TheEphesianMarriage — Afterword


Obedience. No Matter What.

Obedience. No Matter What.

 

Most of you have probably heard the saying: “Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.”

I say to you that if I be your friend because I lie to you or smooth over the Truth — which is essentially the same as a lie; then make me your enemy. For the sake of Jesus Christ, make me your enemy and not your Savior and LORD.

Since I posted The Chosen, this blog has lost two followers. While this blog has never been about the numbers, I have to tell you my heart sank when I saw that. For them! Their hearts were too wounded to hear — or for whatever reason, they were unable to bear the Truth of GOD’s Word. I have asked GOD for them, not for my sake, but for theirs. Isn’t this what we want? For GOD to call their name — whoever “they” are — so that they may come to the knowledge of salvation in Christ? To come to the knowledge of His perfect saving grace? I agonized over posting The Chosen for nearly two weeks — including the time it took to write it — because I know that not many can bear up under it. But for those who can, they need it. People can put anything they want on the Internet, but when writing about something such as this, the responsibility is great; the eternal burden weighs heavy — for I am, in effect, teaching GOD’s Word. No matter the forum, that is what it is.

10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. 

11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 

12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:10-12 NKJV

I am not the Apostle Paul — but there is no doubt in my mind that, like Paul, God definitely revealed the Truth of HIS Word to my searching heart. I identify with Paul more than any other… Except maybe Peter in my denial of Christ by my prodigal actions. The Book of Romans is my favorite book. Next to my sweet LORD, I want to meet Paul. But keep Eve away. For the obvious reasons, I would like to smack her — but I’ll save that for another time. Maybe.

But the sort-of-joking about Eve aside… Paul (like Christ) was a staunch preacher of Truth. He was not out to win a popularity contest. He did not mix words. He called a spade, a spade. There is no mistaking the Truth of the Gospel of Christ when Paul speaks. He does not play mind games and he doesn’t smooth out the bumps. I cannot stand mind games and I cannot stand liars — probably because this is who I was before I walked out on my Marriage of 25 years. When GOD grabs you by the scruff of the neck and reveals your sin to you, it is that sin — in its entirety — that you come to loath. And because of that, I will tell the Truth. You may not like the delivery, but if you can get past that to the Truth, then you are on your way to seeing what GOD has for you. –>I will hold your hand and cry with you — but I will look you in the eye and tell you the hard Truth. That’s why I identify with Paul.

I do not write to please men. But GOD commands all of us to speak His Truth — not ours. Christ spoke the Truth and He was crucified. But you must understand, all of that was predetermined in eternity past. It was GOD Who chose to crucify His only begotten Son so that those whom He would call could have eternal life. The misguided like to blame the crucifixion of Christ on the Jews or the Romans — but especially the Jews. No. They were only the vessels GOD chose to use. Make no mistake: it was GOD Who had His precious Son crucified. For those who are the predestined; the called; the justified; the glorified.

Let me ask you a question. Why would GOD subject His only Son to such brutal torture if man had the choice to reject the offer of His free gift of salvation? Especially knowing that no man was capable of choosing His Son? It is inconceivable that GOD would take such a course knowing that dying for no one is meaningless. I submit to you, by the Word of GOD, that Christ was crucified not for the sins of the whole of the entire human race, but He was crucified only for those whom GOD has predestined. . . .

20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you

21 who through him are believers in God, . . . .

1 Peter 1:20-21 ESV

23 . . . . this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

Acts 2:23 ESV

If GOD can foreordain the death of His only Son, it should stand out in our hearts that He can also foreordain those whom He would give His Son’s life blood for. As GOD chose Judas to betray His Son; as GOD chose those in the Sanhedrin at the time of Christ being delivered over; as GOD chose Pontius Pilate to be the man to deliver up His Son to be crucified; as GOD chose those who would mock Christ, spit in His face, drive the spikes through His hands and feet; GOD in HIS Sovereignty can choose to have mercy on whom He wills. Every single name you see appear in Holy Writ is a person chosen by GOD’s Sovereign will to accomplish His purpose. The good — and yes, even the evil. We need not look any further than the crucifixion of GOD’s Son to see the greatest foreordained evil planned by GOD. . . . And it was because of this evil that those who would believe are the called. And I said evil – not sin. There is a difference. GOD cannot sin because sin is a transgression of GOD’s holy law. (cf I John 3:4) 

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. –Isaiah 45:7 KJV

16 “Behold, I have created the blacksmith who blows the coals in the fire, who brings forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the spoiler to destroy. –Isaiah 54:16 NKJV

If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it? –Amos 3:6 NKJV

I agree . . . . these are hard sayings in the Bible. But they belong to GOD, not man. And in HIS love and mercy, HE foreordained it all. Actually, with every single thing you are going through right now in your stand, this should comfort us! This means that GOD in His Sovereign mercy holds every detail in our lives — so we can know according to Romans 8:28 “. . . . that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” And in my heart, I want to believe that this includes the calling of our prodigals to a right relationship with Him, first; and then a restored right relationship to those who wait for them to come home.

Beloved Standers — I am not here to tamper with the Word of GOD to make it more pleasing and palatable so it will be less uncomfortable. Neither am I here to argue semantics. I am only here because He has allowed it. I am so very sorry if I have caused any of you to hurt. But I cannot apologize for the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, . . . . –Romans 1:16 NKJV

I refuse to be the friend who whispers lies in your ear.

For Christ’s sake — and yours — make me your enemy that you may hear the Truth.

 

In HIS Service and for HIS Glory. . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TheEphesianMarriage — The Chosen


The Wind Blows

The Wind Blows

 

Don’t you just love that picture above? My son took that when he was temporarily stationed at Ascension Island. He has given me tons of beautiful pictures from his travels. His hobby has morphed to professional-grade photography. He has such a wonderful gift. I can see other parts of the world through the lens of his camera. If you click on the picture, it’s linked to the Ascension Island web site. I’m not promoting anything. Just thought it would be kind of neat for you to see some of their beautiful island and know a little of their history. It’s kind of like taking a virtual trip to see the wonders of God’s hand; even if for a moment.

So here I am. I feel like I’ve just come out of a deep freeze — or the big black hole is more like it. I have a lot I could say regarding the last 18 or so months. But in short, exactly one week after I “preached” my last sermon on Tithes & Offerings, I went out on medical leave — and within two months of that, I lost my job. Right after that, I tried to take my quilting hobby and turn it into a viable business. I took the steps to become an LLC. The one thing I didn’t have was a business plan to approach the bank with. In desperation, I paid some company $1500 to put one together for me. They got my money and I got nothing. I have been unemployed ever since. And in that time, the stress of losing my job caused my health issues to get serious enough that I thought it would have been a relief for God to take me home. No job. No identity. All props gone, I completely shut down. Then a few months later, I lost my baby brother to the debilitating effects of chemicals from the Gulf War. Yes, that war was a long time ago, but the unfortunate effects took years to kill him. His sacrifice was not instant like some, but it was a sacrifice nonetheless. He left behind a wife and a grade-school-aged daughter. We laid him to rest at Dallas National Cemetery among the tens of thousands of those good Soldiers who have gone before him. He was 46. Then the dates of our divorce and our wedding anniversary comes and goes. It gets me every year. Then the blessed holidays with no job. Within three months of losing my youngest brother, I almost lost another brother. His kidneys shut down just like they had on our youngest a year prior. My brother is now on dialysis three times a week waiting for kidneys. For years he had been treated for high blood pressure when the reality was that his kidneys were causing his blood pressure to spiral out of control. But we praise God! He’s still alive. After that? I was molested by a married man who thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips too. I’ve known this man for years. He did not hurt me but he was seriously out of control. Who would have thought a job interview with his company could have turned to such disgusting evil! The last I heard from him, he was convinced I was going to give in and be a friend with benefits. Seriously. He’s that deluded. I don’t need any job that bad… But more than that? I LOVE MY HUSBAND! And then I had another birthday. Normally that would be a good thing but my focus has been a tad bit skewed and on my ever increasing years and no Husband to enjoy them with makes me think of how short time really is getting in my life . . . . Oh goodness, there’s more where this came from. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. And I know in my heart that a lot of you have even worse circumstances than I do. How my heart bleeds for you. Sometimes I think I must have really ticked the devil off — or something — because it just keeps piling on. Ahhh, but like Job, the devil can’t touch me apart from God having weighed the outcome from eternity past and allowing it — for no other reason than HE has a purpose and whatever I am going through will one day glorify His Name. I pray for that. I can’t bear that this would be for nothing. But neither can the devil touch you apart from what God allows. (cf Job 1:12; 2:6). In light of that, we must know the inspired words of David because this is such a crucial Truth to have in our hearts!

  16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.

And in Your book they all were written,

The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.

Psalm 139:16 NKJV

I used to read that all the time. It always makes sense to me. But then one day it dawned on me –> All the days of my life were predetermined before I was ever conceived — and all those days were written in His Book before one of them came to be. He KNEW me before time — and certainly He knew me before I was formed in my Mother’s womb. And so it is true for you as well, my friend. So we take comfort in the knowledge that God has each and every one of us in His hand. There are no accidents. No randomness. Everything has a purpose. I hope even that this will speak to the wounded heart that believes that they are an unplanned accident. Not on your life! God does not make accidents. He does not make trash. Everything and everyone has a purpose. God is not finished with me yet. Neither is He finished with you. I hope you will allow Him to speak to you through the serious study of His Word and the seeking of His heart. These last many months have sent me into the depths of His Word. I know I can only go deeper should He lead me there. But I found I no longer searched His Word on Marriage, divorce and “re-marriage.” I have studied things so far out from my situation — and when I think of that alone, it amazes me. The difference is in seeking God for some thing versus seeking God for the purpose of knowing Him. Though I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t seeking God for the one thing that seems to be so close to me yet so very far away. It has been just shy of eight years of Standing. I try so hard not to count the days past — but I’m not going to lie. It’s very hard. But there is obviously something God wants to do within me first — so I wait.

