Friday, March 30, 2012

Submission

A Woman’s Response to Submission
Ephesians 5:21-23 
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
The overall responsibility of all believers is to submit to one another. Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21). We submit mutually to each other, being more concerned about the other person than we are ourselves. We are to approach all of our relationships with humility, with unselfishness, self-denial, and a desire to meet the needs of the other person.
As we walk in the Spirit of God, it is commanded that every Christian wife be in subjection to her own husband. This submission is not the husband’s to command but for the wife to willingly and lovingly offer to her husband. Her attitude shows a loving act of obedience and a willing spirit to submit to her husband as unto the Lord–––who has given this command regardless of her husband’s personal worthiness or spiritual condition.
God's original design was very clear, one man, one woman together for life, the very best God has to offer. We are reminded of Genesis 3:16 where God cursed man and woman for the sin that they committed. The woman, as a result of the curse, seeks to rule man and desires control not submission. The man, also cursed, is given to overpowering the woman, crushing her, conquering her, and thus the conflict of marriage continues. 
There is a limit to what is appropriate in this role of submission. It does not mean that a woman submits to her husband in that which dishonors God. In Acts 5:29, the apostles said when commanded not to preach, “We must obey God and not men.” If circumstances reach a point where you are faced with dishonoring God, you have to choose to obey God rather than man.  Vashti in the book of Esther, the first wife of the king, was asked to dance a lewd dance before a drunken crowd and she refused and rightly so.
Do you have a husband who is a trial to you, either because he's unsaved or he's a disobedient believer? Has your husband failed to fulfill all of your hopes and expectations for what you wanted in a husband? Are you gravely disappointed and frustrated under his authority? Have you thought he cares little for how you feel, or that it how it seems? Dear wife, all the more reason to be submissive, to demonstrate to him a meekness, a purity, a respectful kind of behavior, all the more reason not only to adorn the outside by putting on a pretty dress or wearing gold jewelry, or fixing your hair, but adorn your heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in the sight of God and I might say, every man's dream.
1 Peter 3:1-4:  Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.  Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;  But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.  
Thought: Respond to your husband submissively, as if you were responding to Jesus Christ. This is God’s will and when you submit to your husband, you are responding as if to Christ Himself. Paul points out the reason for this submission in Ephesians 5:23, "For the husband is the head of the wife." That's the design of God, that's His divine plan. Just as a body submits to the brain which is in the head by design, so the wife submits to the husband who is the head. When you see a body that does not respond to the head, you see something that is not normal. When a wife does not submit, there is deviation from the design of God causing the relationship between the husband and wife to be dysfunctional. God has designed the body to respond to the head and has designed the husband to be the head of the wife.

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Bless the Lord, O My Soul"

“Bless the LORD, O My Soul”
Psalm 103:1-14
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:  Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;  Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;  Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.  The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.  He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.  The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.a  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.b  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.  For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. 
Dedication
I would like to dedicate this Psalm to those whom I love that are hurting and in need of God’s special care. 
The Lord is ever mindful of your cries, your grief and your need for His loving hand to guide, to comfort and ease your pain. The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end and His compassions (to suffer with or with suffering) never fail.
David, the author of this beautiful Psalm, writes with immense sensitivity revealing a heart truly blessed of God. The realization that all his sins are forgiven brings David to a new height of worship and shows him as a man that is in tuned with a Holy God. With all the emotion that God has given him, David expresses praise, blessing and honor due His holy name. The phrase “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name,” invites a chorus of praise and blessing; bringing to light a heart filled with gratitude and thanksgiving.
How do I bless the Lord with all that is within me?
Let your affections and love praise Him, by loving whatsoever He loves and seeking only His glory. Let every thought bless Him, by meditating on His excellent greatness and counting every benefit He alone provides. Give Him the highest praise declaring His goodness in every gracious deed done towards mankind. For in Him, what infinite enjoyments we share, as we live, move, and have our being. 
What are the benefits from God?
The earthly benefits from God include: the forgiveness of all sin, the healing of sickness, the deliverance from death, His lovingkindness and tender mercies, and sustenance to sustain life.  According to God’s amazing character and desired purpose for our lives, the healing of disease is not a promise from God, but rather a testimony of His nature and power to heal. Great is His faithfulness towards us which encompasses His grace, His mercy, His love, His goodness, His truth, His compassion. and His forgiveness of sin. God will fulfill every promise He has given to us for He is honorable, unimpeachable and true to His Word. 
Thought: Ask the Lord to open your heart and mind to His wonderful ways and give you understanding of His precious path. Seek His truths and ask Him to show you what you cannot see, any sin that hinders the way. Remind yourself of His great benefits, His redeeming love, His tender mercies and limitless forgiveness of sin. Realize He remembers your frame; He knows you are but dust and loves you with an everlasting unwavering love.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Learning Through Suffering

