Putting God's Word into Practice…

Revelation 16 ~ Take Responsibility

We all know someone who refuses to take responsibility for their poor choices.  They blame everyone they can and insist they were wronged somehow.  Most of the time they blame someone in authority…parents, teacher, boss, police, judge, etc…And the fitting punishment they receive is deemed “unfair.”  Instead of it having its proper effect–humility, repentance, and change–it serves to make them angrier and to continue on their own self-made, destructive path.

When God’s wrath comes on the world, it will be that way too.  With each of the seven plagues written about in this chapter, the people’s hearts harden.  They continue to curse the name of God and refuse to repent and give Him glory.

Is there any area of my life where my circumstances are hardening instead of humbling me? The first step is to repent of that sense of entitlement and anger with God.  Stop blaspheming His name by blaming and complaining.  Start giving God glory!

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Revelation 8:6-10:11 ~ There is One God

These chapters are a description of the judgment that is going to be poured out on earth from the Lord.  They involve destruction and death in abundance.  It is easy to read it and think, “How can God be good and do so much damage?” or “Those poor people, they don’t deserve that.”  It is helpful to take our eyes off of the earth and man and put them on God!  He is the all-powerful creator of all things.  Everything we see and know is created by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:15-17).  Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”  God is holy, perfect, and righteous.  However, even our best works can’t hold a candle to His purity.  We are fallen, imperfect, sinful people.  Just last week, as I was studying Psalm 28, I learned a new description of a wicked person–one who does not regard the Lord or His works.  That includes every person at some point in our lives.  It is a sin to ignore or not acknowledge God’s power, glory, sovereignty, and authority; and the penalty of sin is death.  Even in the midst of divine judgment and wrath, God was merciful to give people more chances to repent.  But we read in Revelation 9:20, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”

The problem with most of us is that we don’t see our sin as bad or even see the things we are pursuing as idols.  So we just keep moving forward to this time of judgment without even realizing that is WILL happen and only those who have turned from their sin and received Jesus’ forgiveness through the shedding of His blood on the cross and who believe in the resurrection will be rescued from this coming judgment.  The message of repentance is hard to proclaim.  Like Revelation 10:10 says, it is like honey on the tongue but bitter in the stomach.  Repentance is sweet, refreshing, life-giving, freeing, yet it is bitter because it requires us to humble ourselves, admit we are wrong, and submit our hearts to the Lord. And even the message of judgment is difficult. The fact that we can escape judgment is sweet.  When we hear about facing judgment, it is bitter.

My husband gave the best illustration to help me understand the justice of God’s judgment.  If someone owns a Ferrari and they let me drive it and I drive it like I stole it.  When I return it trashed and disrespected, they have every right to take me to trial and make me pay for what I did.  It is so with God.  This world belongs to Him, and we belong to Him.  He put us here, yet we live our lives like they belong to us instead of just being on loan.  He has every right to exact judgment on us when don’t live like we are His. We will have to give an account for how we’ve trashed what He has given us and disrespected His “ownership” of us.

In summary, judgment is coming from the Righteous Judge, and He provided the only way of escape by humble repentance!  He is just and He is merciful!

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Revelation 3:14-22 ~ Lukewarm…blah!

There are several things that when experienced as lukewarm are worthless. A lukewarm “I love you” or hug leaves me feeling uncertain about the giver’s love. A lukewarm shower leaves me feeling unclean. Lukewarm coffee is not nearly as comforting as a steaming hot one.  And lukewarm eggs or oatmeal will usually find themselves in the trash and myself feeling undernourished.  People can be “lukewarm” in their faith, too.  And Jesus said, lukewarm people leave him with a sick stomach!  “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were either cold or hot! So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit (vomit) you out of my mouth.”

Lukewarm things and people don’t generally know that they are lukewarm.  Usually when we judge our lives we feel just right.  Unfortunately, we aren’t the judge of our lives!  Jesus is!  In verse 14 He describes His writing as, “The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning (source/originator) of God’s creation.”  Amen literally means “so it is.”  Amen is a word that signifies absolute truth, it is constant and unchanging–the final word!  Jesus has the final word when describing our lives, and only His opinion matters.  When I think of a faithful and true witness, I picture a courtroom and the one on the witness stand swearing on the Bible to give “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”  What Jesus says about our lives is sworn truth–even if it is different from our perspective!  And because He is the source and originator of all creation, Jesus has supreme authority over our lives and permission to judge them.