I may not know who you are, but I think about you in prayer. How I hope your Prodigal has returned home and that you have continued to follow through on your standing by praying your Prodigal Mate right through the front doors of your home and into the Kingdom of God. What follows in this post might sound like a contradiction in terms compared to the statement I just made about praying your Mate into the Kingdom of God — but if you hang with me, I’m going to try to make all this fit together without giving an entire doctoral dissertation. But because this is so crucial to understand — and because I can never say anything in 25 words or less — I’ll get pretty close to that dissertation. ;)

For those of you who have read most of the posts on this site, you know I’m not into candy-coating things. I try hard to be loving and sensitive without sounding like a heartless and hateful person when speaking God’s Word. But the truth of the matter — no, the reality is that Truth in its very nature can be offensive and divisive at some point. Let’s face it, it’s not always what we want to hear. Listen to what Jesus says:

   34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.

   35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’;

   36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’

   37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

   38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

   39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Matthew 10:34-39 NKJV

Jesus IS Truth! (cf John 14:6) Jesus IS the Word! He IS God (cf John 1:1, 14) — and because of that, you must come to terms with whether He offends you or not. Yes, He. His Word divides people! Look at the world around you! Were there not historical wars fought over Truth — or humanistic versions of truth? Nations divided? Religions divided between what is false and what is True? Yet the false religions of the world seek to sow their version of Christ (or other deity) as the one truth. Families are divided when one in a family becomes born again. That Child of the Living King is ostracized and even disinherited. Yes. The Gospel of Jesus Christ IS divisive. It is hard to take and to understand if you do not belong to Him. Let’s face it. The Truth is divisive more often than being unifying. And we tolerate untruths in the name of religion and unity. But this is the very antithesis of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I go through this strange opening because I realize that what I am getting ready to publish is controversial and divisive — even among some well-known “Evangelical” leaders. But they, too, are mere men. Because they are well-known and published, that does not make them 100% correct. They are more likely to be correct because they are well-versed in the languages, history and people in the Bible. On the other hand, even satan poses as an angel of light and blinds the hearts and minds of man. I do not pretend to know their hearts before God, but a carnal mind constantly wars with the Spirit of God within, if indeed He is truly within. I gotta follow that up by saying that I am never 100% right either (don’t tell my children that because they think I am); but I will tell you IF what someone says flagrantly disagrees with the Word of God — and they preach or teach something other than what God says in His Word, that person is a false teacher preaching a false gospel.

    1 . . . .just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

   2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.

II Peter 2:1-2 NKJV

   8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema.

   9 As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema.

Galatians 1:8-9 ASV

We know — or should know — that the Holy Spirit is the only infallible Teacher. But the aforementioned and purposely unnamed “Evangelical” leaders are not alone. There are multitudes of people that believe God is Love and He would never hurt anyone or send them to Hell simply because He understands how they “feel.” The misguided think Hell is for murderers and perverts only — not for someone close to them, especially if they are “good” people. I’ll talk about that a little bit later on in this post. But to those who would carnally deduce only that God is Love, I would say this: it’s dangerous to get stuck in the “love bubble.” Otherwise, there is a whole lot of the Bible that you will dismiss because it is uncomfortable and incomprehensible to you. The complete and rounded Truth is that God is also a God of Wrath and Judgment. And He has; He does now; and He will exercise His Sovereign right to Love and to Judge — both the righteous and the unrighteous according to His purposes. We have to talk about this! You cannot effectually take your Stand without it! As a matter of fact, you cannot plead with the Sovereign God of the universe without it. It is that crucial.

Whether you or I like it or not, are offended by it, want to remake or remold Him to fit what is comfortable for us to bear — or whether we flat out deny it — from everlasting to everlasting, God is still God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever… Amen.

Suffering of any kind is always meant for HIS purpose and HIS glory. And it is in our anguished suffering and heartache that we seek Him — not for what He can give us, but for Who He is. I sincerely Pray God opens your eyes, ears and heart to HIS Word — no matter how it hurts.

Grab a cup of your favorite coffee or tea and sit with me. We will cry together and pray together. . . .

   “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. . . . ” Isaiah 1:18 ESV


 

   5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

   6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

   7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

   8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:5-8 ESV

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.” Such an odd thing to say, don’t you think? I mean, Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about being born again and all of a sudden He’s talking about the wind! Nicodemus was already severely confused on the subject of being born again; I can only imagine what he thought when seemingly out of nowhere Jesus starts talking about the wind. I don’t know about you but for me, at least, verse 8 baffled me for many years so I left it alone. I totally understand the Doctrine of Eternal Salvation — but when Christ dragged the wind into it, He lost me.

Then suddenly about two months ago, the Light came on in my head — and my heart. It is something I’ve always comprehended, but only in pieces. Meaning I knew what the Scriptures said but putting it into one bigger and more comprehensible picture was truly a “light bulb over the skull” moment. God had to walk the stairs from my heart to my head and turn on the Light in the attic.

And this, my beloved fellow Standers, is something we need to face together. Those of you who are mature in the Word of God, who eat spiritual meat, will understand what I am getting ready to bring on. And if this is something you knew but didn’t connect the dots like me, here’s your “ah-ha” moment. For the new babes in Christ — for all of us really — this is something we need to be fervently praying for because we cannot deny the eternal possibilities. Please, oh please, I beg you to prayerfully read this with God’s Word open before you because we cannot afford to bring our carnal minds and feelings into our stand. Forgive me. While I don’t want to think about this, I have to assume that not everyone who reads my posts — especially the EphesianWarfare Prayers — is a True Christian. I have readers from over 150 countries around the world. Not all who light on my blog believe in Christ to be their personal Savior and Lord of their lives. But, that said, if they come here and find the Truth — if God is knocking on the doors of the hearts of many, then I am humbled at the glorious eternal possibilities for them and I praise God for His mercy.

So now, what’s the buzz about the wind blowing where it wishes? What am I talking about…?

God’s Sovereignty in ALL things; over ALL things. He does what HE wills in the lives of everyone — whether born again or unregenerate — from the beginning of time to its end. There are no exceptions.

You see, the huge paradox (something that appears to contradict itself) in Scripture is that the offer to come to God appears to be universal in its application — meaning most believe that the offer is meant for all people and for all time. Yet if you read the Scriptures more carefully, you will see that the power to come is limited to whom GOD wills. It is not up to man to decide.

I think one of the great deceptions of all of time is that we have come to believe that man has real freedom of choice; that the events in our daily lives are mostly random. Certainly this cannot be true because it leaves no room for the Sovereignty of God in all things — especially the affairs of man. Actually, the very notion that man has a freedom of choice will make the power of a Sovereign God limited and even impotent. Not to mention the pride factor involved. I mean, who in their right mind would say “No!” to God? Especially when it comes to salvation. That the “power” of man’s freedom of choice could ever nullify the power of the blood of Christ on the cross is unthinkable! If we truly have what we perceive as a real and true freedom of choice, we would never want to actually choose to be born again (saved)! Because the Truth is, men love darkness rather than light. (cf John 3:19) We wouldn’t. We couldn’t. We can’t. We won’t… We must understand, and know, that man cannot seek God of his own volition. It is absolutely impossible to do so. We, by nature, are depraved beings. All of us. But for The Chosen, we seek God ONLY because He sought us first. This means we love Him only and because He loved us first. (cf 1 John 4:19).

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes.” The Holy Spirit, like the wind, goes where He wants and where He wills. He does what He wills in the lives of those whom He has chosen. “So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” God saves whom He wills. We hear the wind but we don’t know where it goes. It blows on those whom God has called. This, my dear Stander, is called The Doctrine of Election and is the meaning of verse 8. The cold, hard reality that we do not want to consider is that the wind might blow in your heart and mine –> but not the hearts of our friends or our family — or our Prodigal Spouse. And yes, I said what you should already be thinking by now.

Let me give you a visual. Have you ever tried to talk to a dead man? Literally. A dead man. Not a perceived dead man’s spirit. Those are demon spirits pretending to be the departed and that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about an actual dead body. Sounds awful, but stick with me. –> What kind of conversation would you have? Can he respond to you? Will he respond to you…? I’m not the brightest bulb in the lamp sometimes, but I can tell you that he most certainly will not respond to you. He can’t. He’s literally dead. He has no mental faculties or physical abilities to respond to anything… But then we read. . . .

   43 When He [Jesus] had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”

   44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

John 11:43-44 ESV

Listen closely. Jesus gave a literal command to a very literally-dead man. Folks must have thought He was crazy! Most probably only stayed around for the sideshow and the humiliation of Christ — but if you know the story of Lazarus, you know the triumph was for God’s glory — but most notable is that it was His will that Lazarus die. Some don’t know why Christ waited till the fourth day. I mean, why not day one? Why the fourth? The people of that time believed the spirit of a man completely departed from a person by day three. Day four the dead man was considered really dead. But here Jesus commands a really dead man to “come out.” And the dead man responded! He came out! Without the commandment of Christ to come forth, Lazarus would have remained really dead and his body left to decay. Christ had to give him the ability and the power to respond. You try that and see what happens. Preachers try it all the time in “faith healing” rituals — commanding the spiritually dead folk to rise in the Name of Christ. But it won’t work unless the wind of the Holy Spirit first blows in the dead man’s heart. These “faith healers” are among the best marketers on the planet. They can spin you into a frenzy and make you want to buy a brand new shiny Christ — a Christ Who will meet all your earthly material desires and whims; a Christ Whose only desire is to please you. A Preacher is only a man, yet we put them on pedestals and we let them sell us a bogus gospel. And then when Christ doesn’t perform like we think He should, we become disillusioned. But that preacher-man has absolutely no power over the will of the Living God. He cannot decide whom God will call…

   7 There is no one who calls on Your name, Who arouses himself to take hold of You;

For You have hidden Your face from us And have delivered us into the power of our iniquities.