Learning Through  Suffering 
Job 1:21,22
Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.o
There once lived a man from the land of Uz whose name has become synonymous with the words suffering, loss and death. This man’s name, Job. All ten of his children were taken in death, his herds amounting to thousands destroyed and his good health, despairingly taken from him. How did Job respond to loss? Was he bitter, angry or cynical? Job’s reaction to hardship, and pain was forever recorded in Scripture, “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”  
There are few people that can handle loss with such maturity as Job. He was described as a man that was perfect, upright, and one that feared God and shunned evil. According to God, there was no man on earth quite like Job. “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3). 
Can a Christian face a variety of possible appointments from God–––some of which are suffering and death and still find God to be good? Is there a divine calling from God to suffer? Joseph was sold into slavery, yet God meant it for good. David suffered from the hands of King Saul, running for his life, Jeremiah was cast into the miry pit while preaching repentance, yet God loved them. Paul was stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned, yet God loved him and gave him grace sufficient in suffering.
 If a Christian cannot submit to the superior wisdom of God and His purpose of pain, then they will never see suffering as a privilege. God is not necessarily concerned with making the Christian comfortable, but, in His great love, is concerned with making them strong and bearing the image of Christ through their suffering. When our world turns upside down and all that we see seems hideous to our finite minds, that’s when we have an opportunity to submit our wills to a higher authority, God. 
When our loved one lies suffering and our discernment of God’s ways are so different from ours, we then must learn to walk by faith trusting in His will. That is where God’s Spirit permeates our lives and renews our inner strength enabling us to mount up on eagle’s wings, the greatest hour of courage. We can then run and not be weary and walk and not faint. This is where the fire is lit and the cold world outside sees the Light of the world Himself showing compassion upon the dearest object of His affection, a surrendered, suffering saint. This choicest of suffering can sooth the weary Christian’s soul, while capturing the magnificence of God’s great love and making it visible to a lost and dying world.
Thought: Job was a man that suffered tremendous loss yet, through his tragic heartache, spoke these compelling words, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:” (Job 13:15.)  Every child of God must travel with his Lord back and forth across the stormy sea of suffering knowing that this tumultuous experience is a high calling of God. 1 Peter 4:19 says: “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”
Until Then
My heart can sing when I pause to remember
A heartache here is but a stepping stone
Along a trail that's winding always upward,
This troubled world is not my final home. 
Chorus
But until then my heart will go on singing,
Until then with joy I'll carry on,
Until the day my eyes behold the city,
Until the day God calls me home.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy, Unbelievable Deception 
Matthew 23:13-33
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Condemnation and wrath are reserved for those who parade themselves as if they are true spiritual leaders, who represent God, but in fact are liars, deceivers and hypocrites. “What is a hypocrite?” The dictionary describes a hypocrite as a: dissembler, (concealing one's true motives, feelings, or beliefs), deceiver, liar, pietist, sanctimonious person, a phony, fraud, and a fake. Therefore, Hypocrisy is the practice of claiming to have moral standards or spiritual beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform. This is pure pretense, a false display of feelings, attitudes, or intentions to make something that is not genuine or sincere appear to be true.
How did our Lord treat hypocrites and those pretending to be something they were not? Christ’s warnings to those great pretenders were words of judgment and wrath as He exposed their hypocrisies, deceit, and lies. Scripture repeatedly warns about teachers who are empty of the knowledge of God. They say they offer salvation to others but are void of the salvation they claim to proclaim. False spiritual leaders are cursed for keeping people out of heaven, Matthew 23:13 says, "For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men for you neither go in yourselves, neither permit them who are entering to go in." 
False spiritual leaders developed reasoning that perverted the truth. God is a God of truth and a God who cannot lie. God says, I hate lying in every false way. These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19). God is a God who speaks truth and so any false system is a lying system.
