Friday, August 9, 2013

Lost Something?

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Revelation 2:4

Jesus' letters to the churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, like all other portions of scripture, are saturated with meaning.  They spoke clear messages to the churches of that day using peculiarities specific to each town addressed.  Also, many have noted that these letters seem to be an outline of church history.  There are warnings involved that can speak to each individual believer at a personal level as well as speak acutely to whole congregations.  It is somewhat interesting to note that the letters containing the 5 rebukes also build on one another in such a way that they can show us why those who leave their first love, Jesus, end up lukewarm over time.  Ironically, these 5 rebukes also align themselves with the 5 things that were not found in the 2nd temple.  Their absence after the return from Babylon is conspicuous in scripture.

Jesus' rebuke to the church in Ephesus is found above--they had left their first love.  What a stunning indictment!  It was as if they were a production machine set to run without any caring or emotion involved.  They were losing the most important aspect of Christianity, a personal loving relationship with the Creator of all.  Had they forgot Jesus' answer to the question of the scribes, "Which is the first commandment of all (Mark 12:28)?"  His answer was definite, "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment (Mark 12:30)" ?  Like Israel after the return from Babylon, the Ephesians had lost the place of relationship.  It has been well documented that the 2nd temple was missing the Ark of the Covenant and Mercy Seat which was the place where God would graciously meet with His people.  They too were going through with religious devotion without the very foundation of loving GOD at the core.  The LORD does wants us to maintain fervent love in our relationship and not have cold, mundane, and mindless devotion.  Ephesus no longer loved GOD with all that was within them and they needed to repent.

The people of Pergamos had many who were faithful to the LORD even in the face of the enemy, but He upbraided them for allowing some in their midst who were beginning to adhere to false doctrine.  This accommodation of that which is false adds to the idea of leaving your first love.  When closeness to Christ becomes second place it seems that false notions about GOD and His Word shortly follows.  A downhill trend towards lukewarmness has grown to a loss of fervency to a point where things God would not teach, say, or do are tolerated.  Israel also experienced this with the loss of the sacred fire that came down from Heaven as recorded in 2 Chronicles 7:3.  The fire burnt perpetually upon the brazen altar of the 1st temple from that point onward.  When one's love for God wanes and error is accommodated, be sure and know that the fire of the LORD of Truth is missing!  Pergamos no longer maintained truth while rejecting error, so they needed to repent.

Whereas Pergamos allowed the teaching of foolishness to start, Thyatira wholly compromised with worldliness.  There was such a lowering of standards that outright sin was tolerated in this church.  When a church loses love for Christ coupled with that which is false being taught, then compromise certainly will follow.  Thyatira looked so much like the godless world around them that they most certainly lost their witness and they ceased being salt and light.  Likewise, the 2nd temple lost something as well, the Glory of the LORD often referred to as the Shekinah Glory.   The cloud of His presence could surely be seen by all even from a distance.  All the way back to the time of the tabernacle when the cloud and fire followed Israel, the glory of the LORD was evident to all, but compromise always compromises the Glory of the LORD.  Pergamos no longer shined brightly to a lost world and they needed to repent.

The next logical step after compromise is corruption:  no fervency of a relationship, to tolerating error, to maintaining sin, to total corruption.  Sardis lost its voice to the world because they acted like the world.  Jesus told them that things had gotten so bad, " that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead."  In similar fashion, the Spirit of Prophecy was said to be missing from the 2nd temple.  Prophecy is much more than just telling what will happen, it is also telling folks what they need to know at that time.  In essence, it is speaking what GOD is speaking.  How could any church speak to a lost world if they were so much like the world that they seemingly are dead?  Sardis lost their ability to communicate the gospel to a lost world through compromise with sin and they needed to repent.

