Beware of Dogs!
“Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, today if ye will hear his voice. Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, they do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest.” – Hebrews 3:7-11 (KJV)
Entering the Rest of God takes more than going to church or being born again. It clarifies what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3, that a man, though born again cannot enter into the Kingdom as that is an exclusive reserve for those born of water and the Spirit.
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” – John 3:5-6 (KJV)
In our text, the Apostle Paul sounds a note of warning about how thin a line there is between entering and missing the rest of God. He started by reminding us how God swore (a serious thing when God swears!) that all that came out of Egypt will not enter His rest, save Caleb and Joshua. And this was because “they have not known my ways.” – Hebrews 3:10 (KJV), they hardened their hearts to the ways of God, which Isaiah tells us is higher than the ways of Man. (Isaiah 55)
Paul admonishes, and very strongly too, that we should not be like the wilderness church; that if we hear His voice, we should not harden our hearts. There is a thin line here, and this is because we love God and no one knowingly wants to harden his heart against God! Like Paul who loves to do the will of God according to the inner man, but found himself doing what he did not want to do. (Rom 7), something else other than us is at work to prevent us from entering God’s rest!
This thing may allow us “hear the word” but not the “Voice”, “the letter” and not “the Spirit.” We are not only to hear the word – the letter, but the Voice – the Spirit; for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. In Acts 13:27, the Bible tells how the children of God read the Law, the Scripture every Sabbath day, yet could not hear the “voice” of the prophets, the actual message they passed across!
“For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.” – Acts 13:27 (KJV)
That was exactly what happened to the wilderness church; that made them “err in their hearts” and not know the ways of the Lord. Unfortunately, it is happening to the Church of today!
Why did they miss it? The dogs!
“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” – Philippians 3:2-3 (KJV)
… to be continued.
Who is a rich man?
“And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:13-21 (KJV)
A man came to Jesus asking Him to intervene in a wealth-sharing dispute between him and his brother who did not want to share their father’s wealth with him. Jesus answered, telling him He wasn’t made a judge over them. His answer has a two-way application. He wasn’t a judge officially over such matters, but indirectly, He told him that the material life was not the reason or purpose of His coming.
This inspired the teaching against covetousness and the parable of the “rich Fool”, a man society called “rich”; Jesus also acknowledged he was rich, and that means he was rich! Yet, heaven called him a fool. Why?
1) He thought the security of life depended on the earthly acquisition: an abundance of wealth, education, connection, location, etc. Sadly, many hold this view today, even in Church, that the more wealth a man has, the more secure he is. This lie looks so golden, whereas it is deception in its highest form, and the creator of the end time god – mammon.
Jesus warned against the deceitfulness of riches and taught that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.
2) He believed the things he got were results of his labour and hard work. Again, this is another sad thing in Christendom. There is a general belief that the harder a person works, the richer he would be. Over the years, the “prosperity message” has hoodwinked many a believer into a frenzy of going to work very early in the morning and coming back late at night “only to eat the bread of sorrow”, forgetting that “the race is not to the swift …”
3) He made plans as though he had power over his life. We often times forget that our lives belong to God and are in His hand, and He can make a demand of the life at any time. Job reminds us that no man has the power to retain the spirit (life) in him. When God calls, we respond. But hear this “rich man” speak as though he had power over tomorrow and can resist the call of God. People think some are being “over righteous” when they add “by the grace of God” to their statement.
4) He built his life on and around things that have no eternal value. Everything changes: nothing in this world is stable or durable. Building one’s hope on a shifting thing is like building without a foundation! How secure are those things after the death of the man? Who will inherit those things?
The frenzy with which man run after these things that the Bible clearly and unequivocally teaches to be “deceitful” is so alarming that it has become a standard of judging who is, and who is not a true believer, forgetting that love of things in the world is enmity with God.
Jesus said anyone who thinks and plans like this way, is regarded by heaven as a fool. (Luke 12:21) Why?
God’s ways differ from ours! The way we see things is not the way heaven see things! (Isaiah 55) What Man calls treasure, heaven calls nonsense! We do not value the things God values!