Isaiah 64:7 NASB

No man will voluntarily, of his own cognitive abilities, call upon the Name of God to be saved. God hides His face from them and gives them over to the power of their own sins. (cf Romans 1). Since the fall of man in the Garden, we are all born spiritually dead. And most will spend their entire lives as the living dead. They are dead men walking. The spiritually d.e.a.d., dead. Please let me repeat myself: a man cannot respond or relate to God on any level if he is spiritually dead — understanding God’s Truth, His commands, His will, or His Person. Neither can the spiritually dead relate to God in prayer! Oh no. God will not allow it. Why? Because the spirit of the man is dead. The ONLY prayer God will hear from the living and spiritually dead is a prayer of repentance in acknowledgement of the total depravity of that man’s heart (cf Proverbs 15:29 & 1 Peter 3:12). And for any man to pray a prayer like that, he must first be drawn by the Spirit of God. “. . . . without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists . . . .” Hebrews 11:6. What that says is that the one who has no faith in the One True and Living God cannot please God. That person cannot approach God from the standpoint of faith in Him through His Son Who was and is the propitiation for the sins of those who would be The Chosen. His propitiation was not for all people throughout all of time. The one without that kind of faith does not believe that God exists. Sure a person can say they believe there is “a god” and they can say that “Jesus was a good man” but they do not possess the Living Spirit of God within. Therefore they cannot approach God through prayer or otherwise. Those who would come to God absolutely must come to God on HIS terms — not theirs. How many people have you heard say “I’ll say a prayer for you.” or “We’ll be thinking about you.” Well wishes are nice but I do not want someone who does not serve the God of the Bible trying to pray for me! We have different fathers! Does that make sense? Let me put it this way: the ONLY people that can approach God in faith are those that KNOW He exists — and one can truly only KNOW that God Himself exists within them because they have been called out. The wind of the Spirit has blown upon their hearts.

We are all dead. Dead to what? Dead to the Truth. That is, until Christ gives the command for us to rise. As Jesus chose Lazarus to rise to a physical life when He called him forth from the grave, so His Holy Spirit chooses The Chosen to rise to spiritual and eternal life. Lazarus didn’t come out all by himself. Neither can a man voluntarily call on the Name of God to save him without God first calling his name. Without that command and call to come forth, the living dead cannot rise to eternal life.

Remember these Scriptures? Probably some of the most quoted of the entire Bible — but do you really comprehend what they are saying?

   43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves.

   44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

    45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.

John 6:43-45 NKJV

   60 When many of his *disciples* heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

   61 But Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, Do you take offense at this?

   62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?

   63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

   64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)

   65 And He said, This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

   66 After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him.

   67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”

   68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,

   69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

   70 Jesus answered them, Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.”

   71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray Him.

John 6:60-71 ESV (asterisks on *disciples* are my emphasis for note in the following paragraph)

Are you murmuring in your heart? Are you taking offense at this? Or is this Truth starting to dawn upon your heart? If you are taking offense, it’s time to stop right now and pray. You cannot let your carnal mind and heart determine what is and is not True in the Bible! You can’t! You have no right to! It is the prideful heart that does so.

Did anyone especially notice verse 65? Jesus Christ Himself said that for a man to come to salvation by grace through faith, it must first be GRANTED TO HIM BY THE FATHER! Verse 63 is clear; it is by the power of the Spirit. The flesh can do nothing! As a side note: a *disciple* is a student — or more appropriately a follower of a particular doctrine or belief. Within the above set of Scriptures, you see a perfect example of disciples who claimed to be followers of Christ but they walk away. It is because what Jesus has just said is too hard for them to comprehend. It was foolishness to them. For those who walk away, it is too incredulous for their blind eyes to see; foolishness to their darkened hearts.

Let Us Not be Ashamed of the Testimony of Our LORD

Let Us Not be Ashamed of the Testimony of Our LORD

And Judas…? He followed Christ for His entire ministry! Yet he remained a devil! He never accepted Christ as the Son of God. Those who walk away cannot believe. They are not among the called-out ones; The Chosen. What does the Bible say about those who walk away? Make no mistake precious people! The disciples, or followers, who walked away were not “of us.” There are very definitely those who are physically alive today who are not “of us.”

   19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

   20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.

   21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

   22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.

1 John 2:19-22 ESV

Look. Please do not confuse this with back-slidden Christian folks. Backsliding and apostasy are two completely different things. If someone is a True Christian, they will NOT completely and finally walk away — or apostatize — because they don’t like something God says! They may not like it, but they know that God is Sovereign in ALL He does and He sees the end from the beginning. So we trust Him with what He says. We continue to walk in that faithful trust knowing that when the time is right, God WILL reveal His Truth to our hearts. Some of you still might be holdouts. You say, “but what about the “good people” who don’t murder or steal or aren’t perverts? What about the people who follow the law to a T; who have and live responsible lives; who give to charities and help the poor? Surely God wouldn’t leave them out. Surely God can see that they’re good and trying to do the right things! Surely God couldn’t…!” Oh but He does. I would be doing a severe disservice if I didn’t tell you that. And to say anything else is a lie. . . .

Christ here makes reference to the “good” people of the earth. Notice that He calls them sinners.

   32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

   33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.

   34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.

Luke 6:32-34 NKJV

The bottom line there is that the sinners do the same “good” things here that the righteous do; i.e., loving those who love you; doing good to those who do good to you; and even lending to others. But the point here is obvious. Their moral goodness is not credited to them as righteousness! And it will not save them. Period. Man does not want to believe that in his heart he carries only evil intent, that he is capable of all gross conduct (cf Genesis 6:5). But the reality of the Truth is they are blind! Spiritually blind. They cannot comprehend because they have been blinded. Blind people cannot see in the darkness. What you cannot see, you cannot know. According to Romans, Chapter One, their foolish hearts have been darkened. And because they are blind to their dark hearts, they cannot know that they are among the unregenerate without God revealing this to them; calling them; and then drawing them to Himself. The psychology behind the moral goodness of man is deadly. There is human good but it is a “dead” good. It has absolutely nothing to do with God’s good. Why! Because human works, the deeds of the flesh are not born out of faith in the Son of God — and that makes them dead works. Dead works cannot save the soul. The works of a man do not save a man nor do they keep a man saved. (cf James 2:26 “For as the body without the Spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead…” and Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, . . . .) This was the entire meaning of the Reformation: Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The works/deeds of a saved man are the byproduct of his faith — not his moral compass. The sad Truth; the hard Truth; the real Truth –> not everybody is saved. Not everybody is going to heaven. There are a whole lot of souls going to hell. . . .

Listen: God will NEVER give faith to ANYone apart from giving them the Life found only in His Son. In other words, you cannot have any type of faith in God without having been granted Life. No matter how strong you think your belief in God may be; no matter how much you talk about God; no matter how spiritual you think you are; no matter how much you think you know in your head; if you do not have the Spirit of the Living God residing within your heart, you are unregenerate.

   9 Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”?

Proverbs 20:9 ESV

   For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

   not of works, lest anyone should boast.

   10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10

   15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.

   16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Titus 1:15-16 ESV

The thought of this scares me. No. It terrifies me. You absolutely need to comprehend that there is no relief for the unregenerate in eternity to come. There is no in-between time to get it right. Paul said to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (obviously meant only for the saved).

What about “the others?” We like to say things like, “Well, they had a bad start or they lived in a bad and impoverished neighborhood or they were bullied or they didn’t have a father or their Mother didn’t potty train them soon enough or she dropped him on his head or she weighs a little more than she should or he’s scared of math. . . . ” — and on and on. Guess what? Psychiatry has literally TONS of diagnostic excuses for what is wrong with all kinds of people from every walk and manner of life and social experience. And if they haven’t heard of what’s ailing you yet, then they’ll make something up and vote on it at the next conference to see if it makes it into the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (By the way, that is really true how they do that.) Anyway, if you listen to them, EVERYbody is ill and in need of some form of psychotropic medication. And if you don’t believe me, just take a casual afternoon trip through their made-up Manual of Mental Disorders. They are trying to justify the existence of sin in the world! The Truth? You will find NOwhere in the Bible where GOD excuses the spiritually depraved and dead spirit in man. He doesn’t give a socially maladjusted individual a pat on the behind with the sincere quip, “Well, better luck next time, Joe.” or, “You’ve given it a real good shot, Miss Sally…” And He certainly doesn’t label the varied and depraved minds of mankind with a diagnostic code of reference for a specific debauchery. Come on! God does NOT understand your sin and He does NOT excuse away your sin! And if you think He has a prescription pill that numbs the mind to the sin in one’s life…? NO! God diagnoses it as the unregenerate condition of a man’s heart, mind and spirit. It is S.I.N. Sin. And man does not want to hear that! The carnal mind is enmity against God! (cf Romans 8:5-8). The unregenerate mind is outright HOSTILE to God — no matter how disadvantaged, or law-abiding and respectable they may be.