When the Laodicean Believers measured their own lives, they were blind to their self-sufficiency, their spiritual poverty and blindness.  They were keeping Christ outside of their lives and trying to go it alone.  This isn’t just a judgment against the Laodiceans–I find this to be true in my own life on a regular basis. What we provide for ourselves doesn’t make us prosperous, only what God provides can do that because He knows the true definition of prosperity.  When we think we are covering our sins, we are really exposed.  Only Jesus’ righteousness covers our sin and shame.  When we feel like we are insightful and humanly wise; we are really blind.  Only Jesus can open our eyes and cause us to see clearly.  We have nothing apart from Jesus– we are just lukewarm oatmeal!

In the following verses we see that Jesus is loving, faithful and patient with us.  “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so BE ZEALOUS and REPENT.”  GET HOT!!!  As I’ve been typing, my coffee has become lukewarm =(  I could let it sit on the table all day and get film on the top until I decide to empty it and wash it out, or I could add hot coffee to it and stir it up so it’s drinkable or zap it in the microwave.  (I chose option 2.)  It is the same with our spiritual lives.  In February I experienced a real soul revival, but by April I’m back to feeling stagnant.  Guess what–Jesus doesn’t want me to stay stagnant!!  He wants me to get hot and repent!  He loves me too much to let me sit around and get film on my life.

Repentance is the first step!  But we also have to let Jesus back into our lives–in every area.  Verse 20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”  Jesus, the one who holds the keys, is standing outside knocking???  Jesus doesn’t force Himself into our lives or willingly leave us to ourselves.  When we push Jesus out of our lives, He patiently knocks and knocks and calls to us until we open the door and ask Him back into our lives.  He wants to be close to us, He wants to experience life with us.  He offers to eat with us–to be part of a daily necessity.  He doesn’t offer us renovation and domination–He offers us fellowship.

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Revelation 3:1-6 ~ Wake up!!

Jesus is complete!  He holds the complete plan for the church in His hands, protecting it until the end.  The works of the church in Sardis were incomplete.  Somewhere along the way, they fell asleep and lost their strength.

“Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God!” My son has been on losing teams for the majority of his Little League “career.”  What I noticed is that if they were “sleepy,” they had a really bad inning.  But instead of changing things, they would get discouraged and give up the game early on.  They didn’t remember that one inning could change everything!  If they would just wake up and play ball, the outcome of the game would be different.  God is in control and He judges everything.  Only He knows when our works are complete and when the game is over.  So we need to never stop working; never give up!

“Remember then what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.  If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.”  If falling asleep spiritually requires repentance, then in God’s eyes, it must be considered a sin.  Why would spiritual stagnancy and powerlessness be an offense to God?  It demonstrates that we stopped seeking Him, depending on Him, and trusting Him.  It dismisses His promises, disregards His plans, and disrespects His power!  (Psalms 139:16, Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 1:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:24)

How do we fall asleep spiritually?  I can think of two ways: 1) We work so hard in our own strength doing things He didn’t plan for us that we just pass out, or 2) We are lulled to sleep when we get too comfortable–like a pacified baby being rocked and sung to quietly!


http://youtu.be/PoPWqi0W2DA Wake up by All Sons and Daughters

http://youtu.be/tV77elsdUAI Fall Afresh by Beth Music feat. Jeremy Riddle


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Isaiah 6 ~ Woe is Me!

(For our ladies’ Bible study this week, we were supposed to spend time in Isaiah 1-6.  It has been a rich buffet of learning and conviction, indeed!)

My last five blog posts have been about Isaiah’s message to the people of God who were rebelling against Him.  He was on a verbal rampage against sin and impurity among God’s people–calling them out for materialism, pride, greed, hypocrisy, injustice, etc…

There is something interesting about the book of Isaiah…the commissioning by God to make Isaiah His spokesman comes in chapter 6, not chapter 1.  And there is a major event that happens between chapter 5 and the commissioning.  Isaiah sees the Lord! Sees Him in all His splendor, glory and holiness!

I can’t say this to be true of Isaiah, but I know it is true of my sinful heart.  If I was prophesying doom and gloom over sin in the lives of God’s people, I would be prone to pride.  I may start looking for sin in others.  I may have a critical spirit towards others, and think that I’m doing so much better than they are.  I might take my eyes off God in the process of doing God’s work.  When we stop measuring our own lives by God’s standard of holiness, we can become self-righteous and judgmental.  The only cure for that is a good look at the Lord!!  Whether Isaiah struggled the way I would, I don’t know, but I do know that God gave Him a very personal and exceptional dose of His holiness!