Solomon realized this and said on his return to God, “all is vanity” (Ecc. 1:2). Vanity means the quality of being without value; futile, useless, nonsense! That is where Man’s heart is, and God is clearly disappointed in this.
“O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.” – Psalm 4:2 (KJV)
Man’s heart is clogged up with the “weeds” of this world – the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. All these dull the heart, choke the word of God and makes one unfruitful in godliness.
What are we expected to do?
This is a heart situation, because where the treasure of a man is there will his heart be also, and since man cannot fix himself, only God, Who can farm or cultivate the heart can. But He will not; until we willingly come to Him.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:1-2 (KJV)
We need to come to Him; to present ourselves to Him to weed off “the cares of this world” from our hearts. For this, He calls us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 (KJV)
“Come”, He says. Many have not “come”, though they have come to church. However, this is not a Church issue! Many are in church but have not “come” to the Lord. Nevertheless, He knows those that are His. Neither is it a ministry issue. It is not what work you do for Him because on that day He will say to some, “depart from me ye that work iniquity, I know you not”. It’s like saying, “I don’t know you, I don’t remember seeing you; you never came to me!”
The proof of your coming to Him is in how much value you place on what He values! Jesus asked Peter in John 21, if he loved Him more than the fish, representing all we wake early to pursue and come in late to acquire.
What does God place value on? His Word!
“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy loving kindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” – Psalm 138:2 (KJV)
How much of His word do we treasure? How have we been handling His word, because this is what shall be used to clean us!
“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” – John 15:3 (KJV) Emphasis mine.
It is the Holy Spirit that empowers us to live in agreement with the Father, loving what He loves and hating what He hates; and He will not live or dwell in a dirty, polluted heart. Using the instrument of the Word, the disciples were cleaned and made ready to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Without the Word spoken to them, they would not have been able to receive the Holy Spirit!
Again, the Bible repeats it.
“That he might sanctify and cleanse it (the Church) with the washing of water by the word.” – Ephesians 5:26 (KJV) Emphasis mine.
In 2 Kings 5, we see the Syrian captain Naaman, instructed by the prophet Elisha to go dip himself seven times in the Jordan River for him to be clean. The number seven, here, represents the mind of God; completeness, nothing to be added or subtracted. The water represents the Word of God. Like Naaman, we should dip ourselves in it to be made whole and clean.
But again, in the Church of today, how much of the Word do we value?
“For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. “ – Jer 31:11 (KJV)
Our text suggests that Jacob was in trouble.
He had sold himself to people more powerful than he is and would ever be. Either by indebtedness or by any other means, he had mortgaged himself, his life forever without any possibility of him being able to save himself.
God decides and declares that he has come to his rescue. The word redeem from where we got redeemed, means to recover by an expenditure of effort or by a stipulated payment.
Jacob served Laban, his father-in-law because he had no money to pay dowry and other expenses. One can, like Jacob in such a case, buy back himself by serving if he does not have the cash to do so.
And the word ransom implying the same means money demanded or paid for the release of a prisoner. The only difference in this is that the person (prisoner or slave) is not directly responsible for his freedom. It takes another, a guarantor, a bailiff, to deliver him. In either case, Jacob needed the intervention of another.
In this case, however, God was not referring to physical issues such as we have between Jacob and Laban, but between Jacob himself and the spiritual forces that made him “Jacob”, sup-planter, cheat, etc. He was up against forces that no amount of physical labour could quantify to pay for his release.
I remember a story I read about a horse that a man bought for a member of his family. They all fell in love with the horse, but it was not in the compound most times; always found in the lawn of their neighbour whose family had also fallen in love with the animal. In the fear that the horse might stir up a cold war between the man and his neighbour, the owner sold her to a Jockey.
When both families heard the horse was to compete in a race, they went to the race course to cheer the horse. Both men found themselves at the side of the Jockey who had mounted the horse, enabling the horse one more time to hear their beloved voices which I believe spurred her not only to clear all the hurdles set before it but also to beat all the other horses to return first.
The following day, the man woke to see the horse in his compound. Both families rejoiced at seeing the animal but that was before the Jockey came looking for it. The horse had to be bought back from him, even twice the amount they sold it to him. Why? The worth of the horse had appreciated!