Deception is a mask that false spiritual leaders and teachers wear. Matthew 23:27, "Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you're like whited sepulchers which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead bones and all uncleanness." Christ says they are guilty of deception and walk after their own efforts, not by faith but by sight, by works, and by the law. Their works are dead and though they may appear to be good, God sees their heart and knows their motives behind the deeds.
False spiritual leaders pretended to have kind words for the memory of the prophets that were dead and gone, while hating and plotting the murder of Christ.  Verses 29-32, of Matthew 23, are last because they show the wickedness of their character. “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets (Matthew 23:29). They were saying in essence;  “If they had lived in the days of the prophets, they would have heard them gladly and obeyed.” This, in fact, was not true for they were rejecting and rebelling against the Light that had come into the world through Christ.
The last of the seven “Woes,” in Matthew 23:33, was directed to the Scribes, Pharisees and Hypocrites, bringing words of doom, judgment and damnation to hell. Christ was strong and compelling in His instruction to these false spiritual leaders that they by no means, could expect to enter the kingdom of heaven. Their deception of the truth was so great and their lies so damaging they could never have access to the glories of heaven.
Thought: We are called to honor and esteem God and not to take His name in vain––Exodus 20:7. Hypocrisy is outwardly naming the name of God but inwardly subverting the truth, perverting the Gospel and deceiving people into believing lies. “Woe,” unto those who are hypocrites for their judgment will be fathomless and imponderable!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Unacceptable Worship
Exodus 20:1-6
And God spake all these words, saying,  I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
The Israelites lived in a pagan society and were constantly being pulled away by strange gods or deities. God gave to them the Ten Commandments and commanded them to have no other gods before Him. An idol or idols was anything worshiped outwardly such as: statues, pictures, carvings or anything representing a god or gods. Bowing down to any image or using any aid to replace God was not acceptable worship and is still unacceptable worship today.
Idolatry can appear in the worship of a man/woman: a pastor, a Sunday school teacher, a school teacher, a movie star, an athlete, or even a family member. Christ said in Matthew 10:37, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” We are to love Christ more than any person we may have a deep affection for and we are to love Christ more than we love ourselves. Anything other than true worship and commitment to Christ is idolatry.
Sometimes we worship the true God, but in our own way, or on our own terms––missing the whole point of worship.  If we are not worshipping God in the manner He prescribes, then we are worshipping Him in an unacceptable way. I Samuel 13:12b-14 says, I (King Saul) forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. There is only One who is both Priest and King and King Saul was not a priest. King Saul became impatient in waiting for Samuel to come and worship God and in his impatiences, he made sacrifices (worship) unto God in his own way, thinking that was good enough.
Not only do people worship the true and living God in their own way and on their own terms, but they worship God half-heartedly with a wrong attitude. Mark 7:5b says, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. God told the Israelites in Amos 5:21-27 that they have come to worship Him but He hates and despises their feasts, and takes no delight in their solemn assemblies. Even though they offered Him their burnt offerings and grain offerings, He would not accept them; or the peace offerings of their fattened animals. He didn’t want to look upon them and told them to take away the noise of their songs and the melody of their harps––He wouldn’t listen. Unacceptable worship is rejected by God and has been since the beginning when Cain brought the first sacrifice before Him.
Thought:  To truly worship God, the worshipper must be born again, regenerated by the Spirit of God. Jesus said in John 4:23-24,  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers (Christians) shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. If you are not worshipping God on His terms, with a right attitude in spirit and in truth, then your worship is unacceptable and rejected by God. Worship God, my friend, with a pure heart, clean hands and an obedient spirit bringing glory to God which is acceptable in His sight. 
Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?  He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.  This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah (Psalm 24:3-6).