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.
The child of God, having gone through His fire, becomes a new creature; his attitude and character changes even his thought and manner of speaking reflect Christ. Moses, an orator (Acts7:22) emerging from God’s refinery, became a stammerer. No one will remain the same after passing through the Refiners Fire. It’s in the fire that the heart is circumcised and the person comes out “another man.”
That is why Paul could say “I live, yet not I …”
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20 (KJV)
What I was before, I am not anymore; a change has taken place. I no longer hate, I love. I am not aggressive anymore, I’m gentle. Rather than the proud and haughty person I was, I am “meek and lowly of heart.”
The outer man, the flesh, “dross”, having been peeled off, the inner man, renewed after the spirit, is manifest. Like John the Baptist said, that “he may decrease and He increase.” This is the whole essence of “denying self”, which is indeed a very hard thing to do, but nevertheless a major requirement to having fellowship with God.
Paul was so proud of his new person; the person he had become that he counted his former person as nothing and his previous achievement as “dung”.
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” – Philippians 3:7-9 (KJV)
He willingly lost “all things”, not some, but “ALL” things: his family, because of his new faith, disowned him and excluded him from the family wealth; his educational and Pharisaic attainments he also set aside for the excellency of knowing of Christ. His was a radical change.
Some of the things we should discard from ourselves if we are to have fellowship with the Father are in Galatians 5:19-21
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Galatians 5:19-21 (KJV)
A careful observation of the above scripture will reveal that these acts originate from the heart!
“And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” – Matthew 15:16-20 (KJV)
Sin and uncleanness go beyond the act. They are products of the heart and start from thoughts and imaginations!
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” – Luke 6:45 (KJV)
The heart of man, being open to two sources of information, should be guarded with all diligence! And yes, we may not completely block out negative thoughts and imaginations, because the heart of man is wicked, yet we owe God the responsibility of pulling down every thought that does not conform to the word of God!
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)
Without the cleansing of the heart, one would not be admitted into the place of fellowship, and consequently cannot have fellowship with God!
….to be continued.
….. continued from A JOURNEY THROUGH HELL
We were thrilled when he had a job prospect with a motor company (whose name I will not give for discretion). However he needed a surety! Due to the relationship, he came to me when no one was willing to help.
Sometimes missionaries get blinded to the voice of reason, just because they believe God for a soul. I stuck my head out for Benjamin and signed a surety with the motor company to the tune of two million Naira! My wife was like, “what have you done?”
Though he used to send his tithe to Church, he seldom came to service despite all we tried, so I sent a message through the wife that he should stop sending the tithe; that the Lord is more interested in him than the money.
We continued to believe God to touch the heart of the couple when the instruction came, to relieve her of her school work!
Ah me! How can I do that? It is a hard decision for me!
This was someone who though I discourage it, called me “daddy!” I began to imagine the anger against Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s “Things fall apart”, who beheaded Ikemefuna, a boy that called him “nna” (father).
How would I tell people in that community that God is love? Would they not ask me “which God? That God that asked you to sack a woman from her job thereby taking away her meal ticket?” How do I defend the gospel?
But the Master of masters has given His instruction. Obey or disobey!
I know if Brother Isaiah was here he would say “don’t be lead by your emotions. Let the Spirit lead you”.
“And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” – Isaiah 11:3-4
I wondered what I would have done if I was with them in the wilderness, and as member of the tribe of Levi, when Moses gave the instruction to go into the camp and slay everyone his brethren! Sometimes God pokes at our emotion to test our maturity and obedience.
Undoubtedly, God loves her more than anyone could ever do. There has to be a reason! Of course, God is not One to always give you reasons why He does what He does. He answers to no man, rather we all answer to Him.
“Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?” (Job 9:12).
Experience has taught me however that God does not go into a debate. Promptly, I called my wife, asked her to call Judith and to come with her to the office. Calmly as I could, I broke the news to her. It was not an easy thing to do! If asked I would say this so far, is the most difficult message I had ever delivered!
She pleaded and even sent people to plead on her behalf. I was torn between obedience to God and compassionate care for Judith, a sister in the Lord!
We tried encouraging her with the word of God. But how do you encourage someone you just fired? The only encouragement she expected was that we give her back her job!
Like Shakespeare said, “there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.” (Macbeth – the book)
Indeed only God knows the thoughts and intents of every heart.
“I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” – Jer 17:10 (KJV)
While thinking good of others, only God knows what thoughts they have for you. That was what distressed David more than the rebellion of Absalom.
While she continued to come to Church, as usual, her attitude began to change. She had withdrawn her children from school, and now began a campaign against my wife and the school!
