Friday, 31 October 2014

Staying Pure In A Wicked World

Since it's Halloween, I thought it was fitting to post this today. We see Christians celebrating it. For some people, it's just a day, a fun day. Then they encourage their children to dress up in different outfits, witches, wizards etc. They entertain it. Should Christians entertain it? It made me question, is it possible for we, as Christians, to stay holy and pure in a world that's turning more and more wicked? A world that's accepting to practices that were considered immoral a long time ago? Is it possible? In a world that has become filled with murder, immorality and corruption?

When I ask those questions, I am reminded of Sodom and Gomorrah. In case you don't know...maybe you do, but for those who don't...Sodom and Gomorrah were two Cities that God destroyed due to the sin that was very grievous. So, you may be thinking, 'I thought God was a merciful God, why would He do that?'. Well, it seems to me that these two Cities were so grievous, so evil, that the people's hearts grew cold. It was filled with...well, probably what we see in the world today. Nobody in the City was righteous...except Lot and his family. It was SO bad that...when the Angels of the Lord came to get Lot and spent the night at his house, ALL the men from EVERY PART OF THE CITY OF SODOM, both YOUNG AND OLD surrounded Lot's house, demanding to have sex with the Angels. Do you see how wicked it was? Sodom was filled with drunkards, adultery, sex and murder. Do you ever wonder what made their hearts grow cold against God? I can imagine they did not even want to hear the Word of God. They did not want to be corrected for their wrongdoings. They had no fear of God in them. So, people KNOW the truth behind Halloween? A holiday that promotes FEAR. Didn't GOD Himself tell us that He has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound MIND? So, if Halloween promotes fear...then why do we indulge in it? We shouldn't be afraid of the devil...we have power over him.

In this day and age, do you ever wonder if you're the same? If you're accepting the practices of the world. I can imagine if Lot and his family had accepted those practices, they would not have been saved. How did they stay away from those practices? How did their hearts stay pure, their thoughts and actions? Isn't that hard to do when everything around you encourages you to do JUST the opposite? Nonetheless, in Phillipians 4:8, the Apostle Paul tells us that we should focus on 'whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God is peace will be with you.' 
Again, is Halloween right, is it pure, is it lovely, is it admirable? Does God praise Halloween? Did you see the Prophets celebrating Halloween? People need to read on things before partaking in them.

So, from this story, the one of Sodom and Gomorrah, I can see that it IS possible to stay pure in a wicked world, a wicked generation. It must be if Jesus commanded us to do so. It sounds easy, doesn't it? I remember when reading this story of Sodom and Gomorrah, thinking...I would not follow the crowd, I would be saved like Lot. I was so confident. But now...I'm thinking, oh, it's so easy to fall. It's easy to fall when you're surrounded by things such as magazines, promoting sex, fornication and discontentment. Magazines promoting greed and pride. TV shows that promote lust, profanity, nudity and violence. Adultery, which just makes it hard to trust your spouse. Gossip, which is glorified (...I watch The Wendy Williams Show, so I know), sexual promiscuity among other things. I've just recently started watching this Talk Show called 'The Real' with Adrienne Bailon, Tamar Braxon, Tamera Mowry, Loni Love and Jeannie Mai. Loni, who I love and I think she's hilarious, constantly talks about her affairs with men, her love for sex and how she loves alcohol. I find myself laughing and clapping then end up stopping myself thinking, 'Wow, did I just laugh at that? What would Jesus do?'. Not just that, she constantly berates and makes fun of Tamera for her faith. If not, it sure looks like it. So, TV is just junk nowadays, hence why I do not watch it as often.

So, listening to this sermon (which I will post down below) made me think and ask myself, 'Am I compromising my moral values for this world? Am I developing a thirst for the world? I remember watching 'The Truth Behind Hip Hop' by G Craige Lewis and his ministry called 'EX Ministries'. I was so convicted after that, I threw away all my Hip Hop CDs, all my music of Beyonce, Jay Z, Rihanna (that's not to say I have fallen a few times and listened to them again), but the whole point is, I did it. I learnt that music has drastically changed over the years. You do not have to be a Christian to know that. It has become more sexual, sensual, dark and demonic. I feel so guilty for listening to it sometimes that at some point, I stopped completely. Nonetheless, I think we have grown lukewarm and just blind to our spiritual condition. People say 'It's just music, there's nothing there.' Or, 'They are just words and I like the beat...there's nothing to it'.
With regards to Halloween, what makes Christians compromise their beliefs to celebrate it? When it has a history of sorcery, witchcraft, evil, demons...why are we okay with it? The Bible sets a foundation as to what we should NOT do. In Deuteronomy 18:10-12 - 'Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive our these names before you.'