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim.  Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called to another and said, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, IS THE LORD OF HOSTS; THE WHOLE EARTH IS FULL OF HIS GLORY!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.  And I said, “WOE IS ME! FOR I AM LOST; FOR I AM A MAN OF UNCLEAN LIPS AND I DWELL IN THE MIDST OF A PEOPLE OF UNCLEAN LIPS; FOR MY EYES HAVE SEEN THE KING, THE LORD OF HOSTS!”

After declaring so many “woes” on the people of God, when Isaiah is ushered into the presence of the Lord and sees Him worshipped in His holy splendor, Isaiah says, “Woe is me!  I’m just like everyone else!”  And I’m just like everyone else too.  I’m sinful!  I’m prone to ignore God’s glory (3:8).  I disregard His deeds all over the earth (5:12).  My mouth is prideful and unclean.  But thanks be to God!!!  He has the power to take away our guilt and forgive our sins and make us clean!!!

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

Repentance and humility must precede ministry!  We cannot minister to others until we have something to offer them–our own story of God’s grace in forgiving our sins and taking away our guilt!

Spend some time before the Lord today, experiencing His presence, asking Him to examine your heart and exposing anything unholy.  Repent, let Him take it away and make you clean.  Then tell someone about His grace!

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Isaiah 1:21-31 ~ Importance of Faithfulness

(For our ladies’ Bible study this week, we were supposed to spend time in Isaiah 1-6.  It has been a rich buffet of learning and conviction, indeed!)

The faithfulness of God’s people is the theme of this passage.  What was once faithful ceased to be faithful, and God needed to do something to restore their faithfulness.

In verse 21 the corporate change in God’s people is defined as “the faithful city has become a whore, she who was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers.”  These people sound wicked, but are they that different from the church of God today?  A “whore” is someone who sells themselves for money.  How often do we sacrifice ourselves for money?  They were running after falsehood, unjust gain, and material possessions instead of relying on God to be their faithful, sovereign Provider.  They lost their spiritual value and purity–became watered down and dull spiritually.  They were murderous–letting people die in oppression instead of caring for their needs.  God takes the plight of the underprivileged, widows and orphans very seriously.  In fact in Proverbs 24:11-12 it says, “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?”  The people of God had “well-fed beasts” for sacrifices (11) while people among them made in His image were dying from lack of care.  For all these reasons, they made themselves enemies of God of Heaven’s Armies!

God cannot let His faithful ones continue in rebellion and sacrifice their purity for money and greed.  He can’t let their extravagant honor get watered down and lose its value.  He can’t let the shiny treasure of righteousness become dull and defiled.

God is the Mighty One, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!  We are so insolent to thing we can exchange His ways for ours and not suffer consequences!  When we make ourselves His enemy, we should expect the hand that longs to hold us to turn against us instead.  He will fight against rebels.  He will put them through fiery trials.  He will make them accountable.  Because He is loving and faithful, He requires it of those who bear His name.  His discipline may be painful and seem unwarranted to our earthly minds, but His discipline is a display of His grace!  It is always used for our good and for His glory!

There are only two responses to God’s discipline.  We can repent and receive righteousness and redemption.  Or we can rebel and be broken, consumed, withered, barren, empty, dry, weakened, and destroyed!  Remember God’s invitation is for complete cleansing from sin–“Come NOW, let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

Verse 26b says, “Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness; the faithful city.”  Only God can take defiled, unfaithful people and make them faithful again!

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Luke 13 ~Common Thread~

Verses 1-5.  The people brought two events up to Jesus that seemed unjust to them: the murder of Galileans by Pilate while they were offering sacrifices and the tower in Siloam that fell and killed 18 people.  Jesus assured them those who suffered and died were not worse sinners than those who lived.  He used their suffering and death to confront those still alive with truth.  The truth is God is showing them mercy by giving them another day–another opportunity to turn to Him in repentance.  If you are alive today–God is giving you mercy and another occasion to turn to Him.

Verses 6-9.  Jesus told a parable about a fig tree planted in a vineyard that wasn’t found to be producing fruit.  For three years there was no fruit found.  Instead of cutting it down, he offered to dig up the soil around it and add in manure in hopes that it will bear fruit.  Jesus may have been talking about the religious leaders in the synagogue that he had been visiting for the three years of His ministry, and it also applies to us.  When our lives are unfruitful, our only hope to have the soil of our hearts changed.  Do you see how Jesus changes soil–He adds manure!  Stinky waste enhances soil.  Do you see the “manure” in your life as a tool that enhances your heart and allows your life to be more fruitful?

Verses 10-17.  There was a woman who came to the synagogues on the Sabbath.  She had been physically disabled by Satan for 18 years.  Jesus saw her, called her, and touched her!  She was immediately healed.  As a result, she glorified God and the people rejoiced in Jesus, but the “unfruitful” synagogue ruler was indignant that Jesus demonstrated His power on the Sabbath day, breaking man-made rules.

