Saturday, September 30, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - September 30, 2017

Today's Reading:

Revelation 1

Nehemiah 1-2

Psalm 96

Listen to the Bible







Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

In Nehemiah 2, we find the story of how Nehemiah was able to return to Jerusalem, after its destruction, and help to rebuild the walls of the city. As Nehemiah surveyed the condition of Jerusalem, at the outset, he found quite a list of issues which needed to be addressed in the rebuilding process:
Nehemiah 2:17 "Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach."
But, the condition of the literally city of Jerusalem is more than a point of historical trivia to us today. The condition of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah is a shadow-picture of the spiritual condition of God's people, in the Last Days. 

To demonstrate this, let's begin by looking up the word "reproach" in a Strong's Concordance. The word translated as "reproach" in Nehemiah 2:17 is from the Hebrew word cherpah, which means: "a shame, blasphemous, exposed, and a disgrace".

This sounds a whole lot like the Laodicean condition, which we are warned against in Revelation:
Revelation 3:13-17  "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."
Notice how similar the description of the Laodicean condition is compared with the condition of Jerusalem:

Since the Laodicean condition represents the spiritual "lukewarm" condition of the End-time "Christians", we may clearly find a parallel between the condition of Jerusalem - in Nehemiah's day - with the spiritual condition of many Christians in the Last Days. Bearing this in mind, let's return to Nehemiah's description list found in Nehemiah 2:17 so that we may draw spiritual parallels.

#1. Condition of Jerusalem: Gates burned with fire
Nehemiah 2:17 "Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach." 
Jerusalem's gates were burned with fire and its walls needed to be rebuilt. What does this symbolize? To answer that we first need to recall what the purpose of a gate and city walls were, in Biblical times. Gates and walls were put up to protect a city. They kept the evil out and preserved what was within. Thus, a city with burned gates and broken down walls was a city with no protection.

Nehemiah remedied the crisis of literal Jerusalem by setting about to rebuild the broken down walls and replace the burned gates. But how can we do this vital work in a spiritual way, to find healing for the spiritual brokenness of a Laodicean spirit?

In Proverbs, a human soul is compared to a city. When there is no "rule" in the soul, we are as spiritually defenseless against the enemy's onslaught as a Bible-times city would have been, without its walls.
Proverbs 25:28  "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls."
Spiritually then, what is our "wall" of defense? It is God's Rule!

But how has God's Rule come to be broken down, so that we are spiritual cities left without a wall of protection? In Christianity today, a dangerous teaching has crept in which suggests that the Law of God was done away with at the Cross. If we believe that God's Law was done away with when Christ died, we will no longer have a desire to know what it contains, nor will we prayerfully work to incorporate its principles into our lives. Nailed to the Cross = Done Away!

God’s Law is a vital Blessing. Through Grace-empowered obedience to it, we are blessed. Through sinful disobedience to it, we are cursed.

      Deuteronomy 11:26-28 “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse.  A blessing, if ye obey the Commandments of Yahweh your God, which I command you this day:  And a curse, if ye will not obey the Commandments of Yahweh your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.” 

      Psalm 19:7-9 “The Law of Yahweh is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of Yahweh is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of Yahweh are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of Yahweh is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of Yahweh is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of Yahweh are true and righteous altogether.” 

David Was Listing the Parts of the Law in Psalm 19! He was also listing the powerful ways the Law blesses us

      The LAW of Yahweh is perfect – converting the soul (the Law is what truly converts a sinful soul)

      The STATUTES of Yahweh are right – rejoicing the heart (the Law is a source of great joy to the heart)

      The COMMANDMENT of Yahweh is pure – enlightening the eyes (the Law brings wisdom)

Defining the Law – the word translated as “Law” in the Old Testament means:

     “Law of Yahweh” is translated from the original Hebrew word Torah (to-raw), meaning: “A precept, or statute, especially the Decalogue, or Pentateuch: - Law” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #8451).

Defining the Law – the word translated as “Law” in the New Testament means:

       “Law,” is the Greek word Nomos.  Nomos, according to Strong’s Concordance (#3551), means: “Law, regulation, specifications of Moses, also of the Gospel, a principle.” 

By these definitions, we know that the Law of Yahweh: is the complete Torah – or Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy

In the Words of Christ, we can clearly see that Yahshua did not come to do away with the Law, either in His Life or Death. The Law is still in full effect until Heaven and Earth pass away.

·         “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets… For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, til all be fulfilled.” Matt 5:17-18

The Law of Yahweh is so important that it is actually the Standard by which we will all be judged:

      2 Corinthians 10:12-13  “For we dare not… compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.  But… according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us…”

      James 2:10-12 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the Law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.”