Believing to be her pastor, I went to her and counseled her not to involve her children, by turning them against her perceived enemy. I cited instances from both the bible and in this modern days, how God reinstated people who humbled themselves: that God alone knew why He asked me to relieve her of the job. That rather than go to people and discredit my wife and school, she should go to God in prayer. I believed God wanted to do something in her life, she should go to Him.
She claimed to have heard. On the children’s school, she admitted her husband asked her to bring them back to school. Yet she kept them away through out the term.
….. to be continued in https://jimout2002a.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/a-journey-through-hell-3/
Serving as a missionary is perhaps one of the most difficult part of Ministry. Having served in the city as a pastor, and serving now as a missionary, I can tell the difference!
In the city, you are in the midst of fairly civilized people, if they are not. You have people who understand ministry and ministers; a mixture of people which includes those that will accuse the minister and those that will defend him. It is not always so in a small community in the outskirts of the city, where most are unlearned and under exposed! They only want to accuse you! It is tough!
The journey started when the Lord asked me to relieve a woman of her duty in the school. For discretion, I will call her Judith.
My wife and I, to the glory of God, run a school where Judith worked with us as a teacher.
She and her family had joined us in Church. She used to come sweep and arrange the Church on service days, yet would not come till toward the end of the message; if she manages to come. Every month end, the Church gave her a stipend to assist her.
We took Judith and her family as part of ours: not just as Church family but as our own family. We opened our doors completely to them; even gave our keys to them!
The bonding was there to the extent we exchanged meals, the children stayed with us a couple of days when their parents traveled.
Though not a qualified teacher, my wife picked her as she had no job, to come assist in the school as a way of further helping her: at the end of every month she would earn a salary. We believe there is a lot of confidence in what you earn than in what you are given.
My wife groomed her and constantly monitored both her and what she taught the children; for she was given the kindergarten class.
In Church, she was not frequent, but we believed God to touch her as He touched the children. The eldest, a boy, in the secondary school, learnt to play the drums and the second, a girl, God groomed and blessed with the gift of leading praise. Apart from the eldest, the rest of Judith’s children schooled with us.
Their father, we will for this writing call Benjamin, used to drive a commercial bus, but was not making ends meet.
We were thrilled when he had a job prospect with a motor company (whose name I will not give for discretion). However he needed a surety! Due to the relationship, he came to me when no one was willing to help.
….. continued in https://jimout2002a.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/journey-through-hell-2/
“And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:4-5.
At creation Adam was bright, he was a star.
Jesus called us the light of the world.
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” – Matt 5:14
Adam, the light of the world, went off into darkness when he disobeyed God; and Man consequently went into darkness. He was naturally alive; he could move, talk, do things but eternally dead. He could only survive in his immediate environment. Even there, in his environment, he died slowly.
In His love for us, God sent Jesus to restore the life to us. So,
“…in Him was life” – John 1:4a.
That means that the life we live now is not the real life! The real life is in Jesus!
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” – John 10:28 KJV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16 (KJV)
“Whosoever believes.” It is by covenant, by agreement; not a must, nor by force.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” – John 1:12 (KJV)
This covenant life is beyond dying in an accident, or being killed by witches, or agents of darkness. No! This kind of life – ZOE – is above and beyond the dark powers!
“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” – John 1:5 (KJV)
This covenant life is more than surviving in this life.
Again, this kind of Life is beyond living in eternity. Everybody lives in eternity, even the wicked!
This kind of Life refers to the quality in THAT life! Not the quality attached to our natural life, such as cars, houses, clothes, perfume, etc. You cannot carry any of these into eternity.
WHAT IS THIS COVENANT?
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” – John 17:3 (KJV)
God desires that we know Him. Whoever fails to know Him is rejected!
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” – Romans 1:28 (KJV)
God rejects whoever refuses to retain Him in his/her knowledge; one who fails to know Him. This is what He desires of us: “know Me!”.
“For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” – Hosea 6:6 (KJV)
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” – Hosea 4:6 (KJV)
This is not knowing the word of God, but knowing Him. It is not preaching the word of God, but knowing the God of that word. Moses knew His word but asked to know Him; regardless of miracles. Paul knew His word but asked to know Him; regardless of revelations.
Knowing Him is more than knowing His word. It is experiencing Him, being in awe of Him, giving Him honour; walking with Him, talking with Him and obediently doing His will.
Taste Him and see!
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF KNOWING HIM?
1) Your degree of relating to God will be greatly enhanced.
“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” – James 4:8 (KJV)
Your degree of relating to all of creation goes beyond your immediate environment.