So, what corrupts us? Why are we spiritually dry and empty? Why do we all say it's so hard to be a Christian, it's hard to stay pure? How did Noah stay pure when he lived in such an evil generation? Noah's generation was so bad that the Bible says that EVERY INCLINATION OF THE THOUGHT OF THEIR HUMAN HEART WAS EVIL...ALL the TIME. All they did was think about evil. Do you ever feel surrounded by opportunities to do the wrong thing? For example, having friends that want you to join in their gossip? Or teachers tell you that you should live in reality and the Bible is just a bunch of stories? Noah was surrounded by evil but the Bible says he walked righteously and faithfully with God.

It seems like a wicked generation has always been there. Even in Hosea's generation and you can read about it here (Hosea). But, in Hosea 7-9, Hosea tells his generation, 'You have forgotten God. You claim to know Him yet you fail to consult Him. You are so busy pursuing things of this life but you have become empty. You do not bear any fruit...'

Even the Prophet Isaiah cried out against his generation - Isaiah 1:4, Isaiah cried out, 'Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.'

In the New Testament, Peter cried out against HIS generation soon after Jesus was crucified. 2 Peter 2:14-15, "With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning, they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed - an accursed brood! They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.'

So, THEN and even more so, NOW, people had forsaken God and rebelled. I talked about the consequences of that in 'A Hard Heart' post. All these sins - drunkenness, harlots, murders, divorce, fornication...yet God always had people that stayed pure, who stayed on the path of purity. They continued in God's presence with pure hearts. They rejected the world and all it's pleasures.

What about OUR generation? We have become vile and wicked because we have lost the fear of GOD. There is no fear of God in US. In Proverbs 16:6, it says that 'By the fear of the Lord, men depart from evil.' We have lost the fear of God.

In Psalm 36, David says, 'I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked. There is no fear of God before their eyes.' The fear of God comes by making a CONSCIOUS decision to follow God. It begins by reading the Word of God and hearing it. If this is how we get faith, and the Word is neglected,  then we have no faith.

We cannot blame the devil, movies, alcohol, computers, pornography, we can only blame ourselves and our lack of prayer and bible study. We are ignorant of how God works. We all know we should pray but we just don't. We have time for a lot of things, time to watch TV, time to hang out with friends, time to chill, time to be lazy...but we do not find time to pray.

The Word of God cannot change you if you are not praying. The World can change you if your Spirit is cold or lukewarm and your soul is dry and empty. If you heart is fixed on the Lord, on prayer and praise, nothing can touch you. No demons from HELL can influence you. No ungodly CROWD can draw you from Him.

God wants us to become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation...and we do that by holding FIRMLY to the Word of Life. Phillipians 2:14.

1 Peter 2:11 - 22 gives us some guidance on how to live godly lives in a pagan society - we should abstain from sinful desires, and live good lives among the pagans. We should submit ourselves for the Lord's sake to every human authority. We should do good to others.

Here is the message 'Purity In A Wicked Age' by David Wilkerson

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

What Seed Are You Planting?

Hey people - another post...and so soon. I don't start work until early November, so I'm spending more time with God. I'm spending more time in His Word. It also makes me happy. I feel closer to Him, sometimes I feel further away from Him but nowadays, I have time on Him, I love doing it. I read the Parable of the Sower and then listened to a Sermon on it - just to get an idea and study on it. Because, honestly, when I read it, yes, the Lord explained it himself (it's meaning). But, a Sermon also helped because some of the things I learnt, I didn't even THINK about.

Here is a preview of the Parable.

Luke 8:4-15 - The Parable of the Sower
Jesus told a story in the form of a parable to a large crowd that had gathered from many towns to hear him. 'A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on and the birds ate it. Other seeds fell among the rocks. It began to grow but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. Still, other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted'. When Jesus said all this, he told them, "Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand."

Clearly - they did not understand, because his disciples asked him what this parable meant and he told them. "You are allowed to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: 'When they look, they won't really see. When they hear, they won't understand'. This is the meaning of the parable. The Seed is the Word of God (Bible). The seeds falling on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message  and receive it with great joy. But, since they do not have deep roots, they only believe for a while but fall away when faced with temptation.  The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly, the message is crowded out by cares and riches and the pleasures of this life, so they do not mature. The seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God's word, cling to it and are patient.

