Fear God!

I agree completely with Pastor Jennings that America is in the condition she is in because she has ceased to fear God and has embraced things like homosexuality, lesbianism, etc.

307 mass shootings in 312 days. Wow! Who wants to go to America in 2018? It doesn’t require a medicineman to tell you there is something seriously wrong with such a country.

The solution for this country is not gun control. The solution is to return to God.

“And the Lord shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the Lord, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.” (Is. 19:22)

True Service To God

1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

3 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.

4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. Is. 66:1-4

In a desperate bid to become like God, man goes to all kinds of lengths to avoid touching the ground. That is why we avoid the dust by riding in our cars. That is why, also, it is fashionable to fly in an airplane. Planes fly us far above the earth. (And, here’s a tip: in case you want to own your very own private jet to keep you constantly air-borne, you will need to come up with around 65 million dollars, U.S., according to the latest buzz I heard.)

Even when asleep we lie above the ground, on beds. It is only after we have died that we grudgingly allow ourselves to be laid down in the dust.

But all these efforts are futile, for the heart of the man who has not been born again by the Spirit of God is hopelessly rooted in the earth. Such an one is a child of Satan, the ruler of the darkness of this world, and his lusts are what he fulfills.

But God is holy, righteous and pure. He lives above the darkness of this world. If the earth is God’s footstool, it is evident that what occupies God is not what goes on beneath His feet but rather, what goes on above it. What engages God is not what occurs on the earth, but what takes place in heaven!

That does not mean that God does not care about us and the world around us. Rather, it means that God is Spirit and what concerns Him is the spiritual, not the worldly or material. He keeps the world by His power all right, but that does not mean He is pleased with the world.

There is only one thing that pleases God: a life lived in the Spirit. And what, pray, is a life lived in the Spirit?

People do all kinds of things for God in an attempt to impress Him, but God is the Creator of everything. There is nothing that we can surprise God with. You can build a complex temple of pure gold for God, but that cannot impress Him. All the gold in the world is His, and all the building designs in the world are His also.

When it comes to our religious posturing, we can prostrate ourselves all the way to the Arctic, but God would not be impressed with that either. We can also sing the most beautiful songs, and dance with all our strength like David did, but Jesus said that God can cause stones to sing out, too (Lk. 19:40). And we can deliver the most stirring sermons, but God does not expressly need us to do that; the Bible tells us that God once used a donkey to deliver one of the most moving sermons in the history of mankind … a sermon that saved someone’s life (read Numbers chapter 22).

There is absolutely nothing that we can do that is not born of God’s heart that can please God. On the contrary, the more we insist on doing for God things born outside of His heart, the more we vex God.

“He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol…”

God is not concerned with our religious affectations. But God is very concerned with a man or woman who trembles at His Word, for God’s Word is the only tool that can make us to do that which delights God. Trembling here does not mean we are to stand somewhere shaking. On the contrary, when we tremble at God’s Word, it means our spirits are quick to obey Him by leaving off sinning.

Who is the person who trembles at God’s Word, and who obeys God? Who is it that can leave off sinning? It is the person who denies themselves, carries their cross and follows Christ. This is the person who truly pleases God.

There are gospels today that have no idea of what God requires from us. Indeed, there are false gospels that have been engineered to remove the fear of God from men’s hearts. This is what the Apostle Paul means when he says in 2 Corinthians 11:3:

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Paul goes on to say in verse 4:

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”

These false gospels set men’s sights on the material things of this world. They also trivialize God’s anointing and His power by treating these qualities like disposable commodities.

A brother once attended a big conference in a neighboring country that was being led by a powerful preacher. When he came back, he excitedly told us, “Y’know what? I fell under the anointing!”

There is nothing in such things to bring the fear of God into men’s hearts.

At any rate, we should be careful. The Bible says that both the devil and his servants are able to transform themselves into ministers of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15). That is why we should be careful with all these emotional manifestations that have invaded the church.

But – praise the Lord! – there is one place where you can absolutely not go wrong with God: living the crucified life. Living the crucified life produces the character of God in us, which is the fruit of the Spirit; and the fruit of the Spirit is the one thing that God seeks for in us (Mat. 21:18-19). God’s Word in Galatians 5:22-23 tells us:

 “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, temperance”.

This is the kind of lifestyle that God is looking for in us, and it can only be found in a crucified life. The Bible sums it up by saying:

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal. 5:24)

[Below: A praise session. Here, God looks upon the heart]

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“Swift Destruction!”

1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 2 Pet. 1:21-2:3

Sometimes the King James Version of the Bible is a little foggy particularly for our modern times, so let us begin with a little grammar check on these verses.

“Privily” = secretly

“Pernicious” = harmful, evil, deadly, ruinous

“Make merchandise of” = exploit

“Feigned” = deceptive

There. Now, let us look closely at this portion of scripture.

The most important thing I want us to notice here is that God promises to bring “swift destruction” to a certain group of people within the church. The term “swift destruction” is so telling here, and we had better pay attention.