How about another visual for good measure. Let’s say there are two separate fathers and two separate children, each of which belong to one father. Know that one Father is good and righteous and holy. The other father is continually wicked and full of all types of uncleanness. What of the children? The child who belongs to the righteous Father is the Father’s child — and the child of that Father has His spirit — that child will emulate his Father’s righteousness and holiness and mercy and love and Truth –> and because the child loves his Father so much, what he does for his Father is evidence of his righteousness and his Father’s will. He desires to do his Father’s will! Why? Because he knows and loves his Father! The other child? Read this:

   44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44 ESV

Basically, the father of the child imputes his spirit to that child. To the righteous child is the spirit of the Father. To the unregenerate and unrighteous child, the spirit of the devil. A child will do what his father wills — NOT what he wills, but what his father wills. So, too, the man with a spiritually dead heart and mind cannot do the will of God because God is not his father. The devil is. For those of you who have children, you understand this relationship with either father through your own parent/child relationship. Mark it: For those who are among the called-out ones, their “freedom of choice” has been made to match that of their Father! Any perceived “free will” is in accordance with the divine call of their Father and is really His will, not theirs.

Foreknew. Predestined. Called. Justified. Glorified.

Foreknew. Predestined. Called. Justified. Glorified.

I can hear someone somewhere balking at the very thought that God might actually violate their blessed free will!! So I have to ask… Why on earth would a saved person cry out against a merciful God violating their “will” to save them? How foolish! I would rather think you would be most happy that God saved you from being eternally damned! What of the others of you who are right now crying out, “None of this is fair! How can God save some and not others?” Well… Do you really want what is fair? The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God! (cf Romans 3:23) If you want fair, then realize that no man deserves to be saved! Not you. Not me. Not anyone.

   6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags. . . .”

Isaiah 64:6 NKJV

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called . . . .

Romans 9:14-23 NKJV

The bottom line is we don’t deserve anything but the wages of our sin — and that is death. (cf Romans 6:23).

God does not have to explain Himself. In fact, He doesn’t. He didn’t to Job and He won’t to us. Whatever He does, He does for HIS purpose. I was in the Book of Job recently. I don’t get there much because of Job’s three friends. What they say sounds good, but it’s not — at least not in Job’s case. But what I can tell you from the book is this: when Job questions God as to the “why’s” of his miserable condition and tells God that he’s a righteous man and has done nothing to deserve what’s happened, God’s reply was not the answer Job was looking for. The gist of God’s answer to Job was this: “Who are you to question Me? Where were you when I did what I did? Did you have a part in the decision to create things the way I have created them?” Dear Stander, the clay pot never questions his Maker. (cf Isaiah 29:16; 45:9). But rather we should say: “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 NKJV.

I could continue on reasoning from the Scriptures. I may in another post but for now, I want to tell you what prompted this — more than anything — was the terrifying realization that my Beloved Husband may not be saved. I have always wanted to believe he is but it would be foolish of me to think so. It would be carnally minded to blithely and merrily go about my way not praying for his salvation apart from our restoration! My heart breaks at the thought of his eternal destiny not being in Heaven with the Father of all mercy. So should yours for your spouse. This shouldn’t drive us to despair but rather to our knees. The possibility is one we cannot ignore just because we would rather allow our carnal feelings to get in the way of Truth and the reality of what is or could be. And Truth and reality are what GOD says they are. We cannot change that any more than we can change the universal physics and laws of the universe. But. . . . and we know there’s always one of those. . . .

Remember in the fourth paragraph of this post I mentioned something about praying your Prodigal Mate through? Well, we already know that God has a Sovereign will over all things. What we don’t know is whether or not our Prodigal Mate is among The Chosen. We don’t know that God hasn’t predestined them to eternal glory.

And because we don’t know that, we faithfully pray them through, hoping. . . .

   25 . . . . . if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,

   26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

II Timothy 2:25-26 NKJV

 Let us pray:

   15 “And now, O Lord our God, who have brought Your people out of the land . . . . with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have been wicked.

   16 O Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts, let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your [people], . . . . for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, . . . . Your people have become a reproach to all those around us.

   17 So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant[s] and to [our] supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary.

   18 O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the [temple] which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion.

19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your . . . . people are called by Your name.”

Daniel 9:15-19 NASB

 Amen.

 

 (c) 2014. TheEphesianMarriage. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

TheEphesianMarriage – Tithes & Offerings


matthew13_22

It’s been a while – sixteen long months to be exact. I can only offer that I’ve been so busy that I burned out… I confess. Going to Church was a hit or miss kind of thing and I stabbed at reading my Bible — lots of nights not reading it at all. And there are other events that have occured in my life and my family that have only strengthened the burnout catapulting me into a darker hole.  I’m out of everything. Energy. Wisdom. Balance. Overwhelmed, I’ve just moved from day to endless day not knowing what day it was – or is. I’ve been in a mindless fog. I hit a wall. Does this maybe describe some of you?

Looking back over the last sixteen months, I can see the devourer at work in my life — and the lives of my family. I have seen an illness nearly take the life of our youngest son. I’ve seen that same illness be misdiagnosed — only to find out it may be worse than what was originally thought. He’s only twenty-eight. I’ve seen the devourer attack another marriage within my own immediate family — and now, I’m not only Standing in the Gap for my own Marriage but the Marriage of one of my own. It was this event that propelled me forward in anger at the evil that has so easily beset my family. It is crystal clear to me that the devil will not just stop at my marriage, but he is now after my flesh and blood. So while I stand, I am teaching another to Stand in the Gap. Before the two Married, I prayed hard that GOD would save this young woman who was to become my Daughter-in-Love. I never dreamed it would come in this manner… Through the cruelty of the devourer who comes only to steal, kill and destroy, this young wife and mother has come to accept Christ as her Savior and the LORD of her life. Praise GOD with me! While learning about the mercy of GOD over her own life, she is learning to Stand in the Gap through faith for the restoration of her young Marriage. In the last four months, I have seen such a dramatic change come over her. Though she hurts, it is so obvious that the power of the Sovereign God reigns in her life. She is faithful to attend Church and praise her GOD. And it shows! The peace and joy — in spite of the ache in her heart — are in her eyes. On her face. She’s beautiful! Radiant! She’s alive! She is also teaching her babies – and I do mean babies — about the Love of God. What an awesome GOD we serve.

But in these last sixteen months, I cannot count the times I have asked GOD why? Why is it taking so long? My GOD, my youth is wasting away! The time I can never get back. Less time with my Husband. Time. Gone forever. But yet, here I am. Still. It’s strange to say this, but if I had not still been standing, I could not hold her hand so tightly and walk with her so closely. I would not know where she is in her heart or how she feels or what she thinks… Could she learn on her own? Sure. But GOD uses us. He uses our afflictions — and with the comfort He has given us, we can comfort those with the comfort we ourselves have received. So, dear Stander, do not think the time that goes by is wasted. God in His infinite wisdom and mercy wastes nothing. Nothing.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love GOD, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NKJV

But even in the midst of the burnout and pain, there has been blessing. I have another grandchild — and two more on the way. Can you say t.w.i.n.s?? What a blessing they all are and a sweet testimony to the newness of life — and His goodness and mercy. And since before each has been born, I’ve dedicated each to the LORD’s love and care asking GOD to bring each of them to Him, serving Him and bringing many to Christ for His glory. Can I get an Amen?

So, what on earth do tithes and offerings have to do with all this “stuff?” Read on…

“For I AM the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed . . . . Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not  kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of hosts. But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’

“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. 

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove* Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, (*test)

“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.

“And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” says the LORD of hosts; 

“And all the nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,” says the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 3:6-12 NKJV

Ok you say. I’ve read that before. Well, read it again. Really take that in. Read each word slowly. It contains some of the languages of a Stander so it should hit a little closer to home. Read it again. This time ask God to open your mind — your spirit.

We have a tendency to see only money when we read that. Well, yes. It does involve money but it also involves offerings. They are different. But now ask yourself a question. If you’re robbing the LORD of the money He’s given you the ability to earn, then how do we expect Him to bless us in other areas of our lives?? He can’t! We are cursed because we are robbing GOD! So guess who has shown up? The d.e.v.o.u.r.e.r. 

deuteronomy8_18And, by the way, it is GOD Himself Who gives us the ability to earn our wages.

” . . . . then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’

“And you shall remember the LORD your GOD, for it is He Who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His Covenant . . . . “

Deuteronomy 8:17-18 NKJV

And you thought it was *you* who has earned your wealth? Everything we own comes from the Hand of GOD Who has given us the ability to get what we have! And many of us aren’t giving any of it back! I can hear the skeptics and the pragmatists screaming aloud, “He’s supposed to be GOD! You say He can do anything! Why does He need your money? It’s a get-rich-quick scheme of the Church! It makes absolutely no sense! Giving your money away certainly isn’t going to help you any!” Well, the first thing we need to stop doing is listening to the skeptics and the pragmatists who have no clue Who GOD is, much less any inkling about His Word. No. GOD certainly does not need “our” money to do what He needs to get done. And yes, I will grant you that there are some ‘on-air’ T.V. ministries that constantly cry out for your money, preying on people. Holy Spirit discernment is needed there. But!! What this is really about is what we value first in our lives. What and/or who is first in your life? I can guarantee you for the majority, next to family, it is money! Money! $ $ $ $ $ and lots of it. We covet the ‘almighty’ dollar! So giving it away is a very foreign concept to us. Another point worthy of making here is that we are stewards – stewards of EVERYthing. We have brought nothing into this world and I will guarantee you we will take nothing out of it. So what do we really own? Nothing! When we pass from this life to the next, everything that was in our earthly stewardship passes along to another to care for.

Listen. Tithing and offering is a SPIRITUAL Law. It defies human wisdom and conventional bookkeeping practices! Remember the five loaves of bread and two fish Jesus miraculously multiplied feeding five-thousand men — and that didn’t count the women and children!? Tithing and offerings are a part of the spiritual law of the harvest. When we give as this with a willing heart, what we have left is miraculously multiplied! It goes farther than when we try to stretch it on our own. The law of the harvest? We reap what we sow. More than we sow. Later than we sow. But always what we sow. And if we are sowing nothing, we reap nothing.