When I was younger, my parents gave me a bible. I remember reading this Parable and I did not get it. I was like 'what?'. But, since getting saved, listening to sermons, praying for understanding, I get it. As David Wilkerson said himself, this Parable is about patience as well as the condition of a believer's heart. I will explain why and you will be like 'ohhhh'...because that's what I did too.

So, we know that the seed represents the Word of God, which is the Holy Book...the Bible if you haven't gotten it yet. The farmer (it doesn't say this in the Bible) to ME represents God Himself or the Shepherds on earth that teach you the Words of the Bible.

The Footpath

So, Jesus already explained the meaning. But, let's delve deeper into it. The first kind of seed fell on the footpath. Jesus describes this person as someone who hears the Word of God, they didn't mock it or anything. In fact, this person is very interested in the Word of God. They nod in agreement with everything that is written in the Word. The Word of God is planted in their heart.
BUT...and it's a big but...
The devil (Satan) takes it away from their hearts...well, unless they believe and are saved. I'm just trying to imagine what sort of person would be like this. I think it would be someone with a hard heart. They must be hardened with sin, because they hear the Word but they do not understand it and Satan plucks that message away from them, so the Word of God cannot make an impression on them. They reject the message they hear and by doing that, they are refusing to be saved. They are probably corrected for what they are doing but they continue to ignore the gospel.

This is probably the most impatient person because, on hearing the Word, they don't want to deal with their sin. They would rather indulge themselves in pleasure (sex, drugs etc.). They do not want to be tested or tried. They do not want to wait on God. They hate preaching on disobedience, holiness or repentance. They want entertainment, to go to church and come back feeling happy. They do not want the Holy Spirit to prod them and correct them. For this person, maybe going to church is enough, they feel satisfied. They do not have that personal relationship with God. Maybe...just maybe, they want to go straight to heaven without having that test here on earth. I mean, isn't that what faith is all about?

Remember the Tower of (Genesis 11) - at that point, the whole world had one language and the people wanted to build a tower so they could reach Heave. For me, I took that to mean, they wanted to be like God. They wanted to reach Heaven and go straight there without being tested and tried. Because of that, God confused them and made them speak different languages, so they couldn't communicate.

The Rocky Path

Jesus described this person as someone who is happy and full of joy. They are vibrant, they go around testifying God's work. They are repentant and they live in the joy of who God is. They receive His Word with joy and gladness. They worship and praise Him but in the hour of temptation, they fall.

They have a sin that is controlling their life. This person is impatient with God. They want to be free from that sin and old desires, yet when temptation comes, they are impatient. You have to have time to grow your roots. Simply, go back, pray, dig in and ask the Lord for the roots. Ask God for patience until they come. God tests us to see if we are patiently waiting for Him to deliver us. God knows our impatience is destructive. I mean, look what happened with Israel.

    • Memory Tour - remember when Moses went up to the mountain and God delayed him up there. After FORTY days, the people lost patience. They started dancing, carousing in drunken orgies and even made a golden calf to worship.
Then think about Saul.
  • Samuel told Saul to wait for him at Gilgal before fighting with the Philistines. Samuel, let's call him Sam, told Saul, 'you know what, this journey may be long. I may take 6 to 8 days but do not worry, I will BE there.' But, as Saul waited, the Israelites grew impatient and began leaving. On the 7th day, Saul became impatient. But, I think God just wanted to know what was on Saul's heart, if he would have more faith, whilst everything looked bad. Saul, instead, took everything in his own hands. 1 Samuel 13:10.
The Thorny Path

This is a person who does not fall or go back to the world. They have stopped all communication and flirtation with sin, they just do not bear the fruit. I can imagine this person as someone who attends church regularly, listens to sermons, reads their bible, hangs out with God's people BUT they just do not have that fruit. He may make promises to God but he does not fulfil them. He hears God's Word but does on with his life. He prays a little bit, witnesses to people but he is preoccupied and busy. He cannot FULLY embrace that self-denial. They desire wealth and riches. They want to be rich and in the end, that richness and pleasure chokes out the love for Jesus. Remember, the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. Even in 1 Timothy 6:9, Paul tells us that those who want to get rich will fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.

The Good Soiled Path

The Lord describes this person as the ideal saved person. This person has a good and honest heart. They have their heart set on loving God and they are convinced that God will always deliver. This produces long lasting fruit. 
They endure a lot of difficulties, trials and tests, sometimes seduced by the flesh and unholy thoughts, but this person's heart is in God and he patiently waits on Him. I cannot help but think of Psalms 15 (which by the way, I'm trying to vicariously live by).