There are two Laws. We serve one or the other. One is the Law of Sin. The other is the Law of God.

·         Romans 7:23-25 “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?… With the mind I myself serve the Law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” 

Sin = Breaking the Law of God. Thus, without the Law, there would be no sin at all. This is one evidence that the Law of God existed even prior to God’s Creation of Earth. The Bible says that Iniquity – or sin – was first conceived in Lucifer’s Heart (in Heaven) – Ezekiel 28:14-15. If Lucifer could sin, and sin is Biblically defined as breaking the Law of Yahweh, then the Law of God must have been in existence in Heaven.

      1 John 3:4 “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the Law: for sin is the transgression of the Law.” 

Obedience to God’s Law is a Salvational Issue. The Bible lists Law Breaking, calling it “The Works of the Flesh.” It also says that those who break the Law by doing these “works of the flesh” will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

      Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like… They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” 

Spiritual Warfare is only effective when we also believe in obedience to God’s Law. Spiritual Bondage comes from Law-breaking. The more of God’s Law we break, the more strong are the enemy’s shackles that bind our souls. 

 “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins,”

Proverbs 5:22

How We Come to Be in Bondage:

What causes a person to become enslaved to Satan in the first place? The answer is found in Proverbs 5:22:

Our own “iniquities” (our faults and sins) “shall take” (trap of catch in a net) the “wicked” (the ungodly) himself. And we are all “holden” (held fast) with “the cords” (rope or snare) of our sins.

What does “Holden in the cords of our sins” mean? It means we are unable to get free from the devil’s bondage.

Spiritual Warfare is NEUTRALIZED without Grace-empowered Obedience to God’s Law:

·         According to Psalm 59:1-2, God will not hear our prayers if we have iniquity (or sin) in our lives.

·         We are only Christ’s true disciples if we continue in His Word and know the Truth. For the Truth makes us free – John 8:31-32.

·         What is the epicenter of Truth – from which all doctrine is checked – and out from which all Truth radiates? 

o   “To the Law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this Word, there is no Light in them,” Isaiah 8:20.

The Biblical Formula for True Success

·         Psalm 1:1-3 “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the Law of Yahweh; and in His Law doth he meditate day and night.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” 

Walking in the Counsel of the Ungodly means – taking the advice of someone who disregards or breaks the Torah.

Standing in the Way of Sinners means – Hanging out with, and thinking, talking or acting like the Lawless world.

Sitting in the Seat of the Scornful means – disrespecting God’s Law either in our thinking or by allowing it in our associates.

Delighting in the Law of God means to:

  • Delight to do God’s Will - Psalm 40:8
  • Hide His Word in your heart (memorize Scripture) - Psalm 119:11
  • Delighting in His Law protects me from affliction - Psalm 119:92
  • When I love God, I will keep His Commandments - 1 John 5:3

Psalm 119:97 “O how love I Thy Law! It is my meditation all the day.”  

Instead of Viewing God’s Law as a bunch of restrictions, we should understand it is our guardrail of protection against the enemy. It is our spiritual wall of protection. As we prayerfully study it and incorporate its principles into our lives and homes, we are spiritually rebuilding the Wall, restoring our spiritual defenses and God's Protection against the enemy.


Friday, September 29, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - September 29, 2017

Today's Reading:

Jude 1

Ezra 9-10

Psalm 95

Listen to the Bible







Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

In Psalm 95, we read about the dangers of "hardening" our
Psalm 95:7-11 "For He is our God; and we are the people of His Pasture, and the sheep of His Hand. Today, if ye will (are willing), hear His Voice. Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My Work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known My Ways: Unto whom I sware in My Wrath that they should not enter into My Rest." 
We all need to beware of hardening our hearts. Doing so is deadly, because to do so is to shut out the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Once the heart is fully hard, we grieve away the Holy Spirit, and ultimately commit the "unpardonable sin"! 

So, how can we prevent hardening our hearts? Are they danger signs to warn us of the steps along the way? The best protection against it is to deliberately soften your heart towards God and to seek to hear His Voice.  Make it your aim to listen to and obey the Voice of God through His Word and prayer.  If you do these things His Voice will grow clearer and louder, like a radio being tuned in better and turned up in volume. 

Failing to do this "stores up Wrath" against us:
Romans 2:4-5 (NIV) - "Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up Wrath against yourself for the Day of God's Wrath, when His righteous Judgment will be revealed."         
It has been said that the same sun which hardens clay, softens butter. In this analogy, Yahweh is like the sun. He doesn't change. His love and truth remain constant. But how do we respond to Him? Are we hardened? Or are we melted? The choice is really ours - and the determining factor is based upon what we choose.