“Do not be deceived, GOD is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:7-9 NKJV

Let me back up for a moment. If I’m going to link tithing to Marriage restoration, ask yourself another question. What do these have together in common — from the temple priests losing all respect for GOD and offering diseased animals on the altar to —> their treachery in divorcing the wives of their youth in order to marry *foreign* women to —> robbing GOD of His tithes and offerings? Eeek! How disconnected that all sounds.

Malachi’s appeal was to a backslidden nation; designed to break through barriers of unbelief, disappointment – and even the apathy of the people because the prophecies foretold had yet to be fulfilled. They had been waiting and waiting . . . . and waiting. Sounds sooo familiar, doesn’t it? If we aren’t following closely; if we aren’t looking up and forward to the Blessed Hope, we have a tendency to neglect that Blessed Hope and our attitude becomes one of indifference. In our unbelief, our *actions* literally scream to the world that it’s not worth serving GOD and we walk headlong into moral and/or religious corruption — having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof (ref II Timothy 3:5).

And so it was with the people and the priests… Malachi’s appeal through his prophetic word to GOD’s people was for them to stop and recognize that their lack of blessing is not caused by any lack of concern on GOD’s part but rather because of their blatant d.i.s.o.b.e.d.i.e.n.c.e. to the Covenant Law. The priests were wicked and corrupt and the people were disallusioned. They doubted GOD and in their quiet rebellion they began to question the Sovereignty of GOD and His ability to care for and provide for them. Their religion was empty tradition; their rituals, mechanical. It was in this state of disallusionment that they began to rob GOD of their tithes and offerings. And it is here that GOD confronts His people with a series of questions and answers — and it is here in each case that they deny His accusations.

How has GOD loved us? (1:2-5)

How have we despised GOD’s Name (1:6 – 2:9)

How have we profaned the Covenant: (2:10-16)

How have we wearied GOD? (2:17 — 3:16)

How have we robbed GOD? (3:7-12)

How have we spoken against GOD? (3:13-15)

Their sinful rebellion colored their perception of GOD resulting in a cold attitude and materialism — which lead them to rob GOD. They gave GOD stolen, lame and diseased animals for the required sacrifice for their sins! They gave a pure and holy GOD that which was blemished — like them — and they expected GOD to bless them anyway! They committed idolatry! They kept the best to themselves. The priests were wicked and corrupt — profaning the Covenant of GOD. The men were divorcing their GOD-ordained wives for *foreign* wives. And the people were robbing GOD of their first fruits — their tithes and offerings, and they wanted to know how GOD was wearied by their rebellion?? Though we are Standers, we must ask ourselves, are our actions saying the same things?

Idolatry. It’s what we commit when we hold too close our material possessions over and above GOD — willing to part with none of it; and it is p.r.i.d.e. that expects GOD to bless us in our rebellion.

And yet here most of us are actually in rebellion despising GOD’s Name, profaning His Covenant of Marriage, robbing Him of our tithes and offerings —  effectively speaking against GOD in our actions . . . . We are “covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with good will from your hands. Yet you say, “For what reason?”  (Malachi 2:13,14) . . . . and we want to know how we weary Him. We are bringing to Him the leftovers, if anything.

Tithes and offerings. Both are mentioned so both must be different. They are. The Hebrew word for tithes is maaser and the Hebrew word for offerings is minchah. Tithes are the first fruits of your income. First fruits denotes the first of your fruits — or your earnings. It is the money GOD has given you the ability to earn. You honor GOD when you take the first ten percent of your fruits — which is what is produced when you work — and He in turn rebukes the devourer for our sakes so that he will not destroy the “fruit of your ground.” The “fruit of your ground” must be different than the “the vine which bears fruit for you in the field” which is also mentioned in the same verse. Hmmm. The Holy Spirit spoke to this Stander as He always does using metaphors. For example, the “land” is used to denote the Standers own home — just like the “city”… The “nations” can be used of the people around you, and so forth. So, through revelation, GOD showed me that He Himself will keep the devourer away from “the fruit of my ground.” Ground is “land” and the “land” is my home!

Offerings are that which are over and above tithing. Our offerings are given as the Holy Spirit directs. There may be a special need within your Church that GOD is calling on you to fulfill. This “offering” can be your time and abilities as well. GOD has built within each of us something unique that is needed to serve Him. Special gifts, if you will. Have you read the Parable of the Talents? While talents is used for money, think of it in our terms — abilities.

In Matthew 25, there are two parables; the Parable of the Ten Virgins and the Parable of the Talents. The Parable of the Ten Virgins speaks of and stresses the need to be prepared and vigilant; while the Parable of the Talents emphasizes our productivity. So the first emphasizes watching for the LORD and the latter working for the LORD. There are two servants who are given five and two talents respectively while the third servant is only given one talent. The first two servants multiply their talents but the third servant hides his talent out of fear. The master rewards the first two servants with more! The third servant is confronted by his master who calls him a wicked and lazy servant —  slothful! Notice what the Word says here:

“Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.

‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.

Matthew 25:28-29 NKJV

Notice that the first two servants stood before their master with excitement but the third servant stood before his master in fear offering nothing but excuses. He was trying to appease his master by giving him back what belonged to the master along with excuses for not using the talent to the best of his ability.

So for offerings? Be faithful in using the opportunities given for service because everything we have — whether opportunities or abilities — belongs to GOD. But whatever your “talents” may be — some teach, others serve — someone may have five talents, someone may have two and still another may only have one, but give them as an offering, holy and pleasing as your sacrifice before the LORD.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;

or ministry, let us use it in our ministeriing; he who teaches, in teaching;

he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:6-8 NKJV

Here lately, I have been crying out for revelation – what is hindering me from receiving the blessing and desire that I so crave?  My answer??

The income I earn has increased but I feel as though I have nothing left! What about you? I feel as though I am struggling sometimes to scrape money for gas or lunch. Before when I tithed, I can honestly and truthfully state that this was not an issue. I also know that my Husband is very serious about his finances and he has absolutely zero tolerance for wanton waste and irresponsible use of money. His bills are always paid first and on time BEFORE anything else comes out of it. And his method of keeping his finances always served us well while we were Married and raising our children. We never went without food or shelter or clothing or transportation. Were we well-to-do? Hardly. Look up the yearly salary of an Airman in the USAF. At the time, it was approximately $11,000 per year. Poverty for one who served his country. And we have a family of four. He still uses that same method of keeping his finances to this day. I said all that only to say this: I also know that my ability to keep my finances in a better manner would honor my Husband as well as GOD. I speak of the change in my heart before my Husband — and I have changed. BUT… and you know there’s always one of those — if I’m not honoring GOD with my finances, then I won’t honor my Husband either. It will continue to be a point of contention between us and that’s not what a restored relationship needs.

Aside from ALL that, we must realize that it is our spiritual responsibility to honor GOD first — over and above everything and everybody, including our Covenant Spouse. We are to seek GOD and serve Him with all our mind, body, heart and spirit. That includes our finances and our talents (gifts).

There are many, many people Standing in the Gap for the restoration of their Marriages who think they have nothing to give. I do not in any way stand in judgment of you when I say have you considered the widow who gave all she had to give in her tithe? Jesus, Who was standing by the treasury watching the people put money into it — many who were rich put in much. But then the one poor widow came and threw in two mites. Two mites is equal to one-quarter of a cent in the American dollar. Yet she gave all she had! Jesus said they gave of their abundance — or their surplus — but the widow, in her poverty, gave her whole livelihood… (cf Mark 12:41-44) Now that is faith. And GOD forbid that any one of us ever has to give all that we have in faith, but rather may we give willingly of what we do have — and watch GOD bless us in everything. Our employment and our family. May the GOD Who created everything restore the years the locusts have eaten, in Jesus’ Name.

GOD says to TEST HIM. Don’t be like the wicked servant who didn’t have much but even with what he had been given, he hid it away. His reward was to be sifted from the sheep to the goats and cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Think about it. Pray about it. Do it.

Amen.

(c) TheEphesianMarriage. All rights reserved.

TheEphesianMarriage–Happiness or Holiness


1peter1_15-16

Speak to all the congregation . . . . and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. Leviticus 19:2 NAS

How many of you believe it’s God’s job to make you happy? Have you ever really thought about it? It’s very rare that we don’t hear a feel-good sermon on happiness and prosperity. Translated means more sermons are being preached on how God wants you to be happy and prosperous than about the holiness and righteousness of God – about how His holiness demands righteousness and even to the contrary . . . . how His righteousness demands holiness. Nobody wants to hear about the righteousness and holiness of a Just God! Yeah, He’s a God of Love and Joy – but He is also a Just and Righteous and Holy God.

Think about it: One does not preclude the other – neither can you have one without the other.

If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would have never been crucified. Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994)

About four months ago I was having a serious and heart-rending conversation with a family member about the failure of their Covenant Marriage. After some lengthy discussion and my spoken concern about their home and their family, it was plain to see that the devil had carte blanche access to her through her friends – and even some other family members. The same old excuses and the same old lies. She had met somebody who made her feel “alive and happy…” Up to that point, she had been waiting for her Covenant Husband to come home. But she decided that she had had enough and certainly God wants her to be happy so He brought another man into her life. You would think the devil would think of something different. But then again, if this almost always works, then I guess he really doesn’t have to. I knew the deception was complete when I heard her say those same words I had spoken so long ago: “I know what you believe. But the god I know wants me to be happy!”

Do you remember when you said that? I did. That’s a real good time to fall on your knees in repentance and ask for forgiveness. It’s an awful feeling to be confronted with our sin by the Holy Spirit – remembering what we have said and done. But it’s even worse to claim the God of the Bible as the god of our sin and deny that sin as sin and continue on as if it’s what the God of the Bible would want!

