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?
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” – John 6:63 (KJV)
Jesus speaking to some of His disciples tells of two kinds of life: the spiritual and the natural.
We often times take being alive for granted. Yes, we have this life and we forget that someday it would leave us no matter how tightly we clutch to it. Many live carelessly and before long this carelessness begins to manifest through ill health.
Another kind of life is available; bigger and better than what is obtainable in the world. It is the real life. It does not come and go neither does it bring health challenges; rather it battles and fixes every natural challenge. However, it does not commit itself easily, and can only be possessed through knowledge; not just any knowledge but a specific kind of knowledge.
Knowledge is only a vehicle in which life travels. Knowledge is not life, but the tube or channel through which life travels. And as said earlier, not all knowledge carries life. We may have scientific knowledge of the workings of the human, but that knowledge does not offer life.
We may have knowledge about the working of the heart, the dynamics of it, yet that does not guarantee life.
We do not apply knowledge to breathe or to keep the organs of the body working. Neither do we exert energy to keep them working and to stay alive.
We live by just believing! Life is a function of faith.
Faith itself is a function of the Word!
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17 (KJV)
Life is a precious thing hidden in the Word of God.
“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.” – Proverbs 4:20-22 (KJV)
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” – Proverbs 25:2 (KJV)
Every kind of wealth is hidden, buried in the earth. To get them man digs. Life is available, but only to them, that search it out. Life in the word is to be dug out. If you do not dig or search deep into the Word, you cannot get it.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” – John 5:39 (KJV)
You search or dig through:
(1) Corporate Bible study or fellowship with the brethren.
(2) Private or individual Bible study.
….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.
There is no time in the history of the Church as now when we need to fumigate our spiritual lives, killing of the spiritual pests that trouble us; and make straight the way of the Lord.
“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. 2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. 6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. 7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt………And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:) 26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. 27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. 28 And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” -Ex. 32:1-8; 25-28
Theologians have said for centuries that Aaron lied about throwing gold in the fire and out jumped the calf. But, Moses never said he lied! Yes, to the natural man, this could be the greatest lie in the history of mankind. What if he did not lie!
There are things that we cannot see with the naked eyes, yet we cannot deny their existence. Aaron could have seen one of those. But how would he explain to people what they couldn’t see? Sometimes it is very difficult, almost impossible explain to others what they have not seen, how much more a spiritual thing!
In Psalm 22, David narrated what Jesus saw behind the actions of men.
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?…………He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him…………..Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. 13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. 19 But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me. 20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.” – Psalms 22:1,8,12-20 (KJV)
These are not the words of David but of the Lord Jesus! You see David was a prophet and one so dear to the heart of God; he was permitted a peek into what the Messiah would go through on the Cross. There is no place in Scripture where David’s garment was parted (vs. 18) or cast on lot. Neither is it recorded that his hands and feet were pierced (vs.16).
Jesus on the Cross saw “bulls of Bashan” (vs.12) and “dogs” (vs. 16), the forces of darkness that influenced man against God, prompting His prayer, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”
There were unseen forces at play around the Cross which were also at play in the wilderness in the days of Aaron; even today those forces are still at work, which is why “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Eph 6:12 (KJV) Humans are not our enemies, there are forces influencing them that cannot be seen!
Aaron saw something others did not see.
“And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.” – Ex 32:5 (KJV)
Look at the scenario. Aaron asked for the earrings, they brought them to him and he fashioned a calf out of it. What was so special about what he saw that the Holy Spirit would note “it” for us? “And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it.” Certainly “it” is not the people bringing their gold which at this time they had stopped. Neither would “it” be the “art” work which was always in his sight. So, what did he see?
Something else at this time had “jumped out” onto the calf to take over the image. God would not be jealous if nothing was there!
There is a law of double-identity. God spoke to the prince of Tyrus (Ezekiel 28:2) and the king of Tyrus (Ezekiel 28:12), but He referred to the entity or intelligence behind them: Lucifer – the covering cherub. People could only see the humans, not the power motivating their actions. Jesus turned to Peter but spoke to satan (Matthew 16:23), Paul spoke to a girl but addressed an unseen entity (Acts 16:18).
I remember searching through the store one day, while still living with my parents. I saw a wooden masquerade face my father bought for us as kids in one of his many tours. As I looked at it, I thought how beautiful it would be as a decorative art piece. Since it had openings where the eyes would be, I got two pieces of white paper and with a black pen drew two eyes which I pasted inside the mask where the eyes should be. I hung this mask on the wall of the living room facing the door. The eyes were so real; everyone including visitors noticed the mask and passed comments that the eyes seemed to be looking at them. Two days later my mother asked me to remove it because it was frightening and seemed to follow her every move that day. I just laughed telling her it was a harmless piece of decoration. That night with everyone sleeping, I was alone in the living room writing; gradually I began to feel uneasy and uncomfortable: I was not alone! Something was with me there! But, what or who? I raised my face and looked around. There was no one, yet I continued to feel the stare of something! The second time I raised my face, my eyes went to the mask; a pair of eyes was staring at me! A sudden fear gripped me as shivers ran down my spine! I mustered courage, and with shaky legs walked to the wooden face, took it off the wall and removed the papers I posted on it.
What happened? An entity had “jumped upon” it to reside! It would have been dangerous if I had delayed.
How did the entity get there? Collective thought energy! Everyone that came into the living room thought the mask face was real and alive!
“……..and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” – Gen 11:6 (KJV)
We invited the entity through our thought! The fiends of hell; the powers of darkness can be drawn through thought! That is why need to think pure thoughts.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Phil 4:8 (KJV)
What were the children of Israel doing when Aaron was working on the image? Excitedly preparing to receive “their god”! They gave life to the image through their collective thought energy.
…….to be continued.
Foundation no 8
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you faasely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” – Matt 5:10-12 (KJV)
To persecute means to suffer some harsh treatment because of one’s belief; especially, religious belief.
A true Christian to whom the “substance” of the Word is revealed, and lives them without conforming with the standard of the world, would be hated by the world, and persecuted.
“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” – John 15:19 (KJV)
Being rejected by the world like Jesus was; and like Him stand against opposition, he exercises Faith over oppositions and overcomes. Resting in God, he laughs at persecutions.
A man of Faith dwells in heaven – -the secret place – prepared for the righteous. This is the foundation of Faith.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.” – Gal 5:22 (KJV)
Outside these foundations one is like the unbeliever; because the difference between the Christian and the non-christian is the Christlikeness which is formed or produced by the “meekness” (Matt 11:29), the character of our Lord Jesus.
He called us to learn His character, to be like Him. That calls for the foundations, which like a jigsaw puzzle, fits together as THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, a must in the life of every child of God.
May the help of the Lord be ours as we confirm our foundations. In Jesus Name. Amen.