Consider the Parable of the Sower, told by Yahshua. The Sower goes out to sow His Good Seed, but 3/4 of it falls on unfavorable ground. Only 25% of the Good Seed feel on good ground. But Good Ground is made receptive to Seed by proper soil preparation. In a spiritual sense, we also may make the effort to dig, weed and soften the “soil” of our hearts.
The kind of heart you have developed over your life so far is largely what determines how you respond to God’s Word when you hear it.  The point of the parable is that it is up to you to work on the ‘soil’ of your own heart.  You must dig it and soften it to enable yourself to hear and act on God’s Word. In other words, the responsibility for the state of your heart is yours.  It is not something beyond your control, by God's Grace.  It may be a painful and difficult process to change it, but it is worth the effort.

If your heart is hard and stony like the path or the rocky ground, then God’s Word, (represented by the seed) will not be able to get through to you in order to germinate.  The “birds” will eat it before it has any effect on you. Or, even if God’s Word begins to affect you, like the seed that germinates in the rocky ground, it cannot put down any deep roots in your life, because your heart is too hard.

If you are like that, make a decision now to persistently and deliberately do everything you can to soften your heart towards Yahweh.  You can do that by repenting, reading the Word of Yahweh - daily, humbling yourself, and prayerfully aligning your life with what you have found in His Word.
Hosea 10:12  "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek Yahweh, till He come and Rain righteousness upon you."  
As you do those things prayerfully and diligently it is just like a gardener digging into rocky ground, taking out stones and putting in compost and manure to improve it. As he does this, day-after-day, the soil will steadily improve.  Our hearts are just the same. Thus, it is our responsibility to actively participate in softening our hearts and to not let them remain hard or stony.

If the problem is weeds, the gardener tackles it by removing and preventing them so that his soil has fewer of them.  You can do the same by removing things from your life which you know are likely to distract you or lead you into temptation or bad company.  You might not have realized that God expects you to do anything about those things, but He does.  

In 2 Chronicles, Yahweh gives a few of the vital steps to take to be healed of a hard heart:
2 Chronicles 7:12-14 (NKJV) "Then Yahweh appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up Heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My Face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
Duke Taber, in his online article, "4 Spiritual Tools to Transform a Hard Heart", explains the steps . Now most of the time when I hear people preach or teach on this passage they seem to skip over all of it and focus on the repentance part. The turning away from the wicked ways. That is an important part, but to see a real change in your heart you have to take each step one at a time. There are 4 steps to this process:

#1 Cultivate Humility

I think the biggest roadblock that most Christians have today in seeing their hardened hearts changed, is the fact that they have convinced themselves that they are doing okay.
They look around and compare themselves to each other and as long as nobody is outwardly doing the major sins, they think that they have arrived.

There is a really big pride problem in the church today. We have to come to the point that we once again see our need to tear down the idols that we have allowed to rise up in our hearts and lives.

#2 Develop An Intimate Prayer Life.

Prayer has been turned into some type of magical formula that get’s God to do what we want. Prayer is not designed to be used to give Santa Claus your wish list.

It is supposed to be a deep and intimate conversation with your heavenly Father. We must get back to that intimacy with God. We must start dealing in prayer with the realization of our idolatry and hardheartedness.

We have to stop asking God to give revival to the United States and start asking Him to revive us personally. We have to see that it starts with us.

#3 Learn To Seek His Face.

Here is the whole key to seeing your hard heart softened. This is the answer to how you can get to the point of turning away from your wicked ways.
A good friend of mine many years ago told me that I had a choice before me. He said I should go look into a dumpster and see all the garbage, and then I should go and look out from the local mountaintop at all of God’s creation.
He then asked me, which one do I want to look at all the time? Well the answer was obvious
When we seek God’s face, we are looking to see His beauty and glory. When we see that beauty and glory, then why would we want to settle for dumpster diving?
It softens our hearts and makes us willing to turn from the garbage that we have been holding onto and viewing as some type of treasure.

#4 Turn From The Inside Out.

It is when we have completed the first 3 steps that our heart and will is changed and we no longer want those wicked ways, but instead we want the beauty and glory of God in our lives. The turning becomes easy.
Psalm 95:7-11 "For He is our God; and we are the people of His Pasture, and the sheep of His Hand. Today, if ye will (are willing), hear His Voice. Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My Work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known My Ways: Unto whom I sware in My Wrath that they should not enter into My Rest."