The devil is the accuser of the brethren. We all know this. But one thing we do not all know is that in accusing us the devil puts us up in the spiritual slave market, to hand us over to the taskmaster that promises the most gruesome persecution and pain. That was exactly what happened to Joshua the high priest.
“And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.” – Zech 3:2-3 (KJV)
Joshua was “a brand plucked out of the fire”. He was on fire, burning for God, Who makes His angels wind and His ministers a flame of fire.
“Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire.” – Psalms 104:4 (KJV)
“And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.” – Heb 1:7 (KJV)
He was in the spiritual state of godliness, with the fear of the Lord in him yet the devil “plucked” him out of that state and clothed him in filth, in rubbish and shame! The filthy garment certainly would have been upon him by a demon making his life miserable. Oh, let him that thinks he stand take heed!
God intervened by sending His angel to rescue him because he was valuable to God. If you were put up for sale in the spiritual slave market, how much would you be worth to God? Would God so value you, that He would give lives, or kill people just to redeem or ransom you? Would God readily give nations for your sake?
“For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” – Isaiah 43:3-4 (KJV)
Generally, God loves us all; and this is recorded in John 3:16. God is not partial and does not take sides. He is not committed to people, race, colour or language. He cannot be bribed or bought over either with our tears, words, thought or deed. However, He is committed to Jesus.
….to be continued.
In Economics we are told that human wants are many but with scarce means of meeting them. People have resorted to different kind of ways to meeting those wants.
Made in God’s image and likeness, we carry His nature,
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” – 2 Peter 1:4 (KJV)
That means His ability works in us.
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” – Phil 2:13 (KJV)
So, just as He calls those things that be not, we should equally call those things “that be not” instead of resorting to evil means; robbery, lies, prostitution, ritual killing and every other evil ways in the bid to acquire or meet our need. His power is at work in us. Lets believe and there would be a performance!
“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” – Mark 11:23-24 (KJV)
God has created all things. Nothing is new or lacking. The things we do not see, exist in the spirit realm.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” – Eph 1:3 (KJV)
While we dwell in the natural realm, these needs are in the spiritual (heavenly) realm or place; that’s why we can’t see them! Like our Father would do, we should call those things from the spiritual realm where they are not visible, to our natural realm where they become visible and could be seen and touched. Jesus did what He saw the Father do. We should follow in His footsteps. This is Faith!
We talk and teach Faith. Yes, without Faith we cannot receive from the Father.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Heb 11:6 (KJV)
However for Faith to be effective, we need the Word!
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17 (KJV)
Furthermore, our “calling”, “asking” or “praying” must align with or agree with the plan or will of God.
“Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.” – Job 22:21 (KJV)
As a carpenter, why ask God for a stethoscope? You certainly do not need it! It is not in God’s plan for you! No matter how hard you bombard the store room of heaven, you will find no stethoscope in your name! James will tell you you asked amiss!
“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” – James 4:3 (KJV)
Let us know that God planned our path on earth even before we were born. Let’s quest to know His will for us as individuals, as families, as communities; Church or secular, not comparing ourselves and His peace that passes all understanding will be ours. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Elimelech had left Bethlehem with his wife Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, to the land of Moab to escape the famine that had come upon the land.
There at Moab, where the economy was better, things suddenly took a new and ugly turn when Elimelech died. Not long afterwards, the two sons who had married also died and things became difficult for Naomi. To survive, with her two daughters- in law, she sold off most valuables, yet…
Going back to Bethlehem she said:
“I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” – Ruth 1:21(KJV)
They had fared well in Bethlehem before the journey to Moab. The famine forced them to move. Had they looked back to what they were before God picked them and filled them with testimonies, perhaps the tragedy that befell them could have been averted.
Some lessons could be learnt here as we approach the end of the year. We need to look back from the beginning of the year till now to see the mighty hand of God at work in our lives. This will help us humble ourselves.
(1) They could not see the hand of God at work. They must have attributed their success to their own efforts. So when the famine came, “common sense” dictated to them to move.
Let’s remember that whatever we may have become is the doing of the Lord. And if He delights to bless us in any land, no famine can overtake us as the Lord will be there to deliver us.