Verses 18-21.  No matter what, God will build His kingdom–His kingdom will spread.  It will be a place of shelter, provision, and rest.  No man on earth can thwart it’s advancement, even the powers of hell cannot.

Verse 22-30.  Jesus was “teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem”–He was always moving toward His life’s purpose.  When He was asked about salvation, Jesus responded with, “Strive to enter through the narrow door.  For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”  There are many people looking for an easy route to heaven.  They don’t want to do the work of finding real truth, instead they settle for their own “truth.”  Only those who hear, repent and believe in Jesus (the only door according to John 10:1-9) will be saved.  There is no other way!

Verses 31-35.  As Jesus approached Jerusalem, His death was imminent.  Even with His suffering coming at their hands, His heart was broken by their lack of belief that He was good and had good intentions toward them.  He also realized that the pain He was going to suffer would eventually end in their recognition of His Lordship.  “And I tell you, you will not see Me until you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The common thread throughout this chapter and really throughout the whole Bible is that God is always working and in His mercy, He is giving us ample opportunities to turn our hearts to Him in belief that Jesus is Lord.  Will we be set free and respond to Him in glory and rejoicing?  Or will we indignantly choose our own path that ends in eternal separation from Him?

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Luke 11:14-36

Blindness has come upon us and judgment is coming.  If Jesus showed up supernaturally right now, He could say again, “This generation is an evil generation!”  Not only because of the widespread depravity, but more because of the widespread unbelief and intolerance for His absolute truth.  We refuse to receive His blessings because we refuse to hear His Word and keep it. We willfully cling to our own understanding and our sin.  And this is happening on every level…especially in the church!  We need to open our eyes, Oh church, let in Christ’s light!  Let it illuminate every area of our lives, penetrate and dispel the dark corners of our lives.  There will be no blessing apart from obedience!  We struggle and strive and grow weary and despair because we refuse to surrender, to submit to God’s wisdom.  We refuse to turn from our evil pride and repent.

Jesus gave two illustrations of the people’s evil hearts and coming judgment.  In verse 31, “The Queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something great than Solomon is here.”  Solomon was the wisest king to live, but Jesus is wiser still; He is wisdom itself–and people refuse to listen.  We refuse to accept His Word as perfect wisdom and continue to search for cheap, easy “wisdom” that tickles our itching ears!  In verse 32 He said, “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” Jonah’s prophetic ministry consisted of one sentence–“In 4o days God is going to overthrow Nineveh.”  It was not accompanied by signs and miracle, yet the people believed–all the way up to the king.  They humbled themselves, turned from evil, fasted and called out mightily to God that He would not send His judgment on them.  How do we/I respond?  When sinfulness is pointed out, does it break our hearts and put the fear of the Lord into us or do we say, “I know, but I want to do it my way?”

Only God’s truth sets free!  Only Jesus Christ overcomes darkness!  Only those who keep His Word are truly blessed.  We forfeit so much at the altar of self!  Judgment will come and we will not be able to stand–we will recognize His Lordship and bow before Him in acknowledgement. Don’t wait until it is too late!  God’s great grace and love has given you another day! Surrender and repent and call on Him now!  He can use us to change the tide of our whole generation–the world will see His light in us!

Luke 11:36 (NLT)–If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light!

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Matthew 11–“Take, Take, Take”

Then He (Jesus) began to denounce the cities where most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. Matthew 11:20

All they wanted to do is take, take, take from Jesus!  How hard-hearted and ungrateful to feel entitled to His kindness and miracles without allowing them affect change in their lives!  How often to I just take from God, and not let Him change me?  In Romans 2:4-6 it says, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that GOD’S KINDNESS IS MEANT TO LEAD YOU TO REPENTANCE? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”  There is no satisfaction in being a taker.  Takers find themselves discontent, anxious, angry, bitter, burdened, weary and lonely.  

Yet, because of the gracious will of God, Jesus still says, “Come.”

“Come to me ALL who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you REST!”  Aah!  How do we find rest? 1. If you want to “take, take, take,” take His yoke! Kneel down in humility and link up with Jesus.  Stop trying to do life without Him.  Let Him shoulder your load. 2. Learn gentleness and humility from Jesus as you walk through life beside Him.  Doesn’t that just sound peaceful!  It all starts with recognizing His kindness, power and authority.  Then repenting of being self-sufficient and ungrateful.

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My Comforter, My All-in-All

Here in the love of Christ I stand!

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