. . . . . how my heart breaks for her, her husband and their children. She does not realize what she has done and is doing. But it’s hard to tell someone that because of their blindness. We somehow think we are different when we are in the middle of our circumstances. When the Light is not present, there is nothing but blackness and we grope and feel around in that darkness until we become accustomed to it…We are blind to think that we can see clearly in the darkness.

The god I know. . . .

How carelessly we use His Name.

What a dangerous game we play when we have no fear of the Holy One.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds. II Cor 11:14-15 NAS

The implication of her statement was very clear – and it shows the depth of deception and blindness. That statement implies that we can believe what we want about God relative to each situation in life. It implies that God changes in accordance with each individual person and circumstance. He has become a cosmic bellhop who jumps when we call. He has become a “yes” God to our every whim. It was apparent that we don’t read the same Bible or worship and serve the same God. How can I say such a thing? How do I know that with such certainty? Because the God of the Bible does not, cannot, will not, ever contradict Himself.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today; yes and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings . . . . Hebrews 13:8-9 NAS

If we don’t understand what we’re reading and certain “escape clause” scriptures that we hear from someone else are used to justify our actions; or if we don’t know the Bible or have never even read it but we indiscriminately use the word “God” as if we are suddenly so spiritual, we may as well come out and call God a liar to His face.

The worldly term happiness implies a live and let live lifestyle. It is only relative to each individual’s preference – rather our likes and dislikes. Worldly happiness is an emotion. It is not Joy! In the Bible, the word happiness translated from the Greek makarismos, actually means blessedness. It signifies “the ascription of blessing.” It is used to refer to the condition of a man to whom the righteousness of Christ is imputed by faith. Reference Romans 4:6. True happiness, or rather the Joy of the LORD, is what will sustain you in and see you through hard times – even when you don’t feel happy. Worldly happiness is relative to the situation – where the Joy of the LORD is an absolute to those who are IN Him. The two are clearly not the same.

. . . . for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 NAS

The Bible says we shall know them by their fruits. There is no such thing as a tree that produces fruit inconsistent with the type of tree it is. It sounds harsh but we are supposed to know that if we aren’t living for God, we are living against Him. Judgmental you say? Listen to what the Apostle Paul says:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and Divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools. . . . Romans 1:20-22 NAS

I find it interesting that when someone is under conviction they automatically pull the “judge not lest ye be judged” card. A person who is under conviction by his Holy Spirit-driven conscience doesn’t like it so the Truth that we speak to them is now not done in love, or it is offensive to them. They don’t like the “squirm” effect it is having on them. So they become DEfensive. From their view, we are judging them. In their DEfensive mode, they will take the focus off themselves and try to put it back on you — maybe offer you an insight into your own imperfections. They don’t realize that they are making light of sin – their own sin. They make the conscience dead and desensitized to the Spirit each time they are convicted with the Truth and then walk away to their own way. He who presumes on the mercy of God will have to reckon with His justice.

No. God is not the god of tolerance.

Holiness Defined

How is Holiness defined? Most equate holiness with perfection – a perfection that cannot be attained. It’s attributable only to God. But Holiness is used to indicate sanctity and separation from all that is sinful or morally imperfect. It is used to speak of moral wholeness. It can also be used in reference to places and things (like when Abram was standing on Holy ground) – not just the state of our spiritual character or actions. Holiness is one of the most important and essential attributes of the divine nature and character of God. As children of the Living God, everything we do is subject to His moral standards – His divine nature. Why? Because He is the source. Holiness is actually the Person of God. He IS Holy. Since we are His children and have been re-made in His likeness by the acceptance of and faith in the blood of His Son, we are to take on that same attribute. Tough order when you still live in the flesh. . . .

For I AM the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I AM holy. . . . .For I AM the LORD, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt, to be your God; thus you shall be holy for I AM holy.’’” Leviticus 11:44-45 NAS

But, of course, He can’t expect that, can He? I know what you believe but my god would want me to be happy. Show me the “don’t worry, be happy” scripture and I’ll step away from the podium. Some of you may be thinking, ‘wow, she’s sounding a bit like a bull in a china shop right now’ – but Jesus says to you “he who has ears, let him hear.”

Behold the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road and the birds came and ate them up. And others fell upon the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil, and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear. Matthew 13:3-9 NAS

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One Who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written “You shall be holy, for I AM holy.” I Peter 1:14-16 NAS

Don’t mistake this as a bashing session of this woman whom I love. Not at all. We have to realize that the Truth hurts and if we continue to hide behind our feelings instead of hearing the Holy Spirit speak to us, we will continue to walk in deception. I would rather you offend me with the Truth than be condemned to walk in darkness. Remember, they crucified the LORD of Truth!  It’s obvious they didn’t want to hear what He had to say! He was not a popular Man with those who were under conviction.

So when we are confronted with and convicted of our sin by a brother or sister in Christ and it stings, we need to count it a blessing that the Holy Spirit Who leads us into all Truth and understanding, is knocking on the door of our heart. He is in fact leading us into all Truth and understanding.

You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I AM the LORD your God. And you shall keep My statutes and practice them; I AM the LORD Who sanctifies you. Leviticus 20:7-8 NAS

Herein is true happiness and holiness. Your happiness is dependent upon keeping the Holy commands of a righteous God Who is asking you to lay down your life for your friend – your Covenant Mate – setting yourself apart from all else. Forsaking all others.

By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:8-13 NAS

This is a worthy saying found on the tombstone of Leonard Ravenhill, an English Christian Evangelist and writer: “Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?”

What are you living for?

                         Happiness or Holiness.

Let us pray. . .

And I said, “I beseech Thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Thine ear now be attentive and Thine eyes open to hear the prayer of Thy servant which I am praying before Thee now, day and night, . . . . Thy servants, confessing the sins of . . . . . which we have sinned against Thee; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against Thee and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which Thou didst command Thy servant . . . . Remember the word which Thou didst command Thy servant . . . . , saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’ “And they are Thy servants and Thy people whom Thou didst redeem by Thy great power and by Thy strong hand. O Lord, I beseech Thee, may Thine ear be attentive to the prayer of Thy servant and the prayer of Thy servants who delight to revere Thy name, and make Thy servant successful today, and grant [us] compassion . . . . ” Nehemiah 1:5-11 NAS

Amen.

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© 2009 – 2011 TheEphesianMarriage. All rights reserved by TheEphesianMarriage unless otherwise stated. All other writings and symbols are the registered trademarks of their respective owners.

 

TheEphesianMarriage – Roll the Stone Away


But LORD! If only You had been there...

11:1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. . . . . 3 The sisters therefore sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard it, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”  5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When therefore He heard that he was sick, He stayed then two days longer in the place where He was. . . . . 11 This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep.”  12 The disciples therefore said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14 Then Jesus therefore said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” . . . . . 17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. . . . . . 20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him; but Mary still sat in the house. 21 Martha therefore said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother shall rise again.”  24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? ”  27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” 28 And when she had said this, she went away, and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here, and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she arose quickly, and was coming to Him. . . . . 32 Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her, also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit, and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 And so the Jews were saying, “Behold how He loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have kept this man also from dying?”  (John 11:1, 3-6, 11-15, 17, 20-29, 32-37 NAS)

But Lord, if You had been here, I would not be going through this! Lord, if You had only been here I wouldn’t be separated! LORD! If You had been here, I wouldn’t be divorced and my family in a shambles. All my hopes and dreams are gone. My Husband refuses to forgive me and come home. Lord, my Wife is gone! She left me and the kids — telling me how she doesn’t love me anymore. Where were you Lord? WHERE WERE YOU!! WHY DIDN’T YOU SHOW UP WHEN I NEEDED YOU MOST?!?!

Where is God when you need Him most? Where is He in the midst of your circumstances? Your life is falling down all around you and you wonder how this could be happening! Why is it happening? Is this really happening to you? You pray. You seek God. And everything seems to go from bad to worse. And all your genuine heart-felt questions seem to fall on deaf ears – that is, if they ever make it past the ceiling… It doesn’t make any sense. You get angry. You become bitter. All the questions. But no answers. I mean He said He loved me! He promised He would never leave us or forsake us, right?

When the two-minute siren sounds and the tornado strikes, it can leave you feeling nearly as devastated as those in Joplin, MO. Your whole world has been smashed into nothing leaving you to pick through the debris — clinging to what is left.

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NAS)

What that means is most of what God does won’t make any sense. Even if you’ve been walking with God. But what does make sense is that you trust Him with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Mary and Martha can relate. They called to the Great Physician to come to them to heal their very sick brother whom they loved and whom Jesus loved. They sent a servant to seek out the Lord on their behalf who said “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” The disciples are ready to go immediately but listen to what Jesus says to them; “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Then what happens next is amazing! Jesus stayed put! He stayed two more days where He was! He didn’t go immediately to Mary and Martha — and their beloved brother, Lazarus, died. When Jesus did go, the first words out of Martha’s and Mary’s mouth were “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” You can hear it in their statements — “Where were you Lord? We sent for you! Why didn’t You come?”

Whether financial difficulties, job loss, death of a beloved family member — and even in separation and divorce — we have a decision to make. When we are going through the tragedy and heartbreak of separation and divorce, we can become prideful and bitter – angrily shaking our fists in defiance at God – or we can come before the Throne of Grace and hold on to God with everything we’ve got clinging to the Truths in His Word.