This brings us to the last church in the spiral called apostasy--Laodicea.  Its very name is incriminating as it means "the justice of the people".  They no longer even try to maintain fellowship with God as He directs but make up the rules to suit themselves.  Their apathy towards truth and GOD's word has poisoned them to the point that Jesus says He will vomit them up!  This slippery slope started by simply putting Christ in second place.  It grew to the point that the folks of Laodicea, pleased with themselves, no longer cared what GOD thinks and Jesus is seen outside knocking to gain access.  It was like the 2nd temple that no longer had the Urim and Thummim which were used to discern the will of GOD.  Who wants to learn what GOD wants anyways when apathy sets in?  Maybe this is why the church today cannot seem to settle matters that are clearly already settled in the Bible, things like murder (abortion), perverseness in all of its variant forms, and so on.  Only an apathetic and careless people who want things their way would pervert God's clearly defined statement on marriage.  Laodicea no longer cared about the will of GOD nor cared to discern truth--would they even want to hear the Spirit of the LORD call to them to repent?  How could they hear the knocking of the Redeemer and His concern for a world in rebellion on a collision course with final judgment if all they cared about was themselves?  They truly needed to repent.

Please listen!  Can you hear the loving rap of Christ at the door of your heart?  Do you have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches?  Repentance is not a one time thing--it is a lifestyle lovingly lived at the foot of an old rugged cross!  It is not in a vain attempt to earn salvation but is the reasonable thing to do is view of the overwhelming grace of our LORD as Romans 12:1-2 suggests.  Listen, Jesus Christ is Soon2Come!

  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Revelation 3:22

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cut Off?

And Judah went up; and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men. And they found Adonibezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites. But Adonibezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes. And Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.
Judges 1:4-7

I read a news article today that reminded me about one of the events recorded in the Book of Judges, the defeat of Adonibezek.  This king was notorious for capturing his victims and maiming them.  Specifically, he would cut off the big thumbs and toes of those he captured in battle.  From there, the kings were chained under his table.  Imagine going into a royal court and seeing 70 kings chained like animals and eating the scraps falling from the table.  A sight such at that might engender great fear!  This is exactly what Adonibezek did to those kings whose armies he had defeated in battle.  The good news is that the children of Israel, led by Judah, conquered this evil king and brought his own folly upon his head.

So what article made me think of this?
Trial Begins for Christians Arrested for Reading Bible Outside California DMV | Christian News Network

It seems that Adonibezek is still at work in many ways.  Not the one whose demise is found in Judges, but the one whom he shadows.  You see, Adonibezek's name is directly translated into English as "Lord Lightning".  Lord Lightning is still attempting to cut off the great thumbs and toes of mankind as well as chain his victims under the table.  This ex-anointed cherub, also know as the prince of the power of the air as stated in Ephesians 2:2, wants desperately to do just that--cut humanity off from the Word of God and destroy their ability to walk with God.  The fact that the historic man in this scripture tried to attack Israel reminds us that society's adversary the devil will also come against believers and try the same thing.

So what is the big deal about cutting off some one's thumbs?  Believe me, it had a very practical purpose.  Look at the picture above.  What do you suppose would happen if that opposable digit we call a thumb were not there?  You could not hold a sword of course.  That would mean that your enemy would always have an advantage over you.  Doesn't the Bible say that the gospel is hid to those who are lost by the working of Satan?  Of course!  He is effectively hiding the word from the lost so that the gospel will not reach them.  That is the very reason that a man reading a Bible would ever be arrested.    Yet, what about a believer?  There are so many Bible illiterate Christians today that many are not able to hold forth the promises of the Almighty against the enemy.  Rather than boldly wielding the power of the Sword of the Spirit, they give the devil their opinions or the opinions of others.  Take time daily to sharpen the sword.  Should the Bible ever become illegal, and it already is in many places, would you have enough memorized to effectively engage the enemy?

As the thumb assists in holding, the toe assists in balance.  It is near impossible to maintain a balanced walk without your big toe.  Those that Adonibezek maimed were unable to stand, walk, or run into battle; therefore, the removal of their toe also had practical applications as well.  Because most believers do not spend enough time in the Word of God, their walk with the LORD is catywampus.  They swerve from one extreme to another never able to correct their balanced walk with Christ nor are they adequately able to stand in opposition against the devil and his devices.  Maybe that is why Paul noted in Ephesians to have the preparation of the gospel as sandals on our feet?