Now, notice the particular group that God promises to bring swift destruction upon: false teachers… who privily shall bring in damnable heresies”.

What is a heresy? A heresy is a teaching that takes God’s Word and uses it to negate what God has said. In fact a heresy actively fights against God and His Word. In that sense, it brings spiritual destruction to whoever is listening to it. A heresy destroys God’s people.

God is not bothered by the weak Christian who is struggling with sin. The Apostle Paul struggled with sin (Romans 7), and yet God loved and effectively used him. We all struggle against sin, but God is not angry at us.

But God is angry at false teachers within the church. Why? It is because these people destroy God’s church. God is very, very upset with is someone who would introduce into the church something to defend their fleshly desires and the carnal way of life they have chosen to follow. Yes, you might not know it, but there are preachers out there who have chosen to live a certain worldly lifestyle and they will go to any lengths to achieve their goal. There are others who are actively listening to demonic teachings.

Yes, there are preachers today who are doing exactly that. Unfortunately, they are too many to count. In all likelihood, they far outnumber the true servants of God. Moreover, they are doing it openly. They have no fear of God. Some are using the Bible to enrich themselves, and to throw God’s people off the track to the road of salvation.

But the church is God’s sanctity. You cannot play around with it. God cannot allow that. If you find the narrow road is too tough for you, you would be better advised to go back into the world – where you might have another chance of beginning anew – rather than play games with God’s church. God’s patience with that is pretty thin. That is exactly what the Bible is saying here.

Now, there are people in church who will defend anything. There are people who will defend these kinds of preachers to the death. But, pray, why not defend God’s Word? Who is that “important” person you are defending? Is he/she more important than God?

God says in His Word that He will not allow anyone to play about with the sanctity of the church.

Y’know, one time I took my children to a small farm i had bought, to farm. It was virgin land, and thick with overgrowth. Suddenly, some animal rose up from the bushes, and the commotion it made was so abrupt and loud that everyone nearly had a heart attack. But I remember what I did. Without thinking, I rushed ahead and instantly put myself between myself and the animal. I don’t think I am an exceptionally brave person, but on that day, I was ready to die to defend my children. Luckily, the animal lost nerve and ran in the opposite direction.

It is the same with God. God will not allow someone to destroy His church. He will swiftly destroy these fraudulent preachers. They bring reproach upon the church, and upon the Word of God. Today, in my country, I see a trend whereby the world is slowly disbelieving the church. The title “Pastor” or “servant of God” is associated with hooliganism, thuggery, and unending scandals. And it is the same with the terms “saved” or “born-again Christian”.

This is all a result of the heresies that are being introduced into the church. The church is no longer teaching the pure doctrine of Christ, therefore it has no power to convict the world. But the Bible says about the early Church: “And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them” (Acts 5:13).

Today the world scoffs at the church.

God will not allow that to continue happening on account of preachers who want to fulfill the lusts of their flesh. He says He will bring “swift destruction” upon them. They are the enemies of the cross of Jesus.

We need to fear God and go back to the message of the early church: the message of the cross of Jesus Christ, which alone can deal with all these carnal heresies that are tearing apart the church of God.

What’s Important?

Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.

And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil. 2 Ki. 4:1-2

Everything appears dark in this account, but I see only light.

In the first place, I admire this woman. She could say of her husband, “thy servant did fear the LORD”. There could be no greater testimony to the piety of this man of God than such words coming from his wife. (Now, right here and as an aside, let me point out that today there are people who will publicly talk well of their spouses but, alas! it is only that – a publicity stunt! This was not the case with this woman.)

Back to our man. This poor servant of God died poor. He died leaving nothing in his house “save a pot of oil”! On top of that, he died in debt. And the creditor was coming to sell his two sons to regain his money!

We can’t begin to imagine the anguish of heart that this man must have gone to the grave bearing for the life of deprivation that he knew he had left his family with!

Well, the man died poor all right, but I like what his wife tells Elisha about him: “thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD”.  This meant that even Elisha knew and could testify about the God-fearing life of this man. I like that. I like the fact that this man died fearing the Lord. That clicks with me. I am sure that was enough for God, too. This man was a great man in the sight of the Lord. I can easily tell you what happened to him when he died. He was immediately ushered into the presence of his Master where he was warmly told (by God Himself), “Come and sit by my side, thou good and faithful servant!”

Actually, the important thing in all this is that this man lived a God-fearing life. His state of need in this world did not lessen his piousness in the sight of God. You know, people today are trying to convince you that possessing material wealth is the sure marker that God is with you. They tell you that you will not borrow, but you will lend. In a rather hush-hush manner, poverty is now officially on the list of church ‘sins’ today. As a result of these damaging hyper-beliefs Christians are visibly struggling to keep up with the Joneses. They do not want to appear they are not blessed. What a futile race!

But here we see a righteous man who died not only poor, but in debt. This was a man who was running a different race. In his deep poverty, he could actually serve God in true liberty!