Psalm 15 describes a person who can dwell and live in God's Holy Mountain. This is a person whose walk is blameless, they are sincere in their walk, they are righteous, they speak the truth from their heart, they do not lie, they hate sin, they honour God, they keep PROMISES even when it hurts. When these people do that, their faith will not be shaken and they will stand firm.

So, what seed are you planting and on what path? I hope its on the good soil...

Have a good month. x

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

When You're Losing Your Faith

I haven't read my Bible in so long (ashamed) and I haven't listened to a sermon lately either. So today I decided to listen to one. It's been a busy month. I listened to a sermon by David Wilkerson (you can see how much I love that man) on Asa, King of Judah and how he lost his faith.

I always think there is a reason for the stories in the Bible. There was a story to tell and a moral to learn from it. So, there must be a reason why there is a story about King Asa.

King Asa of Judah  - A Man of Faith

2 Chronicles 14 describes King Asa - "Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord, his God."

So, what does it mean to be 'good and right' - obviously this means he was a man of faith. He was a righteous man, a truly Godly man. He did not flirt with sin, he knew he had no place to hide because he knew God watched him. He knew even in darkness, he could not hide from sin so his life was basically an open book. He had constant knowledge that God watched him. God saw everything he did.

One thing I've learnt from this sermon is that King Asa was King Solomon's Great Grandchild. I'm sure you all know the story of King Solomon, he was the wisest man (apart from Jesus) in the Bible. So, I'm sure King Asa read about his great grandfather's teachings, about his life, his wisdom and how he fell in his wisdom. He must have studied about Solomon and read his proverbs in those days, about adultery etc. So, it must have taught him a lesson, probably not to repeat what his great grandfather had done. The fact that his great grandfather preached a great message against adultery yet that is the very sin that cost him everything. But King Asa sought after God. He must have wondered, surely, how such a wise man, with such an anointing, blew it all off? He must have said to himself that he did not want to be like that man.

Nonetheless, he had a great father. His father, Abijah, was a praying man. In 2 Chronicles 13:10, even during the war - Abijah encouraged everybody and preached to them, saying, 'As for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the Lord are the sons of Aaron, the Levites assist them...God is with us, He is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. People of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed.'

So, King Asa knew that Men of God, caught up in adultery end up ruined and fail in their faith. He KNEW that men who did not set their hearts to PRAY end up with no peace and no order in their homes. He KNEW that the secret to God's favour is available to those who SEEK Him with all their hearts. 2 Chronicles 14:4 - 'He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey His laws and commands.'

Because Judah sought after the Lord, they prospered. But this does not mean they were immune to the enemy's attacks. We seem to think that just because we are Christians, we won't have trouble. But think about Job, think about all that happened to him. Think about Paul, who was continuously belittled for his faith. Jesus Christ, Himself, as God on earth faced many troubles I'm sure, but he was a man of faith. (What am I saying, He is God, so surely, He had faith).

Anyway, Asa faced a MILLION man army against his 3,000 man army. But guess what he did? He prayed. It made me think, when I'm faced with calamity, I should surely pray. Not just that, Asa and the people of Judah had PEACE. This means they had no FEAR, they feared nothing. I don't know HOW I would feel but it wouldn't be peace at this point. I am trying to imagine facing a million man army with 3000 people on my team.

But, he PRAYED. He remained faithful. He remained calm when he faced calamities - 2 Chronicles 14:11 - ''Asa called to the Lord his God and said, 'Lord, there is no one like You to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord, for we rely on You, and in Your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, You are our God; d not let mere mortals prevail against You.'''

King Asa had no other strategy. He went and rested it all before the Lord. Imagine! I mean, he only had an army of 3000 men yet the enemy had millions. He had no plan but instead, he sought the Lord and he prayed. They prospered in the end and they were still at peace. A praying person who prays in faith will not be overcome.

That's one thing I've learned - You should always seek God. Even when you are prospering, not just in hard times. In GOOD times, thank Him. Be grateful for where You are. Pray for your families, your friends, your loved ones, pray!

The Warning

Clearly, he was going down the same route as his grandfather (Solomon) because God saw fit to send a prophet to warn Asa. In Chronicles 15 - God sent Azariah, the Son of Oded who went out to meet Asa and said to him, 'Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you but if you forsake Him, He will forsake strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded...'