“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” – Proverbs 16:7 (KJV)
3) The above point makes it possible for you to survive everywhere as all of creation will be in harmony with you. Creatures die when taken out of their natural habitat, but with this higher life, you survive in places others die; having passed from the finite to the infinite realm.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” – John 5:24-25 (KJV)
4) Your present life becomes fuller and richer as all creation become responsive ans sensitive to you. No struggle.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 (KJV)
5) You become more fulfilled; happier, because this is God’s purpose and intention for you.
HOW DO WE MAKE THIS COVENANT ACTIVE?
“Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.” – Luke 22:28-29 (KJV)
FELLOWSHIP WITH HIM IN SUFFERING!
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” – Phil 3:10 (KJV)
One of the greatest prayers of Apostle Paul for the Church is that our eyes of the spirit be opened.
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” (Ephesians 1:18).
More often than not, our natural eyes stand against us. Most times they join up with the enemy, and are in fact the greatest weapon in the hand of the enemy against the Children of God.
True, we see with the eyes, yet what they interpret is the greatest undoing of the human race!
The eyes are the foundation or starting point of most vices: adultery, starts from the eyes! Idolatry starts from the eyes, envy, jealousy, hatred, greed, etc, find entry to the soul through the eyes. Even failure and defeat, are offsprings of sight!
The major reason most Christians are weak spiritually is the lack of spiritual sight. We have become like the Israelites in the wilderness, who fell because of spiritual blindness.
“And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” (Exodus 32:1).
They took Moses as their god; now he could not be seen, neither did they know what could have befallen him, for him to delay this long. He had never delayed like this before, and this made them uncomfortable; they needed to see their god, to be assured their god was with them. They could not endure not seeing Moses, so “up Aaron, make us gods! ” What we can see!!!
Journeying to our promised land through the wilderness called earth, many Christians cannot see God in their situations, their homes, jobs and businesses, and have not only “heaped pastors to themselves”, they have pressured them to make gods that they can see and follow: the god of success, “mammon” the god money, the god of technology, the god of cars, of fame and affluence. This has weakened Christians; we have a name, the form “Christians” but lack the power!
Spiritual blindness weakened the “desert Church” by robbing her of the presence and power of God, and here we are, the Church of the New Testament and New Covenant, being robbed of the same!
Moses endured trials and contradictions because he saw beyond the natural eyes; he saw beyond sight!
“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27).
Most Christians buckle and fall at the slightest trial because they are not seeing beyond natural sight.
When Moses noticed the nakedness of (departure of God’s glory from) the people, he went to the entrance of the camp and called “who is on the Lord’s side come to me.” The tribe of Levi went to him. So why did they go to join Moses? What put them “on the Lord’s side”, because at this time they had not been chosen to represent God before the people? They saw what others could not see, not even the first born sons that God had chosen to represent Him!
What did they see? They saw and felt the presence of God in the camp, and also saw the consequence of walking against Him!!
In the presence of our earthly fathers, and filled with the consciousness of their presence, we would not do things we know they will not approve. This knowledge of their presence makes us uncomfortable and sort of paralyzes us from getting involved in any vice, no matter how much we would have desired to.
The Sons of Levi saw both the presence of God and the consequence of acting outside His approval. So they did not get invinvolved!!!
We see Pastors and Ministers, but do we see the Lord Jesus in His house, and at every gathering of the Saints? Do we see Him in our homes, our jobs and every areas of our world? He is our greater than Moses, presently “on the mountain”, in heaven interceding for you and I. Can we see Him in the “Camp”, the Church? Spiritual coldness is a product of spiritual blindness. Christians are almost begged to go to Church!
Why are we not able to stand and resist the enemy? Why are Christians so afraid: afraid of the devil, of lack, of failure, of sickness and all? If I know my Father is with me, I should not be afraid, knowing He would take care of me and all that concern me. That is Faith!! In other words, Faith cannot be in operation where spiritual blindness operates!
Look at the Church. Can we really say there is faith? Jesus spoke prophetically when He asked:
“I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? ” (Luke 18:8).
If faith is lacking, it is due to the absence of spiritual sight. Because faith comes only by perceiving through the Word of God.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17).
Jesus, our Lord, Master and Example, endured because He saw!
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2).
No servant can be greater than the master. If our Lord endured and triumphed by what He saw, we need to see God’s way. This does not come by prayer. Prayer is done by revelation; after you have seen. And revelation is spiritual sight.
Only the Word!
A deep hunger and thirst for the Truth is the eye salve that opens the eyes. God will pour water on the ground that is parched and thirsty. When you begin to be dissatisfied with lies and seek after Truth, genuinely; not for what you can gain for yourself, the Holy Spirit shall open your eyes.