The end result is sad.  Men and women chained under the liar's table and groveling over tiny morsels.  Christian, that is not you allotment.  You have been called to dine at the table of the Great King, the Lion of Judah.  You are a child of the Most High who needs not grasp for scraps.  Get yourself in the WORD and eat the good things of GOD.  Eat the sweet and the bitter--it is all important.

There are many ways that folks end up chained.  No study or Bible reading, a lack of devotion, confusion brought by contradictory ideas, always something else more important to do (like frivolously wasting time watching the latest TV show while the world around you dies and goes to Hell), or a whole host of other reasons.  Be sure and know that the enemy of your soul has not stopped his attempt to cut you off from the Word.  One of his biggest tricks today is to get believers arguing about the finest of details so that many hearing or seeing these arguments are confused and discouraged 
(like the myriads of negative comments "Bible experts" always seem to post on Facebook when any scripture is given.  They feel the need to argue about everything.  That is more about pride than truth!) .  In this battle,  "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).

God news!  Jesus wins!  He, Star of the tribe of Judah, already went up first and spoiled Lord Lightening at Mount Calvary!  Be of good cheer, He has over come the enemy and He also is Soon2Come!
And he (Jesus) said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
Luke 10:18-20

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Sun Shall Be Darkened

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Matthew 24:29-30

The Almighty has used the sun to speak to men throughout the ages.  He speaks, in accordance to Psalm 19, through the sun and the heavens that He alone is the creator, savior, and source of life.  One could make a good argument that the sun and the moon are types and shadows of God's relationship to Israel or Christ's relationship with the church.  Whose brilliance causes the church to shine forth the glory of God anyways?  It is certainly not from the church itself.  It is also certain that those calamitous times in church history were of men and not of Jesus!

Do you realize how important the sun is to us all?  Without sunlight, no photosynthesis--without photosynthesis, no food--without food,...enough said!  How did you get to work today or the store last week?  Probably, you used a car which ran on gasoline, a fossil fuel.  The energy from that fuel was stored in antediluvian life forms buried during the flood.  Those life forms also received that energy from the sun.  In a round about way, you went to work or the store on stored sunlight energy found in gas or oil.  As the sun is our primary source of energy, food, and light, so is Christ.  However, Christ is not just primary--He is the one and only source.  I wonder if that is why we have but one sun?

The LORD has also historically used the sun to signal His power.  During the time when God spoke through Moses, He put the sun out for 3 days to show the sun worshiping Egyptians who really was the Omnipotent One. God later spoke to all humanity in the days of Joshua when He caused the sun to stay in place for nearly 24 hours.  He assured a doubting King Hezekiah who was promised healing by the prophet Isaiah.  The sun went backwards 10 degrees on the sun dial as a confirmation of the promise.  When Jesus died upon the cross for our redemption, the Father spoke a clear message when darkness enveloped the world.  Julius Africanus quoted the 1st century historian, Thallus, who recorded the event found in scripture when he wrote, "on the whole world there pressed a fearful darkness, and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down."  However, it is what the sun will say during the Tribulation that is our concern today.  God said that the sun shall be darkened, after exhibiting other anomalies, immediately prior to the return of Jesus.  Could GOD be using the sun now to warn an unsuspecting world that dire days are ahead?   Is He showing the attentive that the Day of Redemption is near?

During those last fateful 7 years before the return of Christ the sun will do unusual things.  Revelation 6:12 says that it will become as black as sackcloth after a massive earthquake rends the planet.  In chapter 8, the sun's light is diminished by 1/3 power.  Later, it becomes so hot that John wrote, "And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory"  (Revelation 16:8-9).  Finally, the sun darkens again prior to the return of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.

So how could God be speaking to us that these events might be near, even at the door?  Could He be signalling that Jesus Christ is Soon2Come with a news item from NASA  and others such as these few following? Of course, one might argue that solar pole reversals are rather normal, but the idea that the sun may be shutting down is far from normal  (Again, scripture definitively says this will happen).  Also the timing of this event given all that we are seeing is another curious thing to note. 
The Sun's Magnetic Field is about to Flip - NASA Science 
The Weakest Solar Cycle in 100 Years - News Blog -