this rubbish. He never breaks His promises. He is always there when we need Him. He's no quick fix. He is the ultimate fix!


I made the decision to throw my lifestyle away.  The evening before bin day I put all my music and clothing related to that lifestyle in the dustbin. I cut ties with those people. I prayed to God to come in. To replace the things I'd let go of with Godly things. My release from that lifestyle came when I heard the bin men come round in the morning. What a strangely freeing sound that was!!


I have come to realise that my younger Christian years probably caused more harm than good. How was my life reflecting Jesus? It wasn't. At all. I still made mistakes after this. I still do. But I stand my ground now. God has given me the strength and passion to rearrange my priorities. God is number one. I will not dilute my faith to keep any person happy.


'Hillsong' did a song which sprang to mind while writing this. The chorus goes:


I will not be moved, and I'll say of the Lord

You are my shield, my strength, my portion

Deliverer, my shelter, strong tower

My very present help in time of need.


When is my time of need? I have to admit, I'm pretty needy every day! Why? Because I've already proven to myself and others I'm useless and ineffective without Him. God should be with us in all we do at all times. He and He alone should be number 1 in our lives.



Author: Samantha Tarplin 

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Saturday, 5 September 2020

Keep in Step with God

The Kingdoms of the world will not stand, they will collapse. Only the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ will remain forever, it is unshakable, it cannot be moved.

The world and it’s desires  pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:17)

When I served in the British Army the first thing we had to learn during basic training, was how to march in step.

In a squad of soldiers, this was the most important thing, otherwise one person out of step, was likely to affect all the others.

The only way for a unit to advance and keep in step was to march together in unity. This is the same principle with God going forward keeping in step with Him. 


Doing The Will God

The scripture below can also apply to us, as it did for Jesus, He was totally committed to doing the will of God. 

Then I said "Here I am, I have come -it is written about Me in the scroll, I desire to do your will, O My God; your law is within My heart" (Psalm 40:7-8)

God is at present working out His end time purposes on the earth. He is in control, for those who put their trust in Him and flow with His plans, they will become unsinkable.

The world is not the permanent home for Gods people, it is a preparation for our eternal home in heaven. Nothing on earth is stable, self ambition, attaching ourselves to worldly possessions does not earn us a place in heaven.

Only surrendering to the will of God, under His mighty hand, will we find peace and security in all things, and have an eternal hope. This was John's conviction, according to the facts of Jesus's life, death, resurrection, and promises.

Remember the former things, those of long ago, I am God, and there is none like Me. I make known the end from the beginning from ancient times, what is still to come I say, My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Isaiah 46: 9-10).

These verses declare God's sovereign will. He is in control of all things in heaven and on earth, and in the universe. No one can alter His purposes He said "I will do all I please."


God's Will is Established 

We can however know God's sovereign purpose in history, for the Jew and Gentile, He has made it known to us in His Word. He said to Abraham "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen 12 2 :3) 

His sovereign will for Israel is well established in the Old and New Testaments, beginning with His promise to make Abraham's seed (Israel) a great nation, and to bless all the nations of the earth through His seed, which is Christ. (Galatians 3: 6-9)

Calvary is proof of God's sovereign will. About a thousand years before Christ died on the cross, David prophesied that the Messiah would be crucified. (Psalm 22: 14-18) 

About seven hundred years before Calvary Isaiah prophesied the ignominious death of Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sins.

(Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12)


God is Sovereign Over All

Israel was tempted to waver between the Lord God and pagan gods. Isaiah affirms the sole leadership of God. He is the only one who knows when Jesus will return, as King of all Kings, and Lord of all Lords. God is in absolute control now and eternally. The Kingdoms of the world will not stand, they will collapse. Only the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ will remain forever, it is unshakable, it cannot be moved.

Who would want to remain in a Kingdom that is going to fail, controlled by demonic forces?

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, “For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12: 28-29)



Author: John Yates 

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