The warning here is important. We can actually apply it to our life. You know when you pray, pray, pray and then get the thing you were praying for, do you ever get spiritually lazy? Do you get prideful? That's what God foresaw happening to Asa. He  foresaw that Asa would have pride and be confident in his own flesh. He would lose his anointing. God knew so he sent Asa a warning. I can't help but remember how God sent the Prophet Nathan to warn King David about his sin too. The good thing is that King David took it on.

Nonetheless, King Asa took on the words of Azariah and he took courage. In fact, he removed all idols and abolish idol worship. He repaired the altar of the Lord and even offered sacrifices to God - obviously a way of giving thanks to God for the favours received. (Nowadays, we pray and praise God, which is a spiritual sacrifice).

They entered into covenant with God and repented for what they had done, hoping for a better future. They diligently sought after God themselves with ALL THEIR HEART and with ALL their SOUL. Asa even took down the image of Asherah, this image that his own grandmother would worship. An idol, in his palace - he did this whilst destroying all the idols in his kingdom. She must have sought after God took and sought after him because, remember, all who did not do this were put to death, men and women.

Because of this, there was NO war in the land!

The Fall

So, how did King Asa come to his fall. How did this happen? Well, something was happening. The King of Israel wanted to wage war against Judah, so King Asa decided to take the silver and gold out of the treasuries of the Lord's temple and his own palace and he sent it to Ben-Hadad, King of Aram, who was ruling Damascus. This seems different. This time, he seems to be forsaking God. Instead of praying and trusting God, like before, he tries to make this other King his friend. If he didn't have to do this, he would have had to pray to God. He trusted in himself. He felt comfortable and God was not pleased.

So, guess what God did? He sent another prophet to Asa. 2 Chronicles 16:7, the prophet sent a message to him, saying, Because you relied on the King of Aram, and not on the Lord, your God, the army of the King of Aram has escaped from your hand...' Basically, God was trying to tell him, to remind him that he was the one who delivered them out of the battle against the million man army. He even told him, 'the eyes of the Lord are only on those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.'

He would have nothing but pain and suffering from then on, only because he trusted in himself. His pride got to him. What was his response? He was enraged. He was angry. Why? Because of what this prophet was saying. He knew he used to be like this prophet. He was a man of prayer, he sought after God, he was a righteous man. He walked and spoke just like this Prophet.

God inflicted him with a disease in his feet. It was a severe disease, I have no idea what kind of disease it would be but it was bad. But, even then, Asa did not seek the Lord. He did not get help from the Lord. He went after doctors! He sought after them but not after God.

So, there's a lot I've learnt from King Asa. Well, not a lot but quite a bit.

1. Even when we have strayed away from Him, or really...never even KNEW Him, somehow He is still there, waiting for us to come back. To welcome us back into His loving arms.

2. Prayer is important - we have to SEEK God and He will be found by US. It's really a choice. The Prophet Azariah, teaches me a lot actually. If we seek Him, He will be found by us. He is there. If we forsake Him and ignore Him, He will ignore us. God isn't a God that forces us to worship Him, even if He does desire it, it's a choice on our part. When we are distressed, we should seek after Him. We should be strong and take courage, because at a point, we will be rewarded (2 Chronicles 15:7). This reminds me of that scripture, where God tells us to not grow weary for at the appropriate time we will reap a HARVEST if we do not give up.

3. Judah's desire to please and worship God actually resulted in them getting more blessings from Him. 2 Chronicles 15:15 - the Lord actually gave them rest on every side. They had peace.

4. Instead of acknowledging his own guilt, Asa was upset and angry. He even imprisoned the prophet that the Lord had sent to him. He refused to seek God even when he was in pain, in suffering, in his illness. He did not repent for what he did. He was angry and even oppressed a few other people, apparently. He was bitter!

The Lord warns us a lot about enduring and staying committed to Him and His way of life until the very end. In Matthew 24:12, Jesus said, 'Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.' But, look at King Asa, he was righteous for most of his life but he failed to remain faithful to God and serve Him until his death.

In Hebrews (one of my favourite Books), we are encouraged to have faith. We are told to have confidence in God, that the JUST must live by faith.

But just like King Asa, God gives us a CHOICE. Remember the story of Cain and Abel. How Cain got SO angry at his brother, Abel, because Abel received more favour from God. He was angry and in his anger, he killed his brother. God even warned Cain, telling him that sin is crouching at his door, and tells him to RULE over that sin.

So, endure the race, guys and girls. x