Why would Jesus wait two extra days? He says very plainly that it was “for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”  I can honestly say that in the beginning of my stand I did not understand that. I didn’t even come close to comprehending that. All I could feel was the weight of my own sin and how it has affected my relationship with God — and what it did to my Husband and our children — and trying to somehow make it all right again! That’s all I could think about! Where were you God? If You had been there, our Marriage wouldn’t be dead and our family would be whole — we might have been just a bit sick and near death but we’d still be Married! Why didn’t You come! Yet He still waits to bring my Prodigal Husband back to acknowledge his Savior and Lord — and heal this Marriage and family! Why? “. . . for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

Have you ever wondered why Jesus waited until the “fourth” day? Interesting fact: When a Jewish person died, they did not embalm like we do today but rather they wrapped the body in linens and with spices and buried them that same day. They believed that the spirit of a person departed on the third day — so in order for this to truly be for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it, Jesus had to wait one more day so the religious orthodox sect could not cry foul!

Some were moved by the fact that Jesus wept for His friend Lazarus and others were full of contempt and unbelief — still. After all, Jesus the Great Healer, waited two more long days — and Lazarus died. “But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have kept this man also from dying?” Can’t you just hear some of the folks around you saying the same thing to you? He could perform all those miracles back then in the Bible but He couldn’t save your Marriage! Where was He when you needed Him most? There is no such thing as a “miracle.” Most of those who have been standing for a time — and then quit — listen to the lies of the enemy. They weren’t waiting and watching for the One Who promised. As soon as it didn’t happen when they sent for Him to come for the one He loves, they gave up their stand in disbelief. . . . Yeah, I believe He is God, but maybe He won’t heal us. Maybe He has other “more important” things to do. What the Stander-turned-Prodigal doesn’t know is that God is waiting those extra days for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it — so that they may see Him work on their behalf something more amazing than they could ever imagine. Truly abundantly more than one could ever ask or think. . . .

But in true Jesus fashion, He ignores the yapping mouths of unbelief and devilish discouragement. Instead, He tells Martha to remove the stone. Martha believed that He is the Christ, the Messiah – Yeshua HaMashiach — but she was not quite convinced that she should roll the stone away either. . . .

38 Jesus therefore again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” (John 11:38-39 NAS)

What stone is Jesus asking you to remove? Anger? Bitterness? Unbelief? Unfaithfulness? Disobedience to His call to Stand for your Prodigal Spouse? What if you removed the stone? Would there be a foul smell? If Jesus were to ask you to roll the stone away, would you argue with Him and hang on to your stone of bitterness and pride? Your stone of unbelief in His ability to heal your Marriage? Would you hang on to the stone of worldly divorce and move on with your life? Or would you trust Him!

40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you, if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”  41 And so they removed the stone. And Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me. 42 “And I knew that Thou hearest Me always; but because of the people standing around I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me.” 43 And when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44 He who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings; and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:40-44 NAS)

Stander listen! Did He not say to you, if you believe, you will see the glory of God?

19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19 NAS)

The Jesus that raised Lazarus to life so that he would die again someday is the same Jesus that will raise His eyes to His Father and say; “Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me. 42 “And I knew that Thou hearest Me always; but because of the people standing around I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me.” 43 And when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “[PRODIGAL], come forth.”  And your Prodigal Husband or Wife will come forth from the tomb of death and freed of the sinful wrappings that bind them — and the eyes (face) that are wrapped around with the cloth of blindness to their sin will come off and they will be set free.

“Lord, behold, the Prodigal whom You love is sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard it, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

Roll the stone away for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it . . .

Amen.

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TheEphesianMarriage – When to Walk Away


1 John 3:11 (NASB)
For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…

John 13:34 (NASB)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 15:17 (NASB)
This I command you, that you love one another.

Romans 12:10 (NASB)
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor

Romans 13:8 (NASB)
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Galatians 5:13 (NASB)
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

1 Peter 4:8 (NASB)
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

1 John 3:23 (NASB)
This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.

Ephesians 4:2 (NASB)
…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love…

I did a search on “love one another” and that search resulted in twenty-three Scriptures on how we are to love one another. In some you will find the word “commandment” or “commanded” preceding “love one another.” In others you will not; however, if it precedes any “love one another,” then you can safely assume that it is a commandment — always!

Let me ask you a question. If you were to walk away from your one-flesh covenant Marriage, where would you go? Have you ever thought about that? I can tell you that if you are IN Christ — meaning you are a blood-bought born-again child of the King — and you have made Him Lord of your life, the answer to that question can only be that you would walk straight to Him — and no where else. For there is no other Name given under heaven by which man can be saved. And if you’re walking away — or running away — it had better be to Him. Otherwise, your troubles are only beginning. There is no one else that can save you from where you are at this moment in time. There is no one else to rescue you. None. If you are walking away from your Marriage, you are doing so under your own power. You think you have done all you can to make it work — and you are probably right that YOU have done all you can. But you haven’t given it to Christ — the One Who redeems that which is lost. The One Who restores that which is broken. The One Who Heals that which is sick.  The One Who makes the lame walk; the deaf hear, the blind see — the One Who raises that which is dead and breathes new life into them.

 1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones.

2 He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry.

3 He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.”

Ezekiel 37:1-3 NASB

Dear Stander, there is nothing more dead than a valley of dry bones. While the above verses are a prophetic vision of Israel that have been fulfilled in our time in the rebirth of the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, those verses also aptly describe hundreds of thousands of Marriages and Homes. Did you know that from the last destruction of their nation to the resurrection and rebirth of the new nation of Israel was 1900 years?

God has used these verses to speak to me about the dead bones that represent my own Marriage. He said to me, “Can these bones live?” and I answered as Ezekiel, “O Lord GOD, You know.” It’s worth it to read the rest because it contains a promise for the Stander — the one who is waiting for God to open the grave of their dead Marriage, breathe life into it and restore them into the Land of Promise.

 4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.’

5 “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life.

6 ‘I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone.

8 And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them.

9 Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.”‘”

10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

The Vision Explained

11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished We are completely cut off.’

12 “Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.

13 “Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people.

14 “I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,” declares the LORD.’”

Ezekiel 37:4-14 NASB

I know that you and I do not have 1900 years to wait for the resurrection of our homes, and God knows that too — but as painful as it is to go through, the wait will be worth it to hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” The wait will be worth it to see your Prodigal Spouse acknowledging Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their life and coming home — HOME — to their Covenant Love. Folks, God has every detail in your life under His watchful care. Nothing that has happened to you has caught Him by surprise — but He uses what has happened to bring about HIS plan and the good that only He can bring about. Trust me, we have not put God on a detour road. All the days were written for me before one of them came to be — so He’s not in the least surprised by my stupidity — or yours. Seriously. These painful trying events make us stronger, nobler characters by stretching and growing our faith. I can honestly speak for myself when I say there are times I didn’t think I could go any further. In a fraction of a moment in time I actually contemplated “walking away.”

The million dollar questions start rolling around in my color-saturated brain cells (you know, blonde):

Where would I go?

To whom or what would I be running to?

Wouldn’t I be doing the exact same thing I did when I walked out the first time?

Wouldn’t my Prodigal Spouse think he was justified in not coming back?

I’ve already told our children that God is restoring this family. . . . Hmmm.

In my foolishness, I would make God’s Word out to be a lie. Some witness!!

Ask yourself another question:

WHY do you really want your Covenant Spouse restored to you?

Are you lonely?

Your kids are driving you nuts?

Your income and quality of living have diminished. . . .

Maybe you just don’t like the stigma attached to being “d-i-v-o-r-c-e-d” and you’re afraid of what some people think.

Who cares what they think? If you give sway to their thoughts, then you are like a ship tossed to and fro on the waves of opinion doomed to sink into the muck and mire of legalism and whatever else is out there — like your pride. You won’t be able to hear what God has to say when He speaks because of the other voices you give ear to.

WHY? Why do you really want your Covenant Spouse restored to you?

I’ll tell you why you should want your Covenant restored.

God hates divorce! That should settle it right there! He gives no exceptions! But since we are always looking for other proof… Keep reading! :) Divorce for any reason is really treason against the God of your Covenant Vow. You see, the real reason you’re seeking to reconcile with your Covenant Mate is because:

No 1: God will require your vows of you. Oooo… Why is that so important? Because you didn’t just say that stuff with your Covenant Spouse — “. . . . for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” – you made a Covenant with God when you spoke your wedding vows.

“It is a snare to a man rashly to say, It is holy, And after vows to make inquiry.” (Proverbs 20:25 ASV)

“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ (Matthew 5:33 NASB)

No 2: Can you say commandment? The link to that is this –> The hallmarks of a blood-bought born-again child of the King are FORGIVENESS, MERCY, and GRACE — the very things that Christ imparted to you when you asked Him to — because He loves you. Those are all UNmerited favors and are gifts to the one who will receive them. Freely He gave and freely you received. Those UNmerited favors cannot be earned by anything you do or say. But they are commanded to be given in return — for all are borne out of LOVE! And what is Love? A commandment. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to “hate” someone that you are loving as Christ loves you.

Why is it so hard for us to give those same things to our Prodigal Spouse? How can we expect God to forgive us and love us and impart His mercy and grace to us — and then we withhold those very things, even refusing to give them to our one-flesh (one in body) Husband or Wife? I’ve said it before: I am so very thankful that at present, my Prodigal is not the one who is my Judge. Understand dear Prodigal and Stander: the measure with which you use to judge another by will be the same measure God uses to judge you…

“For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:2 NASB) (Reference also: Mark 4:24 and Luke 6:38)

When you compare everyone to your standard of measure, they will fall short every single time! The Scriptures say that makes you without understanding! Your real standard of measure should be the Word of God and your example is Jesus Christ – He has called you to Love and Forgive every single time — without measure . . . .

“For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.” (II Corinthians 10:12 NASB)


When God calls us — HE calls us to be HOLY because HE is Holy. 1 Peter 1:16 states “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

When God calls us to Forgive — HE calls us to forgive without measure. Matthew 18:21-22:

 21Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

22Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

When God calls us to love one another, He isn’t kidding. At the beginning of the article, I posted nine Scriptures of at least twenty-three that have to do with loving one another.