I don’t care one little bit about all the teachings about how wrong it is to be poor and in need, or even to be in debt. All I care about is that this man died in the fear of the Lord. I think I like it that way far much better than if he died rich. It beats all the pride and arrogance out of anyone, particularly those who put their trust in worldly wealth.

And actually, with regard to this, some people are completely out of touch with reality. I think they need to get out of their mansions and move around a bit. There are people in my part of the world who live in such abject poverty that all these stories about prosperity are so much confetti to them. These people live by faith. They literally trust in God for their very next meal. But in their state of want they are serving God in the Spirit. Someone who lives in ‘cloud nine’ or wherever, filled to the brim with the fat of this world, will turn over in their soft beds and claim, “I thank you, God, because I am not like these fellows who have no faith.”

But I can assure you that they have faith. The fact that this man died poor and in debt but walking in the fear of the Lord makes the point that money or worldly riches is nothing in God’s Kingdom. Money is not what comprises serving the Lord.

Someone almost had us there! Are you safe?

I can answer that question for you. It all depends on the gospel you are hearing. When you are hearing the right gospel, you will know what is important with God. True prosperity is the fear of God that a man carries in his heart.

By the way, do you see any signs of the cross in the life of this humble man of God?

Are We Wise? – Part 1

Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it. Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone. He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death. The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; even the waters forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men. As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire. The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold. There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: the lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it. He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots. He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing. He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light.

But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me. It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold. Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears. God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof. For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; to make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure. When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out. And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. Job 28:1-28

When I was in secondary school, there was a boy (whom I shall call Hercules) who was a few years my senior, probably two classes or so. This boy was, quite simply, a phenomenon. He was involved in virtually every field activity; and he outshone everyone in whatever he chose to do. I remember in particular that he was the all-time best hockey player and best swimmer at school. He excelled in every swimming style: backstroke, butterfly, breast.

During one of our school dormitorial swimming contests I was chosen to represent my dorm against other contestants, one of whom was Mr. Hercules. It is a mistake my dorm leaders must still be mulling over, 3 decades on.

The guy must have hit the water before I even heard the whistle. The rest, as they say, is history. By the time I finished the race, he could have gone to the Hilton downtown, had his lunch and walked back.

“Life’s not fair!” says the graceless Scar in Disney’s ‘The Lion King’. Hercules was built to bring much more misery to us. One can be athletic without necessarily having an athletic body, right? But it was not so with Hercules. He had the most athletic body that I can recall even to date. Broad, powerful shoulders, a muscle-ribbed torso, powerful legs, the works. You did everything you could to avoid being found anywhere near this sensation of a man.

Naturally, Hercules was also one of the top school prefects. It seemed life revolved only around him.

Now, you would think that if there was a God (something I was taught to believe since I was a child), He would have mercy on us poor ungifted souls and put a brake on things right there. We thought things could not possibly get worse, but they did. This time God did not simply turn the handle a notch higher; He sent it hurtling into space. A disaster of Herculean proportions was in the making and none of us boys had the slightest hint of it until the day it hit us like a tornado. This one must have affected the entire student body…

Apart from his many other superior virtues Hercules was also extremely handsome. This, however, was not too much of a problem since we had no girls to compete for in our school. But all this was about to change and, unknown to any of us, Hercules’ good looks would provide the coup de grace that would wipe out the last vestiges of life in us.

What happened was that one of our teachers decided to bring in his family from England; and one of his children was a girl. She was a girl of extreme beauty.

I know it is not true, but sometimes it is the most difficult thing to not believe that God is unfair. There were hundreds of boys in that school, but this girl fell in love head over heels with… Hercules! No boy was allowed to have a girlfriend but somehow, every evening after school, the girl’s dad would allow Hercules to walk the girl around school in full sight of everyone. Sometimes one did not know what was more bearable – to have them safely in your sights as they walked hand-in-hand or to see them disappear around a corner and not know whether a secret kiss or a whisper was passed from one to the other!

The rest of us were, in a word, dead. We were the walking dead. It was more than we could take. But the situation was beyond our reach and there was nothing we could do about it. We concentrated on our studies as best we could and it was with a sigh of relief that I personally saw Hercules wearing a graduation gown and knew that that was the last I would ever be seeing of him.

The thought never crossed my mind that he might be coming back to check on his English sweetheart. God at last remembered us and did not allow that to happen, otherwise a considerable number of us might have become nervous wrecks!

I cannot remember for sure but if I ever had Hercules in mind during any prayer that I made (assuming I did pray) there was no doubt as to the kind of prayer that I would have had for him. It would have to do with asking whoever was in charge to send a bolt of lightning to strike the fellow dead.

After I left that school I joined a gym to try and get Hercules’ chest and shoulders, but it never worked. I would lift irons but no muscle developed. Only my sinews got tougher. So I resigned.

With time I forgot my race of life against Hercules and moved on…