(2) They did not see God where they were. Jacob said, “God is here and I knew it not.”
“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.” (Genesis 28:16).
They did not appreciate where God planted them.
We can be so busy we fail to see God in the place we are and consequently, not appreciate Him for the place He has placed us. Let’s learn not to think or talk evil or negative of the place we are. Neither should we agree with people who run down where we are.
It is only when we praise God that the land will open its treasure to us.
(3) The fact that God is there does not mean you cannot have a famine; headaches, and challenges.
Where God was Jacob slept on hardness; without comfort: on a pillow of stones!
“And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.” (Genesis 28:11).
Stick in there through thick and thin!!! God is there!!!
Your bones may be screaming and your joints shouting their protests, stick in there!!!
Your stay at the place proves your faith in Him. Naomi and her family proved faithless despite God’s blessings to them before their journey to Moab. And without faith, it is impossible to please God or receive from Him. No wonder they lost everything and she came back empty!
(4) Joy does not come because you have things you want! No! Joy comes when you thank God for the things you have now!
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” – 1 Timothy 6:6
Great gain; joy!
As we look back to the outgoing year, let us be mindful of where we met with God and return there again and again; if possible like Peter would say, make the place our dwelling.
Lesson no 3
God chooses us whilst still in the fire of affliction.
“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10).
And not everything can pass through the fire and remain the same. Most things would change or be mangled, yet this is where we are chosen.
As in the case of Hezekiah when God pulled back to watch his reaction:
“Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.” (2 Chronicles 32:31).
God watches His children as they pass through the fire to see their reaction.
Would you change as you go through the fire? Would you be deformed or mangled when you come out at the other side of the fire?
This tells if you are matured or not for promotion.
God watched to see if we would allow the enemy take away our joy, our confession, the thought in our hearts.
Would we engage in character assassination, fight tooth for tooth and eye for an eye?
Or would we keep standing holding firmly to His word and praying for those who persecute us and despitefully use us?
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; ” (Matthew 5:44)
Would we change? That is why it is a trial!
Walking with God can be demanding sometimes, especially when it has to do with relating to others; and most especially if they have hurt you so deeply you decide to “avoid” them; not necessarily malice but holding them at arms length, not to be hurt again by them.
After publishing post four of this serial, God spoke to me at five-thirty (5:30) am.
I do morning cry from 4:30am to 5:30am. This day, Thursday 16th of November I spoke from the gospel of Matthew,chapter 25, the Groom and the ten Virgins. I spoke particularly on the trimming of the lamp and the significance of the wick. Rounding up with a prayer at 5:30 the Lord broke forth with a command to go to Judith and pray for her and her house hold!
Ah! Why Lord? With all that she did? Not that I haven’t forgiven but to go there?
My wife and I have learnt over the years to forgive even in advance but not give room to be offended a second time.
But God rules in the affairs of men!
“But God”, I argued, “I have been there twice before and no good came out of it.”
“Go and pray with her.”
“Lord is this really you or is it my mind?”
God will not go into an argument..
Many Christians cast aspersion on the Prophet Jonah for running away to Joppa.
Honestly I felt like running away! What would people in that little community think of me? The flesh was speaking. Especially knowing Judith would announce I came to beg her!
Unknown to me, I was to put in motion that age -old principle that says the way of victory is the way of the cross; the way of shame!
The hurdle is always the flesh!
I told my wife and left to Judith’s. To the glory of God her husband was home but she was not.
He was shocked seeing me. Nevertheless I told him my purpose of coming. I thought he would not accept my prayer. But he did.
As I left their house and started for home, I saw Judith coming so I waited. After praying for her, we had a little discussion. She had gone to call a nurse for her most Junior daughter who was ill.
Asking if they would permit me pray for her, they ushered me into the room where she laid.
Afterwards I said goodbye to them and left.
Back home my joy knew no bounds. I sensed in the spirit that God was up to something!
It is in the darkest hour of the day, that light shines the brightest! God within this season, opened up a door of ministry that we never saw. Details will be given but not now; at the maturity of the testimony.
May we not change but keep doing good. For whatsoever we sow we shall reap.