Let me ask you another question. Where in the Bible — the final Authority on how we are to live and conduct our lives — does it give instructions on “When to Walk Away?”

I’ll save you the trouble in looking for that answer — but I’ll answer that question with another question.

When should Christ walk away from us? Have we not all committed harlotries (also known as adulteries) against the One Who shed His blood on calvary to save us from perishing? Romans 8:38-39 NASB:

38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,

 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you can find anything that can separate us from the love and mercy and faithfulness of God — anything that God missed in those two Scriptures above, then you’d be the first. There is nothing but nothing that will make Him walk away from His redeemed, blood-bought born-again children who are His Covenant Bride.

My point is simply this: Because you are one in body with your Covenant Husband or Wife; Because you are brother and sister IN Christ; Because you are one in body with Christ; Because you are His Covenant Bride — then you can never walk away. No matter what you or I do that is against our Heavenly Husband, Jesus Christ, He will NEVER walk away from His Bride and REmarry another. Marriage is to the Husband and Wife what Salvation is to the Church. We are his Covenant Body and our Marriage will take place at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Heaven when we will be presented to Him without spot or blemish. It is because of His presence within us that makes us Holy and Sanctifies us. It is by virtue of our being ONE in body with our spouse and our presence with them that they are Sanctified and made Holy. And one day soon, in your faithfulness to GOD, you will realize that this isn’t about being restored to each other “just because” — but this is really about presenting your Covenant Mate before the Throne of Grace and carrying them in labored prayer until they bow in acknowledgement of Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord of their life.

That’s why you’re here.

You can never walk away.

Amen.

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Standers – If you have a Prodigal Spouse who is being abusive and/or using, the above still fits. BUT my only caveat to the above is this — remove yourself to safety. Especially if you have children. Seek Godly help and counseling where appropriate, making sure to test the Spirits seeing that what is being said is in God’s Word. With God ALL things are possible — even the healing of your abusive / using Spouse. The fact that they are abusive and/or using does not negate the Covenant Vow. It is still until death. Your standard is still that of God’s Word — to be Holy because He is Holy; and to follow I Corinthians 7:10-11 — that a wife is not to leave (divorce) her husband, but if she does, she is to be reconciled to him or remain UNMARRIED. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. Neither spouse can REmarry. Removing yourself from the situation is NOT walking away. You are providing you and your children (if any) safe haven and rest — and relying on God to heal and restore that which has been stolen from you. Remember: your enemy is not your spouse. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NASB) Once you truly realize that this is a spiritual battle for the soul of your family, you will be better positioned to pray for the restoration of your spiritually blinded and hurting Spouse to the ONE Who gave all on the Cross at Calvary.

© 2009 – 2011 TheEphesianMarriage. All rights reserved by TheEphesianMarriage unless otherwise stated. All other writings and symbols are the registered trademarks of their respective owners.

TheEphesianMarriage – Who Do You Say That I AM?


 
matthew16_15-16

Psalm 86

A Psalm of Supplication and Trust.

A Prayer of David.

1 Incline Your ear, O LORD, and answer me;
         For I am afflicted and needy.
2 Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man;
         O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You.
3 Be gracious to me, O Lord,
         For to You I cry all day long.
4 Make glad the soul of Your servant,
         For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
         And abundant in loving-kindness to all who call upon You.
6 Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
         And give heed to the voice of my supplications!
7 In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You,
         For You will answer me.
8 There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord,
         Nor are there any works like Yours.
9 All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
         And they shall glorify Your name.
10 For You are great and do wondrous deeds;
        You alone are God.
11
Teach me Your way, O LORD;
         I will walk in Your truth;Unite my heart to fear Your name.

12 I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
         And will glorify Your name forever.
13 For Your loving-kindness toward me is great,
         And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
14 O God, arrogant men have risen up against me,
         And a band of violent men have sought my life,
         And they have not set You before them.
15 But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
         Slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth.
16 Turn to me, and be gracious to me;
         Oh grant Your strength to Your servant,
         And save the son of Your handmaid.
17 Show me a sign for good,
         That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
         Because You, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

When you approach the Throne Room of Grace in prayer, what is your belief about God? What do you really think about Him? Do you have an earthly view of your Father Who sits over all creation? Is your view of God formed by your earthly Father (and Mother)? Maybe you had a very angry and stern unmerciful earthly father – one who was quick to point out your faults and failures; one who was quick to become angry and punish. Maybe he was one who withheld his love; maybe he only showed you his love when he approved of what you did. Maybe he was disapproving of everything you did – unforgiving of your wrongs and very critical and condescending telling you how you would never amount to anything. Your accomplishments were and still are never enough. . . . . How about an absentee parent who is totally unresponsive to you and your needs? It’s like you don’t even exist.

Or do you believe like David – who was a man after God’s own heart – that God hears your prayers? Answers your prayers? And that God loves you with an everlasting and unconditional love?

3 The Lord appeared from of old to me . . . saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you. (Jeremiah 31:3 AMP)

I ask because there are many of you, who like me, have done some pretty stupid things in our lives – things that are so mind blowing that when God finally gets a hold of you by the scruff of your neck, things that will make you wonder how on earth God could show mercy and grace to such a fool. Though I didn’t do it alone, my “crowning glory” was the final destruction of my Marriage and home. I haven’t always walked the talk, but I have been a born-again Christian all my life and at times I have really struggled with Who He is and what He is capable of. This isn’t a disbelief but rather an inability to totally comprehend Who He really is. If that doesn’t blow your mind along with the stupidity that we sometimes exhibit, nothing will. However, most of the time we have a tendency to project the human qualities, traits and characteristics of our earthly father onto God the Father. We’ve made Him out to be the demanding and insatiable God for Whom we can never do enough for – a Father who has a conditional love, is unmerciful and definitely can only forgive certain sins.

However, this is not the God of the Bible.

Read David’s description of God again. He describes God this way in vs 5;

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to ALL who call upon You.” (emphasis mine)

This definitely isn’t the picture of an unmerciful and cruel taskmaster. On the contrary, God is good and ready to forgive showing abundant love and kindness to ALL – ALL – who would call upon Him! There is no exception mentioned. Our God does not play favorites as parents sometimes do. He does not dole out His affection and mercy on those of us who might be “better” or “more deserving” than someone else. Placing absolutely no conditions on His mercy and love, God gives abundantly to everyone who would call upon His Name and ask. It’s that simple. Really.

David, a God-appointed king over God’s chosen people, committed adultery and murdered the husband of the woman he took because he couldn’t control himself – yet God called him a man after His own heart. It’s hard to fathom that kind of mercy especially knowing that David – and us – deserved much worse than he got. We definitely wouldn’t be asking God to give heed to our prayers. . . . . If we had to depend upon the mercy of a human earthly father to forgive us for those kinds of things (and more), I would fear for my existence and eternal destiny. In the early years of my upbringing, my Dad would have strung me up. I thank my God that he is now a changed man by the loving mercy and grace of God. I say that kind of tongue-in-cheek, but I can tell you I came close many times. But God is not like that. I can also thank God that my beloved Husband is not my ruler and judge. I thought at one time I was his ruler and judge, condemning him for what I thought he should or shouldn’t do, for his anger. I have since come to see that that is the enemy – not my Husband. I have relinquished control of those reins and let go and let God. In other words, I realized that I needed to forgive him for his part in the breakdown of our Marriage and love him with the love and mercy that God gives to me – no matter how angry he can be at times. God gave his Son for my Husband too. He offered His body for you and your wayward spouse as well. No, our God is not a God Who gives love based on a wishy washy set of human conditions but our God is a God Who is overflowing with love. Even when David was weak, needy and poor, he proclaimed the goodness of God by saying:

13 For Your loving-kindness toward me is great,
         And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

Who is the God you believe you serve? Is He the God of the Bible or is He the god of manmade notions? Is He the impotent statue god created by your own hands – or is He the God Who is great and does marvelous and mighty wonders (vs 10)? Is He an absentee god who has no interest in your broken life and Marriage – or is He the God of the Bible Who promises that He will never leave you nor forsake you? (Hebrews 13:5) The same God Who promises that His Word will not return to Him void! (Isaiah 55:11) The same God Who promised you that He is faithful and just and will forgive even when we are unfaithful! (I John 1:9) The God of your impossible! (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27)

9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]. I John 1:9 AMP

When you find that you are hesitant to come before your God and you are not wholly and fully trusting in Him, consider what your true thoughts are. What is your image of the God of your promise? Is He the REAL God of Scripture? Or is He the impotent statue created by your own hands?

15And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15 AMP

Your house and my house may not be whole, but because you and I are standing in the gap for our beloved one-flesh covenant mate, I believe because your Husband or Wife is one flesh with you that they are still sanctified and set apart by your faith and belief in the One Who has called you both and set you apart unto Him. Otherwise if they are in unbelief and if not for you crying out to a Holy and Just and Righteous God on their behalf, they would be unclean.

30 He will even deliver the one [for whom you intercede] who is not innocent; yes, he will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands. Job 22:30 AMP

Heavenly Father, teach us Your way so that we may walk in Your truth;Give us an undivided heart to fear Your Name, the Name above all names, so that we will give thanks to You, O Lord our God, with all our hearts, and we will glorify Your name forever and ever. Amen.

3 Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.

4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.

6 And He will make your uprightness and right standing with God go forth as the light, and your justice and right as [the shining sun of] the noonday.

7 Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him. . . . . (Psalm 37:3-7 AMP)

May the God of your comfort give you the desires of your heart.

Amen.

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© 2009 – 2011 TheEphesianMarriage. All rights reserved by TheEphesianMarriage unless otherwise stated. All other writings and symbols are the registered trademarks of their respective owners.